The context of this vision is the description of the presence of God, surrounded by the four spiritual creatures with four different faces. To understand precisely the symbolism of the four faces, we must know their
role. According to a parallel view in Isaiah chapter 6: 1-4, where the prophet is describing the presence of Jehovah, where there are four seraphs (seraphim) who proclaim the holiness of Jehovah: "Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The whole earth is filled
with his glory" (Isaiah 6: 3). In Revelation chapter 4: 8, these four creatures proclaim the holiness of God: "And continuously, day and night, they say: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming"" (Revelation
4: 8). Nevertheless, unlike the vision of Ezekiel, in Revelation the four spiritual each have a different face: "The first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature was like a young bull, and the third living creature had a face like
a man’s, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle" (Revelation 4: 7).
The descriptions are anthropomorphic, that is to say that one describes these spiritual creatures
with human either animal characteristics. For example, in Revelation (4:7,8), in Isaiah (6:2), it is written that they have 6 wings, to make us understand that they have the ability to move at an extremely fast speed ( Psalms 104:3 "the wings of the wind").
It is interesting to note that in Ezekiel (1: 6) these same spiritual creatures are described with only two pairs of wings, which demonstrates that this is an anthropomorphic description of the ability to move extremely quickly (either by four wings or six
wings). It is written that they are full of eyes to explain that their constant visual acuity is 360 degrees, that is to say there is no position where they could not see.
What do symbolically
represent the four different faces? The central point of understanding is in what they constantly say: "Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming" (Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6: 3). The four faces represent four ways that
Jehovah uses to maintain the holiness in all his creation, visible and invisible. They represent the four ways in which Jehovah exercises his sovereignty.
The face of a man represents
the exercise of Jehovah's sovereignty, through the love which desires to redeem the human race from the law of sin which leads to death: "For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). God
wants to give life, because He is love. Jesus Christ summarized the meaning of the Law given to Israel by means Moses, in the following way: "You have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23
The lion's face represents the exercise of Jehovah's sovereignty through kingship, glory and beauty. The reign of King Solomon showed this symbolism of the majesty of the kingship
of Jehovah, of which he was the representative: "The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with refined gold. 19 There were six steps to the throne, and the throne had a round canopy behind it, and there were armrests on both sides of the seat,
and two lions were standing beside the armrests. 20 And there were 12 lions standing on the six steps, one at each end of the six steps. No other kingdom had made anything like it" (1 Kings 10:18-20) .
The bull's face represents the exercise of Jehovah's sovereignty by power and warfare to remove all rivalry for his dominion: "Jehovah will go out and war against those nations as when he fights in the day of a battle" (Zechariah 14:3).
The eagle face represents the exercise of Jehovah's sovereignty through wisdom and keen eyesight to anticipate and foresee the future: "As for the four living creatures, each one of them had six wings;
they were full of eyes all around and underneath" (Revelation 4:8).
The man's face
The man's face (Ezekiel 1: 5; Revelation 4: 7): It represents the most important characteristic
of God because man has been created in the spiritual image of God (Genesis 1: 26-28). This is why, unlike other faces, man is not an animal because he has a spirituality, a relationship with God. As the apostle Paul wrote, under inspiration, the man without
this spirituality, is described as animal-man, while the man who has a spiritual relationship with God, is a spiritual man, devoid of any animality (1 Corinthians 2: 14-16 "the physical man" = animal man without spirituality the opposite of "the spiritual
man"). The face of man represents that God is love: "God is love" (1 John 4: 8,16).
According to the Bible, the human being is spiritual because he has been created in
the image of God, like the angels in the heavens (the word "man" in most cases applies to both man and woman). In the book of Revelation, the glorified Jesus Christ speaks to the seven angels, each responsible for one of seven congregations. They are obviously
men or messengers, because sometimes, Jesus Christ reproaches them serious faults, not attributable to heavenly angels (Revelation 2 and 3). In Malachi 2:7, the priests or teachers of the nation of Israel had the status of angels or messengers: "For the lips
of a priest should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies". The word "messenger" refers to the word "angel".
Hebrews 2:5-9, the apostle Paul writes that God created man a little lower than the angels: "For it is not to angels that he has subjected the inhabited earth to come, about which we are speaking. But in one place a certain witness said: “What is man
that you keep him in mind, or a son of man that you take care of him? You made him a little lower than angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and appointed him over the works of your hands. All things you subjected under his feet.” By subjecting
all things to him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Now, though, we do not yet see all things in subjection to him. But we do see Jesus, who was made a little lower than angels, now crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, so that
by God’s undeserved kindness he might taste death for everyone".
