by Michael D. Fortner
The Old Testament book of Ezekiel begins with a
vision that has mystified people for 2,500 years. Some people have speculated
that Ezekiel saw a UFO. But truth is stranger than fiction.
Like dreams, visions use symbolism that must be interpreted. The wheels Ezekiel
saw that were full of eyes; the four creatures, each with four heads, is exactly
what he saw. It was not a frightful attempt to describe a UFO or anything else.
To arrive at the meaning, it must be interpreted.
No interpretation of this vision has ever come close to the correct meaning,
but this new way of looking at Bible prophecy symbolism will help bring understanding
to many previously unintelligible prophecies. Here is the vision; pay special
attention to the underlined words:
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the
north-- and immense cloud with flashing lighting and surrounded by brilliant
light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the
fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form
was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings.
Notice that the "spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels."
In other words, the main purpose or function of the creatures was in the wheels;
which exemplifies modern transportation. These creatures symbolically represent
every form of modern vehicle. The eagle represents airplanes, the ox represents
strong vehicles like trucks and tractors, the lion represents military vehicles,
the man represents the people who will operate those vehicles. The great noise
they make like an "army," are the internal combustion engines.
Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed
like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had
the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings
touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and
on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of
an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings
were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another
creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. Each one went
straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning
as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals
of fire or like torches; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The
creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. (1:10-14)
As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside
each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure
of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike.
Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved,
they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels
did not turn about as the creatures went. their rims were high and awesome,
and all four rims were full of eyes all around. (1:15-18)
When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and
when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever
the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them,
because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels...
When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar
of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. (1:19-20, 24,) (New International
I believe the King James gives a more accurate description of the wheels:
...all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their works
was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. (KJV)
The New American Standard translation says, "being as if one wheel were within
another." This is exactly the way the wheels are on your automobile! The
tire is on the outside and the metal rim is on the inside. The eyes on the wheels
could represent the fact that automobiles are manufactured by people, and for
people. But another possible meaning is the lug-nuts that hold the wheels on,
and the many bolts, nuts, and rivets that are used in the making of autos and
planes. Notice also that the wheels "sparkeled like chrysolite," which could
refer to chrome.
Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked
like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome. (1:22)(NIV)
The King James Version says:
The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures
was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads.
Both autos and airplanes have crystal-like expanse on their upper most areas
that cover the people inside-- the windshields! In the case of airplanes it is only over the pilots.
Next, notice the wings; "each had two wings, one touching the wing of another
creature on either side, and two wings covering its body." Now if they are in
a straight line then the two creatures on each end will not have two wings touching,
but only one wing each, with one wing sticking out not touching. The only way
all four creatures can have two wings touching the wing of another is to be
in the form of a square or circle. And with a wheel beside each one, you have
the basic configuration for most transportation in the modern world, the four
Each creature has four wings. The two wings that were not spread out were covering
the body of the creature. All four wings refer to the thin protective covering
that makes up the outer bodies of transport vehicles, both cars and airplanes.
Verse 19 says, when the creatures lift from the ground, the wheels also lift
from the ground. Then verse 21 says:
When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood:
and when those lifted up from the earth, the wheels lifted up over against
This is not a repeat statement; verse 21 describes wheels folding up against
the wings. When airplanes lift off the ground, the wheels fold up into the wings
and bodies. Verse 14 says they "sped back and forth." Other translations say
they "ran back and forth." This might refer to the fact that planes travel very
fast, and they land and take-off by traveling one way or the other down a runway.
It also gives us a very good description of the movement of automobiles in traffic, going up or down a street.
The prophet Daniel said, "Many will go here and there to increase knowledge"
The "glowing metal" represents motors that get red-hot on the inside. The fire
moving "back and forth" among them probably refers to fuel that ignites and
pushes the pistons up and down. The "lighting" that came out of the fire are
the sparks from spark plugs that ignite the fuel.
The legs of the creatures looked like calves' legs, but were made of metal.
The long, round, pipe-like extensions that connect airplanes to the wheels,
look very much like this. It could also refer to car axles.
PURPOSE OF THE VISION
God does not give us prophecies just to be giving us prophecies, there must
be a purpose for giving Ezekiel this vision. To begin with, if you listed all
the inventions that have greatly effected society at large, the automobile will
be in the top two. If you include airplanes, trains, trucks, tractors, tanks,
and so forth, nothing in the history of civilization has had a greater impact
on the world than modern transportation. It has shaped our world; our very lives
depend on it. It therefore stands to reason that God would tell us about these
things in advance, but for what purpose?
To arrive at the purpose of the vision it is important to examine the context
of the surrounding verses that may have a connection with the vision. The first
three verses of the book of Ezekiel tell us that he saw this vision while he
was by the Kebar River in Babylonia.
The Kebar was nothing more than a man-made canal attached to the Euphrates River.
The land of Babylon is today Iraq, which is basically in the center of the Middle-East
oil region, between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Oil is of course used to make the
fuel that powers all the world's transportation. Oil is the life-blood of the
In the chapters that follow the vision, God tells Ezekiel to eat a scroll (accept
knowledge and information), then go prophesy to all the Israelites; those from
the northern nation of Israel and the southern nation of Judah, that God "will
inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds"
Ezekiel goes on to describe the sins of Israel and Judah, and to proclaim many
prophecies about the Israel, Judah, Egypt, Babylon, and other nations. So what
is the significance of a vision about modern transportation right before God
says he is going to bring severe judgment upon the 12-tribes of Israel and other
nations? The northern tribes were scattered several hundred years before Christ,
then the last remaining southern tribes were forced to leave Israel in the last
part of the first and second century A.D. Israel was not a nation again until
1948 when the southern tribes established the modern nation of Israel.
When God pronounces long-range judgments, he usually gives prophecies of reconciliation.
God will heal the wounds he inflicted, he will give abundant harvests to those
upon whom he brought famine, and so forth. So God might have been saying, that
after he scatters the 12-tribes, when the time of modern transportation comes,
they will be a nation again.
Another possible meaning is that the descendants of the people he scatters will
be those who invent and manufacture automobiles and airplanes. But it may mean
that the people who will be using these modern machines will receive a similar
judgment to that of the Israelites!
Included in the book of Ezekiel are prophecies about World War III and the time
of God's judgment upon the whole world. And according to Revelation 9, World
War III will start at the Euphrates River-- Turkey, Syria, Iraq. It
is something to think about.
This vision also serves the purpose of confirming that only the God of Israel
and Judah knows the future, and determines the destinies of nations.
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