Today: [Ezekiel 1] The Wheel within the Wheel. In Ezekiel chapter 1 we witness with the prophet the unspeakable vision of transcendent glory revealed to the prophet by the river Chebar. As we consider the elements of this vision we understand that because it represents the glory of God, it is a descriptor of who God is on the inside of us by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
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[Eze 1:1-28 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month, as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, [that] the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2 In the fifth [day] of the month, which [was] the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, 3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. 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.
We now come to the study of the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s name means “God will seize” or “God will strengthen”. His father is Buzi and they are in the ancestry of Elihu, the younger of the number of Job’s comforters who defended the integrity of God against the accusations leveled by Job and his two other friends. He is a priest and therefore a Levite, counted among the number of people who submitted to the word of the Lord by Jeremiah that the people should willingly submit to the Babylonians and go into captivity, accepting the judgments of God against Jerusalem and the southern kingdom.
The place where the events of Ezekiel 1 places was near the river Chebar, which means “far off”. Have you ever found yourself by the hand of God in a far-off place? This is where visions of the character of the one recorded in this chapter are realized. The vision comes on the 5th day of the 4th month of the sacred calendar which is also the 10th month of the civil calendar – the month of Tammuz (Which according to one Hebrew calendar is exactly 7 days prior to the first broadcast of this teaching). Tammuz is also the name of the month on the Babylonian calendar as well. The date given is 35 years after Jeremiah wrote the book titled by his name. Therefore we can speculate that Jeremiah was around 5 years old at the end of Josiah’s reign and would have witnessed all of the events of Jehoiakim, Jeconiah and Zedekiah’s reign, and would very possibly been familiar or at least aware of Jeremiah’s ministry and prophecies, including the vision of the potter’s wheel in Jeremiah 18.
Ezekiel receives a vision in a fiery whirlwind comes out of the north with a likeness of 4 living creatures and 4 wheels in the midst of it. There is much speculation about what we are witnessing as we read of this vision, but verse 28 makes it very clear – it is a vision of the glory of the Lord. Whatever we are looking at – we are looking at something representative of God’s glory. Why is that important to know? Because Phil. 4:19 tells us that God meets out needs out of the glory. Col. 1:27 further declares that Christ in us is the hope of glory IN US. Therefore when we read something of this vision we are reading something of what God has put on the inside of us of His glory. This wheel within the wheel is descriptive of something God has instilled within each us as believers, as deep calling to deep.
The vision comes out of the north across the wilderness. Psalm 48:2 speaks of God dwelling in the north along with other verses. The place where Ezekiel is in captivity was a seat of the worship of the Babylonian storm god. Therefore in sweeping out of the north by a great wind any Babylonian seeing such a thing would have connected it with the pagan god of storms. In so appearing God is saying to Ezekiel and to us that He rides in supremacy over all the false gods of the earth to reveal Himself mighty in our behalf. The appearance of this glory is that of a great cloud with amber fire in the midst of it. Clouds are many times associated with the glory of God as is fire. To appear in amber speaks eloquently of God in us because amber comes from tree resin and we are called trees of righteousness in Isa. 61:3. Everything of this vision encapsulates a description of the glory of God. For Ezekiel this was the glory that only stood over the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. For us in the New Covenant it speaks of who God is on the inside of us and who we are being shaped and transformed to reflect in this description, which tells us not only of God but of ourselves in His eyes.
In this midst of this amber hued fiery cloud four creatures are witnessed. They have four faces, that of a man, a lion, an ok and an eagle. Now because we know that the vision comes out of the north we can affix the position of this faces in relationship to Ezekiel’s perspective. The face of a man would have been the first one the prophet made note of therefore was the forward face, looking toward Ezekiel in the southern position. The face of the right side and therefore easterly was the face of the lion. The face on the left side, or west would have been the face of the ox, and the face of the eagle would have looked northward or behind the perspective of Ezekiel’s vantage point.
This speaks something of the four aspects of how we relate to God and one another. The face of the man was face to face with Ezekiel and speaks of our posture of equity and openness to our fellow man. The face of the lion eastward looks toward the coming of Christ who is declared will one day split the eastern sky (Matt. 24:27). This speaks to us of that when Christ comes those that are looking for him will meet him as those faithfully warring in his behalf till he appears. The face of the ox westward is that of a servant. Both the lion and the ox are horizontally positioned speaking of our posture and activity in this life on the earth acting as servant sons awaiting his appearing in the earth. The eagle looking back or northerly is the heart of an eagle saint who desires to mount up to God and to His throne, both to know and be known of him. The order in which Ezekiel names these faces is neither clockwise nor counter-clockwise but in the shape of the cross, wherein is revealed something to us of the deeper meaning of Christ’s command that we take up our cross and follow Him.
