The Wheels of God's Throne         (  Copyright 2009   G. Thomas Windsor  )   

Part Three     Of Chariots and Wheels

Chariots and Wheels, God's Ark and the Throne in Battle: Now that a general understanding of the two main "wheels" passages has been set forth, we can review and then use these foundational truths to look at the deeper mystery of the wheels in other contexts. These should also fit into the crux of the passages already quoted. Now we have links established between the wheeled throne and a chariot, as well as a beginning for understanding the cherubim. We can now examine further scriptures, each shedding light and answering the question: "What is the meaning of the wheels?”
In following clues, we can begin to see where they lead. As we saw previously, the "Chariot of the cherubim" was the "chariot" formed by the cherubs on the mercy-seat at the Ark of the Covenant. It was moved (with the pillar of cloud and fire) and, with it, the presence and symbolic throne of God. Earlier we noted a military concept relating to the cherubim. When God's presence moved with the Ark "the cloud of Yahweh was over them by day, when they set forward from the camp. Moses would say v. 3“Rise up, Yahweh, and let your enemies be scattered! Let those who hate you flee before you!” Numbers 10:34-35 (WEB).

The ark went before them and was at times carried into battle as at the battle of Jericho. The Lord went before them to drive out the enemies so they could take possession of the land. (See also 2 Sam. 6:2) In the book of Psalms we have another reference that has relevance to understanding the throne chariot. (See also Ps. 80:1,2; Deut. 33:26). This psalm was a hymn to celebrate the ark being brought up to the temple at Jerusalem . It states that the Lord "rides" in the heavens, for He is the Lord of hosts of the armies of heaven (the angelic host). Psalm 68 reads: "1 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.... Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him." We also see references to the Lord’s appearance on Mt. Sinai , v. 8 "The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel". Here again we note the connection with the cherubim and God's chariots going forth for the sake of his people. 14" When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.... 17" The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. ..". We also read of God triumphing (wounding the head ) over his enemies (scattering kings.) Verse-21 "But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses." The Psalm also leads to exultant worship and ascribing praise at His throne. v-33 "To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.34 Ascribe yea strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.35 O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God" (KJV).

We see many things matching what has already been referenced. It is very consistent with the themes already noted concerning the chariot/storm theophany, judgment, worship, glory, and deliverance.
Habakkuk 3:3-8: In the book of the prophet Habakkuk we read words similar to those in Psalm 68 where the prophet again calls to remembrance God's appearance at Mt Sinai. "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.... Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet (KJV). Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?" (KJV). The Lord's great deliverance at the Red Sea is the focus here. As noted earlier, Moses is said to have seen the throne of God out of the storm cloud. God is the "charioteer" and his "chariot of salvation" triumphed over Pharaoh’s army (see also Psalm 77) to save his "anointed" and strike down rulers of evil. Verse 13 reads: "Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah" (KJV). This matches the Daniel passage and parallels with the many things already listed. Again this confirms the understanding of this divine Chariot with its wheels of deliverance.

Note: 30 Heb “you mount your horses.” As the next line makes clear, the Lord is pictured here as a charioteer, not a cavalryman. ... v31 Or “chariots of deliverance.” (NET Bible Notes)
Note: 8. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? Was the cause of His dividing the Red Sea and Jordan His displeasure against these waters?" The answer to this is tacitly implied in "Thy chariots of salvation." ... thy chariots---in antithesis to Thy foe, Pharaoh's chariots,..." Jehovah's chariots are His angels (Ps 68:17), or the cherubim, or the ark. (J.F.B. Bible Commentary).

Other Wheels (owphan and galgal ) Portrayed in other Passages: So how does the rest of Scripture portray wheels and does that fit in with what has already been observed? We now have the two passages (Ezekiel and Daniel), along with others and the various similarities were noted. With these we can also assess if a further pattern emerges.
Threshing Cart Wheel: It should be mentioned at this point that the Hebrew word for cart and chariot are similar. In Isaiah there is a passage referencing the wheels (galgal) of the threshing cart (or threshing sledge). This device was similar in construction to a chariot. It served an important role in biblical times, as its purpose was to separate the chaff from the wheat in the time of harvest. The Lord himself spoke of this in the book of Isaiah, chapter 28. In this chapter, methods of agriculture is obviously not God’s point. Rather, the context was one of a warning to the nations. This was a somewhat cryptic passage, yet simply put, a message of spiritual warning.

