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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 1:4

As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amber;   Angel (a Spirit);   Whirlwind;   Thompson Chain Reference - Meteorology;   Whirlwind;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Clouds;   Visions;   Whirlwind;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Amber;   Beasts;   Cherub;   Ezekiel;   Vision;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Cherubim;   Ezekiel;   Vision;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Amber;   Cherub;   Fire;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Amber;   Sardine;   Tongues, Gift of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amber;   Angel;   Cherub, Cherubim;   Ezekiel;   Wind;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Amber;   Isaiah, Book of;   Jewels and Precious Stones;   Seraphim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Fire;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Amber;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Fire;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Amber;   Cherub;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Amber;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Fire;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Amber;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bush, the Burning;   Cloud;   Electrum;   Jehoahaz;   Revelation;   Stones, Precious:;   Whirlwind;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Amber;   Cabala;   Color;   Eye;   Gnosticism;   Ma'aseh Bereshit;   Metals;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Ezekiel 1:4. A whirlwind came out of the north — Nebuchadnezzar, whose land, Babylonia, lay north of Judea. Chaldea is thus frequently denominated by Jeremiah.

A great cloud, and a fire infolding itself — A mass of fire concentrated in a vast cloud, that the flames might be more distinctly observable, the fire never escaping from the cloud, but issuing, and then returning in upon itself. It was in a state of powerful agitation; but always involving itself, or returning back to the centre whence it appeared to issue.

A brightness was about it — A fine tinge of light surrounded the cloud, in order to make its limits the more discernible; beyond which verge the turmoiling fire did not proceed.

The colour of amber — This was in the centre of the cloud; and this amber-coloured substance was the centre of the labouring flame. The word ηλεκτρον, which we translate amber, was used to signify a compound metal, very bright, made of gold and brass.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ezekiel-1.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


1:1-3:27 THE CALL OF EZEKIEL

A vision of God’s glory (1:1-28)

Ezekiel lived in a Jewish settlement that bordered the Chebar River. He had been in Babylon five years and was now thirty years of age, the age at which he normally would have begun his priestly service in the temple in Jerusalem (cf. Numbers 4:2-3). But he had no chance now of returning to Jerusalem. Instead God called him to be a prophet, who would take his message to his people in Babylon (1:1-3).

The call came as Ezekiel was watching a storm approach across the desert. He was looking with particular interest at the startling changes of colour produced across the sky by the reflection of the lightning in the dark thunderclouds. Just then he saw something that appeared to come out of the clouds (4).
Ezekiel would soon discover that the object was a fiery chariot, but his first observation was that it was in the shape of a hollow square, with a living creature standing upright at each corner. These living creatures were of an order of heavenly beings known as cherubim (see 10:20). Each had a human body but four faces, and their outstretched wings met to form the sides of the square. Other wings formed their clothing. The whole thing seemed to be alive and could move in any direction (5-12). Lightning flashed from something that looked like burning coals or a blazing torch that was contained in the middle of the square (13-14).
At each corner of the square was a wheel, which actually looked more like two wheels, one at right angles to the other. By now he could see clearly that the fiery object was a chariot, and the wheels enabled the chariot to move freely in any direction. Even the wheels were alive, for they shared the life of the living creatures (15-21).
When the chariot moved, the sound of the movement of the creatures’ outstretched wings was like a waterfall or thunder. When the chariot stopped, the creatures lowered their wings. Above the heads of the creatures was a shining platform that supported the throne of God (22-25). Seated above this throne and surrounded by a rainbow was a fiery figure, human in outline but so dazzling that Ezekiel could not describe it. Overcome by this awesome vision, he could only fall down and listen to the voice speaking to him (26-28).

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ezekiel-1.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

And I looked, and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire infolding itself, and a brightness round about it, and out of the midst thereof as it were glorying metal, out of the midst of the fire. And out of the midst thereof there came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man; and every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings, and their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their four wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. And as for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; and they four had also the face of an eagle. And their faces and their wings were separate above; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward, whither the spirit was to go, they went; they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches; the fire went up and down among the living creatures; the fire was bright; and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning."

This, of course, is the first part of the great vision of the glory of God. We fully agree with Howie that, "A detailed discussion of the vision is not necessary or vital to the understanding of its meaning."[7] We are certain that Ezekiel reported to us what he saw; but, even so, there is no way that any fully accurate picture of this remarkable vision is conceivable on the part of any person whomsoever.

The omnipotence, ubiquitousness, omniscience, and all of the other attributes of Deity are suggested and symbolized by this vision. The infinite energy, speed, intelligence, and abilities of the Almighty God appear here as in a flash of lightning, instantly, overwhelmingly, unfathomable, and awe-inspiring.

Feinberg reports that the Jewish rabbis gave this comment on the four living creatures:

"Man is exalted among creatures; the eagle is exalted among birds; the ox is exalted among domestic animals; and the lion is exalted among wild beasts. All of these have received dominion, and greatness has been given to them; yet they are stationed below the chariot of the Holy One."[8]

Another interpretation of the four living creatures is that, "They are representative of the four corners of the earth,"[9] and of the sovereignty of God over all things. Also, the four living creatures have been likened unto the four gospels in Christian theology. The apostle John's Apocalypse also has this element of the four living creatures associated with God's throne.

Such things as the burning coals of fire, glorying metal as in the furnace, and the fire running up and down among the living creatures suggests the utter purity of God and the necessity of his punishing sin.

Three times in this chapter it is stated that "they turned not when they went." With four faces each, any direction in which they moved would have been straight ahead! The ability of this mobile bearer of the throne of God to move in any direction instantly is suggested by the expression "flash of lightning" in Ezekiel 1:14.

Some scholars have tried to find the origin of some of Ezekiel's terminology here in the things he might have seen in Babylon, such as the storm cloud; but we like what Eichrodt said of this:

"Ezekiel's description is not the result of a calculated piece of construction, such as is attributed to him in many commentaries. Such a pedestrian type of criticism is utterly blind to the freedom with which this picture (of Ezekiel's) makes use of traditional ideas, and how tremendously impressive spiritual content is provided with the form that best suits it."[10]

Each of the four living creatures facing in all directions suggests that, "All parts of the universe alike are open to the gaze of God."[11]

All of the first part of this remarkably complicated vision reveals nothing of the Divine Person whose glory is being symbolized; and only when we come to Ezekiel 1:26 is the likeness of the Holy One mentioned.

We cannot but be conscious here that Ezekiel is describing the indescribable, hence the continual use of such expressions as "likeness of" and "as it were," a usage that continues to the very end of the description. Human language is simply inadequate for the conveyance of the intriguing mystery revealed to Ezekiel in this vision of the glory of God.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ezekiel-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Out of the north - From this quarter the Assyrian conquerors came upon the holy land. The vision, though seen in Chaldaea, had reference to Jerusalem, and the seer is to contemplate judgment as it is coming upon the holy land. Others consider the words expressive of the special seat of the power of Yahweh. 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 round and 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. The Septuagint and the Vulgate have “electrum,” a substance composed by a mixture of silver and gold, which corresponds very well to the Hebrew word. The brightness, therefore, is that of shining metal, not of a transparent gum. Render it: “out of the midst thereof,” like Ezekiel 1:7 burnished gold out of the midst of fire.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ezekiel-1.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

We must first consider the intention of this Vision. I have no doubt but that God wished first to invest his servant with authority, and then to inspire the people with terror. When therefore a formidable form of God is here described, it. ought first to be referred to reverence for the teaching conveyed; for, as we have remarked before, and shall further observe as we proceed, the Prophet’s duty lay among a hard-hearted and rebellious people; their arrogance required to be subdued, for otherwise the Prophet had spoken to the deaf. But God had another end in view. An analogy or resemblance is to be held between this vision and the Prophet’s doctrine. This is one object. Then as to the vision itself, some understand by the four animals the four seasons of the year, and think that the power of God in the government of the whole world is here celebrated. But that sense is far-fetched. Some think that the four virtues are represented — because, as they say, the image of justice is conspicuous in man, that of prudence in the eagle, of fortitude in the lion, of endurance in the ox. Yet although this is a shrewd conjecture it has no solidity. Some take the contrary view, and think that four passions are here intended, viz. fear and hope, sorrow and joy. Some think that three faculties of the mind are denoted. For in the soul, τὸ λόγικον, is the seat of reason; θύμικον , that of the passions; ἐπιθυμήτικον , that of the lusts; and συντέρεσις that of the conscience. But these guesses are also puerile. It was formerly the received opinion, that under this figure were depicted the four Evangelists: they think Matthew was compared to a man, because he begins with the generation of Christ; Mark to a lion, because he begins at the preaching of John; Luke to an ox, because he begins his narrative by mentioning the priesthood; and John to an eagle, because he penetrates, as it were, to the secrets of heaven. But in this fiction there is no stability, for it would all vanish if it were to be properly examined. Some think it a description of the glow of God in the Church, and that the animals are here to be taken for the perfect who have already made greater progress in faith, and the wheels for the weak and undisciplined. But they afterwards heap together many trifles, which it is better to bury at once, and not take up our time ill refuting them. All these, then, I reject; and now we must see what the Prophet really does mean. I have already said, that it was the Almighty’s plan, when he gave commands to his Prophet so to honor him, that his doctrine should not be open to contempt. But the special reason which I touched upon must be considered — viz.: that God shortly points out by this symbol, for what purpose he sends his Prophet. For the visions have as great a likeness to the doctrine as possible. For this reason, in my opinion, Ezekiel says, behold! a whirlwind came out of the north The people had already experienced the vengeance of God, Mien he had used first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians to chastise them. Jeconiah, as we have seen, had gone into voluntary exile. The Jews thought that they would still have a quiet home in their city and country, and laughed at the simplicity of those who had so quickly gone into exile. The Prophet therefore says, that he saw a stormy wind from the north This rush of the wind or tempest ought to be referred to the judgment of God: for he wished to strike terror into the Jews, that they should not grow torpid in their security. After he has spoken concerning the storm or tempest, he adds —I saw four living creatures and four wheels connected together, to signify that their motion had not originated from chance but from God. These two things ought to be joined together, viz.: that the storm sprang up out of the north, and that God, the author of the storm, was beheld upon his throne. But in the meanwhile, that God’s majesty might the Jews, he says — I saw four living creatures and four wheels connected together By the four living’ creatures he understands cherubim: and we have no need of any other explanation, for he explains it so in chapter 10., when he saw God in the temple, the four living creatures were under his feet, and he says they are cherubim. Now we must see why four animals are here enumerated, when two cherubim only embraced the Ark of the Covenant; and next, why he describes four heads to each: for if he wished to accommodate his language to the rites of the Sanctuary, why did he not place two cherubim, with which God was content? (Exodus 20:18;) for he seems here to depart from the command of God himself: (Numbers 7:89) now, four heads and round feet, do not suit the two cherubim by whom the Ark of the Covenant was surrounded. But the solution is at hand: the Prophet so alludes to the Sanctuary, or, at the same time, to bend his discourse to the rudeness of the people. For their religion had become so obsolete, and their contempt of the law so great., that the Jews were ignorant of the use of tie Sanctuary; then they so worshipped God as if he were at a distance from them, and entirely rejected his providential care over human affairs. Here, then, we see how gross was their stupor, so that though often stricken, they never were aroused. Because the Jews were thus completely torpid, it became needful to propose to them a new form, and so the Prophet chooses half of it from the Sanctuary itself, and assumes the other half, as it was required for so rude a people; although he did not manufacture anything out of his own mind, for I am now speaking of the counsel of the Holy Spirit. God was, therefore, unwilling to drive the Jews away from the sanctuary, for that was the foundation of all right understanding of truth, but because he saw that the legal form was not sufficient, he therefore added a new supply, and as he gave each cherub four heads, so he wished their number to be four.

