This study of the Doctrine of Angels, will cover not only the holy angels, but also unholy angels, i.e., the demons and the devil, all spiritual beings. There exists a spiritual world, the spiritual dimension right alongside this one but it’s invisible to the human eye. Not only do these spiritual beings exist, but they also interact with man on a daily basis. They positively interact with humans for the benefit, for the good, for the welfare of man. The Bible refers to them as ministering angels. The holy angels minister positively on man’s behalf but there are spiritual beings that minister negatively to man’s hurt. The latter are the unholy beings, the fallen angels. This group is the demonic realm who attacks human beings with all types of temptations to sin, sinful thoughts, including such things as sickness and disease. The Bible reveals these things are the result of demon oppression.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil…. [Acts 10:38]
Sickness is demon oppression, but demons also minister their evil in other ways. They minister fear and doubt concerning the Word of God. The devil is the one who causes people to question God’s Word, to question God’s faithfulness. It was while Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden that the devil subtly inquired, Hath God said?…. Even in the Garden, the devil questioned the commandment of God, i.e., the word of God to Adam and Eve, and he continues in that pattern today. He will do all in his power to get the believer to question the Word, to question the promises. The devil is a minister of oppression as well as depression and every other sort of depraved and corrupt behavior.
I. THE NATURE OF ANGELS (recapitulation / summarization)
During the last session, the teaching dealt with the Nature of Angels. Some of the topics discussed included the fact that angels are like men in some ways but in other ways, they are not like men at all. At times they appeared like men and many, many times in the Bible they were even mistaken to be men. The book of Hebrews tells believers they should entertain strangers because in so doing, some have entertained angels unaware. The believer is to offer hospitality, love and compassion to others. In many other ways angels are quite unlike men. Let’s be clear, however, that the nature of men and the nature of angels are not at all the same, but two completely different things.
A. Angels Are Created Beings.
Our previous study emphasized that angels are created beings. God created the angels; they will live forever.
35But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. [Lk. 20:35-36]
Not only do the angels not die, but they also do not age, i.e., they do not grow older. They’re of a different order than men. Though the angels will live forever, they did not always exist because they’re not eternal. Only God is eternal. He alone possesses the attributes of deity such as eternity, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, etc. Angels are created beings, albeit powerful beings, they are nevertheless created. There was a time in eternity when the angels did not exist. In saying there was a time in eternity; one must understand that term must be used a bit freely because in eternity there was no time. Time is a created thing. There was no time before God created the world, the universe, the moon, stars, sun, etc. Recognize that time didn’t exist until God created the earth. In way of explanation, time is a measurement of the earth’s rotation. That’s all that time is. It measures the earth’s rotation, i.e., how long it takes the earth to turn on its axis (24 hours), how long it takes it to revolve around the sun (365 days). How could there be time before there was an earth to revolve? Therefore, in eternity past, before God created the earth, the planets, the moon, stars, etc., there was no time. God’s an eternal creature. Time is something finite and very diminutive in the sight of God. That’s why time does not affect God. He’s more extensive than time, i.e., larger than time. That’s why these spiritual beings whose existence predates time are unaffected by time.
B. Angels are Personal Beings.
Angels are not only created beings, but also personal beings, possessing personal characteristics. They have feelings and emotions. They rejoice over one sinner brought to repentance.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…. [Lk. 15:7]
The angels have personal intelligence. They also have names as will be discussed. They are personalities, i.e., personal beings.
C. Angels Are Spiritual Beings.
Angels are also spiritual beings having spiritual bodies as opposed to physical bodies like humans. Men have bodies of flesh, blood and bones. While the angels also have bodies, they are of a spiritual nature and quite different from the fleshly bodies possessed by men.
D. Angels Possess Super-Human Power and Intelligence.
Angels possess super-human powers and intelligence, with power and might being their predominate characteristics. The Bible calls them the angels of His power. Might and power are the predominate characteristics of the angels and that should be kept in mind. These are powerful beings, much, much more powerful than men.
E. Angels are Distinct from Man.
Angels are distinct from man. They are not glorified men; they are not glorified human spirits. People do not die and become angels. Children do not become angels when they die. They are distinct from man; they are a separate and distinct order of creation.
