“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business. I feel I am going to roar. You had better put your fingers in your ears. And they did. And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it. And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as the grass bends in a meadow before the wind.
—C. S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe)
Ezekiel is now witnessing the end of the storm. The dark clouds opened up to reveal the source of their powerful lightening. Ezekiel looked above the heads of the creatures and saw a crystal-like dome with a throne above it. On top of the throne sat another being that resembled a human, but with what looked like fire encircling him. Ezekiel knew who he was: Yahweh, the God of Israel.
The noise during this storm was overwhelming. Ezekiel described the sound of the creature’s movements in verse 24 (NRSV):
- “Like the sound of mighty waters,
- like the thunder of the Almighty,
- a sound of tumult like the sound of an army.”
In early May 2004, Brian Lachine and I pushed our Langford canoe into the water of the Leslie Frost Centre (Ontario) at about 2 a.m. We wanted to find a good place to sleep that night, demanding a location secluded from the artificial noises of the world. After a moonlit paddle across a still lake, we found a flat spot beside a 10 foot high waterfall. The noise was deafening yet peaceful at the same time.
That’s how I hear God’s voice: deafening yet peaceful. God is never tame. He is the fundamental power of the universe. Still, he loves us enough not to destroy us with his awful voice. His voice (when we listen) is deafening: it deafens us to the clatter of transitory opinions and mortal ideologies.
. . .
It’s interesting to note that Ezekiel described the glory of this enthroned person as a “bow in a cloud on a rainy day” (v. 28 NRSV). Rainbows often signal the end of a storm as the sun breaks through and refracts off the water vapour in the air. Rainbows find their divine significance in Genesis:
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. . . . When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (9:11, 14-15 NRSV)
Ezekiel was a Priest, and one major function of the priesthood was to know and to teach scripture. The description of the Lord’s glory as a rainbow is important. God is about to announce some horrible judgments on his own people as well as the surrounding nations. Still, before the talk of judgment Ezekiel was reminded of a promise. Just as this horrible storm had passed and ended with a rainbow, God’s horrible judgment will run its righteous course and end in restoration.
Do we listen to God’s awful voice? Are we slow to pray because we fear his judgment? Do we take such comfort in the changing tides of opinion that we find God’s voice archaic and outmoded? Are we confident enough in his dying (never undying) love for us to run towards the sound of his thunder?
. . .
All-powerful and all-loving Father, remind us to listen for the sound of your waterfalls. Enable us to walk the fine line between fear and love, ever mindful that you are the source of our very life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.