The Bible makes mention of a peculiar group of creatures referred to as Cherubims. These creatures are first encountered in our reading of God’s Word in Genesis 3:24.
Gen 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Throughout this preparatory study, we will discuss the various instances throughout the Bible in which these creatures are mentioned and determine what purpose they serve in God’s plan. I say preparatory because the Lord has shown grace to us in our studies by way of impartation of various revelations regarding cherubims. And it is necessary for you, the reader, to take special note of the basic instances where these creatures are mentioned in God’s Word and what they appear to represent before we can truly explain the deeper thoughts regarding their part in the message which God desires His children to know today, for such wonderful thoughts from God’s Spirit have much to do with our Christianity today! We pray you may continue your own search into God’s Word to enhance your understanding of His truths as you share these studies with us.
The Bible has a principle that people have discovered through comparison of cross references in the holy writ. It may be called the principle of first mention. This principle states that the first mention of an element or a thing in God’s Word, in consideration of the setting in which this thing is first mentioned along with it’s purpose in that setting and the circumstances of associated use in that setting, will determine similar thoughts in following instances where the particular element is again mentioned. For example, the number SEVEN is first used in Genesis when God rested after completing His work in making the world. So, number 7 denotes completion and fullness. This is clearly seen in many, many instances in which the number seven is mentioned in other places of the Bible.
Gen 8:4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
The ark of Noah RESTED and finished its journey in the seventh month.
Mat 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Jesus told Peter that he had to forgive people for as many times as they seek his forgiveness, not simply 490 times. Some have called 70 times 7 the multiplication of perfection, knowing that the number 7 denotes completeness or perfection. Peter had to have COMPLETE forgiveness for people.
One could go on and on, but clearly we see how the first mention of a thing determines a hint as to it’s meaning in following instances in which the same element is mentioned throughout the Word of God.
The first mention of Cherubims has much to say about the relationship which cherubims have in the Word of God and in His plan throughout the remainder of the Bible, for these creatures are mentioned time and again.
GUARDIANS OF EDEN
Let us find the setting of these creatures as they are first mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis 3:24, these creatures stood vigil in front of the seeming single, eastern entrance to the garden of Eden to bar man from entering in and gaining access to the Tree of Life. We know that this was the only entrance to the Garden, for God would have otherwise placed similar guardians around the complete circumference of the garden. Therefore, a wall or some other kind of barrier, possibly natural vegetation, surrounded the Garden keeping out all that was not intended to enter.
So the aspect of guardianship was involved with the first mention of cherubims. They were said to have been put there that they might keep the way of the garden. The word keep is defined as to guard or protect in the Bible. And the fact that these creatures were placed in this position of protection after man fell into sin is also very notable. And we must keep these thoughts in mind when we read other references to the Cherubims in the Bible in order to determine what messages God is saying to us in the mere mention of them in the various settings we find them involved with. These creatures are seen in the most strange settings. And without comparing the various references to them, and their various involvements in each of the associated settings, it will be rather difficult to determine the reason for their presence. We do know, by common sense itself, that God does nothing without purpose and meaning. And since the Bible is the Word from God which has been given to man for the purpose of leading man to salvation, there is an aspect of our salvation with which these cherubims are involved. Otherwise they would never have played a part in anything in God’s Word. And this makes perfect sense, too, for the first mention of these beings involved the scene where Adam lost place in fellowship with God in the Garden, making it necessary for God to redeem mankind to Himself again. The whole reason we have God’s Word to us today is that we must be saved due to Adam’s transgression!
Ezekiel seen a vision, not an actual physical sighting, of a chariot, as some have called it.
Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. (Ezekiel 1:15-21)
Wheels within wheels were beside each of the four cherubims.
An expanse of sorts stood over the heads of the cherubims like a platform.
Ezek 1:22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
A throne was positioned on top of the firmament over their heads.
Ezek 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads 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.
It seems a theophany of God, Himself, sat on the throne. And comparison of this passage with the Book of Revelation proves most enlightening!
And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. (Ezekiel 1:27)
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (Rev. 1:12-15)
John saw Jesus as One with legs life burning brass, just as Ezekiel saw One on the throne with the appearance of fire from His loins downward. And John saw Jesus with a golden girdle about His paps, while Ezekiel saw God with the colour of amber from His loins upward. They saw the same One!
He mentions that four such cherubims stood on the chariot at seemingly four corners.
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. (Ezekiel 1:4-13)
Later, he saw these same creatures, and called them cherubims.
Ezek 10:1 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
We know these are the same creatures as seen in chapter 1 because of the identical description as that which is found in Chapter 1 of the four living creatures.
Ezek 10:14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
It is interesting to compare these cherubims’ faces with a particular note concerning Adam in the Bible. We will find that the mention of cherubims at the Garden of Eden is not the only thing which connected Adam with these beings.
CHERUBIMS AND CREATION
Gen 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Adam named specifically the cattle, beasts and fowl. Now cattle refers to domesticated animals, whereas beasts refers to undomesticated animals. And a lion is a beast. Oxen are cattle. And, of course, eagles are fowl. So Adam already had an intimate connection with the cherubims before he even fell, since three of the four faces of these cherubims represented the very four classes of animals which Adam named! And since the fourth face was of man, himself, we see the intimate connection most plainly!
CHERUBIMS AND NOAH
There is another instance when these four specific classes of creatures were noted by God.
Gen 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
God made a covenant with Noah, a man, and the fowl, cattle and beasts! Every MAJOR event that affected creation moved God to indicate something special about these four classes of creatures. For whatever reason He excluded fish and creeping things, we may not altogether understand. However, we can see something special with these four classes. And that is enough to link together some thoughts.
CHERUBIMS AND MOSES
Moses even spoke about Cherubims when God gave him instruction to build the tabernacle.
And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. Exo 25:18
The Mercy Seat was actually the lid for the ark of the covenant. This ark, or chest, proved to be the item of furniture within the tabernacle upon which God’s voice was actually heard, and spoken to the one, single individual who could enter the room in which it was placed.
And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him. Num 7:89
It was a secluded room, and accessible only by the single individual chosen to be High Priest, besides Moses. This man would enter the room called the Holiest of Holies once a year on the day of atonement to offer the blood in order to atone for Israel’s sins committed each year.
Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. (Leviticus 16:15-17)
The entrance to the secluded room was barred by a veil. And it is most enlightening to notice that, as the garden entrance was blocked by the cherubims, the veil which blocked entry into the holiest had images of cherubims on it, too!
