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Book of Ezekiel
Theme: The LORD'S glory displayed.
Ezekiel's vision of the awesome glory of the LORD may well be a key to all of the visions in the entire Word of God. It certainly is the key to the Book of Ezekiel. Many people think the Book of the Revelation rests on the prophecy of Daniel but I believe it rests as much or more so on the Book of Ezekiel. There is a striking comparison between the vision in Ezekiel chapter 1 and that of Revelation chapters 4 and 5.
The vision here is very difficult to understand. I humbly confess that to me it is elusive and vague, and I do not understand Ezekiel's vision clearly.
But, there is one thing that I am sure this vision is not, and that is, it is not a vision of the present mechanical age. I do not think that Ezekiel's vision of the wheels within wheels is a prophecy of the airplane! When the old propeller planes were first developed, several prophetic teachers were saying that this vision was a prophecy of the airplane. Today we have jet planes and they have no wheels within wheels, so that interpretation is out.
I believe what we have in this first chapter of Ezekiel, is a vision of the magnificent glory of the LORD. In the Book of Isaiah we have the doctrines of the Throne of God; in Jeremiah we have the practice of that throne; but in Ezekiel, I think we have the AWESOME PERSON who is on that throne. We do not have GOD Himself exposed in this vision, I do not believe that we have a window display of Him, but it is instead a vision of the GLORY of God, a vision of the absolute Presence of God. We see here a vision of the chariot of God as He rides powerfully and victoriously through time. There is one feature of this vision which shocked me when I discovered it: the chariot is vacant. I had taken it for granted that GOD was there. There are four living creatures, the cherubim, connected with the chariot; yet they are separate from it. Above all, there is a throne, and on the throne there is a Man. This is the highest vision of God that we are given, and it is most difficult to understand. I will note just a few of its impressive features.
The first three chapters of Ezekiel contain the account of Ezekiel’s call.
A mighty whirlwind issues from the north, and a dark cloud appears in that part of the heavens. In the midst of the cloud . . . there is an incredible brightness surrounded by encompassing flames. Within this brightness are seen four beings of strange and mysterious shape standing so as to form a square, below their feet are four wheels, and over their heads a throne on which is seated the likeness of a man dimly seen, while a Voice coming from the Throne summons the prophet to his office.
Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. (KJV)
The thirtieth year . . . it is quite likely that Ezekiel was called to his office at the age prescribed in the Law for Levites (Num. 4:23, 30), at which age both John the Baptist and our LORD Jesus began their ministry. Ezekiel’s call is most likely connected with the letter sent by Jeremiah to the captives. Others date from the 18th year of Josiah, when Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law (supposed to be a jubilee year): this would give 594 BC. as the 30th year, but there is no other instance in Ezekiel of calculating from this year.
The captives . . . not in confinement, but restricted to the place of their settlement.
The fourth month . . . month is not in the original. This is the common method.
Chebar . . . the modern Khabour rises near Nisibis and flows into the Euphrates near Kerkesiah, 200 miles north of Babylon.
Visions of God . . . the description of the fundamental principles of the existence and nature of a Supreme GOD, and of the created angels, was called by the rabbis the Matter of the Chariot (1 Chron.28:18) in reference to the form of Ezekiel’s vision of the Almighty; and the subject was deemed so mysterious as to call for special caution in its study. The vision should be compared with other appearances of the divine glory (Ex.24:10; Isa.6:1; Dan.7:9; Rev.4:2). Each of those visions has some of the outward signs or symbols recorded here. If we examine these symbols we shall see that they fall into two classes:
<><><>#1. Those which are in common with the writers of all ages and countries. Gold, sapphire, burnished brass, the terrible crystal (vs.22), are well known images of our God’s majestic glory, thunders, lightnings and the rushing storm of awful power.
<><><>#2. Images that come to our minds are strange and almost odd. That the Four Living Creatures had their groundwork in the cherubim (angels) there can be no doubt. And yet their shapes were very different. Because they were symbols, and NOT likenesses, they could be the same even though their appearance was different.
Of WHAT are they symbolic? They may, according to the Talmudists, symbolize the orders of Angels and not persons; according to others they were symbols of the Four Gospels activated by one Spirit spread over the four quarters of the globe, upon which, as on pillars, the Church is held up, and over whom the Word of God sits enthroned. I think that the general range of the vision gives the best interpretation of the meaning.
Ezekiel saw the likeness of the glory of God. Here His glory is manifested in the works of Creation; and as light and fire, lightning and cloud, are the usual marks which in inanimate Creation suggest the Presence of God (Ps.18:6-14) . . . so it could well be that the four living ones symbolize the living Creation. The forms are typical, the lion and the ox represent the beasts of the field (wild and tame), the eagle of the birds of the air, while man is the rational being supreme upon the Earth with him as the human who prevails over all, and gives character and unity to the four, who thus form one creation. And too, these four represent the parts of man's nature: the ox (the animal of sacrifice), his faculty of suffering; the lion (the king of beasts), his faculty of ruling; the eagle (of keen eye and soaring wing), his faculty of imagination; the man, his spiritual ability, which activates all the rest.
Christ is the Perfect Man, so these four in their perfect harmony symbolize Him who came to Earth to do His Father's will; and as man is LORD in the kingdom of nature, so is Christ LORD in the Kingdom of grace. The wings represent the power by which all Creation rises and falls at God's will; the one spirit represents the unity and harmony of His works; the free motion in all directions, the entirety of His Providence. The number four is the symbol of the world with its four quarters (north, east, west, south); the veiled bodies, the lack of ability of all creatures to stand in the awesome Presence of Almighty God; the noise of the wings, the testimony borne by Creation to God (Ps.19:1-3); the wheels connect the vision with the Earth, the wings with heaven, while above them is the Throne of God in Heaven. Since the eye of the seer is turned upward, the lines of the vision become less distinct. It is as if he were struggling against the impossibility of expressing in words the object of his vision: yet on the summit of the Throne is He who can only be described as, in some sort, the form of a man. That the LORD GOD, the eternal God, is spoken of, there is NO doubt, and such passages as (Col.1:15; Heb.1:3; Jn.1:14; Jn.12:41), justify us in maintaining that the revelation of the divine glory here made to Ezekiel has its fulfillment in the Person of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten of God (Rev.1:17-18).
The vision in the opening chapter of Ezekiel is the revealing of the glory of the living God. It is repeated several times in the course of the book (8:2; 8:4; 9:3; 9:10; 10; 11:22; 40:3). The Person shown is ALWAYS the same, only the form of the vision is adjusted according to special circumstances of the time and place.
