CHAPTER 1 – SYMBOLS
During the 30th year of the Babylonian captivity of Israel, God gave the prophet Ezekiel a vision, which he describes in Ezekiel, Chapter 1. You are personally invited to dive deep with me into the powerful meaning behind some of his words, filled with intriguing symbols, revelation and ancient wisdom.
Symbol: Stormy Wind
In the midst of a stormy wind, Ezekiel saw a cloud with flashes of fire and seemingly glowing metal, surrounded by bright light.
Sometimes, our circumstances seem like a storm with no end in sight and that all is lost, as if burned up by fire. What we don’t see is that the storm is surrounded by God’s light, for He sees all. If we look intently within, we’ll catch a glimpse of His throne in the middle of the storm.
Symbol: Four Creatures
Ezekiel saw four living creatures. Each creature had four wings, two of which were used to cover the creature, and the remaining two touched one of the other creatures.
The fact that two of the creatures’ wings covered themselves is symbolic of us covering ourselves spiritually: by believing in God, receiving his son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and having an intentional relationship with Him.
The other set of wings touching another creature signifies us touching other people, not only physically but spiritually. We are to have relationships with others and to encourage one another. God has something very specific to say on the subject: “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Symbol: Sparkling Wheels
In Ezekiel’s vision there were wheels beside each creature. In each wheel he saw a second wheel crossways inside the first. All wheels sparkled, appearing as beryl gems, and the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures moved, the wheels moved; when they stopped, the wheels stopped; and when they were lifted up, the wheels were lifted up!
I believe these creatures were following in whatever direction their spirit heard, and wherever they went, their spirit went. Likewise, we also should follow wherever God leads us. We are body, soul and spirit, and God’s Holy Spirit speaks to us through our spirit. When He says “jump,” we need to say, “How high?!” The benefits are plenty when we tune our spirit to God’s Spirit — and then follow where He leads.
You will notice in Ezekiel’s vision that the wheels were beside, not attached, to the creatures. They were high, frightening and sparkled like beryl, a gem that forms many of the precious gemstones we know. In other words, the wheels commanded attention. These characteristics remind me of someone I know: He has promised to never leave nor forsake us; He is definitely ‘high’ in every way; reverently speaking, He is ‘frightening’; and He “sees everything you do,” and “watches where you go” (Proverbs 5:21).
Symbol: Roaring Seas
The wings of the creatures had a sound as a roaring sea and was compared to an army, as well as the voice of God. I believe this represents the collective praise of the people of God. He is a God worthy of worship and praise 24 hours a day, not only with our lips, but in everything we do. Imagine if every child of God around this world praised Him at the same time … can you hear a sound, both pleasant and powerful, like the roaring waves of the sea?
When the creatures stopped, they lowered their wings. Why? I believe they needed to quiet their sound in order to hear clearly from the One who sits on the throne. While praise to God should always be on our lips (Psalm 34:1) — audibly or in spirit — there are also times when we should stop, become quiet … and listen.
Symbol: The Throne
Ezekiel ends this first chapter by describing a throne that looked like sapphire, the stone associated with wisdom, royalty, prophecy and divine favor. Upon the throne sat a figure that appeared human, glowing like metal on top and fire on the bottom. Furthermore, a bright light surrounded the throne and reminded him of a rainbow on a rainy day.
Details often reveal keys that open the doors we need to walk through. Ezekiel obviously paid attention to the details. This simple practice ensures we understand the messages we are given that set us on the right path, less we miss them altogether, travel down the wrong path and waste precious time in our lives.
The splendor of the throne compelled Ezekiel to bow face down on the ground, since, for him, it represented the glory of God. And then he heard God’s voice speaking. We can see the glory of God every day of our lives if we are humble enough to look. He created everything, and He is everywhere. If we search for Him, He is easily found. Selah.
Question for You
Do any of these symbols in Ezekiel’s vision stand out to you? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. Grace & peace.