This blog continues the reflection on Ezekiel 1 -2/1 which I began in my previous blog. I concluded that Ezekiel’s vision arose from his imagination, which used elements from his faith tradition to build up a compelling image of God, which he also experienced as a revelation of God. I wrote that that his vision came from a creative place where he could no longer wholly separate his life from the life of God.
The image of the divine chariot is also an image of this creative place. The life of the living creatures is not wholly separable from the life of God: there is a vault above their heads symbolising the separation of heaven and earth, but the creatures are moved by God’s spirit, sharing his divine holiness, mobility and perception. Human beings are not like this but they can be, and Ezekiel in his prophetic calling sometimes is. He understands the eyes on the rim of the great wheels because his prophetic imagination, illuminated by God’s spirit, is far-seeing.
I am suggesting that his great vision is not solely of God, but also of the prophetic process itself. God’s finger and Adam’s are not separate as in Michelangelo’s ceiling, but their hands are clasped one with the other, their spirits engaged.
Some of this is spelled out at the end of the vision when the Voice says, “Son of Man, stand upon your feet and I will speak with you.” Overwhelmed by the majesty and holiness of the God who appears to his imagination, Ezekiel has thrown himself to the ground as if dead, but God will have none of that. He / she wants a human being with all faculties active, all dignity affirmed. God’s address to his prophet recognises his difference from the divine while honouring the difference, “Son of Man.” For the execution of God’s purpose, Ezekiel has to become, in his real historical life, the chariot on which God will come to his people. Indeed, he must become even greater than the living creatures he has imagined, since he will not only share the presence of God but will speak his word and demonstrate his will.