Our study concluded at this point last time.
I. THE NATURE OF ANGELS (continuation)
F. Angels Constitute a Company as Distinguished from a Race.
There is a human race, but no race of angels exists. All humanity is part of the human race. All men — skin color doesn’t matter, nationality doesn’t matter — all men constitute a race. All humanity is part of the human race. All humans descend from Adam. Every single individual comes from Adam and all have a common source in that respect. All mankind constitutes the human race no matter what the skin color, no matter the country of origin. All of humanity is the same race, the same species homo sapiens. All mankind is of the same blood. A man from Afghanistan and a man from the United States are of the same blood. All human beings are alike in design, having the same number of appendages and sensory organs.
Such is not necessarily the case with the heavenly spiritual beings. Angels do not descend from a common stock as do men. All mankind comes from Adam, and when God destroyed the world, the lineage was preserved through Noah and his family. While all living persons today have their origins in that same common stock, angels do not come from a common source, a common stock. Each angel was created separately and individually. No one of us was created. Our descent is from Adam. Adam and Eve were the only two human beings created. Adam and Eve were created and to them were given the power of procreation and everyone else was procreated through their lineage. This is not the case however, with the angels. Angels do not procreate in heaven. They don’t marry. Jesus said, The angels neither marry or are given in marriage. It is significant that the angels do not marry nor are they given in marriage. The angels do not procreate or raise families. They do not have little angels, i.e., baby angels. Jesus said:
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. [Matt. 22:30]
1. The Significance.
When Adam and Eve sinned, all mankind partook of that sin. As individuals, being in Adam, all men partook of that sin. The entire human race fell in sin through Adam because every individual was in Adam. That’s what the Bible says — all were in Adam.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin…. [Rom. 5:12]
That one man was Adam. When he sinned, every individual partook of his guilt through that sin.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…. [Rom. 5:19]
Every individual partook of the fallen nature of Adam. In Adam all die, the Bible says. Only Jesus could redeem mankind because He became flesh and became a man thereby joining Himself to humanity.
For by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…. [Rom. 5:19]
The latter part of the same verse says,
…so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. [Rom. 5:19]
By becoming part of the human race, Jesus Christ could redeem every man. Anyone who believed could be redeemed. Whosoever will could be redeemed, i.e., anyone who would believe and repent. How? Because all men are a part of that race, all have that Adamic nature.
Jesus, however, did not have an Adamic nature. He did have a human nature, but not a fallen human nature. That’s the idea of the virgin birth; He was preserved from the taint of original sin. [Every statement we make should not have to be qualified. Everyone is mature enough to recognize that every message is built upon previous messages, including all these teachings, and the foundational doctrines are understood.] The idea is that Jesus, by assuming humanity, by having a human nature, could identify at that point with man. Jesus could die and atone for all men just like by one man all men sinned. Consequently, by one man, all men could be made righteous, based on the individual’s repentance and belief in the atoning work of Christ.
That is not the case with the angels since they do not constitute a race like men. Because each angel was created separately and individually, when one angel sinned, the remainder was not automatically sinners. For instance, when the devil sinned the rest of the angels were not in the devil. They didn’t become sinners automatically. They chose to sin individually and separately. Whereas when Adam sinned, all men, being in Adam, automatically acquired that Adamic nature, that fallen nature, that sinful nature. Such was not the case with the angels. Those angels that chose to sin did so on an individual basis.
While the majority of the angels remained holy, there were angels that sinned. When the devil rebelled, there were angels that also rebelled. The angels that sinned did so individually; they did so separately, and they did so by personal choice. To sin was their choice.
2. Another part of this significance is that no redemption was provided for the angels who sinned. These angels cannot be forgiven or restored to God’s grace. It’s impossible for them to be restored to God’s grace because Jesus didn’t die for the angels. He died for men. This verse in Hebrews is significant in that it speaks of Jesus:
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. [Heb. 2:16]
Jesus took the nature of man, not the nature of angels. He did not die to redeem angels, He died to redeem man. It’s very sobering to consider that the angels who sinned cannot be forgiven. Those angels cannot be saved; they cannot be restored to God. The question has been posed, “What if they repented? What if an angel came to God and said, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” Wouldn’t God forgive the angel? Just in raising that question one reveals that one doesn’t really know what’s involved in redemption and forgiveness. Even God does not arbitrarily forgive sin. Sin is so awful in the economy of God; it’s such a horrible thing, that God’s righteous, holy nature compels Him to punish sin. Sin must be punished; it cannot be overlooked. It has to be punished.