And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. (Exodus 26:31-33)
GUARDIANS IN THE TABERNACLE
We see, then, cherubims guarding the entrance to the Garden, and also guarding the entrance into the most holy place. Notice, also, the wording regarding the cherubims on the mercy seat of the ark.
And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment (Exodus 25:18-22)
These creatures were represented as guarding the mercy seat since they COVERED it with their wings. Seeing that God’s Word offers eternal life (John 6:63,68), and the fruit from the tree of life offered man eternal life, we can see a definite parallel. We know that Jesus’ truth was unrevealed during the period of time before He came.
Mat 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
REMOVAL OF GUARDIANS AT THE CRUCIFIXION
These truths were hidden from mankind. Could it be that the guardianship of the cherubims over the mercy seat where God’s WORD spoke represented the MYSTERY of the Word being hidden from man, which gives eternal life, until Christ came!
And when Christ died, something else that was most notable happened.
Mat 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
That was the veil which had the cherubims in it! And we know that eternal life came to us through Christ’s death, since He died that we might be freed from Adam’s heritage of bondage to sin. We gained access to the tree of life, figuratively speaking, that we might have eternal life through Christ’s death.
Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Cor 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
CHERUBIMS AND REVELATION
We have seen the appearance of the Cherubims as witnessed by the prophet Ezekiel as each having the four faces of a lion, an ox, an eagle and a man. These same faces are seen on what John the Revelator called four beasts in his book of Revelation.
Rev 4:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Rev 4:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
BEAST in this passage is translated from the Greek word zoon, meaning a live thing. Ezekiel called the Cherubims living creatures in his first chapter.
Ezek 1:5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
Therefore we clearly see that the beasts of Revelation are the Cherubims of the Old Testament. The aspect of guardianship is also seen in Revelation, for these beasts stand around the throne of God in heaven, just as the cherubims were seen about the ark of the covenant and its mercy seat, or mercy throne. .
GUARDIANS IN THE TEMPLE
After the tabernacle was removed from Israel’s history, Solomon erected a temple in Jerusalem with basically the same layout as the Tabernacle. The temple, too, had a courtyard with a holy place and a holiest of holies. And whereas the ark sat in the holiest place of the tabernacle alone, the temple’s holiest place not only had the ark of the covenant, but also two giant cherubims made from olive wood and covered with gold.
And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high. And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size. The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house. And he overlaid the cherubims with gold. (1 Kings 6:23-28)
The ark was then placed underneath these giant creatures.
1 Ki 8:6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
So, not only was the presence of cherubims associated with the expulsion of mankind from the Garden, and the deluge of Noah, but they were also associated with the very important ceremonies involved with the tabernacle and temple worship. Their presence played an important role in the most serious and important dealings of God with mankind. We have seen their presence in the Garden of Eden and in the book of Revelation! Their meaning, therefore, has something to do with the inception of sin and the ending of sin.
FALLEN CREATION TO BE RESTORED
The fact that we see the presence of the face of a Lion and the face of an Ox upon each Cherub indicates another truth. The coming of Jesus Christ promised to accomplish some wonderful events, along with the great salvation made available to all mankind. Isaiah prophesied of His coming in Chapter 11 of his book, and in that same chapter we read:
Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
The calf and the young lion would dwell together. Now, today this would be impossible, for the two animals are enemies since lions eat calves of oxen. However, before Adam fell, they did not.
Gen 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
The picture in Isaiah shows a restorative thought in regards to creation. Some interpret this as a literal restoration of animal behaviour to it’s originally designed state, while others maintain the picture in Isaiah represents a spiritual union of peoples who once were violent and damaging into non-violent personalities by the changing power of Christ’s Spirit within. Either way, the thought of restoration is still the main thought. And the Cherubims are definitely linked with Christ’s salvation in some form of symbolism.
The greatest restoration we can imagine is that of mankind being restored into fellowship with God once again. And that occurs through Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Many of these points discussed will be discussed further in following studies, along with expansion of them, but suffice this study to be a preparation of basic understandings concerning the truth that the cherubims are representative creatures that have a major role in symbolizing truths regarding God’s great plan of restoring mankind to God through salvation.
What Are Cherubims
by Tony Warren
The Hebrew word Cherubim is the plural of Cherub. And contrary to popular mythology, Cherubim are not angels, enigmatic demigods, or the beautifully winged and scantily clad chubby children of Hebrew tradition. Despite what we've so often seen in illustrations, the fact is, you will never read in scripture of an angel or a messenger of God with wings. These well known images are not products of sound exegesis, but rather of imagination, conjecture, and mythology.
A Cherub is a symbolic figure representing certain characteristics of the Glory of God. These winged being depicted in scripture reveal to us Spiritual truths pictured in objects, symbols and imagery. The diverse attributes of these creatures are representative of some aspect of the likeness of the Glory of the Lord God Himself. In other words, it is a pictorial similitude, or portrayal, of His divine inherent characteristics. In this study we propose to demonstrate that the figure of the Cherub depicts the divine economy of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and as judge, sacrifice, and efficacy of the Church. In this figurative likeness, God is prefigured and represented as the consuming fire, the dwelling place, the guiding light, and the energy by which all that is good exists. These truths can only be made clear in the light of the scripture, and revealed by the Holy Spirit.
When we see Cherubim equated with a chariot of battle, or as inhabiting the stones of fire, this is all symbolic imagery that illustrates the Glory of God in spiritual chariot of battle, and the just fire of His righteous wrath. Chariots in scripture were mainly employed in wars, and (along with horses) conveyed the image of "strength of battle." They were what every military man would covet for his army.
1st Kings 20:25
Horsemen and chariots usually are images of a strong army, prepared for battle (Deuteronomy 11:4; Judges 4:7; 1st Samuel 8:12, 13:5; 1st Kings 9:12; Ezekiel 39:20). And God incorporates this image of "strength of battle" into the Cherubim, to illustrate that He is the warrior that goes forth conquering, and to conquer, and the judge that goes forth judging and to judge.
Other symbols within the cherubim show the Glory of God picture as Man, Strength, Wrath, Protector, Light, Sacrifice, Just, Temple, Avenger, Saviour, Consuming Fire and Judge of all the earth. When we study carefully, we can discern the Biblical symbolism in scripture, revealed in the light of scripture. For the Bible is it's own interpreter.
