As you know, this
first section in chapters one through three deals with
the preparation of the Lord's servant for his ministry.
So far we have considered firstly the prophet in himself
and then the opened heaven, and then we have gone on with
the visions of God. And we still have a little to say
about the first vision. We have considered the
Chariot-Throne of the Lord, and we have considered the
four living ones. There are just two other aspects for
our consideration. The first of those two is the wheels.
That section is in Ezekiel one, verses fifteen through
twenty-one. You have read this so that we need not go
over it together this morning. There are several
aspects or characteristics of the wheels, and I
think they can be set down as five things.
First of all, wheels are symbols
of movement, they signify mobility. And then the wheels
here speak of directness. Thirdly, they begin upon the
earth and then they are lifted up from the earth and then
they seem to touch the earth again at different times. In
their movement they seem to come back to the earth from
time to time. Then fourthly these wheels are full of
eyes. All around the wheels there are eyes. And in the
fifth place, the Spirit of life is in the wheels. I think
just to mention those things is to indicate their
teaching. We need not spend a lot of time upon each
point, but we will just go over them again with one or
Number one: the
wheels represent mobility. That suggests two things.
Firstly, God is on the move. We are here in the presence
of the movements of the Chariot-Throne of God. In the
second place, God demands absolute liberty for movement.
He requires complete freedom for His movements. If you
are not quite sure of what I mean by that, you have only
to remember that you are really dealing with what is in
the Book of the Acts in this book of Ezekiel. And when we
speak of the Book of the Acts, we understand that we are
speaking about the whole of the New Testament. All the
letters of the apostles came out of the Book of the Acts
- the Acts comprehends the whole of the New Testament. We
are going to have to see that in more detail presently.
But when we come to the Book of the Acts, we find these
two things: the Throne is on the move. There is
no doubt about it that The Man on the Throne is
moving. We can see the goings of the Lord in the
Book of the Acts. That is not a stationary book. He is
not a Lord Who is standing still. He is on the move.
But the second thing is
the Lord demands liberty to move. That liberty of
movement must be recognized and accepted. We remember
Peter and the house of Cornelius. That vision that Peter
had on the housetop is always present in our minds. The
Lord is on the move from Israel to the Gentiles, from
Jerusalem to the regions beyond. That is what we have in
Ezekiel. But Peter would stop the movement of the Lord -
he would say, "Not so, Lord." But the Lord will
not have that arresting hand of tradition. The Lord will
not have the arresting hand of prejudice. This was a
tremendous crisis for Peter, and this was the nature of
the crisis. The Lord was saying in effect to Peter,
"Peter, I am going on. Are you going on with Me? If
you are not going with Me, it makes no difference. You
just stay behind. But if you are going with Me, you have
got to give Me perfect liberty of movement. Your mind
must not interfere with My movement. Your religious
traditions must not interfere with My movement. Your
prejudice must not interfere with My movement."
The Lord is on the
move, and He demands absolute freedom of movement. That
is what is here in the wheels at the very first. God is
moving, and God claims the right to keep on moving. That
is not something just stated to you this morning. There
is a very great deal bound up with that. We must remember
that God is always moving toward His Eternal End. And
we must put nothing in the way of the Lord. Again and
again the Lord may come up against things in us, our mind
about things, or even our past experiences, our ideas
that we know all about it. The Lord says: "I have
still yet more light and truth to break forth from the
Word. You have not yet come to the end of all My
movements. There is far more in front than there is
behind, and you must give Me perfect liberty to go
Now you must think
about that, because that is not only the first thing, but
that is the foundation of everything. This Chariot-Throne
of the Lord rests upon wheels. It rests upon the
principle that God is a God of movement and demands
liberty for His movement.
Speak Of Directness
Then the second thing: the
wheels speak of directness without deviation. This
is one of the most difficult points in this vision to
interpret. But as I see it, it seems to mean this: when
God goes forward, God is never held up by something that
He has not foreseen. If God does change His direction, that
is all in the pattern, that is not an emergency, that is
not because God had not anticipated the situation.
