We continue our studies in Ezekiel. Yesterday morning I promised you
that I would go over the points that we had covered because I did
not allow you to write them down. We did not have time to do that at
the end of the session and I think it would be losing valuable time
if I were to do that now. So what I am suggesting is this: I will
just put down here the points that we covered yesterday, and if
anybody who understands English would like to translate this into
Chinese on the blackboard, everybody could get it. So here it is.
Now we return to the prophecies in Ezekiel. You will remember that
yesterday morning we began to consider the preparation of the
prophet for his ministry, and we spoke about the opened heaven.
Now this morning we come to the second half of the statement, "visions
of God". And we take this morning this first great vision
that was given to the prophet. This occupies verses 4 to
28 of chapter 1. You have carefully read these three
chapters so that it is not necessary for us to read this section
again this morning. You will just glance at these verses and refresh
your memories as to what is here.
The first thing that we must note is that this vision is all one
thing; it has various parts, but it is just one object in view.
The last verse of the chapter tells us that that this is so. Verse
28, the second part of the verse: "This was the
appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord". Everything
in the chapter is included in that, "the appearance of the
likeness of the glory of the Lord".
The inclusive factor of this whole vision was the Throne of
the Lord. All the other things in the vision are just a
part of the Throne; they all go to make up the Throne of the Lord.
It is very important for you to recognise that. You are not
dealing with a number of different things in this vision, you are
dealing with only one thing which is made up of many parts. There
is fire, there is lightning, there is terrible power, there is
irresistible progress, there are the living ones, there are the
wheels, there is the likeness of a man. All these things are parts
of the Throne. They all go to make up the meaning of the Throne of
the Lord. They are all included in this final statement: "This
(all this) was the appearance of the glory of the Lord".
Now, I do want you to grasp the appearance as we have it in this
chapter. We must not think of the Throne as something separate,
away up in heaven and then the cherubim as down here. What we have
got to see is that these are all one. Here is the Throne above,
then under the Throne there is a firmament, and then immediately
under the firmament there are the cherubim, but they are all one,
and they are all moving together. It seems that the Throne and the
cherubim move together. You will see that they come from the
north. This is one thing; that is the point that I want to make
Now, before we consider what is under the firmament, we will
consider that which is above. Perhaps we had better read verse
26 again: "And above the firmament that was over their
heads was the likeness of a Throne, as the appearance of a
sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the Throne was a likeness
as the appearance of a Man upon it above".
So we begin by noting that the all-governing factor is:
The Man Upon the Throne.
Until you have grasped the meaning of that, you do not understand
the whole of the prophecies of Ezekiel. All that is in
this book, both of history and the future, must be viewed in the
light of the Man on the Throne. There is a Throne above the
firmament, and there is the likeness as of a Man above the Throne
upon it. All government is vested in the Man on the
Throne. That is not only the key to the book of Ezekiel, that is
the key to everything in history, and particularly to this
dispensation. It is government vested in the Man on the
Throne. That is the key to everything. From that everything
else comes, up to that, everything else goes.
We asked a great question when we started these studies, "Has
this book a message for the present dispensation?" The answer can
be given in three fragments from the New Testament. One from the
lips of the Lord Jesus Himself in John 6:62, "What if ye
shall see the Son of Man ascending up where He was before?" You
see, that introduces the question about the right place of the Son
of Man. "What if ye shall see the Son of Man ascending
where He was before?" The second passage comes from
the lips of Stephen, Acts 7:56: "I see the heavens opened,
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." The
words of the Lord Jesus have been fulfilled, the question has been
answered: "What if you shall see the Son of Man ascending where He
was before?" "I see the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God." The question is
Now the third passage includes both of those and goes beyond
them. That is in Hebrews, chapter 2, verse 9 [should be 1:8]: "...of the Son He saith, 'Thy Throne, O God, is
for ever and ever.'" You see, that goes back to where He
was before, the Son of Man ascending where He was before. "Thy
Throne is from evermore..." and it carries on to eternity - "Thy
Throne... is for ever and ever." This is said of the Son,
but Jesus speaks of Himself as the Son of Man, the Son of Man
upon His eternal Throne - "Above the firmament a Throne
and the likeness as of a Man upon it above".
First of all, God has His Man. We spell that with a big
"M". God has His Man, the Man that He ever wanted and intended to
have, and now that Man is in His rightful place; the Man is where
God intended Him to be.
Just keep hold of those two things because, as I have been
saying, they govern everything. At last God has His Man. There is
a sense in which God has been seeking for that Man all through the
past. God created Adam to be such a man, and God has been in quest
of the man after His Own heart all through history. God has found
the Man in His Own Son. That is the full meaning of the
incarnation. God has provided Himself with a Man, and that Man is
now in the place of God's appointment. He is in His right place.
He is in the place of government. This answers to the Psalm, "Thou
madest Him in order to have dominion. All the dominion
and authority is vested in this Man! He is the Son
of God, but He is also the Son of Man. Now we must note that everything
is governed by that! The preparation of the servant of the
Lord is governed by that! The ministry of the servant of the Lord
is governed by that! All ministry must take its character
from that Man in the Throne!