Each place where the Cherubim are found, you will find it illustrating one of these characteristics of the Glory of God. In the book of Isaiah Cherubim portray the dwelling place of God. In Ezekiel they portray the chariot of God's Glory, and His strength of battle. Just as chariots also portray strength of battle of the messengers or angels of God. In Genesis they portray God as the guardian protector. Symbolism is the key to understanding this. Revelation portrays Cherubim (creatures in the midst of the throne in heaven), as the Glory of Christ reigning with His Church. Whether Cherubim appear with two faces, or four faces, with flaming sword, or with coals of fire, it is all to signify some spiritual characteristic of the glory of God.
A seraph is another Hebrew word used in scripture to identify the symbolic creature signifying the likeness of God. These symbolic creatures are all but synonymous with the Cherubim. Seraphim [saraph] in Hebrew means "consuming fire" or to "cause to burn." This is quite consistent with the Cherubim who are associated intimately with fire, as those who walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, and that had hot coals of fire burning beneath them. Both the Cherubim and the Seraphim are creatures that are expressive of the divine righteousness and Glory of God, which requires man only have access to God, through the fire. These truths are depicted in these symbols.
In the appearance of these creatures, depending upon the context, God primarily gives us three pictures. One is of Cherubim being the presence and terror of God as He is a consuming fire (Genesis 3:24; Ezekiel 10:2), the warrior and Judge of all the earth. Another shows the divine characteristics of the Glory of God in the symbology of living creatures (Isaiah 6:2-6) with diverse faces depicting strength, sacrifice, atonement, and refuge (Ezekiel 1:4-28, 10:3-22; Revelation 4:6-8). Another is the purpose of God seen in the Cherubim furnishings which were a part of the Temple (Exodus 25:18-22; 1st Kings 6:23-35; 2nd Chronicles 3:7-14; Hebrews 9:5) and intimately identified with the Church. But they all have one thing in common. They all are symbols illustrating some Glory, quality and purpose of the Lord.
It is best that we start to look at the Cherubim from the beginning. The very first time that we see Cherubim mentioned in scripture, they are stationed East of the Garden of Eden with flaming sword. Here they were a signification of the presence of God's judgement after the fall. The flaming sword was a "figure" of God's justice, illustrating that Adam (man) would come under judgement if he would approach unto the tree of life, for he had become unworthy by his sin.
Adam was driven out of the glorious place of rest, and a flaming sword was placed at the entrance that prevented him from reentering. This illustrates that because of Adam's fall into sin, man could not stay in the place of rest, and he would be judged of God on attempting it. He needed a Savior in order to reestablish himself in the image of God and enter God's place of rest. He could not eat of the tree of life and live forever, because he would come under God's flaming sword of judgement. The sword represents the judgment of God's Word (for example as it protrudes from the mouth of Christ -Revelation 19:15), and fire represents it's judgment (Jeremiah 5:14). The lesson in the Garden of Eden is that man had sinned, and was now unworthy to enter paradise and eat of the tree of life and live forever. So between the paradise of everlasting life, and sinful man, stood the flaming sword of the Word of God as just judgement.
It is God who stands with the Word from His mouth as a flaming sword that no man (because of the sin of Adam) could enter paradise and live forever. It is His Word as a flaming sword guarding the way that assures this. Adam and Eve were cast out of the paradise of God because the wages of sin is death, and, the symbolism is that man is denied the privilege to eat of Christ and live forever. Adam's sin being imputed to us, means that we also cannot eat of Christ (the tree of life) that we live forever. Not 'unless' we go through the Cherubim's flaming sword and endure the judgment of the Word of God for our sins.
Fire or burning in scripture typically represents light, or the judgment of the Lord. In this event in the Garden, God is 'signifying' that the tree of Life is forbidden to man because of sin. God's flaming Sword in the hand of the Cherub would fall upon anyone unworthy who attempted to enter paradise. The flaming sword turning to guard every way, symbolizes God's omnipresence, the reality that no one can pass without going through this fire. It would turn to meet every comer. So except man go through the flaming sword, He cannot eat of the tree of Life. For God's Word is a fire which will judge (Jeremiah 5:14; 23:29). Nevertheless, for the elect, it is also a fire that will by judgment, cleanse in the efficacy of Christ.
Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, but the efficacy is by the death and resurrection of Christ as our substitute. In other words, without going through the judgement of God for our sin, we shall not enter paradise (signified by the Cherubim with flaming swords at the entrance) and eat of the tree that we have everlasting Life. We 'must' pass through the fires of God's judgment for our sins in order to be made clean and worthy. All must stand before the judgment throne of God. Either in Christ, in His first resurrection, or in the resurrection at the last day unto damnation.
We are full of impurities (sin) just as metals like gold and silver are full of impurities which must be purged by fire before it can be called precious. Through death and resurrection with Christ, the elect go through the fire of the God that they may be made clean and precious, that they can enter paradise and eat of the tree of life. We are baptized (cleansed) in the fire through Christ's death and resurrection.
Christ baptized or washed us with fire by taking upon Himself the judgment of God, which we deserved. The Cherubim with flaming sword, which guarded the tree of life, symbolized that judgment of God. When Christ overcame death and was raised up without corruption, we were risen with Him, made pure by the refiner's fire, clean of our sin. It is indeed because we overcome in Christ's overcoming, that we may eat of the tree.
We will only eat of that tree of life guarded by the Cherubim, in Christ's overcoming or prevailing. Christ said that though we have tribulation this world, we have peace in Him because "He had overcome" the world (John 16:33). Likewise, those who died with Him have overcome death in Him, that the promise from the beginning of everlasting life by the tree, might be fulfilled. Without Him, the flaming sword that turns every way unto the judgement of death (brought by Adam), awaits us.
1st Corinthians 15:20-22
The evidence of our going through the judgment of the Cherubim, is that by our having gone through the refiner's fire, and being born again from the dead, we then have access to this tree of life in the paradise of God. We are now those who are a new creation so that they will have an earnest desire to 'keep His Commandments.' This is also why the Cherubim overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant, which held the Ten Commandments. These ten laws were a synopsis of the entire law of God, which can only be kept by the efficacy of the mercy seat of Christ, between the Cherub. As pillars of fire these Cherub bracket Christ's Mercy seat, and overshadow the Ark that held the commandments.
