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Monday, April 17, 2017

The Wheel in the Sky

Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel [ was ] on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings [ was ] like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings [ was ], as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims [ were ] full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, [ because ] there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[c] [ was ] in the wheels. When those went, [ these ] went; when those stood, [ these ] stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[d] [was ] in the wheels.
Ezekiel 1:15-21 

Of all the commentaries on this enigmatic passage, subtitled ( afterward ) 'Ezekiel's Vision of God', Adam Clarke's commentary seems to hit closest to the mark when he wrote,
  
 'most probably the wheel within means merely the nave in which the spokes are inserted, in reference to the ring, rim, or periphery, where these spokes terminate from the center or nave. I do think this is what is meant by the wheel within a wheel; and I am the more inclined to this opinion, by some fine Chinese drawings now before me, where their deities are represented as walking upon wheels, the wheels themselves encompassed with fire. The wheel is simply by itself having a projecting axis; so of these it is said, "their appearance and their work was, as it were, a wheel within a wheel."

Being Ancient Near Eastern literature, this imagery from the prophecy of Ezekiel is very likely best illumined from this point of view. In our Western understanding, especially in our haughtiness, most Christians seem to think that the Scriptures were written directly to us. We fail to realize that they were originally written in & about an Eastern, not Western culture: therefore, it only makes the best sense that they must be understood in that context!

As Clarke saw, Ezekiel's vision showed the Creator God as the 'Hub', or 'Source', from which His Spirit, or Energy radiates outward. Not unlike the Sun, which we may use as an analogy, the Light of the Source of All radiates outward from Itself, bringing Life to everything it touches, both metaphorically & literally ( it should be understood that this Light & therefore Life, touches All ). In his record of the Gospel, John wrote, 'In Him was life, and the life was the light of men' ( John 1:4 ). As we may note, this understanding has not been totally lost in the West, but shines ever brighter in the East!

In the popular song from which this post borrows its title, the writer, though focusing on the prospect of seeing his love, seems to view Time itself as the One that keeps him wandering/wondering. He understands, to a certain extent, anyway, that the motion of the Universe is not something we can control, but through which we must pursue our own dreams, whatever dreams may come. We ourselves are not unlike this Great Wheel, as in our own lives, we influence the world around us, in a negative or positive way.

May we not understand Ezekiel's mystical vision as revealing the Glory that we, ourselves, are this 'wheel within a wheel'? As we radiate our own Energy outward from the very center of our Being, we are, in Essence, partaking ( participating ) in the New Creation. When we shine the Light of Love, which we are, into every dark corner, we find that the Glory revealed is yet another 'wheel', which in turn may radiate out from itself the Glory that shines from Within, 'from glory to glory', so to speak.

The Manifestation of Glory comes from Within, that much is clear & incontrovertible! How the Glory manifests, though is our choice; we may choose to selfishly keep that Light to ourselves ( so we see much that is 'wrong' in the world today ), or we may choose to be a 'wheel' & so consciously & purposefully shine our Light for all to see, that they might glorify our Father in 'Heaven' ( Matthew 5:16 ). The Source from which we originate is itself that Light & as we have read, It is 'the light of men'!
'
In Him', wrote John, is that Light, that Light, or Energy, being the Source of all that Is. 'In Him we live and move and have our being', the apostle said to the assembly, for he well understood that it is in this Source that Life consists. We ourselves, as spokes in that Great Wheel, radiate outward from the Hub & so we too become a 'Hub', radiating outwards from our own Source, as 'a wheel in the middle of a wheel'. Thus we become, to use a well-worn analogy, 'like pebbles in a pond'; the circles radiate outward in a resonant & overlapping pattern, creating a never-ending & glorious communion!

Charles Haddon Shank

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