(The cherubim appeared to have the form of 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.
And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man's hand under their wings.
I. SEE WHAT A DIVINE WORK CREATION IS. Here, in this human hand beneath the angel's wing, do we see the procedure of the Divine work. All God's most beautiful things are related to use. God does not unfold from His mind beauty alone. Infinite thought, ah! but infinite manipulation too; this hand, the hand of the Infinite Artist, tinted every flower and variegated every leaf into loveliness; this hand, the hand of the Infinite Mechanician — I do not like the word, but let it go — gave respiration and lustre arid plumage to the wing of every bird; this hand, the hand of the Infinite Arehi. toot, poised every planet in space, and adapted its measure of force to every grain of sand. I would not preach a gospel of cold utilitarianism — that word usually represents the hand without the wing; it is the depravity of logic which it represents, not the Divine reason and fitness. On the contrary, many know nothing of use. Oh, what wasted lives we lead! Alas! alas! our most beautiful things are as perishable foam bells, born and expiring on a wave. Not so God.
II. THEN YOU SEE WHAT DIVINE PROVIDENCE IS. Man is the one manifold. In the multiplicity of Divine operations we see the human hand beneath the angel's wing. "A little lower than the angels," God carries on His great operations. What is this humanity which everywhere meets us alike, in things above and beneath? "Angels desiring to look" into the things of men, and all nature striving upward into manhood. By men surely God carries on some of the greatest affairs of His providence. From His exalted concealment, God is constantly energising by the human hand. This in all ages has been. And is not our redemption a hand, the human hand beneath the Divine wing, a hand stretched out, "the likeness of a man's hand beneath the cherubim." What is the humanity of Jesus but the human hand beneath the Divine wing? If all things on earth whisper man, and point to man, and reflect man, and prophesy the reign and the ultimate Christian perfectibility of man, oh, what a consolation is this! Thus, also, this thought, this idea, rebukes the many false modern notions of God. See in this God's own picture of His providence; and never be it ours to divorce that human from the Divine in God's being.
III. See, in the human hand beneath the wing of the angel, THE RELATION OF A LIFE OF ACTION TO A LIFE OF CONTEMPLATION. The great Gregory says, "The rule of the Christian life is first to be joined to an active life in productiveness, and after, to a contemplative mind in rest." Thus, when the mind seeks rest in contemplation, it sees more, but it is less productive in fruit to God; when it betakes itself to working, it sees less but bears more largely. Hence, then, by the wings of the creatures we may behold the contemplations of the saints, by which they soar aloft, and, quitting earthly scenes, poise themselves in the regions of heaven; as it is written, "They shall mount up as on wings." And by the hands understand deeds, they administer even by bodily administration; but the hands under the wings show how they surpass the deeds of their action by the excellence of contemplation.
IV. RELIGION IS THE HUMAN HAND BENEATH THE ANGEL'S WING. It is both. So I may say to you: Has your religion a hand in it? Has your religion a wing in it? Has it a hand? It is practical, human, sympathetic. Has it a wing? It is lofty, unselfish, inclusive, divine. Has it a hand? How does it prove itself? By embracing, and this hand laying hold upon — by works. Has it a wing? How does it prove itself? By prayer, by faith, by heaven. I do not know if you have read and are acquainted with the essay of that eminent man, Richard Owen, "On the Nature of Limbs"; if so, you did not fail to meditate on that frontispiece, in which the science of anatomy rises into more than the play of poetry; where that great, perhaps greatest of all anatomists, does not hesitate to show to us by a diagram, the human skeleton hand, clothed upon, preening, developing into the wing of an angel. But faith sees more than science: faith does, indeed, behold the hand rising into the wing; indeed, sees in the hand only the undeveloped wing. Without a doubt it shall be so; we are preparing for the hour when our wings shall burst from their prison and spring into the light.
(E. P. Hood.)
TopicsAppeared, Appeareth, Cherubim, Cherubims, Cherubs, Form, Hands, Human, Man's, Ones, Winged, 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 10:1-8
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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