Those who are in Christ, are those who are blessed and keep God's commandments, and have right to the tree of life. Those whom (in Christ) have gone through the Cherubim's flaming sword which protects the way of the tree of life, and have come through it unscathed. Indeed, by Christ having purchased it through His blood, they have divine right [exousia], or authority to eat of it. This is the spiritual signification of the Cherubim in Genesis. And it is the illustration of the two Cherubim on either side of the Mercy seat of Christ. They are still guarding the tree of Life.
The next time we read of Cherubim is after God delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. The Lord went before them by day in the pillar of a cloud to lead them, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light. Both the Pillar of Fire, and the Pillar of a Cloud, were representative manifestations of God, to the children of Israel during their sojourning in the desert. God is not literally fire, or literally a cloud, but He revealed himself in these forms to signify His presence with them, and his help to them. It is God who would both lead them, and lighten their way that they may see.
The cloud is often symbolic of the Glory of the Lord's presence, and here this cloud represents the Glory of the Lord that went before them. It illustrated His mercy upon the people, to be a help to them. This visible presence of God represented by the cloud is sometimes referred to as the "Shekinah Glory." While throughout the Bible we see fire represented both as the guiding light, and as the wrath of God, before which, no one can stand. The fire of God is both a guide, and judgment.
Other examples of this can be seen as God manifested Himself before man in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), or when Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire (Exodus 19:18). This is a token of the presence of God. The fire of the Lord signifies His judgement and presence. Likewise, when the fire is seen in the images of Cherubim, it illustrates light and judgement. It was in the wilderness that God commanded that the children of Israel build this symbolic representation, and place it at each end of the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant (box with the commandments inside it) in the tabernacle represent the law of God dwelling in the tabernacle. We, the believers, have the law of God within our hearts only because Christ is the tabernacle, which fulfilled the law for us. Thus the commandments that were placed inside the ark prefigure God's laws which He has put in our hearts through Christ (Psalms 40:8; Proverbs 3:1; Isaiah 51:7). This symbolism is all over the Ark, and Cherubim whose wings overshadowed it from either side.
The Lord dwelling between the two Cherubim illustrate Christ upon the mercy seat, guarded by the Cherubim (as the tree of Life was). The mercy in Christ is the only way by which anyone can keep the law of the Ark of the Tabernacle of God.
It is in our hearts that we are to put the testimony of the law that God gives us. The Ark of the Covenant wherein we have the law of God is the new heart that God has given us in Christ.
This is the ark of testimony within us, God tabernacling within our heart (Ezekiel 18:31, 36:26), the law secured by His mercy seat. A new heart wherein He puts a new Spirit of obedience to it, by the Covenant of Grace.
The Ark of the Covenant 'represents' that new heart in Christ, who is our tabernacle. This is where God dwells with His people in this Covenant relationship. The lid or mercy seat on the Covenant Ark, signified Christ's sacrifice that secures this relationship. The Cherubim are that representation of the visible glory of God as He dwells with Israel and leads them. For these Cherubim are 'figures' depicting not only His glorious guarding, judgement and sacrifice, but also protecting, dwelling, and the light of His leadership.
This Shepherd is the Lord who leads Israel, and His dwelling with the Cherubim (which are the symbols representing the Glory of God, which will go with Israel wherever they go), are illustrations of this personal relationship. God said that He would dwell with these Cherubim (the visible image of the glory of God), to illustrate His personal relationship with those hearts secured by the mercy seat of Christ. The hearts made lawful, signified by God's presence with the Covenant Ark of the law, which rested between the Cherubim.
1st Samuel 4:4
2nd Kings 19:15
These symbolic creatures are prefigured as judges and protectors of His dwelling place in the Holy Temple. They signify that God Himself would dwell with man in the Temple, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The creation of these figures over the Ark represented His covering, His condescension, His judgment, His preciousness, and the mercy by which He would bring the true children of Israel through judgement fire. They were commissioned to be made symbolic of these truths.
The faces of these Cherubim were to be turned one toward another, illustrating their communion or unity as one (the faces all symbolize some attribute of Christ), and their faces are towards the mercy seat, illustrating His favor upon man. God promised to meet with His people there. This can only signify it's done by the propitiation of Christ. i.e., The Lord will not hide His face from those under the blood of the Covenant. He will be their help and their shield, by efficacy of the blood of the redeemer.
The faces of the Cherub are toward the mercy seat because that is where God says that he would dwell with His people and meet with them. The law of God (illustrated by the ten commandments) was under the mercy seat (lid) of the Ark of the Covenant, and this is why God said in Exodus 25:22, "..I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two Cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel." God communes with them from the two Cherubim, the Shekina or visible glory of God. It is by the blood of Christ that we have been given a new heart to receive the testimony of the Covenant. When the high priest went into the Holy of Holiest, behind the veil, and communed with God, he made atonement for the sins of the people by blood upon this mercy seat, which the Cherubim overshadowed. These ceremonial laws were a figure of our access to God through our redeemer.
The blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat to make atonement. The mercy seat (lid) signified the atoning sacrifice of Christ, which is the shield, which secures that which is within the Ark of the Covenant. It is this mercy seat which is the strength of the believer, and because of this atonement that His word is secured in our heart, signified by the ark. The Covenant with God's people is made strong by the sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9:17), and the blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant signified that shield of faith.
The wings of the Cherubim, which were overshadowing the Mercy seat, signified that shield. It is a spiritual pictures His help, as the covering Cherub that we are protected from the wrath of God. All these images paint a glorious spiritual picture or illustration of the Glory of the Lord. Christ purging us of our sins in death, taking our judgement upon Himself glorifies His Holy name.
Again, we can see the example where King Solomon made two Cherubim of olive wood for the Holy of Holiest of the Temple (1 Kings 6:23). They covered the ark with their wings that it is an example that we know it is by the Grace of God that there is covering, mercy, and atonement. It is by appointment of God that the Cherubim are guarding the ark, and overshadowing those who are under the blood. In securing the way of Christ, the Cherubim secure all those in Christ.
1st Kings 8:6-7
The fact that a creature would shield the ark and the Mercy seat can only symbolize God's protection, refuge, and care over the mercy seat, and the children of Israel who are there in Christ.
The Cherubim are often seen in visions, such as those by Isaiah (6:2-6), Ezekiel (1:5-16; 10:1-21), and John (Revelation 4:6-9). They are always seen in connection with the glorious presence or God, the judgement of God, or the throne or dwelling place of God. They were made to illustrate God's presence in His Covenant relationship with His people.
