Ezekiel 10:1, 2, 6, 7
Then I looked, and, behold…
Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, etc. The vision recorded in this chapter is substantially a repetition of that which is described in the first chapter, as the prophet himself intimates (vers. 20, 22). The only differences of any importance are that the prophet was not in the same place when he received this vision as when he received its counterpart, and that the symbolical actions in this have not occurred before. We shall not again notice those features of the manifestation which we considered in our treatment of the first chapter, but shall confine our attention to the symbolical actions, and at present to the scattering of coals of fire over the city. The work of judgment begun in the last chapter is continued in this one. The destroying angels have (in vision) gone forth slaying the guilty people; the dead bodies were lying in the temple courts and the city streets; and now the command is given to finish the work of judgment by scattering coals of fire over the city, and so destroying it. Three chief points call for attention.
I. THE AUTHOR OF THIS JUDGMENT. "He spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels," etc. The Speaker is the enthroned One: "God the Father sitting on the throne, to the Son, to whom he has given full power to execute judgment" (John 5:27). Notice:
1. The majesty of his state. (Ver. 1.) It is not said that any manifestation or appearance of God was given in this vision. But Ezekiel beheld the appearance of the exalted throne over the cherubim, a throne as of pure and brilliant sapphire like the clear and deep vault of heaven. "The heaven-like colour of the throne indicates," says Hengstenberg, "the infinite eminence of God's dominion over the earth, with its impotence, sin, and unrighteousness." The representation is intended to shadow forth the glory of God. How glorious he is! The glory of heavenly things far surpasses the highest glory of earth, and the glory of God transcends the highest of heaven. He is "glorious in holiness;" "the glorious Lord;" "the King of glory;" "the God of glory;" "the Father of glory;" and his kingdom is glorious in majesty.
2. The sovereignty of his authority. God is supreme over the forces of nature, symbolized by the wheels; over every form of life, symbolized by the cherubim, or "living creatures" (ch. 1.); over the six destroying angels (ch. 9.); and in a sense over "the man clothed with linen," who is the Agent of the Father (cf. John 14:31; John 15:10; John 17:18). He commands the scattering of fire over the city. The Chaldeans could not have laid waste Jerusalem but for his permission. "His kingdom ruleth over all." "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."
II. THE GREAT AGENT OF THIS JUDGMENT. "And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels," etc. The man clothed in linen, who was to scatter the coals of fire over the city, was, as we have seen, the angel of Jehovah, otherwise called the angel of the covenant. Notice:
1. The diverse functions ascribed to him. In the preceding chapter he was summoned to the preservation of the pious; in this he is sent forth to complete the work of destruction because of sin. This is suggestive of his two comings into our world. He came as a Saviour, to bring forgiveness to sinners, and deliverance from sin, and comfort for mourners, and strength for the weak, and hope for the despairing, and to scatter wide the blessings of Divine grace. But he will come again as a Judge in dreadful majesty. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, rendering vengeance on them that know not God," etc. But a more correct and complete analogy to these diverse functions ascribed to him in this vision is in the fact that in his future coming he will both perfect the salvation of his people, and deliver over to punishment those who have rejected him. That coming will be either the cause of ineffable rapture and adoration (Revelation 7:9-17), or of unutterable terror and anguish to every man (Revelation 6:15-17).
2. The prompt obedience rendered by him. "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," etc. (vers. 6, 7). His delight was in doing the will or his Father. "Jesus saith, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." And at the close of his mission upon earth, he said with infinite satisfaction, "Father,... I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou Rarest me to do." He complied with his Father's will at all times, in all things, and with his whole heart. How perfect is the example which he sets us in this respect! Let us imitate him, endeavouring to obey the holy will even as he did.
III. THE MEANS OF THIS JUDGMENT. "Fill thine hand with coals of fire,... and scatter them over the city." The fire denoted was elemental fire; for it was taken from between the wheels, and the wheels symbolize the forces of nature; and it was to be used in burning the city. In this use of fire we have an illustration of:
1. A most useful servant becoming a most terrible foe. The Most High, if he pleases, can turn our greatest comforts into our direst curses; and he may do so if we misuse them. "They had abused fire," says Greenhill, "to maintain their gluttony, for fulness of bread was one of their sins; they burned incense to idols, and abused the altar fire, which had been the greatest refreshing to their souls;... and now even this fire kindled upon them." And as a matter of fact, fire was used in destroying the temple and other places in Jerusalem. Josephus tells how Nebuzaradan, by command of the King of Babylon, having despoiled the temple of its precious and sacred treasures, set fire to it. "When he had carried these off, he set fire to the temple in the fifth month, the first day of the month, in the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, and in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar; he also burnt the palace and overthrew the city" ('Ant.,' 10. 8:5).
2. The divers uses of fire as represented in Holy Scripture. It is there used to set forth both cleansing and avenging powers. It is the symbol of the purification of the human heart and life from sin (Isaiah 6:6, 7; Malachi 3:2, 3). It is also the symbol of the punishment of the incorrigibly corrupt (Matthew 25:41). "Our God is a consuming Fire;" and we must each be brought consciously near unto him, either to be cleansed from our sin, or, failing in this, to bear the just judgment thereof; for the Divine fire is essentially antagonistic to sin.
1. Let us eschew every form of sin.
2. Let us seek the application of the purifying fire of the Divine love to our hearts. - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.