A study of the wheel within a wheel of Ezekiel's vision. We discuss multiple views of what they represent and see how they are applicable to everyday life.
- Ezekiel 1:15-21
- Ezekiel 10:9-17
- Ezekiel 1:4
A Wheel Within a Wheel
Summary of Ezekiel’s Vision Chapter 1
- Ezekiel saw a cloud with fire and light coming from within a whirlwind
- He saw a metal object come from the cloud which had 4 living creatures
- There was fire amongst the living creatures
- The living creatures were the color of bronze
- The creatures each had 4 wings
- They were later identified as cherubim and each had four faces: ox, man, eagle, lion
- Each cherubim had a wheel within a wheel associated with it
- The cherubim and the wheels were full of eyes
- There was a vault/firmament/platform above the cherubim
- God’s throne was on top of the platform
- The Glory of the Lord sat upon the throne
15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
- Each creature had a wheel associated with it
- Each wheel looked like a wheel intersecting/within a wheel
- Each wheel touched the ground
- The wheels moved with the cherubim
- The spirit of the cherubim was in the wheel
- The rims were full of eyes
What does a wheel within/intersecting a wheel look like?
- Intersecting circling creating the outline of a sphere
- Interlinked circles like the Olympic rings.
- A smaller wheel within a larger wheel like a tire and a rim.
9I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. 10As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 11As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn aboutb as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. 12Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. 13I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.”
14 Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. 16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the cherubim spread their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels did not leave their side. 17 When the cherubim stood still, they also stood still; and when the cherubim rose, they rose with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in them.
- Ezekiel said that he heard them being called “whirling wheels”
- What does whirling mean?
- The wheels were like topaz
- The cherubim didn’t turn when they moved. The wheels moved with the cherubim. The four wheels and cherubim moved as if they were one unit.
- The spirit of the living creatures was in them
- Why is spirit singular but the creatures referred to in plural?
- The creatures and the wheels are full of eyes
- Remember that the 7 eyes in Revelation were the the 7 Spirits of God = The Holy Spirit
- Maybe full of eyes means they were filled with the Holy Spirit
ophan: a wheel
Original Word: אוֹפָן
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (o-fawn')
Short Definition: wheels
The ophanim or ofanim, also Ophde (Hebrew "wheels" ’ōphannīm; singular ’ōphān) refer to the wheels seen on Ezekiel's vision of the chariot in Ezekiel 1:15-21.
These are first construed as angels in one of the Dead Sea scrolls, and as a class of celestial beings in late sections of the Book of Enoch where with the Cherubim and Seraphim they never sleep, but guard the throne of God.
The four wheels move with the Cherubim because the spirit of the Cherubim is in them. These are also referred to as the "many-eyed ones" in the late Second Book of Enoch.
For some[who?] the Ophanim are also related to or equated as the "Thrones", since the Throne of God is usually depicted as being moved by wheels, in the vision of Daniel 7:9 (Old Testament), however the Thrones, (Gr. thronos) are a distinct form of celestial spiritual being usually portrayed as adoring elder men in Christian scripture. The cherubim carry, by moving the Ophanim, the throne of God.
Support for them being living beings:
- The spirit was in them
- The were full of eyes
- 7 eyes in Revelation roamed throughout the earth and reported back to Jesus
- The ophanim may roam the earth and report back to Jesus
Touch the earth
- they touch the earth shows that they interact with humans
- The are lower in the hierarchy than cherubim
- God interacts with the cherubim
- The cherubim interact with the ophanim
- The ophanim interact with us (as do angels)
It’s like a hierarchy - chain of position
Other Explanations of Ezekiel’s Vision
Levels of Reaching God
The different creatures represent different levels of closeness to God or “enlightenment”. They are symbolic of the levels you reach when getting closer to God.
Climbing Jacob’s ladder.
