Ezekiel 10:15-22 Commentary

Ezekiel 10:15 Then the cherubim rose up. They are the living beings that I saw by the river Chebar.

Amplified: And the cherubim mounted upward. This is the [same] living creature [the four regarded as one] that I saw by the river Chebar [in Babylonia].
Young's Literal: And the cherubs are lifted up, it is the living creature that I saw by the river Chebar.

THEN THE CHERUBIM ROSE UP: (Ezek 10:18,19; 8:6; 11:22; Hosea 9:12)

See assorted images of cherubim.

Cherub in Wikipedia.

THEY ARE THE LIVING BEINGS THAT I SAW BY THE RIVER CHEBAR. (Ezek 10:20, 1:5,13,14, Ezek 43:3)

Ezekiel 10:16 Now when the cherubim moved, the wheels would go beside them; also when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels would not turn from beside them.

Amplified: And 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 did not turn from beside them.
Young's Literal: And in the going of the cherubs, the wheels go beside them; and in the cherubs lifting up their wings to be high above the earth, the wheels turn not round, even they, from being beside them.

NOW WHEN THE CHERUBIM MOVED, THE WHEELS WOULD GO BESIDE THEM; ALSO WHEN THE CHERUBIM LIFTED UP THEIR WINGS TO RISE FROM THE GROUND, THE WHEELS WOULD NOT TURN FROM BESIDE THEM.

This description is a replay of that Ezekiel described at the outset of his prophetic ministry 

And whenever the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. And whenever the living beings rose from the earth, the wheels rose also. 20 Wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go in that direction. And the wheels rose close beside them; for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. 21 Whenever those went, these went; and whenever those stood still, these stood still. And whenever those rose from the earth, the wheels rose close beside them; for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.(Ezek 1:19-21-note)

Beloved, these descriptions overwhelm and defy our imaginations, but they are surely only a "foretaste" of the majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ when we see Him arrayed in all His glory! One is reminded of the reaction of Isaiah when he saw the Lord Jesus "high and lifted up" in Isaiah 6:1-10 (notes). John testifies "These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him." (John 12:41) Criswell agrees writing that "The (John 12:41) passage undoubtedly refers to the magnificent vision of Isaiah (cf. Isa. 6), but also to the great Suffering Servant prophecy of Isa. 53 (John 12:38). Again the theme is sounded: the Messiah's glory is revealed in His suffering. Since John declares that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus, it is certain that this vision was a Christophany, i.e., a preincarnate appearance of the living Lord." In a passage describing the fate of all who have opposed our stand for Christ Paul writes "And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled (see meaning of this word in English) at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed." (2 Thes 1:9-10) The word "marveled at" is thaumazo and describes the almost incredulous reaction of we who have believed in Him! What a paradox -- believers "unbelieving!" (the meaning of incredulous). 

So while cherubim with wings rising and wheels spinning is an awesome thought, this picture is but a preview of coming attractions for the blessed privileged children of God. Oh how great is our salvation! Would it be that our Blessed Hope (certainty - not "hope so" but "hope sure!") of these future marvelous visions might stimulate in us a desire to discipline ourselves for godliness (1 Ti 4:7, 8-note), a Spirit energized motivation to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14-note) in our short times on earth (1 Peter 1:17-note)! The best is yet to come!

Ezekiel 10:17 When the cherubim stood still, the wheels would stand still; and when they rose up, the wheels would rise with them, for the spirit of the living beings was in them.

Amplified: When those stood still, these stood still; and when those mounted up, these [the wheels] mounted up also, for the spirit of life was in these [wheels].

NET  When the cherubim stood still, the wheels stood still, and when they rose up, the wheels rose up with them, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.

NLT  When the cherubim stopped, the wheels stopped. When they flew upward, the wheels rose up, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.
Young's Literal: In their standing they stand, and in their exaltation they are exalted with them: for the living spirit is in them.

