What Does Ezekiel's Vision of the Wheel Actually Mean?

Contributing Writer
What Does Ezekiel's Vision of the Wheel Actually Mean?

What Was Ezekiel's Wheel?

Ezekiel’s Wheel was a magnificent vision that God showed him. It is important to note that at the time of this vision Ezekiel was in captivity in Babylon. He was among 10,000 exiles carried off during a period. He resided by the river of Chebar (Ezekiel 1). Ezekiel was a priest and 30 years old at the time of his vision.

Read chapter 1 of Ezekiel for a full disclosure of the vision that God showed him. God was preparing him to prophesy at a critical time in Israel’s history (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing 2011). In verse three, we see that the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel. The hand of the Lord was upon him there.

Here is what Ezekiel saw. This occurred sometime around 593 BC. My study Bible pins it to an exact date of July 31 593 BC. As Ezekiel look toward the sky, he saw a whirlwind come out of the north. There was a great cloud and a fire enfolding itself. From the same area of the sky, he also saw the likeness of four living creatures. The creatures also had characteristics of man. Every creature had four faces, and every creature had four wings. The beings’ feet were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. The beings sparkled like the color of burnished brass.

According to Ezekiel 1, the beings had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides. All the beasts had faces. Their wings were joined together. They did not turn when it came by Ezekiel. According to the text, the four beings had the face of a man and the face of a lion on one side. On the other side, they each had the face of an ox and the face of an eagle.

Their wings were stretched upward. Two wings of each beast were joined to another beast and two covered their bodies. The beings traveled straight as they passed him and did not turn as they passed him. The appearance of the creatures was like burning coals of fire and like the appearance of lamps.

The creatures also ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Apparently, as the creatures were moving, there was also wheels.  From the text, one creature was on the earth with the wheels. The wheels appeared to be green like beryl and the four had one likeness. Their appearance and their work were like a wheel in the middle of a wheel. The rings of the wheels were extremely large that it was frightening. The rings were also full of eyes all around them.

When the living creatures went, the wheels went by them. When the creatures lifted from the earth, the wheels were lifted as well. We learn in Ezekiel 10:14 that these creatures are cherubims which is a specific rank of angels.

What Is the Meaning of the Wheel within a Wheel?

In Ezekiel, it appears that wind and spirit are interchangeable with the wheels. Look to Ezekiel 1:4 in reference to the whirlwind which is associated with the movement of God. Verse 20 states “Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.”

Bible scholars say the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. The wheels display the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. The cherubims had different faces. Man is considered the king of the earth and has dominance over the animals and rules the earth. The lion is considered the king of the jungle and represents strength, fierceness, and commands respect. The ox symbolizes strength, honesty, and hard work. The eagle is the king of the air. It has an all-seeing eye. It represents victory, speed, royalty, release from bondage, longevity, and power. The eagle because of its dominance represents inspiration. The eyes around the wheel portray an all-knowing God who sees the good and the bad no matter which way a man turns.

All the above attributes are representative of the character and attributes of God. While man or beast may be dominant in one area of the kingdom. The Lord God is dominant in all kingdoms and rules heaven and the earth. The wheel in the middle of the wheel represents how God has His Spirit working in all facets of the life of man to promote the will of God. The Spirit of God gave direction to the wheels.

We know that man is an instrument to promote the will of God on the earth. The animal kingdom is also subject to the will of God. Noah sent out doves to see if the water had receded from the earth (Genesis 8:8-12). God uses a donkey to speak to Balaam in Numbers 22:30. Balaam is upset because his animal would not keep going. The animal saw and understood the fierceness of an angel before him with a sword. Balaam could not see the angel at the time. God gives the donkey the ability to speak. He had saved Balaam’s life. If he had kept going, the angel would have killed Balaam and spared the donkey’s life. Then, the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes. He saw the angel standing there with the sword drawn. He bowed down his head and fell flat on his face. The angel instructed Balaam that he was only to speak what God had told him to say.

What Else Happened in Ezekiel's Vision?

When Ezekiel saw this vision, he fell upon his face. God spoke to him in Ezekiel 2 saying “Stand upon thy feet, and I will speak to thee.” The Spirit of God entered him. God told Ezekiel that He was sending him to the children of Israel. They were a rebellious nation that had rebelled against Him. God said they were bold, shameless, and stubborn. The Lord continued to tell Ezekiel that he must go to the people of Israel and speak what God gives them. He is not to be afraid of how they look at him or how rebellious they might act. It is obvious that they may not want to hear from him, but since he is a prophet, the people know to listen to him. This is in chapters 2 and 3 of Ezekiel. God told Ezekiel to open his mouth and to eat what He gives him.

God sent a hand to Ezekiel. In the hand was a roll of a book. Written on the scroll were lamentations, mourning, and woe. God told him to eat the scroll and then go speak unto the house of Israel. Ezekiel says the scroll tasted like honey symbolizing that the Word of God is sweeter than honey. You can also find that the Word of God is sweeter than honey in Psalms 119:103.

Why Does God Sometimes Communicate to His People Via Visions?

God is a visual God. He loves showing you things before they happen. He loves speaking in visions. He is a creator and the mere fact that He speaks something is enough to set the atmosphere in motion. Refer to the creation of the earth in Genesis 1. Many times, the children of Israel were rebellious, but God would often send the correction through a prophet. It was easier for them to continue to cry out to God because they were in bondage in Egypt. After God set them free, they basically just started to do whatever they wanted to do. God would always send warnings. When God shows us visions, it is an awesome experience. It really builds your faith and helps you to run on and do what God has commanded.

The Bible does declare in Acts 2:17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” So, it is safe to assume that visions are more common these days than in the Bible days. God can flip a script on what He decides to do at any moment. He can show whoever He wants to show a vision. His visions are usually in vivid color. That is why Ezekiel’s vision was so awesome. It probably frightened him.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/mouu007

Dr. Sandra SmithDr. Sandra Hamer Smith is a Christian and wife to Sylvester Smith. She has one stepson, Greg. Smith lives and resides in Memphis, Tennessee. The University of Memphis alumnae has been in education for about 20 years after receiving the call to teach. Dr. Smith primarily teaches language arts. Prior to education, she worked in local and national television news for 13 years including positions as an overnight news anchor, reporter, and assignments editor at two local network affiliate stations. Smith was also a freelance correspondent for BET news. Dr. Smith has freelanced for the Tri-State Defender newspaper and Contempora magazine.  She is the author of the self-published novel GLORY…THE HAIR.  Smith is also a playwright and poet. The Tennessee native is a member of Temple of Deliverance COGIC, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, Omicron Delta Kappa, The Golden Key International Honour Society, and Kappa Delta Pi.