What would someone think if they had never seen an animal, fish, or bird and suddenly saw a whale arc out of the ocean, a giraffe stretch its long neck, an armadillo shuffle by, or a brilliantly colored hummingbird in stationary flight? I think they would be amazed but not as amazed as Ezekiel was when he encountered some intriguing beings.
One of these beings seemed to be a man, but “from the waist down he looked like a burning flame,” and “from the waist up he looked like gleaming amber.” This figure sat on a throne made of material that looked like “blue sapphire,” and “all around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining through the clouds.” The figure lifted Ezekiel into the sky and transported him in a vision from Babylon to Jerusalem. In Ezekiel’s own words, this being was “the Sovereign Lord,” who had taken on an appearance recognizable to man (Ezek. 1:26-28; 8:1-3).
During his vision of Jerusalem, Ezekiel saw not only the Sovereign Lord but the cherubim who were depicted on the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place of the Temple. Ezekiel did not see the cherubim as artistic depictions but as living beings.
Each of these cherubim had four faces—human, lion, ox, and eagle. They looked as brilliant as fire and lightning flashed back and forth among them. Their hands were hidden by four wings, and they were able to fly in any direction without turning around. “As they flew their wings roared like waves crashing against the shore” (Ezek. 1:5-25; 10:2-22).
But that wasn't all that was unusual about these living beings. Each had an “awesomely tall” wheel with “a second wheel turning crosswise within it. Both the cherubim and the wheels were covered with eyes,” and somehow Ezekiel knew that “the spirit of the four living beings was in the wheels” (Ezek. 1:18; 10:10,12,17).
Is it any wonder that after seeing these things Ezekiel was overwhelmed by God’s undeniable majesty and power and “fell face down in the dust” (Ezek. 9:8)? Seeing these displays of God’s creative ability for the first time would have to be a humbling experience.
For the reader of Scripture today, Ezekiel’s descriptions of the Sovereign Lord and the cherubim/living beings may not evoke the sense of awe they did for Ezekiel because they are often considered to be symbolic rather than literal descriptions. But even that possibility does not contradict the fact that God, as the Creator of this world and of all worlds, is certainly capable of creating and sustaining cherubim or anything else He desires.
As we contemplate God’s power, we should be in awe. But those thoughts should also bring great comfort to us. If God is capable of creating and sustaining such variety, He is certainly capable of caring for us. We can count on Him.
© 2010 Arlina Yates