***** The captives are not in confinement, but restricted to the place of their settlement. While the captives in Babylon had sat down and wept by the rivers of Babylon (Ps.137:1), Ezekiel was seeing visions of the Almighty God. Quite a contrast . . . weeping and seeing visions!
Ezekiel 1:2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, (KJV)
The Jewish date. This verse and also verse 3, seem rather to interrupt the course of the story, and may have been added by the prophet when he revised and put together the whole book. The word captivity (as in verse 1) refers to the transportation of the king and others from their native land to foreign soil. This policy of settling a conquered people in lands distant from their home, begun by the Assyrians, was continued by the Persians and by Alexander the Great. The Jews were specifically selected for such settlements, and this was no doubt a Providential preparation for the Gospel, because the dispersed Jews carried with them the knowledge of the TRUE GOD and the Sacred Scriptures, thus paving the way for the messengers of the Kingdom of Christ.
Ezekiel 1:3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORDwas there upon him. (KJV)
The word of the LORD. . . came specifically unto Ezekiel the priest. Ezekiel belonged to the tribe of Levi, apparently the priestly branch, and probably to the sons of Kohath. We are told that he was the son of Buzi. The name Buzi is found only here.
Came expressly . . . this phrase verifies that it was in truth a heaven-sent vision.
Chebar was the main canal that came off the Euphrates River, which watered that area. Clearly, the Jewish captives were put there to work the land. This area was quite a few miles from Babylon, and that may be the reason that Daniel and Ezekiel did not have the opportunity to meet. Daniel may have visited the area, but it is doubtful that Ezekiel would have been permitted to visit Daniel.
The hand of the LORD . . . a phrase found in all the Bible which implies a compelling power, because the Spirit constrains the prophet independently of his own will. It is found about 367 times in the Bible, 28 times alone in the Book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. (KJV)
Out of the north . . . from this area the Assyrian conquerors came upon the holy land. The vision, even though seen in Chaldaea, had reference to Jerusalem, and the seer is to consider judgment as it is coming upon the Holy Land. Out of the north . . . some consider these words as expressing the special seat of the power of the LORD GOD. The high mountain range of Lebanon that closed in the Holy Land on the north naturally connected to the inhabitants of that country the northern region with the idea of height reaching to Heaven, from which such a vision as this might be supposed to come.
Infolding itself . . . forming a circle of light, flames moving round and around, following each other in rapid succession, to be as it were the framework of the glorious scene.
Amber . . . the original word occurs only in Ezekiel (1:4, 27; 8:2). The Septuagint and the Vulgate have electrum, a substance composed by a mixture of silver and gold, which agrees very well to the Hebrew word. So, the brightness is like that of shining metal, not of a transparent gum. Out of the midst of the fire is similar to verse 7, and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
*****The vision Ezekiel saw was what he understood to be the Presence of God. There were many swirling clouds in the whirlwind that closed in on each other in a never-ending pattern and direction, which could well reveal God’s ways which are unsearchable. The swirling wind of His Presence gave way to more and more swirlings of His Presence.
Behold, a whirlwind came out of the north. Many people have made a lot of the idea that there is a great vacant space up in the north and that this is the direction that leads to the Presence of God. Modern telescopes have shown that there are stars out there . . . it is NOT vacant. On the other hand, the north is used in Scripture to point to the Throne of God.
Isaiah 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (KJV) . . . This speaks of the fall of Satan. Could it be that instead of pointing to the North Pole, we are to look up . . . God's throne is UP, not relative to any direction at all. The location of Heaven is really not something we can understand. We are told, “look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Lk.21:28). That is the direction in which we should focus our attention on today . . . watching for His Return!
This whirlwind out of the north, indicates a tremendous movement from the Throne of God . . . it is a judgment from God. "And a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire." The first thing Ezekiel sees is a light flashing . . . revealing, but also concealing. Obscuring and yet bringing out where it can be seen, it is a light brighter than the sun. The Word of God says that "...our God is a consuming fire" (Heb.12:29), and that "...God is light..." (1 Jn.1:5). Paul, at the time of his conversion said he saw "...a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun..." (Acts26:13). All of this speaks of the UNAPPROACHABLE Presence of GOD. Also see Eze.1:13-14.
Ezekiel 1:5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. (KJV)
Also out of the midst thereof . . . of the fire, or the amber that appeared. The likeness of four living creatures . . . these do not seem to be living creatures, but looked like them, and most likely mean some the four monarchies; or four chief leaders in the four quarters of the camp of Israel; some say the four evangelists; while others think the holy angels, whose attendance conveys the majesty of God, and the fearfulness of judgments to be executed on the Jews. They are four, either to mean the sufficient number of them, or to show that God would use the four chiefs of His angels, or maybe to let the Jews know that He had as many ways to punish, and as many officers of His Holy wrath, as they could find in the four corners of the world to flee unto. Since the appearance of a chariot in the midst of this vision is supposed, it was fitting that four living creatures should answer to the wheels thereof.
Living creatures . . . the Hebrew word answers very near to the English beings, and means those who live, whether angels, men (in whom is the breath of life), or inferior creatures.
And this was their appearance . . . the form in which these four each appeared to the first view, or at some distance.
They had the likeness of a man . . . the stature, the greater part of them appeared like that of human shape, for they had a face, hands and thighs, and their posture was erect in standing or motion, as a man's is.
*****This verse and also verse 26, "the appearance of a man" . . . I think speak of the incarnation of Christ, the FACT that GOD became a Man. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV) Isaiah tells us: Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (KJV)
GOD came to Earth as a Man, where He walked the dusty roads of Palestine, and finally where He was condemned to death by His own people (Jn.1:11), and crucified on the cross of Calvary by the Romans. John 19:6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. (KJV)
Ezekiel 1:6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. (KJV)
In Revelation 4:6-8, each beast has its own distinctive character, here each beast unites in itself the four characters; there in Revelation each has six wings, like the Seraphim (Isa.6:2), here they have only four.
And every one of those four living creatures which appeared to the prophet had four faces: this pictograph, although it seems to present us with an outrageous sight, yet does NOT unbecome the Divine Wisdom, nor does it lack like representations (Eze.10:14; Rev.4:6; 5:6). Faces. . . some would not have this to be literally understood of that part of the body which is properly the face, but as these living creatures had wings, so too, they had faces, which verse 10 tells us.
And every one had four wings . . . if every face had four wings, each living creature would have sixteen wings, but every one of the living creatures had four wings. With two they did fly, noting the speed of their obedience; and with two they cover their body, meaning the reverence of their mind, and their obedience.