The general appears of the creatures is that of a man, again confirming for us that this is something speaking not just of God alone but who He is relation to us and the New Creation nature that transforms us from God’s point of view into this likeness. The feet were straight feet reflecting the reference in Heb. 12:13 that we make straight paths for our feet that we be not turned out of the way. They are calves hooves in form speaking to us both of sacrifice and servanthood in our walk with God upon the earth.
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. 15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their work [was] like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work [was] as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
The arrangement of the wings speaks to us as well. One set of wings covered their bodies. The wings speak of our spiritual nature and out ability in God to navigate realm of the heavens. Our bodies are covered by the glory as it was with Adam and Eve before the fall. In the sin nature, the desire of the flesh is to be uncovered. In the nature of God in us the body is a sacred thing, holy, covered and enveloped by the glory of God. The other set of wings are described as connected to the other four living creatures. In other words it speaks of the necessity of our connection one with another. If there is not coordination, collaboration and connection we cannot fly – we cannot move in heavenly things. If you are in disharmony or conflict, you are clipping your wings and condemning yourself to the life of an earthborn creature, devoid of the glory God has accorded to you.
Verse 12 describes the creatures of being very linear in their moving, going straight forward and not turning to the left or right. God has spoken to me in my life many times that I should stay linear in my decision making during those times that I am under pressure. Acts 14:22 tells us that it is through much tribulation that you enter the kingdom. That word tribulation means “manifold” or “multi-layered” pressure. In other words, do not allow pressures in life to turn you in any given direction. When pressure comes be very reluctant to allow it to cause you to change your direction. Be conservative about making big decisions or reversals of the direction of your life under pressure. If you experience pressure, the kingdom is on the other side. If you press into the pressure you will break out into the kingdom.
17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: [and] they turned not when they went. 18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings [were] full of eyes round about them four. 19 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. 20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, 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. 21 When those went, [these] went; and when those stood, [these] stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels. 22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature [was] as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. 23 And under the firmament [were] their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. 24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. 25 And there was a voice from the firmament that [was] over their heads, when they stood, [and] had let down their wings. 26 And above the firmament that [was] over their heads [was] the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne [was] the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour 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. 28 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 upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
Now we come to description in verse 16 of the wheel within the wheel. The first observation we can make is that there is mechanism in God. Whatever this wheel within the wheel is – it is in you and it is in the earth descriptive of the purposes of God. James tells us that God has put a wheel within us called the “course of nature”:
[Jas 3:6 KJV] 6 And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
The word “course” there is literally “a wheel”. The power of speech that God gives us affects the turning of a wheel of creation on the inside of us, either set on fire of hell or set ablaze by the glory of God within us. It can be a world (cosmos) of iniquity or a cosmos of righteousness depending upon what inkwell we dip the pen of our tongue in. What drives what comes out of your mouth? External influences or internal glory? That is the wheel of created glory that God has put in us, encapsulated by the wheel of God’s glory around us. The wheel is connected with the tongue or the word. So it is God’s word in our word. That is the wheel within the wheel. The word of man, our word within the word of God. Who we are (a word from the word) and who He is – the ETERNAL word in heaven.
Above all of this amazing sight Ezekiel sees the throne of God as He gazes through what he describes as a terrible crystal like a transparent firmament or floor above them, which they are suspended beneath and beyond that transparency the throne of God open to his view. Jesus said in Matt. 5:8 blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. This crystal sea represents the conscience of man purged by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ that he might see clearly that of the glory of God that is obscured from men living in time bound self-referral. The visage of the throne is in your human spirit. The whole three realms of man are seen in this vision. Ezekiel in the natural standing before the river Chebar. The purified soul of man functioning and moving in the second heaven, the realm of angels and demons, the intermediate realm where Jacob’s ladder was seen and the angels ascending and descending upon the earth. Beyond the terrible crystal is a clear image of God’s throne set not in our soul or resident directly in the body but in our glorified, cleansed and sanctified human spirit. Ezekiel sees this as he looks THROUGH the amber (man’s nature) and views the bow of God as in the day of rain, the promise that God will no more again ever destroy the earth by flood and he sees God in the highest form by which He can unveil Himself to us as fire from His loins upward and a fire from His loins downward.
The only response that Ezekiel could muster was to fall upon his face. It is THEN for the first time that he hears the voice of God. Many times even people who hear God’s voice are quite glib about it. There is nothing casual about this experience. This is God in the heavens speaking to Ezekiel. This is the reverberation of the creative voice of the creator of the universe revealing Himself in fullness to a man upon the earth and in that revealing speaking at a depth that changed Ezekiel and changes us as we witness it in our study.
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