With regard to their number, I doubt not that God wished to teach us that his influence is diffused through all regions of the world, for we know the world to be divided into four parts; and that the people might know that God’s providence rules everywhere throughout the world, four cherubim were set up. Here also it is convenient to repeat, that angels were represented by cherubim and seraphim: for those who are called cherubim here and in Ezekiel 10:0, are called seraphim in Isaiah 6:2; and we know that angels are called principalities and powers, (Ephesians 3:10,) and are rendered conspicuous by these titles, while Scripture calls them the very hands of God himself. (Colossians 1:16.) Since, therefore, God works by angels, and uses them as ministers of his power, then when angels are brought forward, there the providence of God is conspicuous, and his power in the government of the world. This, then, is the reason why not two cherubim only were placed before the Prophet’s eyes, but four: because God’s providence ought to be evident in earthly things, for the people then imagined that God was confined to heaven; hence the Prophet teaches not only that he reigns in heaven, but that he rules over earthly affairs. And for this reason, and with this end, he extends his power over the four quarters of the globe. Why, then, has each animal four heads? I answer, that by this, angelic virtue is proved to reside in all the animals. Yet a part is put for the whole, because God by his angels works not only in man and other animals, but throughout creation; and because inanimate things have no motion in themselves, as God wished to instruct a rude and dull people, he sets before them the image of all things under that of animals. With reference, then, to living creatures, man holds the first place, because he was formed after the image of God, and the lion reigns over the wild-beasts, but the ox, because he is most useful, represents all domestic animals, or, as they are usually called, tame animals. Since the eagle is a royal bird, all birds are comprehended under this word; and here I am not fabricating allegories, but only explaining the literal sense; for it seems to me sufficiently plain, that God signifies angelic inspiration by the four cherubim, and extends it to the four regions of the earth. Now:, as it is equally clear that no creature moves by itself, but that all motions are by the secret, instinct of God, therefore each cherub has four heads, as if it were said that angels administer God’s empire not in one part of the world only, but everywhere; and next, that all creatures are so impelled as if they were joined together with angels themselves. The Prophet then ascribes four heads to each, because if we can trust our eyes when observing the manner in which God governs the world, that angelic virtue will appear in every motion: it is then, in fact, just as if angels had the heads of all animals: that is, comprehended within themselves openly and conspicuously all elements and all parts of the world; — thus much concerning the four heads.

As to the four wheels, I do not doubt their signifying those changes which we commonly call revolutions: for we see the world continually changing and putting on, as it were, new faces, each being represented by a fresh revolution of the wheel, effected by either its own or by some external impulse. Since, then, there exists no fixed condition of the world, but continual changes are discerned, the Prophet joins the wheels to the angels, as if he would assert that no changes occur by chance, but depend upon some agency, viz., that of angels; not that they move things by their inherent power, but because they are, as we have said, God’s hands. And because these changes are really contortions, the Prophet says, I saw wheel within wheel; for the course of things is not continuous, but when God begins to do anything, he seems, as we shall again perceive, to recede: then many things mutually concur, whence the Stoics fancied that fate arose from what they called a connection of causes. But God here teaches his people far otherwise, viz., that the changes of the world are so connected together, that all motion depends upon the angels, whom he guides according to his will. Hence the wheels are said to be full of eyes. I think that God opposed this form of the wheels to the foolish opinion of men, because men fancy Fortune blind, and that all things roll on in a kind of turbulent confusion. God, then, when he compares the changes which happen in the world to wheels, calls them “full of eyes,” to show that nothing is done with rashness or through the blind impulse of fortune. This imagination surely arises from our blindness: we are blind in the midst of light, and therefore when God works, we think that he turns all things upside down; and because we dare not utter such gross blasphemy against him, we say that Fortune acts without consideration, but in the meantime we transfer the empire of God to Fortune itself. Seneca tells a story of a jester belonging to his wife’s father, who, when he lost the use of his eyes through old age, exclaimed that he had done nothing to deserve being cast into darkness — for he thought that the sun no longer gave light to the world; but the blindness was in himself. This is our condition: we are blind, as I have already said, and yet we wish to throw the cause of our blindness upon God himself; and because we do not dare openly to bring a charge against him, we impose upon him the name of fortune; and for this reason the Prophet says the wheels have eyes.

We now understand the scope of the vision, and we must next approach its several parts. After he has said, a wind sprung up from the north, and a great cloud, he adds, there was also a fire folding round itself Moses, in the ninth chapter of Exodus, (Exodus 9:24,) uses the same word when he speaks of the storm which he caused in Egypt. There was fire en-folded or entwined, and the splendor of fire. Some shrewdly expound this splendor of the fire, as if God’s judgments were not obscure, but exposed to the eyes of all. I cannot agree in this meaning, nor do I think it correct. Here the majesty of God is described to us according to the usual scriptural method. He says, the fire was splendid in its circuit, and then there was as it were the appearance of “Hasmal” in the midst of the fire Many think Hasreal to be an angel or an unknown phantom, but, in my opinion, without reason, for Hasmal seems to me a color. Jerome, following the Greek, uses the word electrum, but surprises me by saying that it is more precious than gold or silver; for electrum is composed of gold, with a fifth part of it silver, hence, as it does not; exceed them both in value, Jerome was mistaken. But whether it was electrum or any remarkable color, it so clearly portrayed to the Prophet the majesty of God, that he ought to be wrapt in admiration, although the vision was not offered for his sake personally, but, as I have said before, for the Church at large. The color differed from that of fire, that the Prophet might understand that the fire was heavenly, and, as a symbol of God’s glory, had a form unlike that of common fire. Now follows:

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/ezekiel-1.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Shall we turn at this time to the prophecy of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel said,

It came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month ( Ezekiel 1:1 ),

So that would be July the fifth. It would be probably the thirtieth year of Ezekiel's life, when he was thirty years old.

as he was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God ( Ezekiel 1:1 ).

Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in the second captivity at the time when Jehoiachin was also taken captive. There were three times that Nebuchadnezzar's armies came against Jerusalem, taking captives back to Babylon. Daniel went back in the first captivity. Ezekiel went in the second captivity.

Now, basically Ezekiel was prophesying to the captives, and when he began his prophecy Jerusalem was still standing. Now, there were false prophets in Babylon that were telling the people, "Look, don't settle down. Don't get a house. God is going to soon defeat Babylon, and we're going to go back right away. So, hang loose, because we're only going to be a little while. The Lord is going to deliver His people, and we're going to return from Babylon very shortly. So just don't settle down."

Now, Jeremiah had been writing to them saying, "Don't listen to the prophets or so-called prophets who are telling you not to settle down. But instead, settle down, get adjusted, because you're going to be there for seventy years. Most of you are going to die in Babylon. So you might as well get used to that fact and just settle down, make the best of the situation."

And so, there were two schools of prophets: the true prophets, the false prophets. But Ezekiel, the true prophet of God, was declaring to them the same thing that Jeremiah was saying--that Jerusalem is not going to be restored immediately, but that Jerusalem is going to be completely destroyed by Babylon. The people are going to be destroyed and scattered, and he is telling the people in Babylon. Now, Jeremiah is writing from Jerusalem, but Ezekiel is there among them, saying, "Now, look, listen to the word of the Lord. Just go ahead and settle down here and settle in, because it's going to be a long time that you'll be in captivity."

So, at the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecies, he began his prophecy before Jerusalem was destroyed in 596. So, in the beginning of his prophecies, he is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem. As he moves further into his prophecy, as time goes on and the prophecy is fulfilled and Jerusalem is destroyed, then there is a change, and now he is encouraging the people that God, in His time, is going to restore again the glory to Israel. Now, he saw the glory of God depart from Jerusalem through the east gate. But as the prophecies continue and as the people are discouraged, when they hear the news that Jerusalem has been devastated, destroyed, he then begins to encourage them, "God is going to work yet again among His people. The glory of God shall return. The glory of God is going to fill the house and the latter glory is going to be greater than the former glory." Israel has not yet seen its heyday, in a sense. It's not yet seen the peak. God is going to yet restore His glory and all, upon Jerusalem and upon Israel. Hard times will intervene or be in the intermittent periods, yet God's work will yet be accomplished among His people.

