The four living creatures seen by Ezekiel and John guarding the throne of God reveal some aspects of God to us; and these symbols helps us to understand/know God more.
The living creatures seen by John are the same seen by Ezekiel except that the wheels were not present in the vision seen by John because the scene is in heaven.
“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.” (Ezekiel 1 vs 5-9)
The Twelve Tribes
It is amazing how we can even see the four living creatures from the formation of the 12 tribes. In the camping and marching order of Israel in the Wilderness, there was a fixed relation of the Twelve Tribes to the Tabernacle. In camp the Tabernacle rested in the middle. The Camp of Judah, composed of 3 Tribes, rested on the East, with its Standard bearing the figure of a LION. The Camp of Ephraim, composed of 3 Tribes, rested on the West, with its Standard bearing the figure of an OX. The Camp of Reuben, composed of 3 Tribes, rested on the South, with its Standard bearing the figure of a MAN. The Camp of Dan, composed of 3 Tribes, rested on the North, with its Standard bearing the figure of an EAGLE. Thus the Tabernacle in the centre of the Camp, the place of God’s Presence, was surrounded and protected by Standards that bore the figures of Ezekiel’s and John’s “Living Creatures.” We can even see how the four living creatures or their faces can also represent the four corners of the earth (north, east, south, west) as seen in the camp formation. Click here to find out what the four living creatures symbolize
In any rate, the characteristics of the four living creatures are as follows:
- Four faces
- The face of a man
- The face of an ox (left)
- The face of a lion (right)
- The face of an eagle
- Four wings (two with which they covered their body)
- Eyes before and behind
- Feets like that of a calf (2)
- Hands like that of a man (2)
Symbols of The Features of Four Living Creatures (Cherubim’s)
- Four Faces symbolize the Four corners of the earth (no. for the earth: north, east, west, south)
- Wings obviously symbolize something used for flying high
- Eyes before & behind them means that there is nothing hidden from them
Features of Four Living Creatures (Seraphim’s)
The Seraphim’s appear to have six (6) wings instead of 4 as seen with the Cherubim’s and we would imagine there is a reason for that. Howbeit, both the Cherubim’s and Seraphim’s are referred to as living creatures, and not angels.
What Does This Tell us About GOD?
First, the sight of these living creatures is not exactly pleasant or beautiful per se. This does not only go to show that God is beautiful just the way He is but also that many times things that are considered ugly or scary may be the most beautiful things in His sight.
This also tells us that though God does not need guards, He displays an orderly kingdom with guards of fire all around His throne.