THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES
Ezekiel 1:4 ¶ And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
In reviewing our previous lesson, we see that there are at least two main things that we must not fail to see in this passage. They are first, the color of amber. And secondly, we must meditate on the likeness of the four living creatures. Both are said to be “in the midst of the fire.” And we realize as the Holy Spirit opens up this passage to us that this means that our “consuming fire” God does not present himself to us without these being a part of his personal revelation.
Therefore we come to see that the glorious, invisible God makes himself known to his people in their bondage of a foreign influence, not without the fire of his glory, nor the acknowledgement of the presence of his elect people. And so it remains to us in our day. Hebrews 2:14 ¶ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
God’s glory cannot be separated from His person. It cannot change, as He cannot change! Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
And yet we must not assume upon the presence of God’s glory to us. For although it cannot change, it can be removed! Due to the “abominations” that were being done by the population in Jerusalem, God’s glory was steady being removed. Consider the following verses just within Ezekiel’s writings: Ezekiel 9:3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; 4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
Ezekiel 10:4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory. 18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.
Ezekiel 11:22 Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. 23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.
It was being removed from the physical city and its physical temple. But it is said to come to rest and permanently remain upon “the heavenly Jerusalem.” For in chapter forty-three of Ezekiel’s writings we are clearly instructed that God’s glory shall descend upon, and forever remain on God’s holy temple. Ezekiel 43:1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: 2 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. 5 So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. 7 ¶ And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. 8 In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. 9 Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
But we must have the Holy Spirit to correctly reveal to us just what temple he is referring to! Malachi has the answer! Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
And there can be no doubt that the Lord coming suddenly to his temple is referring to the Incarnation of the eternal Son of God! The same Lord informs us of this in no uncertain terms! John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
And the Hebrew writer makes reference to the vail of the physical temple being torn as referring to the body of Jesus being pierced to allow us entrance to God by a “new and living way!” Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Therefore Jesus of Nazareth sitting on the right hand of the majesty on high is the fulfillment of God’s promise that the throne of David would endure forever! 1Kings 2:45 And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever. Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
And as far as the four living creatures were also seen to reside in the midst of the fire, that is nothing more than the Father’s eternal love of those whom he chose in Christ from the foundation of the world! Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
The Lord Jesus stated in his prayer to the Father that the Father had loved these chosen ones the same as he had loved his only begotten Son! And how had he loved his eternal son? – He loved him before the foundation of the world! John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 ¶ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Proverbs 8:22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
Dear Reader, It is very important that we realize that these matters are not just one single vision to one single prophet! These things are continued to be brought up to us in the New Testament as well. Ezekiel reveals to us in chapter one and verse one that the heavens were opened. And in Acts 2:2, on the day of Pentecost a sound came down “from heaven.” And also in the Revelation to John we read “a door was opened in heaven.” (Rev. 4:1)
In Ezekiel 2:2 we read that God’s spirit entered into him. And in Acts 2:4 these were all filled with the spirit. Also in Revelation 4:2 John is said to be in the spirit on the Lord’s day!
In Ezekiel 1:28 he heard a voice. And in Acts 2:4 the voice of God was heard from these men in all the seventeen nation’s languages that were then present. And in Revelation 4:5 there are “voices” coming out from the throne!
In Ezekiel 1:4 there is a whirlwind. In Acts 2:2 the Spirit comes with the sound of “a rushing mighty wind.” But in Revelation 1:6 there is not a ripple upon the water of the sea. For it is as a “sea of glass.” For sin has been dealt with at the cross and there is no more troubled sea! Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Jesus has calmed the stormy winds!
In Ezekiel 1:26 there is see a “likeness of a throne,” with the appearance of a man sitting upon it. And in Acts 2:32-36 the Apostle Peter clearly presents to those present of the Jesus who has been made “both Lord and Christ.” And in Revelation 2:2 we read “a throne was set in heaven, and one was set on the throne.” Jesus Christ is presently reigning Lord!
But especially we should take serious notice of Ezekiel’s “four living creatures.” He informs us in verse five “they had the likeness of a man.” Then he gives us the spiritual view of the life of God in the soul of man in verse ten. He sets them forth as having four different faces in verse ten. The Apostle Paul relates to us in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve of the difference of gifts and members of the one body of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-12.) And we have these same four identities listed out for us in the Revelation to John in chapter four and verse seven. This is one of the deepest mysteries of the printed page. That is, how do we see the Spirit’s life manifesting himself in the soul of the human being!
The lion reveals the courage and power of the spiritual creation. Philippines 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Then the calf, a sacrificial animal, reveals the submissive meekness of the true believer. Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. The face if a man speaks of his benevolence and intelligence. 1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God:,,, Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
And finally we read of the character of “a flying eagle.” He is here not just “an eagle” as in Ezekiel’s vision, but since the Spirit has already come, he is now seen as “a flying eagle.” For now the believer is seated in heavenly places! Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: For the church is elevated by God’s command to now “Come up hither. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit:”
Pastor Gene Breed
August 26, 2022