I confess that I have never read ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the hugely popular book for children written 150 years ago. I find it too phantasmagorical, meaning I find it too weird, magical and strange. I feel lost when I begin to read it; I often wish I had a guide, to explain to me, what all the symbols in the book means.
The book of Ezekiel has a phantasmagorical vision at the very beginning, which discourages many from reading it; Ezekiel 1:1-18 (NIV) (shortened) says:
In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God…
I looked, and I saw… four living creatures… their form was human, but each of them had four faces… the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle….
As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces… Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel… Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
If you feel lost, stay calm, here is a short explanation; Judah had recently been captured by Babylon, their Temple where they worshiped God was destroyed. They felt abandoned – then all of a sudden Ezekiel sees this new vision of God.
In the vision, God is on a throne with wheels, God is not confined to the Temple, God is mobile, and is guarded by the toughest looking angels, tougher than Babylon soldiers, angels who see everything happening in any direction at once.
This was an exciting and powerful vision; they are in captivity, but God is there; the Temple is destroyed, but God is mobile. This is Emmanuel – God is with us, a definite help in times of trouble, Amen!