The Four Living Creatures

Did you ever think about the four creatures in Ezekiel? Did you know that they are also found in Revelation? You did? Good. However, did you also know that you can see this same picture in Numbers? No? Well read on.

4 faces of Ezekiel's vision
Let’s start by taking a look at the four faces of the creatures found in Ezekiel 1:10, “as for the appearance of their faces, they had human faces [in front], each of the four had a lion’s face on the right, each of the four had a bull’s face on the left, and each of the four had an eagle’s face [toward the rear]” (CJB)


In Revelation 4:7 we also see four living creatures, but each has its own face. However, we still see the face of a lion, an ox, a human, and an eagle.

Keep this in mind as we look at how God set up the camp in the wilderness, described in Numbers chapter 2.

Banner of Judah - lion

In verse 3 we see that on the east side, under the banner of Judah, are the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.


Banner of Reuben - a man

In verse 10 we see that on the south side, under the banner of Reuben, are the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad.


Banner of Ephraim - an ox

In verse 18 we see that on the west side, under the banner of Ephraim, are the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin


Banner of Dan - an eagle

In verse 25 we see that on the north side, under the banner of Dan, are the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali



Reading into chapter 3 we see that the tribe of Levi was set between the 12 tribes and the tabernacle:

Numbers-2-EncampmentThe family of Gershon is stationed behind the tabernacle toward the west. (v 23)

The family of Korath is stationed next to the tabernacle toward the south. (v 29)

The family of Merari is stationed next to the tabernacle toward the north. (v 36)

Moses, Aaron and his sons are stationed in front of the tabernacle to the east. (V 38)

The last thing we need to see before pulling all this together is that God was in the middle of the camp. His presence was in the tabernacle dwelling with His people!

God's presence in the Pillar of Fire in the middle of the camp
So here we have God in the middle of the camp, surrounded by the tribe of Levi. And just beyond the Levites, we see the banners of Judah (the lion), Reuben (the man), Ephraim (the ox), and Dan (the eagle). Each of these faces correlates to the same position of the faces found in Ezekiel.


And even more interesting, we read in Numbers 9:15-23 that when the cloud lifted, the camp moved – always in the same order as that listed in Numbers 2. And when the cloud rested, the camp stopped. The camp moved wherever the presence of the Lord moved, just like in Ezekiel, “Wherever the spirit moved, the four creatures moved.”
Artist's rendition of Ezekiel's vision
So there you have it, the same beautiful picture in Numbers, Ezekiel, and Revelation. All revealing a very important lesson for us:

    Wherever the Spirit moves, we should move.
    Wherever the Spirit stops, we should stop.


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9 Responses to The Four Living Creatures

  1. Deb June 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Thanks Ro for the picture of Ezekiel’s vision and the lesson. It was enlightening and the pic is the best I have seen. Where did you get it?
    Thanks and blessings, Deb

    • Ro Pinto June 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Thanks, Deb! Not sure where the picture originated. I Googled for an image, and this showed up in several sites.

  2. Abner Smith October 23, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Ro Pinto,

    I enjoyed your post and your pictures are outstanding. I am currently writing a book about the four beasts. The four beasts of Ezekiel actually only have one face each. I know it reads a bit confusing, but he is in vision, and he is telling us that the chariot consists of two beasts to the right and two on the left and he tells us what their faces look like based on their position. They are the exact same beasts of Revelation, there is no difference. Are you an artist please respond.

    • Ro Pinto October 24, 2014 at 10:48 am #

      Hi Abner, thanks for stopping by!

      While a few of my adult children are artists, as was my father, that gift skipped right over me and landed on my kids.

      Interesting perspective regarding the four beasts having only one face each. In the Hebrew, the adjective for ‘every one’ or ‘each one’ appears twice in the sentence after each of the nouns, suggesting that each had 4 faces and each had 4 wings.

      I agree they are the same beasts in Revelation. If find it interesting that Ezekiel speaks of them moving, but John does not.

  3. Abner Smith October 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Ro Pinto,

    Regarding your camp arrangement. Judah being in the center is idea, but acutally Judah and the other camp heads are first. Judah leads the way and Issachar and next to Judah, then Zebulun. That is the arrangement all the way around the Tabernacle. The flags of the Camp leads should be in front and not centered. I was in the Military for 24 years and the guidon always lead the way and was not in the center.

    Abner Smith –

    • Ro Pinto October 24, 2014 at 11:05 am #

      Hi Abner,

      That was how I viewed the movement of the camp until a study with Rabbi Matthew Salathe suggested otherwise.

      When you go to the Hebrew of Numbers 2:17 it suggests that ‘as they encamp, so shall they set forward every man in his place by thier standards.’

      So whether or not God meant it to be literal or figurative, Ezekiel’s vision of the throne speaks to the camp of Israel in the wilderness.

      And again, the difference I see between John’s vision and Ezekiel’s is that one is stationary emphasizing all those around giving glory to the Creator and ‘Lord of Heaven’s Armies’ while in the other, travel is emphasized.

      Interesting, isn’t it?

  4. Pat Andrews March 18, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    I love this article! I find where Judah is a Lion’s whelp, but I cannot find the other images for the banners that are in the picture. Help me. In Genesis 49, Dan is a serpent. Ruben is water and Ephraim is not mentioned.
    There must be some scripture I am overlooking…
    Love your work!
    Pat

    • Ro Pinto March 18, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

      Thanks, Pat!

      I believe the bull ensign comes from Deuteronomy 33:17 for Ephraim, and there are several references to Reuben being the first born, which would be the figure of a man.

      Hope that helps!

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