Isaiah 28. "1 Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley of those who are overcome with wine! 2 Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one. Like a storm of hail, a destroying storm, and like a storm of mighty waters overflowing, he will cast them down to the earth with his hand.... 21 For Yahweh will rise up as on Mount Perazim. He will be angry as in the valley of Gibeon; that he may do his work, his unusual work, and bring to pass his act, his extraordinary act. 22 Now therefore don't be scoffers, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, on the whole earth. 23 Give ear, and hear my voice! Listen, and hear my speech!24 Does he who plows to sow plow continually? ...28 Bread flour must be ground; so he will not always be threshing it. Although he drives the wheel of his threshing cart over it, his horses don't grind it....29 This also comes forth from Yahweh of Armies, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom"(WEB). In this passage the pride of Ephraim is spoke of as being cast down. (See Hosea 4.17,19 "Ephraim is joined to idols...a whirlwind will sweep them away") God brings "a destroying storm" metaphorically (translated as "whirlwind" in Douay-Rheims Bible) in the fall of Israel to Assyria. God is chastening his people. It is speaking of an unusual ("strange work" in other translations) work as his mysterious purposes unfold. God at times uses even pagan nations to punish or chastise his people. They become his agents and he uses those nations then to overthrow other pagan nations and so forth. The Lord is speaking of his work of separating out (winnowing) the chaff. The passage is essentially saying that God isn't going to keep trying to separate out the chaff endlessly. There is a limit, and after that judgment.

Note: v21.... Perazim means, expressing a sudden and complete overthrow. strange-as being against His own people; judgment is not what God delights in; it is, though necessary, yet strange to Him (La 3:33).  (J.F.B. Bible Commentary).

The Potters Wheel: Another description of wheels elaborated in scripture was the potter’s wheel. It allowed the potter to work the clay and to fashion it as it turned. He was making a work on the wheels. In Jeremiah 18:3 we read of the Potter's house, where he is laboring at the wheel: Jeremiah 18 "1 The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, he was making a work on the wheels. 4 When the vessel that he made of the clay was marred in the hand of the potter, he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.5 Then the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 6 House of Israel, can't I do with you as this potter? says Yahweh. Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; 8 if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them. 9 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they not obey my voice, then I will repent of the good, with which I said I would benefit them. 11 Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says Yahweh: Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return you now everyone from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings. 12 But they say, It is in vain; for we will walk after our own devices, and we will do everyone after the stubbornness of his evil heart. 13 Therefore thus says Yahweh: Ask now among the nations, who has heard such things; the virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing. .... 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity" (WEB).

One interpretation given concerning the potter's wheel is that the Lord "fashions a plan" in the heavenly realm like the working at a wheel. (This is a warning to Israel). It is "to build up...or tear down a nation. In Jeremiah 18:3, God states that if they wouldn't listen "I will scatter them with the east wind. Thus says Yahweh: Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return you now everyone from his evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.”
 God's spirit is trying to bring them to a point of repentance for their idolatry and thus build them up. God is continually working at refining his people. We can see God's "work" at the wheel, the metaphoric description of God working in this manner to warn the nations (a pattern). His work is to advance His purposes and kingdom. This brings together more themes. The potter's wheel and the threshing wheel (Isa. 28). They follow the pattern of the things already mentioned regarding the chariot wheels passages.

Chariots like a Whirlwind: In the search to understand the words "wheel" and "chariot" even more thoroughly, it is helpful to gain a broader understanding biblically of how they were specifically used in scripture. First, it becomes evident that these two words are connected through many similar passages. Let's now look further at how other passages portray and describe the wheels with their metaphors and adjectives in order to refine the meaning.

Heavenly Chariots as the Winds: As was cited earlier, there are references in Scripture to the concept of chariots moving as a whirlwind. This is significant, as we shall see. Chariots and wheels are as the whirlwind and the storm. This concept is validated in the book of Kings. Elijah was taken up in a "chariot of fire." He went "up into heaven by a whirlwind." 2Kings 2:11-12: "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a Chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven... (KJV). The chariots seem to be part of, or emanate from, the whirlwind. We also read of chariots and horses in the prophet Zechariah's vision and they are interpreted as follows in the text itself (Zech. 6:1-5): "these (chariots ) are the four winds of heaven" or in a different translation "these are the four spirits of heaven." This forms an emphatic statement that the spirit of the Lord goes forth as a chariot (the merkabah). In Psalm 104:3-4 it states, 3"He (God) makes clouds his chariot, he rides on the wings of the wind. 4He makes his messengers (angels) winds; his servants flames of fire." (See Hebrews 2:7) These angelic beings include the cherubim. Here the wind is personified. His metaphoric vehicle is one of His methods of causing things to follow His will through His messengers.

