Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 10

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Verses 1-7


This chapter is closely related to Ezekiel 1. Here we again find the chariot carrying the throne. Some details are repeated and new details are also added. The main idea of this chapter is that God controls all the instruments of judgment that He uses.

The Man in Linen Must Scatter Fire

What Ezekiel was only able to refer to as “living beings” in Ezekiel 1, he now recognizes as cherubim (Ezekiel 10:20). What he sees above the expanse that is above the head of the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:1), he has also seen in Ezekiel 1 (Ezekiel 1:26). Here he sees the appearance of what looks like a throne. In Ezekiel 1 he also sees something sitting on the throne that looks like a Man. That is not the case here.

The LORD instructs the Man in linen to take coals of fire from between the whirling wheels under the cherubim, fill both His hands with them, and scatter them over the city (Ezekiel 10:2; cf. Luke 12:49; Revelation 8:5). This means that not only will judgment come upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the city itself will be burned with fire. In doing so, the city will undergo the same judgment that once came upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24; cf. Revelation 11:8).

Ezekiel sees the Man enter between the whirling wheels under the cherubim. The place where the cherubim stand when the Man enters is to the right of the house, which is the south side of the temple (Ezekiel 10:3). The cloud that fills the inner court is the cloud of the glory of the LORD.

Then the glory of the LORD rises from the cherub (singular) and goes to the threshold of the house (Ezekiel 10:4). One last time, before the glory leaves the temple, the cloud of glory fills the house. It is as if the LORD is impressively showing one last time that the temple is His house.

The sound of the wings of the cherubim indicates that they are moving (Ezekiel 10:5; cf. Ezekiel 1:24). They are going to leave the house. This sound is heard as far as the outer court, where Jews may be performing their religious duties at that moment. The sound is reminiscent of the voice of God Almighty when He speaks, possibly thunder (cf. John 12:28-Joel :; Psalms 29:3-Numbers :). They are, as it were, His farewell words that He speaks full of threat to the people He is about to leave.

Then the gaze is turned again to the Man clothed in linen who has been instructed to take fire from between the wheels, which is the space between the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:6). The Man takes a stand next to a wheel. The fire, a picture of judgment, is taken from the space between the cherubim by the cherub who is in the space between the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:7). The fire that he has taken in his hand, he gives into the hands of the Man in linen. The latter takes it and goes away. This concludes the description. The scattering of the fire, which is commanded (Ezekiel 10:3), is not described. Ezekiel’s attention is first of all captivated by the appearance of the Man and of the cherubim.

The Man in linen Who is to take the coals of fire is the same as the Man with the writing case from the previous chapter. There he receives the command to put a mark on the faithful believers so that judgment will pass them by. This Man is now commanded by God to bring judgment on the city. In the book of Revelation we see the same picture. The same Angel Who is to take fire from the altar to cast it on the earth in judgment, has just before dealt with the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3-Deuteronomy :). The Man in Ezekiel and the Angel in Revelation are both the Person of the Lord Jesus. In Him we see that God is both love and light.

Verses 8-17

The Cherubim

The description of the cherubim in Ezekiel 10:8-2 Chronicles : largely corresponds to that in Ezekiel 1 (see comments there). We see here also with the cherubim under their wings something that has the shape of a man’s hand (Ezekiel 10:8). In the exercise of their government, the cherubim are oriented toward men; they act in a manner befitting men. The wings give rise to the idea that judgments come from above. The four wheels show that God’s government is exercised on earth (Ezekiel 10:9). Each of the four cherubim has a wheel beside them. The wheels shine like a Tarshish stone (see comments on Ezekiel 1:16).

The wheels all look the same, “all four of them had the same likeness” (Ezekiel 10:10). This indicates that there is utter unity in God’s government, that God always acts in a perfectly consistent manner. That it appears as if one wheel is with another wheel means that all of God’s acts of government are perfectly interlocked. With Him, events never stand alone; they are never separate. The one is always related to the other.

The way He is going in His reigning ways is irreversible (Ezekiel 10:11). His goal is fixed. He is moving toward His goal, even though in doing so He often goes down roads that we cannot understand. Just as the wheels do not turn as they go, so He never has to return to a road He has gone. He never goes a wrong way, He never makes a mistake. That may be a great comfort to us when we do not understand certain things in our lives, why they have gone the way they have gone.

