Each had four faces and four wings, with what looked like human hands under their wings.
I. THE EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT UPON THE NATURE OF GOD. The voice is, among all the inhabitants of this earth, man's prerogative alone. And for this reason - man alone has reason, and therefore he alone has speech. There are noises and sounds, and even musical sounds, in nature; but to man alone belongs the voice, the organ of articulate speech and intelligible language. When voice is attributed to the Almighty God, it is implied that he is himself in perfection that Reason which he communicates to his creature man. Our intellect and thought are derived from his, and are akin to his; our reason is "the candle of the Lord" within.
II. THE EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT UPON THE INTERCOURSE BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. The purpose of the voice is that man may communicate with his fellow man by means of articulate language, and by means of all those varied and delicate shades of intonation by which we convey our sentiments, and indicate satisfaction and disapproval, confidence and distrust, tenderness and severity, inquiry and command. Now, where we meet in Scripture with the phrase, "the voice of God Almighty when he speaketh," we are led to think of the purpose for which he utters his voice. It is evidently to communicate with man - mind with mind - that we may be acquainted with his thoughts, his wishes, his sentiments with regard to us, if we may use language so human. The whole of nature may be regarded as uttering the Divine thought, though, as the psalmist tells us, "there is no speech nor language, and their voice cannot be heard." But his articulate speech comes through the medium of human minds - the minds of prophets and apostles, and (above all) the mind of Christ Jesus. The Word speaks with the Divine voice; in him alone that voice reaches us with all the faultless tones, and with the perfect revelation which we need in order that we may realize and rejoice in the presence of the Divine Father of spirits, the Divine Saviour and Helper.
III. THIS EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT UPON THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE OF MAN.
1. It is ours to listen with grateful joy to the voice of God. "The friend of the bridegroom rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." Christ speaks, and his utterances are welcome to every believing and sympathetic nature; they are as the sound of a voice long expected and wished for, as it now fails upon the listening and eager ear. The sinner may well dread the voice which can speak to him as with the thunder of threatened vengeance. But the Christian recognizes the tones of love and the accents of gentleness.
2. It is ours to listen to the voice of God with believing submission and obedience. God's voice is always with authority. Because he reveals himself as our Father, he does not cease to command. "Ye have not heard his voice at any time," was the stern reproach addressed by Jesus to the unspiritual Jews. The exhortation comes to us all, "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." - T.
The likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.
1. We see this union in the construction of the Bible. The wing of inspiration is in every chapter. What realms of the ransomed earth did Isaiah fly over! Over what battlefields for righteousness; what coronations; what dominations of gladness; what rainbows around the throne did St. John hover! But in every book of the Bible you just as certainly see the human hand that wrote it. Moses, the lawyer, showing the hand in the Ten Commandments, the foundation of all good legislation; Amos, the herdsman, showing the hand in similes drawn from fields and flocks: the fishermen Apostles, showing the hand when writing about Gospel nets; Luke, the physician, showing the hand by giving especial attention to diseases cured; Paul showing the scholarly hand by quoting from heathen poets, and making arguments about the Resurrection that stand as firmly as on the day he wrote them; and St. John shows the hand by taking his imagery from the appearance of the bright waters spread round the island of Patmos at the hour of sunset, when he speaks of the sea of glass mingled with fire; scores of hands writing the parables, the miracles, the promises, the hosannas, the raptures, the consolations, the woes of ages.
2. Behold this combination of my text in all successful Christian work. We stand or kneel offering prayer. Now, if anything has wings, it is prayer. Prayer flies not only across continents, but across centuries. If prayer had only feet, it might run here and there and do wonders. But it has wings, and they are as radiant of plume, and as swift to rise, or swoop, or dart, or circle, as the cherubim's wings which swept through Ezekiel's visions. But, oh, the prayer must have the hand under the wing, or it may amount to nothing. Stop singing, "Fly abroad, thou mighty Gospel," unless you are willing to give something of your own means to make it fly. Have you been praying for the salvation of a young man's soul? That is right; but also extend the hand of invitation to come to a religious meeting. From the very structure of the hand we might make up our mind as to some of the things it was made for: to hold fast, to lift, to push, to pull, to help, and to rescue. And endowed with two hands, we might take the broad hint that for others as well as for ourselves we were to hold fast, to lift, to push, to pull, to help, to rescue.
