What are the fiery stones mentioned in Ezekiel 28:14, 16?
Ezekiel 28:14, 16 states:
“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones… And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.”
Many commentaries completely misunderstand this entire passage and wrongfully assume that a human king is being addressed here. Based on this false assumption, their interpretation of the fiery stones is equally wrong.
We explain the events described, beginning in Ezekiel 28:11 about the “king of Tyre,” in our free booklet, Angels, Demons and the Spirit World, in Part 2 and the sub-chapter on “Lucifer and Satan,” showing that the Bible addresses here Satan, not a human being:
“The Bible reveals that God created all of the angels. They were not created as robots, but as spirit beings with the power to choose and to decide. One high-ranking angel, a cherub by the name of Lucifer, rebelled and sinned against God (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:11–17). Lucifer wanted to ‘ascend to heaven’ to dethrone God (Isaiah 14:13). He wanted to ‘ascend above the heights of the clouds’ (Isaiah 14:14). This shows us that he was here on earth, because he wanted to ascend above the clouds of the earth to go to heaven. When he sinned, he was thrown back to this earth (Isaiah 14:12). He became Satan, which means enemy or adversary. Lucifer, or Satan, was already here on earth when Adam and Eve were created. We are told that the serpent was already here in order to deceive Eve when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. The serpent is identified as Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9). Since Satan appeared to the first man and his wife as the deceiver, he must have lived on this earth prior to man as Lucifer—when he was not yet the deceiver—before he tried to ‘ascend to heaven.’
“Actually, before he was sent to earth, Lucifer had been trained in heaven before the very throne of God, and he had angels under his command. We read in Ezekiel 28:14 that he was the anointed cherub who covers. Recall that the cherubs covered the throne of God when God appeared to Moses in the Tabernacle. Also, we read in Ezekiel 28:14 that Lucifer was on the holy mountain of God in heaven (compare Hebrews 12:22). When he sinned by trying to ascend from this earth to heaven to dethrone God, he was cast out of the mountain of God (Ezekiel 28:16). Christ later said that He saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18).
“In the Hebrew, the word translated as ‘Lucifer’ in the Authorized Version and in many other translations, is ‘helel,’ or ‘heylel,’ which means ‘lightbringer,’ ‘shining one,’ ‘morning star,’ or ‘shining star of the dawn.’ The word ‘Lucifer’ is the Latin translation of the Hebrew word ‘helel,’ or ‘heylel,’ conveying exactly the same meaning. It is therefore appropriate to use this word in describing the cherub who later became Satan (‘sawtwan’ in Hebrew).
“Satan, the prince of darkness, is still ruling on this earth. Revelation 2:13 tells us expressly that Satan has a ‘throne’ here on earth. He holds the people of this world captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). He has authority over all the kingdoms of this world (Luke 4:5–7). He is called the ‘ruler of this world’ in John 14:30. He is even called the ‘god of this age’ in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Satan is called ‘the prince of the power of the air’ in Ephesians 2:2.”
Compare also our Q&A, addressing the parallelism between the prince of Tyre (the end-time false prophet) and the king of Tyre (Satan).
Before addressing in particular the “fiery stones,” we need to understand that there are many “things” in heaven, where God dwells, which are spiritual and composed of spirit, but they are very real… in fact, even more real than physical things.
We explain the following in part 3 of our above-mentioned booklet Angels, Demons and the Spirit World about the existence of “things” in heaven, under the sub-chapter, “Spiritual Objects”:
“The Spirit world is not limited to God and His angels. Revelation 3:5 speaks of a ‘Book of Life.’ Revelation 4:2 mentions a ‘throne set in heaven.’ Revelation 4:4 describes several thrones in heaven. Revelation 4:6 speaks of a ‘sea of glass’ before the throne in heaven. In addition, Revelation 5:1 mentions a spiritual scroll, sealed with seven spiritual seals. Revelation 5:8 talks about a spiritual harp and golden bowls. Revelation 8:2–5 reveals the existence of a spiritual golden censer, a spiritual golden altar, and even spiritual fire.
“We are informed in the book of Hebrews that all of these spiritual objects were used as a pattern for the creation of physical objects at the time of Moses. We read in Hebrews 9:23–24, in the Living Bible: ‘That is why the sacred tent down here on earth, and everything in it—all copied from things in heaven—all had to be made pure by Moses in this way…But the REAL things in heaven, of which these down here are copies, were made pure with far more precious offerings… It was not in the earthly place of worship that He did this, for that was merely a copy of the REAL TEMPLE IN HEAVEN.’
