Ezekiel was shown one of the most amazing and wonderful sights that a man has ever seen. He saw God’s glorious, lightning-fast chariot throne, and he was given words to describe it for us in detail.
1. The vision’s purpose
- The vision was part of Ezekiel’s call (Eze. 1-3). God wanted Ezekiel to see Him high and lifted up on the throne of the universe. Isaiah had the same type of vision (Isa. 6). God wanted Ezekiel to see His glory and power and sovereignty over all nations and events. This is the right perspective for every preacher. It is the thing that will cause the preacher to do right and preach right. He must fear God more than man. He must keep the revelation of God before him at all times. This is why Paul prefaced the charge to preach the Word with a warning of God’s judgment (2 Ti. 2:1-2).
- The vision was the introduction to all of Ezekiel’s prophecies. God wants Israel and all the nations to see Him high and lifted up. The God of Israel is the living God, the eternal God, the Creator God, the almighty God, the God who is working out His eternal purposes.
The vision is not poetic.
- The cherubims are real creatures. They are mentioned many times in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. They will be seen by all of the occupants of Christ’s millennial kingdom. See Eze. 43:1-4.
- Simile and metaphor are used in the vision to describe some elements. For example, the cherubims are in appearance “LIKE burning coals of fire, and LIKE the appearance of lamps” (Eze. 1:13). And they ran and returned “AS the appearance of a flash of lightning” (Eze. 1:14). But the cherubims themselves and their throne chariot is a real entity, as real as anything on this earth today.
2. The Cherubims
Cherubims is the plural of cherub.
The cherubims are highly intelligent, powerful creatures, created to do God’s will. They are intimately associated with God’s throne.
They are wholly devoted to God’s will, being in that regard a good example to all of God’s creatures.
Satan was apparently the highest cherub before his fall (Eze. 28:14). His name was “Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isa. 14:12).
The cherubims are associated with the glory of God (Eze. 10:14-15) and are called “the cherubims of glory” (Heb. 9:5).
The appearance of the cherubims
- The overall appearance of the cherubims transporting God’s throne is like a tornado and a great thundercloud, but it is a tornado of fire infolding itself (Eze. 1:4).
- The cherubims appear as burning coals of bright fire and as torches and lamps, with the bright flaming light going up and down among the creatures, and with lightning emitting from the fire (Eze. 1:13).
- The cherubims have the general likeness of a man, but they have four faces: one like a man’s, one like an ox’s, one like a lion’s, and one like an eagle’s (Eze. 1:5-6, 10) It appears that the man’s face looks forward, the lion’s face looks right, the ox’s face looks left, and the eagle’s face looks rearward. (Ezekiel 10:14 describes the faces as a man’s, a lion’s, a cherub’s, and an eagle’s, so that the ox face is here described as a cherub face.) “The chariot would present to the beholder two faces of a man, of a lion, of an eagle, and of an ox, according to the quarter from which he looked upon it” (Barnes). As creatures made to be associated with God’s throne, the cherubims bear the characteristics of God. The face of a man is the face of intelligence; that of the lion is the face of power; that of the ox is the face of servanthood; that of the eagle is the face of majesty.
- Their hands are like a man’s (Eze. 1:8). The human hand is an amazing product of God’s creative wisdom and power.
- Their feet are straight with soles like that of a calf (Eze. 1:7). Instead of a man’s foot, they have a different type of foot that is fitting for their purpose. Their feet shine like burnished brass.
- They have four wings, two of which cover their bodies and two of which stretch out and touch the wings of the cherub next to them (Eze. 1:11).
- The four cherubims form a square under the platform of God’s throne (Eze. 1:9-11). “The four together formed a square, and never altered their relative position. From each side two faces looked straight out, one at each corner--and so all moved together toward any of the four quarters, toward which each one had one of its four faces directed; in whatsoever direction the whole moved the four might be said all to go ‘straight forward’” (Barnes).
- They fly in a straight line (Eze. 1:6, 9, 12; 10:11). They move straight and sure in God’s will, turning neither to the right nor the left.
- They move quickly like a flash of lightning (Eze. 1:14). This speaks of the speed with which the angels accomplish God’s will. Wherever God wills the cherubims chariot to go, it goes instantly. His omnipotence guarantees that nothing can hinder His will or cause Him to take a detour.
- Their wings make a great noise, like the noise of great waters or a great host of an army (Eze. 1:24; 10:5, 21). Niagara Falls is an example of great waters. When you are near the falls, such as when riding the Maid of Mist boats, the noise is so loud that you have to shout to be heard by someone standing right beside you.
- They have many eyes showing their great awareness and intelligence (Eze. 1:18; 10:12). They are not omniscient, but God has given them great wisdom. Natural man thinks that he can do things in secret, when no other man sees him, but there are no secrets before God. “What can shut out the beings who do the will of heaven, and who are full of eyes, their very chariot wheels being luminous with eyes, everything round about them looking at us critically, penetratingly, judicially? We live unwisely when we suppose that we are not being superintended, observed, criticised, and judged. ‘Thou God seest me’; ‘The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth’” (Joseph Parker).
The wheels of the cherubims (Eze. 1:15-18; 10:9)
- The wheels are the color of beryl, which is bright sea-green (Eze. 1:16).