So, Ezekiel's prophecies actually then go out beyond even our present day. Now Ezekiel saw the restoration of the land. He saw the nation being reborn. He predicted the modern Zionist movement, and the rebirth of the nation Israel. And he predicted that when Israel was born again as a nation, that Russia would come and invade Israel. And as we move on into the prophecy of Ezekiel, we get into all of these interesting, marvelous things, because we move actually from the present on into the future. And we see not only what is happening now, but Ezekiel continues to move on and we see things that will be happening within a year or so, or five, ten years at the most. And then he moves on even beyond that. And we see things that will be happening in Israel during the Kingdom Age and the glorious reign of Jesus Christ, as He comes again and enters in through the east gate of the city and establishes His kingdom here upon the earth.

And so, the prophecy of Ezekiel really begins from this point, when he was about thirty years old, when the word of the Lord first came to him, when he saw these visions of God. This is before the fall of Jerusalem, the complete destruction, and he describes here his vision of God.

Now, Isaiah had a vision of God. Ezekiel had a vision of the throne of God, and John in the New Testament had a vision of the throne of God. And so from these insights of these three men, we gather our information, concerning the throne of God, concerning the heavenly scene. Now, immediately there arises a difficulty because we are talking now of heavenly things. But we are seeking to describe them in earthly language. Now, there is, no doubt, words we do not yet know that aptly describe the things in heaven. But at the present time they have to remain to us only as word pictures.

So, you take the language that is common to man, words that are common to man, and you use them to the best of your ability to express things that you've never seen before. Weird-looking creatures like you've never dreamed of, intelligent beings, and you try to describe with human language what you're seeing. And immediately you're limited by language, even as if we tried to describe, if we should suddenly have an insight to, say, the year 2000 and we could see all the technical advances and all that man will have achieved by the year 2000. And we try to describe now with our present language, the modes of transportation and all that man will have developed by that time. As we're looking at weird gadgets that we have no concept what they are all about, and yet we see them operating and moving and all, and we say, "You know, the thing just has these stacks or whatever, and the smoke comes out. And people, you know... " and you try to describe the things, but you're limited because of language.

So, it makes the defining of them or the relating of them difficult because of limitation of language. So, we'll have to sort of try to envision those things which Ezekiel is talking about.

You remember when Jesus was talking with Nicodemus, and talking about the fact that a man has to be born again. And he was trying to explain to Nicodemus these concepts that were unfamiliar to Nicodemus. And Nicodemus was asking these questions, "Well how can a man be born again when he's old? You know, you can't return again to your mother's womb to be born. How can you do it?"

And Jesus said, "Look, if I have talked to you about earthly things and you can't understand them, how would you understand if I tried to talk to you about heavenly things? Now the Bible says, "No man understands the things of God, save the Spirit reveal them unto him." So, in getting into these areas, we're talking about things of God. We definitely need the help of the Holy Spirit in our understanding and comprehension of these things. That we might get somewhat of a glimpse or a grasp of them.

Now, I am convinced that what they saw we will be seeing when we enter into the heavenly scene. So it is well for you to acquaint yourself as best as possible with these things, though for right now they may seem to be difficult to really comprehend in your mind, yet one day when we actually see them, and we put, you know, this side by side, we'll say, "Well, he didn't do too bad a job. Yeah, it looks pretty much like that, you know."

So, this was the fifth year in which Jehoiachin had been brought as a captive unto Babylon. Zedekiah was presently the king in Judah, in Jerusalem. Jehoiachin had reigned only three months when Nebuchadnezzar came and took him captive along with his mother and his family, and others of Judah.

And the word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river of Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him ( Ezekiel 1:3 ).

Ezekiel uses this expression seven times, "the hand of the Lord was upon me." And this is the first of the seven times that he uses it. We'll find it again in our study tonight in chapter 3, verses Ezekiel 1:14 , and Ezekiel 1:22 , and then we won't find it again until chapter 8.

And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the noRuth ( Ezekiel 1:4 ),

Now the north here would be actually the dwelling place of God. In Isaiah in speaking of Satan's exalting of himself, he said, "I will ascend into the sides of the north." It is thought that in relationship, of course, to the earth that that heavenly kingdom of God dwells somewhere in the area of the north.

Recently this past week, in fact, there was an interesting article in the paper of a vast empty space that has been found in the universe that is baffling to the scientists. And it is sort of upsetting certain theories that they have had in the past. It could really be very disturbing to the big bang theory, because supposedly the debris of the big bang was sort of distributed equally throughout the entire universe and doesn't really give place for vast areas of empty space. But yet, there has been discovered recently this extremely vast area of empty space. And the area happens to be actually towards the North Star. And there is this vast area of emptiness in space, which at the present time is a real enigma to the astronomers that are studying it, as they try to align this discovery with the current theories that exist of the origin of the universe.

This whirlwind came out of the north. This would not be out of Babylon. He was in Babylon when he saw it.

a great cloud, and a fire that is infolding itself ( Ezekiel 1:4 ),

Now, have you ever seen fire that enfolds itself? It sort of rolls when there is an explosion of highly volitable materials. And as the fireball goes up, it enfolds itself. It rolls around and catches into itself as it goes up. It's quite a phenomena to observe.

I was coming home from Los Angeles years ago, when I was going to school up there and living in Santa Ana. And there was this... there used to be a lot of olive orchards over here in the area of La Mirada. And there was an olive oil factory there and the thing had caught fire. As we were coming home, we came by and of course, you know, you're always fascinated by fire. We got out to watch the fire. We were getting up sort of close, and suddenly the thing exploded. And we watched this ball of fire going up, and the fire enfolding itself as it went up. This ball of fire is going up, but it keeps coming around and enfolding itself on into this ball. And it's a fascinating phenomena to behold.

And as Ezekiel is seeing now, coming out of this area of the north, this great cloud, and it is interesting that the Bible speaks so often of God being covered with a cloud. The clouds of glory that surround God. There on the mount when God came down and spoke with Moses, there was the cloud of God's glory that covered Mount Sinai and the fire, again, the fireballs that were emitting forth from it.

the brightness was about it [there was a brightness about it], and out of the midst [or the middle] thereof was the color of amber, that was coming out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the middle thereof there came the likeness of four living creatures ( Ezekiel 1:4 ).

So here in the middle of this glorious brightness that's sort of a ball of fire enfolding itself in the cloud, there in the midst of it was this beautiful amber color and also these four leaving creatures.

And this was their appearance; they looked somewhat like a man. But every one of them had four faces, and every one had four wings. 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 ( Ezekiel 1:5-6 ).

So, again, he's using human language to describe creatures like he had never seen before. And so we have to use our imaginations in trying to, in our minds, picture or visualize these four living creatures, looking somewhat like a man, each one having four faces, each of them having four wings. Their feet are sort of like a calf's, sort of cloven like a calf's foot, but they look like bright burnished brass.

And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. And their wings were joined one to another, and they turned not when they went; but they went every one straight forward ( Ezekiel 1:8-9 ).

So, their movement was in a straight-line type of movement, rather than rounding, sort of straight type of movement of these creatures.

Now as we go on with the description of these four living creatures, we realize that these are paralleled to the four living creatures that John saw, when in the book of Revelation, chapter 4, he also had a vision of the throne of God. And he saw these four living creatures with their four faces, and John also describes them in the book of Revelation. Ezekiel describes them again in chapter 10, when he sees them in chapter 10. And there he identifies to us what these living creatures are, and there we discover that these are cherubim--a created being of God, intelligent beings of God, beings that surround God. In Revelation we are told that they cease not day or night saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which is, which was, and which is to come."

Now this ties in then with God's directions to Moses in the building of the tabernacle, which the book of Hebrews tells us is a model of heaven. Now most of you fellows have built at some time or other in your life a model of either a car or a plane. And you're not building a P-51, but you're building a model of the P-51. You can't get in and fly it, but when you build the model, it looks like, it resembles the real thing. A model is just a resemblance of the real thing. So, the tabernacle was just a model of the real thing. The real thing is in heaven. The tabernacle was a model of heaven. And in the tabernacle, in the Holy of Holies, which is a model of the throne of God in heaven, Moses was told to have these cherubim made out of gold above the mercy seat. Their wings touching each other, and the edges of their wings touching the edge of this little cubical, which was fifteen feet cubical, golden room, and this is again the model of the heavenly things.

So, there are these cherubim, these living creatures, no doubt highly intelligent creatures, though they look like they are, perhaps, some kind of a genetic freak, as far as combining with four faces and feet like a calf and all, but yet they are these creatures that are there about the throne of God.

He goes on to describe them.

As for the likeness of their faces, the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they had the face of an ox on the left side; and they also had the face of an eagle ( Ezekiel 1:10 ).

So, there were four faces on each of them. The front face was like a man. The right side of it was like a lion. The left side like an ox, and behind like an eagle. Now, as I say, they looked like some kind of genetic monstrosity as you look at them. There are some who see in these four faces the four gospels as they describe Jesus Christ. For in the gospels, Christ is described as the Son of man in Luke's gospel. In Matthew's gospel He is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah--or rather, Mark's gospel. Matthew's gospel, He is the servant, the ox, the beast of service. And in John's gospel, the deity, the eagle.

But thus were their faces: their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went everywhere straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went ( Ezekiel 1:11-12 ).

Now because they had faces going in every direction, you just, you know, move you straight. You don't have to turn your head to go, you just move in straight movements.

And as for the likeness of these living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire ( Ezekiel 1:13 ),

Now picture your barbecue and the burning coals of fire on it.

and like the appearance of lamps: and it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire there came forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning ( Ezekiel 1:13-14 ).

So they could move with the speed of light almost. Their movement was extremely fast and like a lightning bolt, just, you know. The appearance of a flash of lightning.

Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. And the appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and they four ( Ezekiel 1:15-16 )

Which would be green.

they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel ( Ezekiel 1:16 ).

So, again, he's using human language trying to describe their appearance and so forth, and these wheels. And it was like a wheel within a middle of the wheel and these flashes of light and so forth as they move in this green glow, like a beryl in color.