“So, there is a spiritual temple in heaven (Revelation 11:19; 15:5–6, 8). Further, we read about the temple of the tabernacle. God showed Moses exactly on the mountain how to build the earthly tabernacle. Time and again we read (Exodus 25:9; 25:40; 26:30; and 27:8) that God showed Moses a pattern as to how to build the tabernacle, the altar, the golden lamp stand and the sanctuary. God showed Moses what the real spiritual heavenly things look like. Moses was also instructed to form two cherubim, which were to cover the mercy seat. Again, God showed Moses, if he did not already know, what cherubim look like.
“The Bible even tells us that there is a spiritual mountain in heaven. Isaiah 14:13 reports that Satan, formerly Lucifer, said: ‘I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation.’ Ezekiel 28:14 adds what God said about Lucifer: ‘You were the anointed cherub who covers…You were on the holy mountain of God.’ This spiritual mountain of God in heaven is also described in Hebrews 12:18–24.”
“… Ezekiel 28:13–16 adds that Lucifer, who became Satan, was in the garden of God at the time of his creation, long before there ever was a physical world. So we see that there is a spiritual garden of God, a Paradise, in heaven… The physical garden of Eden, which God later created for Adam and Eve, was patterned after the spiritual garden that exists in heaven, and in which is a spiritual tree of life…”
Regarding the fact that Lucifer walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones and that he sinned and was “destroyed” from the midst of the fiery stones, we want to clarify first that the meaning of “destroy” does not convey here the concept of obliteration of extinction.
The word for “destroy” in Ezekiel 28:16 is abad and means, according to Strong’s Hebrew 6: “To wander away, lose oneself, by implication to perish… to fall.”
Here, the word cannot have the meaning of extinction, as Satan was expelled from the spiritual garden of Eden in heaven and thrown down to the earth. His fall from heaven to this earth did not obliterate him; he is still on this earth and called the ruler of this present evil age.
The New International Version renders the verse: “Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.”
The New Living Translation states: “Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire.”
The Berean Study Bible says: “By the vastness of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and I banished you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.”
Many commentaries claim the fiery stones refer to true Christians. This cannot be true, as Satan fell from heaven and was thrown to the earth BEFORE the creation of human beings.
Some commentaries, who seem to understand that the Scripture in Ezekiel 28:14 talks about a spirit being—Lucifer who became Satan the devil—and not a physical king, draw a connection to God, but only in very unspecific terms.
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says about the stones of fire that some claim “… the imagery [is] similar to that in Revelation 2:1, and… suppose the prophet to have had in mind such a passage as Exodus 24:10, where a paved work of sapphire stone appears as beneath the feet of God, while His glory is ‘like a devouring fire.’”
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges states that “probably there is some reference to the phenomena attending the divine presence and manifestation.”
The Pulpit Commentary points out: “The words (‘In the midst of the stones of fire’) receive their interpretation partly from Genesis 3:24; partly from 2 Samuel 22:9, 15… The cherub’s sword of fire is identified with the lightning-flash, and that in its turn with the thunderbolts of God. Out of the throne of God went thunders and lightnings (Exodus 19:16).”
Even though especially the last explanation is interesting, none of these explanations seem to get to the crux of the matter, as they neglect to focus on the fiery STONES.
It is true that fire could be an allusion to God’s throne in heaven or its surroundings (Daniel 7:9; Revelation 8:5). God Himself is sometimes associated with fire (Exodus 24:17; Hebrews 12:29; Revelation 2:18; 19:12).
In addition to the cherubim’s fiery sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24, another interesting and more compelling reference can be found in Isaiah 6:6, stating: “Then one of the seraphim [high-ranking angelic beings] flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the tongs of the altar…” This live or “burning” coal (Revised Standard Version) or, one might say, this coal of fire, was taken from the altar of God, showing the close proximity of angels to fiery coals or fiery stones.
But coals of fire or fiery stones are also used in the Bible as a reference to attributes of angels or, better yet, angels themselves. In Ezekiel 10:2, 6-7 “coals of fire from among the cherubim” are mentioned, and in Ezekiel 1:13, cherubim are themselves described in this way: “… their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning.” Psalm 104:4 describes God’s angels as “a flame of fire” (compare Hebrews 1:7); see also Daniel 10:6 (apparently describing Gabriel in his glory); 2 Kings 2:11 and 2 Kings 6:17 (referring to angels as horses of fire); and Revelation 10:1 (a powerful angel).
Revelation 4:5 describes seven angelic beings as lamps of fire burning before God’s throne. Combined with the fact that especially high-ranking angelic beings such as cherubim are associated in the book of Ezekiel with or even described as “coals of fire,” it is most likely that the allusion to Lucifer walking in the midst of fiery stones refers to the cherub Lucifer walking among and having company with other cherubim and powerful angelic beings, but that he was then banished from their holy presence when he sinned and, as Satan, fell from heaven.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link