These Cherubim were overlaid with gold as a figure to represent the Glory of God being Precious, or that of great value. The mercy seat or lid of the Ark itself was made of solid Gold, whereby we are given exceeding great and "precious" promises. It is called mercy because it symbolized God's unmerited favor and leniency, which would come upon those who are under the Covenant shield of Christ. It was here that the blood was to be sprinkled. As stated before, I believe that the Ark holding the law is representing our New hearts in Christ, and it illustrated our cleansing by that sprinkling of blood upon it.
The Cherubim are equated in every way with the person and work of Christ, but so is the mercy seat, which it overshadows. The faces of the Cherubim indeed look toward the mercy seat, signifying God does not hide his face from the elect who are saved by that propitiation for their sins. That is also why the New Testament references Cherubim in a description of the furnishings of the holy of holiest. The furnishings prefigure Christ, our propitiation.
The Greek word [hilasterion] translated "Mercy seat," and the word translated propitiation, are the exact same words. The sacrifice of Christ was prefigured by that mercy seat. In it is the symbolism of His redemptive work that our hearts might be made clean that we might obtain mercy. The Cherubim of the Tabernacle inside the Holy of Holiest, signified the care and protection of the person of Christ. It is by His flesh that the blood on the Mercy seat secured the only way to the Holiest God.
Indeed, signifying this, the symbolism of the Cherubim was interwoven into the veil of the tabernacle itself. The Cherubim prefigured the fact that through Christ's flesh, was that only way to meet in favor with God.
The veil we saw was signifying Christ's flesh, and we see that the Cherubim were interwoven into it.
The wings of the Cherubim illustrate what wings have always illustrated. When we think of what the wings of birds are for, one aspect is that we see that they allow birds to traverse the air to get to places quickly. God used doves descending to illustrate the Holy Spirit traversing through the air. Another aspect is that wings can be a help, as they allow birds to escape danger. A third aspect is that they keep chicks shaded from the heat of the sun, dry from the rain, and warm in the cold. In short, the wings of a bird are their mode of transport and their protector. The symbolism of wings, as used in scripture, is not unlike this. God uses wings to signify His protection over us as they cover us so that we are safe and secure. For example, in the aspect of help, God used the illustration of bearing the children of Israel up on Eagles wings, protecting them on their wilderness journey.
God is using the exact same analogy of a bird and how she protects with her wings her offspring. And this is the same symbolism of the Cherubim spreading abroad her wings covering the Ark of the Covenant. Believers are the offspring of God, the first born Children by the blood of Christ. The wings of the Cherubim signify that the covenant with Israel means Mercy to these offspring because the shed blood of Christ covers their sins. They will never die or lose their Salvation by falling away, for it is God Himself who has His wings outspread over them. Thus, the tables of the commandments in the Ark of the Covenant will not return void. The children are not dried up by the heat, nor drowned by the rain, nor blown away in the wind. It is God who will watch over the Covenant children. The wings covered the Mercy Seat to illustrate that the children of Israel obtain mercy by the overshadowing of the wings of God. A 'shadow' is a place of protection from the harmful effects of the heat. And heat is a figure of both the judgement of God, and that which, the enemies of God bring upon His children.
God doesn't have wings, but this is the similitude or imagery that He puts forth to demonstrate to us His glory and protection. And the wings of the Cherubim overshadow the mercy seat to signify the protection of Holy God over His Covenant people. By Christ going through the fires of God, a sacrifice for us, we have mercy and are overshadowed by God's wings. His dwelling place is now "our place" of refuge, a Kingdom or mountain retreat wherein we might find rest. He is our shelter from that which would destroy or hurt us.
This is the symbolism of the wings overshadowing the Mercy Seat. The love and mercy of God is demonstrated in the imagery of the seat or lid securing the law of God. It is upon this seat which Christ's blood made us dead to the law, that we are seen to have a pure heart. Thus, the fire from God cannot harm us, instead it is our guide and our protector.
The same cloud and smoke and flaming fire which God went in and used to symbolize His guarding the children of Israel when He brought them out of the land of Egypt, is the very same symbolism of the Cherubim with flaming swords that guarded the way of the tree of Life. The very same Cherubim that stand at each side of the Mercy seat, face towards each other, as guards overshadowing it.
These are symbolic pictures that are representing the Lord. He is the man who is a hiding place from the wind (psalms 32:7; psalms 119:114) and our shield. He is the true Holy Tabernacle, He is the Rock that casts a shadow in a weary land, and He is the anointed Cherub that covereth (more on this later) and protects us from the judgement of God. Only the wings of the Lord almighty Himself can overshadow the mercy seat of the Covenant. Only God Himself could be in such a lofty position over the sacrifice. And only the Lord God almighty Himself could prevent the wicked from eating from the tree of Life. Only the Lord can be the Glory of the Cherubim. He is this image of the spiritual chariot, the visible vehicle of battle in all Glory of God. There is hiding in His wings, and fire at His feet "because" He is God. We can see this same imagery of the Glory of God in the book of Habakkuk.
This is the image, similitude, or likeness of the Glory of God. It's not a literal picture of God, it's a "figure" symbolizing the characteristics of God. His glory covers the heavens and He has horns coming out of His hands and fire from His feet. God doesn't have literal horns coming out of his hands, nor does He walk on pillars of literal fire. The horns symbolize His "Power" and the fire symbolizes His "Judgement." We have to come to an understanding of God's use of symbolism. By comparing scripture with scripture, that God be His own interpreter, then we understand what the Cherubim with coals of fire at their feet, their wings, their faces, their wheels, and clouds truly symbolize.
2nd Samuel 22:11
The heavens didn't literally take a dip, nor does God literally ride upon the backs of angels, or use a literal chariot in the sky (with wings no less) to get around, but the wings of the Cherub is imagery depicting His ability to go anywhere by His Spirit. That is also what His being seen upon the wings of the wind signifies. i.e., wind doesn't have wings. This is a 'spiritual' picture illustrating a spiritual chariot of the air, wings of the Cherubim.
1st Chronicles 28:18
What need is there for Cherubim to have chariots? It should be self evident that this God is speaking in symbolic language. The chariot of the Cherubim here portrays the conveyance of God in battle. It signifies the Glory of God as He comes as the "vehicle" of warfare, judgment, and recompense to men. The very same image we see of Cherubim, or chariot of fire, which took Elijah up to heaven. This was the "likeness" illustrating the Glory of God.