For you and I, sin was punished in Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who bore the punishment and guilt of our sin, but our sin was most assuredly punished. God just didn’t overlook our sin. It was punished at Calvary; it was punished at the cross. God just didn’t forgive our sins arbitrarily — no! no! Our sin was punished at Calvary. The guilt, the punishment of our sin was borne by Jesus. He bore that penalty; He paid the price that we deserved.
Did Jesus die for the angels?
No, Jesus did not die for the angels. They have to pay the penalty for their sin themselves. Jesus did not die for them. Don’t get the idea that’s hard or unmerciful on God’s part. Let’s recognize a couple of things. Recognize first of all, how abominable sin is. Sin is a terrible thing. It separates one immediately from holy God. It’s separation from God. It means judgment and death — that’s what sin does! That means any sin brings judgment and death — any sin! Who of us has not sinned? Now, praise God, Jesus bore the penalty for our sin but who died for the angels? No one, because Jesus did not die for the angels and He couldn’t die for them. Jesus couldn’t die and all the angels be included at that point because the angels don’t come from a common stock. In order for the angels to have hope of forgiveness, Jesus would have had to die for each individual one of them. All that, however, is beside the point. The point here is that it’s not unfair in any way that the angels cannot be forgiven when one realizes the tremendous privilege that these angels had. They stood in heaven; they observed the presence and glory of God. In Job, chapter 38, we are told the angels were present when He created the world and they rejoiced.
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? [Job 38:7]
The angels knew the power of God, the glory and majesty of God, and yet some of them sinned. Now they had tremendous privilege — privileges that man did not have. What is known of God is known by what the Bible says, but they actually saw with their own eyes. They were present and eyewitnesses of creation, etc. They had tremendous privilege and still, some of them sinned. Now to whom much is given, much is required. That’s true for man and it’s true for the angels. Consequently, the angels who sinned have the certainty of eternal flame because there’s no forgiveness for them. That’s a very sobering thought but it should serve to instill in each of us an even greater comprehension of how detestable sin is in the eyes of God. Be it big sin or little sin, all sin is heinous in God’s sight and believers should abhor it as much as He does. One can only be free from sin when one is brought to the place that one loathes it like God does and has His attitude toward it. Salvation.
A. The Number of Angels.
What does the Bible say concerning the number of angels? It says they are of great multitude.
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. [Ps. 68:17]
Bear in mind that chariots represent power; they represent the might and strength of God’s heavenly army. In David’s day, the might of an army was measured not only in the number of soldiers but also in the number of chariots. The chariots were the mighty weapons of war in ancient days. In this modern age a chariot would be equated to a tank or battleship. Men counted the might of an army by how many chariots (tanks) they possessed. Chariots equipped with knives, swords, etc. were the tremendous weapons of war, pulled by strong battle-trained horses. They were quite formidable weapons in ancient times. In this verse David speaks of the might of God’s heavenly army, with thousands of His angels. In this context David is talking about Sinai when God gave the Law to Moses. The following verse mentions the ten thousands of angels that came down on Mount Sinai to confirm God’s presence.
And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. [Deut. 33:2]
Then in another passage:
9I beheld till the thrones were cast down, (this is Daniel’s vision) and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. [Dan. 7:9-10]
These verses speak of the angelic host. This is Daniel’s vision of Christ and he mentions the tremendous numbers of angels that are surrounding the throne of God. The numbers mentioned are …thousands of thousands ministered unto him…. Ten thousand times ten thousand — that’s 100 million — quite a few!
A similar number is mentioned by the apostle, John:
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them (he’s numbering the angels) was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. (“Ten thousand times ten thousand” is 100 million.) [Rev. 5:11]
It’s not that John in his Revelation or Daniel in his vision was numbering the angels, because who could number 100 million angels? The idea here is the company of angels is innumerable. Safely, one could say they’re in the multiplied millions — too many to count!
