Ezekiel 1:18
(18) Their rings.--The same word is used twice in this verse, and means what we call the felloes. "They were both high and terrible," i.e., they had both these characteristics, but not, as seems to be implied in our translation, that one was the cause of the other. The height might be inferred from the fact that the wheel was "upon the earth," and yet was "by the living creatures" (Ezekiel 1:15) who were seen in the cloud (Ezekiel 1:5). The terribleness was in keeping with all other parts of the vision, and its reason is explained in the circumstances which follow.

Full of eyes.--In Ezekiel 10:12 it is said of the living creatures, "their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes round about." It was the same vision in either case (Ezekiel 10:20-22), only in the effort to describe it, which the prophet evidently feels it impossible to do adequately, he mentions now one particular and now another. In the corresponding vision in the Apocalypse the four living creatures are represented as "full of eyes within" (Revelation 4:8). In both places alike the symbolism sets forth God's perfect knowledge of all His works: here as showing the absolute wisdom of all His doings (comp. 2Chronicles 16:9), there as resulting in perfect and harmonious praise from all His works. The Hebrew seers ever looked through all secondary causes directly to the ultimate force which originates and controls all nature, and which they represent as intelligent and self-conscious. To do this the more effectively, they often use in their visions such concrete imagery as this before us.

Verse 18. - As for their rings, etc. The "rings" or "felloes" of the wheels impressed the prophet's mind with a sense of awe, partly from their size, partly from their being "full of eyes." These were obviously, as again in Ezekiel 10:12, and in the analogues of the "stone with seven eyes" in Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10, and the "four beasts [i.e. 'living creatures'] full of eyes," in Revelation 4:6, symbols of the omniscience of God working through the forces of nature and of history. These were not, as men have sometimes thought, blind forces, but were guided as by a supreme insight (comp. 2 Chronicles 16:9).

1:15-25 Providence, represented by the wheels, produces changes. Sometimes one spoke of the wheel is uppermost, sometimes another; but the motion of the wheel on its own axletree is regular and steady. We need not despond in adversity; the wheels are turning round and will raise us in due time, while those who presume in prosperity know not how soon they may be cast down. The wheel is near the living creatures; the angels are employed as ministers of God's providence. The spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels; the same wisdom, power, and holiness of God, that guide and govern the angels, by them order all events in this lower world. The wheel had four faces, denoting that the providence of God exerts itself in all parts. Look every way upon the wheel of providence, it has a face toward you. Their appearance and work were as a wheel in the middle of a wheel. The disposals of Providence seem to us dark, perplexed, and unaccountable, yet are all wisely ordered for the best. The motion of these wheels was steady, regular, and constant. They went as the Spirit directed, therefore returned not. We should not have to undo that by repentance which we have done amiss, if we followed the guidance of the Spirit. The rings, or rims of the wheels were so vast, that when put in motion the prophet was afraid to look upon them. The consideration of the height and depth of God's counsel should awe us. They were full of eyes round about. The motions of Providence are all directed by infinite Wisdom. All events are determined by the eyes of the Lord, which are in every place beholding the evil and the good; for there is no such thing as chance or fortune. The firmament above was a crystal, glorious, but terribly so. That which we take to be a dark cloud, is to God clear as crystal, through which he looks upon all the inhabitants of the earth. When the angels had roused a careless world, they let down their wings, that God's voice might be plainly heard. The voice of Providence is to open men's ears to the voice of the word. Sounds on earth should awaken our attention to the voice from heaven; for how shall we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaks from thence.As for their rings, they were so high, that they were dreadful,.... The circles and circumferences of them were "high": which may denote the visibility and extensiveness of the churches of Christ, especially in the latter day; when they shall be exalted above the mountains and hills, the kingdoms and states of this world; and there shall be such numerous additions to them, that the place will be too strait for the members of them to dwell in, Isaiah 2:2; and "they were dreadful"; terrible, as the churches of Christ will be to their enemies to look at, when they shall be in their exalted state, Revelation 11:12; or the words may be rendered, "and they had fear" (s); there was fear and reverence in them; the fear of God, and a reverential affection for him; they were waiting on him, and attending his worship with great reverence and godly fear:

and their rings were full of eyes round about them four; everyone of the four wheels, and each of their four semicircles, were full of eyes; expressive of the knowledge of the Gospel, and the truths of it, in church members; their continual looking to Christ for fresh supplies of grace and strength; and their constant watchfulness over each other.

(s) "et timor illis erat", Cocceius; "et timor ipis", Starckius; "and they were reverent", so Dr. Lightfoot, Prospect of the Temple, &c. c. 38. p. 2055.

Ezekiel 1:17
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