Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Christ and the Gospel in Ezekiel

Christ and the Gospel in Ezekiel "On the fifth day of the month, in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon me. I looked, and behold, a sweeping wind came from the north, and a great cloud was in it, with a surrounding brightness and fire flashing forth from it. In its midst was something like the appearance of amber in the middle of the fire, and a brightness in it." (Ezekiel 1:2-4) St. Gregory writes that Ezekiel recognized the Incarnation of the Only Begotten when he saw the hand of the Lord. The amber signifies Christ, who "tempered" His divinity by taking on humanity, that humanity by grace might take on divinity. "Like amber in the fire, God is made man in persecution." "In the midst, there was as it were the likeness of four living creatures. This was their appearance, and the likeness of a man upon them. Each had four faces, and each had four wings. Their legs were straight, and their feet were winged. There were sparks like gleaming brass, and their wings were light. The hand of a man was underneath their wings on their four sides." (Ezekiel 1:5-9) The early and historic church understands here that Ezekiel identifies the four living creatures as cherubim (see Ezekiel 10:9-16), the guardians of the throne of God (Ex 25:10-22; 3KG 6:23-28). Like those of St. John's vision (see Rev 4:6-9), they are seen by the Fathers to typify the Four Evangelists, while their unity in the spirit (vv. 12, 20) illustrates the spread of the gospel. "This was the likeness of their faces: the face of a man, the face of a lion on the right side of the foursome, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 1:10) St. Gregory the Great comments that the man is Matthew, because he begins his Gospel with Christ's genealogy (Mt 1:1). The lion is Mark, "because of the crying in the wilderness" (Mk 1:1). The ox is Luke, "because he started with a sacrifice" (Lk 1:8). The eagle is John, who "stretched toward the very substance of divinity" (Jn 1:1). Gregory also see in them types of Christ, who became a man in the Incarnation, an ox on the Cross, a lion in the Resurrection, and an eagle in the Ascension. Finally, says Gregory, they symbolize "every one of the elect, who are perfect in the way of God," whose virtues are reason, self sacrifice, fortitude, and contemplation of heavenly things. "In the midst of the living creatures there was an appearance as of burning coals of fire, as an appearance of lamps turning among the living creatures. There was the brightness of fire, and out of the fire lightning came forth." (Ezekiel 1:13) The burning coals, writes St. Gregory, are "holy men" (see Is 6:6). The lamps signify the light of the gospel (see Jdg 7:16). "I looked and behold, there was one wheel on the earth next to each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels was like the appearance of beryl, and each of the four had one likeness; and their work was as it were a wheel within a wheel. They went on their four sides, and did not turn when they went. Neither did their backs turn, and they were high. I saw them, and the backs of all four were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the cloud happened to be, there was the spirit ready to go. The living creatures went, and the wheels went with them, for the spirit of life was in the wheels. When the living creatures went, the wheels went; when the living creatures came to a stop, the wheels stopped; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up with them, for the spirit of life was in the wheels." (Ezekiel 1:14-20) The wheels signify Holy Scripture, and the wheel within a wheel illustrates that "the New Testament lay hidden by allegory in the letter of the Old Testament". "Then I looked, and behold, there was a hand reaching out to me, and the roll of a book was in it. He unrolled it before me, and there written on the inside and the outside were words of lamentation and mourning and woe. (Ezekiel 2:9-10) The roll of a book signifies Holy Scripture, which Christ unrolled (Mk 4:34; Lk 24:25). Scripture "is written within by allegory, and without by history; within through spiritual understanding, but without through the plain sense of the letter still befitting the weak". Lamentation and mourning indicate repentance, while woe points to the Final Judgment. *** These verses above are some great verses from this past week of reading. As you can see, these verses are of great value to your understanding of Scripture! So please never forget the purpose behind the COCG mission to increase daily scripture reading amongst the body: "We cannot know Jesus personally or his plan for our lives without reading the Bible." (St. Jerome 347-420 AD) And also, that only a return to the Scriptures of the early and historic Church will produce the kind of results of which St. Jerome speaks. Modern Bibles with their notes based on silly fables simply won't cut it! Indeed, with our Spiritual Fitness Program, you will engage yourself in reading Scripture as it was read for 1900 years, simply and easily through our unique New Testament compilation which contains over 1,250 notes based on the teaching of the early and historic church. As you consider participating in the Spiritual Fitness Program, remember that you are not a sinner by nature, but are created good (Genesis 1:31) and choose, of your own free will, to humble yourself and faithfully accept the one and only way into Heaven, Jesus Christ; or choose, of your own free will, to blaspheme the heavenly order and force your own blotting out of the Book of Life. To choose the first way of those "poor in spirit" saints who through their example have provided a good report, sign up here to engage yourself in this most noble task of building your relationship with Jesus Christ.

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