But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. [Heb. 12:22]
That’s sufficient scripture to reveal the tremendous numbers of angels. When one realizes that angels are ministering spirits and they minister on the believer’s behalf, it’s no wonder that Elisha, when surrounded by the Syrian army, could say to his servant, Don’t worry. The ones that are with us are far more than those that be with them. Now what army could boast 100 million, especially an army of angels? Also to be considered is just what one angel is capable of doing. There are tremendous numbers of angels, innumerable numbers. Just consider it! Angels fill the heavens, the atmosphere — they’re everywhere!
B. The Organization of Angels.
Angels are highly organized, having ranks and authorities. With all of these multiplied millions of angels, one would think it might become confusing in heaven. That’s not the case, however, because there’s no confusion there. God is not the author of confusion. The more one studies the scriptural passages on the subject of angels, it becomes increasingly clear that not only are the holy angels organized, but also the fallen angels are in distinct organizational order. The system of organization of the angels is not unlike the organization of men.
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him? [1 Pe. 3:22]
The verse speaks of Jesus and the various ranks within the heavenly sphere, the heavenly system. These angels and authorities and powers, in various ranks within the heavenly system, are subject to Christ. Passages showing the ranks and authorities within the demonic system include:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. [Eph. 6:12]
Principalities…powers…the rulers of the darkness of this world…wicked spirits in high places. This indicates order, organization within the demonic realm, within the fallen angels. It becomes obvious that Satan’s forces are highly organized as well, and the Bible reveals that to be the case. The Bible says that Satan has a throne and the presence of a throne indicates there’s organization within the kingdom of darkness.
In speaking to the church at Pergamos, Jesus spoke of them being in that city ….
…where Satan’s throne is…. [The KJV translates it …where Satan’s seat is…. but it’s literally …where Satan’s throne is….] [Rev. 2:13]
So Satan has a throne. Jesus himself, in speaking of the devil, called him:
…the prince of this world, [John 14:30]
There is order in the devil’s kingdom as well.
The devil is also referred to as:
…the prince of the powers of the air. [Eph. 2:2]
Satan is the ruler of the evil forces of darkness; he’s the ruler
of the demonic host. There is order in the demonic kingdom just as there is order in God’s holy kingdom.
A passage that reveals that God’s holy angels have organization, i.e., in the sense of recognized authority and order, etc., is found in Matthew’s gospel. This is the account of Jesus’ arrest and His disciples’ wish to defend Him, etc. Jesus tells Peter to put up his sword because that’s not the plan God has in mind.
52…all those who take the sword shall perish with the sword, 53Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? [Matt. 26:52-53]
Jesus is telling Peter to put up his sword — what good is a sword going to do? That’s not the way that believers fight. As believers, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. Our enemies are not the communists; our enemies are not the dictators, etc. Believers have a spiritual adversary — the devil and his demonic host.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against these principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness of this world and wicked spirits in high places. [Eph. 6:12]
Jesus, aware of this, told Peter to put away his sword, that if He wanted to defend Himself, He could just call and the Father would send Him more than twelve legions of angels. Twelve legions — now that’s interesting because it suggests the same organization as the Roman army. Now the Roman army was organized into legions, each legion consisting of some 6,000 men. Here’s a picture, a glimpse, into the organization of God’s army. The angels also constitute an army and they’re at war! They’re at war with the demonic host, with the devil’s fallen angels.
The book of Daniel is a perfect example of the ongoing war taking place between the heavenly creatures (beings), angels, and the ungodly beings — the supernatural beings, the fallen angels. Jesus said, I’d just call and the Father would give me twelve legions of angels. That’s a total of 72,000 angels that were ready to answer Jesus’ call.
It’s no wonder that Paul could say:
… If God be for us, who can be against us? [Rom. 8:31]
If God’s on our side, what’s the communist army? What’s that? What are a million soldiers? If God is for us with the host of heaven at our disposal, what’s to worry about? If God is for us, then how can the devil stand against us? We’re more than conquerors! We can overcome any adversity, any adversary or enemy. God has given believers power over all the power of the enemy and these angels, these ministering spirits, stand ready to do God’s bidding. Not a moment of time elapses before they’re on the scene when God calls. If God is for us …praise God …who can be against us?
