Thirtieth year - From the finding the book of the law in the eighteenth year of Josiah, from which date to the fifth year of the captivity are thirty years. Fifth day - Probably it was the sabbath-day, when the Jews were at leisure to hear the prophet. River - Perhaps retiring thither to lament their own sins, and Jerusalem's desolation. Chebar - A river now called Giulap, arising out of the mountain Masius, and falling into Euphrates, somewhat below a city called by the same name.
The month - Thamus, as verse 1, answering to our June and July. Fifth year - This account observed will guide us in computing the times referred to verse 1. These five of Jehoiachin, and the eleven of his predecessor, added to fourteen of Josiah's reign, after he found the law, make up thirty years, verse 1. Jehoiachin - Who is also called Jechoniah, and Coniah. It may be of use to keep an account, when and where God has manifested himself to us in a peculiar manner. Remember, O my soul, what thou didst receive at such a time, at such a place: tell others what God did for thee.
The word - What was visions, verse 1, is here the word, both as signifying and declaring the mind of God, what he would do, and as continuing his commands to Ezekiel and to the people. Ezekiel - He speaks of himself in a third person. Priest - He was of the priests originally; he was a prophet by an extraordinary call. The hand - He felt the power of God opening his eyes to see the visions, opening his ear to hear the voice, and his heart to receive both. When the hand of the Lord goes along with his word, then it becomes effectual.
Looked - I very diligently surveyed the things that were represented to me in the vision. Whirlwind - This denotes the indignation and judgments of God; a quick, impetuous and irresistible vengeance. North - From Babylon, which lay northward from Judea; and the prophet, tho' now in Babylon, speaks of the Jews, as if they were in Jerusalem. A fire - An orb or wheel of fire: God being his own cause, his own rule, and his own end. Brightness - Yet round about it was not smoak and darkness, but a clear light. The midst - Of the fire.
The likeness - Such a representation of the holy angels as God saw fit to make use of, came out of the midst of the fire: for angels derive their being and power from God: their glory is a ray of his.
Wings - With two they flew, denoting the speed of their obedience; and with two they covered their body, denoting their reverence.
Feet - Their thighs, legs and feet, were of a human shape. Straight - Not bowed to this or that part, which argues weakness. The sole - That which is properly the foot. A calf's - A divided hoof spake the cleanness of the creature. They - Their feet.
Under - Their power and manner of exerting it is secret and invisible. Sides - On each side of the chariot one of these living creatures flood, and so on each side hands were ready to act as they were moved. They four - It is doubled to confirm the truth and certainty of the thing.
Their wings - The wings of the two cherubim which went foremost, and the wings of the two hindermost, were joined together when they moved. Went - This explains the former words, assuring us, that every one of those living creatures are ready, and unwearied in doing the pleasure of their Creator.
A man - Each face is compared to what is most excellent in its kind, man excels in wisdom, lions in strength, the ox in patience and constancy of labour, the eagle in speed and high flight.
Divided - So each face appeared distinct above the shoulders, and there the wings divided from each other were united to the body of the living creature.
Straight - Which way soever they went, each living creature had one face looking straight forward. The spirit - The will, command, and breathing of the Spirit of God, both gave and guided their motions. Was to go - Going is attributed here to the Spirit of God, by allusion, for he who is in every place cannot properly be said to go from or to any place. Turned not - They looked not back, they turned not out of the way, they gave not over, 'till they had compleated their course.
The fire - This fire stood not still, but as the Hebrew is, Made itself walk up and down. It moved itself, which is too much to ascribe to creatures: God only moved all these living creatures.
Ran - They ran into the lower world, to do what was to be done there: and when they had done, returned as a flash of lightning, to the upper world, to the vision of God. Thus we should be in the affairs of this world: though we run into them we must not repose in them, but our souls must presently return like lightning, to God, their rest and center.
Living creatures - By each of the living creatures stood one wheel, so that they were four in number, according to the number of living creatures. Four faces - By this it appears, each wheel had its four faces. While he was contemplating the glory of the former vision, this other was presented to him: wherein the dispensations of providence are compared to the wheels of a machine, which all contribute to the regular motion of it. Providence orders, changes: sometimes one spoke of the wheel is uppermost, sometimes another. But the motion of the wheel on its own axle-tree, is still regular and steady. And the wheel is said to be by the living creatures, who attend to direct its motion. For all inferior creatures are, and move, and act, as the Creator, by the ministration of angels directs and influences them: visible effects are managed and governed by invisible causes.
Work - All that was wrought, whether engraved or otherwise was of one colour. Beryl - A sea green. One likeness - The same for dimensions, colour, frame, and motion. In the middle - It is probable, the wheels were framed so as to be an exact sphere, which is easily rolled to any side.
They - The wheels. Four sides - The wheels being supposed round every way as a globe, by an exact framing of two wheels one in the other; the four semi-circles which are in two whole wheels, may be well taken for these four sides on which these wheels move, and such a wheel will readily be turned to all points of the compass. Returned not - They returned not 'till they came to their journey's end; nothing could divert them, or put them out of their course. So firm and sure are the methods, so unalterable and constant the purposes of God, and so invariable the obedience and observance of holy angels. So subject to the sovereign will of God are all second causes.
The rings - The circumference of the wheels. Dreadful - Their very height imprest a fear on the beholder. Them four - Every one of the four wheels. How fitly do the wheels, their motion, their height, and eyes, signify the height, unsearchableness, wisdom, and vigilance of the Divine Providence.
The spirit - The Spirit of God. These angels in their ministry punctually observed both his impulse and conduct. They - The wheels, inferior agents and second causes. Their spirit - The wheels concurred with the spirit of the living creatures, so that there was an hearty accord between those superior and inferior causes. For - An undiscerned, yet divine, mighty, wise, and ever-living power, spirit, and being, actuated all, and governed all.
For - The same wisdom, power, and holiness of God, the same will and counsel of his, that guides and governs the angels, does by them order and dispose all the motions of the creatures in this lower world.
Likeness - The appearance or resemblance. As crystal - For splendor, purity, and solidity, all that was above these creatures and wheels was beautiful and very majestic, and 'tis therefore called terrible, because it impressed a veneration upon the mind of the beholders.
Under - Below at a great distance, stood these living creatures. Straight - Stretched forth, ready for motion. One - Each of the four had two other wings with which they covered their bodies.
The voice - Thunder. Speech - The prophet heard the voice in an articulate manner. An host - A tumultuous voice of men. Stood - Having done their office they present themselves before God, waiting for the commands of their Lord.
A man - Christ, God-man, who here appears as king and judge.
Amber - In this colour does Christ appear against the rebellious Jews; he that would have visited them clothed with the garments of salvation, now puts on the garments of vengeance, expressed by such metaphors. Brightness - Majesty, justice, and unstained holiness, shine round about him.
The bow - A like appearance of Christ in a surrounding brightness, as of the rainbow you have, Revelation 4:3. Mercy, and truth, and both according to covenant are about the throne of Christ. Glory - It was not the full glory of God, but such as the prophet might bear. I fell - With deep humility and reverence.