Ezekiel 1:16, Ezekiel’s Antics

This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.//Ezekiel? Who reads Ezekiel? Not me, at least not before I began researching for my book on Revelation, when it became a necessity. But now, I find Ezekiel a fascinating character. Dennis Rodman couldn’t hold a candle to the publicity stunts Ezekiel dreams up.

Ezekiel, a priest, was part of the first deportation of Jews into exile in 597 BC, where he prophesied to his fellow captives. His visions are among the most psychedelic in the Bible. Artists have had a heyday trying to portray Ezekiel’s “wheels in wheels.” Ezekiel’s most famous vision, of course, is the valley of dry bones, which God brought to life before his eyes. But his views of a vengeful God and his doomsaying about Jerusalem’s upcoming destruction didn’t win him many friends, so he needed a way to get his message across. From laying on one side for 390 days, to remaining mute for seven years, to digging a hole through the wall of his house, to eating human dung, Ezekiel knew how to draw attention. (Some interpret the Bible to mean Ezekiel didn’t eat human excrement but used it only to fuel the fire for baking, but that’s unlikely: human dung won’t burn).

One of his methods was colorful language; I wouldn’t dare repeat the sexually explicit verbiage Ezekiel uses to describe the wayward Israel in chapter 23. But was Ezekiel right? Bet your backside he was! King Nebuchadnezzer savagely razed Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple only eleven years later. Now, Ezekiel’s oracles began to shift against others: God remained violent and vengeful, but now bent on the extermination of other nations in order that they be forced to acknowledge that “I am Yahweh.”

Soon, even Ezekiel ran out of steam, and began to promise the restoration of Israel. God would gather his people from the nations and return them to His homeland, and establish a new covenant. Right again!

Enter the Book of Revelation, centuries later, where it all plays out a second time.

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