The point here is that the angelic host is organized, in orderly fashion. Just as the devil is the one in control of these powers of darkness, similarly, an angel of God rules over the heavenly host. Michael, the archangel (arch means first) is the head of the armies of heaven. He’s the chief angel as is seen in the following passages:
13…but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me…. 21…and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. [Dan. 10:13, 21]
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. [Jude 1:9]
Michael is the first angel, i.e., the first in rank and authority. He is the chief of the angels, i.e., God’s general. The future war in heaven (Revelation, chapter 12) when Satan and his host fight against Michael and the angels, Satan will be cast out. Michael will be in that conflict. These are two spiritual armies at war with one another. Believers are to recognize them for exactly what they are — highly organized armies in conflict. The spiritual conflict is ongoing all about, whether or not one is aware of it.
While all the angels have names, only a few are named in Scripture. Lucifer was one of those named as were Michael and Gabriel. All of the angels have a ministry to perform, but Gabriel’s is a special ministry in that he has a special ministry of revelation. He ministers revelation from God to man. In the book of Daniel, it was Gabriel who was dispatched by God to give Daniel understanding of the vision. Daniel, needing wisdom in order to understand the vision, called on God who sent Gabriel to give Daniel the interpretation.
15And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. [Dan. 8:15-17]
Gabriel also appeared to Zacharias — the father of John the Baptist. Gabriel is a privileged angel who stands in God’s presence. Gabriel is the “revealing” angel because wherever he appears, he’s revealing something to man. He’s the agent of divine revelation, sent by God to give revelation.
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. [Lk. 1:19]
C. Classes of Spiritual Beings.
1. The Cherubim.
The Bible many times makes reference to the cherubim (singular cherub). They are first identified in the book of Genesis.
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. [Gen. 3:24]
The cherubim were to stand guard over the entrance into the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve had been banished. Following their sin, the pair was no longer allowed in the Garden of Eden. They no longer had access to the garden, to the site of God’s presence. It was in Eden that God’s presence was made manifest. The Garden contained the tree of life and God sent the cherubim to keep Adam and Eve away from the tree.
The cherubim are a specific order, a different order of being than a mere angel. The cherubim were assigned to guard the entrance to the Garden so that Adam and Eve didn’t try to return to the Garden. Because of their sin, the couple had been expelled from the Garden and was now compelled to till the land and grow their food. While all was abundantly furnished by God’s hand while they were in the Garden, they now had to work, sweat and toil for everything they grew.
The cherubim could basically be described as human-like beings with four wings.
18And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19And 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. 20And 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 be faces of the cherubims be. [Ex. 25:18-20]
The cherubim were the figures chosen by God to have their likeness formed from gold and placed on each side of the Ark of the Covenant, the throne of God. God’s presence was made manifest at His throne, this Ark of the Covenant that was set within the holy of holies. Only the high priest had access to the holy of holies, and he could enter only once a year, sprinkling blood with fear and trembling in a clearly defined ritual. These golden cherubim symbolized those angelic beings that actually stand in the presence of God. The images were so fashioned that their wings outstretched toward one another forming a covering over the Ark of the Covenant, over the mercy seat.
Great carved figures of the cherubim also stood in Solomon’s Temple.
23And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high. 24And 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. 25And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size. 26The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. 27And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one toucheth 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. 28And he overlaid the cherubims with gold. 29And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without. [1Ki. 6:23-29]
These figures were undoubtedly gigantic, imposing symbols. In modern measurements, these creatures stood about fifteen feet tall, with a wingspan of fifteen feet. Although they were carved of wood, they were overlaid with gold. Within the temple furnishings, carvings of the cherubim appeared on the laver. The likeness of the cherubim is also seen in many other places in the scriptures, the curtain of the tabernacle, being just one example.
Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10, refers to the cherubim as living creatures. One should not get the idea that they are just figures, symbols or imaginary symbols. They are living creatures, actual beings. It’s also significant to note that Lucifer or Satan is referred to as an anointed cherub.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…. [Ezek. 28:14]
The cherubim stood over the throne of God, the very presence of God. They covered the manifestation of His presence with their wings. God spoke of Lucifer saying, Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…. which speaks of the very close relationship that Lucifer had to God. He was certainly a powerful and mighty figure.
