CHERUBIM PROTECTORS OF THE GLORY
By Dan Luehrs
"So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24 NASB).
This verse must be one of the saddest things ever written on paper anywhere. Man was now barred from the very Life of God! Even as I write these words, sadness fills my heart because so few Christians do not desire the Life of God. They are so busy searching for the things of the world and being satisfied with them, that they make no time for fellowship with God in their daily lives.
Adam and Eve became so caught up in wanting to be like God that they decided to take a shortcut to it by obeying the serpent, rather than doing it God's way to eat from the tree of life continually. "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5 NASB). Their desire to become like God was not their sin, just their method! Our goal as Christians is to become Christ-like, who is God; for everything about Him is to be desired! Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, "Therefore you are to be perfect (mature like God), as your heavenly Father is perfect." The only way for them and us to become like God in our character is for us to go through the test of obedience; even as Jesus was tested by Satan in the wilderness and passed! Adam and Eve did not have the moral strength and patience to wait on God and for it to be done His way. If they had waited God would not have driven them out of the garden and their close fellowship with God would not have been lost. Patience is the test we all must pass if we are going to come into the maturity of God. "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (mature like God) and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4 KJV). Adam and Eve must not have had the fullness of God in them since the serpent deceived them with the desire to become like God. I believe that God fully intended to give them His power after their character had been proven through testing and after they had partaken of the tree of life. It is no wonder then why we are to rejoice in our tribulations! These trials are conforming us into His likeness and are preparing us to handle God's power with His patience and character.
"Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Genesis 3:22 NASB).
God placed the tree of life right in the middle of the garden so that it would be the greatest blessing to Adam and Eve. God had them in mind when He planted it there to help them grow into His likeness; for He is Life, and they were to partake of His Life on a daily basis. In their eating of the tree of life they were to grow more and more into His character and likeness. While holiness is the character of God, Adam and Eve greatly lacked this quality because it could only be produced through their testing. Eating of the tree of life would have caused them to live forever in either the sinful state or the righteous state, so God had to block the way to the tree of life by the cherubim.
Notice, God did not have the tree chopped down! Oh no, that would be to chop down "LIFE" itself, which is God! If this had happened we would not be able to partake of eternal life God has promised us in the scriptures. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NASB). Jesus has now become the Tree of Life to all those who would receive Him as Life itself. "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself" (John 5:26 NASB).
So, whatever did happened to the tree of life? Did it die and dry up into dust? Is it still a vibrant tree alive somewhere on planet earth but we just haven't found it yet? Or was the paradise of God, the garden of Eden really another spirit realm in the creation of God, along with the tree of life? I believe the latter to be true because of what Jesus promised us in the book of Revelation regarding this same tree of life.
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst (middle of the garden) of the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7 KJV).
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14 KJV).
These verses teach us that the paradise of God and the tree of life are real because they are of the spirit world and they are eternal. It was not a natural tree that was corrupted by the fall of man or by the curse of God upon the earth. The fruit and seed of this tree still remain for all who will overcome in this life! Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak." According to Paul, the paradise of God and the third heaven still remain intact just as it was created in the beginning.
My belief is that all things will be restored on earth as they were before the fall. We know that the Bible teaches us that there is a second and third heaven. The second heaven is where Satan is prince over the realm of darkness and the third heaven is where Jesus is King of kings over all the realms. This leaves us with the first heaven, which we know little of. But it, too, must be restored to its rightful place during the millennial reign of Christ. Genesis 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Notice that God created the "heaven"s," meaning more than one, while He created only one earth. I believe that Adam and Eve were created with a spiritual body much like what Jesus now has in heaven; of dust and a glorified spiritual body at the same time (see Luke 24:39, Phil. 3:21, 2 Cor. 5:1-2). When Adam and Eve fell into sin God covered them with natural skin that sweats and stinks as a part of the curse upon them. Having these bodies of humiliation rather than bodies of God's glory. "And the LORD God made garments (covers) of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed (wrapped around) them" (Genesis 3:21 NASB). When they fell into sin they fell into a lower state or realm of being than what they were first created to be in. Satan was now ruling over them because he was created a spirit that was now higher than the natural realm. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).
