.To return to homepage.

 

Thought for the Month

of November 1997

Next up-date: 1st December 1997 (God willing).


Query:

What was the prophet being shown when he saw "a wheel in the middle of a wheel"? Ezekiel 1:16.

Response:

The context (verse 15) tells us that Ezekiel was looking at four "living creatures" which he later identified as "cherubim" or angels (10:15). They each appeared to have the body of a man, and each had four faces. These were:- 1. a man; 2. a lion; 3. an ox; 4. an eagle (1:10). Associated with each of them, near their feet, was a wheel-like concentration of "wheels within wheels".

Cherubim are a particular race of angels. They can be seen in many places in the Bible from the cherubs (another way of saying cherubim) who guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24), to their representation by the golden statues which stood on the box in which the Ten Commandments were kept, or the embroidered ones on the curtains in the temple (Exodus 25:19; 2 Chronicles 3:14).

In this vision they are symbolized with four wings, move very fast (with the speed of lightning), and do not have to turn when they move because there is always a face looking the way they want to go! (1:11-14). Ezekiel saw them as the living creatures who carry the platform supporting the blue throne of God on which sits the "Glory of the LORD", the Son of God (Ezekiel 1:26-28).

In Psalm 80:1 and 99:1 they are mentioned as being on either side of the throne of the LORD..

"Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You that leads Joseph like a flock; You that dwell between the cherubims, shine forth".

"The LORD reigns; let the people tremble: He sits between the cherubims; let the earth be moved".

They are mentioned once in the New Testament, and that only in passing, but it is in connection with the mercy seat, or throne of God, which was the lid on top of the box containing the Ten Commandments. "And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly". Hebrews 9:5.

The wheel connected with each cherub is said by Ezekiel to have the same "spirit" as the cherub (10:17), which is the spirit of "ministering" to others (1:20). This attitude of "ministering" is well explained in the Letter to the Hebrew Christians.

"But to which of the angels said He at any time, 'Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool?' Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Hebrews 1:13-14.

However, the wheels are also described as being "upon the earth" (Ezekiel 1:15), which shows us their position. They are between the angels and the "heirs of salvation" (those who are "hungering and thirsting" for the gift of life) who, of course, are also on the earth. The intimate connection between cherub and wheel, and the fact that they have the same "spirit", shows us that they represent humans on earth who do the same work as angels on earth. The sound of the cherubim's wings was heard in the "outer court", or earth, "as the voice of the Almighty God when He speaks" (10:5), we are told, and therefore they both, cherub and human, spread the gospel or good news of free salvation.

Ezekiel goes on to tell us that there was with the cherubim a "Man's hand under their wings" (10:8) and this "hand", which is the "hand of God", is the guiding principle in their work. (See Daniel 5:1-6 for a story regarding the "hand of God" where He visited personally to reach one man before he died). The "wheels within wheels" description is an attempt to explain the complexities of the interdependence of the wheels on each other. The phrase is an Old Testament way of saying that we are all parts of a body (1 Corinthians 12). The Spirit of God supplies the "hand" or daily advice, the cherubim guide in the understanding of the word of God, while the wheels (the Christians) do the physical actions on earth.

The "wheels" are also spoken of as having four faces (10:13-14), but in their case the "ox" face is exchanged for the face of a "cherub". They had also high "rings" or rims which were "dreadful", or awesome, in Ezekiel's understanding, and these were "full of eyes" (1:18) which tells us that they are comprised of many people. Groups of people are shown interacting with each other by this picture.

Conclusion:

"Wheels within wheels" is Biblical way of describing the actions made by the people of God under the instruction of angels and the Holy Spirit. It is a very complicated affair but one which is not chaotic! There is order and harmony within the apparent confusion because God has it under His supervision.


Spiritual Dictionary.

"Wheels within wheels" is a Biblical way of describing the actions made by the people of God under the instruction of angels and the Holy Spirit.


Next thought. To be discussed from 1 December 1997.

To return to Homepage.