The passage in Ezekiel, chapter 28, indicates the importance and the rank of the cherubim. They stand at all times in the presence of God. Lucifer may have been second only to God Himself, insofar as his power and rank. One thing is obvious, according to Jude 9, Lucifer’s rank and position was so great that even Michael the archangel didn’t rail against Lucifer.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. [Jude 1:9]
Lucifer had tremendous authority, rank and power. No mere angel could have convinced the other angels of heaven to rebel against God. That Lucifer was no ordinary angel, of that one can be certain. It took a powerful and commanding being to give these angels any inkling of an idea that he could overthrow the throne of God. Such a prospect was impossible because even as powerful as Lucifer is, he is still a created being. This does, however, give one an idea of the powerful nature of these cherubim.
Other passages such as Ezekiel 41:8-20 point out the fact that the cherubim appear as part of the decoration in the millennial temple. In our study of the end-time events, it was mentioned that the temple is going to be rebuilt in the millennium. There will be a millennial temple and figures of the cherubim will appear there. Basically, the cherubim could be described as being human in form, but with wings. That makes them quite a bit different from angels because angels never have wings. Angels do not have wings, but cherubim do.
Let’s look at Ezekiel, chapter 1, and examine some very interesting verses concerning Ezekiel’s vision.
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month,
as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar…. [Ezek. 1:1]
Ezekiel’s location? He’s at the river of Chebar.
…that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. [Ezek. 1:1]
God gives Ezekiel this heavenly vision:
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. [Ezek. 1:5]
These four living creatures are the cherubim. They have the likeness of a man. How do we know they are cherubim? Ezekiel himself tells who they were.
And the cherubim were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar. [Ezek. 10:15]
Ezekiel’s interpretation is that these living creatures that he saw by Chebar were the cherubim. These are very interesting passages, filled with symbolism and imagery. Although the cherubim have the form of men, they are quite unusual beings. In Ezekiel, chapter 1, Ezekiel describes his vision:
4I 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 color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. (But now look what was different about them.) 6And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. (These are unusual creatures.) 7And 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. (They had feet unlike human feet.) 8And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. [Ezek. 1:4-8]
Chapter 10, verse 8 also makes reference to their hands. These beings not only have wings, but also hands.
Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. [Ezek. 10:8]
Whatever direction the cherubim went, they didn’t have to turn. They could move in any direction without turning. Equipped with four faces, turning was unnecessary.
10As 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. (Unusual, to say the least.) 11Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. 12And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. [Ezek. 1:10-12]
Lucifer was this kind of being, a cherub. He wasn’t a mere angel, but an anointed cherub that covereth. Without question, the cherubim are unusual, but very powerful heavenly beings.
a. The Meaning and Function of the Cherubim
The cherubim always appear
in the closest relationship to God’s presence, standing perpetually in God’s presence. Where the presence of God is made manifest, the cherubim are there. The cherubim are bearers of the manifestation of God whenever He appears in His glory. Whenever God manifests His glory, the cherubim are seen as the bearers of the manifestation of God. They are called the chariots of the Lord and they bear His manifestation.
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly…. [Ps. 18:10]
The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels…. [Ps. 68:17]
The cherubim are guardians. They make anything unholy inaccessible to the presence of God. Remember the cherubim guarded the Garden of Eden. They would not allow sinful man back into the presence of God. They guarded the holy presence of God; they guarded Paradise. Nothing unholy is accessible into the presence of God and the cherubim are His guardians. As one might imagine, this is a very highly exalted office. The cherubim are always seen in the closest relationship to God; they cover His presence with their wings.
I thought about this as I was preparing the message, i.e., how the cherubim cover God’s presence and stand as guardians. In comparison, I considered how our president has his guardians or bodyguards and never goes anywhere without them. Although it’s a poor illustration, one can perhaps get an idea that the cherubim are there whenever God’s presence is made manifest. They stand perpetually in His presence guarding His presence. Not that God needs bodyguards, but God is the one who designed the order of such things. One day, if one can muster the nerve, ask God “Why?” Just imagining such an awesome creature as a cherub would strike terror into the heart of a person. Talk about a fearsome looking guardian! Obviously, these are extremely privileged and powerful beings.
b. The Significance of the Four Faces of the Cherubim.
