Ezekiel is a Jewish priest in Babylon. In 593 B.C., his visions begin. He sees four living creatures, four wheels, the expanse, and the LORD God.
VERSE 1. Now in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
NLT translation. On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
my thirtieth year. Ezekiel is 30 years old when these things begin.
beside the Kebar River in Babylon. Ezekiel is an exile living in Babylon.
I saw visions of God. The number of people who have mystical experiences is not negligible. Their experience might follow any of dozens of paths, from visual to auditory to transport and more.
In this Book, Ezekiel describes an authentic biblical vision.
the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity. That is, 593 B.C.
VERSE 3. the LORD’s word came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Kasdim by the river Chebar; and the LORD’s hand was there on him.
the LORD’s word. This message was not from Ezekiel’s own imagination. Rather, this was from the LORD God.
came to. The word of the LORD came to Ezekiel. It was not, as many people assume, that we go hunting for mystical experiences, and somehow, thanks to our own efforts, eventually find one.
However, it must be said that unless we deliberately make efforts to ready ourselves for such a divine visitation, we will not be ready for it when it arrives.
Ezekiel the priest. In the Bible, it is very rare the a priest is given a mystical experience.
And in our day, our modern-day priests and Christian leaders are rarely given an authentic mystical experience. Very few of them invest hours in contemplative prayer each day. Instead, they busy themselves with administering their congregations and meeting their people.
the hand of the Lord was upon him. The LORD God mandated this for Ezekiel. Prophets do not instigate their mystical experiences. Rather, the LORD God gives it to them.
Is the hand of the LORD upon you?
VERSE 4. I looked, and behold, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud, with flashing lightning, and a brightness around it, and out of the middle of it as it were glowing metal, out of the middle of the fire.
NIV translation. I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north —an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal,
I looked, and I saw. Ezekiel begins to share his mystic vision. It is breathtaking!
VERSE 5. Out of its center came the likeness of four living creatures. This was their appearance: They had the likeness of a man.
four living creatures. These beings are identified in chapter 10 as cherubim, a special order of angelic beings.
They had the likeness of a man. The four living creatures looked humanoid. However, they would not be mistaken for humans.
Everyone had four faces. Each of the living creatures had four faces.
and … four wings. Each of the living creatures had four wings.
VERSE 7. Their feet were straight feet. The sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze.
VERSE 8. They had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides. The four of them had their faces and their wings like this:
VERSE 9. Their wings were joined to one another. They didn’t turn when they went. Each one went straight forward.
VERSE 10. As for the likeness of their faces, they h5 the face of a man. The four of them had the face of a lion on the right side. The four of them had the face of an ox on the left side. The four of them also had the face of an eagle.
their faces. Here is one way to interpret the meaning of the four faces:
The front face is a man. It represents intelligence.
The right face is a lion. It represents power.
The left face is an ox. It represents service.
The back face is an eagle. It represents swiftness.
These appear again in chapter 10:
Ezekiel 10:14. Every one them had four faces. The first face was the face of the cherub. The second face was the face of a man. The third face was the face of a lion. The fourth was the face of an eagle.
VERSE 11. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above. Two wings of each one touched another, and two covered their bodies.
VERSE 12. Each one went straight forward: where the spirit was to go, they went. They didn’t turn when they went.
VERSE 13. 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 lightning went out of the fire.
VERSE 14. The living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
VERSE 15. Now as I saw the living creatures, behold, there was one wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, for each of the four faces of it.
one wheel on the earth. Looking below the cherubim, Ezekiel saw wheels.
VERSE 16. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like a beryl. The four of them had one likeness. Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel within a wheel.
like a beryl. The Hebrew word is “ttarsheesh.” Most translations say “chrysolite.”
a wheel within a wheel. One wheel intersects another wheel at right angles.
VERSE 17. When they went, they went in their four directions. They didn’t turn when they went.
VERSE 18. As for their rims, they were high and dreadful; and the four of them had their rims full of eyes all around.
their rims full of eyes all around. This probably represents the LORD God’s omniscience
VERSE 19. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them. When the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
VERSE 20. Wherever the spirit was to go, they went. The spirit was to go there. The wheels were lifted up beside them; for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Wherever the spirit was to go, they went. The wheels were like an extension of the cherubim.
VERSE 21. When those went, these went. When those stood, these stood. When those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up beside them; for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
VERSE 22. Over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of an expanse, like an awesome crystal to look at, stretched out over their heads above.
the likeness of an expanse. Above the wings of the living creatures was an area that looks like an expanse.
VERSE 23. Under the expanse, their wings were straight, one toward the other. Each one had two which covered on this side, and each one had two which covered their bodies on that side.
VERSE 24. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a noise of tumult like the noise of an army. When they stood, they let down their wings.
VERSE 25. There was a voice above the expanse that was over their heads. When they stood, they let down their wings.
VERSE 26. Above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone. On the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man on it above.
throne … sapphire stone. Sapphire is an azure-blue stone. Ezekiel beholds this again in chapter 10:
Ezekiel 10:1. Then I looked, and see, in the expanse that was over the head of the cherubim there appeared above them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
the appearance of a man. The one seated on the throne looks like a man.
VERSE 27. I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it all around, from the appearance of his waist and upward; and from the appearance of his waist and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.
the appearance of fire within it all around. The glory of the LORD God is shining forth as brilliant light.
VERSE 28. As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the LORD’s glory. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.
I fell on my face. Beholding the LORD God, Ezekiel responds by prostrating himself.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.