Earthly Chariots like the Whirlwinds/Chariot Wheels of War:  Isaiah 5: 26"He will lift up a banner to the nations from far and he will whistle for them from the end of the earth. Behold, they will come speedily and swiftly. ...28whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent. Their horses’ hoofs will be like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind.”
As noted in the Old Testament, we are told of the wheels of the chariot, a swift military machine. In this passage, the message of the chastisement of the Lord is portrayed as Judea was about to be invaded by a foreign army. They would be overpowered and overwhelmed. Again the Lord is sending a warning in order to bring them, his people, to repentance. The Lord is the one who is bringing this to pass v. 26. God is doing this "strange work " (Isa. 28).
Jeremiah 4: "11At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow, nor to cleanse; 12a full wind from these shall come for me. Now I will also utter judgments against them.” 13Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us! For we are ruined. 14Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved". (WEB )

Here again the Spirit of the Lord is pleading with His people for them to turn lest this judgment come. As in Ezekiel, the prophet Jeremiah was grieved (v. 19) at the coming invasion to desolate the land and the Lord's temple. Again we see a military conquest of God's people. Here, similarly to Isaiah 5, is portrayed a lightning-swift advance of an army and the rumbling of wheels. In v. 13 it states "He comes up like clouds, his chariots like a whirlwind ..." A storm metaphor is used here (Also see Daniel 11:40). As in Isaiah 28, there was to be no more winnowing (separating out the chaff). As noted earlier, the people had forsaken the Lord and now He was pronouncing a storm of judgment (a hot wind, v.11) upon them (and fire, v. 4.)

Note: Definition of chariot: a vehicle generally used for warlike purposes. This word is sometimes used figuratively for hosts (Ps. 68:17; 2 Kings 6:17). Elijah..." (Easton's Bible Dictionary).

Isaiah 66: 1"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?...14 And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. 15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. 17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD. 18 For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. " (KJV).
This chapter starts with God declaring his true dwelling place, speaking of his throne. Thus says Yahweh, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool" (v. 1). The Lord’s throne is among those who do his will in the heavenly realm (angelic host) and in its coming to the earth. This prophetic chapter also centers on the terrible day of the Lord's final judgment. We see the common themes of fire and the sword and gathering nations for judgment (v. 18). Isaiah refers to God's "chariots like the whirlwind.” Here is another direct reference linking the two concepts. Both the heavenly and earthly chariots are described as being like the clouds, the storm/whirlwind.

The chariot and the whirlwind are again fitting the pattern of Ezekiel and Daniel. In v. 3 we see God exposing idolatry and abomination: "Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations." He states it shall be well with His servants, a time of rejoicing, but a recompense of final justice to His adversaries. (v.14). In verse 18, he states, "For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory.” The eyes of the Lord behold all from where He sits and calls all to account.

Summary: These particular clues point us in directions that lead to other confirmations. In the earlier chapter we noticed a link between the Spirit, the wheels and the whirlwind. Also, we start to see the spiritual meaning of the wheels (judgments/chastening) as they relate symbolically to the winds and whirlwinds, and these in turn relate to God's Spirit. This is a defining concept. This truth is witnessed by these various evidences. First, is the descriptive name of the "whirling wheels" given in the text (Ezek. 10:13) The second is the variant meaning (whirlwind) of the Hebrew word "wheel" throughout the Bible. Third, is the undeniable pattern of descriptions that emerge in the passages involving chariots and wheels as already mentioned (as in the storm). As we shall see, the storm and the whirlwind are specifically the closest representations or similes used in scripture of these mysterious wheels. All these passages taken together help one to form a composite picture of this "Throne-Chariot" of the Lord enveloped in and moving in the storm cloud. There is again a connection to meteorology in the many verses quoted.
It leads to another question on this path of discovery. What is the significance in the references to the whirlwind and storm? How does this fit into the pattern discussed?

Some important clues and additional Parallels with the former Wheels Passages:
1. Many passage noted fit into the historic understanding of the “throne-chariot" with the cherubim.  
2. The wheels of the throne (galgal) are like the whirlwind. Again, there is a defining repetitive meteorological concept in this.
3. God delivering his saints. There is a separating out (a winnowing). The Lord is bringing forth a great judgment upon his adversaries.
4. Fire related to the wheels was the source of the judgments of God.
5. In the passages we read of worship and glory, it is offered to the Lord enthroned. After seeing the links in the various passages, let us follow these clues.

Let’s examine more descriptions of the storm wind in the natural world as we try to glean the spiritual meanings of these metaphors.
Ps. 77: "You alone are the God who did wonders; among the peoples you revealed your might 16 ... v. 20 The thunder of your chariot wheels resounded; your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked" (NAB).

Chapter 4