Theophanic Vision…

Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. (Ezekiel 1:4 NKJV)

Behind the Word – amber (Hebrew) and in Greek in the LXX, electron. This is not at all what we think of as amber, but rather it is a naturally occurring metal alloy primarily of gold and silver with traces of copper and often other metals. It has a gold color and was mined and used for objects of art and to make coins. Gold content varied from 55% to 85%.

  All of the major prophets began their ministries with a peculiar vision from God. Any form of appearance of God in the Old Testament is called a theophany. A theophany is any direct and visible physical manifestation of the Presence of God to man. It can be simple in form like the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that escorted the Israelites in the desert. They are not God as He is, but rather God as He has chosen to reveal Himself at various times.

  I read today’s verse again, slowly. I cannot draw images, but I wondered if I could what I might draw. I do have a vivid imagination. Take a moment and try to paint a mental image of this verse. If I were to see this thing coming my way I would be terrified – and this was only day one of a seven day vision for Ezekiel. I think God did a pretty good job getting his attention. Here is one artist’s concept of what Ezekiel described –


   In July in the region where Ezekiel had this vision, days and even weeks often pass without a cloud in the sky. …a great cloud… So, the sight of a single ordinary cloud gathered attention. When Ezekiel looked, this great cloud surely gathered his complete attention.

  …and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber… It is interesting to imagine what Ezekiel is describing, but it important to not get overly consumed by the minutia of the image or to add to it. The artist above had the perspective of time and added a fiery cross. Cool idea, but God is enough. In an oddity of divine mathematics, when I attempt to add anything to God, my need to do so reveals a diminished view of Him. God is enough.

   This powerful image had a great effect on young Ezekiel. The awe it produced in him inspired a life of faithful devotion to a challenging calling.

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