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Ezekiel 1:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

A whirlwind came out of the north - Nebuchadnezzar, whose land, Babylonia, lay north of Judea. Chaldea is thus frequently denominated by Jeremiah.

A great cloud, and a fire infolding itself - A mass of fire concentrated in a vast cloud, that the flames might be more distinctly observable, the fire never escaping from the cloud, but issuing, and then returning in upon itself. It was in a state of powerful agitation; but always involving itself, or returning back to the center whence it appeared to issue.

A brightness was about it - A fine tinge of light surrounded the cloud, in order to make its limits the more discernible; beyond which verge the turmoiling fire did not proceed.

The color of amber - This was in the center of the cloud; and this amber-coloured substance was the center of the laboring flame. The word ηλεκτρον, which we translate amber, was used to signify a compound metal, very bright, made of gold and brass.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Out of the north - From this quarter the Assyrian conquerors came upon the holy land. The vision, though seen in Chaldaea, had reference to Jerusalem, and the seer is to contemplate judgment as it is coming upon the holy land. Others consider the words expressive of the special seat of the power of Yahweh. The high mountain range of Lebanon that closed in the holy land on the north naturally connected to the inhabitants of that country the northern region with the idea of height reaching to heaven, from which such a vision as this might be supposed to come.

Infolding itself - Forming a circle of light - flames moving round and round and following each other in rapid succession, to be as it were the framework of the glorious scene.

Amber - The original word occurs only in Ezekiel. The Septuagint and the Vulgate have “electrum,” a substance composed by a mixture of silver and gold, which corresponds very well to the Hebrew word. The brightness, therefore, is that of shining metal, not of a transparent gum. Render it: “out of the midst thereof,” like Ezekiel 1:7 burnished gold out of the midst of fire.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
It is a mercy to have the word of God brought to us, and a duty to attend to it diligently, when we are in affliction. The voice of God came in the fulness of light and power, by the Holy Spirit. These visions seem to have been sent to possess the prophet's mind with great and high thoughts of God. To strike terror upon sinners. To speak comfort to those that feared God, and humbled themselves. In ver.
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
is the first part of the vision, which represents God as attended and served by a vast company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments. This vision would impress the mind with solemn awe and fear of the Divine displeasure, yet raise expectations of blessings. The fire is surrounded with a glory. Though we cannot by searching find out God to perfection, yet we see the brightness round about it. The likeness of the living creatures came out of the midst of the fire; angels derive their being and power from God. They have the understanding of a man, and far more. A lion excels in strength and boldness. An ox excels in diligence and patience, and unwearied discharge of the work he has to do. An eagle excels in quickness and piercing sight, and in soaring high; and the angels, who excel man in all these respects, put on these appearances. The angels have wings; and whatever business God sends them upon, they lose no time. They stood straight, and firm, and steady. They had not only wings for motion, but hands for action. Many persons are quick, who are not active; they hurry about, but do nothing to purpose; they have wings, but no hands. But wherever the angels' wings carried them, they carried hands with them, to be doing what duty required. Whatever service they went about, they went every one straight forward. When we go straight, we go forward; when we serve God with one heart, we perform work. They turned not when they went. They made no mistakes; and their work needed not to be gone over again. They turned not from their business to trifle with any thing. They went whithersoever the Spirit of God would have them go. The prophet saw these living creatures by their own light, for their appearance was like burning coals of fire; they are seraphim, or "burners;" denoting the ardour of their love to God, and fervent zeal in his service. We may learn profitable lessons from subjects we cannot fully enter into or understand. But let us attend to the things which relate to our peace and duty, and leave secret things to the Lord, to whom alone they belong.
Ellen G. White
Education, 177-8

While the nations rejected God's principles, and in this rejection wrought their own ruin, it was still manifest that the divine, overruling purpose was working through all their movements. Ed 177.1

This lesson is taught in a wonderful symbolic representation given to the prophet Ezekiel during his exile in the land of the Chaldeans. The vision was given at a time when Ezekiel was weighed down with sorrowful memories and troubled forebodings. The land of his fathers was desolate. Jerusalem was depopulated. The prophet himself was a stranger in a land where ambition and cruelty reigned supreme. As on every hand he beheld tyranny and wrong, his soul was distressed, and he mourned day and night. But the symbols presented to him revealed a power above that of earthly rulers. Ed 177.2

