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Ezekiel 10:1 Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the head of the cherubim there appeared above them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne- Ezekiel has pretty much a vision of the silhouette of God Himself. This was to encourage and inspire him for the very difficult ministry he now had to perform in :2, whereby he was going to be presented as the one who actually brought about Jerusalem's destruction. He who at that time was under house arrest at the hands of his own apostate brethren in a prison camp at the Chebar river in Babylon, apparently a nobody with his chips down on every front. This man... saw one of the closest visions of God personally granted to any man.

Ezekiel 10:2 He spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, Go in between the whirling wheels, even under the cherub, and fill both your hands with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city. He went in as I watched- That Ezekiel's prophecies were not simple predictions but effectively an appeal for repentance is shown by the way in which he saw himself in vision as the prophet who put his hand in to the cherubim vision, and took out from it the coals of fire which would kindle the fire of judgment upon Jerusalem (Ez. 10:2,7). He would have recalled how his opening vision of the cherubim had the strange feature of a man's hand under their wings (Ez. 1:8; 10:21). This hand, he now understood, was his hand, the hand of the prophet. In Hebrew thought, the hand symbolizes power and control. Thus Ezekiel was taught an awesome truth- that the entire Angelic-Cherubic system was under the control of his word- in the sense that if Israel responded to his message, then the Cherubim would act accordingly. Likewise we read that it was Ezekiel who caused the Angels of judgment to go in to Jerusalem and slay her elders (Ez. 9:1-4). How Ezekiel did this was simply by teaching his prophecies to the captives in Babylon. If they had responded, then the judgment could have been averted. So much power and eternal consequence lies in the message we preach, and in the invitation we give men to repent. See on Ez. 3:6.

The "coals" are the same word used about the coals used in the sanctification of the tabernacle after the gross apostasy of Aaron's two sons (Lev. 16:12). The coals were used to burn incense which formed a cloud which covered the most holy place and made atonement for the desecration of the tabernacle (Lev. 16:13,17). The situation is clearly that of Ez. 10, where Ezekiel takes the coals and then the cloud of God's glory fills first the most holy, then the holy and then the entire temple. The cleansing ritual is then symbolized as complete by a live goat having the sins of the house of Israel placed upon it, and sent by a willing [AV "fit"] man into the desert far away. This willing man represented Ezekiel, sent by the Lord into the desert and thence to Babylon along with the captives. The word is also used in Ez. 24:11 concerning how there would be "coals" of fire in Jerusalem, upon which the cauldron of Jerusalem would be burnt and judged. This action was a direct result of Ezekiel taking the coals of fire from the cherubim in Ez. 10:2 and scattering them upon the city. This was therefore a direct result of the action of the cherubim, God's massively powerful Angelic way of working, in cooperation with Ezekiel. The whole arrangement shows God's eagerness to work with people. The coals of fire therefore don't solely and simply speak of the burning of Jerusalem by fire at the hands of the Babylonians. That burning was part of the cleansing of the temple from its apostasy, and the exile into Babylon along with Ezekiel, the willing man of Lev. 16:21, was in fact the bearing away of Israel's sin. There is always a silver lining to God's judgments. They are not simply Him lashing out in the offended anger of an omnipotent deity. They were and are designed to propel forward His purpose of saving by grace whilst at the same time judging sin and sinners.

Ezekiel 10:3 Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court- This cloud was that of God's glory but also of the incense; see on :2,4. The cherubim now removed to the right side, presumably the north, connecting with the Babylonian judgment to come from there. If to the south, then we have the picture of the cherubim as it were retreating as the northern invaders entered from the north. We note the perfect concert of action between the movement of Ezekiel, "the man", "the son of man", the cherubim and the cloud. This was and is how seamlessly God can work with man. And in this sense, "God is in need of man", as Abraham Heschel put it.

Ezekiel 10:4 Then the glory of Yahweh was lifted up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of Yahweh’s glory- As explained on :2, the cloud of glory alludes to the cloud of incense. That intercession of Ezekiel and God's cleansing of His people's desecration of the temple was in fact all of His glory; for this cloud is the cloud of the opening vision in Ez. 1:4. This was and remains the challenge to faith- to see things like the Babylonian siege as all a development of God's glory.