And when they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went ( Ezekiel 1:17 ).

This is the third time he mentions this, so it's probably quite remarkable to him. He hasn't seen anything like this, as far as, you know, the earth and on the earth.

As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful [awesome]; their rings were full of eyes round about them four. 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. And whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, and 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. Now when those went, these went; when those stood still, these stood still; and when they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature ( Ezekiel 1:18-21 )

Again he repeats,

was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmament [above their heads] upon the heads of the living creatures was the color of an awesome crystal, stretched forth over their heads above ( Ezekiel 1:21-22 ).

In other words, now he's describing the area around the throne of God. These creatures were under the throne of God. And this was like an awesome crystal.

John saw this sea of glass likened to crystal that was there before the throne of God. And as you read, Revelation 4 , you'll find that it parallels very much this vision of Ezekiel as both of these men, bound by human limitations, tried to describe the heavenly scene, the throne of God and the glory of God that they behold in these visions.

And under the firmament were their wings straight, and one toward the other: every one had two, which they covered their side, every one had two, which covered the sides of their bodies ( Ezekiel 1:23 ).

With two they touched each other, with two they covered the sides of their bodies.

And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters ( Ezekiel 1:24 ),

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? Ever been up in Yosemite to Vernal Falls or Nevada Falls and you hear this noise of great waters, sort of a roar. And so, as they moved there was this roar. The flash is like lightning and the straight direction type movements.

as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings ( Ezekiel 1:24 ).

So, when they were standing, their wings would come down to their side.

And there was a voice from [this heaven] this firmament [this expanse above them] that was over their heads, when they stood, and they had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone [which is blue]: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw 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. 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 on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake ( Ezekiel 1:25-28 ).

So, you might find it interesting when you have your own study to read Daniel 7:9 , and 10, as Daniel describes his vision of God. Isaiah chapter 6, as he describes his vision of the throne of God, and then Revelation chapter 4, as John describes his, and you put them all together and you get a pretty good composite of what the heavenly scene must look like.

This bow, John describes it in Revelation chapter 4, a bow like emerald, sort of a greenish in color that is around about the throne of God. Ezekiel describes it here. John had much the same reaction of just falling on his face. Daniel was weak as a result of his vision. He just was totally weakened by it. Ezekiel fell on his face and he heard the voice of one that spake.

Now, flying saucer buffs declare that Ezekiel actually sighted a flying saucer. That there are extraterrestrial beings that have visited the earth and have been visiting the earth during the historic period of man. And that they actually account for many of the otherwise unaccountable phenomena of history, some of the mammoth building projects of ancient man, which still baffle us today. And they, of course, go out to the desert or to various areas, and they have these sightings of these flying saucers, and there is just an awful lot that has been written, has been discussed, has been talked about flying saucers, and there have been many reports and much interesting phenomena surrounding these flying saucers.

Many of them can be accounted for as, perhaps, swamp gases and other things, but yet there are others that reasonably intelligent men have expressed and described and it's hard to discount them all.

Lambert Dolphin who is a scientist up at the University of Stanford, one of the scientists, I believe his area is that of astrophysics, quite outstanding, very intelligent man, was asked to speak at one of these flying saucer conventions. And so he prepared a paper on flying saucers in which he thought that he would, before the convention, thoroughly debunk this whole flying saucer kind of a... what he thought mythology. And he was approaching it from just a purely scientific standpoint, and was going to take so many of the concepts that they had about moving on the magnetic forces and all of this, and seek to thoroughly, from a scientific standpoint, debunk the thing.

As he was sitting there on the platform, and there were about three thousand people at this convention, the speaker, and of course he was interested that these weren't freaky people. You know, you think that people who see flying saucers and all are sort of fringe, freaky kind of people. But he realized that among them there were professors, other scientists, peace officers, a wide cross-section of our society.

The leader of the convention asked the people, "How many of you have ever seen a flying saucer?" And he was shocked that about two-thirds of the hands in the auditorium went up. People had said they had sighted flying saucers. He then asked, "How many of you have been taken aboard a flying saucer?" And a third of the people raised their hands. And he began to get a little concerned. When he stood up to speak, he heard this screaming noise that was extremely distracting to him. And he wondered, "Where is that coming from?" And he looked around the audience to see what direction the people might be looking, because he figured that those that were closest to the screaming noise would be looking at it and he could localize where it was and then ask the ushers or someone to take care of that and get rid of it. But he said, suddenly he realized that nobody was looking around anywhere and that he was the only one that was hearing this screaming noise. And to this man of science there came suddenly the awareness, "Hey, this whole thing is demonic." And he got so shook that he was unable to deliver his paper in which he was going to debunk the whole flying saucer theory or ideas, concepts. He was just totally shaken.

Now, the interesting thing to me is that these people do try to bring Ezekiel into their fold, into their number. "Look, he describes it. He perfectly describes it in his book." Wait a minute, what does Ezekiel describe? As I said, in chapter 10 Ezekiel again describes it, but he tells us what it is, "These are the cherubim that are there before the throne of God." These wheels within the wheels, with the flashes of lightning and the movements and so forth. And if you heard them describe how the flying saucers move in the straight type of lines, they don't make a wide arc when they turn. They just... straight line type of movement, being able to change directions and so forth with tremendous speed. Able to hover and then suddenly move off with tremendous speeds.

Is it possible that these people who are sighting these UFO's are also dabbling into the occult and are seeing fallen cherubim? We know that when Satan fell that one-third of the angelic host went with him. It is interesting that the Bible says that Satan was indeed a cherubim. He was the anointed--not a cherubim, because cherubim is plural. Cherub is the singular. He was an anointed cherub that covered. But there are cherubim, plural. It is very possible that we are dealing in an interesting area of the occult and that there are these cherubim that are making themselves visible to those who are dabbling into that realm of occultism.

Now what Ezekiel saw were the cherubim there at the throne of God, but it would also stand that the cherubim who fell would have a similar likeness or appearance and movements. So, it is possible that we cannot thoroughly discount this whole flying saucer phenomena as a bunch of junk, but it could indeed be that in these last days, as satanic forces are growing, as far as the demonstrations of their power. That as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man. And there was strong demonic activity in the days of Noah, and we're coming into the area again of strong demonic activity.

Now I offer that as only a suggestion. I'm not declaring to you, "Oh, I've got some great mysterious truth I'm revealing now, you know. This is the way it happened or this is the way." This is just a suggestion. Something to think about. And I'll let it go at that.

Shall we turn at this time to the prophecy of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel said,

It came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month ( Ezekiel 1:1 ),

So that would be July the fifth. It would be probably the thirtieth year of Ezekiel's life, when he was thirty years old.

as he was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God ( Ezekiel 1:1 ).

Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in the second captivity at the time when Jehoiachin was also taken captive. There were three times that Nebuchadnezzar's armies came against Jerusalem, taking captives back to Babylon. Daniel went back in the first captivity. Ezekiel went in the second captivity.

Now, basically Ezekiel was prophesying to the captives, and when he began his prophecy Jerusalem was still standing. Now, there were false prophets in Babylon that were telling the people, "Look, don't settle down. Don't get a house. God is going to soon defeat Babylon, and we're going to go back right away. So, hang loose, because we're only going to be a little while. The Lord is going to deliver His people, and we're going to return from Babylon very shortly. So just don't settle down."

Now, Jeremiah had been writing to them saying, "Don't listen to the prophets or so-called prophets who are telling you not to settle down. But instead, settle down, get adjusted, because you're going to be there for seventy years. Most of you are going to die in Babylon. So you might as well get used to that fact and just settle down, make the best of the situation."

And so, there were two schools of prophets: the true prophets, the false prophets. But Ezekiel, the true prophet of God, was declaring to them the same thing that Jeremiah was saying--that Jerusalem is not going to be restored immediately, but that Jerusalem is going to be completely destroyed by Babylon. The people are going to be destroyed and scattered, and he is telling the people in Babylon. Now, Jeremiah is writing from Jerusalem, but Ezekiel is there among them, saying, "Now, look, listen to the word of the Lord. Just go ahead and settle down here and settle in, because it's going to be a long time that you'll be in captivity."

So, at the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecies, he began his prophecy before Jerusalem was destroyed in 596. So, in the beginning of his prophecies, he is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem. As he moves further into his prophecy, as time goes on and the prophecy is fulfilled and Jerusalem is destroyed, then there is a change, and now he is encouraging the people that God, in His time, is going to restore again the glory to Israel. Now, he saw the glory of God depart from Jerusalem through the east gate. But as the prophecies continue and as the people are discouraged, when they hear the news that Jerusalem has been devastated, destroyed, he then begins to encourage them, "God is going to work yet again among His people. The glory of God shall return. The glory of God is going to fill the house and the latter glory is going to be greater than the former glory." Israel has not yet seen its heyday, in a sense. It's not yet seen the peak. God is going to yet restore His glory and all, upon Jerusalem and upon Israel. Hard times will intervene or be in the intermittent periods, yet God's work will yet be accomplished among His people.

So, Ezekiel's prophecies actually then go out beyond even our present day. Now Ezekiel saw the restoration of the land. He saw the nation being reborn. He predicted the modern Zionist movement, and the rebirth of the nation Israel. And he predicted that when Israel was born again as a nation, that Russia would come and invade Israel. And as we move on into the prophecy of Ezekiel, we get into all of these interesting, marvelous things, because we move actually from the present on into the future. And we see not only what is happening now, but Ezekiel continues to move on and we see things that will be happening within a year or so, or five, ten years at the most. And then he moves on even beyond that. And we see things that will be happening in Israel during the Kingdom Age and the glorious reign of Jesus Christ, as He comes again and enters in through the east gate of the city and establishes His kingdom here upon the earth.

And so, the prophecy of Ezekiel really begins from this point, when he was about thirty years old, when the word of the Lord first came to him, when he saw these visions of God. This is before the fall of Jerusalem, the complete destruction, and he describes here his vision of God.