Upon the banks of the river Chebar, Ezekiel beheld a whirlwind seeming to come from the north, “a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber.” A number of wheels, intersecting one another, were moved by four living beings. High above all these “was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” “And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man's hand under their wings.” Ezekiel 1:4, 26; 10:8. The wheels were so complicated in arrangement that at first sight they appeared to be in confusion; but they moved in perfect harmony. Heavenly beings, sustained and guided by the hand beneath the wings of the cherubim, were impelling these wheels; above them, upon the sapphire throne, was the Eternal One; and round about the throne a rainbow, the emblem of divine mercy. Ed 177.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 535-6

Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that the fact might be determined whether it would fulfill the purposes of the Watcher and the Holy One. Prophecy has traced the rise and progress of the world's great empires—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with the nations of less power, history has repeated itself. Each has had its period of test; each has failed, its glory faded, its power departed. PK 535.1

While nations have rejected God's principles, and in this rejection have wrought their own ruin, yet a divine, overruling purpose has manifestly been at work throughout the ages. It was this that the prophet Ezekiel saw in the wonderful representation given him during his exile in the land of the Chaldeans, when before his astonished gaze were portrayed the symbols that revealed an overruling Power that has to do with the affairs of earthly rulers. PK 535.2

Upon the banks of the river Chebar, Ezekiel beheld a whirlwind seeming to come from the north, “a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber.” A number of wheels intersecting one another were moved by four living beings. High above all these “was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” “And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man's hand under their wings.” Ezekiel 1:4, 26; 10:8. The wheels were so complicated in arrangement that at first sight they appeared to be in confusion; yet they moved in perfect harmony. Heavenly beings, sustained and guided by the hand beneath the wings of the cherubim, were impelling those wheels; above them, upon the sapphire throne, was the Eternal One; and round about the throne was a rainbow, the emblem of divine mercy. PK 535.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 395

The Bible is designed of God to be the book by which the understanding may be disciplined, the soul guided and directed. To live in the world and yet to be not of the world, is a problem that many professed Christians have never worked out in their practical life. Enlargement of mind will come to a nation only as men return to their allegiance to God. The world is flooded with books on general information, and men apply their minds in searching uninspired histories; but they neglect the most wonderful book that can give them the most correct ideas and ample understanding.—The Review and Herald, February 25, 1896. FE 395.1

Those who are daily learning of Jesus Christ are fitted to take their position as laborers together with God, and whatever their trade or business may be, they may exert their God-given powers after the similitude of Christ's character while He tabernacled in the flesh. The young will carry with them just the influence they received in their home life and school education. God holds teachers responsible for their work as educators. They must learn daily in the school of Christ, in order to uplift the youth who have had a lax training at home, who have not formed studious habits, who have little knowledge of the future immortal life, for which the highest price was paid by the God of heaven in giving His only-begotten Son to live a life of humiliation and die a most shameful death, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” FE 397.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 259-60

On the other hand, the leaders among God's people are to guard against the danger of condemning the methods of individual workers who are led by the Lord to do a special work that but few are fitted to do. Let brethren in responsibility be slow to criticize movements that are not in perfect harmony with their methods of labor. Let them never suppose that every plan should reflect their own personality. Let them not fear to trust another's methods; for by withholding their confidence from a brother laborer who, with humility and consecrated zeal, is doing a special work in God's appointed way, they are retarding the advancement of the Lord's cause. 9T 259.1

God can and will use those who have not had a thorough education in the schools of men. A doubt of His power to do this is manifest unbelief; it is limiting the omnipotent power of the One with whom nothing is impossible. Oh, for less of this uncalled-for, distrustful caution! It leaves so many forces of the church unused; it closes up the way so that the Holy Spirit cannot use men; it keeps in idleness those who are willing and anxious to labor in Christ's lines; it discourages from entering the work many who would become efficient laborers together with God if they were given a fair chance. 9T 259.2

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