Thursday, October 18, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 1 and John 9:1-23

Introduction to Ezekiel: Ezekiel is believed to have been born around the year 622 BC and was about age 25 in 597 BC, when he was exiled to Babylon along with King Jeconiah (also called Jehoiachin) and 3000 other “leaders” or upper class people from Jerusalem. He was part of the priesthood. His prophetic call came after he had been living in exile for about five years, and the vision he had – the larger vision of what the people of God were to become WITHOUT land and WITHOUT monarchy – would become central to the development of God’s “Chosen.”

Ezekiel 1 – It is in Ezekiel’s 30th year, and in the 5th year of exile for King Jehoiakim (593-592 BC), that the word of the Lord is addressed to him. He has a startling vision: in a wind from the north, he sees a great cloud surrounded by light that gives off flashes of lightning; in the center there is a “sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire” (1:4), and in the center of this sheen, there are four animals “of human form” but each had four faces [a human one, a bull’s, an eagle’s, and a lion’s] and each had four wings that stretched out to the wings next to them. Their feet look like ox hooves and they had human hands under their wings. The faces they have are turned to the four quarters. The do not turn as they move and they go where the spirit leads them. If you can form a picture of what this vision looked like, you have a better imagination than I. There are many artists who have attempted to put the vision on canvass, among them Raphael. You can find these images easily online.

Between these figures there is a blazing fire and lightning bolts, and the creatures run back and forth “like thunderbolts” (1:14).

On the ground by each, there was a wheel that glittered and the rims were surrounded with eyes. Where the spirit urged them, the wheels went. The “spirit” of each animal was in the wheels each had.

Above each animal is a vault that “gleams like crystal” (1:21), and the wings of each connect to the wings of the others. The wings make a sound like rushing water, “like the voice of Shaddai, a noise like a storm” (1:24). 

Above the vault is something that looks like sapphire – shaped like a throne, and on the throne was a “being that looked like a man” (1:27). He shone like bronze – above his loins he seemed like fire and light, like a rainbow. It looked like the “glory of Yahweh” (1:28) to Ezekiel; he prostrates himself before it and hears a voice come out of it.

John 9:1-23 - The story of the man born blind. They come upon a blind man on the Sabbath. Jesus’ disciples want to know whose sin (the man’s or his parents’) brought on the blindness, and Jesus tells them neither—“he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him” (9:3). He spits on the ground and makes a mud with his saliva. While not exactly like what he does with the woman caught in adultery in the previous chapter, there does seem to be some connection between Jesus’ miracles and his connection with the earth. He puts this mud on the man’s eyes and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam, which the text says “means sent” (9:7). When he does, he regains his sight.

When his neighbors see him, they all argue whether it is the same man they knew as blind. He tells them about Jesus. They bring him to the Pharisees. They argue, some saying he could not be a man from God because he violates the Sabbath; and others saying he must be or he couldn’t perform such “signs” (8:16). Two logical arguments. The healed blind man calls him a prophet. They only believe he was born blind when they interview his parents.  They don’t want to really testify to the miracle, though because “the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue” (8:22). 

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