*****Each living form had four faces. Each head had the face of a man in front, the face of a lion on the right, that of an ox on the left, and an eagle's face in back (verse 10). A carving of a winged lion with both human and lion heads has been unearthed at Carchemish in Syria. While the exact importance of each of these animals may never be known, there is reason to believe that they may have their origin in Mesopotamian iconography. The use of these figures by Ezekiel would show the LORD GOD'S dominance over the whole known world. He is shown in a place of power well above these powerful figures of Mesopotamian mythology. In Ezekiel 10:20, the prophet recognized them at once as cherubim, maybe because he knew about the ones in Solomon's Temple (1 Ki.6:23-29). Through this imagery, he also assured the exiled Jews that the same God who was present was between the cherubim in the old Temple would still be with His people by the Chebar. The ox represents the chief of all tame animals; the lion, the chief among the wild; the eagle, the chief among birds; and man, the head of all. The cherubim most likely represent the ruling powers through which God acts in the natural and moral world. Different composite animals, in the form of statues have been discovered in Assyria and Babylon; which guarded the entranceways to palaces and rooms within the palace. Aaron’s calf (Ex.32:4-5) and Jeroboam's calves at Dan and Bethel (2 Ki.10:29) may have been imitations of Near Eastern sacred symbols.
Ezekiel 1:7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. (KJV)
Their feet . . . the Hebrew expresses the parts below the belly by foot, their thighs, legs and feet (as by hand is meant the whole arm). They were of human shape.
Were straight feet . . . not bowed to this or that part, which argues weakness: this most elegantly describes the undefeated firmness where angels do the commands of God; their readiness and their wisdom also in doing it, there is nothing low or brutish in their actions.
The sole of their feet . . . that which is properly the foot, was like the sole of a calf's foot, divided hoof spike the cleanness of the creature. The ox, patient of labor, a beast for sacrifice to God, in these things angels, servants of God, blessed angels are always willing to go where they are bid.
They sparkled . . . it may refer either to the living creatures or to their feet; it speaks either of their anger against a stubborn, sinful people, or the terror of executing God's judgments, or the self-discovering light of His justice, or the zeal of angels in a speedy performing the will of God, in which their swiftness kindles these sparks.
*****Ezekiel lived in a country on the walls of whose temples and palaces were those strange mixed figures, human heads with the bodies of lions and the feet of calves, which we see in the Babylonian and Assyrian monuments. These combinations were symbolic, and the symbolism must have been familiar to Ezekiel. The prophet did not construct his cherubim in imitation of these figures, the Spirit of God revealed forms corresponding to the general rules of that eastern symbolism.
Ezekiel 1:8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. (KJV)
They . . . each of the four living creatures. Had the hands . . . hands in every language, especially in the Oriental, imply power; and being the chief instruments of action, and are here ascribed to these active instruments that execute the commands of God.
Of a man . . . this is added to mean the wisdom, skill and vigilance when they discharge their ministry. Under their wings . . . their power and manner of exerting it is secret and invisible, and it is put forth as God pleased to move them. On their four sides . . . on each side of the chariot one of these living creatures stood, and so on each side hands were ready to act as they were moved; and though it was to all parts of the world, yet were they most ready and prepared.
And they four had their faces and their wings . . . it is doubled to confirm the truth and certainty of the thing, and to intimate the greatness of their power, agility, and wisdom.
Ezekiel 1:9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. (KJV)
Their wings were joined one to another . . . the wings of the living creatures, when stretched out to fly, were joined together; so the wings of those two cherubims which went first, and the wings of the two behind, were joined together when they moved. It seems to refer to:
Exodus 25:20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (KJV) . . . It signifies the equal and uniform readiness of angels, their harmony and union with faithfulness to do the will of GOD, and it shows us the exact harmony that is between them and the works of GOD. They turned not when they went . . . they lost no time in a difficult or tedious turning, as we see in other chariots, for whichever way they were to go, it was there they had faces turned, and so steadily moved forward on their way, whether east or west, north or south, and held on until they had finished their course, but then they were ready for further action, and returned as quickly to their station, where they might receive new commands, as quickly as lightning (verse 14).
Ezekiel 1:10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. (KJV)
Here the prophet more expressly set forth that which was briefly mentioned in verse 6. Each living creature had four faces, in front the face of a man, that of a lion on the right side, that of an ox on the left side, and that of an eagle behind, and the chariot would present to the beholder two faces of a man, of a lion, of an eagle and of an ox, according to the quarter from which he looked upon it.
*****These four faces compares with: Revelation 4:6-8 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (KJV) . . . which remind us of the Four Gospels in which Christ is revealed in FOUR features: His kingship (Mathew) is symbolized here by the lion; His servanthood (Mark) is symbolized by the ox; His perfect humanity (Luke) is symbolized by the face of a man; and His deity (John) is symbolized by the flying eagle.
These four living creatures resemble the description we have of the cherubim who were in the Garden of Eden to guard the way to the Tree of Life. They were NOT shutting man out from God; they were keeping the way open to Him. What did Adam and Eve see when they looked back as they left the garden? They saw a slain animal whose skins they were wearing. And they saw the cherubim overshadowing, keeping open the way to God. It is the BLOOD that makes an atonement for the sin of man. Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (KJV)
When Moses made the mercy seat, there were cherubim above which looked down upon the blood of the sacrifices . . . the same thing Adam and Eve had seen. Through the precious Blood of Jesus, is the ONLY way man can approach GOD. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV) Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (KJV)
Ezekiel 1:11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. (KJV)
Thus were their faces . . . it seems to me that this should be part of verse 10. And their wings were stretched upward . . . their faces and their wings were stretched upwards showing that the ministers of the Gospel LOOK UP TO CHRIST for fresh supplies of gifts and grace, of light, knowledge, wisdom and strength, to enable them to do their work. Two wings of every one of the living creatures were joined one to another . . . the tips of the two outstretched wings reached to one another, while the other two, in token of humble respect, formed a veil for the lower parts of the body.
***** Two wings were needed for flying, but why the second pair? The reason stated is to cover their bodies. In Isaiah's vision, the seraphim had three pairs of wings: one pair for flying, one pair to cover the face, and the 3rd pair to cover the feet. Isaiah 6:1-2 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. (KJV) . . . Even the angelic beings in the Presence of GOD were forced to cover themselves because of the Holiness of GOD.
Ezekiel 1:12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. (KJV)
They went every one straight forward . . . the living beings moved, not by advanced stepping, but by gliding. Whither the spirit was to go . . . where ever the whirlwind blew, they went, being borne on by the wind (verses 4-5). We see the same idea as in verse 9. The repetition is because we humans are so hard-headed to accept the wisdom of God's mysterious doings, which seem confused and muddled to us, but they are all lead steadily to one aim. The spirit . . . is the secret impulse by which God moves His angels to the end planned. They do not turn back or aside until they have fulfilled the job assigned to them.