WHEN THE CHERUBIM STOOD STILL, THE WHEELS WOULD STAND STILL; AND WHEN THEY ROSE UP, THE WHEELS WOULD RISE WITH THEM, FOR THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING BEINGS WAS IN THEM. (Ezek 1:12,20,21) (Ge 2:7; Ro 8:2; Rev 11:11)

Spirit of living beings was in them - "spirit of life" (Amp)

Ezekiel 10:18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.

Amplified: Then the glory of the Lord [the Shekinah, cloud] went forth from above the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.
BBE: "Then the glory of the Lord went out from the doorstep of the house, and came to rest over the winged ones" 
Young's Literal: And go forth doth the honour of Jehovah from off the threshold of the house, and standeth over the cherubs,

THEN THE GLORY OF THE LORD (Shekinah) DEPARTED FROM THE THRESHOLD OF THE TEMPLE AND STOOD OVER THE CHERUBIM: (Ezek 10:4; 7:20, 21, 22; Ps 78:60,61; Jer 6:8; 7:12-14; Hos 9:12; Mt 23:37, 38, 39) (Ezek 10:3,4; Ge 3:24; 2Ki 2:11; Ps 18:10; 68:17,18)

THE GLORY OF JEHOVAH
DEPARTS THE TEMPLE

Glory of the LORD departed -  The withdrawal of God's Shekinah glory cloud is depicted and marks one of the saddest moments in the history of Israel. The picture in human terms is of a monarch exiting his throne room, mounting in this case his throne-chariot and beginning to leave the city he loved.

Glory (כָּבוֹד,03519) (kabod from root kabad = to be heavy or weighty) conveys the central meaning of weight in most OT occurrences and most of the applications carry this figurative sense (cp "heavy with sin"). This sense gives rise to the idea of a "weighty" person in society or one who is honorable, impressive, worthy of respect.

The LORD =  Jehovah (Yahweh)

Related Resource: Departure of the Glory of Jehovah from Solomon's Temple

The threshold would be the entrance to the Temple, just up the stairs in the Temple diagram below.

Craigie comments that "On the Babylonian plain, the creatures that belonged to the temple brought the throne of God to the exiled Ezekiel; here, in their Jerusalem “home”, they are engaged in taking the throne of God from the temple."

We in America dare not read this and not be somewhat smitten in our inner being! It is so easy to look at Israel and see how she repeatedly rejected the overtures of Jehovah "until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy." (2 Chronicles 36:16) As beloved pastor Adrian Rogers once said "And, as the glory departed from Israel, the glory that belongs to America is now receding over the horizon. And, we need today—and oh, pray God we'll have it—a moral and spiritual awakening. And, that's what this series is all about."

And of course the glory departing the Temple confines was repeated when the glorious One departed from the Temple one last time, crying out even to the end with great compassion toward His Chosen People who largely rejected Him...

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.38  "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39  "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" (Mt 23:37-39)

And so even as Jesus, the Glorious One, prepared to depart, in the midst of His prophecy of wrath ("house is being left to you desolate"), He remembers mercy introduced by the little conjunction UNTIL! Yes desolate but not forever as He prophesies of His Second Coming when the Jews will look upon Him Who they had pierced and will mourn for Him (Rev 1:7, Zech 12:10) and cry out Psalm 118:26 because they have been given a new heart and a new spirit. It is in that day when His mercy will be consummated for Israel and as Paul so boldly states "and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." "AND THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." (Romans 11:26, 27-note).

