A vision of the burning of the city. (1-7) The Divine glory departing from the temple. (8-22)
Verses 1-7 The fire being taken from between the wheels, under the cherubim, ch. 1:13 , seems to have signified the wrath of God to be executed upon Jerusalem. It intimated that the fire of Divine wrath, which kindles judgment upon a people, is just and holy; and in the great day, the earth, and all the works that are therein, will be burnt up.
Verses 8-22 Ezekiel sees the working of Divine providence in the government of the lower world, and the affairs of it. When God is leaving a people in displeasure, angels above, and all events below, further his departure. The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose. God removes by degrees from a provoking people; and, when ready to depart, would return to them, if they were a repenting, praying people. Let this warn sinners to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call on him while he is near, and cause us all to walk humbly and watchfully with our God.
Ezekiel 10:1-22 . VISION OF COALS OF FIRE SCATTERED OVER THE CITY: REPETITION OF THE VISION OF THE CHERUBIM.
1. The throne of Jehovah appearing in the midst of the judgments implies that whatever intermediate agencies be employed, He controls them, and that the whole flows as a necessary consequence from His essential holiness ( Ezekiel 1:22 Ezekiel 1:26 ).
cherubim--in Ezekiel 1:5 , called "living creatures." The repetition of the vision implies that the judgments are approaching nearer and nearer. These two visions of Deity were granted in the beginning of Ezekiel's career, to qualify him for witnessing to God's glory amidst his God-forgetting people and to stamp truth on his announcements; also to signify the removal of God's manifestation from the visible temple ( Ezekiel 10:18 ) for a long period ( Ezekiel 43:2 ). The feature ( Ezekiel 10:12 ) mentioned as to the cherubim that they were "full of eyes," though omitted in the former vision, is not a difference, but a more specific detail observed by Ezekiel now on closer inspection. Also, here, there is no rainbow (the symbol of mercy after the flood of wrath) as in the former; for here judgment is the prominent thought, though the marking of the remnant in Ezekiel 9:4 Ezekiel 9:6 shows that there was mercy in the background. The cherubim, perhaps, represent redeemed humanity combining in and with itself the highest forms of subordinate creaturely life (compare Romans 8:20 ). Therefore they are associated with the twenty-four elders and are distinguished from the angels ( Revelation 5:1-14 ). They stand on the mercy seat of the ark, and on that ground become the habitation of God from which His glory is to shine upon the world. The different forms symbolize the different phases of the Church. So the quadriform Gospel, in which the incarnate Saviour has lodged the revelation of Himself in a fourfold aspect, and from which His glory shines on the Christian world, answers to the emblematic throne from which He shone on the Jewish Church.
2. he--Jehovah; He who sat on the "throne."
the man--the Messenger of mercy becoming the Messenger of judgment the will of "the Man," who is Lord of men.
wheels--Hebrew, galgal, implying quick revolution; so the impetuous onset of the foe (compare Ezekiel 23:24 , 26:10 ); whereas "ophan," in Ezekiel 1:15 Ezekiel 1:16 implies mere revolution.
coals of fire--the wrath of God about to burn the city, as His sword had previously slain its guilty inhabitants. This "fire," how different from the fire on the altar never going out ( Leviticus 6:12 Leviticus 6:13 ), whereby, in type, peace was made with God! Compare Isaiah 33:12 Isaiah 33:14 . It is therefore not taken from the altar of reconciliation, but from between the wheels of the cherubim, representing the providence of God, whereby, and not by chance, judgment is to fall.
3. right . . . of . . . house--The scene of the locality whence judgment emanates is the temple, to mark God's vindication of His holiness injured there. The cherubim here are not those in the holy of holies, for the latter had not "wheels." They stood on "the right of the house," that is, the south, for the Chaldean power, guided by them, had already advanced from the north (the direction of Babylon), and had destroyed the men in the temple, and was now proceeding to destroy the city, which lay south and west.
the cherubim . . . the man--There was perfect concert of action between the cherubic representative of the angels and "the Man," to minister to whom they "stood" there ( Ezekiel 10:7 ).
cloud--emblem of God's displeasure; as the "glory" or "brightness" ( Ezekiel 10:4 ) typifies His majesty and clearness in judgment.
4. The court outside was full of the Lord's brightness, while it was only the cloud that filled the house inside, the scene of idolatries, and therefore of God's displeasure. God's throne was on the threshold. The temple, once filled with brightness, is now darkened with cloud.
5. sound of . . . wings--prognostic of great and awful changes.
voice of . . . God--the thunder ( Psalms 29:3 , &c.).
6. went in--not into the temple, but between the cherubim. Ezekiel sets aside the Jews' boast of the presence of God with them. The cherubim, once the ministers of grace. are now the ministers of vengeance. When "commanded," He without delay obeys ( Psalms 40:8 , Hebrews 10:7 ). one cherub
--one of the four cherubim. his hand
--( Ezekiel 1:8
). went out
--to burn the city.