*****GOD is moving forward steadily and without hesitation toward the accomplishment of His purpose in this world today. Nothing man or the devil do will deter Him . . . nothing can sidetrack His plan for His people and the Universe! The chariot, although composed of different parts, should be considered as a whole. There was one spirit guiding the motions of the whole in perfect harmony. The spirit is literally the wind or spirit and is the impulse through which GOD moves His angels as He wishes. They NEVER move on their own accord. The same idea is conveyed in verse 9. The prophet often repeats things in this book for emphasis.
Ezekiel 1:13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. (KJV)
Likeness . . . appearance . . . likeness expresses the general form or appearance, the particular feature. Coals of fire . . . means the intensely pure and burning justice with which God punishes by His angels, those who like Israel, have hardened themselves against Him. In Isaiah 6:2 and 6:6, instead of cherubim, the name seraphim, the burning ones, is applied, which indicates God's consuming righteousness; when their cry to Him is, Holy! holy! holy! and the burning coal is applied to his lips, for the message through Isaiah’s mouth was to be one of judicial severance of the godly from the ungodly, to the utter ruin of the ungodly.
Lamps . . . the fire emitted sparks and flashes of light, as torches do. Went up and down . . . expressing the marvelous power of God's Spirit, in all His movements . . . never resting, never wearied. Fire . . . bright, indicating the glory of God.
Out of the fire went forth lightning . . . meaning God's righteousness will at last cause the bolt of His wrath to fall on the guilty; as now, on Jerusalem.
*****Went forth lightning . . . fire and lightning were associated with God's revelation at Mount Sinai (Ex.19;16-18), so there is the reminder that the covenant-making God of Sinai is the same God who will now execute justice for the violation of that covenant.
Ezekiel 1:14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. (KJV)
The living creatures ran and returned . . . they had a circular movement; they were in rapid motion, but they did not increase their distance from Ezekiel who was seeing this. I think this should be understood. Ran and returned . . . continual, restless motion indicates the abundance of life in these cherubim. They rest not day or night (Rev.4:8). They run to and fro through the whole earth (Zec.4:10). Flash of lightning . . . different from lightning in verse 13, the meteor flash or sheet lightning.
*****The Bible tells us God is light (1 Jn.1:5). Here in Ezekiel, there is a remarkable vision of the glory of God, a vision out of the PERSON of God. The LORD Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" (Jn.8:12). WHAT does this reveal to us? It reveals the purity, the righteousness and the holiness of God. 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (KJV)
God is NOT exposed in this vision . . . He is portrayed. It is still true that NO man has seen God at any time. Man has been forbidden to make a likeness of God, because NO one knows what He looks like! Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: (KJV) Moses wanted to see God’s glory. Here was God’s answer.
Exodus 33:18-23 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORDbefore thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the LORDsaid, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. (KJV) Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live (vs.20).
We do NOT know what He looks like. We do not even know how the LORD Jesus who became a Man looked. But in every human heart, there is a longing to see God; I think every idol ever created is a witnesses to that . . . BUT . . . idols are simply perverted and profane representations, which reveal that men want to see God . . . BUT God has NOT chosen to reveal His Person to man.
Ezekiel 1:15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. (KJV)
One wheel . . . the dreadful height of the wheel (verse 18) indicates the huge, frightful energy of the complicated revolutions of God's providence, bringing about His purposes with unerring certainty. One wheel appeared to pass within another, so that the movement might be without turning, no matter where the living creatures might advance (verse 17 ). So, it seems each wheel was composed of two circles cutting one another at right angles, (a wheel in the middle of a wheel, Eze.10:10) only one circle of which appeared to touch the ground (upon the earth), according to which direction the cherubim desired to move in.
With his four faces . . . rather, according to its four faces or sides; as there was a side or direction to each of the four creatures, so there was a wheel for each of the sides. The four sides or semicircles of each composite wheel pointed, as the four faces of each of the living creatures, to the four quarters of heaven. The cherubim and their wings and wheels stood in contrast to the symbolical figures, somewhat similar, then existing in Chaldea, and found in the remains of Assyria. The latter, though derived from the original revelation by tradition, came by corruption to symbolize the astronomical zodiac, or the sun and celestial sphere, by a circle with wings or irradiations. But Ezekiel's cherubim rise above natural objects, the gods of the heathen, to that of representing the one TRUE God, who made and continually upholds them.
***** Ezekiel sees a wonderful vision of these cherubim in all the glory of the Presence of the Living God. Cherubim are angels concerned with guarding the holiness of Almighty God. They guarded the way to the tree of life (Gen,3:24), and a representation of them was upon the Mercy seat of the Ark (Ex 25:18-22). Satan was also one before his fall (Eze.28:14-16).
When the cherubim rest upon the Earth, there is a wheel within a wheel. They stand before the holiness of Almighty God and have a greater hand in directing the motions of second causes to serve God’s purpose than we think they have. Such a close connection is there between the living creatures and the wheels that they moved and rested together. It is so in all Gods dealings with man, the tree of life, the mercy seat, Satan and the holiness of Almighty God. Yet in Gods dealing with man all things are like a wheel within a wheel, and the spirit of the living beings is in the wheel (verse 20).
Ezekiel 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. (KJV)
The appearance . . . the form in which these wheels were seen. Their work . . . all that was wrought, whether engraved or otherwise, was of one color. The colour of a beryl . . . a sea-green color. Beryl was one of the gems in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex.28:20; Song 5:14; Dan.10:6). They four had one likeness . . . by this it appears that was the number of the wheels, had one likeness; were exactly of the same make for dimensions, color, frame, and motion, so that who sees and knows one sees and knows all, thus noting the harmony and likeness which is in God's works, which are all framed, managed and governed by the same wisdom, and therefore the same uncertainty in all things under the sun. The sameness of the wheels to one another indicates that there is no inequality in all God's works, that all have a beautiful analogy and proportion.
Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel . . . it is probable the wheels were framed so as to be an exact sphere or globe, which is easily rolled to any side or quarter, since it touched the earth or basis on which it stands in a point, and is round.
*****Wheels Within Wheels, Like a Gyroscope. Of the many fascinating Scriptural descriptions of heavenly things in Ezekiel's vision, this vision of chapters 1 and 10 of the wheels within wheels is by far the most spectacular and difficult. The description itself is hard enough for us to understand, but there is nothing even similar to it in the Bible, nor are we told what to compare these descriptions to so that we may understand them. The prophet described in the Hebrew language what he saw, which was far-fetched and foreign to his experiences as a man. The difficulty of understanding these scriptures (or any others) is that the translation of the writings from Hebrew to English is not easy nor perfect.