- The wheel looks like a wheel within a wheel (Eze. 10:10). “One wheel intersects another wheel at right angles; thus they can roll in four directions without being turned and could move with the cherub” (Bible Knowledge Commentary). The chariot can move instantly in any direction.
- The rings or rims of the wheels are extremely high (Eze. 1:18).
- Like the cherubims themselves, the wheels are full of eyes (Eze. 1:18).
- They are called whirling wheels (Eze. 10:13). They are loud and active.
- The wheel moves with the cherub, and the spirit of the cherub is in the wheel (Eze. 1:19-21; 10:16-17). The cherubims are controlled by the spirit (Eze. 1:20). Whatever the spirit wills, they can do immediately. The resurrection body of the redeemed, too, is a spiritual body, meaning it will be under complete control of the spirit (1 Co. 15:44). “The body will then be subject to the spirit and soul of man; it will be employed in spiritual service, for which it will be abundantly fitted and assisted by the Spirit of God” (John Gill).
3. God’s Throne
According to Ezekiel’s vision, the throne of God is transported by the cherubims.
- Over the cherubims is a firmament or expanse or platform, and on that expanse is God’s throne. See Eze. 1:22, 25; 10:18-19; 11:22.
- God is a spirit and He is omnipresent, but He also appears in glory on His throne. In Scripture, the throne is seen in heaven (Re. 4:2-11), and it is also seen traveling with the cherubims acting as a divine chariot.
- This throne is the center of the universe. From it flows all power and authority throughout creation; from it all things are upheld, all things ordered and commanded. The throne and the cherubims “show forth and symbolize the purposes of God in the execution of His inerrant governmental dealings on earth. God controls it all, and His Spirit directs every movement” (The Annotated Bible).
- David was instructed to make “the chariot of the cherubims” for Solomon’s Temple (1 Ch. 28:18).
- Psalm 18:10 says Jehovah rides upon a cherub.
The platform of the throne is “the colour of the terrible crystal” (Eze. 1:22).
- Moses described this “as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness” (Ex. 24:10). Thus, the pavement beneath the throne looks like bright clear crystal with a deep bluish tint. It is like crystal glass (Re. 4:6), thus it is transparent but also reflects the light like crystal or the clearest quartz or diamond. The transparent pavement beneath the throne would gather and reflect the lightnings and rainbow and other aspects of the glory of God’s throne.
The throne is “like the appearance of a sapphire stone ... as it were the body of heaven in clearness” (Eze. 1:26; 10:1).
- The throne of God appears to be the same material as the pavement beneath. It is crystal clear with a deep bluish tint. The blue sapphire is the most beautiful sapphire. The word “sapphire” is from the Latin “saphirus” and the Greek “sapheiros,” both of which mean blue.
A bright rainbow surrounds the throne (Eze. 1:28).
- The rainbow is part of the glory of God’s throne. It is “the brightness round about” (Eze. 1:28). It is colorful and splendid in appearance. Its predominant color is emerald green (Re. 4:3), the color most pleasant to the human eye, possibly signifying “the reviving and refreshing nature of the new covenant.”
- The rainbow was the token of God’s covenant with mankind following the flood of Noah’s day (Ge. 9:13-16). It was a covenant of undeserved grace. The rainbow, therefore, reminds us that God is love; He is gracious and longsuffering and merciful; He keeps His promises. Though He is holy and just, He has given His own Son to make atonement for man’s vile sin and has offered eternal salvation to all who will receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. The very colors of the rainbow depict God’s mercy. The pure white light signifies God’s righteousness and holiness and justice, but in a rainbow the white is broken up into a variety of colors, signifying other attributes of God’s character, His mercy, patience, kindness, love, etc. Thus, when the believer beholds God’s throne he is comforted by the presence of the rainbow and reminded that for him, in Christ, the throne of God is a throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
- Those who refuse God’s grace will drink of the full measure of His holy wrath. At the Great White Throne there is no rainbow, and the sinner will stand before God’s holiness without a Redeemer and without mercy (Re. 20:11-15).
- The rainbow follows the storm, and even though God will pour out fearful judgments upon mankind during the Great Tribulation, He will not unsheathe His sword forever. His wrath is “little” (Isa. 54:8), and afterwards He will comfort and heal. “The appearance of the rainbow, therefore, around the throne, was a beautiful emblem of the mercy of God, and of the peace that was to pervade the world as the result of the events that were to be disclosed to the vision of John. True, there were lightnings and thunderings and voices, but there the bow abode calmly above them all, assuring him that there was to be mercy and peace” (Matthew Henry).
- The rainbow was “round about” (Eze. 1:28; Re. 4:3). Unlike the rainbows on earth, which are not more than a half circle, it appears that the rainbow pertaining to God’s throne might go all the way round or be reflected in such a way that it appears to go all the way around. This would signify the perfection and completion of God’s grace and mercy.
God’s appearance is “as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it” (Eze. 1:27).
- Amber is deep yellow and orange.
- The fiery scene of God’s throne reminds us of God’s awful holiness and justice which is the foundation and anchor of the moral law of the universe. He can abide no sin, no infraction of His holy laws. Every sin will be duly judged, either in Christ in the case of believers, or in the sinner himself in the case of those who reject Christ.
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