Then you move right through this great book, and you come into
the judgments of God, the judgment upon the Lord's people first,
and then the judgments upon the nations; and all these judgments
are governed by the Man in the Throne. After the judgments, you
come to the recovery of God's testimony. The recovery of His
testimony is according to the Man in the Throne. Now, we could
stay a long time with that, but we must leave its greater fullness
till later on.
But this question arises, "What is the testimony that God
wants, and God wants to recover?" - It is the testimony of
Jesus! It is the testimony that God has the Man after His
heart, and that the Man after God's heart is a certain kind of
Man, He is different from all others, and that all
authority is vested in that Man Jesus Christ. That is the
testimony that God wishes to recover. We shall find later on that
the House of God is the place where that testimony is to be found.
The House of God is constituted according to that Man; it is the
meaning of that Man that is expressed in the House of God.
That is what we shall come to if ever we do get there, but you
see, it is the testimony of God in Jesus Christ in the House of
So, the work of recovery, as we have it in the prophecies of
Ezekiel, is governed by the Man in the Throne. And when I speak of
it being governed, I do not mean just official government
- I mean that it is the character of that Man that governs
everything. Then we do move to this House of God. It
occupies a very important place in these prophecies. It is a very
wonderful House. When we come to it, we shall see that this House
has never existed as an earthly thing, but this House is governed
by the Man in the Throne. Then we shall come to the river,
beginning in the House, flowing by way of the altar out through
the court and down right through the country, with everything
where "the river cometh" being made to live. We shall see that that
corresponds to what we have in the book of the Acts, the river
flowing out of the sanctuary, from spiritual Jerusalem to all
Judaea, to Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Everything where the river comes is made to live. That is a very
long river. It's the longest river in the world. It has reached to
China. It has flowed through India. It is a river that flows over
the whole earth, and wherever the river comes it makes things
live. But remember, this river takes its rise from the Man in the
Throne. It is all governed by God having His Man in His right
Then we shall see the people of God coming into their
inheritance. That is another great truth of the New Testament, the
Lord's people coming into their spiritual inheritance. That is one
of the last things in these prophecies. Again, the Lord's people
only come into their inheritance when the Lord Jesus is in His
right place. Let us put that round the other way: when Jesus is in
His right place, the people of God come into their inheritance. We
can never come into our inheritance until He has His right place!
Now look at the book of the Acts - what a fullness the Lord's
people came into! What a large inheritance came to them! Why did
it come, and how did it come? Because the great message of that
book is: Jesus Christ is Lord! God has raised Him far
above all rule and authority! When Jesus has His
place, the Lord's people get their inheritance.
The last thing in these prophecies is the City. We know that the
last thing in the Bible is the City, and there is the river
flowing out of the City, but it flows from the Throne of
God and the Lamb. Jesus at last is in His full Place, and the City
is the vessel of His fullness, and that fullness goes out as from
the City to all the nations. All this is here in type and
symbol in the prophecies of Ezekiel.
Have I answered our first question: "Has this book a message for
the present dispensation?" I think we can now see that it has, but
our point just now is that all this is governed by the Man
in the Throne.
We see two things about that, for God to have His Christ in
heaven is a very great thing. I would have you think much about
that! What a great thing it is for God to have His Christ
in heaven! That could occupy us for a long time. We are told by
Paul that God exercised the exceeding greatness of His
power to bring Christ there. That meant that every other power in
this universe had to be overcome to get Christ there. It
is a very great thing to God to have Christ in heaven! And
then, secondly, it is a very great thing for the people of God
that Christ is in heaven.
Now let us come back to what we were saying a minute or two ago:
all judgment comes from the Throne of Christ, and He is judging
His people and the nations from His Throne. You notice that
judgment begins with the people of God in the prophecies of
Ezekiel. That brings us to the beginning of the book of the
Revelation. It is the churches which are first judged by
the Lord Jesus in glory. It is a principle with God that "judgment
must first begin at the House of God." Of course, that is
necessary for the very character of God. Supposing God were to
judge the world, and then the world could point to Christians and
say, "But look at them! Look what a contradiction they are and yet
You let them go on. You come and judge us, but You don't judge
Your Own people." That would be all wrong. So as a matter of
principle, judgment must begin at the House of God. We, as
the Lord's people, must come under the judgment of that Throne.
Let me take great care to explain what that means, I have said it
more than once already this morning, but you may be missing the
point. You see, it is a kind of Man that is in that
Throne, and God judges everything according to the character of
that Man. That is what you have at the beginning of the book of
the Revelation. You have a full-sized portrait of the Lord
Jesus at the beginning of that book. His Person and His Appearance
are described in detail. He presents Himself like that to the
churches and then it is as though the Holy Spirit was saying, "I
am going to judge you according to that Man." So the message to
every church is: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what
the Spirit says." The Holy Spirit's work is all
related to Christ. You know that as a great New Testament truth.