About all we can do is give suggestions regarding this feature of the cherubim. The Bible doesn’t really say, but we can offer some possibilities for consideration. Perhaps it’s right, perhaps not, but it makes some spiritual sense.
Obviously, there is great symbolism attached to the four faces. One face is that of a man; one of a lion; one of an ox; and another of an eagle. One suggestion is that these faces are symbolic of the attributes of God. For instance, the face of man — man is the only rational being on the earth. Man is rational whereas all the other animals are not. Man being the only rational creature would illustrate God’s omniscience, i.e., His knowledge, His all-knowing capabilities. The ox, a symbol of strength, would be an illustration of God’s omnipotence, i.e., His being all-powerful. The eagle soars above all and nothing misses the sight of an eagle, illustrating God’s omnipresence, i.e., His being everywhere, His seeing all things. Nothing escapes the all-seeing eye of God who is everywhere.
Lastly, the lion as the king of beasts would illustrate God’s sovereignty. Give this consideration, bearing in mind they are just suggestions.
2. The Seraphim.
While there are many biblical references to the cherubim, particularly in the Old Testament, only once are the seraphim mentioned.
1In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings…. [Isa. 6:1-2]
The seraphim are different from the cherubim. The seraphim have six wings; the cherubim have only four.
2…with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. 3And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar. 7And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, “lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and they sin purged. [Isa. 6:2-7]
All that is known about the seraphim is revealed in these few verses of scripture. What is known of their description, their office, their ministry is all revealed here.
They are pictured here in reference to divine fire from off the altar. It’s significant to note that the name seraphim are taken from the Hebrew word that means burning or to burn. Their ministry is seen in connection with divine fire from off the altar. The seraph here is a divinely appointed instrument for the purification of the prophet’s sin. He appears there with heavenly fire and cleanses the prophet’s ungodliness. God is the one, of course, who sent the seraph. The position of the seraphim was such that they had the privilege of exercising an atoning ministry at this point. God sent them as God is the one who forgives. It is clear that Isaiah repented. Forgiveness is never arbitrary. The seraphim would appear to be agents of purification at that point. Their meaning and function actually seem intended to symbolize certain truths.
a. The Meaning of the Seraphim.
The seraphim also appear to be human in form having a face, etc. No other description is given of them except that they had six wings. Now it’s significant that two wings covered their faces which illustrates that no being, no creature, no matter how exalted, could bear the full vision of God’s glory. Remember, the Bible says that no man could look upon the Lord and live; no man could look at God and live. Even the seraphim cover their faces in the glorious presence of God. Also, two wings cover their feet which would be symbolic of reverence and submission. With two wings they flew which would indicate swiftness in obeying God’s commands.
b. The Function of the Seraphim.
Insofar as their function, they appear to be the leaders in divine worship in glory. They hold the office and the privilege of continually praising God. They are His ministers and of course, they perform His will. Upon reading this, one sees how they stand and worship God crying, Holy, holy, holy, declaring the majesty of God. Notice that they worship with such an anointing that the Bible says, …the posts of the door moved at their voice…. The divine temple shook because their worship was so anointed. The holy place was filled with smoke. The seraphim constitute an order of being responsible for certain functions such as worship, i.e., they serve and do the bidding of God.
That’s all that is known about the seraphim. One thing is clear from verse 5 and that is the response of any man who has a real vision of God. Anyone having had a true vision of God would respond, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” Just a glimpse of God’s majesty and His glory would cause one to fall on one’s face in worship and adoration. Just think! These glorious creatures surround God’s throne, continually worshipping and extolling His majesty and His holiness.
This tends to make one have second thoughts about people who claim that they’ve seen God. Some say they’ve been caught up to heaven and talked to Jesus. Yet they return with an almost blasé attitude, spouting such quips as Jesus said this-and-that to me and I said, “Oh yeah. You’re going to have to show me that in the Bible.” If one has had a true vision of God, one’s response would be more like that of Isaiah. Anyone having had a vision of God or the glory of God — just a glimpse of His majesty — would cause one to cry out in anguish like Isaiah — Woe is me! Oh, God, holy, holy, holy.