Since there is no certain and crystal clear understanding of this subject simply by reading the Scripture, even after consulting multiple Bible commentaries, we can only come to a very imperfect, over-all understanding. The Apostle Paul is so right when he said that our vision and understanding of spiritual things is very limited. 1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (KJV)
Ezekiel 1:17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. (KJV)
When they went . . . the living creatures; the wheels moved according to the motion of the living creatures. They went upon their four sides . . . the faces or sides of the four wheels moved in answer to the direction in which the cherubim desired to move; while the transverse circles in each of the four composite wheels remained suspended from the ground, so as not to impede the movements of the others. The wheels being supposedly spherical or round in every way as a globe, by an exact and curious framing of two wheels one within the other, the four semicircles which are in two whole wheels may be well taken for these four sides on which these wheels do move, and such a wheel will readily be turned to all points of the compass, as a ball on a billiard table. They turned not when they went . . . they did not need to go back to turn, as we see other chariots or coaches must do, they returned not till they came to their journey's end; nothing could divert them, or put them out of their course. So firm and sure are the methods, so constant and unalterable the purposes of God, and so endless the obedience and observance of holy angels; and so devoted to do the just sovereign will of God.
***** The cherubim moved in the direction that they desired to move without turning. Whatever the precise method of construction was, the point is that this vehicle had complete mobility.
Ezekiel 1:18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. (KJV)
As for their rings . . . the strakes which form the rim or periphery, the circumference of the wheels; They were so high that they were dreadful . . . their very height impressed a fear on Ezekiel, they were exceedingly great in their diameter, so that it was tremendous to look from the part that touched the ground to that which was opposite above. Were full of eyes . . . this added to the dreadfulness of their appearance: so unusual and supernatural a sight could not but affect the prophet, who in so mighty a wheel might expect multitudes of nails, but instead sees a great multitude of eyes. One eye seen, or imagined to be seen, suddenly, and in the dark, has amazed many, how much more so, as many as would fill up the circumference of these wheels, for they were round about. Every one of the four wheels were thus filled with eyes. This is thought by some interpreters, that the wheels, their motion, their height and eyes, signify the height, unsearchableness, wisdom and vigilance of the Divine Providence, in governing the affairs of the world and the church. I think maybe the multitude of eyes here in the wheels and in Eze.10:12, and in the cherubim themselves, symbolizes the abundance of intelligent life, as the eye is the window through which the spirit of the living creatures in the wheels (verse 20) looks forth, compare: Zechariah 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. (KJV) . . . So, if the wheels indicate the Providence of God, so the eyes imply that He sees all the circumstances of each case, and does nothing by blind impulse.
*****God is a God of intelligent purpose. We do NOT live in a Universe that is moving into the future aimlessly and without purpose. God has an absolute purpose for every atom, every tiny particle that He has created, and He has a purpose for you and me in His plan and program.
MORE ABOUT THE VISION
Ezekiel 10:9-12 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone. 10 And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. 11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went. 12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. (KJV)
Ezekiel 10:9-12 is almost identical with Ezekiel 1:15-18, and I simply cannot picture or imagine anything that fits the vision. Wheels whirl, but do not turn as they go, and wheels that go in four directions fail to form a clear picture to me. The complex, complicated vision has so many eyes, so widely distributed, and the face of the cherub, is apparently substituted for the face of an ox in Ezekiel 1. It is quite possible that we are not supposed to be able to fully understand it. All of the eyes described here is a reference to the all-knowing, all-seeing God. One interpreter tells us that the pagans also illustrated this characteristic of their gods by making idols covered with eyes. Another example of this is found in Zechariah 3:9, where one reads of the Stone that had seven eyes, which stands for the LORD Jesus Christ. http://www.godcannotlie.org/zec_ch3.htm
Ezekiel 1:19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. (KJV)
When the living creatures went, the wheels went by them . . . the wheels' motion or their standing depended totally on the motion and assistance of some higher agent which excited and guided them. So, when the living creatures, the angels and ministers of God's will, moved, then also did those affairs expressed by wheels move also. There was an EXACT harmony between them, since they were as well joined in motion as they were in resting.
When the living creatures were lifted up . . . moved higher above our ordinary reach.
From the earth . . . the basis on which both the wheels seemed to stand, and from which sometimes they seemed to lift themselves up, as if to bring a new commission and order from Him that sat upon the throne.
Ezekiel 1:20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. (KJV)
Whithersoever the spirit. . . either the will and inclination of the living creatures, or rather the Spirit of God which moved the living creatures, gave them motion and guided it; these angels in their ministry promptly observed both the desire and the conduct of God's Spirit.
Was to go . . . this phrase is applied to the Spirit (verse 12). Their will was for going where ever the Spirit would send them.
Thither was their spirit to go . . . the feeling and will of the wheels agreed with the spirit of the living creatures, so that there was harmony between those superior and inferior causes, they agreed in the same plan.
And the wheels were lifted up over against them . . . rather, beside or in conjunction with them.
For the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels . . . the wheels were made-up with a vital spirit; the wheels were alive, they also were animals, or endued with animal life, as the creatures were that stood upon them. Here then is the chariot of the LORD GOD. There are four wheels, on each of which one of the compound animals stands; the four compound animals form the body of the chariot, their wings spread horizontally above, forming the canopy or covering of this chariot; on the top of which, or upon the extended wings of the four living creatures, was the throne, on which was the appearance of a man (verse 26). One and the same spirit was in both the wheels and living creatures, and so was the same inclination and motion too. Where ever the spirit of the four living creatures was to go, the wheels went. All four creatures together with their wheels are here called the living creature, because they formed a whole, one in motion, and in will, for one spirit was in them.
*****We can see more clearly that these wheels speak of the ceaseless activity and energy of God. Our God is omnipotent. God is moving forward, and He will accomplish His purposes.
In Revelation we again read of these four living creatures of Ezekiel's vision. They are set to guard the Throne of God, and in guarding the throne they do two things:
<><><>#1. They protect the throne in the sense that they do not allow man in his sin to come into the Presence of God; and
<><><>#2. They show the way that man is to come. The cherubim show the way.
But, I think that Ezekiel saw something so much greater. He saw the cherubim hovering over the world, extending mercy to the Earth that is flying through space. God made the whole world a mercy seat when Christ died on the cross, and God is hovering over this world today, ready to receive any sinner who will come to Him through Christ.
Ezekiel 1:21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. (KJV)
This verse confirms and further illustrates what is said in verse 20, and since it is almost word for word the same as verse 20, it needs no more to be said.
*****Verses 19-21 mentions the Spirit, as already mentioned verse 12, the Spirit was the driving force behind this vehicle. It responded to the divine directive whether moving on earth or flying in the sky.
