Jehovah’s Celestial Chariot on the Move
“As regards the wheels, to them it was called out in my ears, ‘O wheelwork!’”—EZEKIEL 10:13.
1. What mode of transport does Jehovah have?
IN THESE days of sleek jetliners, world leaders may feel they enjoy the ultimate in travel efficiency. Yet, 2,600 years ago, Jehovah God revealed that he has a superlative mode of transport, the likes of which no engineer has ever seen. It is a vast, awesome chariot! Does it seem strange that the Creator of the universe rides in a chariotlike vehicle? No, for Jehovah’s celestial vehicle differs greatly from any conceived by men.
2. How does Ezekiel chapter 1 depict Jehovah’s celestial chariot, and to whom does the prophet first draw our attention?
2 In Eze chapter 1 of Ezekiel’s prophecy, Jehovah is pictured as riding in a colossal celestial chariot. This awe-inspiring four-wheeled vehicle is self-propelled and can do amazing things. Ezekiel saw this heavenly chariot in vision in 613 B.C.E., when he was by one of the canals of ancient Babylon. The prophet first draws our attention to those attending upon the celestial chariot of Jehovah. As we read, let us try to visualize what Ezekiel saw.
Four Living Creatures
3. What is denoted by the four faces of each of the four cherubs?
3 Ezekiel reports: “I began to see, and, look! there was a tempestuous wind coming from the north, a great cloud mass and quivering fire, and it had a brightness all around . . . And out of the midst of it there was the likeness of four living creatures.” (Ezekiel 1:4, 5) Each of these four living creatures, or cherubs, had four wings and four faces. They had a lion’s face, denoting Jehovah’s justice; a bull’s face, representing God’s power; and an eagle’s face, signifying His wisdom. They also had a man’s face, designating Jehovah’s love.—Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 12:13; Isaiah 40:26; Ezekiel 1:10; 1 John 4:8.
4. Why did the cherubs have four faces, and what were the cherubs like for speed?
4 Each cherub had a face looking in one of four directions. Hence, the cherubs could change course instantly and follow the face that looked in the desired direction. But what were those cherubs like for speed? Why, they could move with the speed of lightning! (Ezekiel 1:14) No man-made vehicle has ever achieved that speed.
5. How did Ezekiel describe the chariot’s wheels and their rims?
5 Suddenly, the chariot’s wheels come into view. How unusual they are! Eze 1 Verses 16 and 18 say: “Their appearance and their structure were just as when a wheel proved to be in the midst of a wheel. And as for their rims, they had such height that they caused fearfulness; and their rims were full of eyes all around the four of them.” A wheel alongside each cherub would result in four wheels in four related places. The wheels glowed like chrysolite, a transparent or translucent yellow or green stone. This adds light and beauty to this glorious vision. Since the rims of the wheels were “full of eyes all around,” they were not going blindly in just any direction. And the wheels were enormously high, thus being able to cover a great distance with just one revolution on their axis. They, like the four cherubs, could move as fast as lightning.
Wheels Within Wheels
6. (a) How was it that the chariot had wheels within wheels? (b) The wheels conformed the direction of their movement to what?
6 Something else was unusual. Each wheel had a wheel inside it—one of the same diameter that fitted crosswise into the base wheel. Only in this way could the wheels be said to “go on their four respective sides.” (Eze 1 Verse 17) Instantly, the wheels could change direction because there was a side of the wheel facing in each direction. The wheels conformed their direction of movement to that of the four cherubs. On the four wheels, the body of God’s chariot could ride by invisible support similar to a powerful craft that is held up by a cushion of air as it skims over water.
7. What was the power source for the wheels?
7 Where did the wheels get this power to conform to all the movements of the four cherubs? From the holy spirit of Almighty God. Eze 1 Verse 20 says: “Wherever the spirit inclined to go, they would go . . . The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.” The same invisible active force of God that was within the cherubs was in those wheels.
8. What name was given the wheels, and why?
8 The wheels are referred to by the term “wheelwork.” (Ezekiel 10:13) This was evidently occasioned by what each wheel does. It rolls along or whirls. Designating this part of the celestial chariot in such a way calls attention to the speed with which the celestial chariot moves. Although its wheels whirled so speedily, they could always see their way because of their fullness of eyes.
