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                         "MINISTERING SPIRITS"

                       The Cherubim And Seraphim

INTRODUCTION

1. The Old Testament certainly has much to say about angels...
   a. Their service to God and to His people
   b. Carrying out God's will as messengers and in other ways

2. Also serving God are two other classes of spiritual beings...
   a. Cherubim (singular, cherub or cherubim) - a word whose etymology
      is uncertain
   b. Seraphim - a word meaning "fiery ones"

3. What were these spiritual beings...?
   a. They certainly fall into the category of 'ministering spirits'
   b. Are they angels, perhaps of a higher order or class?

[We may not know the answer this side of eternity, but let's see what
the Bible reveals...]

I. THE CHERUBIM

   A. AS GUARDIANS OF PARADISE...
      1. Placed by God after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden
         - Gen 3:24
      2. "In their function as guardians of Paradise the cherubim bear
         an analogy to the winged bulls and lions of Babylonia and
         Assyria, colossal figures with human faces standing guard at
         the entrance of temples (and palaces), just as in Egypt the
         approaches to the sanctuaries are guarded by sphinxes." - ISBE
      3. No description is given, but note the mention of "flaming
         sword"

   B. AS BEARERS OF THE THRONE...
      1. As attendants of God, they bear the throne upon which He
         descends from His high abode - Ps 18:9-10a
      2. Through the use of synonymous parallelism they are described as
         "the wings of the wind" - Ps 18:10b; cf. Ps 104:3
      3. Thus God is described as "enthroned above the cherubim" - Psa
         80:1; 99:1; 1Sa 4:4

   C. AS WINGED CREATURES OF FIRE...
      1. "...the function of the cherubim as bearers and movers of the
         Divine throne is brought out most clearly in the vision of
         Ezekiel" - ISBE
         a. In chapter 1 the prophet designates them as 'living
            creatures' - Eze 1:4-5
         b. He later perceives that the living creatures were 'cherubim'
            - Eze 10:15,20
         c. The chariot or throne, from which the glory of God went up,
            is spoken of as a cherub - Eze 9:3
      2. The cherubim as seen by Ezekiel were four living creatures,
         each having...
         a. Four faces: man, lion, ox (replaced in the parallel chapter
            by cherub) and eagle - Eze 1:10; 10:14
         b. The figure and hands of men - Eze 1:5,8
         c. Straight legs, with the soles of their feet like that of
            calves, sparkling like burnished bronze - Eze 1:7
         d. Four wings
            1) Two stretched upward, meeting above and sustaining the
               'firmament', the bottom of the Divine throne- Eze 1:11,
               22; 10:1
            2) Two stretched downward, covering their bodies - Eze 1:11,
               23
            3) Having the noise of many waters, like the voice of the
               Almighty, the tumult of an army - Eze 1:24
      3. The cherubim as seen by Ezekiel in appearance were...
         a. Surrounded by coals of fire - cf. Eze 10:2,6
         b. Like burning torches, the fire flashing up and down among
            the creatures, out of which went lightning - Eze 1:13
      4. The cherubim as seen by Ezekiel...
         a. Run back and forth in appearance like a flash of lightning
            - Eze 1:14
         b. Do not turn as they changed direction, but always go
            straight forward - Eze 1:9,17; 10:11
         c. Each had beside them a wheel - Eze 1:15-21
            1) Like the color of beryl (sea green or gold colored) - Eze
               1:16
            2) Like a wheel within a wheel - Eze 1:16
            3) That did not turn aside as they went in the four
               directions - Eze 1:17
            4) With rims high and awesome, full of eyes - Eze 1:18
            5) Which followed the cherubim wherever they went - Eze 1:19
            6) The spirit of the cherubim provided the direction of the
               wheels - Eze 1:19-21; 10:16,17
      5. Above the cherubim (living creatures) was...
         a. A firmament like the color of an awesome crystal - Eze 1:
            22-23
         b. A voice from above the firmament - Eze 1:25
         c. A throne like a sapphire stone, on which sat one with a
            likeness of a man - Eze 1:26
            1) His waist upward was the color of amber, like fire all
               around - Eze 1:27
            2) His waist downward like fire with brightness all around
               - Eze 1:27
         d. The brightness like the rainbow all around - Eze 1:28
         -- Which Ezekiel described as the likeness of the glory of the
            Lord - Eze 1:28; cf. Re 4:2-6

