The Four Faces of God
“As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”
My Sermon today entitled “The Four Faces of God” is a look into Scripture, into the meaning and message of Ezekiel’s prophesy which discloses for us these four significant characteristics of the one who is our God and Saviour.
Let me begin today by focusing on the prophesy and vision given to Ezekiel, which we read from Ezekiel One, earlier in today’s service.
Chronologically I believe it to be in the fifth year of the captivity of King Jehoiachin, which corresponded with the fifth year of Zedekiah, the last king of the nation of Israel. The city of Jerusalem was captured and destroyed in the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, so this setting in Chapter 1 was prior to the destruction. The ten-tribe kingdom was taken captive much, much earlier. Ezekiel was apparently taken to Babylon at the time of Jehoiachin’s captivity, the result of a Babylonian incursion into Judah. Thus the prophet was in Babylonian exile among the captives of Judah prior to the 70-year captivity that began in 606 BC.
It is very interesting that “the word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel.” In other words, the prophet was peculiarly selected and honoured by God to receive the subsequent vision. At this time both Daniel and Jeremiah were alive, but Ezekiel is the one to whom the vision was given.
Being in the capital, Daniel was only a few miles away
from Ezekiel when the vision of Chapter 1 occurred.
Much has been written and much more will no doubt be written about the significance of the Cherubim vision, and the four faces of those Angelic beings. Time today will not allow me to
explore the mysteries connected to these scriptures and parallel scriptures in both the Gospels and the Book of the Revelation in which “four faced” cherubim also receive mention. But I
intend nonetheless to make brief commentary about them.
Throughout history, students of Scripture have recognized a correlation between the four gospels and the four different roles of Christ. This is reflected for instance in works such as the Book of Kells, an ornately illustrated work containing the four gospels written in approximately A.D. 800. The artwork of the cover page of the Book of Kells shows that the monks of that time, recognized a correspondence between the faces of the cherubim as seen by Ezekiel and John, and the four gospels!
These creatures represent four aspects of Christ Jesus as the Lion, the Ox, the Man, and the Eagle. In all four of these aspects Christ Jesus is supreme Lord. As the lion, the Lord Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. . . . Matthew describes Christ in this aspect. As the Ox, Christ is represented as the servant of God, and the servant of men. . . . Mark describes Christ in this respect. As the man, the Lord Jesus is a lover, a friend, a companion, an associate, and a leader. . . . Luke describes Christ in this aspect. And as the eagle, the Lord Jesus is God Himself, He is Deity, eternal, all-seeing, and all-powerful, . . . His deity is fully described in the Gospel of John. These four aspects of the Saviour are revealed again in Ezekiel 10:14; and in Revelation 4:6 and the verses following.
John also in the book of the Revelation sees a vision of the cherubim: He writes:
“Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Rev 4:6-8
Cherubim angels also get a mention in the plans for the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 25 verses 18-20 “And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat”. Here
they represent the judgment of God. Their position indicates that God’s judgment upon Israel was averted because of the blood-sprinkled mercy seat. So then they are a representation of God, they reveal how we should see God, and especially how we should see Him as our Saviour, as we do in the Gospels.
But, the Cherubim as revealed by Ezekiel in chapter 1:5-10 are four living creatures, each one having 4 different faces, the face of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. Here Ezekiel shows
us that our God and Saviour is our Lion, our Ox, our Man,
and our Eagle!
These then are the four faces, four ways in which we see God, four pictures of God and of his Christ our Saviour. Now in the time left to me today I want us to look closely at each of these four faces, for there is much to see in every one of them.
First, there is the face of the LION.
The lion has always been recognized as strong, fierce, and majestic, king of the jungle! It was the most royal of animals.
Proverbs 30:v30 reads: “A lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any”; shows that it is fearless and yet feared by all. The lion cares not how many cattle face it or challenge it, and even the mighty horned wilder-beast, the lion does not cower or hide or run away, Is it any wonder that Jesus is described as the “lion of the tribe of Judah” Rev 5:5. He faced the Night of terror, the Fight of Israel and the Might of Rome, but there was no fear, He knew of his destiny and he knew of his victory. The Strength of the Lion was his!