Ezekiel 1:22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. (KJV)
The likeness . . . the appearance or resemblance (verse 13, 16).
The firmament . . . the living creatures, the wheels, and these upon the Earth, our prophet had seen and mentioned; now he speaks of the firmament, which must be supposed to be stretched forth above the earth; as the prophet saw the one, so he saw the other. This firmament was not the one we see, it was symbolic and representative. It appeared, but much more imposing and wonderful than the natural. Upon . . . not resting upon, but over their heads, stretched out.
The colour . . . Heb. eye, a word already twice here used (verse 8, 16), and in the same sense; the feature, and shape or form. Of the terrible crystal . . . for splendor, purity and firmness: all that was above these creatures and wheels was beautiful and very majestic, as it was it should be; and it is therefore called terrible, because it impressed a reverence upon the mind of the beholders, it dazzles the eye and overpowers it: the same word is used concerning the Name of God, holy and reverend (Ps.99:3; 111:9).
*****The colour of the terrible crystal . . . the firmament (Gen.1:6-7) or platform over the figures, on which God was seated, was clear like ice. When God appeared to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, the same crystallike platform separated God from Moses and the elders.
Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. (KJV)
Ezekiel 1:23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. (KJV)
Under the firmament . . . below it . . . distance of angels, and creatures and servants to their God, Creator and LORD, stood these living creatures, two of each living creature, as appears by the phrase, one toward the other.
Their wings straight . . . stretched forth, ready for action if commanded, and with equal straightness and height, in close and affectionate union, joining in the work appointed them.
Every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies . . . each of the four living creatures had two other wings with which they covered their bodies; the two living creatures on the one side of the chariot, and two living creatures on the other side; so that in what position so ever the prophet looked towards them, their lower wings covered them. Bodies, here ascribed to them representatively, and as all the rest, visionally.
*****Were their wings straight . . . their wings held the platform aloft, perhaps by the air created by the flapping motion. God is on high, above the firmament; the angels are under the firmament, which means they are subject to God's dominion and ready to fly on His errands in the open firmament of heaven, and to serve Him unfailingly.
Ezekiel 1:24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. (KJV)
And when they went . . . as soon and as often as the living creatures moved, doing their work of performing God's commands. I heard . . . and wanted to know what it was.
The noise of their wings . . . although some of God's judgments are executed in silence and are done in the dark, there is an alarm here, and they may be heard. When the whirlwind (verse 4) drove the wheels, the wind whirling among the wings was like the noise of many waters; like a waterfall, or waters dashing against the rocks and was like the noise of great waters . . . as the sea raging and swelling as though it would overwhelm the Earth, so too the right and dreadful judgments of God are executed, they threaten the overflowing of all.
As the voice of the Almighty . . . thunder is often called God's voice (Ex.20:18; 1 Sam.7:10; Ps.29:3-5; Ps. 77:18; 78:48; 104:7; Job 26:14; 40:9; Jn.12:29; Rev.4:5; 8:5; 19:6).
The voice of speech . . . (Jer.11:16) the prophet heard the voice in an clear manner declaring the will of God, as if the wings had tongues to speak as well as power to fly.
As the noise of an host: . . . this voice was not of friends saluting each other, or comforting, but it was the voice and noise of a host, an army (2 Ki.7:6; Isa.13:4; Dan.10:6).
When they stood, they let down their wings . . . having done their work, they present themselves before God, and let down their wings, not out of weariness, but out of a sense that they must never act unless instructed. With their wings let down and covering their bodies, they do humbly watch as servants for the commands of their LORD.
*****Their wings, like the noise of great waters . . . the sound was like the crashing noise of waves from the sea (Ps.93:4). As the voice of the Almighty . . . Hebrew, šadday, probably related to the Akkadian word šaddu, which means mountain because it implies the strength and awesome power of God. The Voice of God is a Hebrew phrase for thunder (Ex.9:23, 28; Ex,20:18; Ps.29:3-9). The noise of an host . . . the sound was like that of armies in battle (Isa.13:4; 17:12; Jer.47:12; Dan.10:6; Rev.17:15).
Ezekiel 1:25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. (KJV)
Bees and other insects make a noise with the vibration of their wings, and here, the angels do so, to get the attention of the prophet Ezekiel, to hear that which Almighty God was about to say to him from the firmament (heavens). Angels, according to their work, sound God's alarms to the children of men and stir them to hear His voice.
The noise of their wings was loud and terrible, as the noise of great waters, like the roaring of the sea, and as the noise of a host, the noise of war; but it was articulate and intelligible, for it was the voice of speech; it was as the Voice of the Almighty God.
Ezekiel 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. (KJV)
All the other parts of this vision were simply an introduction to this. The God in the other parts had made Himself known as LORD of angels and Supreme Director of all the affairs of this lower world. Ezekiel, hearing a voice from the firmament, turned to see, as John did, the voice that spoke to him, and he saw One like unto the Son of Man (Rev.1:12-13). The glory of Christ that the prophet saw was above the firmament that was over the heads of the living creatures. The heads of angels themselves are under the Feet of the LORD Jesus; for the firmament that is over their heads is under His Feet. Angels, principalities and powers are made subject to Him (1 Pet. 3:22).
The first thing Ezekiel saw was a throne; for divine revelation comes backed and supported with divine authority. We must have an eye of faith to God and Christ as upon a throne. The first thing that John saw in his visions was a throne set in heaven (Rev.4:2), which commands reverence and subjection. This is a throne of glory, a throne of grace, a throne of triumph, a throne of government and a throne of judgment. The LORD has prepared His throne in the heavens, and has prepared it for His Son, Whom He has set as King on His holy hill of Zion.
*****Our Almighty God appears as the figure on the throne (Ex.24:10). The appearance of a sapphire stone is the color of the sky, which is blue. The likeness as the appearance of a man . . . the figure on the throne is the likeness of man. This likeness whose appearance resembled a man revealed God's holiness and prepared Ezekiel for what God was about to tell him. The likeness represented God Himself on the throne. In a similar way, Christ revealed God in human form and prepared us for His message of salvation. Christ Jesus (GOD) came into history in an actual, human Body. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV)
John 5:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (KJV)
John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (KJV) http://www.godcannotlie.org/john_commentary_ch14.html
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (KJV)
John 10:30 I and my Father are one. (KJV) http://www.godcannotlie.org/john_commentary_ch10.htm
Ezekiel 1:27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. (KJV)
I saw as the colour of amber . . . (verse 4). The Messiah is described here as in the following:
Daniel 10:5-6 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. (KJV)
Revelation 1:13-15 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (KJV)
As the appearance of fire round about within it . . . fire of most intense degree; as that fire which is shut up in oven or furnace. The righteous anger of Christ, and His majestic glory, appear within the amber.