   D. AS ORNAMENTS IN THE TABERNACLE AND TEMPLE...
      1. In the tabernacle
         a. On the mercy-seat covering the ark were two cherubim of
            solid gold
            1) Facing each other, with wings outstretched above - Exo
               25:18-20; 37:7-9
            2) On which the glory of the Lord appeared, and from which
               He spoke - Exo 25:22; Num 7:89; cf. 1Sa 4:4; 2Sa 6:2;
               He 9:5
         b. On the curtains were woven artistic designs of cherubim
            - Exo 26:1; 36:8
         c. On the veil of the tabernacle also - Exo 26:31; 36:35
      2. In the temple of Solomon
         a. In the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place - 1Ki 6:23-29;
            2Ch 3:10-13
            1) Placed over the ark of the covenant - 1Ki 8:6-7; 2 Chr
               5:7-8
            2) Where God's presence was manifested - 2Ki 19:15; Psa
               80:1; 99:1
         b. On the veil - 2Ch 3:14
         c. On the walls and door - 1Ki 6:29-35; 2Ch 3:7
         d. On the ten carts and ten lavers - 1Ki 7:29,36
      3. In the temple of Ezekiel
         a. That is, the temple seen by Ezekiel in a vision - Ezek 41-43
         b. The inner walls of the temple were carved with alternating
            palm trees and cherubim, each with two faces, a lion on one
            side, a man on the other - Eze 41:18-20
         c. The doors of the sanctuary were carved with cherubim - Eze
            41:23-25
      4. In the temple of Herod
         a. "There were no cherubim in the temple of Herod, but the
            walls were painted with figures of them (see Talmud)."
            - ISBE
         b. "In the times of Josephus no one knew what the Scriptural
            cherubim looked like (Ant., VIII, iii, 3)." - ISBE

[Unlike the cherubim, there is only one specific mention of the seraphim
in the Bible...]

II. THE SERAPHIM

   A. AS SEEN IN ISAIAH'S VISION...
      1. The Lord is on a throne in the temple, high and lifted up - Isa
         6:1
      2. The seraphim are above the throne - Isa 6:2a
      3. They had six wings - Isa 6:2
         a. Two covered the face
         b. Two covered the feet
         c. With two they flew
      4. One cried to one another:  "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of
         hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!" - Isa 6:3
      5. One flew to Isaiah - Isa 6:6-7
         a. With a live coal in his hand taken with tongs from the altar
         b. Touching Isaiah's mouth with it, saying:  "Behold, this has
            touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your
            sins purged."

   B. AS DESCRIBED IN VARIOUS SOURCES...
      1. "This word means fiery ones, in allusion, as is supposed, to
         their burning love. They are represented as 'standing' above
         the King as he sat upon his throne, ready at once to minister
         unto him. Their form appears to have been human, with the
         addition of wings." - Easton's Dictionary
      2. "Nowhere else applied to God's attendant angels; but to the
         fiery flying (not winged, but rapidly moving) serpents, which
         bit the Israelites (Num 21:6), called so from the poisonous
         inflammation caused by their bites. Seraph is to burn; implying
         the burning zeal, dazzling brightness (2Ki 2:11; 2Ki 6:17;
         Eze 1:13; Mt 28:3) and serpent-like rapidity of the seraphim in
         God's service. Perhaps Satan's form as a serpent (nachash) in
         his appearance to man has some connection with his original
         form as a seraph of light. The head of the serpent was the
         symbol of wisdom in Egypt (compare Num 21:8; 2Ki 18:4). The
         seraphim, with six wings and one face, can hardly be identified
         with the cherubim, which had four wings (in the temple only
         two) and four faces (Eze 1:5-12). (But compare Rev 4:8).  The
         'face' and 'feet' imply a human form; something of a serpentine
         form (perhaps a basilisk's head, as in the temples of Thebes)
         may have been mixed with it: so the cherub was compounded of
         various animal forms. However, seraph may come from a root
         meaning 'princely,' applied in Dan 10:13 to Michael [MAURER];
         just as cherub comes from a root (changing m into b), meaning
         'noble.'" - JFB
      3. "The most that can be said with certainty about the seraphim is
         that they were a separate group of attendants who praised God
         at His throne." - ISBE (revised)

CONCLUSION

1. Whether seraphim or cherubim can rightly be called angels may be
   uncertain...
   a. Perhaps they are a higher class or order of angels - cf. He 1:7
   b. If they are akin to the 'living creatures' in the book of
      Revelation, they seem to be distinguished from angels - cf. Re 4:
      6-8; 5:11

2. In either case, they were certainly 'ministering spirits' whose
   service reminds us...
   a. Of the glory and majesty of Him who sits on the throne
   b. Of the mercy and forgiveness of the God Whom they praise

Do we like the cherubim over the mercy-seat long to behold the mercy God
extends to His people?  Do we like seraphim find the holiness of God
worthy to be praised?  We should...

   "But you [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
   nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises
   of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who
   once [were] not a people but [are] now the people of God, who had
   not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." (1Pe 2:9-10)

Have you accepted the gospel call that qualifies you to live a life of
praise and service to such a wonderful God...? - cf. 2Th 2:14; Col 1:
12-13
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