3. This idea is combined in Christ. When He rose from Mount Olivet He took wing. All up and down His life you see the uplifting Divinity. But He was also very human. It was the hand under the wing that touched the woes of the world, and took hold of the sympathies of the centuries.
4. There is a kind of religion in. our day that my text rebukes. There are men and women spending their time in delectation over their saved state, going about from prayer meeting to prayer meeting, and from church to church, telling how happy they are. But show them a subscription paper, or ask them to go and visit the sick, or tell them to reclaim a wanderer, or speak out for some unpopular Christian enterprise, and they have bronchitis, or stitch in the side, or sudden attack of grippe. Their religion is all wing and no hand. They can fly heavenward, but they cannot reach out earthward. There was much sense in that which the robust boatman said when three were in a boat off the coast in a sudden storm that threatened to sink the boat, and one suggested that they all kneel down in the boat to pray, and the robust man took hold of the oar and began to pull, saying: "Let you, the strong, stout fellow, lay hold of the other oar, and let the weak one who banner pull give himself up to prayer." Pray by all means; but at the same time pull with all your might for the world's rescue.
5. There is also in my subject the suggestion of rewarded work for God and righteousness. When the wing went the hand went. When the wing ascended the hand ascended; and for every useful and Christian hand there will be elevation celestial and eternal. Expect no human gratitude, for it will not come. That was a wise thing Fenelon wrote to his friend: "I am very glad, my dear, good friend, that you are pleased with one of my letters which has been shown to you. You are right in saying and believing that I ask little of men in general. I try to do much for them and to expect nothing in return. I find a decided advantage in these terms. On these terms I defy them to disappoint me." But the day cometh when your work, which perhaps no one has noticed, or rewarded, or honoured, will rise to heavenly recognition. While I have been telling you that the hand was under the wing of the cherubim, I want you to realise that the wing was over the hand. Perhaps reward may not come to you at once. But I promise you victory further on and higher up; if not in this world, then in the next. Roll on that everlasting rest for all the toiling and misunderstood and suffering and weary children of God, and know right well that to join your hand, at last emancipated from the struggle, will be the soft hand, the gentle hand, the triumphant hand of Him who wipeth away all tears from all faces. That will be the Palace of the King of which the poet sang in somewhat Scotch dialect: —
"It's a bonnie, bonnie warl' that we're livin' in the noo,
And sunny is the lan' we often traivel thro';
But in vain we look for something to which oor hearts can cling,
For its beauty is as naething to the Palace o' the King.
We see oor friends await us ower yonder at His gate:
Then let us a' be ready, for ye ken it's gettin' late;
Let oor lamps be brichtly burnin'; let's raise our voice an' sing:
Soon we'll meet, to part nae mair, i' the Palace o' the King."
(T. De Witt Talmage.).
TopicsApiece, Beneath, Faces, Form, Hands, Human, Likeness, Man's, Semblance, Underneath, Wings
Outline1. The vision of the coals of fire, to be scattered over the city
8. The vision of the cherubim
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 10:5-22
To a modern taste, Ezekiel does not appeal anything like so powerfully as Isaiah or Jeremiah. He has neither the majesty of the one nor the tenderness and passion of the other. There is much in him that is fantastic, and much that is ritualistic. His imaginations border sometimes on the grotesque and sometimes on the mechanical. Yet he is a historical figure of the first importance; it was very largely from him that Judaism received the ecclesiastical impulse by which for centuries it was powerfully …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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