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The vision in Ezekiel chapter one concerning the four living creatures, the four wheels, the firmament, and the throne has been considered the most obscure of all the OT visions.
Since the prophet does not interpret the symbols of his vision, and since the Scriptures elsewhere do not directly state the significance of what Ezekiel saw, we can only assume as to the specific application of the symbols. A parable should not be taken literally. This is likewise true of symbolic prophecy. As in the case of parables, we must learn what is the over-all objective of the vision, and what features of the pictorial presentation are intended to convey divine truth.
When an attempt is made to interpret these four living creatures, it is well to keep in mind that in symbolic prophecy the prophet sees representations of the actual and not the actual itself. Frequently the actors in a prophetic drama have an appearance vastly different from the beings or movements they represent.
The living creatures represent heavenly beings. It is not necessary to imagine that in the service of God are four-headed, four-winged beings. The forms chosen for this prophetic presentation were designed to symbolize heavenly messengers in their offices, capabilities, and adaptabilities. The speed of these creatures is represented as they hasten to and return from their various missions. There is no independent action on the part of these creatures. Their movements are in harmony with the directions of the Spirit.
In this vision, God aimed to give courage to the Jews at a moment when much of their country lay in ruins through successive invasions and many of the inhabitants were captives in a foreign land. To these oppressed ones it appeared that God was no longer in control. The people failed to see the hand of God in the course of history.
In His service,