9. How did Ezekiel describe what was above the chariot’s fast-moving four wheels?
9 But now let us look and see what is above those fearfully high, fast-moving four wheels. Verse 22 of Ezekiel chapter 1 says: “Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse like the sparkle of awesome ice, stretched out over their heads up above.” The expanse, though solid, was translucent, “like the sparkle of awesome ice.” It was sparkling like thousands of diamonds as the sun strikes them. Awe-inspiring indeed!
The Glorious Chariot Rider
10. (a) How are the throne and the One on the throne described? (b) What is denoted by the fact that the chariot Rider is enveloped in glory?
10 Evidently, the chariot stops so that its Rider may speak to Ezekiel. Above the expanse, there is the likeness of a throne, sapphire, or deep blue, in appearance. On the throne, there is Someone whose appearance is like an earthling man. The human form could best help Ezekiel to appreciate this divine manifestation. But that human form is enveloped in glory, so that it glows like electrum, a shining alloy of silver and gold. What quivering beauty! From the waist of this manlike form, this elegant glory extends both upward and downward. The whole form is thus surrounded with glory. This indicates that Jehovah is indescribably glorious. Moreover, the chariot Rider is accompanied by a lovely rainbow. What calmness and tranquillity a rainbow communicates after a storm! Having that calm attitude, Jehovah keeps his attributes of wisdom, justice, power, and love in perfect balance.
11. How was Ezekiel affected by the vision of Jehovah’s chariot and throne?
11 Jehovah’s chariot and throne are surrounded by light and beautiful colors. What a contrast to Satan, the prince of darkness and of the occult! And how was Ezekiel affected by all of this? “When I got to see it,” he says, “then I fell upon my face, and I began to hear the voice of one speaking.”—Ezekiel 1:28.
What the Chariot Depicted
12. What is pictured by Jehovah’s celestial chariot?
12 What is pictured by this marvelous chariot? The celestial, or heavenly, organization of Jehovah God. It is composed of all of his holy spirit creatures in the invisible realm—seraphs, cherubs, and angels. Since Jehovah is the Most High God, all of his spirit creatures are subject to him, and he rides them in the sense of benevolently dominating them and using them according to his purpose.—Psalm 103:20.
13. (a) Why can it be said that Jehovah rides his organization? (b) How does the vision of Jehovah’s four-wheeled chariot on the move affect you?
13 Jehovah rides this organization as if on a chariot, causing it to move to wherever his spirit impels it to move. It is not running wild, without control or intelligent supervision. God is not letting this organization go in any direction it might be inclined to go. Rather, it follows his directions. Together, all are moving unitedly forward to the full accomplishment of God’s objectives. What a marvelous heavenly organization is revealed by this vision of Jehovah’s four-wheeled celestial chariot on the move! In harmony with this, Jehovah’s organization is represented as being foursquare, in perfect balance.
Appointed as a Watchman
14. Who is pictured by the prophet Ezekiel?
14 But who is pictured by the prophet Ezekiel? From the facts of history, it is evident that the body of spirit-anointed Witnesses of Jehovah has been associated with the celestial chariot. Thus, Ezekiel well pictures the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1919. Spiritually, God’s heavenly organization got in touch with the anointed remnant in that year, to revive them as Witnesses of Jehovah to all the world. (Compare Revelation 11:1-12.) That chariotlike organization was then on the move, even as it is today. In fact, its wheels of progress are turning faster than ever. Jehovah rides swiftly onward!
15. What does the voice of the Rider of the celestial chariot say, and what commission does Ezekiel receive?
15 Ezekiel desired to know why the celestial chariot had drawn up before him and stopped. He found out as a voice came to him from the One sitting upon the chariot. Overwhelmed at this awe-inspiring spectacle, Ezekiel prostrated himself. Listen as the voice of the Rider of the celestial chariot says: “Son of man, stand up upon your feet that I may speak with you.” (Ezekiel 2:1) Jehovah then commissions Ezekiel to be a watchman and to warn the rebellious house of Israel. He is even commissioned to speak in the divine name. Ezekiel’s name means “God Strengthens.” So it is that God has strengthened the Ezekiel class and sent them forth, appointing them as a watchman to Christendom.
16, 17. (a) How did the vision of the celestial chariot benefit Ezekiel? (b) In our day, how has the understanding of the vision of the celestial chariot affected the Ezekiel class and the great crowd?