Now probably you find that difficult to understand. Well,
come back again to what we have just been saying about
Peter. It looks as though God is changing His direction,
for right up to this point He has been moving with
Israel, all His goings up to this point have been related
to Israel. Now it looks as though He is changing His
direction, and that was the problem for Peter. It was
such a big change in the direction of God. Peter wanted
the Lord to keep straight on with Israel, and not to
change His course to the Gentiles. It looked as though
God was changing course, simply because He had come up
against difficulties in Israel. That is how some Bible
expositors interpret this.
God came up against the
difficulty in Israel, and therefore He had to go to the
Gentiles. Going to the Gentiles is an entirely different
policy of the Lord, simply because the Jews presented Him
with a difficulty. That is how Peter viewed the thing,
and he felt very badly about it, and he would have said,
"Lord, You just cannot do this. You have gone all
through the centuries with Israel. You cannot change
course now." Now do you see the point? - the fact is
that God was not changing course. The Bible makes it
perfectly clear that God always did have the Gentiles in
Mind. He would reach the Gentiles through the Jews, but
that is quite another thing. If the Jews fail to serve
Him in that matter, He is going on with His purpose all
These wheels go
straight on. They can change direction, but that does not
mean a change of purpose. Even in the seeming change of
direction, they are still going straight. God is not
caused to go out of His Way because of circumstances. He
just goes straight on. Now that is a very difficult thing
to understand when you read this vision of the wheels,
but I think the illustration of Israel and the Gentiles
is a key to this situation.
When you come to the
end of the New Testament, you come up against another
difficulty. This time with the Church in general. It
seems as though the Lord has met another obstacle, and it
looks as though He has to turn out of His Way to
take another course. It looks as though He has to leave
the Church in general and deviate to the overcomers. That
is only one way of viewing it - the Divine Way is God is
still going on with His purpose - this is no deviation in
purpose. God still goes straight on. Well, I think we
have said enough about that, but there is a lot of
instruction in that if you will think about it.
Touch The Earth And Are Lifted Up
Then point number
three: they touch the earth and then they are lifted
up from the earth. And then it seems that they come
back to earth and stay. The living ones let down their
wings, and for a time everything seems to be standing
still, and then the inference is that they go on again. I
think there is a lot of history in that.
The Lord began on the
day of Pentecost. He began at Jerusalem. We might say
that He began, as it were, on the earth. And then His
movements are above the earth - He is there through that
book in a position over the earth, and then He stops.
This is not a contradiction of what I have just been
saying. There are times when the Lord has to wait - He
has to wait for something - His onward movements seem to
tarry. What a lot of history there is in that - the whole
history of the Church is just that. God moves on and then
He has to wait and then when He gets what He is waiting
for, He goes on again. There are these movements of God
which we can see in history. We need to very seriously
consider this matter of God having to wait for something!
Take our own lives.
There is a movement of God, and then there seems to be
some waiting period - the Lord is waiting for something.
It may be He is waiting for our adjustment to some light
that He has given. It may be that He is waiting for the
removal of something that has come in that is not of
Himself, It may be many things, but we do know that in
our own lives there are periods when the Lord does not
seem to be going on.
Perhaps He has been
stopped in His going on - He is now waiting for
something. During that time of waiting, we ought to have
very serious exercise - "Why is it that the Lord is
not going on? Why is the Lord not going on with me? What
is it that the Lord is waiting for? What adjustment have
I got to make? What is it that I have got to put out of
the Lord's Way?" You see, we ought to have exercise
about every seeming staying and waiting of the Lord.
Also, that is true of
the Lord's work. That is true in our own spiritual life,
and it is true also in the work of the Lord. There come
periods when the Lord seems to be waiting. It looks as
though He has stopped going on. There may be any one of
many reasons for that. It is not because the Lord has
given up His purpose! It is not because the Lord has
ceased to be a God of movement, but He is waiting for
us! He is waiting for His people - He is waiting for
something in His people. At all such times, we
should have very great exercise about this: "What is
the Lord waiting for?!"