Then the Lion is known for its Roar. Proverbs 20:v2 says “The wrath of a King is like the roaring of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger sins against his own life”. There have been times when God has had to “Roar” times when he has had to judge the world and judge us for our sin. Perhaps the present “sorrows” through which our world is shaking is but “the roar of God”? One might suggest that Jesus roared with anger against those who had turned His fathers house into a “den of thieves”
where mans greed had replaced Gods glory in that house?
Yet the face of the LION, reminds me that God has put a Lion deep down inside his children too, for we are to reflect the very nature of God. Only God can give you courage to fight the giants in life as he gave to young David facing Goliath.
Only God can give you Strength to conquer the sin in your life, and the evils in society, and stand up for good and for God. Whatever else you may lose in life … never lose your ROAR, never let go of your fighting spirit, don’t allow the Devil to win. Remember that we have been made “kings and priests” unto God; Rev 1:6 & 5:10, and we are expected to Reign on this earth, to take charge, to take authority, to take control, we too have become lions! Praise God. The whole world should fear the Church, instead (today) the Church fear the world. This is what is wrong, tragically, – for most of us we have lost our roar!
Then there was the face of the OX.
The Ox was recognized as the animal who patiently laboured for his owner. He was strong, able to bear a heavy burden, and knew its owner. Thank God today that He gave us an example of one who “patiently laboured” and was “heavily laden” with our sins. Jesus himself was our Ox, taking on his shoulders the Cross of our afflictions, “surely He has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows” and God “has laid on Him, the iniquity of us all” says the prophet. Is it any wonder that he stumbled under the weight?
Yet He is still our Ox today, still supporting us in all of our weaknesses. Proverbs 14:v4 reads “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an Ox.” How often have we thought ourselves successful only to discover that it was God who carried us through, God who supported our cause, God who fought our battles, and God who gave us the victory; – “the arm of flesh will fail you, you dare
not trust your own”!
Isaiah 1:v3 says “The Ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider.” This speaks to me of Service. The Ox and the Ass
know him whom they serve. They know his sound, they know his voice, they know his walk, they know his ways, and as Isaiah says, they know his food. Service and Sustenance are in the nature of these beasts of burden. Are they in your ways? Do you know what it is to be in the Service of your Master, and do you know the Sustaining power, that comes from His word?
There can be no Service without Sustenance, and there can be
no Sustenance without Service. The two go hand in hand.
Do you know that as a Christian when you serve me, you serve God, and when I serve you, I serve God. Now of course there is service that is not to God, but to men only. Just because you serve or do good to someone, does not necessarily mean that God is served, nor that he even notices. Only that service which is God inspired, God ordained and God glorifying will catch his attention. The Donkey or Oxen may be stolen and still pull another mans Cart or Burden, but such service is of no pleasure to its owner and master. The apostle Paul said: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans 6:16
You can serve a mate with drugs and alcohol which have the potential to hurt and even destroy his life, and God will have no pleasure in any of it! So my question to you today must be
which master sustains your service?
Then we see the face of a MAN
This face speaks of mind, reason, affections, and all the things that encompass a human being. God took the face of a Man,
so that Man could see the face of God. There is the danger that we can too easily be caught up in the Divinity of God –
that we lose sight of His Humanity.
The writer to the Hebrews says “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;
but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
God was and is not so far removed from us, like some great High Priest hidden away behind a holy veil, – but one who walked and worked where we do, and one who was tempted in all points just like us. Of course this does not mean that Jesus was tempted by all the things that can tempt us, but he was tempted in all points. And the apostle John tells us about these points from which all temptation comes in 1 John 2:16 where he says: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. Every temptation you will ever encounter will fall into one of these three categories. Think about it!
So then what else does this face of the MAN, tell us?
For me, I recon that one of the most important aspects of His humanity, was that he both lived and died as a MAN!
