The Bible is filled with references to creatures that are, to say the least, strange in appearance. Some of the most fascinating creatures mentioned in Scripture are the cherubim. Cherubim are angelic beings that appear at very significant places throughout Scripture. Pay special attention to these creatures when they are mentioned — they tell an important story.
Cherubim were at the Garden of Eden — “So God drove out the man, and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). The first reference to cherubim finds them guarding the way to the garden of Eden. Cherubim, in the Old Testament, are always found wherever sin separates man from God.
Cherubim were on the Tabernacle Veil — “You shall make a veil woven of blue, scarlet, and purple thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim” (Exodus 26:31). When the Levite priests entered the Holy Place they immediately saw two cherubim with wings outstretched on the veil that marked the entrance to the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest had access to the Most Holy Place, and only once a year — on the Day of Atonement (Heb. 9:7). Again, the cherubim are found guarding that which is holy from that which is profaned by sin.
Cherubim were on the Ark of the Covenant — “And the cherubim will stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings” (Exodus 25:20). Scripture says that God spoke with the High Priest, “from between the two cherubim on the ark of the Covenant” (Ex. 25:22). The wings of the cherubim always seem to warn sinful man that God is holy, and that He can have no part of sin (Hab. 1:13; Isa. 59:1-2). When the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place to make atonement for the sins of Israel, the cherubim on the mercy seat were a constant reminder of the holiness of God. A sobering thought!
Cherubim were in the Throne room of God — Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne included a description of creatures he calls “seraphim” (Isa. 6:2ff). These “seraphim” look and act just like cherubim, however. They have wings with which they constantly show humility, reverence, and obedience before God (Isa. 6:3). In addition, their constant cry is, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:4). When Isaiah realizes his sin in the presence of a holy God, one of the “seraphim” immediately purges his lips with a hot coal (Isa. 6:6).
Cherubim were instrumental in Judgment on nations — Ezekiel saw cherubim bearing and guarding the throne of God as He comes in judgment on the wicked nation of Judah (Eze. 1:5-21; 10:2ff). The Psalmist described a wrathful God, “riding on a cherub” (Psalm 18:10), coming to judge the wicked. Because of God’s holiness, cherubim are pictured as instrumental in God’s judgment on nations in history.
Cherubim are seen worshipping with believers — Revelation 4 describes living creatures that look very similar to the cherubim of Isaiah and Ezekiel. However, while the cherubim warned about God’s holiness throughout the Old Covenant, now they are pictured as worshipping God and the Lamb with believers (Rev. 4:8; 5:8-14). The blood of Jesus forever removed the veil of the tabernacle (Matt. 27:51). In Christ, the cherubim no longer warn us not to approach God because of His holiness — now they worship God with us (cf. Rom. 8:1; Heb. 10:19-20)! Keep your eyes on the cherubim! — JB