In a similar way as the glory of Jehovah (Jesus) departs in Ezekiel 10, indicating fulfillment of God's many warnings of judgment on His people, He will reveal the mercies of the promised New Covenant to Israel (which comes to consummation at the Second Coming as described by Paul in Ro 11:26-27) in the next chapter

"Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Though I had removed them far away among the nations, and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone."' 17  "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel."' 18  "When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19  "And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them (Ed: The New Covenant inaugurated in His blood at His first coming). And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20  that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. (Ezekiel 11:16-20) 

Comment: See the repeated allusions/promises of the New Covenant throughout the Old Testament - New Covenant in the Old Testament

THE GLORY DEPARTED - While a Chinese couple slept, their three–year–old daughter was busy. She found her mother’s purse and about $1,100 in cash. She played with the money and ended up throwing the bills out the window of their family’s 17th–floor apartment in Shenzhen, China. A restaurant owner on the first floor later told the mother that people had gladly grabbed the money as it rained down from the sky. “We’re now hoping for magic, and that the people with our money will bring it back,” she said. In the meantime, they’ve put wire mesh on the windows. In the same way that this Chinese family’s financial treasure went out the window, the true treasure of Israel, God’s presence, departed from the temple in today’s reading. The message of judgment against Israel’s sin that has been building since Ezekiel 4 reaches a climax. God’s glory had begun to leave even in Ezek 9:3, because He refused to share His temple with false gods. His presence would not remain with idolaters and covenant–breakers. Even more painfully, from Ezekiel’s perspective, the departure wasn’t abstract or vague, but a highly visible and purposeful exit by the same heavenly throne, cherubim, and wheels he had seen in his original vision of heaven. God’s absence is the ultimate punishment! (Ed: And beloved this is the fate of all who in this short life choose to reject His free gift of salvation by faith in Christ - cp 2Th 1:9 "these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power") The coals scattered on the city indicate judgment by fire, as well as hinting at fire’s purifying effects. Following the departure of God’s glory in Ezek 10, Israel’s leaders were again condemned in Ezek 11. The image of the pot and meat (Ezek 11:3) indicates that they were proud, considering themselves “choice cuts.” Since they hadn’t been exiled with Ezekiel’s group, they thought they were safe. God reversed their metaphor and let them know that despite their attempts to devour Jerusalem’s meat—that is, to use their power for selfish gain (Ezek 11:7)—He was going to “turn up the heat” and their goose was cooked (Ezek 11:11)! They were oblivious to the scales of God’s justice and would pay the price. God’s glory had departed. If ever there were a time for despair, this was it. But God is faithful to give hope to His people, even when they are undergoing deserved discipline or punishment. Ezekiel was glad to prophesy that judgment was not the end of the story. A day would come when God would gather His people and “give them an undivided heart” (Ezek 11:19). Hearts of stone would be transformed into hearts of flesh. Even now, God Himself would be their “sanctuary” in exile (Ezek 11:16).

SOLOMON'S TEMPLE
(facing eastward)

Ezekiel 10:19 When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered * over them.

Amplified: And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight, and they went forth with the wheels beside them; and they stood at the entrance of the East Gate of the house of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel [the Shekinah, cloud] was over them.
Young's Literal: and the cherubs lift up their wings, and are lifted up from the earth before mine eyes; in their going forth, the wheels also are over-against them, and he standeth at the opening of the east gate of the house of Jehovah, and the honour of the God of Israel is over them from above.

WHEN THE CHERUBIM DEPARTED, THEY LIFTED THEIR WINGS AND ROSE UP FROM THE EARTH IN MY SIGHT WITH THE WHEELS BESIDE THEM: (Ezek 1:17-21; 11:22,23)

AND THEY STOOD STILL AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE EAST GATE OF THE LORD'S HOUSE, AND THE GLORY OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL HOVERED OVER THEM (Ezek 8:16)(Ezek 10:1; 1:26, 27, 28)

THE EAST GATE:
THE GLORY DEPARTS BUT
THE GLORY WILL RETURN!