Ezekiel 10:5 The sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of God Almighty when He speaks- There seems to be a strong  implication  that  the  Angels were involved with writing the Bible through their inspiration of men. It was Angels who gave God's word to many of the prophets. So close is the connection between the word of God and of Angels that "the sound of the (Angel) cherubim... was heard as the voice of God Almighty God when He speaks". Zechariah stresses that the prophecies of the restoration were given by an Angel (Zech. 1:9-14; 4:1,5; 5:5,10; 6:4,5). The true prophet is one who “has stood in the council of the Lord to perceive and hear His word” (Jer. 23:18,22); and yet these are exactly the words used of how the Angels stand in the council of Heaven and hear Yahweh’s word (1 Kings 22; Ps. 103:18-22). The Angels are therefore reflective of the situation on earth; as they stood before the Father’s throne to hear the word in the council of Heaven, they were representative of the prophet on earth whom they were used to inspire. As the prophets were gathered together before the thrones of the Kings of Israel and Judah, they were reflecting how the Angels in Heaven were assembled before the throne of Yahweh, on whose throne the human kings were ruling (1 Kings 22:10). The lying spirit / Angel which appeared before Yahweh’s throne would therefore have been reflected in Micaiah (1 Kings 22:15). What we have here is the court of Heaven being reflected in the situation upon earth, seeing that each of the prophets was represented by an Angel in Heaven.

Ezekiel 10:6 It came to pass, when He commanded the man clothed in linen saying, Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim, that he went in and stood beside a wheel- This "man" was Ezekiel. It must have been a scary thing, to go in to that vision and stand beside one of the mighty wheels. Ezekiel's obedience is recorded as it was indeed quite something. The more we sense the vastness of God's working, portrayed visually here in the cherubim visions, the more utterly awesome is the idea that we as men can have a hand in it, quite literally in Ezekiel's case. The fire of judgment had to be scattered by a man, rather than God merely doing this as direct punishment. Ezekiel as a priest was "son of man", representing the Lord Jesus. It was Ezekiel's humanity which gave legitimacy to God's judgment and also out of this the final salvation of His people which that judgment portended. See on :2.

Ezekiel 10:7 The cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim to the fire that was between the cherubim and took of it, and put it into the hands of him who was clothed in linen, who took it and went out- The opening vision of the cherubim had a man's hand silhouetted against the most internal working of the cherubim system. This was now to be understood as Ezekiel's hand. But the cherubim also had a hand. His hand and that of "the man", Ezekiel the "son of man" were united in working out this whole scheme of judgment and yet salvation which was to be brought about through that fire (see on :2).

Ezekiel 10:8 There appeared in the cherubim the form of a man’s hand under their wings-
Ezekiel had to put his hand under the wings of the cherubim; and then there appeared permanently in the Cherubim visions “the form of a man’s hand [i.e. Ezekiel’s] under their wings” (Ezekiel 10:2,8). I take this to be indicative of how humanity can be so deeply a part of God's work; we are identified with Him and His Angels. The visions involved the whole system held up as it were upon a human hand; and God in the image of a man crowning it all in the Heavens. Truly God isn't far from any of us; and in a sense, as the great Rabbi Abraham Heschel put it, "God is in need of man". Note how when the cherubim lifted up, so was Ezekiel lifted up (Ez. 11:22-24). Judah should have left Jerusalem when the Spirit told them to; and they should have upped and left Babylon when the Spirit told them to. But they were out of step with the Spirit, despite Ezekiel’s acted parable of literally being lifted up and going where the Cherubim went. The equivalent of this for us is surely our sense of doing all for God’s glory, of having this as the final deciding factor in all our decisions.  See on Ez. 1:1,20.

