Bible Study: Ezekiel 1 – Vision of God

The book of Ezekiel is one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. It was authored by Ezekiel who was set as a watchman to the house of Israel.

Ezek 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:

The first chapter of Ezekiel is about the vision of God.

Background

Ezek 1:1-3 NOW it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.

A more general question is, thirtieth year of what? This 30th year is also the same as the 5th year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. King Jehoiachin’s was taken captivity on the 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar. Now, Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 605 BC. Hence, his 7th year is 598 BC. Therefore, 5th year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity is 593 BC. Going back 30 years is 623 BC. Hence, the 30 years represents Ezekiel’s age.

The Four Living Creatures

Ezek 1:4-14 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.

Unlike the four living creatures in Revelation, they are all identical here.
  • likeness of a man
  • four faces
  • four wings
  • legs were straight
  • soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet
  • sparkled like the color of burnished bronze
  • hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides
  • each had
    • face of a man (front)
    • face of a lion on the right side
    • face of an ox on the left side
    • face of an eagle (back)
  • appearance was like burning coals of fire
  • ran like flash of lightning
Let us compare the living creatures with Revelation.

Rev 4:7-8 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

Ezekiel Revelation
First Living Creature
  • face of a man (front)
  • face of a lion on the right side
  • face of an ox on the left side
  • face of an eagle (back)
  • four wings

  • like a lion
  • six wings
Second Living Creature
  • face of a man (front)
  • face of a lion on the right side
  • face of an ox on the left side
  • face of an eagle (back)
  • four wings

  • like a calf
  • six wings
Third Living Creature
  • face of a man (front)
  • face of a lion on the right side
  • face of an ox on the left side
  • face of an eagle (back)
  • four wings
  • like a man
  • six wings
Fourth Living Creature
  • face of a man (front)
  • face of a lion on the right side
  • face of an ox on the left side
  • face of an eagle (back)
  • four wings
  • like a flying eagle
  • six wings

Ezek 10:20 This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim.

It is as if the four faces in each direction as per Ezekiel became a living creature with single face in Revelation. There is also a difference in the number of wings on Cherubim from the Ezekiel’s vision and John’s vision.

Exod 37:9 The cherubim spread out their wings above, and covered the mercy seat with their wings. They faced one another; the faces of the cherubim were toward the mercy seat. 

Ezek 28:14-16 “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.

Cherubim covers the mercy seat. We also see that when God is referring to King of Tyre, He is referring to the power behind him which was once a covering cherub.

Is God showing to us that Israel represented as the face of a man will be scattered among the gentile nations representing one face in each of the living creature as in the book of Ezekiel, will be gathered together at end times by representing as a whole living creature with single face in Revelation?

Wheel in the middle of a Wheel

Ezek 1:15-21 Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

Description of a similar wheel is missing from Revelation. In the Bible, the only reference for wheels are generally represented to escape when driven out.

Exod 14:25 And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”

The wheel in the middle of a wheel could represent that it can travel in 4 directions without turning. Does this represent the people of Israel be driven out and scattered in all 4 directions? The missing wheels in Revelation could represent they will no longer be scattered.

The Firmament

Ezek 1:22-26 The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings. And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it.

The firmament is also missing in Revelation when describing His throne and the four living creatures.

Isa 66:1 Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?

Heaven is God’s throne and earth is His foot stool. 

Exod 26:33 “And you shall hang the veil from the clasps. Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy. 

Luke 23:45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 

Heb 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 

2Cor 3:14-16 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

Because we have direct access to God through the blood of Jesus Christ, there is no veil or the firmament in the book of Revelation which Ezekiel saw.

Likeness of the Glory of the LORD

Ezek 1:27-28 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.

We also see a similar description in the book of Revelation.

Ezekiel Revelation 4:2-3
Appearance
  • Appearance of His waist and upward 
    • color of amber
    • appearance of fire all around within it

  • jasper stone
  • sardius stone
  • Appearance of His waist and downward
    • appearance of fire with brightness all around
Appearance around
  • rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day
  • a rainbow around the throne
  • appearance like an emerald
Description
  • likeness of the glory of the LORD
  • a throne set in heaven