Unseen Forms of Intelligent Ministry
Ezekiel 1:5-14
Also out of the middle thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance…

Man is only a part, though an integral part, of the active universe of God. Even inert matter is pervaded by dynamic throes, such as attraction, heat, and electricity; and every part of God's creation is executing, either intelligently or ignorantly, his supreme will. To a heathen monarch he made a startling revelation, "1 girded thee, though thou hast not known me." These cherubic forms (seen first at the gate of Eden, and again in symbol over the mercy seat) are representatives of all creature life, both terrestrial and super terrestrial. Human science not the measure of God's kingdom.

I. OBSERVE THEIR NUMBER AND VARIETY. As all matter is cubical, having length, breadth, and thickness, so the number four is the prophetic sign for our terrestrial globe. Hence we have in the vision a four-laced form of life, with one aspect towards each quarter of the globe. There is completeness and sufficiency in all God's arrangements. The manifold varieties of creature life are ordained to do their Master's will, in whatever quarter of the world exigency may arise. This is an intimation of help to the righteous, but of vengeance to the wicked.

II. NOTE THEIR INTELLIGENT QUALITIES. The human form is prominent in the prophetic picture, indicative of the fact that intelligence and reason are the ruling attributes. The universe is not a promiscuous assemblage of dead atoms, nor is the life of men the march of inexorable fate. Combined with the intelligence of man, is the courage of the lion, the patient endurance of the ox, and the stilt speed of the eagle. The noblest service which God's creatures can render, falls immeasurably short of the requirements of God. Yet are our powers never so ennobled or enlarged as when engaged in his work. To him must our very best be consecrated. Far from exhausting our strength, God's service renews and refreshes the spirit. There is always a latent reserve of power. The more we do, the more we can do. Two wings are at rest, while two are in motion.

III. MARK THEIR INTENSE DEVOTION. "Their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps... the fire was bright." The nature of true servants was given to these living creatures. They glowed with sympathetic ardour to fulfil their Monarch's will. The flame within was kindled and kept alive by an invisible hand, so that by virtue of its intense energy, it touched and beautified every part of their nature. As the ministers of Jehovah, they shared in his resplendent purity.

IV. SEE THEIR PROMPT AND GLAD OBEDIENCE. "They went every one straight forward... whither the spirit was to go, they went." Service was a delight. It would have been a restraint upon the impulses and energies of their nature - a very pain - if no service had been allotted them. Hastening to execute the high behests of God, they go and return like a lightning flash. Personality was retained in its full integrity, but self was repressed; they moved spontaneously under the Divine impetus. Self-will sweetly coalesced and identified itself with the will of God. The perfection of a child spirit is reached when we can say, "I do always the things that please him." No by-ends, nor sinister advantages, are sought by these dutiful servants. Each one moves in a straightforward line. The shortest course is pursued to reach the Divine end.

V. THERE WAS UNITY OF ACTION, COMBINED WITH DIVERSITY. Each form of creature life had its special mission to fulfil; yet each worked in harmony with the other for a common end. In appearance they were conjoined, and yet were separate. The particular service to be performed by the eagle's wing could not be executed by the foot of the ox, nor by the hand of the man. There is scope in God's service forevery quality and attribute of soul.

VI. NOTE THEIR SPECIAL COMMISSION. These ideal forms of creature life were commissioned to chastise the rebellious nations. They appear on this occasion as the executors of Divine vengeance. "Fire went up and down among the living creatures, and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning." When God comes forth to judge the earth, he is accustomed to employ a variety of agents. Sometimes he employs the material elements, as at Pompeii and Moscow. Sometimes he employs men - even "men of the world, which are his hand." Sometimes he employs the principalities and powers of heaven. "The angels are the reapers;" "They shall bind the tares in bundles to burn them." John heard a voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, "Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth." The Jews in their exile, when Ezekiel appeared upon the scene, were flattering themselves with the prospect of a speedy restoration to liberty and to home; but the mission of Ezekiel was designed to dissipate this false hope. A long night of chastisement was to precede the dawn of mercy. The glowing fire and the lightning flame were impressive portents of impending judgment. "Our God is a consuming fire." - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

WEB: Out of its midst came the likeness of four living creatures. This was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.

The Likeness of a Man
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