Now, Isaiah had a vision of God. Ezekiel had a vision of the throne of God, and John in the New Testament had a vision of the throne of God. And so from these insights of these three men, we gather our information, concerning the throne of God, concerning the heavenly scene. Now, immediately there arises a difficulty because we are talking now of heavenly things. But we are seeking to describe them in earthly language. Now, there is, no doubt, words we do not yet know that aptly describe the things in heaven. But at the present time they have to remain to us only as word pictures.

So, you take the language that is common to man, words that are common to man, and you use them to the best of your ability to express things that you've never seen before. Weird-looking creatures like you've never dreamed of, intelligent beings, and you try to describe with human language what you're seeing. And immediately you're limited by language, even as if we tried to describe, if we should suddenly have an insight to, say, the year 2000 and we could see all the technical advances and all that man will have achieved by the year 2000. And we try to describe now with our present language, the modes of transportation and all that man will have developed by that time. As we're looking at weird gadgets that we have no concept what they are all about, and yet we see them operating and moving and all, and we say, "You know, the thing just has these stacks or whatever, and the smoke comes out. And people, you know... " and you try to describe the things, but you're limited because of language.

So, it makes the defining of them or the relating of them difficult because of limitation of language. So, we'll have to sort of try to envision those things which Ezekiel is talking about.

You remember when Jesus was talking with Nicodemus, and talking about the fact that a man has to be born again. And he was trying to explain to Nicodemus these concepts that were unfamiliar to Nicodemus. And Nicodemus was asking these questions, "Well how can a man be born again when he's old? You know, you can't return again to your mother's womb to be born. How can you do it?"

And Jesus said, "Look, if I have talked to you about earthly things and you can't understand them, how would you understand if I tried to talk to you about heavenly things? Now the Bible says, "No man understands the things of God, save the Spirit reveal them unto him." So, in getting into these areas, we're talking about things of God. We definitely need the help of the Holy Spirit in our understanding and comprehension of these things. That we might get somewhat of a glimpse or a grasp of them.

Now, I am convinced that what they saw we will be seeing when we enter into the heavenly scene. So it is well for you to acquaint yourself as best as possible with these things, though for right now they may seem to be difficult to really comprehend in your mind, yet one day when we actually see them, and we put, you know, this side by side, we'll say, "Well, he didn't do too bad a job. Yeah, it looks pretty much like that, you know."

So, this was the fifth year in which Jehoiachin had been brought as a captive unto Babylon. Zedekiah was presently the king in Judah, in Jerusalem. Jehoiachin had reigned only three months when Nebuchadnezzar came and took him captive along with his mother and his family, and others of Judah.

And the word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river of Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him ( Ezekiel 1:3 ).

Ezekiel uses this expression seven times, "the hand of the Lord was upon me." And this is the first of the seven times that he uses it. We'll find it again in our study tonight in chapter 3, verses Ezekiel 1:14 , and Ezekiel 1:22 , and then we won't find it again until chapter 8.

And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the noRuth ( Ezekiel 1:4 ),

Now the north here would be actually the dwelling place of God. In Isaiah in speaking of Satan's exalting of himself, he said, "I will ascend into the sides of the north." It is thought that in relationship, of course, to the earth that that heavenly kingdom of God dwells somewhere in the area of the north.

Recently this past week, in fact, there was an interesting article in the paper of a vast empty space that has been found in the universe that is baffling to the scientists. And it is sort of upsetting certain theories that they have had in the past. It could really be very disturbing to the big bang theory, because supposedly the debris of the big bang was sort of distributed equally throughout the entire universe and doesn't really give place for vast areas of empty space. But yet, there has been discovered recently this extremely vast area of empty space. And the area happens to be actually towards the North Star. And there is this vast area of emptiness in space, which at the present time is a real enigma to the astronomers that are studying it, as they try to align this discovery with the current theories that exist of the origin of the universe.

This whirlwind came out of the north. This would not be out of Babylon. He was in Babylon when he saw it.

a great cloud, and a fire that is infolding itself ( Ezekiel 1:4 ),

Now, have you ever seen fire that enfolds itself? It sort of rolls when there is an explosion of highly volitable materials. And as the fireball goes up, it enfolds itself. It rolls around and catches into itself as it goes up. It's quite a phenomena to observe.

I was coming home from Los Angeles years ago, when I was going to school up there and living in Santa Ana. And there was this... there used to be a lot of olive orchards over here in the area of La Mirada. And there was an olive oil factory there and the thing had caught fire. As we were coming home, we came by and of course, you know, you're always fascinated by fire. We got out to watch the fire. We were getting up sort of close, and suddenly the thing exploded. And we watched this ball of fire going up, and the fire enfolding itself as it went up. This ball of fire is going up, but it keeps coming around and enfolding itself on into this ball. And it's a fascinating phenomena to behold.

And as Ezekiel is seeing now, coming out of this area of the north, this great cloud, and it is interesting that the Bible speaks so often of God being covered with a cloud. The clouds of glory that surround God. There on the mount when God came down and spoke with Moses, there was the cloud of God's glory that covered Mount Sinai and the fire, again, the fireballs that were emitting forth from it.

the brightness was about it [there was a brightness about it], and out of the midst [or the middle] thereof was the color of amber, that was coming out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the middle thereof there came the likeness of four living creatures ( Ezekiel 1:4 ).

So here in the middle of this glorious brightness that's sort of a ball of fire enfolding itself in the cloud, there in the midst of it was this beautiful amber color and also these four leaving creatures.

And this was their appearance; they looked somewhat like a man. But every one of them had four faces, and every one had four wings. 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 ( Ezekiel 1:5-6 ).

So, again, he's using human language to describe creatures like he had never seen before. And so we have to use our imaginations in trying to, in our minds, picture or visualize these four living creatures, looking somewhat like a man, each one having four faces, each of them having four wings. Their feet are sort of like a calf's, sort of cloven like a calf's foot, but they look like bright burnished brass.

And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. And their wings were joined one to another, and they turned not when they went; but they went every one straight forward ( Ezekiel 1:8-9 ).

So, their movement was in a straight-line type of movement, rather than rounding, sort of straight type of movement of these creatures.

Now as we go on with the description of these four living creatures, we realize that these are paralleled to the four living creatures that John saw, when in the book of Revelation, chapter 4, he also had a vision of the throne of God. And he saw these four living creatures with their four faces, and John also describes them in the book of Revelation. Ezekiel describes them again in chapter 10, when he sees them in chapter 10. And there he identifies to us what these living creatures are, and there we discover that these are cherubim--a created being of God, intelligent beings of God, beings that surround God. In Revelation we are told that they cease not day or night saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which is, which was, and which is to come."

Now this ties in then with God's directions to Moses in the building of the tabernacle, which the book of Hebrews tells us is a model of heaven. Now most of you fellows have built at some time or other in your life a model of either a car or a plane. And you're not building a P-51, but you're building a model of the P-51. You can't get in and fly it, but when you build the model, it looks like, it resembles the real thing. A model is just a resemblance of the real thing. So, the tabernacle was just a model of the real thing. The real thing is in heaven. The tabernacle was a model of heaven. And in the tabernacle, in the Holy of Holies, which is a model of the throne of God in heaven, Moses was told to have these cherubim made out of gold above the mercy seat. Their wings touching each other, and the edges of their wings touching the edge of this little cubical, which was fifteen feet cubical, golden room, and this is again the model of the heavenly things.

So, there are these cherubim, these living creatures, no doubt highly intelligent creatures, though they look like they are, perhaps, some kind of a genetic freak, as far as combining with four faces and feet like a calf and all, but yet they are these creatures that are there about the throne of God.

He goes on to describe them.

As for the likeness of their faces, the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they had the face of an ox on the left side; and they also had the face of an eagle ( Ezekiel 1:10 ).

So, there were four faces on each of them. The front face was like a man. The right side of it was like a lion. The left side like an ox, and behind like an eagle. Now, as I say, they looked like some kind of genetic monstrosity as you look at them. There are some who see in these four faces the four gospels as they describe Jesus Christ. For in the gospels, Christ is described as the Son of man in Luke's gospel. In Matthew's gospel He is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah--or rather, Mark's gospel. Matthew's gospel, He is the servant, the ox, the beast of service. And in John's gospel, the deity, the eagle.

But thus were their faces: their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went everywhere straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went ( Ezekiel 1:11-12 ).

Now because they had faces going in every direction, you just, you know, move you straight. You don't have to turn your head to go, you just move in straight movements.

And as for the likeness of these living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire ( Ezekiel 1:13 ),

Now picture your barbecue and the burning coals of fire on it.

and like the appearance of lamps: and it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire there came forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning ( Ezekiel 1:13-14 ).

So they could move with the speed of light almost. Their movement was extremely fast and like a lightning bolt, just, you know. The appearance of a flash of lightning.

Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. And the appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and they four ( Ezekiel 1:15-16 )

Which would be green.

they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel ( Ezekiel 1:16 ).

So, again, he's using human language trying to describe their appearance and so forth, and these wheels. And it was like a wheel within a middle of the wheel and these flashes of light and so forth as they move in this green glow, like a beryl in color.

And when they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went ( Ezekiel 1:17 ).

This is the third time he mentions this, so it's probably quite remarkable to him. He hasn't seen anything like this, as far as, you know, the earth and on the earth.

As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful [awesome]; their rings were full of eyes round about them four. 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. And whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, and 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. Now when those went, these went; when those stood still, these stood still; and when they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature ( Ezekiel 1:18-21 )

Again he repeats,

was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmament [above their heads] upon the heads of the living creatures was the color of an awesome crystal, stretched forth over their heads above ( Ezekiel 1:21-22 ).

In other words, now he's describing the area around the throne of God. These creatures were under the throne of God. And this was like an awesome crystal.

John saw this sea of glass likened to crystal that was there before the throne of God. And as you read, Revelation 4 , you'll find that it parallels very much this vision of Ezekiel as both of these men, bound by human limitations, tried to describe the heavenly scene, the throne of God and the glory of God that they behold in these visions.

