The Word Made Fresh
1Then I looked, and in the dome above the cherubim there appeared something like lapis lazuli in the shape of a throne. 2The LORD said to the man wearing the linen garment, “Go beneath the cherubim into the wheelwork and take burning coals in your hands from among the cherubim. Scatter them over the city.” I watched as he went in. 3The cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when he went in, with a cloud filling the inner court. 4The splendor of the LORD arose from among the cherubim and went to the doorsill of the building. The building was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the LORD’s splendor. 5The flutter of the cherubim’s wings could be heard as far as the outer courtyard, like the very voice of the LORD.
6The LORD ordered the man dressed in linen, “Take fire from within the wheels and among the cherubim,” and the man went in and stood beside one of the wheels. 7Then one of the cherubs reached out and took some of the fire and gave it to the man dressed in linen. He took it outside. 8Beneath the cherubim’s wings appeared what looked like a human hand.
9Then I saw that there were four wheels, one beside each cherub, and they were shiny like beryl. 10The four wheels each appeared as a wheel within a wheel. 11When they moved; they moved in any of the four directions without changing direction. Whatever direction the front wheel took the others followed. 12They were covered with eyes – the rims and spokes and wings and wheels of the four of them were full of eyes all around. 13I heard the wheels being referred to as “the wheelwork.” 14Each wheel had four faces. The first was that of a cherub; the second that of a human being; the third that of a lion; and the fourth that of an eagle.
15The cherubim were the living creatures I had seen at the Chebar River. 16When they moved the wheels moved beside them. When they lifted their wings to fly the wheels stayed at their side without wavering. 17When they stopped, they all stopped together. When they rose, they all rose together because the spirit of the living wheels was in them.
18Then the brightness of the LORD left the temple threshold and stopped above the cherubim. 19They lifted their wings and I saw them rise from the earth, with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the east gate of the LORD’s temple, and the LORD’s glory shone above them.
20I saw these living creatures beside the river Chebar. They were beneath the God of Israel, and I recognized them to be cherubim. 21They each had four faces and four wings, and beneath their wings there were appendages like human hands. 22Their faces were like the ones I had seen at the river Chebar, and they each moved straight ahead.
1-5: Now Ezekiel sees a sapphire throne above the dome over the heads of the cherubim. This description sounds like the vision he had earlier (Chapter 1:22), with the cherubim replacing the “four living creatures” of that earlier vision. The linen-clad scribe is told to take embers from the “wheelwork” (see 1:15-21) beneath the cherubim and scatter them over the city. A loud sound accompanies the wings of the cherubim as the glory of the LORD rises, again recalling the earlier vision (1:24).
6-8: The linen-clothed man goes in and is handed coals by a cherub with what appeared to be a human hand.
9-14: The cherubim, it turns out, are the four “living creatures” of Chapter 1, except that the forward-looking face is now described as being that of a cherub rather than a human. The description of the wheelwork is the same as the earlier description (1:15-21).
15-17: Aha, these are indeed the same “living creatures” Ezekiel encountered by the river Chebar!
18-19: Now the glory of the LORD, accompanied by the cherubim, rises up and takes a new station at the east gate of the temple.
20-22: The faces of the cherubim look like human faces (compare 10:20 with 1:10).
I want to remind you at this point that we are reading a description of a vision which foretells an event, not a vision of the actual event itself. The vision presents in arcane symbols a look ahead at what God is planning. God does indeed have plans for us, and each of us has a part to play in God’s plans. We should spend some time pondering our role in God’s plan alongside making our own plans.