"So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24 NASB).
Eating of the tree of life after the fall would have caused them to live forever in the sinful state, so God had the tree of life blocked by the cherubim with a flaming sword. The cherubim blocked man's way back to the tree of life, which is the presence and glory of God. Man was now locked out from the eternal Life of God by a flaming sword! I believe that the flaming sword was the power of God's spoken word that blocked the way to life, even as God's word cursed the earth after the fall. "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD…" (Jeremiah 23:29 NASB). At God's word the whole universe came into being, so why would it be so difficult for us to believe that His word of fire would not also prevent us from eternal Life (which is Jesus)? It is also interesting to note that the word, "sword" and the word, "word" only have one letter difference between them-- S-WORD, His word is the sword of the Spirit with which we are to do battle!
Cherubim in the book of Hebrews 9:5 are called, "The cherubim of glory." They are angelic beings that were created by God to guard man from coming close to the glory of God. In scripture they were only spoken of as guarding the way to God's glory. In the book of Exodus we find them spoken of as covering the mercy seat on the ark of the tabernacle which represents the presence and glory of God. "And you shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. And the cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat" (Exodus 25:18-20 NASB). In the Tabernacle man was again barred from the presence of God and of having a personal revelation of who God is. Only the High Priest, with the blood of the lamb could go into the Holy of Holies once a year where the ark was to atone for the peoples' sin that year. He did not go in for his own personal benefit of knowing God more, only for the forgiveness of their sin so that God's presence in the ark would remain with them another year as they camped and traveled to the Promised Land. It was a very dangerous and terribly fearful thing to enter God's glory with sin in their heart. This should stand as a warning to us!
The presence of the cherubim was so complete over the ark that they covered not only the ark of God's presence, but the whole outside of the tabernacle! "Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman" (Exodus 26:1 NASB). God had Moses make a curtain to cover the tabernacle with the cherubim embroidered in them and in the veil that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies. "And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman" (Exodus 26:31 NASB). According to scholars there were twenty-three cherubim in all embroidered on the curtain and veil to physically cover and guard the tabernacle of God from man, along with the two covering the mercy seat. I believe that these were just symbolic representatives of what was really there was in the spirit world that guarded the presence of God twenty-four hours a day from man.
The fire of God's presence in the Holy of Holies would have killed a person just like a hot light attracts and kills bugs that come too close! Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from our sin so that we can come into His presence. The presence and glory of God is what people desire most; because that's what they lost in the garden; even though most people don't know that's what they are missing in their life. God had Moses remind the people twice not to come to close too the mountain and gaze at God or they would be killed. "Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish" (Exodus 19:21 NASB). Oh how much sense this all makes to me now of God's master plan! How awesome! How ingenious is our God that we serve!
MOVING BEYOND THE CHERUBIM
"And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split" (Matthew 27:51 NASB).
When Jesus died on the cross the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in two giving man access to know God. The cherubim that once blocked the way to God now welcomed man to come in by the blood of the Lamb. I truly believe that these same cherubim that blocked the way in were the same ones that tore the veil in two, gladly opening the way back to God. It has been said that the veil was so thick that two oxen could not have torn the veil in two! "Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh" (Hebrews 10:19-20 NASB). Think about it. We now have access to know the God of creation individually as if we were the only person in the whole universe! God wants to reveal Himself to you and me! "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17 NASB). Nowhere in the Old Testament were people able to get close to God, (but He now dwells in us to reveal Himself in and through us as we await the full revelation of Jesus Christ in us) (see 1 Pet. 1:7,13). How precious we must be to God for Him to allow His presence and glory to come and dwell in us, for we are now vessels of His glory! Wow!