From the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward . . . Ezekiel saw what appeared to be fire; that was in His upward parts, and the lower parts as well. The Messiah (Christ) was provoked to wrath, and proceeding to judge, He comes in flames of fire taking vengeance. 2 Thes. 1:8-9 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our LORDJesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (KJV)
And it had brightness round about . . . (see verse 4). Majesty, justice and pure holiness shine all round about Christ, as He comes in great wrath against His enemies.
*****On the throne Ezekiel he saw the likeness of a man. Daniel, in his vision (Dan.7:13; 8:17), saw the kingdom and dominion given to One like the Son of Man, who therefore has authority given to Him to execute judgment because He is the Son of man (John 5:27), so appearing in these visions. Ezekiel saw Him as a prince and judge upon this throne. Though he appeared in the likeness as a Man, yet He appeared in MUCH more than human glory. God is indeed a shining light! When the prophet Ezekiel saw Him, he saw the color of amber, specifically, a brightness round about; for God dwells in light, and covers Himself with light as with a garment. God is also a consuming fire! He shall consume (put away) all His enemies one day.
Ezekiel 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (KJV)
As the appearance of the bow . . . above where this glorious Person sat, there was a rainbow, and there was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. As splendid and glorious as it was, it was only the appearance of the likeness, or a very faint representation of the real thing.
I have tried to explain these appearances as best as I could, but who am I to try to explain their meaning? We can estimate, we can guess, and we may never get it right. I think that the living creatures, wheels, fires, whirlwinds, etc., which are presented here, point out symbolically, the various ways that the sword, fire, pestilence, famine, etc., which were used in the Jews destruction; and that God appears in all this to show that Nebuchadnezzar is only his instrument to inflict all these calamities. What is in the following chapter appears to me to confirm this supposition. But here we have the rainbow, the token of God's covenant (Gen.9:13), to show that although there would be destruction of the city and temple and painful tribulation among the people, there would not be a total ruin; for after a long captivity the Jews would be restored. The rainbow is a well-known token of God’s mercy and love.
This, the conclusion of the vision, was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord; it was NOT the full glory of God, it was NOT the splendor of unveiled majesty, it was simply the likeness of His glory, so that the prophet might bear it and tell it to us. The fullness of God’s glory is inaccessible light, which the prophet could NOT see; and His unspeakable majesty, which the prophet could NOT tell to us.
When I saw it, I fell upon my face . . . Ezekiel was overwhelmed by the vision. With deep humility and reverence he cast himself down, in a posture of prayer and reverence and fear.
And I heard a voice of one that spake . . . such was the Voice and the things spoken, that the prophet seems to confess he could not say whose voice it was; only that it was Divine, powerful, astonishing and loud as being such as is described in verse 25. When he saw the brightness and heard the Voice, he literally fell flat on his face on the ground.
Genesis 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, (KJV)
Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. (KJV)
Daniel 8:17-18 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. (KJV)
Daniel 10:9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. (KJV)
Matthew 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. (KJV)
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: (KJV) . . . While Jesus was on Earth, the apostle John knew Jesus, and was closer to Him than anyone else. But in this vision, John did NOT go and shake hands with Him, nor embrace Him, nor kiss Him. John could NOT even speak, but fell at Jesus’ Feet, as if he were dead. The sight of the glorified Christ simply paralyzed John. Have you ever considered just what YOU will do when you come into the Presence of our Lord?
*****This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. Ezekiel saw more than Moses saw, more than David, Isaiah or Daniel saw. He saw a vision of the glory of God . . . NOT His Person, but His glory. The Presence of God was there in that vision to Ezekiel. When the LORD Jesus came to this Earth and took upon Himself our humanity, His glory was not seen. Ezekiel SAW the GLORY of the LORD, as did Peter, James and John.
Matthew 17:1-2 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. (KJV)
Luke 9:28-29 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. (KJV)
Throughout the Old Testament, when men came into the Presence of God, they fell down on their faces. The Presence of God truly humbled Isaiah. Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (KJV)
What a picture of our holy God we have here! I am thankful that I am hidden in the clift of the rock. Exodus 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: (KJV) . . . I do not know what my Saviour looks like, but one day I am going to see Him Face to face. Come, LORD Jesus, Come!
Ezekiel’s vision of the four wheels dramatically illustrates the omnipresence and omniscience of God. These wheels were associated with the four living creatures (vs. 4), who were later described (Eze.10:5, 20) as cherubim, angelic beings appointed as guardians of the holiness of God.
Each wheel was actually two in one, a wheel within a wheel, with one actually set inside the other at right angles which enabled the living creatures to move in any direction instantly without having to turn, like a flash of lightning. These wheels had the appearance of chrysolite, which may have been a topaz or other semiprecious stone. The outer rim of the wheels was described as high and awesome with the outer edge of the rims inset with eyes (vs.14-18).
The Spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels (vs.20-21), so the creatures were able to move any direction the wheels moved. Most Biblical scholars agree with the idea that the Spirit of God gave direction to the wheels through direct knowledge of and access to the will of God. The flexible movement of the wheels suggests the omnipresence of God; the eyes, His omniscience; and the elevated position, His omnipotence.
This vision appeared to Ezekiel as a powerful picture of movement and action demonstrating the characteristics of God’s divine nature. It presented God as being on a chariot-like throne, with His glory both supreme and immanent, existing in and extending into all the created Universe. The whole revelation by God in this vision to Ezekiel, the cherubim, the chariot, the Spirit and the wheels, put emphasis on their unity and coordination.
As terrifying as this vision was, it brilliantly displayed the majesty and glory of God (vs.28), who came to Ezekiel and the children of Israel in the midst of their Babylonian exile. It reminded them of His holiness and power as the LORD of all creation. The message was clear: although His people were in exile and their nation was about to be destroyed, God was still on the throne and able to handle every situation. There is a lesson for us today, that through His marvelous providence, God moves in the affairs of ALL nations to work out His own unseen plan, always at work, and though His plan may seem complex to us, it is NEVER wrong, and NEVER late (Rom.8:28).
The Old Testament Book of Ezekiel begins with a vision that has puzzled people for 2,500 years. Some people think that Ezekiel saw a UFO. But truth is stranger than fiction.
Like dreams, visions use symbols that must be interpreted. The wheels Ezekiel saw that were full of eyes; the four living creatures, each with four heads, is EXACTLY what he saw. To reach the correct meaning, it must be interpreted.
I have read many commentaries on Ezekiel, and I honestly believe that NO interpretation of this vision has come up with the correct meaning, but when we look at the vision with Bible prophecy symbols, it helps us understand.