2nd Kings 2:11-12
This whirlwind, chariot of fire, and horses of fire, all represented some aspect of God in His taking Elijah home. Our heavenly Father is the cherubim of Israel, the strength of battle, and the power unto taking us up to be with Him in paradise.
We should at this point take a closer look at some of the symbolism of chariots in scripture. In the Lord's first advent, chariots illustrated the judgement He received on our behalf.
This is set in the context of Christ victory at the cross when He brought Salvation, commanding thousands of thousands of chariots in defeat of the dragon and his "messengers," (see Revelation 12 study) that he gave gifts unto men, and dwells with them. One of the commentaries of this chapter is found in Ephesians chapter four:
This passage directs us back to the chariots of Psalms 68:17-20 demonstrating it's fulfillment in Christ's ascension on High, that we might have the gift of salvation. Chariots signified the judgement of God in His victory over death. Likewise,
The very same symbolism of strength of battle (warfare) in Zechariah, as we see demonstrated in Revelation chapter six, in the judgement of God as He sends forth the 'four horsemen.' The chariot with the Horses pictures this wrath of God, this judgement as they go forth to spiritual battle. Again, the Lord spoke of His coming in the same way in the book of Isaiah.
This is the image of the flaming sword, and the chariot of God. It is an image of God Himself as He is undefeatable in battle, and will plead with all flesh. Again, when God talks about the day of the Lord coming, He uses the very same symbolism of warfare of chariots, and of flames of fire.
This is the 'symbolism' depicting the judgement of God upon His Congregation, which was once as the Garden of Eden, and as His Holy Mountain. An army coming to destroy them with "Chariots of fire." Note how God depicts the false Christ from the bottomless pit "which He has loosed," so similarly to this symbolism in the book of Joel.
This is symbolism of the false Christ, the great deception of Satan that comes upon the congregation 'as judgement of God.' They are likened unto men, women, lions, wings, chariots, and horses prepared unto battle. These things are no coincidence. This is symbolism of the false body of Christ (as opposed to the true, symbolized by the Cherubim), set loose by God, who alone has the key to the bottomless Pit. Likewise the chariot symbolism in Zechariah's vision is of the coming of the Lord as a man of battle, in wrath against his enemies.
And so we see clearly that the Chariot symbolizes strength of battle. When used in representations of God, it pictures His conveyance and strength of war, and often as His chariot of wrath or judgement. All His children shall 'spiritually' be conveyed into heaven on chariots of fire (as Elijah did), which is the imagery of the glory of God Himself. When Christ appears at the Second Advent, He will appear on the clouds of Glory.
And so when we see these cherubim over the Ark, it is an illustration of the relationship of God to those whom He has made His children, and whom He has elected to be delivered into the kingdom of heaven, and who will never see death. He will fight for them against their enemies. The ark is a figure of this promise (Covenant) that He has with His people. When we see the image of the chariot, it depicts God's strength of battle. When we see the Cherubim's face as man, it depicts God as the substitute. When we see the cherubim face as an ox it depicts God as the sacrifice. In other words, they all show some particular aspect or characteristic of the Glory of God.
2nd Chronicles 5:7
God is illustrating His intimate and personal relationship with His children. Just as He illustrated when He left the Glory of heaven to take upon Himself the form of a man, that He might save them. The vehicle of the Glory of God in battle is seen in these images of Cherubim, as they are seen as spiritual chariots with wheels. We can also see this illustrated in Ezekiel.
The Glory of God was gone up from the Cherub to the threshold of the House of God, for judgement was nigh. Here the House of God is illustrating the Congregation, His dwelling-place. But God is now signifying it's judgement. And note Ezekiel makes it known that it is judgement that cannot take place until all God's servants are secured with a mark, that they will not be hurt. Continuing on, we read:
There is abomination in the city of God, and in the congregation of God, and those who are faithful to cry out to God because of these transgressions. These faithful are sealed or secured by being marked in their forehead that they will not come under this judgement of God. And we can see God illustrate this same marking in the foreheads before bringing judgement, in the prophecy of the book of Revelation. Likewise there, His judgement couldn't happen until after all His elect were marked in their foreheads.
The point here, in connection with Ezekiel chapter 9, is that the Glory of God had gone up from the Cherubim forestalling judgement of the Lord. They had to be marked before the coals of fire from the feet of the Cherubim could destroy the wicked. This is a signification of believers being sealed with the Holy Spirit. They first had to be marked as saved, and only then could the judgement of God come in the form of fire from the Cherubim.
Keep in mind that Ezekiel, Isaiah and John the Revelator, are seeing visions. Visions are images, figures, and symbolic representations of things. In determining the meaning of visions, we must examine the imagery and come to conclusions based upon what the imagery represents in the rest of scripture, harmonizing that with it's context. For example, in the symbology of John seeing the seven candlesticks of revelation 2-3. We don't just say they are candlesticks, we search out what they represent in scripture, and thus understand they symbolize Churches, as they are commissioned to bring the light. In this case Revelation chapter 1:20 tells us point blank they represent Churches, but in most cases we must search it out throughout the Bible to come to the correct conclusion. Likewise, the visions of the living creatures (or beasts) is symbolism which must be searched out in order to come to the 'true' meaning in the imagery of these Cherubim. They are described as a tetrad in Revelation.
These four beasts (living creatures) with wings are Cherubim, symbolic representation of the Glory of God in His divine attributes. The face of a lion is the image depicting God's strength, the face of a calf depicts His sacrifice, the face of a man God as He was manifested in the flesh, and the face of the flying Eagle, His judgement or protection over us. These symbols point directly to the Glory of God.
Christ, as a Lion, has fought against Satan and has prevailed [nikao], or subdued him in battle by His superior strength (Jeremiah 31:11; Luke 11:22). No one was found worthy to open the book illustrated in Revelation, until Christ (represented as the 'Lion of Juda,') came with the strength to conquer or overcome Satan. Likewise, when we read of the four living creatures in Ezekiel, these characteristics of God are highlighted, signifying His Glory. The prophet Ezekiel also describes the cherubim as a tetrad of living creatures, each having four diverse faces.
