Wow! I gotta tell you Father, that’s kind of spooky, but so are You. I’m sure many think these four beasts aren’t real, just symbolic, and it could be, but I doubt it. There’s nothing on earth that’s like the Cherubim, but You aren’t from this world. As Jesus said:
“And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above; ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (Jn 8:23).
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world…” (Jn 18:36).
What Ezekiel saw is outer space stuff, but of course, that’s where You are. It’s bad enough that so many people now and back then didn’t worship You, but worship man-made wooden or metal dolls. That in itself is flat out dumb, but what’s just as stupid is…
The Vision of the Four Creatures
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.
“The thirtieth year” – or “my thirtieth year,” probably Ezekiel’s age. According to Num 4:3, a person entered the Levitical priesthood in his 30th year. Denied the priesthood in exile, Ezekiel received another commission, that of a prophet.
“River of Chebar” – a canal of the Euphrates near the city of Nippur, south of Babylon, and possibly a place of prayer for the exiles.
2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,
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 LORD was there upon him.
4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire unfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
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.
“Four living creatures” – “Four,” stands for completeness (cf. the four directions in Gen 13:14 and the four quarters of the earth in Is 11:12), is used often in this chapter and over 40 times in the book.
The living creatures, called “cherubims” in chapter 10, are throne attendants here representing God’s creation: “man,” God’s ordained ruler of creation (see Gen 1:26-27; Ps 8). “lion,” the strongest of the wild beasts; “ox,” the most powerful of the domesticated animals; “eagle,” the mightiest of the birds.
These four creatures appear again in Rev 4:7 and often are seen in the paintings and sculpture of the Middle Ages where they represent the four Gospels.
6 And everyone had four faces, and everyone had four wings.
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 color of burnished brass.
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.
“Full of eyes” – symbolizing God’s all seeing nature.
9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went everyone straight forward.
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.
11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of everyone were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
12 And they went everyone straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.
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.
14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color 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.
17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.
18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
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.
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.
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.
22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the color of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: everyone had two, which covered on this side, and everyone had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
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 a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
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.
27 And I saw as the color 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.
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.
“Glory of the LORD” – when God’s glory was symbolically revealed, it took the form of brilliant light (see Ex 40:34; Is 6:3). What is remarkable about Ezekiel’s experience is that God’s glory had for centuries been associated with the temple in Jerusalem.
Now God had left His temple and was appearing to His exiled people in Babylon – a major theme in the first half of Ezekiel’s message. In his vision of the restored Jerusalem the prophet saw the glory of the Lord returning.
Do Not Lay Up for Yourselves
Treasures on Earth
The four beasts that Ezekiel talks about in chapter 1 is bizarre, but Daniel talks about them in the Book of Daniel and the Apostle John speaks of them in the Book of Revelation so we certainly cannot disregard it as nonsense, especially since there is no nonsense in the world of God.
God explains many things to me, but He has not given me explicit understanding of the “four beasts” or the “wheel within the wheel.” I have researched what others have interpreted it to mean and some are pretty farfetched and don’t fit with my understanding of God so I have dismissed them, but…
The Four Beasts
This is what Hannah’s Cupboard says about the four beasts, which I agree with and understand:
What did the four living creatures in Ezekiel signify? How come they each had a face representing the ox, eagle, lion and man? What’s up with the wheel in the middle of a wheel?
The four living creatures are beings created by God who reside around his throne. When Ezekiel saw them he was glimpsing into the third heaven and seeing what takes place in heavenly eternal places. He is not the only one who saw them.
Can you imagine trying to describe something that has no equal on earth and that you have never seen or suspected existed before? Both Ezekiel and John gave it their best shot but human language falls far short of describing the mystery of God.
Because these creatures reside in heaven, there is much mystery surrounding them and their meaning. We are not privy to understand their total significance so we also have to give it our best shot and know that we simply don’t yet know all the answers.
What do the living creatures signify? Generally it is believed they represent the four greater divisions of animate creation: Wild beasts for the lion, Domesticated beasts for the calf, Humanity for the man, and birds/flying creatures for the eagle.
Because they proclaim praise, worship and thanksgiving; all of creation is represented giving God the adoration he deserves.
Hannah’s Cupboard’s description of the beasts is somewhat vague, and I understand them a bit different:
The Lion – the king of the beasts represents majesty. As Christ is portrayed “King of Kings”.
The Calf – frequently used for sacrifice. Christ was a “Sacrifice” for our sins.
The Man – represents Christ as a man. The Gospel of Luke presents Christ as the perfect man. Also, as described in Philippians 2, Christ left His position of glory with the Father and became a man so that He might die on the cross for our sin.
The Eagle – symbolizes Sovereignty and Supremacy and represents Christ in all His deity.
Some see the various faces symbolizing God’s rule over all of creation. The fact that the creatures are full of eyes symbolizes God’s all-seeing nature and the omnipresence of God. Another aspect of the numerous eyes may be a sense of constant watchfulness.
Inside the Wheel
The wheel inside the wheel? The fact that one of the wheels touched the earth and could move in any direction probably indicates God’s rule and control over the affairs of the earth. He can go where he wants whenever he wants. The wheels followed the spirit which may represent the Holy Spirit.
Here is another interpretation of the wheel inside the wheel and they could both be correct or none at all:
The wheel within the wheel is the center-point of God’s will. The center wheel is the Holy Ghost’s presence in each and every one of us. As we center ourselves and balance ourselves in faith, labor, works and family.
As I said at the beginning, God did not given me details of Ezekiel’s vision of the four creatures or the wheel inside the wheel, but He told me more by directing me to the below scriptures.
As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Cor 2:9).
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt 6:19-21).
And that is all we need to know.
…people worship the stars and planets.