1 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
As chapter 10 begins, the vision of the Cherubim and the sapphire throne of glory that Ezekiel first saw in chapter 1 at the beginning of his ministry now reappears. It is of course the same Cherubim as the golden Cherubim of the ark, as regards the significance and identity of whom are represented. But the Cherubim Ezekiel sees in vision are far more detailed. They are alive and active. In fact, life and activity are their principle characteristics. They are preeminently the Livings Ones - the Living Creatures.
In the representation of them there is constant, rapid, lightening-like motion, and ceaseless activity. They are more fully described in chapter 1. In a large way, chapter 10 is a brief repetition of the details of chapter 1.*
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 cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.
In the Mosaic Tabernacle and the Solomon Temple, they rested-golden and motionless. And the Glory of God rested quietly upon them. This is the ideal state of peace with God. It does not indicate, however, any lessening of living activity, for these are still the Living Creatures that rest not day and night from worshipping and glorifying God, as they are described in Revelation 4. But it does indicate absence of militant judicial activity. When they rested, they let down their wings, and they were silent.
The Cherubim in Ezekiel's visions are aroused. They have a terrible work to perform in the earth, beginning at the sanctuary of God. The primary application was the destruction of Jerusalem - the breaking up of the nation and a scattering and slaying of the people. But the antitypical application is the judgments to come upon the earth in the last days of God's wrath and recompense.
How do the glorified saints, who are still today mostly in their graves and far from any glory, how do they figure in the judgments upon Jerusalem 2500 years ago, as the Living Creatures? All live unto Him. All things are for their sakes. All things are in answer to their righteous prayers.
Similarly we find the Living Creatures in the Revelation, directing the judgments upon Rome-both pagan and papal. IF we are the true children of God, and we can be, IF we are prepared to give our lives wholly and unreservedly to Him, then the whole course of human history is but working out our welfare and our glory-the glory of the Cherubim. It has no other purpose at all for existence. Our glory, of course, being for and to the glory of God.*
3 Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.
Here the punishment of Jerusalem is connected with the Cherubim. It comes from them.
The cherubim were standing (verse 3) "on the right side of the house." The house or Temple faced east. The right side was the south side. Right and south always being associated in Hebrew, and the left side was the north side. Note that all the way through chapter 8, the abominations were on the north, or left hand side-the side of rejection. The Cherubim were on the right side-the south side.*
4 Then the glory of Yahweh went up <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.
This appears to be a repetition of 9:3. But the wording is a little different. Lifted up, as we see in the margin, instead of gone up, and over instead of to, in relation to the threshold. Clearly, it is a further step in the sad departure in God's glory from Israel. It begins to be lifted up away from them.*
5 And the sound of the cherubim wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the El Shaddai when he speaketh.
This is a sad part. The outer court was the court of the Gentiles. Jerusalem said in Lamentations, which is Jeremiah's description of this very time,
"All mine enemies have heard of my troubles, and they are glad."
And Jeremiah says of this time, in Jer.22:8-9,
"Many nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord." "The sound of the Cherubim wings was heard even to the outer court."
Israel was chosen to be very close to God. Their conduct either glorified or shamed Him before the nations. They could not be neutral, from their very position. We are in the same position. We can either bring glory or dishonour upon His Name by our conduct in the sight of the world-the outer court. And because Israel did not have the wisdom to be a faithful witness to God's glory, they had to be made a witness to His wrath and His righteous judgment.
Once they had been brought specially close to God, they could no longer be neutrals or escape from their great responsibility. We have been called near; we cannot run away and hide from God. There is no going back. It is a tragedy when the sins and follies of God's people give the heathen occasion to reproach and rejoice.*
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 cherubim; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels.
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.
8 And there appeared in the cherubim the form of a man's hand under their wings.
Form of a Man's hand - redemption has come through the son of man by Yahweh's power.
9 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubim, 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.
10 And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.
11 When they went, they went upon their 4 sides; they turned not [did not turn aside] as they went, but to the place [makom ] whither the head [rosh] looked they followed it; they turned not [did not turn aside ] as they went.
12 And their whole body [basar], and their backs, and their hands, and their wings [kenafayim], and the wheels [Ofanim], were full of eyes [eynayim] round about, even the wheels [Ofanim] that they 4 had.