16 The vision of the celestial chariot was sobering and stunning to Ezekiel, but it also prepared him for his commission as a watchman to sound the warning of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. The same has been true of the watchman class today. Their understanding of the vision of Jehovah’s celestial chariot on the move has had great impact on the anointed remnant. In 1931 they learned more about Ezekiel’s vision, as revealed in Vindication, Book One. They were then filled with such sober appreciation that from the issue of October 15, 1931, to that of August 1, 1950, the front-cover design of The Watchtower carried in its upper right-hand corner an artist’s conception of Ezekiel’s vision of the celestial chariot. Thus, the Ezekiel class has acted upon the commission given them, and they have been serving as a watchman, sounding out the divine warning. The time for Christendom’s fiery destruction from Jehovah enthroned on his celestial chariot was never nearer!
17 Today, “a great crowd” of sheeplike people are associated with the anointed remnant. (Revelation 7:9) Together, they are sounding forth the warning of the coming destruction upon Christendom and this entire diabolic system of things. That warning work is going on apace, and as indicated at Revelation 14:6, 7, the angels are supporting it.
Moving With the Celestial Chariot
18. What must be done to get the continued support of the angels, and to what should we be sensitive?
18 The submissive angels move in concert as part of God’s heavenly organization while assisting Jehovah’s earthly servants in fulfilling their commission to declare divine judgment warnings. If we desire the continued protection and guidance of these mighty angelic servants of God, we too must move in concert and keep pace with the symbolic wheelwork. Moreover, as part of Jehovah’s visible organization moving in parallel with his celestial chariot, we must be sensitive to the leadings of God’s spirit. (Compare Philippians 2:13.) If we are Jehovah’s Witnesses, we must move in the same direction as the celestial chariot. We surely must not work at cross-purposes with it. When given direction in the way we should go, we should follow it. Thus, the congregation is not divided.—1 Corinthians 1:10.
19. (a) Just as the celestial chariot’s wheels have eyes all around them, to what must Jehovah’s people be alert? (b) What should be our course of action in these turbulent times?
19 The eyes all around the wheels of God’s chariot indicate alertness. Just as the heavenly organization is alert, so we must be alert to support Jehovah’s earthly organization. On a congregational level, we can show that support by cooperating with the local elders. (Hebrews 13:17) And in these turbulent times, Christians need to stick very close to Jehovah’s organization. We do not want to place our own interpretation on events, for then we would not be moving with Jehovah’s celestial chariot. Let us always ask ourselves, ‘Which way is the celestial chariot moving?’ If we move ahead with God’s visible organization, we will also be moving with the invisible organization.
20. What fine counsel does the apostle Paul give at Philippians 3:13-16?
20 In this regard, Paul wrote: “Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on it; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above attitude to you. At any rate, to what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.”—Philippians 3:13-16.
21. By following what routine is it possible to make spiritual advancement with God’s organization?
21 Here the word “routine” does not mean a bad rut from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Jehovah’s servants have a fine routine by means of which they make spiritual advancement. It is a routine of engaging in personal Bible study, attending congregation meetings, regularly preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and reflecting the qualities of God’s heavenly organization. Such a routine enables them to follow the leadings of Jehovah’s celestial chariotlike organization. By persevering in this manner, we shall attain our goal, whether it is the prize of immortal life in the heavens or everlasting life on a paradise earth.
22. (a) For the anointed remnant and the great crowd of other sheep to be unitedly organized, what must be done? (b) What does not escape Jehovah’s notice?
22 As John 10:16 indicates, the “other sheep” and the Ezekiel class would be unitedly organized. Thus, it is essential that all in Jehovah’s organization grasp the full meaning and significance of the vision recorded in Ezekiel chapter 1 if they are to move in concert with God’s celestial chariot. The vision of it helps us to appreciate that we should move in harmony with God’s organization, visible and invisible. Keep in mind, too, that Jehovah’s eyes “are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Not a single thing escapes Jehovah’s notice, especially anything regarding his purpose to vindicate himself as Universal Sovereign.
23. With Jehovah’s celestial chariot on the move, what must we do?
23 Jehovah’s celestial chariot is certainly on the move today. Soon everything will be brought to glory in harmony with the glorious One who rides that chariot—all in vindication of him as the Sovereign Lord of the universe. His seraphs, cherubs, and angels are backing us up in our great worldwide preaching work. Let us move ahead, then, with Jehovah’s heavenly organization. But how can we keep pace with that fast-moving celestial chariot?
How Would You Answer?
□ What qualities are represented by the four living creatures seen by Ezekiel?
□ Jehovah’s celestial chariot pictures what?
□ Who is pictured by God’s prophet Ezekiel?
□ How has the understanding of Jehovah’s celestial chariot affected the Ezekiel class and the great crowd?