“In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces…”
Ezekiel 1:5 NIV
The prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision four living creatures which had very unique, symbolic features. (Ezekiel 1) The most prominent of these was that they had human form. They also had four faces with the primary, central face being that of a man. The other, less central and prominent faces were those of a lion, an ox, and an eagle.
” 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.” vs. 1:10 NKJV
Additionally, they each had four wings (representing freedom of heavenly movement), and under their wings they had another human feature: hands. “Hands” in Scripture represent strength for work and power for fulfilling purpose.
“Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.” vs. 1:8
These four living creatures were also seen as being in close proximity and connection to the throne of God and to the “man” upon the throne:
“Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.” vs. 1:26 NIV
There are further details concerning these living creatures that Ezekiel describes, but given the abundance of human representation and association embodied in these heavenly beings, it appears that symbolically and prophetically they are shown in this vision to represent humanity in its highest and most heavenly calling.
Four Faces of the Anointed One
If that is indeed so, then there is something about the four faces of these creatures that represent four facets of our highest and most heavenly calling as redeemed humanity in relation to the Man on the throne.
Redeemed humanity, from God’s perspective, is not only a multitude of individuals, of which no man can number, but also a single Man, the “one new man” Paul describes in Ephesians 2:15. As the title “Christ” means “Anointed One”, so this “one new man”, “the body of Christ”, is “the body of the Anointed One.” Whatever calling, therefore, belongs to Christ, the Anointed Head, the body of Christ, likewise, participates in through the same anointing.
The four faces symbolically represented in the living creatures relate then, first and foremost, to the Head of this new humanity and secondarily to the Body of this “one new man.” As the anointing was most specifically related in Scripture to the calling of the priestly, prophetic, and kingly ministry/service, and, is consummately bound up with the matter of sonship (please see previous post), so these four faces appear to represent these four facets of the calling of the corporate Christ, both Head and Body together.
- The face of the ox = priestly calling.
- The face of the eagle = prophetic calling.
- The face of the lion = kingly calling.
- The face of the man = sonship calling.
Further evidence that these four faces relate prophetically to God’s people and are depictive of their four-fold heavenly calling can be seen in the arrangement and “marching orders” of the tribes of Israel as they encamped around the tabernacle and journeyed in the wilderness. We will explore that aspect and elaborate more fully on these four faces/callings in the next post.
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