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
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
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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