- Possibly going using the various spiritual beings to ascend to a different level
Cherubim chariots were common in literature and iconography during Ezekiel’s time
*One wheel upon the earth symbolizes that the wheel was the gateway from Heaven to earth
4As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire
The description is that of a space ship
Representing Israel & Adjacent Nations
4 Living Creatures = Israel
The four heads coinciding with the standards of the encampment around the tabernacle means the 4 creatures represent the tribes of Israel
Being covered with eyes represents a multitude of people
Israel was being judged
The Wheels represent the surrounding nations
Immediate surrounding nations were listed first in Ezekiel
- This is the inner wheel
Next the outer nations were listed
- This is the outer wheel
Since Israel fell into practicing idolatry and was of the same spirit of the other nations so it's affected everything around them
The faces of the Cherubim
- Lion = Leo
- Man = Aquarius
- Ox = Taurus
- Eagle = Scorpio = Snake
The wheel is the circular zodiac in the sky
The wheel within a wheel represents the celestial procession
The eyes covering the creatures and the wheels represent the stars
Satan took ⅓ or the stars
Prophesy of the New Testament
The four faces are the four gospel
- Matthew = Lion
- Mark = ox
- Luke = man
- John = eagle
The wheel within the wheel is the New Testament within the Old Testament
The mobility of the wheels suggests the omnipresence of God; the eyes, His omniscience; and the elevated position, His omnipotence.
It presented God as being on a chariot-like throne, His glory both supreme and immanent, existing in and extending into all the created universe.
This came in a time after the temple had been destroyed. Since God physcially came into the temple above the cherubim some may have been concerned that He had been destroyed in the temple or that their connection with Him had diminished.
This vision served to assure them that God was still alive and still all powerful.
The Wheels are the Cycles of Life
Story: Passing a tree
- Western thinking - the tree is in your past because it’s not in his sight
- God’s way - you see the tree again and again
- every time you see the tree you learn something different
Focus on the tree
- Moses and the burning bush
- God didn’t speak to Moses until he came over to the bush
- You have to look for the signs that God is giving you and allow yourself to be distracted from your planned course
- When God interrupts you it’s to change your path
- To reroute you towards your destiny
- Repetition brings revelation
God operates in cycles
- The earth rotates on its axis
- The earth rotates around the sun
- The sun orbits around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy
If you mess up one of the inner cycles you mess up the greater cycle
This is how God teaches us
- We get a test
- If we fail the test we have to take the test again until we pass it
Each stage in our life or each assignment from God is a different cycle. We stay in that cycle until we have learned what we need to learn in that cycle.
There are some cycles that need to be broken
- Meaning that you need to go off course give your attention to what God is trying to tell you
- Sometimes God wants to take you off course to alter your path to get you to where He wants you to be
So we need to be look out for the burning bushes in our lives
We need to notice the cycles we are in.
What is God trying to tell you?
Summary - A Wheel Within A Wheel
- We saw that the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision are called Ophanim in Hebrew and they are considered to be another type of spiritual being
- We then looked at some of the different views of what the Ophanim and Ezekiel’s vision mean
- Ezekiel’s vision was seen as describing a chariot comprised of the cherubim and ophanim as the base supporting the throne on which God rode
- One explanation was that either Ezekiel saw a UFO and didn’t have the proper words to describe it or conversely that UFO sightings could be seeing this chariot that Ezekiel described
- Another explanation saw the 4 faces of the cherubim (ox, man, lion, eagle) as representing the 12 tribes of Israel (3 on each side of the tabernacle) with the wheels representing the surrounding nations
- Another explanation was that the vision represented the constellations of the zodiac with the ox, man, lion, and eagle representing the signs of Taurus, Aquarius, Leo, and Scorpio
- Another explanation was that the vision was a prophesy of the New Testament with the 4 faces representing the 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the wheels within a wheel representing the New Testament being hidden within the Old Testament
- Another explanation was that the vision was showing that God was alive and wasn’t destroyed when the temple was destroyed and that He had a chariot in which He could travel anywhere
- The final explanation described how the wheels within wheels depicted how God operates in cycles. When God teaches us He keeps repeating the lesson until we get it.
Presenter: Michael Leadon