As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.
– Ezekiel 1:15
The hand of the Lord came on Ezekiel in his 'thirtieth year, fourth month, fifth day'. In the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's exile. Ezekiel was exiled with Jehoiachin and so would have been 25 years old when first sent to Babylon. Being born Levite, Ezekiel probably expected to become a priest had he not gone into exile, but God clearly had more in mind. The first vision was powerful: God arriving on his throne accompanied by four cherubim. Ezekiel does not identify the creatures as cherubim until chapter 10.
Ezekiel describes his vision with detail. A storm from the north with clouds and lightning. Out of the 'fire' four creatures each with four faces, a man, ox (left side), lion (right side), and eagle and each with four wings. Two wings were spread and touching each other, the other two were covering their bodies (like the Seraphs in Isaiah 6:2). The creatures had the feet of calfs and straight legs. Where the Spirit would go, the creatures would go without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals.
Tracking beside each creature was a wheel intersected by another wheel. The rims of the wheels were 'high and awesome' and were 'full of eyes'. Ezekiel says they sparkled like chrysolite. Chrysolite has no present-day equivalence. It is one of the gems in Aarons breastpiece (fourth row, first rock Ex. 28:20) and the seventh foundation in the new Jerusalem Rev. 21:20. Consensus indicates is is topaz or peridot. Yellow or green, I choose green...
Above the creatures was 'what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice'. When the creatures moved, Ezekiel said the wings sound like rushing waters. Ezekiel hears a voice from above the expanse and sees a throne of sapphire and on the throne was a figure like that of a man. From his waist up, he looks like glowing metal and from there down he looks like fire. When Ezekiel hears the voice he falls facedown. Compare this with Revelation:
Revelation 1:12-17 12. I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13. and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
God tells Ezekiel to stand and God's Spirit enters Ezekiel and pulls him to his feet. God addresses Ezekiel as son of man and says he is sending Ezekiel to the Israelites, a rebellious nation. God then hands Ezekiel a scroll on which words of lament and mourning and woe are written on both sides. Ezekiel is to eat the scroll and when he does, he finds it sweet as honey. Ezekiel is then transported by the Spirit back to the Israelites where he sat overwhelmed for a period of seven days. This seven days may have been a providential ordination. Read Leviticus:
Leviticus 8:36-37 35. "Do for Aaron and his sons everything I have commanded you, taking seven days to ordain them. 36. Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. 37. For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy.
In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day - Sept 17, 592BC. - While Ezekiel is sitting in his house with the elders of Judah, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came upon me there. God reaches out and lifts Ezekiel by his hair and transports him to the temple in Jerusalem. At the north gate to the inner court, he sees the idol that provokes to jealousy. It's not clearly stated what this idol is and it doesn't really matter: God sees it as a "detestable thing" and doesn't want it in his temple. It was likely an Asherah idol.
Ezekiel is then brought to the entrance of the court and he sees a hole in the wall. God directs him to dig into the wall and go through the doorway he sees there. When he does, he sees all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. These were likely idols from Egypt. In front of these idols Ezekiel sees 70 elders from the house of Israel, each with his own censer saying The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.
He is then brought to the entrance to the north gate where he saw women sitting and mourning for Tammuz. Tammuz is a Babylonian fertility god. Ezekiel is then shown to the inner court where there were 25 men bowing down to the sun. With all of these actions, God uses the phrase detestable things.
God then orders the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand. Also a man dressed in linen with a writing kit. The glory of God then went up from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. God directs the man clothed in linen to put a mark on the forehead of those in Jerusalem who grieve and lament the detestable practices in the temple. He also directs the guards with weapons to follow the man in linen and kill without pity all who do not have the mark. They are to defile the temple by filling it with the slain. These six men with weapons and one with a writing kit are reminiscent of a passage in Revelation:
Revelation 8:2-6 2. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. 5. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 6. Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
Revelation 7:2-4 2. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3. "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." 4. Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
And the devil follows suite.
Revelation 13:16 16. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead,
Once the Idolaters are killed, Ezekiel sees the cherubim, the wheels and the throne of sapphire he had seen in his first vision. (The face of an Ox is now the face of a cherub). After directing the man in linen to take burning coal from under the cherubim and scatter it over the city, the Glory of God departs the temple.
This is probably Ezekiels most intriguing visions. One of the reasons is because it doesn't start with a date when virtually everything else does. It does however, begin with "The hand of the Lord was upon me".
Ezekiel is brought out to a valley covered in bones. He is lead back and forth and see a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry." God asks Ezekiel, "can these bones live?" Ezekiel responds, "O, Sovereign Lord, you alone know."
God directs Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and when he did, "there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone." Tendons and flesh then appeared on the bones. But no breath. Ezekiel is then directed to prophecy to the breath and the bodies then came to life and stood up - "a vast army."
God explains to Ezekiel that the bones represent the whole house of Israel. God will open your grave and bring you up from them. God is going to restore Israel.
Ezekiel is to then take two sticks of wood, writing on one, "Belonging to Judah" and on the other "Ephraim's stick" and to join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. Ezekiel is to explain that God is going to bring the Jews back from the lands he has exiled them to, and restore them as one people living under one king. They will never again be a divided nation.
Let's consider Ezekiel 38:22, 23:
22. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD .'