Bible Study: Ezekiel 10 – Cherubim and the Glory of God

The book of Ezekiel is one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. It was authored by Ezekiel who was set as a watchman to the house of Israel.

Ezek 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:

The tenth chapter of Ezekiel is about the description of cherubim and the description of the glory of God departing from the Temple. Ezekiel has given us a more detailed description of the vision.

Paused over the threshold of the Temple

(Sketch from W. MacDonald: Believer’s Bible Commentary)

Ezek 10:1-4 And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne. Then He spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, “Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.” And he went in as I watched. Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’s glory.

A live coal scattered over the city of Jerusalem is very similar to what is described in the book of Revelation where the sounding of the seven angels follow which represents God’s anger and judgment over the workers of iniquity.

Rev 8:5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

The glory of God is paused over the threshold of the Temple.

Ezek 10:5-7 And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks. Then it happened, when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, “Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,” that he went in and stood beside the wheels. And the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed with linen, who took it and went out.

The fire was taken from among the wheels and given to the man clothed in linen.

Cherubim and Wheels

Ezek 10:8-14 The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man’s hand under their wings. And when I looked, there were four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub and another wheel by each other cherub; the wheels appeared to have the color of a beryl stone. As for their appearance, all four looked alike–as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went toward any of their four directions; they did not turn aside when they went, but followed in the direction the head was facing. They did not turn aside when they went. And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around. As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, “Wheel.” Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

    Cherubim are symbols of might, strength, swiftness and knowledge which are not literal but metaphorical used to represent with the likeness of the glory of God. We discussed detailed regarding these in the blog, Who are Seraphim and Cherubim?

    The wheel does not have any special purpose or imagery apart from aiding us in understanding the departing of God’s glory.

    Departed from the threshold of the Temple

    Ezek 10:15-18 And the cherubim were lifted up. This was the living creature I saw by the River Chebar. When the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also did not turn from beside them. When the cherubim stood still, the wheels stood still, and when one was lifted up, the other lifted itself up, for the spirit of the living creature was in them. Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.

    We see a similar description in great detail which includes cherubim, lions, oxen and wheels for the carts in Solomon’s temple.

    1Kgs 7:28-33 And this was the design of the carts: They had panels, and the panels were between frames; on the panels that were between the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. And on the frames was a pedestal on top. Below the lions and oxen were wreaths of plaited work. Every cart had four bronze wheels and axles of bronze, and its four feet had supports. Under the laver were supports of cast bronze beside each wreath. Its opening inside the crown at the top was one cubit in diameter; and the opening was round, shaped like a pedestal, one and a half cubits in outside diameter; and also on the opening were engravings, but the panels were square, not round. Under the panels were the four wheels, and the axles of the wheels were joined to the cart. The height of a wheel was one and a half cubits. The workmanship of the wheels was like the workmanship of a chariot wheel; their axle pins, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all of cast bronze.

    The imagery presented here was that God was preparing Himself to depart from the temple. It is also used by Psalmists.

    Ps 18:10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind.

    After that the glory of God departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.

    At the door of east gate

    Ezek 10:19-22 And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim. Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same as the faces which I had seen by the River Chebar, their appearance and their persons. They each went straight forward.

    Then the cherubim lifted their wings and stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house and the glory of God was above them.

    This chapter gives more details of the vision for the departing of God’s glory from the Temple.