Now the challenge to the churches is: "How do you measure up to
that Man? How does your life, your
character, and your work answer to that Man?"
The Man is the basis of the judgment. The churches are judged
according to the Man; that is the meaning of judgment - the
measuring line of God is His Son. That is what we have in Ezekiel,
and that is what we have in the book of the Revelation. All
judgment of the people of God and of the nations is according to
Then you will see the second movement of God, it is so clear in the
book of the Revelation. It is:
The Movement for the Recovery of the
Testimony of Jesus.
John says, "I was in the isle that is
called Patmos, for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus."
And that phrase, the testimony of Jesus, occurs several
times in the book of the Revelation. It is that that is the basis of
Now in the churches the one issue is this: "to him that
overcometh...". The overcomers represent the recovery of
God's testimony. The recovery movement of God is found in the
overcomers. The overcomers are those who have put away what is not
according to Christ and are now an expression of that Divine Man,
so that when we come to the end of the book, both Ezekiel and
Revelation, we have the City. We all know that this is not a
literal city; it could not possibly be that. You'd have to get rid
of a great deal in order to have this City on the earth.
This City, of course, is a figure. It is a figure of the Church,
and now that Church, as the City, answers to the Divine
description. Paul put it in this way, "Christ loved the
Church, and gave Himself for it that He might present the Church
to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any
such thing". That fully describes the
City at the end of the book of the Revelation: "He
showed me the holy city, new Jerusalem having the glory of God". A glorious Church. "Her light was like
unto a light most precious". Light is always the symbol
of purity: "Not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing." "Christ...
loved the Church, and gave Himself for it" - in the midst
of the City is the Throne of the Lamb. You see the symbolism. You
see the spiritual meaning - this final state corresponds
to the Man in the Throne!
The book of the Acts is the great beginning. It begins with
Christ in the Throne. Before we get to the end of the apostolic
age, things have begun to go wrong. We can detect that in the
letters of Paul, and especially in his last letters which were to
Timothy - things have begun to go wrong. The testimony is being
lost. We come then to the Revelation, and God begins judgment at
the House of God as seeking to recover that testimony; and in the
end of the Revelation, we see it fully recovered!
Now we come back to Ezekiel. In this book, as we have already said,
we see the energies and goings of God. This first vision is
a representation of that. Look at the symbols that are used.
Firstly, "burning fire" - who can stand before the burning fire?
When the fire begins to sweep across the earth, no one can stop it.
Fire is irresistible. And then, "flashing lightning" - it is like a
great electric storm here. It is a terrible thing. Who can stand
before the great electric storm? You cannot resist that, you cannot
sweep that aside. You see, you have all the symbols of tremendous
energy, and all this is connected with the movement... but it
was that Throne that conquered in the long run!
I say that the great consciousness of the Church at the beginning
was that Jesus is in the Throne. Satan is not on the throne.
Caesar is not on the throne - Jesus is on the Throne! The
Church moved forward in the energy of that great fact! The Church
prayed on the basis of that fact! Its appeal was to the
Throne, and it prayed in confidence because it knew that
He was on the Throne. You remember one instance of that - they
were in a time of great opposition, the rulers had risen up
against them. They gathered together for prayer, and in their
prayer they quoted the second Psalm. You know what is in the
second Psalm: "Why do the heathen rage, and the peoples
imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth were gathered
together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed... He that
sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in
derision... I have declared the decree. I have set My Holy
One upon My holy hill of Zion." And then the kings and
the rulers are appealed to: "You had better kiss the Son lest He
be angry." You see, that was what they used in prayer in
the book of the Acts. What confidence it shows that they had
in that Throne and in that Man on it! They prayed on that
basis! They preached on that basis! They sang on that basis!
Yes, they were a singing people. Listen to two men singing. Where
is the singing coming from? It's coming from a prison! There are
two men who have been beaten and bruised, and they have been cast
into an inner dungeon. Their feet had been made fast with chains,
and they're singing. How could they sing in such a situation? Only
because they knew and believed that Jesus was on the Throne! Their
song was a song of faith and confidence; and in a few minutes
there was a great earthquake, you know a little about earthquakes,
and all the doors were opened and their chains fell off. Jesus is
on the Throne, and they sang because of that! They suffered
because of that! Yes, they suffered very much, but the strength to
suffer came from their consciousness that Jesus was on the Throne.
And they died on that basis! Stephen is dying, and he says, "I
see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right
hand of God." That was his testimony, he died on that.
Now I have got to leave it there this morning because our time is
gone. We have only come to the beginning of this great vision, but
I am sure you see that this book has a message for our time. But I
cannot close without reminding you of this - all this had
to do with the preparation of a man for his ministry. If Ezekiel
had not seen that, he would never have been able to
fulfill his ministry. Everything in his ministry came from
that first vision. We must see the meaning of this. There must be
that which grips us as it gripped him. The thing that grips us
must be: "Jesus is Lord! Jesus is on the Throne! Therefore,
I can go on. I can meet the difficulties, I can suffer, I can die,
I can pray, and I can sing!"