In this chapter, we are still continuing the vision Ezekiel receives in chapter 8. After all the death of the previous chapter, we see the scribe return to receive new orders from God. This chapter also behaves as a type of transition between the beginning of this vision, and the next part of it. This is where studying the prophets becomes difficult as we must be reading allegorically to see what is happening. We far too often desire to read Scripture literally, and as I pointed out last time, this may not always be helpful. This chapter still requires us to behave in this manner.
Ezekiel is still in the temple, after hearing that God is going to allow the the people of Israel to suffer the consequences of their actions. He just saw a scribe and the executioners go out among the city, killing people who did not have faith in God. When the scribe returns, God command him to “Come in between the whirling, underneath the sphinx, fill the hollow of your hands with burning coals from between the sphinxes, and scatter them over the town” (Ezekiel 10:2, Goldingay). Ezekiel also sees sights that he saw at the beginning of this book, with the glory of God as a sapphire and the sphinxes. When God made this command to the scribe, a sphinx brought coals to him, and he went out to the city to spread the coals.
“To learn faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”George Mueller
The glory of God leaves the city! In much the same way as it came to Ezekiel on the River Kebar, Ezekiel sees it leave the people. The people believed that He had left them already because he heard them saying, “Yahweh has abandoned the country. Yahweh isn’t looking” (Ezekiel 9:9, Goldingay). This is furthering how God is choosing to leave the people to their consequences. The sphinxes construct the four wheeled carriage from chapter 1 and lift the glory of God up and away from the city.
“Seek no to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”St Augustine
I think the thing that jumps out at me the most in this chapter is how God chooses to leave the city upon its destruction. First, it’s as though God cannot stand to see His people being destroyed. He orders the mass killing of the unfaithful, and then the destruction of the city by holy fire. As this happens, He leaves. Secondly, His people had already decided He had abandoned them. God had never abandoned His people through all of their infidelity, but when they faced trouble they believed He abandoned them. God even promised them from the beginning that He would never abandon them, saying through the Moses, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NASB) This part of the vision shows that God is no longer to protect the unfaithful from the consequences of their actions.
Has there ever been a time in your life that you felt abandoned by God? Just like the Israelites, God will never leave or abandon you. He desires for you to be reconciled to Him. His son, Jesus, came to earth to show us that God is here for us. We can trust in His goodness for all our days. The abandoning that you feel is the barrier made by your own sinful choices. The Israelites felt abandoned because He promised them blessings. When they were faced with the consequences of their sin, they decided it was God who was in the wrong. The truth is that God does not abandon His people; He allows sin to take its path. You no longer have to be bound up in sin. Paul writes, “our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6, NASB). Christ brings freedom from sin. Put your faith in Him, and allow Him to bring you towards Christlikeness.