Purpose of the Vision
God does not give us prophecies just to be giving us prophecies, there is a definite purpose for giving Ezekiel this vision. It therefore makes sense that God would tell us about these things in advance, but WHY?
To arrive at the purpose of the vision it is important to check out the setting of the surrounding verses that may have a connection with the vision. The first three verses of the book of Ezekiel tell us that he saw this vision while he was by the Chebar River in Babylon.
The Chebar was a man-made canal attached to the Euphrates River. The land of Babylon is today Iraq, which is basically in the center of the Middle-East oil region, between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In the chapters that follow the vision, God tells Ezekiel to eat a scroll (accept knowledge and information), then prophesy to all the Israelites; those from the northern nation of Israel and the southern nation of Judah, that God will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds (Eze.5:10).
Ezekiel goes on to describe the sins of Israel and Judah, and to proclaim many prophecies about the Israel, Judah, Egypt, Babylon, and other nations. The northern tribes were scattered several hundred years before Christ, then the last remaining southern tribes were forced to leave Israel in the last part of the first and second century A.D. Israel was not a nation again until 1948 when the southern tribes established the modern nation of Israel.
When God pronounces long-range judgments, he usually gives prophecies of reconciliation. God will heal the wounds He inflicted, He will give abundant harvests to those upon whom He brought famine, and so on.
Included in the book of Ezekiel are prophecies about World War III and the time of God's judgment upon the whole world. And according to Revelation 9, World War III will start at the Euphrates River . . . Turkey, Syria, Iraq. It is something to think about.
This vision also serves the purpose of confirming that only the God of Israel and Judah knows the future, and only He determines the destinies of nations.
Ezekiel Chapter 1 records Ezekiel's Vision of God, and of the living beings (angels). We are blessed indeed to have the Word of God, and we do have a tremendous duty to pay close attention to it.
The Voice of God came in the fullness of light and power, by the Holy Spirit of God. The vision seems to have been sent to take hold the prophet Ezekiel's mind with great and glorious thoughts of God. This vision should strike terror upon sinners . . . but speak comfort to those that love and fear (reverence) God, as they humble themselves before Him.
The first part of the vision portrays God as being attended and served by an infinite company of angels, all of them being His messengers and His ministers performing His commands. This vision should impress on our mind the solemn awe and fear of the LORD GOD’S displeasure, yet raise our expectations of blessings from Him.
The fire is surrounded with the glory of God. Although we cannot by searching find out God’s awesome perfection, yet here we see the brightness all round it. The likeness of the living creatures came out of the midst of the fire. These angels get their being and power from the LORD GOD; they have the understanding of a man, but far more. A lion excels in strength and boldness; an ox excels in persistence and patience, and unwearied discharge of the work he has to do; an eagle excels in quickness and in soaring high; and these angels (living beings), who excel man in all these respects, put on these appearances. The angels have wings; and whatever business God sends them upon, they lose no time getting there. They stood straight, firm and steady. They had not only wings for motion, but hands for action. Many people are quick, but are not active . . . they rush around, but really do nothing; they have hands, but no wings. But wherever the angels' wings carried them, their hands went with them, carrying whatever duty was required. Whatever service the angels went about doing, they all went straight forward. They did not turn when they went. They made no mistakes; and their work never needed to be re-done, like us humans so many times! The angels went where ever the Spirit of God would have them go. They never turned away from their business to do anything other than which they were sent!
Ezekiel saw these living creatures by their own light, for their appearance was like burning coals of fire. They are seraphim, or burners; meaning the ardor of their love to the LORD GOD! They had a fervent zeal in their service to Him. We would be wise indeed, to learn from these holy subjects that we cannot fully understand. But we would also be wise if we would attend to the things which relate to our peace and duty, and leave secret things to the LORD, to Whom alone they belong.
The conduct of Divine Providence seems to be represented by the wheels, which brings on changes. There are times when one spoke of the wheel is uppermost, and sometimes another . . . but the motion of the wheel on its own axle is always regular and steady. We need not be hopeless and sad in hardship and danger; for the wheels are turning and will raise us in due time, while those who desperately desire prosperity do NOT know how soon they may be cast down. The wheel is near the living creatures . . . the angels serve as ministers of God's Providence. The spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels . . . that being the same wisdom, power, and holiness of God that guide and govern the angels, and by them order all events in this world where we live. The wheel had four faces, meaning that the Providence of God exerts itself in all parts: north, south, east and west. No matter which way you look at the wheel of providence, it has a face toward you. Their appearance and work were as a wheel in the middle of a wheel. The disposals of Providence seem to us confused, dark and unexplainable, yet ALL are wisely ordered for the best. The motion of these wheels was steady, regular, and constant. They went as the Spirit directed, and did not return. We will NOT go wrong . . . IF we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The rings, or rims of the wheels were so high that they were dreadful. When in motion the prophet was afraid to look at them. When we consider the height and depth of God's counsel it should awe us. The dreadful rings were full of eyes round about. The motions of Providence are all directed by the LORD’S infinite Wisdom. All events are determined by the eyes of the LORD, which are in every place beholding the evil and the good. There is absolutely NO such thing as chance or fortune.
The firmament above was a crystal, glorious, but terribly so. That which we take to be a dark cloud, is to God clear as crystal, through which He looks upon all the inhabitants of the Earth. When the angels had roused a careless world, they let down their wings, that God's voice might be plainly heard. The voice of Providence is to open men's ears . . . but we must be wise enough to HEAR the Voice of the Word when it speaks to us. Sounds on Earth should NOT put to sleep or deafen our attention to the Voice from Heaven; for how shall we escape (Heb.2:3), if we turn away from Him that speaks from there?
The vision is a revelation of the Son of Man upon His Heavenly Throne. Christ Jesus is the Eternal Son, the Second Person in the Trinity, who took on the human nature (Jn.1:14), and that is what is here meant. The first thing Ezekiel saw was a throne. It is a throne of glory, a throne of grace, a throne of triumph, a throne of government and a throne of judgment. It is good news to us that the throne above the firmament is filled with One who appears, in the likeness of a man. The throne is surrounded with a rainbow, the well-known symbol of the covenant, representing God's mercy and promised love and mercy to His people. The fire of God's wrath was breaking out against Jerusalem, but bounds would be set . . . for God would look at the rainbow, and remember the covenant. All the prophet saw in the awesome vision, was only to prepare him for what he would soon hear. When he fell on his face, he heard the Voice of One that spoke. Dear one, God is delighted to teach those who are humble. Let sinners be wise, and humble themselves before Him . . . and let TRUE believers think about His majestic glory, that they may be willingly led by the Spirit of the LORD.
Book of Ezekiel
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