Many, even within Christendom, within the Church falsely believe that Jesus was some kind of God-Man, or some kind of Super-man, some kind of Divine/Human being, unlike and unequal to the rest of us. Such reasoning is sheer folly – Heresy!
It denies the very purpose of Salvation itself. It denies the covenant made with Abraham, it denies the efficacy of the blood sacrifice, and also denies the claims of Jesus Christ himself.
Let me say it long and let me say it loud, Jesus was and always is God in heaven, but while He was here on earth, he was Man.
He left His divinity, wrapped himself up in Human Flesh, and was born of a virgin by the name of Mary and laid in a cattle trough in a Stable in a little town called Bethlehem.
Every thing he ever did, he did as a Man. He called the disciples on the shores of the Galilee as a Man, he turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana as a Man, he fed the 5000 as a Man, he cast out devils and demons as a man, he healed the sick and even raised the dead as a Man, and as a man full of the Holy Spirit, and he went to the Cross as a man, and was raised from the dead as a Man, and only when he went back through the clouds to the glory and sat down on the right hand of God the Father was his work as a man complete. God has the face
of a man, and that man is Jesus.
Finally, Ezekiel sees the face of an EAGLE
A powerful swift and strong bird that flew above the storms, while below there was only sorrows, dangers, and distress;
never becoming weary, with an amazing vision and sight.
This speaks to us of the Divinity and Deity of God himself. He is supreme power and authority. He is Master of all that he surveys, all things are under His feet, all things are in his vision and his plan. His has the highest vantage point, no enemy and no devil could ever or should ever rise higher than He. His steps fall on the highest peaks, His glory is seen in the highest clouds, he pulls his staff from the highest branches, he takes his seat in the highest place, He is God. He was God before anyone ever called him God, he was God before there was light, He was God before there was an Angel or a Man, He was God all by himself. He hammered out the universe from the anvil of his creative word and the sparks from it formed the stars. He knows everyone of them by name, they are all His, the Silver and the Gold are His and the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End, and there is no God
like Jehovah. He was, and Is, and Is to Come!
When they asked His name, He replied “I am” for he is the Ancient of Days, he is the Shelter in the time of Storm, he is the Good Shepherd of the sheep, He is the Light of the world, he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, He is Love, unequalled, unmeasured, unending, and undeserved. He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley, he is the Prince of Peace and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords … and He’s the Saviour
of my Soul. Hallelujah!
Do you want to be like him, to reflect him to model him?
The Prophet says:
“Those who wait on this GOD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”. Isaiah 40v31
And for those who do get weary, and are tired of the wilderness worldly wanderings, he shall be unto them as Israel; He says:
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself”. Exodus 19:4
God still wants to gather us all under the shelter of His great wings. He is still our Eagle! … and He wants us to be Eagles too! He wants us to bear, to carry His image and His likeness.
In Ezekiel 17:v3 we read: “…Thus says the Lord GOD: “A great eagle with large wings and long pinions, full of feathers of various colours, came to Lebanon and took from the cedar the highest branch.
God knows that many of us in the Church are no longer “soaring in the clouds with the eagles” instead we are “flapping our wings on the ground with the chickens”!
Thus most of us are without real vision. Do you know why the Eagle took from the Cedar “the highest branch”? Do you know what makes the highest branches different from the lower branches? If you don’t, you may need first to climb a tree.
At the top of every tree, the highest branches are the youngest branches, they are the new growth, with softer and more pliable stems than those more mature below. The eagle needs those pliable rods to plat and twist and build her nest. The eagles in the Church will never neglect the new growth or the young growth. These young people are the structures of the church of tomorrow. Real vision, Eagle vision, will understand the importance of plucking and pulling the young away from the world today, and of preparing them for the work of God now,
and His Kingdom, tomorrow.
So then, these are the FOUR FACES OF GOD.
My prayer today is that when others look in on your Church, they will see those who are like Lions, Oxen and Eagles, as well as those who have a kind Human face. That like the Cherubim, we too may represent God in every facet of our living.
God Bless You