10 Then I looked and saw what looked like a throne made of sapphire up above the expanse over the heads of the winged guardians.[a] 2 God spoke to the man clothed in linen.
These fantastic winged creatures are the same living beings Ezekiel encounters in his initial vision (chapter 1). They serve two purposes in Scripture: accompanying the presence of God—as Ezekiel describes twice—and guarding some of God’s holiest places. Creatures like these, of course, strike fear in anyone who sees them; their otherworldly appearance is perfect for decorating the covenant chest in the temple and guarding the way to the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24). The creatures’ fantastic appearance has inspired artists and craftsmen for generations. Depictions of these heavenly creatures appear all over the temple and the tabernacle; they are sewn into tapestries, engraved on walls, and used to decorate tools of worship.
Eternal One: Go among the spinning wheels beneath the winged guardians; gather the burning charcoal among them into your hands, and then spread the coals over the city.
While I was watching, the man clothed in linen went among the wheels.
3 Now the winged guardians stood on the south side of the temple when the man clothed in linen entered. A great cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the Eternal rose above the guardians and moved to the doorway of the temple. The cloud swelled and filled the temple, and the court was full of the blazing presence of the glory of the Eternal. 5 The otherworldly sound made by the guardians’ wings could be heard as far away as the outer court and sounded like the voice of God Almighty.[b]
6 When God instructed the man clothed in linen, “Remove fire from among the wheels that sit next to the winged guardians,” the man went and stood next to a wheel. 7 Then one of those creatures reached into the fire burning among them, grabbed hold of some of the fiery coals, and placed them into the hands of the man wearing linen. The man took them and left the temple court. 8 It was then I noticed that underneath the wings of the creatures were what looked like human hands.
9 Then I looked and saw four wheels, one beside each of the winged guardians. The wheels glittered like sun-kissed jewels. 10 All four wheels looked exactly alike; each wheel appeared to have another one inside it. 11 As the wheels moved, they went in any of the four directions the living creatures faced. They rolled straight ahead, never swerving off to the side. 12 The entire bodies of the living creatures—their hands, backs, and wings—and the wheels belonging to each of them were covered with what appeared to be eyes. 13 I heard someone call the wheels “the spinning wheels.” 14 Each of the winged guardians had four faces: the first was the face of a guardian, the second the face of a human, a third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
15 Then the winged guardians ascended. These were the same living creatures I had seen earlier near the Chebar Canal. 16 When they moved, the wheels stayed right beside them. When the guardians stretched out their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels followed after them. 17 When the guardians stood still, so did the wheels. And when they flew up, so did the wheels, because the spirit of the four living creatures was in the wheels.
18 Then the glory of the Eternal departed from the temple doorway and hovered above the winged guardians. 19 I continued to watch the creatures stretch out their wings and rise up from the ground, and as they rose, the wheels went along with them. The creatures and the wheels stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the Eternal’s temple. There, the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them.
20 These were the same living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel near the Chebar Canal. I understood that they were the heavenly winged guardians. 21 Each of the living creatures had four faces and four wings, and beneath each wing was what looked like human hands. 22 Their faces looked exactly like the faces I had seen near the Chebar Canal. Each of them went straight ahead.