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The Vision of the Chariot


In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), 3the word of the L ord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the L ord was on him there.

4 As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. 5In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. 6Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. 7Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. 8Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: 9their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. 10As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; 11such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 13In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. 14The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning.

15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. 16As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. 17When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. 18Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. 19When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. 20Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads. 23Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body. 24When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings. 25And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings.

26 And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. 27Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. 28Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the L ord.

When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.

Now the Prophet descends to the wheels which were joined to the living creatures. Each had a double wheel, as we shall see afterwards — that is, one wheel rolling upon another. The Prophet did not notice at one glance that the wheels stood near the living creatures, and this is occasioned by the magnitude of the vision. For although he was attentive, and God doubtless gave him understanding by his Spirit, and although he was taken up, as it were, into heaven, yet inasmuch as he could not at once embrace so great a vision he was convicted of infirmity. Then this wonderful secret was set before him, that he might attend to the whole spectacle with greater reverence. He says, therefore, when he had fixed his eyes upon the living creatures, immediately the wheels appeared He uses indeed the singular number, but afterwards declares, there were four wheels. And now he removes all doubt: behold, says he, one wheelhow one wheel? thus, near each living creature, at right angles, at the face of each 3939     Latin, ad quatuor adfaciem cujusque, by which Calvin seems to mean that each wheel intersected another at right angles, the four spherical parts thus becoming four faces or sides. The French translation has in the text aux quatre, and in the comments a quatre a la face d’ un chacun We see, then, that there was a wheel to each animal: this is easily gathered from the Prophet’s words. I explained yesterday what God meant to represent to his servant and to us by these wheels: namely, the changes which constantly occur in the world. For if we consider what the condition of the world is, we may correctly compare it to a sea, and even a tempestuous one. For as the sea is subject to opposite winds, and hence storms are excited, so also since there is nothing firm or calm in the world, its condition is a perpetual change like the turning of a wheel. The wheels stood near the Angels, because the world is governed by the secret inspiration of God. When all things seem to roll round by a blind and rash chance, yet God has his servants who regulate all their motions, so that nothing is confused, nothing discomposed. This, then, is the reason why the wheels went forward and stood near the Angels, as he immediately repeats again. Now follows —

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