Ezekiel Study Part 3
(Scroll down for parts one and two.)
The Role of the Spirit
With all the kinetic activity and arresting images of the first three chapters of the book, it is easy to overlook the activity of the Holy Spirit. The first thing Ezekiel saw was a wind storm coming out of the north. Though such was an image of destruction, and enemies of Israel had come and would come from that direction, the Hebrew mind would have not escaped noticing that this was a particular kind of ruwach or wind–the same word used for Spirit later in the book. It implies the breathing of God, His action, His anger, His feelings.
It is encapsulated in this hurricane of activity that everything else happens. The Spirit is both agent and containment for all the things that happen there. It is the Spirit who carries the chariot and the throne and all the other elements to Ezekiel.
Ezekiel is passive in all this, the recipient of action–the heavens are opened to him, the hand of God rests on him, the panorama of the sapphire throne room is brought to him for his contemplation. In this heavenly drama, he is the first audience.
Not only does the Spirit transport the throne room of God to Ezekiel, the Spirit is the agency by which all the inner activity takes place. He directs the movement of the four living creatures–where He goes, they go. He thus directs even the mechanisms of movement: “the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels,” but under His control. (reminiscent of how we should submit our spirits to the Father of our spirits and live–Hebrews 12:9). In this concert of movement and sound, the Spirit is the conductor.
Just as the Spirit is active in bringing all these images to Ezekiel, we must conclude that it is He who will enable Ezekiel to “flesh out” and live out all the images with which he is commissioned to show the nation their sin. We can see in this the Spirit”‘s great attention to detail and His proactivity in enabling obedience, even in difficult teachings.
After God begins to speak to Ezekiel from the sapphire throne and directs him to stand up for instruction, it is the Spirit who actually physically lifts Ezekiel. Just as He has transported the scene, He now enables Ezekiel to stand to hear the message. When the message is complete and Ezekiel is told, “Go now,” it is the Spirit who lifts him up (3:12) to protect him and get him out of the way of the living creatures as they rush by, and then the Spirit who picks him up and transports him back to the Kebar River, where he sits speechless and overwhelmed for a week until the word of the Lord comes again to him.
In this heavenly scene, there is a foreshadowing of a time when another Son of man will be sent by the Father and enabled by the Spirit to preach.
(The next post will begin to look at generalizations from the symbols which Ezekiel enacted.)