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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 1: Ezekiel's Inaugural Vision



Part 1: The Call of Ezekiel, the exile in Babylon

Ch.1 – Ezekiel's Inaugural Vision

Ch.2 – Ezekiel's Call to Be a Prophet

Ch.3 – Ezekiel sent to the Exiles



[Preliminary Comment: The opening chapter of Ezekiel holds a vision that has challenged many and possibly provided a backdrop for some Sci-fi films! The reader should always remember that what we have here is a vision or prophecy seeking to convey to limited human minds the wonder of spiritual realities. In the section on the four creatures we have emphasised the words ‘looked like' meaning they were more than this but this is what they seemed to be to Ezekiel's eyes and limited human understanding. Note the section descriptions as you read down, and the concluding comments.]


v.1-3 The Context for Ezekiel's first vision

v.4-14 Four Living Creatures

v.15-21 The Four Wheels

v.22-24 The Sound of the Moving Creatures

v.25-28 The Figure on the Throne



v.1-3 The Context for Ezekiel's first vision


v.1  In my 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

v.2  On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 

v.3  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 on him. 


[Notes: The year appears to be 593BC [v.2] and Ezekiel was aged thirty. He has been taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar and is part of the Jewish community settled by the Kebar River in Babylonia. We are also told he is a priest. There he starts to receive an amazing vision.]



v.4-14 Four Living Creatures


v.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 centre of the fire looked like glowing metal, 

v.5  and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 

v.6  but each of them had four faces and four wings. 

v.7  Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 

v.8  Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 

v.9  and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. 

v.10  Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 

v.11  Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. 

v.12  Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 

v.13  The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 

v.14  The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. 


[Notes: The vision opens with a tremendous storm appearing, in the midst of which is an incredibly bright light [v.4]. In this ‘fire' he sees creatures with human form [v.5] and yet with four faces [presumably one looking in each direction] and four wings [v.6]. Their legs and feet are different from an ordinary human but convey a sense of power and stability [v.7]. Their wings [v.9] touch the wings of another ‘creature' [suggesting unity] and they move in straight lines [suggesting purpose]. The four faces [v.10] appear as different animals suggesting [by some] empathetic understanding [human], rulership [lion], servant-heartedness [ox] and vision [eagle]. They were completely attuned to the Holy Spirit [v.12], had a sense of holiness about them [v13], and moved with immense speed. Jer 10:15 indicates the combined prophetic picture conveys the work and reality of the Cherubim, angels serving God.]



v.15-21 The Four Wheels


v.15  As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 

v.16  This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 

v.17  As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 

v.18  Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. 

v.19  When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 

v.20  Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 

v.21  When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 


[Notes: remember to ask the question, what are these images seeking to convey? Wheels speak of movement or means of conveyance. The wheel within a wheel [v.16] convey the idea that they have total mobility and can move in any direction in an instant. The eyes [v.18] suggest they see perfectly where they are going. They are linked to the movement of the four creatures [v.19,21] and the Spirit [v.20].



v.22-24 The Sound of the Moving Creatures


v.22  Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome. 

v.23  Under the vault their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. 

v.24  When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. 


[Notes: Above the previously described beings appears an incredible crystal dome covering. As the creatures move there is the great sound of power.]



v.25-28 The Figure on the Throne


v.25  Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 

v.26  Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 

v.27  I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 

v.28  Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.


[Notes: Above all that has gone before there appears a sky-blue throne on which is seated a human figure yet who is full of light creating a rainbow of light all around him. He surely has to be God.]


[Concluding Comment: When we seek to see this vision in the terms described in the opening comments, we see something of immense power and beauty coming towards Ezekiel in his vision, power in the accompanying angelic presence and awesome beauty in the throne and the one seated on it.]



Continue to Chapter 2