Bible: What Does Ezekiel 8-10 Teach Us About Idolatry, Cherubim, and the Glory of the LORD?
Idolatry in Jerusalem
Verse one includes a specific date—the first time that Ezekiel records such since 1:1-2—signaling a new section in the prophecy.
The time is possibly fourteen months after Ezekiel's initial vision.
At this juncture, the prophet receives another vision of God while visiting with the elders of Judah in his house.
Again, he speaks of the vision in the language of appearance, describing the LORD as luminous, fire-like (v. 2).
In a rather odd way—that is, by a lock of his hair— the Spirit then transports Ezekiel to the temple in Jerusalem to behold the “image of jealousy” (v. 3) as well as the glory of God (v. 4).
Yahweh directs the man of God to take note of the abomination sitting at the entrance to the temple, so that he may be informed enough to tell the people why the LORD is withdrawing from His sanctuary (vv. 5-6).
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The God Tammuz
More evidence of Israel's depravity for the prophet to witness follows, as God leads him through a little excavation in the wall.
While inside the court, Ezekiel sees not only portraits of horrible idols inscribed on the walls, but also seventy elders who think that the LORD does not see them burning incense to these paintings in private (vv. 7-12).
Yahweh shows him still more abominations: women weeping for the pagan god Tammuz (vv. 13-14), and about twenty-five men worshiping the sun god, but ignoring the temple (vv. 15-16).
All this evidence God discloses to the prophet, so that the latter might know that He is just when He judges Israel (vv. 17-18; cf. Rom. 3:4).
The Old City
Marked for Life
To carry out His judgment, Yahweh immediately calls upon five "angelic" executioners (vv. 1-2a).
A sixth angel, however, God makes responsible to mark the foreheads of those who mourn over Jerusalem's wickedness.
This action must take place in order to save them from death (vv. 2b, 3b-4).
[This procedure the Antichrist will use to mark his followers; God, however, will not allow this action to prevent Him from sorely plaguing them during the tribulation (cf. Rev. 13:16; 16:2).
The LORD will employ angels again in the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish people, having the same purpose as recorded here (Rev. 7:2-8)].
After assigning the linen-clothed, inkhorn-carrying angel to his task, He commands the other five to kill everyone who does not receive the mark.
They must be sure not to show any mercy, no matter how old or how young the victim (vv. 5-6).
The seventy elders (8:11) die first, but death spreads throughout the city (v. 7).
When Ezekiel, shocked by the pitiless destruction, cries out to God, the LORD replies justly that Israel's sin demanded punishment, that He was paying the nation what it deserved (vv. 8-10).
The sixth man, rather perfunctorily, returns to Yahweh and announces the completion of his task (v. 11).
[One point neglected in the above comments—the movement of the glory of God (v. 3)—takes on greater import as the narrative continues into chapter ten].
Cherubim Described and the LORD's Departure
Relevant here are several details regarding cherubim.
[These angelic beings are the same as the living creatures of chapter one].
Before the prophet describes them, however, he mentions what appeared to be a sapphire-like throne above their heads (v. 1).
From this throne issues God's command to the "man clothed with linen" to take coals from an altar and scatter them over Jerusalem (v. 2).
Ezekiel momentarily interrupts the present action to describe both the respective positions of the cherubim and of the glory of the LORD in the temple area as well as a wondrous, God-like sound (vv. 3-5).
Besides stressing how the Shekinah filled the inner court (v. 3), the house, and the court (v. 4), he also draws attention to how the sounds of cherubim wings resemble the voice of God (v. 5).
Observing again the man in linen, the prophet watches him as he stands beside the wheels and receives two hands full of coal from a certain cherub (vv. 6-7).
[Ezekiel makes an incidental comment that cherub hands resemble human ones (v. 8)].
He describes the wheels: their color and their position (v. 9), as well as their structure (v. 10) and their movements (v. 11).
So identified with the “Wheel” (v. 13) are the cherubim that Ezekiel intermingles details about them in his explanation.
He speaks of their body parts and then mentions the multitude of eyes in the wheels (vv. 12-13; cf. 1:18).
Note, however, the difference in the four faces (v. 14; cf. 1:10).
[The text appears ambiguous as to what has four faces: the wheel or the living creature, though it is probably the living creature].
Verse fifteen identifies the cherubim with the living creature of chapter one.
[How can we account for the difference in the faces?]
The revelator further emphasizes the union and harmony between the cherubim and the wheels in their movements (vv. 16-17).
The Departure of the LORD's Glory
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The LORD's Gradual Departure Continues
Ezekiel's focus shifts again, this time to the departure of the LORD's glory from the threshold to the door of the east gate, accompanied by the "ascension" of the cherubim (vv. 18, 19).
A continued description of cherubim and their identification with the living creatures of chapter one conclude chapter ten (vv. 20-22).
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