Some people have expressed the belief that the first chapter in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel pertains to extraterrestrial beings from another world. In an effort to determine if this belief has validity, we will focus on what we regard as the most relevant verses in that chapter.
[Note that when we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, unless indicated otherwise.]
Ezekiel 1:1, 4-6 states,
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings.
Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible declares with regard to these verses of scripture,
The vision must be compared with other manifestations of the divine glory (Exodus 24:10; Isaiah 6:1; Daniel 7:9; Revelation 4:2). Each of these visions has some of the outward signs or symbols here recorded.
That the “Four Living Creatures” had their groundwork in the cherubim there can be no doubt. And yet their shapes were very different. Because they were symbols not likenesses, they could yet be the same though their appearance was varied.
John Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible states in reference to the same verses of scripture,
I saw four living creatures and four wheels connected together — By the four living creatures he understands cherubim: and we have no need of any other explanation, for he explains it so in chapter 10., when he saw God in the temple, the four living creatures were under his feet, and he says they are cherubim.
Likewise, with regard to the four living creatures mentioned in Ezekiel 1:1, 4-6, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible says, “Ezekiel 10:20 shows that it is the cherubim that are meant.”
John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible has a different viewpoint with regard to who the four creatures represent in the same verses, as follows:
[T]he true key for the opening of this vision is that which John saw (Revelation 4:6); the four beasts there, or living creatures, as it should be rendered, are the same with these here, and these the same with them; and who manifestly appear to be not only worshippers of the true God, but to be men redeemed by the blood of Christ; and are distinguished from angels, and also from the four and twenty elders, the representatives of the Gospel churches; and so can design no other than the ministers of the word, with whom all the characters of them agree, as in that vision, so in this (see Revelation 4:8).
With regard to Gill’s comments, it should be noted that although the facial features of each of the four creatures mentioned in the first chapter of Ezekiel are identical to the facial features of the four creatures mentioned in the fourth chapter of Revelation, the four creatures in Ezekiel have four wings, whereas each of the creatures mentioned in Revelation have six wings, so it is questionable if the four creatures mentioned in the two accounts are the same. Perhaps, the four creatures mentioned in Revelation are Seraphim, which have six wings, according to Isaiah 6:2, rather than cherubim, which have four wings, according to Ezekiel .
Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible asserts,
[W]e are not to take the descriptions [of the four creatures] as referring specifically to literal beings. In Revelation 4:7-8 each living creature represents a different earth creature, lion, calf, man and flying eagle, and they are full of eyes. They are symbolic, rather than literal, representations. Revelation 4 seems to borrow features of both seraphim and cherubim.
What Pett states suggests that the four creatures mentioned in Revelation 4:7-8 may have been a combination of seraphim and cherubim, but there does not seem to be sufficient reason to believe that the same is true of the four creatures mentioned in Ezekiel 1:1, 4-6.
We believe that all four of the creatures that Ezekiel saw were cherubim, who are one form of angels. And, because these beings were seen in a vision by Ezekiel, not in real life, there may be at least some symbolism with regard to their features. In any case, there is no compelling reason to believe that the four creatures mentioned in the book of Ezekiel were actual extraterrestrial beings who came from another world to visit the earth.