And under the firmament were their wings straight, and one toward the other: every one had two, which they covered their side, every one had two, which covered the sides of their bodies ( Ezekiel 1:23 ).

With two they touched each other, with two they covered the sides of their bodies.

And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters ( Ezekiel 1:24 ),

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? Ever been up in Yosemite to Vernal Falls or Nevada Falls and you hear this noise of great waters, sort of a roar. And so, as they moved there was this roar. The flash is like lightning and the straight direction type movements.

as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings ( Ezekiel 1:24 ).

So, when they were standing, their wings would come down to their side.

And there was a voice from [this heaven] this firmament [this expanse above them] that was over their heads, when they stood, and they had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone [which is blue]: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw 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. 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 on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake ( Ezekiel 1:25-28 ).

So, you might find it interesting when you have your own study to read Daniel 7:9 , and 10, as Daniel describes his vision of God. Isaiah chapter 6, as he describes his vision of the throne of God, and then Revelation chapter 4, as John describes his, and you put them all together and you get a pretty good composite of what the heavenly scene must look like.

This bow, John describes it in Revelation chapter 4, a bow like emerald, sort of a greenish in color that is around about the throne of God. Ezekiel describes it here. John had much the same reaction of just falling on his face. Daniel was weak as a result of his vision. He just was totally weakened by it. Ezekiel fell on his face and he heard the voice of one that spake.

Now, flying saucer buffs declare that Ezekiel actually sighted a flying saucer. That there are extraterrestrial beings that have visited the earth and have been visiting the earth during the historic period of man. And that they actually account for many of the otherwise unaccountable phenomena of history, some of the mammoth building projects of ancient man, which still baffle us today. And they, of course, go out to the desert or to various areas, and they have these sightings of these flying saucers, and there is just an awful lot that has been written, has been discussed, has been talked about flying saucers, and there have been many reports and much interesting phenomena surrounding these flying saucers.

Many of them can be accounted for as, perhaps, swamp gases and other things, but yet there are others that reasonably intelligent men have expressed and described and it's hard to discount them all.

Lambert Dolphin who is a scientist up at the University of Stanford, one of the scientists, I believe his area is that of astrophysics, quite outstanding, very intelligent man, was asked to speak at one of these flying saucer conventions. And so he prepared a paper on flying saucers in which he thought that he would, before the convention, thoroughly debunk this whole flying saucer kind of a... what he thought mythology. And he was approaching it from just a purely scientific standpoint, and was going to take so many of the concepts that they had about moving on the magnetic forces and all of this, and seek to thoroughly, from a scientific standpoint, debunk the thing.

As he was sitting there on the platform, and there were about three thousand people at this convention, the speaker, and of course he was interested that these weren't freaky people. You know, you think that people who see flying saucers and all are sort of fringe, freaky kind of people. But he realized that among them there were professors, other scientists, peace officers, a wide cross-section of our society.

The leader of the convention asked the people, "How many of you have ever seen a flying saucer?" And he was shocked that about two-thirds of the hands in the auditorium went up. People had said they had sighted flying saucers. He then asked, "How many of you have been taken aboard a flying saucer?" And a third of the people raised their hands. And he began to get a little concerned. When he stood up to speak, he heard this screaming noise that was extremely distracting to him. And he wondered, "Where is that coming from?" And he looked around the audience to see what direction the people might be looking, because he figured that those that were closest to the screaming noise would be looking at it and he could localize where it was and then ask the ushers or someone to take care of that and get rid of it. But he said, suddenly he realized that nobody was looking around anywhere and that he was the only one that was hearing this screaming noise. And to this man of science there came suddenly the awareness, "Hey, this whole thing is demonic." And he got so shook that he was unable to deliver his paper in which he was going to debunk the whole flying saucer theory or ideas, concepts. He was just totally shaken.

Now, the interesting thing to me is that these people do try to bring Ezekiel into their fold, into their number. "Look, he describes it. He perfectly describes it in his book." Wait a minute, what does Ezekiel describe? As I said, in chapter 10 Ezekiel again describes it, but he tells us what it is, "These are the cherubim that are there before the throne of God." These wheels within the wheels, with the flashes of lightning and the movements and so forth. And if you heard them describe how the flying saucers move in the straight type of lines, they don't make a wide arc when they turn. They just... straight line type of movement, being able to change directions and so forth with tremendous speed. Able to hover and then suddenly move off with tremendous speeds.

Is it possible that these people who are sighting these UFO's are also dabbling into the occult and are seeing fallen cherubim? We know that when Satan fell that one-third of the angelic host went with him. It is interesting that the Bible says that Satan was indeed a cherubim. He was the anointed--not a cherubim, because cherubim is plural. Cherub is the singular. He was an anointed cherub that covered. But there are cherubim, plural. It is very possible that we are dealing in an interesting area of the occult and that there are these cherubim that are making themselves visible to those who are dabbling into that realm of occultism.

Now what Ezekiel saw were the cherubim there at the throne of God, but it would also stand that the cherubim who fell would have a similar likeness or appearance and movements. So, it is possible that we cannot thoroughly discount this whole flying saucer phenomena as a bunch of junk, but it could indeed be that in these last days, as satanic forces are growing, as far as the demonstrations of their power. That as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man. And there was strong demonic activity in the days of Noah, and we're coming into the area again of strong demonic activity.

Now I offer that as only a suggestion. I'm not declaring to you, "Oh, I've got some great mysterious truth I'm revealing now, you know. This is the way it happened or this is the way." This is just a suggestion. Something to think about. And I'll let it go at that. "



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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ezekiel-1.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Ezekiel saw within the opened heavens a great cloud blown toward him by the north wind with lightning flashing from it almost constantly (cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13; Job 38:1; Job 40:6; Psalms 29:3-5). Israel’s enemies had invaded from the north, so the implication was that an invasion was coming. He also saw a bright light around this cloud and something like hot glowing metal shining in its midst, evidently God Himself (cf. Exodus 13:17-22; Exodus 19:16-18; Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:28-29). The biblical writers sometimes described God’s abode as in the north (e.g., Psalms 48:2; Isaiah 14:13; cf. Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:32; 1 Thessalonians 4:17), and they often associated storms and clouds with theophanies (e.g., Job 38:1; Psalms 29:3-9; Psalms 104:3; Isaiah 29:6; cf. Exodus 13:21; Leviticus 16:2).

As God had riveted the attention of Moses by showing him a bush that was burning but not burning up (Exodus 3:1-15), so God captured Ezekiel’s attention with this vision of a burning cloud.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ezekiel-1.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The living beings 1:4-14

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Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2. The vision proper 1:4-28

Ezekiel saw three things in this vision: living beings (Ezekiel 1:4-14), wheels in motion (Ezekiel 1:15-21), and a great expanse (Ezekiel 1:22-28).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ezekiel-1.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I looked,.... Being under the influence of the Spirit and power of God:

and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north; which some understand of Nebuchadnezzar and his army coming from Babylon, which lay north of Judea: see Jeremiah 1:14; but it seems to me to be, with what follows, only an apparatus to the following vision: and is designed to awaken the mind of the prophet, and to fix his attention to what should proceed from hence, and be seen by him; just as the Lord speared in and answered Job out of, the whirlwind, Job 38:1;

a great cloud; as is usual when there is much thunder and lightning; though some understand this also of Nebuchadnezzar's army, which came in great human, swiftly and powerfully, as a cloud:

and a fire infolding itself: in the cloud; rolling within it, when it burst out in thunder and lightning. The Targum renders it, "fire inflamed", the same phrase is used of the storm of thunder, lightning, and hail, in Exodus 9:24. Some understand this of the wrath of the Babylonian monarch; or of the wrath of God by him; or of the sins of men, the cause thereof:

and a brightness [was] about it; that is, the cloud. This brightness was an emblem of the glory of the divine Being; who was now present, an enlightened the mind of the prophet to see the following things, and which all proceeded from him:

and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber out of the midst of the fire; that is, out of the midst of the fire, and out of the midst of the brightness about it, there was something which was as "the colour of amber"; or, "like the chasmal" f; which, the Jews g say, is the name of an angel. It is asked h, what is "chasmal?" R. Judah says, חיות אש ממהות, "fiery animals speaking": who, when God speaks, are silent; and when he does not speak, they speak; but Christ is meant; for the appearance of the man upon the throne is said to be as the colour of "chasmal", Ezekiel 1:27. The word, read the contrary way, is the Messiah, or the anointed, or to be anointed. Jarchi thinks it is the name of a colour, nearest to the colour of fire, Junius and Tremellius render it, "a most lively colour"; and perhaps may mean the colour of a burning coal; and Buxtorf translates it, "a coal exceedingly fired"; a clear, burning, red-hot coal; which may denote the pure light of Christ, who is the brightness of his Father's glory; his flaming love for his people; his burning zeal for the glory of God, and the good of his church; and his fiery indignation against his enemies. We render the word amber, as do others; by which must be meant, not that which is the juice of certain trees, which is hardened by the air, and is of a yellowish colour; nor that liquid substance which comes from sea shores and rocks, and, being hardened in the same way, is of the colour of wax; but a sort of mixed metal, compounded of gold and silver; the fifth part of it is silver, as Pliny i says, and four parts gold; though Bochart is of opinion that the "qurichalcum", a metal made of gold and brass, is meant; which is the most fine brass; to which the feet of Christ are compared in Revelation 1:15; and so this "chasmal" may denote the two natures in Christ; the preciousness of his person; his brightness and glory; and his great strength and power. R. Abendana k conjectures, that the colour of "chasmal" means the colour of some precious stone, as the colour of "tarshish", or "beryl", Ezekiel 1:16; and so he that sat upon the throne, in Revelation 4:3; was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone.

f כעין החשמל "tanquam species hasmal, [vel] chasmal", Calvin, Tigerius version, Starckius; "angeli", Munster; "flammae crepitantis", Montanus; "prunarum ardentissimarum", Polanus; "purissimi aeris", Piscator; ηλεκτρου, Sept. "electri", V. L. Pagninus. g Baal Aruch, Philip. Aquinas. Vid. Jarchi & Kimchi ib loc. h T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 13. 1. 2. i Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 4. k Not. in Miclol Yophi in loc.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ezekiel-1.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Vision of the Four Living Creatures. B. C. 595.

