To gain further perspective on eternal realities let us peer into the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel and then look at Ezekiel’s four living creatures from chapter 1. First to Isaiah. At this point we only need to consider the first two verses of chapter 6.
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
The word seraph, the singular of seraphim, means ‘burning’ or ‘fiery.’ We tend to refer to these creatures as angels. They may be as the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’ and both their appearance and actions contained a message. My point is that if all of the various heavenly beings depicted in scripture are angels then there is certainly a great variety of them.
Ezekiel provides more information about these ‘burning ones’ around the throne. He tells us that they differed in appearance and that their likeness was like ‘burning coals of fire’ and that they moved ‘like a flash of lightning.’
10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
The four living creatures have four faces, a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (see Rev. 4:7 also). These four faces relate to the four gospels and different aspects of Jesus ministry. The early church fathers had Matthew connected to the face of the man because he wrote of Jesus humanity. Mark was the lion and presented Jesus kingly royalty, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Luke represented the ox because he focused on Jesus as a burden bearer and sacrifice. John is the eagle which speaks of His prophetic role and life and his descending from above in His incarnation and ascending in His resurrection. Jesus is the one ‘from above’ and says we must be born from there. He also spoke to Nathaniel of the angels ascending and descending (Jesus is Jacob’s ladder/stairway).
We don’t need to turn these ideas into doctrine or esoteric imaginings. Perhaps the early church fathers were incorrect about which gospel pointed to which aspect of Jesus ministry. It is however important to see that the four living creatures have eternally pointed to different aspects of who Jesus is and thus in Isaiah and Ezekiel prophesied of Jesus coming and His ministry. This is part of seeing the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. When we have eyes to see the message is there. When the disparate parts begin coming together something is imparted to our spirits. When we step from time into eternity we will see a multitude of things in a new light. Why not pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation to understand as much as possible now that our hearts may be comforted and encouraged (Eph. 1:17-18)?