I am certain that I am not the only one who remembers singing “Ezekiel saw two wheels a rollin’ way in the middle of the air…” or about dem bones or dry bones. Many of us shared in the rich images of Ezekiel without even realizing it when we were very young. The images in this book are remarkable and memorable.
If you are an artist or have great appreciation for the arts, Ezekiel can easily become a favorite book of the Bible. But for those who just like a good, straightforward story, it is just a weird book to read! Yet for anyone exploring the Bible, especially for Christians, it is an important one to read and try to unpack.
Here are few examples to get you thinking about the images:
The very first vision includes the wheels and the four living creatures. The four faces on each creature were a human, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. If these four sound familiar, look around your church sanctuary closely because many of our churches have them representing the four gospels.
I know that we never talk about eating the Word of God – at least not in those words – but we do this weekly at our church. We confess that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God. We also confess that in the Lord’s Supper we eat the Body of Christ. So we too eat the Word of God. Does it taste like honey to us? More importantly do we really make God’s Word part of us and speak it in truth? Just a few things to think about.
Ezekiel has a very powerful image of life from death. The whole valley of dry bones is the central story of faith. God is in the business of creating new life from death itself. Doesn’t that sound familiar to our ears?
The last one I want to point out is River of Life flowing from the temple. This life giving water even changes the foul sea into a place of restored life! The River of Life image reappears near the end of the book of Revelation. In both images there are trees for food with leaves for healing returning us to the Garden of Eden. Of course for those who entered their faith through the waters of baptism, water has many layers of meaning and comes with deep promise and hope.
The book of Ezekiel is one of the clearest examples of how deeply our Christian faith is tied to the covenant relationship God established with Israel from Abraham’s time on. Even though it is clearly about the time of Babylonian Exile, the grand visions included can give believers of any time and place new hope.