In Ez. 40:5, the measuring reed or rod is defined as being 6 cubits plus 6 handbreadths. This recall this presence of a man's hand, Ezekiel's, within the cherubim visions. That represented the human part of the whole wondrous vision; God requires human response, but would work powerfully with it. This may explain the otherwise strange measuring unit which mixed a human hand with the cubit measure.

Ezekiel 10:9 I looked and behold, four wheels were beside the cherubim, one wheel beside one cherub, and another wheel beside another cherub; and the appearance of the wheels was like a beryl stone- Ezekiel now sees the cherubim portrayed as a chariot. Pure beryl stone is transparent, and extremely hard and enduring. The wheels imply they were chariots, or mounted on chariots; indeed this is a root meaning of the Hebrew word translated "cherub". The wheels make the living creatures appear as on a chariot, connecting with "the chariot of the cherubim" (1 Chron. 28:18). The firm grounding of this heavenly vision of power "on the earth" indicates that God's glory and activity were not simply in Heaven but active upon earth, both to transport a repentant Judah back to the land, and also to bring forth chariots of enemies to further destroy the land and temple.

Daniel was contemporary with Ezekiel, and so the mention of the beryl would connect with his description of the future Messiah figure as having a body of beryl, also replete with torches of fire and lightning just as seen in the cherubim vision (Dan. 10:6). As mentioned on Ez. 1, the final manifestation of God's glory, Spirit, judgment and salvation was to be in the Lord Jesus.

Ezekiel 10:10 As for their appearance, the four of them had one likeness, like a wheel within a wheel- The wheel within a wheel, each revolving as a gyroscope, deepens the impression of movement in contrary directions and yet all within the same direction. The confusion and contradictions which the exiles struggled with, as we do, were all somehow moving in the same direction, led by God's Spirit.

Ezekiel 10:11 When they went, they went in their four directions. They didn’t turn as they went, but to the place where the head looked they followed it; they didn’t turn as they went- Like a complex series of gyroscopes within each other, so that the movement might be without turning to wherever they advanced. Thus each wheel was composed of two circles, cutting one another at right angles, "one" only of which appeared to touch the ground ("upon the earth" Ez. 1:15), according to the direction the cherubim desired to move in. The idea was that what might appear to be contradictory direction was in fact all seamlessly part of movement in the same direction. And again this has so much meaning for our lives, as it did for the exiles by the river Chebar. What appears useless, taking us away from our intended direction, is being used by God in His bigger direction of our lives towards His Kingdom and restoration

Ezekiel 10:12 Their whole body and their backs and their hands and their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around, even the wheels that the four of them had- "Body" is literally "flesh". The idea is that this hugely powerful system of Divine operation was essentially connected to people. The huge number of eyes speaks of God's intense awareness- in response to Israel's attitude that God saw somehow distant and unaware of their situation and also of their sins. He was incredibly aware. And we need to have the essence of this vision with us too.

Ezekiel 10:13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, ‘the whirling wheels’- Or, "the chariot". Although the vision appeared to be stationary, the wheels were whirling, God was in intricate movement. And this was the lesson to an Israel who considered God to be passive, distant and inactive. Even His apparent silence and lack of visible, proactive movement is not to say that He is not moving at a huge speed and complexity.

Ezekiel 10:14 Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third face the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle- The first face is that of an ox in Ez. 1:10. From this some have concluded that the cherubim had the appearance of an ox in some ways.