      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.   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.   6 And every one had four faces, and every one 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 colour 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.   9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one 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 every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.   12 And they went every one 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.

      The visions of God which Ezekiel here saw were very glorious, and had more particulars than those which other prophets saw. It is the scope and intention of these vision, 1. To possess the prophet's mind with very great, and high, and honourable thoughts of that God by whom he was commissioned and for whom he was employed. It is the likeness of the glory of the Lord that he sees (Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 1:28), and hence he may infer that it is his honour to serve him, for he is one whom angels serve. He may serve him with safety, for he has power sufficient to bear him out in his work. It is at his peril to draw back from his service, for he has power to pursue him, as he did Jonah. So great a God as this must be served with reverence and godly fear; and with assurance may Ezekiel foretel what this God will do, for he is able to make his words good. 2. To strike a terror upon the sinners who remained in Zion, and those who had already come to Babylon, who were secure, and bade defiance to the threatenings of Jerusalem's ruin, as we have found in Jeremiah's prophecy, and shall find in this, many did. "Let those who said, We shall have peace though we go on, know that our God is a consuming fire, whom they cannot stand before." That this vision had a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem seems plain from Ezekiel 43:3; Ezekiel 43:3, where he says that it was the vision which he saw when he came to destroy the city, that is, to prophesy the destruction of it. 3. To speak comfort to those that feared God, and trembled at his word, and humbled themselves under his mighty hand. "Let them know that, though they are captives in Babylon, yet they have God nigh unto them; though they have not the place of the sanctuary to be their glorious high throne, they have the God of the sanctuary." Dr. Lightfoot observes, "Now that the church is to be planted for a long time in another country, the Lord shows a glory in the midst of them, as he had done at their first constituting into a church in the wilderness; and out of a cloud and fire, as he had done there, he showed himself; and from between living creatures, as from between the cherubim, he gives his oracles." This put an honour upon them, by which they might value themselves when the Chaldeans insulted over them, and this might encourage their hopes of deliverance in due time.

      Now, to answer these ends, we have in Ezekiel 1:4-14 the first part of the vision, which represents God as attended and served by an innumerable company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments and hearkening to the voice of his word. This denotes his grandeur, as it magnifies an earthly prince to have a splendid retinue and numerous armies at his command, which engages his allies to trust him and his enemies to fear him.

      I. The introduction to this vision of the angels is very magnificent and awakening, Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 1:4. The prophet, observing the heavens to open, looked, looked up (as it was time), to see what discoveries God would make to him. Note, When the heavens are opened it concerns us to have our eyes open. To clear the way, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, which would drive away the interposing mists of this lower region. Fair weather comes out of the north, and thence the wind comes that drives away rain. God can by a whirlwind clear the sky and air, and produce that serenity of mind which is necessary to our communion with Heaven. Yet this whirlwind was attended with a great cloud. When we think that the clouds which arise from this earth are dispelled and we can see beyond them, yet still there is a cloud which heavenly things are wrapped in, a cloud from above, so that we cannot order our speech concerning them by reason of darkness. Christ here descended, as he ascended, in a cloud. Some by this whirlwind and cloud understand the Chaldean army coming out of the north against the land of Judah, bearing down all before them as a tempest; and so it agrees with that which was signified by one of the first of Jeremiah's visions (Jeremiah 1:14, Out of the north an evil shall break forth); but I take it here as an introduction rather to the vision than to the sermons. This whirlwind came to Ezekiel (as that to Elijah, 1 Kings 19:11), to prepare the way of the Lord, and to demand attention. He that has eyes, that has ears, let him see, let him hear.

      II. The vision itself. A great cloud was the vehicle of this vision, in which it was conveyed to the prophet; for God's pavilion in which he rests, his chariot in which he rides, is darkness and thick clouds,Psalms 18:11; Psalms 104:3. Thus he holds back the face of his throne, lest its dazzling light and lustre should overpower us, by spreading a cloud upon it. Now,

      1. The cloud is accompanied with a fire, as upon Mount Sinai, where God resided in a thick cloud; but the sight of his glory was like a devouring fire (Exodus 24:16; Exodus 24:17), and his first appearance to Moses was in a flame of fire in the bush; for our God is a consuming fire. This was a fire enfolding itself, a globe, or orb, or wheel of fire. God being his own cause, his own rule, and his own end, if he be as a fire, he is as a fire enfolding itself, or (as some read it) kindled by itself. The fire of God's glory shines forth, but it quickly enfolds itself; for he lets us know but part of his ways; the fire of God's wrath breaks forth, but it also quickly enfolds itself, for the divine patience suffers not all his wrath to be stirred up. If it were not a fire thus enfolding itself, O Lord! who shall stand?

      2. The fire is surrounded with a glory: A brightness was about it, in which it enfolded itself, yet it made some discovery of itself. Though we cannot see into the fire, cannot by searching find out God to perfection, yet we see the brightness that is round about it, the reflection of this fire from the thick cloud. Moses might see God's back parts, but not his face. We have some light concerning the nature of God, from the brightness which encompasses it, though we have not an insight into it, by reason of the cloud spread upon it. Nothing is more easy than to determine that God is, nothing more difficult than to describe what he is. When God displays his wrath as fire, yet there is a brightness about it; for his holiness and justice appear very illustrious in the punishment of sin and sinners: even about the devouring fire there is a brightness, which glorified saints will for ever admire.

      3. Out of this fire there shines the colour of amber. We are not told who or what it was that had this colour of amber, and therefore I take it to be the whole frame of the following vision, which came into Ezekiel's view out of the midst of the fire and brightness; and the first thing he took notice of before he viewed the particulars was that it was of the colour of amber, or the eye of amber; that is, it looked as amber does to the eye, of a bright flaming fiery colour, the colour of a burning coal; so some think it should be read. The living creatures which he saw coming out of the midst of the fire were seraphim--burners; for he maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire.

      4. That which comes out of the fire, of a fiery amber colour, when it comes to be distinctly viewed, is the likeness of four living creatures; not the living creatures themselves (angels are spirits, and cannot be seen), but the likeness of them, such a hieroglyphic, or representation, as God saw fit to make use of for the leading of the prophet, and us with him, into some acquaintance with the world of angels (a matter purely of divine revelation), so far as is requisite to possess us with an awful sense of the greatness of that God who has angels for his attendants, and the goodness of that God who has appointed them to be attendants on his people. The likeness of these living creatures came out of the midst of the fire; for angels derive their being and power from God; they are in themselves, and to us, what he is pleased to make them; their glory is a ray of his. The prophet himself explains this vision (Ezekiel 10:20; Ezekiel 10:20): I knew that the living creatures were the cherubim, which is one of the names by which the angels are known in scripture. To Daniel was made known their number, ten thousand times ten thousand,Daniel 7:10. But, though they are many, yet they are one, and that is made known to Ezekiel here; they are one in nature and operation, as an army, consisting of thousands, is yet called a body of men. We have here an account of,

      (1.) Their nature. They are living creatures; they are the creatures of God, the work of his hands; their being is derived; they have not life in and of themselves, but receive it from him who is the fountain of life. As much as the living creatures of this lower world excel the vegetables that are the ornaments of earth, so much do the angels, the living creatures of the upper world, excel the sun, moon, and stars, the ornaments of the heavens. The sun (say some) is a flame of fire enfolding itself, but it is not a living creature, as angels, those flames of fire, are. Angels are living creatures, living beings, emphatically so. Men on earth are dying creatures, dying daily (in the midst of life we are in death), but angels in heaven are living creatures; they live indeed, live to good purpose; and, when saints come to be equal unto the angels, they shall not die any more,Luke 20:36.

      (2.) Their number. They are four; so they appear here, though they are innumerable; not as if these were four particular angels set up above the rest, as some have fondly imagined, Michael and Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, but for the sake of the four faces they put on, and to intimate their being sent forth towards the four winds of heaven,Matthew 24:31. Zechariah saw them as four chariots going forth east, west, north, and south, Zechariah 6:1. God has messengers to send every way; for his kingdom is universal, and reaches to all parts of the world.

