Ezek. 10:1 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
As I read through this chapter, I immediately started asking the Lord for help in understanding why so much of this seems repetitious. Of obvious note is the consistency of the description regarding Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of the Lord. This verse mirrors the information in chapter 1, verse 26. Also of note, Ezekiel is doing his best to describe things associated with heaven using terms that would be understood on earth. The most important observation is the fact that the Lord is directing the events taking place.
Ezek. 10:2 And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.
Ezekiel hears the Lord give instructions to the man clothed in linen that marked those who were to be protected from destruction. He is told to go under the throne, which is flanked on the corners by the cherubs, and fill his hand with coals of fire; he is then to take the coals of fire and scatter them over the city. Ezekiel then observes that he watched the man go under the throne.
Again, we are talking about supernatural beings; this “man” doesn’t hesitate to go in and pick up hot glowing coals. The scattering of the coals over the city would represent the heat of God’s wrath being directed toward it. I think it also represents the intent of the Lord that that this destruction purify the nation. Fire is used to get rid of impurities. When Isaiah was given a vision of the Lord, a hot coal was used to “purify” him.
Is. 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Is. 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
Is. 6:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
Scripture tells us that Jerusalem was burned when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies destroyed the city.
2Kings 25:8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
2Kings 25:9 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
This would also be a type of the destruction that Jerusalem would experience at the hands of Rome’s legions in 70 AD.
Ezek. 10:3 Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.
Ezek. 10:4 Then the glory of the LORD went 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 the LORD’S glory.
Ezek. 10:5 And the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.
“right side” = south side (from the Hebrew)
Next Ezekiel sees the throne of God carried by the cherubim to the south side of the temple. When the man in linen enters the inner court, the Shekinah glory cloud fills it. Then the person of the Lord, Jesus, leaves the throne and stands in the entry. The glory of the Lord completely fills the house and the court is filled with its brightness. The movement of the wings of the cherubim created a sound that Ezekiel again compares to the voice of Almighty God; the sound is heard as far as the outer court (cf 1:24).
Ravi Zacharias: “Where the glory of God dwells, the voice of God is heard.” Moses and the people of Israel and Paul both give testimony to that truth.
Deuteronomy 5:24 “And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.”
Acts 9:3–4 “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
Ezek. 10:6 And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels.
Ezek. 10:7 And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out.
When comparing verse 6 with verse 2, I picture the 4 wheels as being under the throne and interconnected and flanked by the cherubim. Ezekiel saw the man in linen go under the throne (vs 2); verse 6 says that he went in and stood beside the wheels. One of the cherubs actually reaches in to the fire under the throne and gets the coals to place into the hands of the man in linen. He then takes the coals and scatters them over the city as instructed.
Ezek. 10:8 And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man’s hand under their wings.
Ezek. 10:9 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone.
In chapter 1, verse 8, we were told that the cherubim had “the hands of a man under their wings.” Again we are told that a wheel flanks each cherub, and that the wheels have the color of beryl as they function (cf 1:16).
Ezek. 10:10 And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.
Ezek. 10:11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.
Ezekiel is conveying the idea that the wheels appear to function as one unit—like a wheel within a wheel. I get a picture of gears working in conjunction with and in support of one another. The unit is able to change directions at will. Point is made that they moved in the direction of the head. This is confusing since each creature has four different faces on its head each obviously “looking” a different direction.
Ezek. 10:12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.
Ezekiel seems to be able to see more than he was able to the first time. He now describes the whole body (including hands and wings) of the cherubs are covered with eyes. In the first vision he only applied that description to the wheels.
Ezek. 10:13 As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel.
Ezek. 10:14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
Ezek. 10:15 And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.
It would seem that the voice is addressing the wheels as a unit, “O wheel” (singular). Each wheel is associated with a cherub, each cherub having four faces—that of an ox, a man, a lion and an eagle. The cherubims (plural) are lifted up. The wording of verse 15 implies that they were lifted by another power, but the Hebrew seems to indicate that they rose on their own power. Then Ezekiel describes the whole unit as a living creature (singular). He emphasizes that the players in this vision are the same as those in first vision he received by the river of Chebar.
Ezek. 10:16 And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.
Ezek. 10:17 When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.
Everything about the movement of the cherubims and wheels is described as being completely synchronized. One “spirit” of living rational power controls this unit.
Oh that this were the definition of the body of Christ today!
Ezek. 10:18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.
Ezek. 10:19 And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD’S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
At this point Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord leave the temple and return to His throne. He is then carried airborne to the eastern gate by the cherubim.
Ezek. 10:20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.
Ezek. 10:21 Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.
Ezek. 10:22 And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.
Again, Ezekiel tells us that this is the same creature (singular) that he saw under God’s throne in his vision at the river of Chebar. He is emphasizing their (plural) identities as cherubims. Each cherub has four faces, four wings and hands resembling a man’s under their wings. In the last phrase of verse 22 Ezekiel describes them going “straight forward,” usually meaning east according to the Hebrew. This would make sense as they traveled to the Eastern Gate, so to continue their direction would be to head east.
Though there is far more that I don’t understand in this chapter than what I do, I know the significant truth being presented is that the Lord is removing His presence from the temple and the holy city. Judgment is shown to begin in the “house of God,” the place most connected to His name and His honor. The true servants of God are shown as obedient and completely submissive to the Lord’s authority. Their responses to His instructions are immediate. All beings in the vision are pictured as servants possessing unity of spirit—the desire to serve and obey their Lord without question.