In Ezekiel 1 we saw that the rims of the cherubim are full of eyes. Here we see that their whole body, “their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels” are “full of eyes all around” (Ezekiel 10:12). This shows us in an even more emphatic way that God is the Omniscient One Who acts with perfect insight.

“Their back” refers to the past. God has forgotten nothing of the past. He has perfect knowledge and understanding of the past. His actions in the present are consistent with that. Those actions are past tomorrow, but their effects are not. They work on, they are active (“their hands”) in the present. The hands contribute to the realization of the future, the achievement of the goal that God has in mind and that He always has in mind. This is symbolized by “their wings and the wheels”. The four wheels of the cherubim take Him where He wants to go. The wings indicate that He controls everything on earth from heaven.

The wheels also have a name, “the whirling wheels” (Ezekiel 10:13; cf. Ezekiel 23:24; Ezekiel 26:10; Isaiah 5:28; Jeremiah 47:3). “Whirling” refers to the speed of the movement, and “wheel” refers to the organic unity of the throne chariot.

Next, the faces of the cherubim are described (Ezekiel 10:14), which is also what happens in Ezekiel 1. Each cherub, like the description in Ezekiel 1, has four faces. Three faces are similar to those in Ezekiel 1. However, the first face mentioned here, “the face of a cherub”, differs from the description in Ezekiel 1, where instead we have the face of a bull or an ox. This means that the face of a cherub looks like the face of a bull or an ox (Ezekiel 10:22).

The living beings from Ezekiel 1 that Ezekiel saw by the river Chebar are cherubim (Ezekiel 10:15). The prophet sees this at the moment when the cherubim exalt themselves. He sees again the unity between the cherubim and their wings and wheels (Ezekiel 10:16-Esther :; Ezekiel 1:19-Ecclesiastes :). This unity involves both their movement and their standing still (Ezekiel 10:17). This is because the spirit of the living beings is also in the wheels. What the living beings determine, the wheels do.

Verses 18-22

The Glory of the LORD Departs

In Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel saw the throne chariot in Babylon. Here he sees the throne chariot in Jerusalem. It is as if the throne chariot is coming to pick up the glory of the LORD so that He can take a seat on it and depart.

Then the glory of the LORD moves away from above the threshold of the house and takes its place above the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:18). He takes His place on His throne seat again to be escorted by the cherubim to the next stop (Ezekiel 10:19). Ezekiel sees how the cherubim raise their wings to depart from the earth. He also sees how the wheels do the same.

They do not leave directly for heaven. They first stop at the entrance to the east gate of the house of the LORD. There, “the glory of the God of Israel”, which is above them, hovers over them. It is as if there is reluctance on God’s part to leave His house.

What we have seen so far of the LORD’s departure and will yet see shows that this departure occurs in stages.
1. Ezekiel first sees the glory of the LORD in the inner court (Ezekiel 8:3-Numbers :). The LORD has then left the most holy place.
2. Then the LORD goes to the threshold of the house (Ezekiel 9:3), where He fills the whole court with His glory (Ezekiel 10:3-Numbers :).
3. From the threshold He moves up above the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:18), to go with them toward the east gate (Ezekiel 10:19).
4. From there the glory of the LORD departs through the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives before disappearing completely (Ezekiel 11:22-Isaiah :).

When the glory of the God of Israel has departed, the people are no longer God’s people, but “Lo-Ammi”, which is “not My people” (Hosea 1:9). When the Jews rebuild the temple after returning from the Babylonian exile, God’s glory does not return to it. In the Lord Jesus, His glory returns to His temple for a short time (Malachi 3:1; Luke 2:22), but He is rejected and goes to heaven from the same Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-2 Kings :) as from whence the glory of the LORD now departs before the eyes of Ezekiel, six hundred years earlier. At the beginning of the realm of peace, God’s glory will return to His temple (Ezekiel 43:1-Joshua :).

After Ezekiel has seen everything, he knows that the living beings he has seen are cherubim (Ezekiel 10:20). He is a good observer with a desire to understand what the LORD is showing him. Such a desire He rewards with insight into His Word and His ways. Ezekiel confirms what each cherub looks like individually (Ezekiel 10:21). They are the same faces he saw by the river Chebar. This concerns both their appearance and their being and the straight way they go (Ezekiel 10:22).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.