The Lord's Glory
1 I saw the dome that was above the four winged creatures, and on it was the sapphire throne. 2 The Lord said to the man in the linen robe, “Walk among the four wheels beside the creatures and pick up as many hot coals as you can carry. Then scatter them over the city of Jerusalem.” I watched him as he followed the Lord's instructions.
3The winged creatures were standing south of the temple when the man walked among them. A cloud filled the inner courtyard, 4and the brightness of the Lord's glory moved from above the creatures and stopped at the entrance of the temple. The entire temple was filled with his glory, and the courtyard was dazzling bright. 5The sound of the creatures' wings was as loud as the voice of God All-Powerful and could even be heard in the outer courtyard.
6The man in the robe was now standing beside a wheel. 7One of the four creatures reached its hand into the fire among them and gave him some of the hot coals. The man took the coals and left.
8I noticed again that each of the four winged creatures had what looked like human hands under their wings, 9 and I saw the four wheels near the creatures. These wheels were shining like chrysolite. 10Each wheel was exactly the same and had a second wheel that cut through the middle of it, 11so that they could move in any direction without turning. The wheels moved together whenever the creatures moved. 12 I also noticed that the wheels and the creatures' bodies, including their backs, their hands, and their wings, were covered with eyes. 13And I heard a voice calling these “the wheels that spin.”
14 Each of the winged creatures had four faces: the face of a bull, the face of a human, the face of a lion, and the face of an eagle. 15-17These were the same creatures I had seen near the Chebar River. They controlled when and where the wheels moved—the wheels went wherever the creatures went and stopped whenever they stopped. Even when the creatures flew in the air, the wheels stayed beside them.
18Then I watched the brightness of the Lord's glory move from the entrance of the temple and stop above the winged creatures. 19They spread their wings and flew into the air with the wheels at their side. They stopped at the east gate of the temple, and the Lord's glory was above them.
20I knew for sure that these were the same creatures I had seen beneath the Lord's glory near the Chebar River. 21-22They had four wings with hands beneath them, and they had the same four faces as those near the River. Each creature moved straight ahead without turning.
As the vision of chapters 8 and 9 continues, Ezekiel sees the mobile chariot-throne with the Lord’s glory that he had seen in chapter 1 (vv 15, 20, 22). What is significant is that the Lord’s glory is progressively moving out of the Temple. From its usual position over the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies (9:3), the Lord’s Glory progressively moves to the entrance of the Temple building (v 4), then to the east gate of the Temple court area (v 19), and finally, in 11:23, it departs the city of Jerusalem and is last seen on the mountain east of the city. In the context of the vision of chapters 8-11, the departure of the Lord’s glory is a result of the people’s idolatrous worship of other gods in the Temple (ch. 8). God’s presence cannot occupy the same space along with the worship of other gods. The people’s sin drove God out of his own house. This raises a searching question for us: what effect do our sins have on the abiding presence of God in our lives?
The departure of the presence of the Lord also gives a theological explanation as to why the city of Jerusalem and the Temple could be captured, destroyed, and burned down by the Babylonians who worshipped other gods. For the people of Judah, reasonable theological questions would have been: Wasn’t the Lord strong enough to defend his city and his house? Were the Babylonian gods more powerful than the Lord? But with the departure of the Lord’s presence, the city and Temple were no longer under divine protection. They were just like any other city or house. It was not a matter of the Babylonian gods triumphing over the Lord; rather, the Lord was no longer there.
Lord, when we have sinned, may we pray: “Please wipe away my sins. Wash me clean from all of my sin and guilt. Create pure thoughts in me and make me faithful again. Don’t chase me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me” (Ps 51:1b-2, 10-11). Amen.