The Four living Ones of Ezekiel and John are symbols of the Spirit, multitudinously manifested; for "whither the Spirit was to go, they went," "as the appearance of a flash of lightning" (Ezek. 1:14,20; Rev. 4:6). Their actions are identical; therefore the Spirit and the Living Ones are the same -- "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Ezekiel tells us that what he describes was "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh," or of the Eternal Spirit. It was not the thing itself, but its similitude : the reality pertaining to the New Order of Elohim, to Jesus and his brethren.
Now, Paul teaches that we are invited to the glory of God through the gospel; and Peter, that "He hath called us to His Eternal Glory." Hence, the Four Living Ones that John saw, are represented as celebrating in song their redemption by the Lamb, that they might reign as God's kings and priests upon the earth. The Living Ones are, therefore, spirit symbols of the Sons of God in glorious manifestation. Their Eyes, however, are not limited to "seven," but are numberless; for "their whole body, their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and their wheels were full of Eyes round-about" (Ezek. 10:12)...
The eyes of Daniel's symbol are identical with the eyes of the cherubim: each eye being the representative of an individual saint. In the aggregate they are "as lamps of fire," whose mission is to slay the beast, and to destroy his body, and to give it to the burning flame (Dan. 7:11); and to take away the dominion of the rest of the beasts (v.12): or as John expresses it, to burn Babylon utterly with fire: to torment her adherents and the kings of the earth with fire and brimstone, and the sword; to bind the Dragon, and take possession of the kingdoms of the nations in all the earth (Rev. 18:8: 14:8-11: 17:14; 20:2; 11:15): all of which is implied in the words of Zechariah, that the Seven Eyes as lamps of fire, "are the Eyes of Yahweh scourging in all the earth."
PHANEROSIS - "His Eyes As Lamps Of Fire"
13 As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel.
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.
15 And the [Keruvim] were lifted up. This is the living creature [Chayah] that I saw by the river of Chebar [Kevar River].
But though Ezekiel introduces them as four living ones and four wheels in ch. i. 5,16, in referring to them in ch. x. 15, he speaks of them as one, saying, "this is hachaiyah, THE LIVING ONE." In other words, the individuals of whom this Spirit manifestation is composed are, in the aggregate, what the voice issuing from their midst proclaims without intermission day and night, namely, the thrice or superlatively holy YAHWEH, the Omnipotent Deity, who was, and who is, and who is coming (Apoc. iv. 8).
These are the ONE BODY, nearly all the atoms of which are now in death, "sleeping in the dust." But, speaking of them as they are now in reference to its future, the Spirit styles them "My DEAD BODY, and says "they shall arise," and, in view of the resurrection, exclaims, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust."
When they come forth from the dust they are no longer the Spirit's Dead Body, but they become the Spirit's Living One, and can then say, "I am the First and the Last, and the Living One: and I was dead, and behold I am living for the Aions of the Aions, the Amen." Jesus is the visible Head of these. Without Him the Living One would be incomplete (Isa. xxvi. 19; Apoc. i. 18).
16 And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.
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.
18 Then the glory of Yahweh departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.
...the glory of Yahweh withdraws still further from the threshold to the outer east gate. It is leaving, we note, by the way of the east. The Cherubim depart with it, like the people of God being taken out of Sodom.*
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 Yahweh's house; and the glory of the Elohim of Israel was over them above.
Ezekiel 10 marks a great and tragic turning point in Israel's history - the departure of the glory of Yahweh from the Temple and from Jerusalem, never to return for over 2500 years until the erection of the Millennial Temple*
...The vision was in the sixth year of Zedekiah, the last king, just about 3 ½ years before the final Babylonian siege in which the city was taken and destroyed. The glory of God - the Shekinah presence between the Cherubim over the mercy seat in the Most Holy - had to be removed before the Temple and city were destroyed.
It may be asked, "Was there not a restoration and a rebuilt temple after the 70-year Babylonian exile? What of the glory then? Did they not rebuild the temple at the urgings of the prophet Haggai? And were there not high priests and temple services in the days of Nehemiah? And was there not a temple in Christ's day, which he called 'my Father's house'?" This is true, but the glory never returned, either to the royal throne or to the priesthood.
We know when the glory will return, because Ezekiel, who saw it leave, also saw it return in prophetic vision by the way of the east gate into the glorious House of Prayer for All Nations, as he describes in his closing chapters.*
*Bro Growcott - The glory of the Lord
20 This is the living creature that I saw under the Elohim of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubim.
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.
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.
Straight, unwavering purpose... no crookedness.