Ezekiel 10 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
Once again in this chapter Ezekiel sees in a vision something of God’s chariot throne. Normally we would imagine the throne of a king as a stationary object permanently situated in a palace, and the same could be said for God’s throne here on earth as it was situated in the Holy of Holies within the temple, for God was said to be enthroned there above the cherubim. But similar to the time of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, God’s throne is once again on the move since God has declared that he would be abandoning the temple due to the egregious sin of God’s people in Jerusalem. But, here, it is not the earthly ark that is on the move, but rather God’s heavenly chariot throne containing his Shekinah glory that is leaving.
At first the prophet is taken inside the holy of holies where he sees the Ark of the Covenant, but above that earthly throne and above the golden cherubim, Ezekiel sees the heavenly throne of God shining like sapphire. And once again, he sees the Lord call upon the man clothed in linen, a priest-like figure, to carry out his will. This time his job is not to identify and secure the righteous through a seal on their forehead as mentioned in the previous chapter, but instead he is called to throw hot coals down upon the wicked in a scene similar to Sodom and Gomorrah. So the Lord tells this man to go in among the whirling wheels of God’s chariot throne to take God’s holy fury and scatter it across the city of Jerusalem in judgment.
Already that heavenly throne has moved for it is not above the earthly ark any more inside the holy of holies. Now it is on the south side of the house of the Lord and the Shekinah glory has now filled that court instead. And the chariot would move once again toward the east gate of the city showing how little by little God’s presence is leavening the city of Jerusalem. And once again Ezekiel sees those strange four-faced living creatures described in the first chapter of this book but now he identifies them as the cherubim of God, so even the golden cherubim on the ark were always pointing to the real heavenly cherubim who serve the Lord night and day, and these cherubim were ushering the Lord outside the city of Jerusalem up the Mount of Olives eventually to the east to visit the people of God in Babylon for there he would minister to His people in exile.
Although it would be scary enough to see the man in linen throwing hot coals over the city of Jerusalem, it is actually the latter image that is more alarming, for the very idea of God abandoning his people should send shivers up our spines. One of the primary names that God has revealed unto his people is the name Immanuel-God with us, yet here in this passage, God is not with them any longer. He has forsaken them since they had forsaken him through their many idolatries and transgressions. Just as Sampson felt the power of the Lord leave his body physically after he broke the last of his vows, so here the Lord is literally abandoning the temple called by his name. If you think about it, the worst imagery given about hell is not the fire or the worm or the darkness but the utter abandonment by God when Jesus says “Depart from me, I never knew you.” In hell, there is no sense of God’s love, of God’s justice, of His comfort and care; there is only fallen men and fallen angels left to their own devices. And here in Jerusalem those who have forsaken the Lord are about to experience a foretaste of hell on earth when the Lord departs from them.
Many years later another generation of Jews would experience something similar when the second temple was destroyed after they did not recognize the Shekinah glory in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you remember, he wept over the city of Jerusalem and was paraded through the city streets prior to cleansing the temple. Then once he cleansed it temporarily, he departed from it and went back up the Mount of Olives just as the original chariot throne of God had done and left for Babylon. Then once Jesus ascended into heaven after his crucifixion, death and burial, his Shekinah glory would return with the baptism of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire being scattered throughout Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Consequently, the glory of God would not reside any longer in the earthly temple in Jerusalem, but in the gathering of the saints all over the world, whether in Babylon or Egypt or even in Rome.
And the Holy Spirit indwelling God’s people is the guarantee that the Lord has sealed us for the day of salvation just as the man of linen put the seal of God on the foreheads of the righteous. Nevertheless, we are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit by our sin since it is his very presence that assures us of our salvation. If we continue to sin without repentance and grieve God’s Spirit we begin to doubt the promise of God when he says: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” At that point we can take no more comfort in the promise and presence of the Lord but begin to feel as an unbeliever would feel in terms of being abandoned by God. So we look to the face of the Lord daily and listen attentively to his correction and rebuke, for we would not want to lose the foretaste of heaven here on earth, for we know something of the joy of the Lord and the pleasures at his right hand. The very idea of being separated from the Lord and of being abandoned by the Lord to face an uncertain judgment is just something that the true believer could never accept, and so he longs to turn back to the Lord in faith and repentance.