What are the four living beings in Ezekiel?

Hi everyone!

I just started reading Ezekiel, and I’m already confused after just reading the first chapter :sweat_smile:

Will someone enlighten me on what the four living beings/four wheels represent?



Consider the strategic position that Judah was in at this time period:

  • Israel who had forsaken God has been wiped away over one hundred years earlier
  • Judah had been prophesied to about their failings
  • citizens were then being deported to Babylon (590s to 586 BC)
  • this oppressive army has withstood God’s anointed city and would rob His temple of its valuables

In this time, the people were not sure God would be able to save them or how anyone could withstand the terrible army Babylon (see Habakkuk). And then Ezekiel has this awesome vision of a power and a being like he can hardly describe. It can be in any one place and then in another in just a flash! It was heavenly and did not need to face or point where it needed to go, it just appeared there if by desire. Yet it was identifiable with human hands. There was omnipotence and omniscience in this presence that occurs like a storm. Above this was visual gleams of crystal, auditory impressions of abundant waters, and a mighty voice like the tumult of an encamped army, like God Almighty. Above it was the brilliant throne of Lord, and the One who appeared like a man, yet in all His glory, brilliance, and radiance like fire and the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day. Ezekiel fell on his face at this and a voice began to speak…

That was quite the theophany–manifestation of God–that Ezekiel experienced and then had the challenge of relating a moment where someone really just had to be there to fully understand it. This awesome, matchless, all powerful, all knowing, inescapable presence was what God’s people needed in their time.

When I read the opening of Ezekiel, I consider how the details above are important and significant to the audience in that specific time of need in history. There are myriads of theories around possible metaphors that speculate what this colorful language could mean… However, this approach I take allows me to understand in plain and simple terms the needs and situation that God’s people were in, and how He is present and all powerful enough to deal with those issues and bring encouragement to His people. It can be read plainly and gives God the glory He deserves with out stretching out speculation, and one that I adhere to.

What sort of impressions did you have thinking about this particular time period and God’s impressive presence being made known to Ezekiel?

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Olivia, what an amazing intro to a Bible study Ezekiel chapter one is eh? A real imagination grabber it is. I like what Andrew pointed out, the event isn’t easy for us to take in. It must have been even more complicated for Ezekiel to pen into something we might relate to.

The four living beings appear to be a type of angel, servants of God. No wonder why people faint fearfully in the sight of angels in Scripture. They are majestic beings with great power. The wheels may have been a description of the radiance surrounding God’s presence? A sight that Ezekiel may have been grasping at ways to describe.

As you read and reread, study further and pray over the passage; God will reveal to you the details and understanding of what this means. Part of the fascination of reading the Bible is the mystery being made known. You are looking into the eternal from our finite view, God is revealing a picture unfit for human eyes. The power of it all is breath taking.

Enjoy the sights of heaven opened by a vision to the prophet, and into your mind.

Ken :canada:

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I think of a very rebellious Israel and Judah who have rejected The Lord for years and are now experiencing divine wrath after have been given chance after chance to repent! I guess my question should’ve been is this what Ezekiel literally saw in his visions, or is this his personal way of representing what he saw? I love the mystery of The Bible! I guess this is one way God keeps us so interested in talking about it!

@OJMCKEE I thought I had the answer to this question but realised I did not and needed to do some more research.

Firstly I looked up the Hebrew for, “Living Creature”, expecting to find the word Seraph (kind of angel, but did not. It is chay which literally means living. I still had a feeling that this creature was a Seraphim so I kept looking.

It is my understanding that there are at least three kinds of angels. “Normal” angels, cherubim and seraphim. I presume there are more but this is all I know of. “Normal” angels like Gabriel appear to Mary in Luke 1:26, cherubim may be found in Genesis 3:24 and seriphim in Isaiah 6:2. The “im” at the end of each noun makes it plural.

We find the angels later identified as cherubim in Ezekiel Chapter 41 Verse 18. In the New Testament they are mentioned in Revelation 4:6 and Hebrews 9:5.

I hope my brief explanation has been helpful. Here is a source where I took some of my information from, if you would like to read more. I also recommend farmiliarising your self with a Strong’s Concordance like this one to check the Hebrew words which gives more information. Bless you sister as you dig into His word!

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