Ezekiel 1:1

"In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God." NIV translation

He was in captivity for five years in what is now the modern country of Iraq before he saw these visions and began his ministry. The Kebar River was a major canal off of the Euphrates River that was used to irrigate the land in that area. The exiles were probably there to tend the fields for their captors. We notice that he saw "visions of God" but, as we shall see, he did not see the face of God as no man can do so and live.

Ezekiel 1:2 & 3

"On the fifth of the month - it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin - the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him." NIV translation

We see from this passage that he was a Levite and that God was with him. It must have been obvious to those around him as they mourned in their captivity while God showed up and gave him visions.

Ezekiel 1:4

"I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north - an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal," NIV translation

Now, we begin to look at his description of the glory of God. He saw a whirlwind (windstorm) which reminds us of the way that the prophet Elijah was taken up to heaven (see 2 Kings 2). This whirlwind was coming out of the north and that direction was associated with the direction to heaven and the throne of God. The first thing that the prophet notices is the light both flashing and brilliant. God is light and so it is no mystery that when He is around there is bright light.