Not Aliens but God's Glory
Not Aliens but God’s Glory
“Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.”
The description of Ezekiel’s vision has led to many fanciful interpretations. Some, who reject the inspiration of the Bible, see this vision as some fantastic appearance of an alien spaceship. However, these are not aliens from another planet, but Cherubim (see 10:5,20). In art and literature, Cerubim are pictured as “baby-angels.” They are presented as babies with wings who are in adorable poses. However, as we read through this vision of Ezekiel, we discover that these angelic beings are hardly cuddly babies. These mighty angels are the appointed guardians of the holiness of God. Their purpose is to provide continual praise before God (see Isaiah 6) and to prevent anything unholy from coming into the presence of a holy God. The whole scene serves to picture God’s unfathomable glory, which is beyond holy the ability of human language to capture The appearance of these angelic beings surrounding the throne of God elicits a response of terror and fear in Ezekiel. Ezekiel compares their appearance to that of an awe-inspiring and terror-inducing thunderstorm that had in the midst of it a brightly glowing fire and was surrounded by flashing lightning and mighty hurricane-force wind. The Cereubim surrounded the chariot of God’s throne, whose appearance was that of a man surrounded by radiance and fire. Furthermore, God was surrounded by a radiant rainbow that heightened his glory. The most important statement in the chapter is found in verse 22, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.”
As Ezekiel was beginning his ministry, a ministry that would be filled with hardship and suffering, what would sustain him was the awareness of God’s glory and power. For many Old Testament prophets, understanding God’s majestic glory would maintain them in their ministry. It would be the foundation of hope when they became discouraged because of the rejection of the people. For Ezekiel, the manifestation of God’s glory would give him the context for proclaiming judgment for Israel. The glory and holiness of God highlight that God does not tolerate disobedience and will execute judgment on those who violate his holiness.
We need to realize this vision of God’s majestic glory today. To see God’s glory and holiness is to recognize that God hates sin and cannot be associated with anything that violates his character. In an age when we have become tolerant and accepting of sin, we must be reminded of God’s majestic holiness that will bring judgment. But his judgment is tempered by his grace. Even as he promises divine retribution for sin, he offers forgiveness to the sinner. But this forgiveness should never be mistaken for complicity towards sin. If we minimize sin rather than repent and turn from sin, we risk the judgment that God promises.
Ezekiel’s message would be one of coming judgment but one grounded in the holiness of God. Israel had rejected God and disobeyed his law. Therefore, God had to leave the temple and bring judgment upon Jerusalem. Only after sin was punished and God cleansed his people would he return.
Tragically we turn God’s glory into a justification for sin. His rainbow symbolizes his holiness, judgment, grace, and mercy (see Genesis 9). However, tragically humanity has turned it into a symbol of sin and justification for rejecting God’s law. This we do at our risk. God’s glory brings hope for his people but is also a threat to those who reject his law. To see God in his glory is to fall on our face (verse 28) either in fear because of sin or humble submission because of his grace.