Author: Ron Graham
Ezekiel Chapters 9, 10, and 11
—Outline and Notes
1 Context Overview
Captives have been taken from Jerusalem to Chaldea. The siege of Jerusalem is underway. Nebuchadnezzar’s final assault on the city is at hand.
Ezekiel has been taken in vision to the temple in Jerusalem. He has seen the abominations committed within. Next he is shown how God will shortly deal with the wicked inhabitants.
Whilst the vision in chaper 11 is mostly about the slaughter soon to happen, the vision also looks to a future return to Jerusalem of a remnant who will restore and rebuild. It looks also to the more distant future when the Messiah, the Saviour, will come into the world.
❖ The vision of chapter 11 features the same cherubim and their wheels that Ezekiel saw in chapter 1. Their faces are discussed in section 3 of this lesson.
2 Outline of Ezekiel 9, 10, and 11
The Man with the Inkhorn
- The fiery figure who spoke to Ezekiel now summons six executioners with their weapons to the altar. With them is a man with an inkhorn (Ezekiel 9:1-2)
- The glory of the LORD moves to the temple entrance, and sends the man with the inkhorn throughout the city to mark the foreheads of those who sigh and groan in sorrow because of all the abominations (Ezekiel 9:3-4).
- God tells the executioners to follow the man and slaughter everyone, man, woman, and child, but not to touch those with the mark. He tells the executioners to defile the temple with the dead bodies (Ezekiel 9:5-7).
- The executioners go out to slay, leaving Ezekiel alone. He prays, "Ah! Lord! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel?" God's answer seems to be yes. (Ezekiel 9:8-10).
- But the man with the inkhorn returns and says, "I have done what you commanded". This means some of the people have been marked with ink and so a remnant will be spared by the executioners (Ezekiel 9:11).
Gathering and Scattering of Fiery Coals
- Ezekiel now sees a throne like a saphire in the space above the cherubim. Ezekiel hears the voice of the fiery figure telling the man clothed in linen (with the inkhorn) to go in among the wheels. He is to gather coals from between the seraphim and scatter them over the city (Ezekiel 10:1-2).
- Again the glory of the LORD moves to the temple entrance as the man is handed the coals. The glory shines in the inner court and the sound of the cherub's wings is heard beyond (Ezekiel 10:3-5).
- Ezekiel takes us back to the gathering of the coals and describes it in more detail (Ezekiel 10:6-8).
The Cherubim and their Wheels
- Ezekiel goes on to describe the cherubim and the mysterious wheels just as he did in chapter 1. He identifies them as the same cherubim. However, the faces of the cherubim differ in one respect. In chapter 1:10 each cherub had the face of an ox, but in chapter 10:14 that is not so (Ezekiel 10:9-17).
- The cherubim and their wheels rose up from the earth, with the glory of God above their heads, and moved to the east gate of the temple (Ezekiel 10:18-19).
- Ezekiel repeats that these cherubim are the same creatures that he saw in the vision of chapter 1 (Ezekiel 10:20-21).
The Corrupt Leaders
- The Spirit lifts Ezekiel up and sets him at the East Gate where the cherubim now stand. He sees 25 men who are corrupt leaders of the city. Surely they are aware that the city is to be destroyed. Yet they deceitfully say, “Is it not time to build houses? This city is the caldron, and we are the meat.” —meaning good times are ahead, meat being a symbol of prosperity (Ezekiel 11:1-4).
- God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to them that the city will not even be the cauldron in which they perish let alone flourish. They will be driven from the city and beyond the borders of their homeland. They will die by the sword among the Gentiles they have imitated (Ezekiel 11:5-12).
- While Ezekiel is speaking, one of the men dies. No doubt this is meant to show that the rest of them are under God’s judgment and control.
A Promise that a Remnant will be Preserved
- Ezekiel cries again, “Ah! Lord! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel?” (Ezekiel 11:13).
- God answer is no. God says that even though scattered far and wide in foreign lands, a remnant will return to Jerusalem, rebuild it, and make it holy again. They shall be God’s people, and he will be their God (Ezekiel 11:14-21).
The Vision Ends
- The cherubim and their wheels fly, with the glory of God above them, to the mountain east of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 11:22-23).
- Ezekiel is lifted up and transported by the vision to the exiles in Chaldea. The vision leaves him, and he tells the exiles all that God showed him (Ezekiel 11:24-25).
3 Faces of the Cherubim (Ezekiel 1:10, 10:14)
There is something of a mystery about the four faces of the cherubim in the vision at Chebar in chapter 1, and in the vision at the temple in chapter 10
In chapter 1:10 the faces were seen as those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. In chapter 10:14 the faces were seen as those of a cherub, a man, a lion, and an eagle. Notwithstanding the difference, Ezekiel insists that "as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar" (Ezekiel 10:22).
This means that each face could change shape into whatever sign it should portray. In both visions, the three faces of each cherub displayed the faces of a man, a lion, and an eagle respectively. In the first vision, the other face looked like the face of an ox. But in the second vision that same face was now seen as the face of a cherub, no longer presenting as the face of an ox. What is the significance of that omission?
The Meaning of the Faces
The faces and their shapes signify divine attributes of the LORD —the Messiah who is the fiery figure of the first vision and the voice of the second vision. He is entitled to the saphire throne. He is Israel’s one and only hope, a great hope, distant though it be.
Here is the significance of the shapes of the faces...
- MAN. The face of a man signifies the humanity of the Messiah, God in the flesh.
- LION. The face of a lion signifies the sovereignty or kingship of the Messiah.
- OX. The face of an ox signifies the Messiah s sacrifice of himself for the sins of humanity.
- EAGLE. The face of an eagle signifies the Messiah’s resurrection and ascension, exalted to the utmost height.
The Meaning of the Missing Face
In the second vision, why is one face of each cherub no longer transformed into the face of an ox? The answer is very serious indeed.
Oxen were among the animals sacrificed in the temple. Those sacrifices foreshadowed the sacrifice that the Messiah would make by his own death. In the vision that Ezekiel saw, the face of an ox signifies the Messiah’s sacrifice. Yet that face is missing in the second vision seen at the temple (chapter 10). This signifies that God is going to destroy without mercy or sacrifice.
In the second vision, the LORD commands the temple to be thoroughly defiled by filling it with the bodies of the slain. No sacrifice could be made in it then. This signifies that God will deny a sacrifice for sins to the reprobate of Israel.
God has divided the people of Israel in two. Those who have the mark from the inkhorn will be spared. The others will all be destroyed. For them the words to be written in the future are true...
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:26-27 NKJV).