The Lord the creator, understands drama and contrast. This is a great bit of stage setting.
Ezekiel, a priest in exile in Babylon, is next to a river among other exiles.
I only read psalm 137 short while ago, probably written in the same settlement, “by the rivers of Babylon.. how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”
That is a song of abandonment and despair. Instead of songs of praise, their thoughts run to the prophesy that enemies of Babylon would dish out to their captors the same horrific violence against their children as the Israelites suffered from them.
This is a vision of a fiery glory of four, four-faced creatures in flame, shooting lighting, with thunderous-sounding wings that spread each time they move. Above them a heavenly vault, above that a throne on which sits a half molten metal, half fire figure of a man. Below the creatures are wheels that rise and move over the land … In any direction, that’s very important: they freely go where the Holy Spirit goes.
Into the song of despair comes a vision of the full glory of God. Father son and spirit. Turns out God isn’t stuck in the temple in Jerusalem.
It recalls.. from my time perspective.. Pentecost. The fire that transformed the disciple’s despair into passion and boldness.
And of course, exodus: God in a fiery pillar, his glory on mountains, making Moses’ face shine, the tabernacle, the portable presence of God, going where the spirit goes, transforming slaves into his chosen nation,
What is God doing in Babylon, in exile? The same thing God’s still doing in my heart, this very day: transformation.
Dragged unenthusiasticaly, somewhat kicking and screaming, into Ezekiel (Really? Another huge old testament book?) … I’ll admit I’m enchanted, praise God!