Therefore, given these biblical texts, the human being is fundamentally spiritual in origin, and he is not a "social
animal". Man can have close relationships with his Creator, he has the capacity to manifest faith in invisible realities: "Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen. For by means of it,
the men of ancient times had witness borne to them. By faith we perceive that the systems of things were put in order by God’s word, so that what is seen has come into existence from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3). He has a capacity
for understanding abstract concepts, such as time: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has even put eternity in their heart; yet mankind will never find out the work that the true God has made from start to finish" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This intellectual
faculty allows him to look back in the past, to live the present and to project himself into the future. This God-given mental capacity, which ranges from deduction induction, allowed him to discover the mathematical laws which are the basis of chemistry,
biology, physics, astronomy and many other scientific applications and technical processes… He has the capacity to appreciate what is beautiful in creation, and he is able to reproduce this beauty in an artistic way, with the prism of his own sensitivity…
These capacities, both spiritual and intellectual, make a man a being exceptional, who is not part of the animal life, but rather as administrator of the planet, according to Genesis 1:26-28, and
Hebrews 2:5-9. In biblical context of symbolism, the human face represents the main quality of God: love (Genesis 1:26-28; Ezekiel 1:5; Revelation 4:7; 1 John 4:8,16). This is why, unlike other faces (the lion, the bull and the eagle), man is not an animal
because he has a spirituality, a relationship with God. As the apostle Paul wrote, under inspiration, the man without this spirituality, is described as animal-man, while the man who has a spiritual relationship with God, is a spiritual man, devoid of any
animality (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 "the physical man" = animal man without spirituality the opposite of "the spiritual man"). The face of man represents that "God is love" (1 John 4:8,16).
The lion's face
The lion's face (Ezekiel 1: 10; Revelation 4: 7): The lion, with its abundant
crown-shaped fur around his face, symbolizes in the Bible, the kingship as the sovereignty of Jehovah. The tribe of Judah, from which the representative of Jehovah's royal sovereignty would come, his son Jesus Christ, was called lion cub or lion: "Judah is
a lion cub. From the prey, my son, you will certainly go up. He has crouched down and stretched himself out like a lion, and like a lion, who dares rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet,
until Shiʹloh comes, and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong" (Genesis 49: 9,10). King Solomon understood the symbolism of the lion representing Jehovah's kingship (2 Chronicles 9: 17-19 "two lions were standing beside the armrests" (of the throne),
"And there were 12 lions standing on the six steps" (giving access to the royal throne)).
The bull's face
"Is the wild bull willing to serve you? Will it spend the night in your stable?
Will you hold a wild bull to the furrow with a rope, Or will it follow you to plow the valley?"
The bull's face: it corresponds to the face of a cherub. In Ezekiel (1:10), these four creatures with four faces, are designated by that of a man, a lion, a bull and an eagle. While in Ezekiel 10:14, the face of the bull is designated
by that of a cherub. What is the function of a cherub? The first mention of the cherubim is in Genesis (Bible): "So he drove the man out, and he posted at the east of the garden of Eʹden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously
to guard the way to the tree of life' (Genesis 3:24). We understand that cherubim are powerful guardians with a symbolic sword. If the lion is the representation of Jehovah's sovereignty by the glory and authority of kingship, the bull is an expression of
Jehovah's sovereignty by his almighty. Jehovah God, if necessary, imposes his sovereignty by war, the sword of the cherub, or the terrible power the symbolic horns of the bull. The horns are the symbols of the powerful sovereignty of Jehovah. The facts that
two cherubim were on the ark of the covenant show that the cherubim are the guardians of Jehovah's holiness, through battle or war (if any) (Exodus 25: 17-22). The fact that the Jehovah's altar, from which the animals were sacrificed, had four horns, one for
each angle, demonstrates that the bull's horns also symbolize the maintenance of the holiness of Jehovah's creatures by force or war (where applicable) (Leviticus 4: 7,18). It is therefore logical to think that the bull, in the context of sacrifices, whether
atonement sacrifice or burnt offerings, is the representation of the righteous and pure human being (Exodus 29:11).
The eagle's face
The eagle's face: this animal symbolizes visual acuity: "From there it searches for
food; Its eyes look far into the distance" (Job 39: 29). The ability to move and live in inaccessible places (or difficult to access) for man: "Or is it at your order that an eagle flies upward And builds its nest high up, Spending the night on a cliff, Dwelling
in its stronghold on a rocky crag?" (Job 39: 27-28) These two exceptional abilities of the four spiritual creatures of God symbolized by the eagle's face, are simply described by their pairs of wings and the fact that they are covered with eyes: "As for the
four living creatures, each one of them had six wings; they were full of eyes all around and underneath" (Revelation 4: 8). Also these two exceptional abilities of visual acuity and movement speed, are symbolically described in the Jehovah's celestial chariot,
in Ezekiel's vision: This celestial chariot has "wheels", one of them on the earth. These wheels have an extremely fast movement capacity and on all angles with the ability to lift up from the earth. These wheels have eyes, which represent an extraordinary
“As I was watching the living creatures, I saw one wheel on the earth beside each of the living creatures with four faces. The wheels and their structure appeared
to glow like chrysʹo·lite, and the four of them looked alike. Their appearance and structure looked as though a wheel were within a wheel. When they moved, they could go in any of the four directions without turning as they went. Their rims were so
high that they inspired awe, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. Whenever the living creatures moved, the wheels would move along with them, and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels would also be lifted up.
They would go where the spirit inclined them to go, wherever the spirit went. The wheels would be lifted up together with them, for the spirit operating on the living creatures was also in the wheels. When they moved, these would move; and when they stood
still, these would stand still; and when they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels would be lifted up together with them, for the spirit operating on the living creatures was also in the wheels” (Ezekiel 1:15-21).
These four-faced spiritual creatures represent the expression of Jehovah's holy sovereignty, based on four fundamental qualities: love (the man's face), royal authority (the lion's face), the almighty sovereignty (the
bull's face) and the wisdom, insight and action, anywhere and anytime (the eagle's face (the celestial chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel)). However, the greatest of these qualities is love: "God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in union with
God and God remains in union with him" (1 John 4:8, 16).