18. Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.
18. Et egressa est gloria Iehovae e limine domus, et stetit super cherubim:
19. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD'S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
19. Et sustulerunt cherubim alas suas, et ascenderunt e terra in oculis reels: cum egrederentnr rotae etiam coram ipsis: et stetit super limen portae Iehovae orientalis: et gloria Dei Israel super ipsa sursum.
Here the Prophet teaches us what is the principal point in the vision, namely, that God had deserted the temple: for we, know with what confidence the Jews boasted that they should be safe continually under the protection of God. In consequence of the promise, that God's temple should be the place of his rest wherein he would dwell, (Psalm 132:14,) they did not think it possible that God would ever leave them: so they sinned without restraint; and while they drove him far away from them by their crimes, yet they wished to have him in some way bound to them. This folly is derided by Isaiah -- Heaven is my seat, and earth is my foot. stool: what house therefore will ye build for me? (Isaiah 66:1.) God had commanded his temple to be built, and wished to have his earthly dwelling, place there: but he says that his wish had been rendered nugatory: and how? why when he promised that he would dwell in the temple, he wished his name to be purely and reverently invoked there.
But the Jews had polluted the temple in every way. Hence they thought that God was shut up there in vain: because his liberality did not tend to his partaking of the captivity of the Jews, but to his having them in obedience to himself. Therefore Isaiah deservedly says, that the temple became unfit for the use of God when it was profaned. So also we see in Jeremiah: Do not trust in lying words, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah. (Jeremiah 7:4.) That repetition is used because they were so elated by their obstinacy. The Jews resisted the Prophets, and as often as any threat was uttered against them, they immediately fled to that asylum, the temple of the Lord.
For this reason therefore the Prophet now relates, that the glory of God had deserted the sanctuary: for otherwise what we have seen would have been out of place: he was sent to scatter burning through the whole city: in this way the temple would have been burnt, and God would have been consumed by peculiar fire: here I speak after the common form, because when the ark of the covenant is called the God of hosts, (2 Samuel 6:2,) how could it happen that the fire should destroy the ark, together with all parts of the temple? But God himself meets them and shows them that the temple was deprived of its glory when it was destroyed by the enemy. Afterwards the temple was overthrown And in the Psalms its lamentable ruin is described, how cruelly and proudly, and with what barbarous mockery the enemy insulted it, (Psalm 74, and Psalm 79:) this was very disgraceful, and disturbed their weak minds. Hence it was necessary to persuade the faithful that God no longer dwelt in the temple, but that it remained only an empty spectacle, because he had taken away his glory since the place was corrupted by so many defilements. Now therefore we understand the design of the Prophet, when he says that the glory of Jehovah had departed from the threshold of the house, and stood above the cherubim But he had already said that the cherubim had raised their wings, which he again confirms. Whence it follows, that God with his angels, when the temple was left, deserted the Jews, so that for the future they would boast themselves in vain to be safe under his protection. Therefore he says that the cherubim raised their wings, and ascended from the earth before his eyes Nor is this clause superfluous, since it was difficult to persuade the Jews of what he said about his deserting them. There was a celebrated oracle, |here will I dwell, since I have chosen it.| (Psalm 132:14.) When they grasped at that, they thought that the sun would sooner fall from heaven than God would leave that temple.
But the Prophet says that he saw it clearly, that no doubt might remain. If any one should here ask, how that promise which I have mentioned agrees with that departure which the Prophet here relates? the answer is easy, if we only understand that God does not always work by human means, nor yet according to our carnal perception. God often seems to act so abruptly that his beginning is without an end: in fine, God seems sometimes to sport and to draw back his hand, so that the event does not answer to the joyful beginnings. Since therefore, according to our carnal senses, God's works appear to be frustrated, it is necessary to use such language: otherwise we should never understand how God departed from the sanctuary, when he had chosen it in perpetuity. But he so departed, that the place still remained sacred, and the temple stood before God though it had been overthrown in the eyes of men. The visible appearance of the temple was taken away, but meanwhile, since the temple was founded on the promise of God, it stood among its ruins, as I have said. For this reason Daniel, although solitude and devastation ought to avert his eyes and senses from Judea, prayed in that direction, as if the temple had remained entire. And why so? He looked at the promise. (Daniel 6:10.) And for this reason the Prophet said, after the return from the captivity, that the glory of the second temple surpassed that of the first, as the Prophet Haggai says. (Haggai 2:9.) And we know with what copiousness and magnificence Isaiah discourses concerning the splendor of the second temple and its inestimable glory. (Isaiah 60:7.) We shall see also a similar doctrine at the end of this book. Since therefore the temple stood before God, because it was founded on his promise, this temporary desertion could not abolish what I have said concerning God's perpetual station.
same thing also must be said concerning the kingdom: that kingdom ought to stand while the sun and moon shone in heaven, (Psalm 89:37, 38,) this is true: and yet there was a sad interruption during many years. For we know what a serious disgrace the last king suffered: then had all dignity fallen to ruin, so that nothing could be seen but the horrible vengeance of God. And yet that promise always had its own effect; as long as the sun and moon shall stand, they shall be my faithful witnesses of the perpetuity of the kingdom. Now then we understand in what sense God left his temple, and yet did not in anywise break his promise. But he says, the glory of the God of Israel stood at the eastern gate, but above it, so that it was raised up from the earth. The meaning of that speech was, that the Jews might know that God was no longer to be sought in that dwelling of wood and stone, because he had not only left his seat, but had ascended upwards, that they should have no more intercourse with him. Now it follows --