Ezekiel Study: Ezekiel’s Vision of G-d (Ez. 1:4-28)

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue

Ezekiel’s Vision of G-d: 1:4-28

Ezekiel’s call name in the form of a theophany, a manifestation of G-d in the midst of a storm. He describes his vision in much greater detail than the theophanies of Moshe (Ex.24:9;33), Isaiah (Ch. 6), Jeremiah (1:4-10), Daniel (7:9), or Amos (7:15).

4.A whirlwind came out of the north. G-d appears in a whirlwind and a cloud in Exodus 9:24; 19:16; Judges 5:4;1 Kings 19:11; Psalms 29; Zechariah 9:14. North quite frequently indicates the direction from which most of Israel’s enemies approached them. The Babylonian Empire extended from the land of the Chaldeans to the north of the Holy Land (Jer. 1:14 which states “Out of the north an evil shall break forth…”. Isaiah 14:12-14 reads: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation. On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” Rev. 1:13-18 also speaks of the Adversary coming out of the north to attack Israel as does Daniel 11:40-45.

5-9. Four living creatures. These are identified in 10:15 as cherubim. Cherubim are special angelic beings consistently associated with G-d’s holiness (28:14; Isa. 6;3).

10-11. Their faces…man…lion…ox…eagle. All power, glory, and authority belong to G-d. However, He uses rational intelligences to govern, including the angelic host. The face of man may well represent the realm of intelligence among G-d’s creatures; the face of the lion, the majesty of His creation, the face of the ox, the patient service that creation returns to Him; and the face of the eagle, swiftness to see and bring justice where needed.

The Gospel in Four Editions. Why are their four versions of the same story, rather than one? This question is as old as the “church.” Around 150 C.E., Tatian compiled a life of Yahshua, called the Diatessaron, by harmonizing the four gospels. His contemporary, the heretic Marcion, attempted to resolve the problem by choosing one gospel, Luke, and discontinuing the others.

However, the church resisted Tatian’s artificial life of Yahshua and Marcion’s choice of one gospel to the exclusion of the other three. Prior to Tatian and Marcion, the church had accepted each of the four gospels as a faithful and complimentary witness to Yahshua. The church adopted symbols for the gospels- Matthew a lion, Mark an ox, Luke a man, John an eagle (or variations thereof)- from the fourfold witness to G-d in Scripture (Ezek. 1:5;10:14; Rev. 4:7). At an early date, the church realized that the combined witness of the four gospels was required to declare the full significance of the Messiah.

  1. Straight forward. Since cherubim are ministering spirits of the L-rd, they do not deviate from their assigned task (Heb. 1:14). Their task, shortly, would be to carry out G-d’s judgment upon a sinning nation.

13-14. Coals of fire is used here as a symbol of judgment and holiness. By such means, Isaiah’s lips were purged (Is.6:7). Note the coals of fire upon the altar to burn the sacrifices as substitutes for the sinners. The fire of judgment seen here in the vision was soon to be exercised upon the unrepentant remnant still in the land.

15-23. Wheel…wheels. Obviously, the wheels are used symbolically. A wheel symbolizes movement. In His government, G-d is never static. The idolatrous remnant was saying judgment would never come, just as the majority of our society says today, and is a theme taught by most Christian clergy. However, G-d’s reward and/or judgment will come. Wheel in the middle of a wheel. The symbolic wheels were so constructed to enable movement in any direction, speaking of His power to work anywhere. Full of eyes speaks of the One who is all seeing and all knowing. G-d is omniscient and omnipresent. We need to internalize this truth, knowing everything we think, say and do is known to G-d before manifest in our human condition, and that we are never alone.

  1. Noise of their wings. The noise coming from the cherubim’s wings is likened unto the noise of a great body of water, the voice of the Almighty, or the noise of an army on the move. This is the same Hebrew word expressing the noise or sound that Adam and Eve heard in the garden in Genesis 3, rendered “voice” in the KJV. The symbolism is that of unlimited strength and power. Nothing can deter G-d from accomplishing His plans of judgment. Even angels have frequently been used in executing His judgment (II Kings 7;6; Dan 10:6).

25-27. Let down their wings. The complete obedience and attention of the cherubim is noted here. They never minister according to their own design, but according to His bidding. Man. The symbol G-d could use when referring to Himself was that of a man. Man has been created in His image, rationally, emotionally, and volitionally, though on a finite level.

  1. Likeness of the glory of the L-rd. The L-rd was not seen by Ezekiel except symbolically. Even this was of such splendor and glory that Ezekiel fell on his face. Such is consistently the case when man has seen the glory of the L-rd (Moshe (Ex. 19:16); Isaiah (Is. 6:50, the disciples (Matt. 17:60; Paul (Acts 9:4); and John (Rev. 1:17).

Next: Ezekiel’s Call (2:1-10)


Shalom v’brachas,

Rabbi Tamah Davis