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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, July 20 2023

The covering cherubim at God’s throne

As mentioned last week in the article: What Happened To The Ark Of The Covenant? two cherubim, facing each other, covered the ark, representing the throne of God in heaven. Ezekiel 28 tells us that Lucifer was once an anointed cherub at God's throne.

The covering cherubim at God’s throne
Illustration: `Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle`, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (Public domain)
United Church of God

Covering Cherubim At God's Throne - Who Are They?

The physical Tabernacle or Sanctuary of old time was patterned after the heavenly. Notice the following Scriptures:

Hebrews 9:1-5:

1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Exodus 25:17-22

17 "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. 18 "And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 "Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. 20 "And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. 21 "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

See also Exodus 37:8.

Hebrews 9:23-24

23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

1 Kings 6:19-28

19 And he (Solomon) prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple, to set the ark of the covenant of the LORD there. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high. He overlaid it with pure gold, and overlaid the altar of cedar. 21 So Solomon overlaid the inside of the temple with pure gold. He stretched gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. 22 The whole temple he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the temple; also he overlaid with gold the entire altar that was by the inner sanctuary. 23 Inside the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24 One wing of the cherub was five cubits, and the other wing of the cherub five cubits: ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits; both cherubim were of the same size and shape. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other cherub. 27 Then he set the cherubim inside the inner room; and they stretched out the wings of the cherubim so that the wing of the one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 Also he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

In these Scriptures which describe the cherubim in the earthly Sanctuary and which is patterned after the heavenly -- we see that in the heavenly Sanctuary where God dwells – at His mercy seat – there are two glorious cherubs which overshadow the mercy seat with stretched out wings, and their faces are turned towards each other.

Who are these cherubs?

Except for two Scriptures which describe a particular cherub, the Bible does not say.

Ezekiel 28:12-15 identifies an angelic being who is called “the anointed cherub who covers” and he was “on the holy mountain of God” – meaning he had a responsibility in the throne room of God.

12 "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre (a type of the angelic being described in these verses), and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: "You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14 "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.

While it does not specifically make this clear in Scripture, we can assume that the phrase anointed cherub who covers” means this cherub covered the mercy seat where God dwells, with his outstretched wing meeting the outstretched wing of the other cherub.

But, unfortunately, this angelic being – this cherub who covers – sinned and he was removed from this awesome position at the throne of God.

Isaiah 14:12 identifies this fallen angel by the name of Lucifer. Because of his iniquity his name was changed to Satan, meaning Adversary.

So we know that this “cherub” mentioned in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 is no longer one of the “covering cherubs.

The only other angelic beings who are mentioned specifically in the Bible by name are Michael and Gabriel.

Michael is identified as an archangel (Jude 9) but the Bible does not give us enough information to know if an archangel has the same office and responsibilities as a cherub, or a covering cherub. The Scriptures show that Michael is skilled in warfare in the angelic realm and fights against Satan and his fallen angels (Revelation 12:7; Daniel 10:13).

Gabriel is identified as an angel and one who stands in the presence of God (Luke 1:19). He is clearly an angel of great authority and God entrusts him with messages that He wants delivered (Daniel 8:16; Luke 1:19).

The cherubim that cover the mercy seat of God’s throne are not clearly identified in the Scriptures. Therefore it would be prudent to wait until Christ returns when we will have opportunity to ask Him this specific question.