There are evident similarities between Ezekiel's cherubim, and the four living creatures of Rev. 4. They are both described as "full of eyes" (Ez. 1:18 = Rev. 4:6), with four very similar faces (lion, calf, man, eagle in Rev. 4:7 = lion, ox, man, eagle in Ez. 1:10); and both have wings (Rev. 4:8 = Ez. 1:8). Yet the living creatures of Revelation speak of being redeemed by the blood of Christ and made king-priests in God's Kingdom (Rev. 5:8-10)- as if they are the redeemed people of God. The four faces are likely to be connected with the four standards of the tribes of Israel (Lion = Judah, Man = Reuben, Ox = Ephraim, Eagle = Dan). Each of those tribes had two other tribes assigned to them in the encampment procedures of Num. 2. There is extra-Biblical tradition that the cherubim in Solomon's temple had the same four faces which Ezekiel saw on the cherubim- lion, ox, man and eagle (John Thomas, Eureka (West Beach: Logos, 1984 ed.) Vol. 2 Ch. 4 sec. 4.2). Those to whom Ezekiel related his vision would have immediately understood the point- that the earthly sanctuary was a reflection of the Heavenly, and that above that was a huge Angelic system operating, which also represented God's people- them. But that huge system was to remove to Babylon, and then the final visions of Ezekiel show that glory returning. Ezekiel, as the representative "son of man" as he's so often styled, was caught up within that system and transported at ease between Babylon and Jerusalem- and those who wanted to opt in with God and His Angels could likewise be taken to Babylon and returned. Those who chose to remain in Babylon were therefore resisting being part of an awesome system of God manifestation and Angelic operation. We have that same choice in things great and small today.

Ezekiel 10:15 The cherubim mounted up: this is the living creature that I saw by the river Chebar- The same glorious activity of God seen in the Jerusalem temple was equally present amongst the group of depressed Jews who sat by the rivers of Babylon weeping. No longer was God to be perceived as tied to sacred space. His presence and glory were everywhere and in any situation, geographically, mentally or spiritually; just as today.

Ezekiel 10:16 When the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels also didn’t turn from beside them- The cherubim, this massive system of Divine operation, was direct by God's Spirit. The feature of not turning during their movement is a major feature (Ez. 1:9,12,17; 10:11,16). The impression was given of God's unchanging, massive help towards the realization of His purpose with His people.

Ezekiel 10:17 When they stood, these stood; and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them; for the spirit of the living creature was in them- The heavy stress upon 'mounting up' (:15,17,19) uses a word which means "exalted" (s.w. Job 24:24). Even in the judgment of sinners, God was to be exalted and glorified. And the Hebrew idea of 'glory' is literally 'that which is lifted up'.

Ezekiel 10:18 The glory of Yahweh went forth from over the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim- The withdrawal of God's glory and cherubic presence from the temple is described in fine detail, as if it were painfully slow in progressing. It could have been described in just a sentence- 'The glory of God departed from the temple'. The various stages described are perhaps because at each point, there was still the opportunity of repentance. It's as if God left reluctantly.

Ezekiel 10:19 The cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight when they went forth, and the wheels beside them. They stood at the door of the east gate of Yahweh’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above- See on :18. The cherubim would finally return through the east gate if Israel were repentant and built and operated the temple system of Ez. 40-48. It was from here that they left. But in the whole process of the presence of God being withdrawn from that place, the earth was alight with His glory. Just as happens today when we face situations which defy our understanding.

Ezekiel 10:20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim- Ezekiel was up against the idea amongst the captives that Yahweh had forsaken the land (Ez. 8:12). Hence his visions of God's cherubim-angels, present both in the land as well as amongst the captives by Chebar in Babylon (Ez. 10:20). It was the same message as the lesson of Jonah- who likewise thought that Yahweh somehow only operated within the land of Israel. But again we see how God's judgments are appropriate to human actions and positions. They acted as if God had forsaken the land (Ez. 8:12), as if His presence was not really actual for them. And so in response, He did forsake the land and temple.

Ezekiel 10:21 Every one had four faces, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings- This silhouette of a human hand is repeatedly emphasized. In Rev. 4:7 the four heads are distributed, one to each of the "living creatures", while here each has four faces. This is to highlight the sense of humanity, and of God's awareness of every angle of human situation. That was the lesson so required by Judah in their depression by the rivers of Babylon. See on :6,8.

Ezekiel 10:22 As for the likeness of their faces, they were the faces which I saw by the river Chebar, their appearances and themselves; they went each one straight forward- Again there is emphasis upon the fact that the same cherubim of glory were now by the rivers of Babylon amongst the captives as had been in the  Jerusalem temple. The whole system would not be diverted- that is strongly emphasized in saying that they didn't turn, but went straight forward. See on Ez. 1:7.