"The glory of the God of Israel" refers to what the Shekinah glory

  EAST
GATE

The east gate - Notice the the stepwise departure of the glory of the God of Israel, a route which in the future will mark the site of His return. And so in the passages describing the return of Messiah to Millennial Kingdom, Ezekiel records 

Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east; 2 and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. 3 And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. 4 And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east."the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east." (Ezekiel 43:1-4)

The picture below shows the Eastern Gate currently closed. Whether this is the gate that Ezekiel is referring to is irrelevant, for prophecy is clear that Messiah in all His glory will enter triumphantly "by way of the gate facing toward the east". See other pictures of the Eastern Gate (pictures) and the many grave stones "impeding" the entrance! However even the dead bones of men will not impede the triumphant return of the Messiah to rule and reign from His Temple in Jerusalem for 1000 years. O glorious day! Pause a moment and ponder His imminent return as you listen to Casting Crowns modern classic "O Glorious Day." And all God's children cry out "Maranatha!" "Hosanna!" "Amen!"

And remember what you are looking for will radically impact what you are living for! What say you dear one - are you looking for Jesus, and thereby energized to be living for Him? 

Read interesting article by David ReaganThe Gate to Prophecy - Why is the Eastern Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem closed, and what does it have to do with Bible prophecy? Here is an excerpt from his paper:

The Lord then reveals to Ezekiel that the Eastern Gate will be closed and will not be reopened until the Messiah returns in glory (Ezekiel 44:1-3). A Momentous Decision - This prophecy was partially fulfilled more than 400 years ago in 1517 when the Turks conquered Jerusalem under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. He commanded that the city's ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of this rebuilding project, for some unknown reason, he ordered that the Eastern Gate be sealed up with stones. Legends abound as to why Suleiman closed the Gate. The most believable one is that while the walls were being rebuilt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. Suleiman called together some Jewish rabbis and asked them to tell him about the Messiah. They described the Messiah as a great military leader who would be sent by God from the east. He would enter the Eastern Gate and liberate the city from foreign control. Suleiman then decided to put an end to Jewish hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery. A Prophetic Symbol - The Gate has remained sealed since that time. The Muslim cemetery still blocks the entrance. The old walled city has eight gates, and the Eastern Gate, and it alone, is sealed — just as prophesied in Ezekiel 44. The world would call that an "amazing coincidence." I call it a "God-incidence."


Eastern Gate
(Click to enlarge)
Temple Mt in background
Graves in front of gate

Ezekiel 10:20 These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; so I knew that they were cherubim.

Amplified: This is the living creature [of four combined creatures] that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar, and I knew that they were cherubim.
Young's Literal: It is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar, and I know that they are cherubs.

THESE ARE THE LIVING BEINGS THAT I SAW BENEATH THE GOD OF ISRAEL BY THE RIVER CHEBAR; SO I KNEW THAT THEY WERE CHERUBIM. : (Ezek 10:15; 1:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28; 3:23) (Ezek 1:1) (1Kings 6:29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35; 7:36)

Ezekiel 10:21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands.

Amplified: Each one had four faces and each one had four wings, and what looked like the hands of a man was under their wings.
Young's Literal: Four faces are to each, and four wings to each, and the likeness of the hands of man is under their wings.

EACH ONE HAD FOUR FACES AND EACH ONE FOUR WINGS, AND BENEATH THEIR WINGS WAS THE FORM OF HUMAN HANDS. : (Ezek 10:14; 1:8, 9, 10; 41:18,19; Revelation 4:7)

Ezekiel 10:22 As for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar. Each one went straight * * ahead

Amplified: And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces which I saw by the river Chebar, with regard to their appearances and themselves; they went every one straight forward.
Young's Literal: As to the likeness of their faces, they are the faces that I saw by the river Chebar, their appearances and themselves; each straight forward they go.

AS FOR THE LIKENESS OF THEIR FACES, THEY WERE THE SAME FACES WHOSE APPEARANCE I HAD SEEN BY THE RIVER CHEBAR. EACH ONE WENT STRAIGHT AHEAD: (Ezek 1:10) (Ezek 10:11; 1:12; Hosea 14:9)

The likeness of their faces - " As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man, all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 1:10)

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