At the time of Ezekiel’s call to be a prophet to the exiled people of Judah, he was located with them along the banks of the Kebar River, or canal, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of the city of Babylon. At around the same time, the prophet Jeremiah was still ministering to those who had not yet left Jerusalem, and the prophet Daniel was beginning his ministry in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar within the city of Babylon.
All three prophets had been privileged to receive impactful visions of God’s throne and His glory.
After seeing his remarkable vision of the four esteemed cherubim who serve the Lord around His throne, Ezekiel was then shown four giant wheels, each covered with many eyes. These wheels were able to move about in any direction because of their construction as perpendicular wheels within wheels. They were also able to leave or return to the ground as the Spirit willed, each accompanied by one of the cherubim. It is beyond the scope of my imagination to picture how God might be able construct functional perpendicular “wheels within wheels”, but He did it.
Some have interpreted these wheels to be the foundation of God’s divine chariot, a mobile throne, as the Lord is later described in the vision as riding on a crystal platform above the wheels.
Ezekiel continues to describe his vision:
15 As I looked at these beings, I saw four wheels touching the ground beside them, one wheel belonging to each. 16 The wheels sparkled as if made of beryl. All four wheels looked alike and were made the same; each wheel had a second wheel turning crosswise within it. 17 The beings could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. 18 The rims of the four wheels were tall and frightening, and they were covered with eyes all around.
19 When the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. When they flew upward, the wheels went up, too. 20 The spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. So wherever the spirit went, the wheels and the living beings also went. 21 When the beings moved, the wheels moved. When the beings stopped, the wheels stopped. When the beings flew upward, the wheels rose up, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. Ezekiel 1:15-21 (NLT)
Although the wheels sparkled with the appearance of a beautiful but inanimate mineral, the spirits of the four living Cherubim actually resided within them. The wheels were infused with life and covered with a multitude of eyes, implying a great capability for observation, knowledge, and wisdom. Perhaps an analogy can be made that we, too, who were dead due to sin, are now made alive when God put His own Spirit within us, cleansed by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:13 (NLT)
In our redeemed state, we are now able to receive spiritual gifts from Christ, including divine gifts of His knowledge and wisdom.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 (NLT)
Some have interpreted the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision as a reference to UFOs in the Bible. But these need to be examined in the context of the entire vision, which in totality describes the glory and majesty of God. The Lord chose to reveal this to Ezekiel for our benefit as well as a means to strengthen him, for like the prophet Jeremiah, Ezekiel was being sent to speak the words of God to a people who were in no way prepared to listen. It was a thankless and sometimes dangerous assignment from an earthly perspective, but at all times he was being held and protected by the loving hands of God.
Ezekiel’s exotic vision reminds us that there is so much more around us than we could ever see or detect with our physical senses. The bedrock of all creation is the love of God, who will gladly reveal Himself to us in any of a number of ways if we seek Him, and He will gladly grant us the gift of wisdom if we ask.
Lord, reveal Yourself to me and show me how high, deep, and wide Your love for me truly is. Thank you for going to the cross as my substitute, an eternal atonement for all of my sin. Raise me up and fill me with life, just as Jesus was raised to life from the dead. Grant me a holy wisdom and knowledge to guide my steps today. Help me to return your wonderful love back to You and to share it with those around me. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.