Ezekiel 1:15

15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

Ezekiel 1:15 Meaning and Commentary

Ezekiel 1:15

Now as I beheld the living creatures
While he had the vision of them, and when he was considering their form and likeness, and what should be the meaning of them: behold, one wheel upon the earth;
the Jews F18 understand this of an angel, who stood upon the earth, and his head reached to the living creatures, and his name is Sandalphon; and so many expositors interpret the wheels of angels: but the more common interpretation of them is, that they design the visible world, and all things in it, which are movable and uncertain; though the true interpretation of them, as of the living creatures, is to be fetched from the vision in the fourth chapter of Revelation and as the four living creatures here are the same with the four beasts there; so the wheels are the same with the four and twenty elders, the representatives of Gospel churches, as appears by both being in the same situation; as there is a throne, and next to that the four beasts, and next to them the four and twenty elders, ( Revelation 4:3 Revelation 4:4 Revelation 4:6 ) ( Revelation 5:6 Revelation 5:11 ) ; here also is a throne, and next to the throne the four living creatures or cherubim, and next the living creatures, and by the side of them the wheels, ( Ezekiel 10:1 Ezekiel 10:2 Ezekiel 10:6 Ezekiel 10:7 Ezekiel 10:9 ) ; and this is further manifest by their being both under the same influence and motion; as the four beasts were the first agents and movers, and the four and twenty elders were directed by them, who went before them in their devotion, ( Revelation 4:9 Revelation 4:10 ) ( 5:14 ) ; so the wheels moved as the living creatures did; when the living creatures went, they went; when they stood, the wheels stood; and when the creatures were lifted up, the wheels were also, ( Ezekiel 1:19 Ezekiel 1:21 ) ( Ezekiel 10:16 Ezekiel 10:17 Ezekiel 10:19 ) ; and the wheels are a very proper emblem of churches under the Gospel dispensation; partly for their round form, a symbol of perfection; the churches of Christ being more perfect under the gospel dispensation than the church was under the legal one: and partly for their movableness from place to place; churches are not always in the same place; they have been removed from Judea into the Gentile world; and they have wheeled about there, sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another: as also for their changeable state and situation; being sometimes in prosperity, and sometimes in adversity: likewise for the work done by them; many things are done by the help and with the use of wheels; much work is done in and by the churches of Christ; here the Gospel is preached, ordinances administered, divine worship in all its parts performed, sinners are converted, and saints are edified and comforted; and as, when wheels are in motion, they make a great noise and rattling; so when there is any great work going on in the churches of Christ, it makes a great noise in the world; as at the first preaching and spread of the Gospel, both in Judea, and among the Gentiles; and at the time of the Reformation; and as there will be when antichrist shall be destroyed, and the Gospel shall be spread all the world over, ( Revelation 19:1-6 ) ; to which may be added, that these wheels, together with the cherubim or living creatures, make a chariot; and as the cherubim in the temple are called the chariot of the cherubim, ( 1 Chronicles 28:18 ) ; so the author of Ecclesiasticus in the Apocrypha,

``It was Ezekiel who saw the glorious vision, which was shewed him upon the chariot of the cherubims.'' (Sirach 49:8)
says, that Ezekiel was shown the glorious vision upon the chariot of the cherubim; and nothing is more common with the Jews than to call this vision of Ezekiel (hbkrm) , "mercavah", or "chariot". So in the Targum on ( 1 Kings 7:33 ) ; it is said,
``the work of the wheels was as the work of the wheels of the glorious chariot;''
meaning this in Ezekiel; and a chariot is a fit emblem of the churches of Christ, in which he rides about the world, and does his work; see ( Song of Solomon 3:9 ) ; and though but one wheel is here mentioned, yet it appears that there were "four", as in ( Ezekiel 1:16 ) ( 10:9 ) ; a wheel by every living creature; so though there is but one general assembly and church of the firstborn written in heaven, of which Christ is the head, and for which he gave himself; yet there are many particular congregated churches, which may be signified by the number "four"; partly with respect to the four parts of the world, where Christ has an interest, and which will more manifestly appear in the latter day; and partly with respect to the four living creatures, a wheel to every cherub, a church to every minister and pastor; for though sometimes there have been more pastors than one to a church, when large, yet never more than one church under the care of one pastor: moreover, this wheel or wheels were seen "upon the earth"; which is observed, to distinguish the church militant from the church triumphant in heaven; and to point out the place where the churches are; which though they consist of men that are not of the world, yet they are in the world: as also to denote the firmness of them; they are on the earth, not in the air or sea, where wheels cannot move and rolls; but upon "terra firma", and that to the churches, is Christ Jesus; and may also signify, that the mutability and movableness of churches are only while they are on earth, in, the present state of things: it follows, by the living creatures:
that is, the wheel or wheels were seen by the side of the living creatures; which is more fully expressed in ( Ezekiel 10:9 ) ; churches are placed by the ministers of the Gospel, to direct them in matters of faith and worship; to put them in motion; to stir them up to the exercise of grace, and the discharge of duty; to watch over them in the Lord; and to feed them with spiritual knowledge and understanding: with his four faces;
either the living creatures; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "having four faces": and the meaning is that the wheel or wheels were on, the four sides of the living creatures: or rather, as Jarchi, the wheels, four faces; for upon every wheel there were the same four faces as were in the living creatures, as, is clear from ( Ezekiel 10:13 Ezekiel 10:14 ) ; there being a great likeness between Gospel churches and Gospel ministers: the "first" was the face of a "cherub" or "ox"; which may denote the patience of Gospel churches, and the members thereof, in bearing afflictions, reproaches, and persecutions, for the sake of Christ; their meditation on the word of God continually, the ox being a creature that chews the cud; and their constancy and laboriousness in the work of the Lord: the "second" was the face of a "man"; which may be expressive of their knowledge and understanding of divine and spiritual things; and of their tenderheartedness, sympathy, and compassion, one towards another, in distressed circumstances: the "third" was the face of a "lion"; signifying their boldness and intrepidity in, the cause of Christ, and the profession of his name: and the "fourth" was the face of an "eagle"; showing that they mount up on the wings of faith and love, as on eagles' wings; that they soar aloft, and dwell on high, and have their affections set on things in heaven, and not on earth. Cocceius interprets the wheel or wheels of the word of God, and the course of the ministry of it, under the influence of the Spirit; and so Starckius of late.

F18 T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 13. 2.

Ezekiel 1:15 In-Context

13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.
The King James Version is in the public domain.