Well, if we take the
history of the Church during the last two thousand years
(and it is a very instructive study), on the one side we
see those movements of God from heaven - it is as though
the Throne was lifted up from the earth and was going on.
The Throne was overriding things of the earth - going on
in its power. That has happened again and again. On the
other side, we see those dark times in the history of the
Church, such as what we call the Middle Ages, and other
times when it seemed that the Lord was standing still. It
has been like that many times. The Lord was waiting for
something. And then a people arose who took on that
matter and had deep exercise about it. That is the
history of the Church. Out of that exercise God went on
It would be quite easy
for me here this morning, if I had the time, to give you
those movements and those stayings of the Lord, but we
shall not take time for that. We are just putting our
finger upon this principle: The Throne moves, the living
ones let down their wings and the Throne stands still for
a time, and then it moves on again. Well, think a lot
about that. It is full of instruction.
Are Full Of Eyes
come to the next thing: these wheels are full of
eyes, all around the wheels there are eyes. We meet
those eyes on several occasions in the Word of God. We
meet them in the prophecy of Zechariah, and we meet them
several times in the Book of the Revelation; and, of
course, we know what they symbolize - they represent the
complete and perfect intelligence of the Throne. This
government of the Man upon the Throne is the government
of a Perfect Intelligence. If we transfer this principle
to the beginning of the Book of the Revelation, there we
see what it means. The churches are about to be judged,
but the One Who judges them is the One
Whose eyes are as a flame of fire. That One says
to the churches, "I know thy
works." Then He goes on to say all that He knows
about the churches, and it is shown that He knows more
about the churches than they know about themselves.
one church that they think that they are rich and
increased in goods, that they have everything. He
says, "You do not know that you are wretched and
poor and naked." Then what does He say to them?
"I counsel thee to buy of Me eyesalve, that thou
mayest see," - that you may see what I have seen.
The Lord knew more and saw more than that church knew
about itself. That is only an illustration of this. All
the movements of this Chariot-Throne are in complete
Intelligence. That One upon the Throne sees and knows
everything. The Lord is not blind to anything and He is
not ignorant of anything.
Spirit Of Life In The Wheels
finally: the Spirit of Life is in the wheels.
The whole governing principle of the movements of the
Lord is Life. The thing which governs that Throne is this
main principle of Life. You know so much about Life in
the Bible that I need not stay with it this morning. You
have been taken right through the Bible on the principle
of Life, and you know that Life is the whole governing
question of the whole Bible. That is the issue with which
the Bible begins, and that is the issue with which the
Bible ends. All the movements of God from eternity to
eternity are on this basis, and with this question of
POWER IS GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH.
will sum up and bring this into the New Testament. In
the first place, there is very little doubt that we have
to read Matthew 28:18-20 into this. Jesus said: "All
authority has been given to Me in heaven and on
earth." That is the first half of the statement that
He makes in these scriptures; and that brings us back to
the Chariot-Throne in relation to the whole creation and
the authority that is invested in the Man in the Throne.
Do note that word "authority" that He used. He
did not say, "All power is given to Me in
heaven and on earth"; of course, that was implied,
but He used another Greek word. He said: "All
authority is given unto Me." That is a
bigger thing than power. The power lies within the
authority. The authority is the exercise of the power.
Jesus said, "Behind Me is all the authority of the
government of heaven." - "Men may just call Me
Jesus of Nazareth, they may regard Me as just another
man, but they are going to find out that behind Me is all
the authority of heaven." And that is what they did
have the second half of the statement in Matthew:
"For this very reason, go ye into all the world; and
I am with you all the days." Here are the movements
of the Throne "into all the world," and the
authority of Jesus Christ is with the Church. All the
authority of heaven is behind the Church when it gets
into line with the goings of that Throne.
of all we bring Matthew 28:18-20 right into Ezekiel, and
note we are dealing with the preparation of a servant for
his work. Ezekiel certainly needed that preparation. If
he had not had that vision, his work would have been
impossible. Every servant of the Lord needs that vision.