But when we read of this symbolism again in Ezekiel chapter 10, we note that the sacrifice bullock [showr] or Ox, is now identified as the face of a Cherub. So by reading chapter 10 of Ezekiel, God makes in clear that the face of the sacrifice is used interchangeably with face of the Cherub. They both are images of Christ, the Glory of God. Revelation chapter 4 calls it the face of a calf, which is also pointing to the sacrifice (Luke 15:23). Moreover, this entire image in Ezekiel is called the Cherubim. And so this in itself illustrates clearly that it represents the image of the Lord God, as He is the strength, sacrifice, propitiation, and refuge for those under the blood of the covenant. And it's wings being the vehicle, conveyed the Word of God.
Here this creature is called the Cherubim, and what He does represents the judgement of almighty God. The wings of the Cherubim are said to be as the voice of almighty God Himself. This is because the wings of this creature, like it's wheel within a wheel, representing the freedom to move in any direction (God's omnipresence). The wheels symbolize the conveyance or vehicle of the Spirit of God, and nothing stops them. These symbolic wheels join the cherubim with the earth. This fire between the wheels of the Cherubim symbolize the judgement of God which is given to plague the wicked, after the servants who cry because of the abominations are marked. Ezekiel is a marvelous vision in symbolism, which paints a picture of the Glory of God in relationship to His people and judgement.
Ezekiel confirms this is the very same image that He saw in Ezekiel chapter 1 by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 1:1,3,10). And it is Cherubim. But note that God has changed the 'imagery' here to show us "other" characteristics of the Glory of God. The very fact that Ezekiel saw the Cherubim in his visions 'vividly as symbolic images' prove that they are indeed not angels as so many believe, but figures illustrating the aspects or characteristics of God Himself. It would be blasphemous to picture angels as the "Sacrifice."
Another clue is that the coals of fire taken from between the wheels of the Cherubim also illustrate the consuming fire of judgement which from God. And the wheels again symbolize His conveyance. That they turn not, and have eyes, symbolize His omniscience (all seeing) that the purpose of God is straight and true, turning not to the left hand nor the right. He is just and righteous in His judgements. He sees all, and does not turn away from His divine purpose and will. All things point to the inescapable conclusion that these living creatures could not be angels, as everything about them are signs of the "likeness or image" of the Glory of God Himself.
The image or likeness of God is as fire, not angels. Angels are ministering spirits, not a consuming fire. There were burning coals of fire before the altar of the Lord to symbolize His judgement upon Christ, our sacrifice. Who was judged for our sins, and yet, being God, was not consumed. And the coals of fire beneath the Cherubim's wheels likewise symbolize His judgement. The Cherubim appearing as lamps, symbolize that God is the light. As also demonstrated in passages like Habakkuk.
Their appearance was like burning coals of fire at the feet or wheels of the Cherubim, and their appearance was like Lamps. God declares He is the lamp. Here in Habakkuk we can see clearly this is the image of the Glory of God as the light, and as coals of fire at His feet. Ezekiel says that out of the fire of these creatures, went forth lightning.
In all of scripture, angels are never called lightning, nor moved as lightning, nor looked like lightning. This is symbolism that is reserved for aspects of God. As lightning strikes in the east and shines to the west, so shall the coming of the Lord be.
The Lord is as the appearance of lightning. We can also see this is we consider wisely the symbolism of the Lord in both the visions of Daniel, and Revelation.
In revelation, this image is a symbol of God dwelling in the midst of the Churches, just as the Cherubim were a symbol of God dwelling in the midst of the Temple. It was not an angel, it was the likeness of the Glory of the Lord our God. And in fact, we do not even have to speculate what the Cherubim are, because God himself tells us this "unambiguously." That is to say, if we will receive it.
The bow is a token or symbol of a Covenant between God and His people (Genesis 9:13-15). And God, speaking of these Cherubim, point blank tells us, it was the likeness [demuwth], or similitude, the very image of God. How much clearer can it get? God says point blank, this Cherubim was the appearance of an image of the Glory of God. It was not an angel, it was not God (no man can see God and live), but it was the likeness or similitude of the Glory of God.
It is imagery which is a token (sign), just as all the furniture which was in the Holy Temple were for tokens which represented some aspect of God. For example, candlesticks representing light, or the Altar representing sacrifice, etc. Because no man can truly see God in all His Glory, therefore we see here a 'likeness' of Him in symbolic imagery.
1st Timothy 6:16
And the picture of Cherubim illustrate this Glory of the Lord in images that man can understand. Because as men, this is the only way that we can see the divine nature of God, and live. We see by the images pictured in the Word of God, made manifest by His Spirit. No man can see God at any time, but by the Spirit of Christ, He has declared him to us in parables or symbolic representations.
We cannot see the true face of God and live, therefore God shows His face in the imagery of the face of a Calf, and Man, and Eagle, and Lion. God hid His face from Moses as He passed by so that he only saw the tiny edge of the Glory of God. And yet Moses face still shone so bright from this that the Children of Israel were afraid of Him. He gives us these visions of the 'likeness' or image of Himself because, by the Spirit, it is the only way we can learn who God is, and what He represents. We are finite, God is infinite. God inspired these prophets to describe Him in symbolic terms, picturing a likeness that we would understand. We understand that Gold is as precious as gold, we understand the protection of eagle's wings, we understand the futility of trying to get past a flaming sword which turns every which way, we understand how burning coals of fire can be the torment of judgement, and how the life of the blood of an Ox or calf signifies a blood sacrifice for our sins. This symbolism is for us and our understanding of the Glory of God.
When Ezekiel saw the Cherubim and realized that He was looking at the very image of the Glory of God, he did what any faithful Christian who fears God would do. He fell on His face. And that is when He heard the voice of God, not the voice of angels. So from the preponderance of Biblical evidence, we can see that these Cherubim are representations of God.
Symbolism in scripture is not something new, God has incorporated it in His most Holy word from the inception of it's writing. We only need to study the scriptures with an earnest desire to be obedient to it, and the truth of it will shine through.
I would be remiss in this study of Cherubim, if I did not also touch on a chapter that has been of great controversy. It is the passage where theologians originally got the whole idea of Cherubim being angels in the first place. The source of confusion is the mention of the Cherub in Ezekiel 28:14. The passage in question quite clearly declares that the person it is speaking about as the covering Cherub is the king of Tyrus, not an angel. Nevertheless, certainly we can understand their logic, if not their entrenchment. They 'assume' that because the reference here says the king was in the Garden of Eden, it has to refer to Satan as a fallen angel. And from this they surmise that God is using the king as a type. However, without Biblical warrant, we cannot make such a leap of faith in interpretation. The rule of thumb applies. "Assumption is the mother of error."