8. The "wings" denote alacrity, the "hands" efficacy and aptness, in executing the functions assigned to them.
The things which, from Ezekiel 10:8
to the end of the chapter, are repeated from the first chapter are expressed more decidedly, now that he gets a nearer view: the words "as it were," and "as if," so often occurring in the first chapter, are therefore mostly omitted. The "wheels" express the manifold changes and revolutions in the world; also that in the chariot of His providence God transports the Church from one place to another and everywhere can preserve it; a truth calculated to alarm the people in Jerusalem and to console the exiles [POLANUS].
10. four had one likeness--In the wonderful variety of God's works there is the greatest harmony:--\- "In human works, though labored on with pain, One thousand movements scarce one purpose gain; In God's one single doth its end produce, Yet serves to second, too, some other use. turned not
wheel . . . in . . . a wheel--cutting one another at fight angles, so that the whole might move in any of the four directions or quarters of the world. God's doings, however involved they seem to us, cohere, so that lower causes subserve the higher.
--without accomplishing their course ( Isaiah 55:11
) [GROTIUS]. Rather, "they moved straight on
without turning" (so Ezekiel 1:9
). Having a face towards each of the four quarters, they needed not to turn around when changing their direction. whither . . . head looked
--that is, "whither the head" of the animal cherub-form, belonging to and directing each wheel, "looked," thither the wheel "followed." The wheels were not guided by some external adventitious impetus, but by some secret divine impulse of the cherubim themselves.
12. body--literally, "flesh," because a body consists of flesh.
wheels . . . full of eyes--The description ( Ezekiel 1:18 ) attributes eyes to the "wheels" alone; here there is added, on closer observation, that the cherubim themselves had them. The "eyes" imply that God, by His wisdom, beautifully reconciles seeming contrarieties (compare 2 Chronicles 16:9 , Proverbs 15:3 , Zechariah 4:10 ).
13. O wheel--rather, "they were called, whirling," that is, they were most rapid in their revolutions [MAURER]; or, better, "It was cried unto them, The whirling" [FAIRBAIRN]. Galgal here used for "wheel," is different from ophan, the simple word for "wheel." Galgal is the whole wheelwork machinery with its whirlwind-like rotation. Their being so addressed is in order to call them immediately to put themselves in rapid motion.
14. cherub--but in Ezekiel 1:10 it is an ox. The chief of the four cherubic forms was not the ox, but man. Therefore "cherub" cannot be synonymous with "ox." Probably Ezekiel, standing in front of one of the cherubim (namely, that which handed the coals to the man in linen), saw of him, not merely the ox-form, but the whole fourfold form, and therefore calls him simply "cherub"; whereas of the other three, having only a side view, he specifies the form of each which met his eye [FAIRBAIRN]. As to the likelihood of the lower animals sharing in "the restoration of all things," see Isaiah 11:6 , 65:25 , Romans 8:20 Romans 8:21 ; this accords with the animal forms combined with the human to typify redeemed man.
15. The repeated declaration of the identity of the vision with that at the Chebar is to arouse attention to it ( Ezekiel 10:22 , 3:23 ). lifted up . . . wings
the living creature--used collectively, as in Ezekiel 10:17 Ezekiel 10:20 , 1:20 .
--to depart, following "the glory of the Lord" which was on the point of departing ( Ezekiel 10:18
17. ( Ezekiel 1:12 Ezekiel 1:20 Ezekiel 1:21 ).
stood--God never stands still ( John 5:17 ), therefore neither do the angels; but to human perceptions He seems to do so.
18. The departure of the symbol of God's presence from the temple preparatory to the destruction of the city. Foretold in Deuteronomy 31:17 . Woe be to those from whom God departs ( Hosea 9:12 )! Compare 1 Samuel 28:15 1 Samuel 28:16 , 4:21 : "I-chabod, Thy glory is departed." Successive steps are marked in His departure; so slowly and reluctantly does the merciful God leave His house. First He leaves the sanctuary ( Ezekiel 9:3 ); He elevates His throne above the threshold of the house ( Ezekiel 10:1 ); leaving the cherubim He sits on the throne ( Ezekiel 10:4 ); He and the cherubim, after standing for a time at the door of the east gate (where was the exit to the lower court of the people), leave the house altogether ( Ezekiel 10:18 Ezekiel 10:19 ), not to return till Ezekiel 43:2 .
20. I knew . . . cherubim--By the second sight of the cherubim, he learned to identify them with the angelic forms situated above the ark of the covenant in the temple, which as a priest, he "knew" about from the high priest.
21. The repetition is in order that the people about to live without the temple might have, instead, the knowledge of the temple mysteries, thus preparing them for a future restoration of the covenant. So perverse were they that they would say, "Ezekiel fancies he saw what has no existence." He, therefore, repeats it over and over again.
22. straight forward--intent upon the object they aimed at, not deviating from the way nor losing sight of the end ( Luke 9:52 ).