Who or What are Cherub, Cherubim & Seraphim?
Are Cherub, Cherubim & Seraphim an order of Angelic beings?
There is lot of confusing information out on the internet about them and unfortunately much if it is myth.
We are currently doing an in-depth Biblical study on Cherubs.
The first part of the study of Cherub & Cherubim will be from Ezekiel.
What we did is gather all the various scripture references about Cherubs, Cherubim, then carefully went though each passage and analyzed them, below is a breakdown of what we came up with so far.
In the vision given to Ezekiel recorded in chapter 1:4-28 he sees what he describes as four living creatures. In another vision recorded in chapter 10:1-22 he sees the same four living creatures, and in verse 20 he states; "This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims." This statement confirms that these were actually Cherubim, and that they were the same creatures in the both visions.
The Outward Appearance of the Cherubs recorded in Ezekiel,
What do Cherubs look like? The Bible actually does have a lot to say about the appearance of these creatures, and Ezekiel gives some of the greatest detail concerning their appearance.
Details of Ezekiels visions;
- The four living creatures each had four faces and four wings and the hands of a man under their wings. Ezk 1:6-8.
- Their wings were were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. Ezk 1:9
- The appearance of their four faces were; 1 face of a man , 1 face of a lion, 1 face of an ox and 1 face of an eagle, Note: in Ezekiel 10 the face of the ox was now the face of a Cherub. Ezk 1:10
- Their entire bodies, backs, their hands, and their wings were full of eyes round about. Ezk 10:12
- 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 color of burnished brass. Ezk 1:7
- 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. Ezk 1:13
- The sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh. Ezk 10:5
Symbolic interpretation of the Cherubim of Ezekiel,
If we are ever to come a full understanding about the visions in Ezekiel concerning Cherubs we must come to the reality that these passages need to be interpreted symbolically. Many of the terms used to describe the appearance and actions of these living creatures can be found elsewhere in the Bible, so staying with the principle of comparing scripture with scripture, lets examine those symbolic terms in greater detail, using the Bible as a guide.
Symbolism of the four faces of the four living creatures,
Face of a Man. Symbolic of being associated with mankind. Christ is God come in the flesh, called both Son of God and the Son of man.
- This face represents God as Man. Click here for more about the Cherub Face of a Man.
Face of a Lion. Lions are used symbolically throughout the Bible, often associated with the anger and wrath of God. In Revelation 5 Christ himself is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who was found worthy to open the book which has seven seals. This book contains all the judgments that are to come upon mankind.
- This face represents God as the Judge. Click here for more Scripture references.
Face of an Ox & Cherub. Oxen were used in the sacrifices of the Old Testament, The Oxen represented Christ in the Old Testament sacrifices.
- This face represents Christ as the Sacrifice.
Face of an Eagle. In Revelation 12 we find that the woman (who is symbolic of true believers) was carried to safety on the wings of a great eagle to be protected from the serpent (Satan).
- This face represents Christ as the Protector.
Symbolism of the other attributes of the four living creatures.
The Feet. (straight feet, sole of a calfs foot & sparkled like the color of burnished brass). Feet symbolizes the inward desire or will of the individual.
Ps 116:8 "For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling." Calfs are associated with the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
Brass is associated with offerings. Ex 25:2-3 "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering, And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass"
Straight feet. Straight or straightness is often used symbolically as a pathway or direction that leads to God.
Ps 5:8 "Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face."
- The feet of the Cherubs are symbolic of Christs perfect willingness to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice.
The Brightness. (coals of fire, lamp, lightning). Fire is symbolic of judgement, (either being tested by or having been judged by God). Lamp is symbolic of being under the direction of or being lead by (God).
Ps 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
Lightning is symbolic of of the Will of God. Job 37:3, Zch 9:14. The bright appearance of the Cherubs is symbolic of Christ as Judge doing the Will of God.
The Eyes. (covering the whole body, backs, hands & wings). Eyes are symbolic of a path or doorway to the soul, mind or heart.
Ps 119:18 "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
- The eyes of the Cherubs are symbolic of Christ as the only path to God. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Many commentators often interpret the eyes as the all seeing & all knowing ability of God, and that my also be true but I wanted to bring into the meaning that eyes are also a pathway.
The Sound of the Cherubs wings. (heard to the outer court, as the voice of Almighty God). Sounds are received via the ears and ears are also symbolic of a path or doorway to the soul, mind or heart. 1 Co 2:9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
The Outer Court. The translation of the passage literally means, (the sounds were heard until the outside of the court). Meaning the sounds were heard inside the court but not heard outside the court. The inner court was reserved only for the priests, (who are symbolic of true believers), beyond or outside the inner court is symbolic of false prophets and non-believers.
Rev 22:15; "For without [outside] are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore mongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh. This is a straight forward statement meaning that God Himself speaks through the Cherubs.
- The sounds of the wings of the four living creatures is symbolic of God can only be truly heard through Christ, and only true believers can hear Christs voice.
Jn 10:26-28 "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
The Number 4. (4 living creatures, 4 faces, 4 wings) Ezekiel 10:20; "This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.", the literal translation describes the Cherubim both in the singular & plural forms, couple this with the description in Ezk 1:9 of their wings being joined together suggests that this was one creature representing the number 4.
- The number 4 symbolically represents universality, all encompassing or to the fullest extent, i.e., the four corners of the earth symbolizes the entire earth. The number 4 is also associated with God/Christ Himself. In the book of Daniel in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they were thrown into a fiery furnace for not worshipping an image of gold, we see the forth person representing Christ; Dn 3:24-25 "Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
The number 4 associated with the Cherubim is symbolic of God revealing all of Himself through Christ.
The Actions of the Cherubs in Ezekiels visions. How the Cherubim came to Ezekiel. Ezk 1:4-5 "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."
Whirlwind out of the North. A Whirlwind is symbolic of the anger & judgement of God. Is 66:15-16 "For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many."
North is symbolic of Heaven, or the dwelling place of God. Ps 48:2 "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."
A Great Cloud. Clouds have multiple symbolic means;
Ex 13:21 "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way..."
Ex 19:9 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever..."
Fire, infolding itself. In this instance fire is symbolic of light.
Ex 13:21 "... and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:"
Color of Amber (Brass or Copper), out of the midst of the fire. The Hebrew word for Amber is more often translated brass or copper.
Getting back to the question of what are Cherubs and whether Cherubs are angels; Now, after examining the details of Ezekiel visions, we can clearly see that they have very little in common with the traditional stories concerning the outward appearance of Cherubs. So we can easily say Cherub looking like a small child is a myth.
From the above analysis I think it fair to say that we cannot yet determine if Cherubs are angels, that is, are created beings that reside in Heaven doing Gods assigned tasks. Other possibilities are that Cherubs are purely symbolic representations of God Himself, are representations of true believers or they are created entities but their purpose is entirely directed to God, without personalities themselves.
This is a work in progress, more coming soon.