      (3.) Their qualifications, by which they are fitted for the service of their Maker and Master. These are set forth figuratively and by similitude, as is proper in visions, which are parables to the eye. Their description here is such, and so expressed, that I think it is not possible by it to form an exact idea of them in our fancies, or with the pencil, for that would be a temptation to worship them; but the several instances of their fitness for the work they are employed in are intended in the several parts of this description. Note, It is the greatest honour of God's creatures to be in a capacity of answering the end of their creation; and the more ready we are to every good work the nearer we approach to the dignity of angels. These living creatures are described here, [1.] By their general appearance: They had the likeness of a man; they appeared, for the main, in a human shape, First, To signify that these living creatures are reasonable creatures, intelligent beings, who have the spirit of a man which is the candle of the Lord. Secondly, To put an honour upon the nature of man, who is made lower, yet but a little lower, than the angels, in the very next rank of beings below them. When the invisible intelligences of the upper world would make themselves visible, it is in the likeness of man. Thirdly, To intimate that their delights are with the sons of men, as their Master's are (Proverbs 8:31), that they do service to men, and men may have spiritual communion with them by faith, hope, and holy love. Fourthly, The angels of God appear in the likeness of man because in the fulness of time the Son of God was not only to appear in that likeness, but to assume that nature; they therefore show this love to it. [2.] By their faces: Every one had four faces, looking four several ways. In St. John's vision, which has a near affinity with this, each of the four living creatures has one of these faces here mentioned (Revelation 4:7); here each of them has all four, to intimate that they have all the same qualifications for service; though, perhaps, among the angels of heaven, as among the angels of the churches, some excel in one gift and others in another, but all for the common service. Let us contemplate their faces till we be in some measure changed into the same image, that we may do the will of God as the angels do it in heaven. They all four had the face of a man (for in that likeness they appeared, Ezekiel 1:5; Ezekiel 1:5), but, besides that, they had the face of a lion, an ox, and an eagle, each masterly in its kind, the lion among wild beasts, the ox among tame ones, and the eagle among fowls, Ezekiel 1:10; Ezekiel 1:10. Does God make use of them for the executing of judgments upon his enemies? They are fierce and strong as the lion and the eagle in tearing their prey. Does he make use of them for the good of his people? They are as oxen strong for labour and inclined to serve. And in both they have the understanding of a man. The scattered perfections of the living creatures on earth meet in the angels of heaven. They have the likeness of man; but, because there are some things in which man is excelled even by the inferior creatures, they are therefore compared to some of them. They have the understanding of a man, and such as far exceeds it; they also resemble man in tenderness and humanity. But, First, A lion excels man in strength and boldness, and is much more formidable; therefore the angels, who in this resemble them, put on the face of a lion. Secondly, An ox excels man in diligence, and patience, and painstaking, and an unwearied discharge of the work he has to do; therefore the angels, who are constantly employed in the service of God and the church, put on the face of an ox. Thirdly, An eagle excels man in quickness and piercingness of sight, and in soaring high; and therefore the angels, who seek things above, and see far into divine mysteries, put on the face of a flying eagle. [3.] By their wings: Every one had four wings,Ezekiel 1:6; Ezekiel 1:6. In the vision Isaiah had of them they appeared with six, now with four; for they appeared above the throne, and had occasion for two to cover their faces with. The angels are fitted with wings to fly swiftly on God's errands; whatever business God sends them upon they lose no time. Faith and hope are the soul's wings, upon which it soars upward; pious and devout affections are its wings on which it is carried forward with vigour and alacrity. The prophet observes here, concerning their wings, First, That they were joined one to another,Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:9 and again Ezekiel 1:11; Ezekiel 1:11. They did not make use of their wings for fighting, as some birds do; there is no contest among the angels. God makes peace, perfect peace, in his high places. But their wings were joined, in token of their perfect unity and unanimity and the universal agreement there is among them. Secondly, That they were stretched upward, extended, and ready for use, not folded up, or flagging. Let an angel receive the least intimation of the divine will, and he has nothing to seek, but is upon the wings immediately; while our poor dull souls are like the ostrich, that with much difficulty lifts up herself on high. Thirdly, That two of their wings were made use of in covering their bodies, the spiritual bodies they assumed. The clothes that cover us are our hindrance in work; angels need no other covering than their own wings, which are their furtherance. They cover their bodies from us, so forbidding us needless enquiries concerning them. Ask not after them, for they are wonderful, Judges 13:18. They cover them before God, so directing us, when we approach to God, to see to it that we be so clothed with Christ's righteousness that the shame of our nakedness may not appear. [4.] By their feet, including their legs and thighs: They were straight feet (Ezekiel 1:7; Ezekiel 1:7); they stood straight, and firm, and steady; no burden of service could make their legs to bend under them. The spouse makes this part of the description of her beloved, that his legs were as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold (Song of Solomon 5:15); such are the angels' legs. The sole of their feet was like that of a calf's foot, which divides the hoof and is therefore clean: as it were the sole of a round foot (as the Chaldee words it); they were ready for motion any way. Their feet were winged (so the LXX.); they went so swiftly that it was as if they flew. And their very feet sparkled like the colour of burnished brass; not only the faces, but the very feet, of those are beautiful whom God sends on his errands (Isaiah 52:7); every step the angels take is glorious. In the vision John had of Christ it is said, His feet were like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace,Revelation 1:15. [5.] By their hands (Ezekiel 1:8; Ezekiel 1:8): They had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides, an arm and a hand under every wing. They had not only wings for motion, but hands for action. Many are quick who are not active; they hurry about a great deal, but do nothing to purpose, bring nothing to pass; they have wings, but no hands: whereas God's servants, the angels, not only go when he sends them and come when he calls them, but do what he bids them. They are the hands of a man, which are wonderfully made and fitted for service, which are guided by reason and understanding; for what angles do they do intelligently and with judgment. They have calves' feet; this denotes the swiftness of their motion (the cedars of Lebanon are said to skip like a calf,Psalms 29:6); but they have a man's hand, which denotes the niceness and exactness of their performances, as the heavens are said to be the work of God's fingers. Their hands were under their wings, which concealed them, as they did the rest of their bodies. Note, The agency of angels is a secret thing and their work is carried on in an invisible way. In working for God, though we must not, with the sluggard, hide our hand in our bosom, yet we must, with the humble, not let our left hand know what our right hand doeth. We may observe that where these wings were their hands were under their wings; wherever their wings carried them they carried hands along with them, to be still doing something suitable something that the duty of the place requires.

      (4.) Their motions. The living creatures are moving. Angels are active beings; it is not their happiness to sit still and do nothing, but to be always well employed; and we must reckon ourselves then best when we are doing good, doing it as the angels do it, or whom it is here observed, [1.] That whatever service they went about they went every one straight forward (Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12), which intimates, First, That they sincerely aimed at the glory of God, and had a single eye to that, in all they did. Their going straight forward supposes that they looked straight forward, and never had any sinister intentions in what they did. And, if thus our eye be single, our whole body will be full of light. The singleness of the eye is the sincerity of the heart. Secondly, That they were intent upon the service they were employed in, and did it with a close application of mind. They went forward with their work; for what their hand found to do they did with all their might and did not loiter in it. Thirdly, That they were unanimous in it: They went straight forward, every one about his own work; they did not thwart or jostle one another, did not stand in one another's light, in one another's way. Fourthly, That they perfectly understood their business, and were thoroughly apprised of it, so that they needed not to stand still, to pause of hesitate, but pursue their work with readiness, as those that knew what they had to do and how to do it. Fifthly, They were steady and constant in their work. They did not fluctuate, did not tire, did not vary, but were of a piece with themselves. They moved in a direct line, and so went the nearest way to work in all they did and lost no time. When we go straight we go forward; when we serve God with one heart we rid ground, we rid work. [2.] They turned not when they went,Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12. First, They made no blunders or mistakes, which would give them occasion to turn back to rectify them; their work needed no correction, and therefore needed not to be gone over again. Secondly, They minded no diversions; as they turned not back, so they turned not aside, to trifle with any thing that was foreign to their business. [3.] They went whither the Spirit was to go (Ezekiel 1:12; Ezekiel 1:12), either, First, Whither their own spirit was disposed to go; thither they went, having no bodies, as we have, to clog or hinder them. It is our infelicity and daily burden that, when the spirit if willing, yet the flesh is weak and cannot keep pace with it, so that the good which we would do we do it not; but angels and glorified saints labour under no such impotency; whatever they incline or intend to do they do it, and never come short of it. Or, rather, Secondly, Whithersoever the Spirit of God would have them go, thither they went. Though they had so much wisdom of their own, yet in all their motions and actions they subjected themselves to the guidance and government of the divine will. Whithersoever the divine Providence was to go they went, to serve its purposes and to execute its orders. The Spirit of God (says Mr. Greenhill) is the great agent that sets angels to work, and it is their honour that they are led, they are easily led, by the Spirit. See how tractable and obsequious these noble creatures are. Whithersoever the Spirit is to go they go immediately, with all possible alacrity. Note, Those that walk after the Spirit do the will of God as the angels do it. [4.] They ran and returned like a flash of lightning,Ezekiel 1:14; Ezekiel 1:14. This intimates, First, That they made haste; they were quick in their motions, as quick as lightning. Whatever business they went about they despatched it immediately, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Happy they that have no bodies to retard their motion in holy exercises. And happy shall we be when we come to have spiritual bodies for spiritual work. Satan falls like lightning into his own ruin, Luke 10:18. Angels fly like lightning in their Master's work. The angel Gabriel flew swiftly. Secondly, That they made haste back: They ran and returned; ran to do their work and execute their orders, and then returned to give an account of what they had done and receive new instructions, that they might be always doing. They ran into the lower world, to do what was to be done there; but, when they had done it, they returned like flash of lightning to the upper world again, to the beatific vision of their God, which they could not with any patience be longer from than their service did require. Thus we should be in the affairs of this world as out of our element. Though we run into them, we must not repose in them, but our souls must quickly return like lightning to God their rest and centre.

      5. We have an account of the light by which the prophet saw these living creatures, or the looking-glass in which he saw them, Ezekiel 1:13; Ezekiel 1:13. (1.) He saw them by their own light, for their appearance was like burning coals of fire; they are seraphim-burners, denoting the ardour of their love to God, their fervent zeal in his service, their splendour and brightness, and their terror against God's enemies. When God employs them to fight his battles they are as coals of fire (Psalms 18:12) to devour the adversaries, as lightnings shot out to discomfit them. (2.) He saw them by the light of some lamps, which went up and down among them, the shining whereof was very bright. Satan's works are works of darkness; he is the ruler of the darkness of this world. But the angels of light are in the light, and, though they conceal their working, they show their work, for it will bear the light. But we see them and their works only by candle-light, but the dim light of lamps that go up and down among them; when the day breaks, and the shadows flee away, we shall see them clearly. Some make the appearance of these burning coals, and of the lightning that issues out of the fire, to signify the wrath of God, and his judgments, that were now to be executed upon Judah and Jerusalem for their sins, in which angels were to be employed; and accordingly we find afterwards coals of fire scattered upon the city to consume it, which were fetched from between the cherubim,Ezekiel 10:2; Ezekiel 10:2. But by the appearance of the lamps then we may understand the light of comfort which shone forth to the people of God in the darkness of this present trouble. If the ministry of the angels is as a consuming fire to God's enemies, it is as a rejoicing light to his own children. To the one this fire is bright, it is very reviving and refreshing; to the other, out of the fire comes fresh lightning to destroy them. Note, Good angels are our friends, or enemies, according as God is.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ezekiel 1:4". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ezekiel-1.html. 1706.