Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. – Ezekiel 43:1-5
This passage is a return to the somewhat fantastic and other-worldly descriptions of God’s voice and Glory. The description of God’s voice as the “roar of rushing waters” was used back in the beginning of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:15-19) and it was also mentioned in Job 20:20-29. Ezekiel alludes the fact that he is revisiting a past vision when he describes these visions as like those he saw on the banks of the Kebar River.
When I first encountered the description of God’s voice as sounding like rushing waters it was in the midst of some very confusing descriptions of spinning wheels and many other-worldly things. In that passage the scientific side of me wondered whether this description could apply to something like the rush of the engine from a spacecraft. This passage does not shed much new light on this except that God’s presence in this case comes from the east and it enters the temple in Jerusalem. The other detail here is that the land was “radiant with His Glory”. This sounds like a bright light of some sort that is bright like the sun, but travelling with God’s presence.
I think this sort of metaphorical description for God by Ezekiel is an attempt to do something that is perhaps not really possible – describe God in human terms. Perhaps that is why God chose to come in the form of the Jesus. That was the only way He could make himself “knowable” by our limited souls. God in the form of Jesus did not have the voice of rushing waters or the the radiance of the sun. He came as a baby in a stable with little fan fair and pomp. He showed His disciples and all of us how to channel our hearts toward God, the One River. He did this through healing, teaching, and loving all those he touched.
As we approach the Christmas season it is so easy to lose site of God’s true Glory in the roar of packages, presents, and pomp that we have attached to the holiday. In reality Christmas boils down to Emmanuel, God with us. God has settled the matter of our separation from him both physically and spiritually by coming to be with us. That is reason enough to celebrate for me.
Prayer: God thank you for showing us your presence at a time and in a way that we could understand and follow You.