You and I need to see that. We need to be assured of
are other parts of the New Testament which must be
brought right into this section. You must read right into
the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel the Letters to
the Colossians and the Ephesians. Bring the first three
chapters of the Letter to the Colossians into chapter one
of Ezekiel; and then bring the first three chapters of
Ephesians into the first chapter of Ezekiel. It is full
of instruction, and those New Testament Letters will be
the best exposition of Ezekiel one.
of the main words in those chapters and some of the
governing ideas. To begin with, take
"creation." Can you call up at this moment the
first chapter of the Letter to the Colossians? There is
nothing in all the Bible like that chapter as to the
place of the Lord Jesus in creation. It is a tremendous
chapter on the matter of the relationship of Christ to
creation and the creation to Christ.
remember what we have been saying about "the living
ones" as representing the whole creation in heaven
and on earth, and then the Throne is imposed upon that.
That is exactly what you have in Colossians and
Ephesians. Take the word "heavens" as in
Ephesians. That is all very instructive to us. All of
this has to do with the preparation of a servant for his
Paradox Of The Cross
spend our last few minutes on this second thing, and it
will only be a very little that I say about it. Chapter
two of Ezekiel, verse 9, right through to chapter three,
verse 14, has to do with the roll. Ezekiel says
that he saw a hand stretched out and in the hand was a
roll and it was written on both sides with lamentations,
mournings, and woes and a voice said, "eat the
roll"; and when Ezekiel proceeded to eat the roll,
he said it was sweet as honey in his mouth. In verse
fourteen it says, "I went in the bitterness of my
spirit" - sweetness in my mouth and bitterness in my
spirit. This sounds very strange. Here is a roll written
within and without with lamentations, mournings, and
woes. How can that be sweet in anybody's mouth? And then
as the prophet proceeded to fulfill his ministry, he said
that he went in the bitterness of his spirit.
Here is a
combination of sweetness and bitterness in ministry. What
does that mean? How can we explain this? I think if I
just quote one or two passages of Scripture it will
explain the whole thing. Jesus is at the passover supper
with His disciples. We know what His Mind was upon: it
was upon the cup. Presently He will say, "Father, if
it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." The cup
was the cup of His suffering, the cup of His passion. It
was a bitter cup. There is no doubt about that, and yet
it says this: "He took the cup, and gave
thanks." Here is a combination of two things,
bitterness and thankfulness, suffering and glory. That is
the paradox of the Cross.
just told His disciples what is going to happen. He has
told them He is going to suffer. He has gone over the
whole ground of His Cross with them, and then it says,
"And after singing a hymn, they went out." -
They sang a hymn, they went out. You know what they went
out to. You would have thought that that was the last
place of ever singing a hymn: you would have thought that
they would have gone out in absolute silence and sorrow,
but they went out to the notes of a hymn.
if you know what the hymn was that they sang. There is
very good authority for believing that the hymn sung at
the passover was the One Hundredth and Eighteenth Psalm.
Now, of course, we ought to read the whole psalm, but
right at the heart of that psalm, we have these words:
shall not die, but live.
It is the
psalm of the passion, but it is the psalm of victory. It
is the psalm with a Cross in view, but it is a psalm of
the glory, which is the other side of the Cross.
really was that psalm that they sang, then we see the
mingling of the sweetness and the bitterness in the cup.
Shall we take another phrase,
for the joy set before Him endured the Cross.
the bringing together of the bitterness and the
sweetness. Is this what Paul referred to when he said:
"as sorrowful yet always rejoicing." These two
things always go together in the ministry of a servant of
God. The way of the Cross always means those two things.
It is the way of the bitterness, often the bitterness of
spirit; but it is not all bitterness. The Lord keeps the
balance between the bitterness and the joy. There is not
only the bitter side of the fellowship of His sufferings,
but there is the joyful side of that fellowship!
RIGHT HAND OF THE LORD DOES VALIANTLY.
THE RIGHT HAND OF THE LORD IS EXALTED:
THE RIGHT HAND OF THE LORD DOES VALIANTLY.
I SHALL NOT DIE, BUT LIVE... (Psa. 118:15-17).