Ezekiel 1:20: “Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”
sung the old spiritual “Ezekiel saw the wheel, way up in the middle of the air.” (Click on the link to see and hear the
What Ezekiel is seeing is a glimpse into heaven. Just as with John’s vision in the book of Revelation, it doesn’t sound anything like the fluffy clouds and harps with which we’ve come to characterize heaven. Instead, it is wild with color and strange creatures and fire and brilliant light. There are windstorms and lightning and, well, lots of wheels. The thing that fascinated the writer of the spiritual was not just the wheel, but the way it moved. While the lyrics for the song vary from version to version, most include some version of the lines, “The big wheel moved by faith; the little wheel moved by the grace of God.” Heaven may turn out to be much more wild and wooly than we imagined, but there is a constant that we can depend on—all that happens, happens by the grace and will of God.
say for sure, but when I think about why African slaves might have reached for
this vision for comfort, I think those lines hold at least part of the
answer. Things on earth may be hard and
difficult. They certainly were for
Ezekiel, who is a prophet for
And there God turns out to be not some doddering, if kindly, old man. Ezekiel describes God this way: “I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.” John’s description in Revelation is similar. Ezekiel says that when he saw it he fell face down. There is no question that this God can deliver on a promise and that not even the cruelest task master can do anything but fall face down in God’s presence. I’m inclined to sing about that, too.
God of the living creatures and all the host of heaven, help us…like the wheels…to turn by your grace. Amen.
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