Cherubim. Thanks to the artist, Raphael, when we think of the Cherubim we think of cute, chubby angelic creatures that live in the clouds…Cherubs, as we like to call them. In fact, they’re so adorable we often refer to babies as little cherubs.
But what exactly is a Cherubim? In the bible, they’re always referred to as living creatures or heavenly beings.
So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. ~Gen.3:23-24
Not exactly the adorable, angelic beings in Raphael’s portrait, is it?
When Moses was instructed to create the Ark of the Covenant, two Cherubim were to be molded out of gold and placed on the lid. It would be between these two cherub guardians where God’s presence would dwell. And, as we all watched the fate of the Nazi soldiers in Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is not something to be taken lightly.
They are the “guardians” of God’s throne and accompany it wherever it may be and in whatever form it takes.
Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city. ~Ezekiel 11:22-23
I believe Raphael got it all wrong, don’t you? So what do they look like?
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. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. ~Ezekiel 1:13-14
Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory. ~Ezekiel 10:4
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. ~Revelation 4:6-11
A lion because that is the “king” of the animals; an ox because it is the strongest of all the animals; an eagle because it rules the skies; and finally, a human…God’s finest creation. Together they symbolize God’s authority over every part of creation.
OMG!…in the most literal sense possible.