Although God is often pictured in scripture as the “rider on the storm” in Ezekiel’s vision, there seem to be four riders. Each of the riders has four faces and four wings. Ezekiel 1:4-6 says, “As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.” Cooper talks about the vision of the storm, “The storm vision has several significant features. It was described as ‘immense,’ a reference not only to its size but also to its intensity. Successive bursts of lightning came from this storm, creating an intense electrical display. The flashing fire was so intense that it illuminated the storm cloud like the brightness of the molten metal. The storm came from the north, the direction from which the Babylonians invaded Judah. The great storm from the north represented the coming invasion and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonian army.”[1]

Out of the storm walks the four living creatures, a tetramorph. The word comes from the Greek for tetra, meaning four, and morph, meaning shape. In Christian history, this word is often used to refer to the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In ancient art, you will see drawings associated with them and the four living creatures mentioned in Ezekiel. Wikipedia says, “The tetramorphs were especially common in Early Medieval art, above all in illuminated Gospel books, but remain common in religious art to the present day.”[2] I don’t think Ezekiel is picturing the Gospels. I think he’s showing that the gods of Assyria and Babylon are simple instruments in God’s hands to bring judgment on Israel for failing to abide by their covenant promises.

Ezekiel was captive in Babylon when he saw this vision, and it’s hard not to connect it with the Lamassu of that culture. The Lamassu was a Sumerian god or goddess depicted by the hybrid image of a human, bird, bull, and/or lion. According to a Wikipedia article, this is a well-known symbol, even today. The British 10th Army, which operated in Iraq and Iran in 1942-1943, adopted the Lamassu as its insignia. Further, the United States Forces in Iraq used a bearded man with a winged bull body in its logo. The article goes on, “A man with a bull’s body is found among the creatures that make up Aslan’s army in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. He appears at the Stone Table, challenging the White Witch “with a great bellowing voice.” In the film Alexander (2004), lamassu are seen at the Ishtar Gate in Babylon. In the Disney film Aladdin (1992), a gold lamassu can be found in the scene where Aladdin and Abu enter the cave in the desert to find the lamp. And, in the “Star Wars” prequel: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Lama Su is the name of the Kaminoan cloner who tells Obi-Wan-Kenobi about Jango Fett.”[3] In the book of Revelation, we see very similar “living creatures” that worship at the throne of God. If I’m right, and I’m always right, the depiction of these creatures pictures God’s use of these nations and their gods to do His will. They only worship and serve at the command of the one true God. In the end, every knee shall bow, of things on earth, under the earth, and above the earth, at the name of Jesus. He is seen as the lamb that sits upon the throne in the book of Revelation accepting the worship of the 24 elders along with the living creatures. As Ezekiel is a prisoner in Babylon, it’s only temporary. God will bring his storm of judgment upon the world, and all will bow to worship his Son Jesus.

[1] Cooper, Lamar Eugene. 1994. Ezekiel. Vol. 17. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


[3] Lamassu – Wikipedia