At first glance it is easy to see how one could make such a mistake about the king representing a fallen angel. However, rather than reading into this text an angel, the king of Tyrus is quite clearly a man being castigated by God for being created in the image of God as righteous, but who has turned from God in his sin, and has thus come under judgement. So rather than represent an angel, this man represents man. It is man as he was in Adam before the fall. Man, as he was created in the "image" of God, but who has fallen, in Adam.
1st Corinthians 15:20-22
Now the spiritual darkness begins to clear, that we can see more of the picture. We were 'all' created in the image of God in Adam. The sin of Adam separated man from God, their Creator, and in the process separated all of us in generations to follow from our Creator God. It was man who was perfect in the mountain or Kingdom of God. But sin was found in us, and we all died in Adam (1st Corinthians 15:20-22) and are under judgment. And except we are restored to the image of God that 'man' had in the garden, we remain fallen, and subject to the wrath of God. The king of Tyrus is man, from the loins of Adam, who can only be restored to the image of God, in the second Adam, which is Christ.
It was man (Adam, not angels) who was in the Garden of Eden where every precious stone was his covering. It was Adam who was the anointed Cherub that covereth upon the Holy mountain of God, <u>as the very image of the Glory of God</u>. It was Adam who walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire (in the presence of God) in that garden. In point of fact, the very name "Tyrus" means a stone. So it's quite obvious to me what is being illustrated here. It was in Adam that man, in the image of God, was perfect in all his ways in the garden among the stones of God, from the day that he was created, until iniquity was found in him (the fall). And the fall of the king of Tyrus in his sinfulness "personifies" this fall from grace by Adam. God is here illustrating to us, fallen man. Man qualifies by attempting to be like God by eating of the tree of knowledge. Man qualifies for "all" that we read in Ezekiel 28:12-16. But Angels do not. We interpret scripture by scripture, not by popular assumptions. And not once do we read of angels in the Garden of Eden. Not once do we read of angels falling in the Garden of Eden. Not once do we read of angels being corrupted because of knowledge. Not once do we read of angels defiling their sanctuaries by the multitude of their iniquities. On the contrary, we read of man in the garden, man was perfect there from the time he was created, and man is the one who fell there. And did Not God say these very things of Adam?
It is man who was corrupted because of knowledge. He sought to be as God by his disobedience in eating of the tree of knowledge, and it was this that caused his fall in the day he transgressed. Satan in the Garden of Eden didn't have every precious stone his covering, but Adam was made glorious, precious in the sight of the Lord. Satan was not set the anointed Cherub that covereth upon the holy mountain of God, but scripture says Adam (man) was created in the very image of God so that this definition is consistent. In point of fact, everything in the Garden of Eden, including the serpent, was 'under dominion of Adam,' (Genesis 1:26-28;3:1) as He was perfect. Adam was the very likeness or image of God. ..as a Cherub.
Letting the scripture be it's own interpreter, we must ask where is it written in scripture that Satan was created in the image of God, in the Garden of Eden? We don't read that of Satan, but we do read that of man. Scripture does not say that Satan was perfect in the day He was created until his fall, but God created Adam (man) perfect, without sin, with free access to the tree of Life until the day of his fall. In all of scripture, there is no one (besides Christ, the God man) whom God declares was created perfect, except Adam. This in itself should illustrate to us that the king of Tyrus "personifies" man who had everything, and lost it in the fall. In fact the language 'perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created,' clearly harkens back to the creation of Adam.
So again, it all points to the King of Tyrus as a representation of fallen Man, not of an angel or Satan. Adam walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire and had no reason to hide from God before the fall. All these things which God speaks of concerning the King of Tyrus, applies to Adam before the fall. He was the very image of God (cherub) from the day that he was created, till iniquity was found in him. And by the multitude of his iniquity is there violence, and he has sinned, and therefore will God cast him as profane out of His Mountain. When God says, "Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus," it is a lamentation for man, not for Satan, nor for fallen angels. When God says, "I will destroy thee, O covering Cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire," it speaks of the judgment of man, and how He is come under the wrath of God.
And so the support for the Cherub being an angel is not really as sound as many people might think. The symbolic image of the Cherubim, that John, Isaiah and Ezekiel saw, were a pictorial figure of the glory of God. And the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, and Lord, dwelling with the Cherubim, illustrated that the tabernacle of God is with men, and that He would dwell with them, and they would be his people, and He their God. It's the personal relationship of the Creator, to His people.
2nd Kings 19:15
Cherubim are the watchers and guardians over the Holiness and person of the Lord. It is their spiritual responsibility to be the fiery judge of anything that is unholy that should come into God's presence (Gen. 3:24). And who could there possibly be as guardian over God, but God. Is there anyone higher, stronger, or who could protect the way of the tree of Life better than God? Does God need angels to watch over Him? This was the likeness or image of the Glory of the Creator of heaven and earth, and it illustrates God's terribleness, His Kingship over all that Creation, and His personal relationship with His people. The Lord is not making His habitation in the Mercy Seat dwelling with angels overshadowing Him, He dwells in the Glory of God, in the very Image of God, because He and the Father are one.
And because the elect are returned to the image of Christ, Cherubim will also have the connotation of illustrating a certain symbolic representation of redeemed humanity in the body of Christ. Our fellowship, our companionship with God is through the work of Christ. We again have that Garden of Eden communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, when we are conformed to His perfect image (Romans 8:29). We may not be able to understand perfectly this symbolism of the Cherubim relationship, but the image of God is there for all to see.
2nd Corinthians 3:18
The Cherubim are symbolic imagery of the Glory of God Himself, and are intimately related to man. God is said to ride upon the Cherubim, because it is His vehicle, the symbolic figure of His strength of battle, as it appears a chariot and horses of fire. It's feet walk among the stones of fire to illustrate that the Glory of God is seen as He goes forth in this image of coals of fire as from a furnace, signifying His wrath and judgment. But the Cherubim not only illustrate a representation of His judgements upon man, but also of His communion, sacrifice, love, mercy, protection and care for the believer. For the Cherubim "are" the appearance of the very likeness of the Glory of the LORD (Ezekiel 1:28), that can be seen of man. The key is in the symbolism so prevalent in it's illustration. God already plainly told us what the Cherubim were.
May the Lord who is gracious above all grant us the wisdom to discern His most holy Word, and to understand the symbolism that He has made manifest, for our encouragement.