Writers and Wheels
Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. Ezekiel 1:20
I was recently immersed in the inaugural vision of Ezekiel and marveling – once again – on how similar it is to the apocalyptic vision of John. The fantastically strange imagery and over-the-top details always make me feel like I’m getting sucked into the vacuum created by the black hole “Ponder.” I could easily spend hours, or even days, considering each item mentioned. This time, however, the Holy Spirit placed His spotlight on something new and directed my attention to an interpretation that held a specific message for me.
In the vision, the four creatures each had four faces: man, lion, ox, and eagle. I immediately understood that this was a reference to the four writers and their gospels in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are often associated with those particular motifs, and there are commentaries that point out this parallel. But what I was seeing for the first time was the holy calling of the writer, and the required commitment that is inherent with this calling.
When I was in college in Munich, I had the opportunity to visit Prague a couple of times. My favorite place in the city was a medieval monastery that housed an incredible library of very old Christian documents. There was a huge room full of small writing desks that had carved out places for ink wells and pens and candles to provide light. That room left a serious impression on me. I could vividly imagine a monk at each desk hunched over his arduous task of precisely copying pages, chapters, and books of the Bible one perfectly penned word at a time. There were incased examples of their work all over the room and the walls were lined top to bottom with bookcases that held volume after volume of religious and sacred offerings. It was difficult for my young mind to grasp a level of reverence for God’s Word that was so deep, a person would spend their entire lifetime working silently in a dark, cold room to ensure that it was preserved and disseminated. It was further beyond my comprehension that this would have been one of hundreds of such places during this time period. Making sure God’s Word was accurate and available was a top priority for the Church during that period in history.
Although it’s true of all the authors of the Bible’s many books, it is particularly true of the New Testament writers, that Holy Spirit inspired writing had to be paired with action. In the Ezekiel vision, each of the four creatures with the four faces had a huge wheel beside them that moved as they moved and the scripture states twice that, “wherever the spirit would go, they would go.” For me, seeing the four gospel writers through the lens of this Ezekiel vision helps me to understand how complex their God-given purpose was and how invested they were in living out God’s will. And this principle was also demonstrated with the other writers of the New Testament. These people not only wrote their witness and testimony down, they strapped on their walking shoes and took their show on the road … for the rest of their lives.
And because of this, the world was so changed and so hungry for the grace of God and the hope of a Savior that other people spent their lives copying, storing, and sharing these records and letters. And still others, carried these writing as far as they could reach. A process that has continued until present times.
While it’s true that the Bible is a finished document and celebrated as the most widely distributed literary work humanity has ever known, it is equally true that there is so much more to write. Because the Holy Spirit gives the gift of revelation, the Bible is a living document. It serves as an applied lesson in countless everyday situations. It becomes a brand new understanding of some aspect of God’s glory. It contains an infinite number of exciting connections and intriguing possibilities. And, it’s a book that can satisfy all your spiritual, emotional, and intellectual needs.
This is great news for me – I am a writer. I have always known that’s who God made me to be. So, when the Holy Spirit illuminates something for me and allows me to watch it unfold and blossom, I know it’s my purpose to write it down…
…And share it.
But I now wonder if I’ve been as obedient to God’s will as my holy writing predecessors. Does my wheel, which contains my spirit, listen to what the Holy Spirit whispers? Is my wheel moving in the direction designated by God without straying from the path He has indicated? In other words, is my spirit fully aligned with The Spirit?
Will I take my offering in whatever direction I’m told – even if it leads me out of a place of comfort and acceptance and into a place of obscurity and challenges? Yes, I will.
Can I be confident in God’s will and His plan for my life when I don’t have any idea what lies at the new destination? Yes, I can.
God is good and faithful in all things. I am a pen in His hand and I will be His voice wherever He sends me.
It doesn’t matter which part you play in the flow and movement of God’s Word – the avid reader, the inspired writer, the missionary traveler, the generous giver, etc. If God’s Word is resting in your hands or passing through your lips, it’s vitally important that your wheel is moving in the direction of the spirit and your heart is beating with the love of Jesus. Every day, new souls are born into the world and they all need to know about Jesus – God knows where they are, and the best way to reach them.
Ezekiel 1:12-21 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.