This is the first of a series of studies based on the book of the prophet Ezekiel. It is a relatively well-known and popular book with many Christians, but includes some unusually difficult verses.
I have also been a little naughty in calling these studies ‘The Spaceships of Ezekiel.’
All of you who are old enough may remember the furore and debates that was caused by the release of the first book by the Swiss author and researcher, Erich von Daniken. The book, of course, was ‘Chariots of the Gods’ and was written in response to the question, ‘was god an astronaut?’
In this book, von Daniken examined extracts from the scriptures of very many world religions, and also used as evidence many artefacts, buildings and landscapes from all around the world. If nothing else, it was very interesting reading and made you think. There is nothing wrong with that. All people with a genuine faith will not be troubled by it.
As a result of this book, and of visiting a public talk by von Daniken, a scientist and engineer who worked for NASA took another look at the early chapters of the book of Ezekiel. He began by trying to prove it nonsense that von Daniken could take something from the bible for his theory. But the more he examined these scriptures, and then took the ideas as potential concepts for technological devices, the more he found that the descriptions would indeed work for high technology – and for technology that is not beyond the means for us in the modern world to build and develop. Indeed, some of the designs are in the NASA archives as possible designs to be developed for future exploration of other worlds.
This engineer was Josef. F. Blumrich, and he decided to publish his work and his findings in a book. The title of that book is the title for this series: The Spaceships of Ezekiel. It is still available today in both paper and ebook format. But a warning to any potential purchasers, it is quite a technical book that writes in depth about the design concepts and the physics involved. It is not light reading for the merely curious soul.
Don’t worry! I am not going to be writing about spaceships in these studies! What I am going to focus on is how we make wrong assumptions about God and how our Lord wants to reveal himself to us and show his great love to us.
Some biblical expositors seem to suggest that the god of the Old Testament is different from the god of the New Testament in many ways. I see it completely differently. I see it that the understanding of people about god has greatly changed over time, and even over the time that is covered by the Old Testament (about four thousand years).
There are many reasons why people, long ago, would understand god to be exclusive, judgemental, and with a very short fuse of temper. Why they would associate natural events as being ‘acts of god’ rather than just something that happened. I am not saying that god is not in control. But I would very much say that god does not micro-control so that every single thing that happens is because he either wills it or not.
To explain more about this – we live on a world that is created by god. A world that includes plate tectonics and hence, as a result, both earthquakes and volcanoes. There is an atmosphere that sits above a revolving globe that has both hot and cold regions, and a large surface area of water to add evaporation into the atmosphere. The result, simply because of the nature of the world, is the weather that varies as we have all experienced. It is full of electricity sometimes, and violence of motion at others. All these things come with the package of the world as it is created.
If the individual events can be called an ‘act of god’ at all, that act was the creation of this world as it is. It is not always that every storm, every volcanic eruption, every earthquake, was planned by god as a method to beat mankind with a heavy stick of judgement. Yet, historically, such things were certainly understood in this way.
Even by Roman times this kind of thinking was waning, maybe as a result of the growing scientific understanding of the Greeks, and certainly of the far East, with which there was increasing contact (some argue that some of the war machines used by the Romans were originally of Chinese design, for instance). And so there became an increasing emphasis on the interest of god with the individual, and the love relationship that exists whether it is recognised or not.
It is this aspect that also exists in the Old Testament, although not always in such obvious and direct ways as taught and seen in the New Testament. It can be seen most obviously in the writings of King David. But some have argued that David represented a nation, and so this love was not so personal. I oppose that view. I believe that David knew a very personal ongoing relationship with his God. And, like any relationship, there are times when it runs warmly, and there are times when it is cold. But that is a description of the human side of the relationship. God does not vary in His love for any of us.
From the human side, we all know that any relationship needs work for it to be maintained beyond only a short season. It can also seem confusing when you try to examine the perceptions people had of God as a chronological progression. From creator of the world and god of all, we find by the time a few chapters have passed that he became the god of only one family that became a nation. But even an examination of the patriarchs will produce some surprises – for instance that god spoke to Pharaoh about his spiritual standing when he wanted to sleep with Abraham’s wife/sister.
As a national god, he promoted both victory and defeat for his people, as we can read in Joshua. But this same book gives people to wondering if this god supports the idea of genocide, and this book also causes problems in the present day when you convert the same understandings into the events surrounding modern Israel.
Elsewhere, because of the way that the scribes recorded ongoing history, we can almost feel the reason why some wonder if we have a god who makes, and admits to, mistakes. For instance the selection of Saul, and then the regret of it and choosing David in his place. The selection of the Hebrews, then regret and the offer to make a new nation through Moses. The creation of mankind, regret of it and so the flood. And these are just a few examples.
I would say that such understandings can only happen through a lack of real understanding about God. I think that there is no really good understanding without a close relationship with the divine. It always comes down to relationship.
Many of us have heard comments by some people, when observing a newly courting couple, that are along the lines of, “I don’t know what she sees in him.” or “I don’t know why he chose her.” But of course these comments are made without the close knowledge that this couple have of each other.
You only know a person in a limited way until you become very close to a person. And our God wishes for all of us to seek such a closeness with Him.
Do you wish this?
Despite the very unusual imagery in the early part of Ezekiel, this is exactly what God is revealing. And this is why I love this part of the scriptures so much.
Before people rush in to say that I discredit the bible and belittle god, can I just say that I am pointing out the questions that people are caused to ask by the scriptures themselves.
As for me, those who have been following my studies have seen already that I hold to doctrine that is orthodox and scriptural, but I am not afraid to rattle the cages of the complacent. And that was also the attitude of the prophet Ezekiel.
You will see how he is taken from relative obscurity and self-loathing, and from there becomes the deliverer of some of the most vivid and inspiring collections of wonderful visions and prophecies.
At this stage I have no idea how far I will proceed through this wonderful book. It is challenging, often difficult, but ultimately one of the most rewarding books of the whole canon of scripture.
I would recommend reading the book as a whole, in several different translations, to see for yourself the transformation of the prophet himself, and the beautiful expanding vision of the Lord that developed in him. And then return here as I begin the more detailed study.
For once, I can definitely say that some knowledge of the original language helps, as is also a good understanding of the history of religion and even geography.
Yep, this book is not for the faint-hearted. I do not mean that you need to do a detailed study of such things before you begin to read this series of studies, only that knowledge of such things greatly helped me to find the understandings that I will share with you.
Look to the next article in this blog to begin the adventure…