The living creatures that Ezekiel sees in his vision look like the idolatrous depiction of the Assyrian and Babylonian deities with a human appearance, the wings of an eagle, and the head of a bull or lion.  The arrival of these beasts was very dramatic. A stormy wind came blowing out of the north. It brought a bright cloud with it that had what appeared to be a fire burning in the middle of it. Then he continues his description in Ezekiel 1:5-9, “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. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides, they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went.”

 I’ve seen some time travel shows at the movies and on TV. The “Terminator” series, the Matrix, and some others all have a dramatic atmosphere wherein the time traveler, or the one who moves from one dimension to another, arrives at his destination with lightning and smoke and loud sounds. It purports something significant. There seems to be a lot of pomp and circumstance with the traveler’s arrival—the more important the person, the more dramatic the appearance. Ezekiel seems to be picturing for us something like that. When angels appear to humans, there is some exciting fanfare but nothing like what Ezekiel describes here. Humans are almost always afraid when they receive a visit from an angel. The first thing we hear the angels say is, “Don’t be afraid.” The arrival of these “living creatures” is not a usual appearance. It’s a vision. It reminds me of the vision Jacob had at Bethel. He saw a dimension opening up with a ladder or a doorway breaching this world with the spiritual realm. Angels moved up and down (or in and out) of the access from one realm to another. In Abraham’s vision in Genesis 15, God produced a scene of sacrifice to reveal to Abraham that God will keep his promise no matter what. His promise is unconditional. This promise was passed on from Abraham to Isaac and then to Jacob. God was confirming this promise to Jacob at Bethel. The Angels ascending and descending in the vision was the promise that God would carry out his unconditional guarantee to Abraham that Jacob inherited. God was sitting at the top of Jacob’s ladder, sending his ministers to accomplish his will on earth. Jacob continued his journey to Haran, assured of God’s promises.

Ezekiel was an enslaved person in Babylon! The Assyrians had conquered his people in the North and the Babylonians in the South. But God sent Ezekiel a vision to assure him that He was not through with the nation of Israel and that God would make his appearance in a form mysteriously capable of delivering his people from captivity just as he had promised Jeremiah. Psalm 104:3-4 uses interesting language regarding God’s means of appearing to man. The Psalmist tells us that God “Makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.” We can see the images from this Psalm in Ezekiel’s description of the Lord coming from the midst of the storm. Ezekiel sees four living creatures coming from the storm. He tells us about their wings, their legs, their feet, their hands, and their unrestricted movement. Unlike the gods of Babylon, Ezekiel’s God was not impotent. He was a God with incredible ability and mobility. He just didn’t deliver His people from their struggles in Israel. He could move throughout the earth to carry out his plan for his people no matter where they were and what they were going through. It doesn’t matter where you are or what your circumstances are. God has a good plan for your deliverance, and He will work it out in His good time. Just trust Him.