We, as the vessels of God, must partake of Him daily through the tree of Life so that we will grow up into all His likeness. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2 KJV). Please hear me clearly my friend, "We shall be like him," possessors of God's Life eternally, to give away to whom all God wills. Literally we will have become trees of life even as Jesus is! Don't you see? A tree has seed in its fruit to reproduce after its own kind in the earth! "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (in its likeness)" (John 12:24 NASB). So now Jesus, the Tree of Life, has reproduced Himself in the earth, with many trees made into His likeness to bring forth healing to the nations from sin and death! How else would there be a tree of life on both sides of the river of life in the New Jerusalem? "In the midst (the tree of life was in the middle) of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life (many trees), which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2 KJV). (See Rev. 22:19). We are likened to trees throughout scripture, so why should it be so hard for us to believe that we become trees of life also? Who will believe the report of the Lord?
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalms 1:3 KJV).
"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing" (Psalms 92:12-14 KJV).
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8 KJV).
It will be said, "Look what the Lord has done, for He has made us oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord!" When I think about what the Lord has done for us I am awestruck, for He has taken us from being mere worms in the earth and has seated us in the third heaven with Him! For some reason I still believe that the cherubim are still protecting the glory of God in the tabernacle, we, being the tabernacle of God! Now we must wait in hope for the full revelation and manifestation of Jesus in and through us. "But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (Romans 8:25 NASB).
UNVEILING THE GLORY
"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (Jesus, the Word), are being transformed into the same image (Jesus, the Word) from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB).
"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror (the word) and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law (the word) that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:23-25 NIV).
Now that the veil has been torn in two and the way has been opened for us to gaze and wonder at God, now what? We are now able to receive as much of God as we desire through divine revelation as we draw close to Him. Jesus is the word and glory of God, by seeing Him we grow spiritually and are changed. As we see the reflection of Jesus Christ in His revealed word, we are seeing the glory of the Lord. We are slowly being changed into His image and likeness day by day. In order for us to be changed into His likeness we must see Him in the word by the revelation of the Spirit of God and by us having intimacy with Him. Also we hear His anointed word through the spoken and written word and by hearing Him through friends and loved ones. Because the Lord now embodies His people, this is one way He chooses to speak to us. It is an on-going revelation of Jesus Christ that we must be seeking after if we are going to be changed into His glory. It is from glory level to glory level of His word and Spirit that makes us become more like Him. We did not grow up physically overnight and we will not be transformed into His glory overnight either. It's an on-going, line upon line, truth upon truth revelation of Him that will cause us grow up into His likeness. "But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15 NASB). We must begin to see and hear our good Shepherd in those around us in order for us to grow. Very few Christians are able to see and hear Him in others. Those of us who are seeking Him miss Him many times as He speaks to us through people. Why is this? Because of our pride and lack of humility! We must humble ourselves before God and others if we really want to hear Him.
For sometime I had been asking the Lord to reveal to me how I could be filled with all His fullness as we have been promised in scripture, "… That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19 NASB). How can a person possibly receive His fullness unless he can see it with his heart? Then one day I saw it in 1 John 3:2, "… When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is." It is in seeing Him that makes us like Him! It is that simple my friend! For what you behold you will become like. Now the question remains, how do we see him? Must Jesus come and stand before us in person for us to see Him as He is? No! We must see Him through the revelation of His word and Spirit, which is us having the eyes of our understanding opened to the ways of God and His word, and by us having our minds renewed to see the truth of who He is. This will change us into His likeness even now--today we must see Him by the Spirit, even though we still see Him dimly.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know (HIM) in part, but then I shall know (HIM) fully just as I also have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
God's word promises us that we will not always be looking in a mirror dimly to see Him. For one day we are going to see Him "face to face," and not in a poor reflection of who He is, but in a clear revelation when He is revealed in fullness. Revelation always takes place first in our hearts before it goes into our heads! God is slowly giving us a clearer revelation of who He is as we seek His face. "For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). Notice that the light\truth and glory of God is only found in the face of Jesus! The face of a person is the revelation or manifestation of what they are, and what is going on inside of the person. If a person is sad, glad or mad, the face of that person will change to reveal what is going on in their heart at that time. I have heard many people say that they have seen the literal face of Jesus, they all have said, "His face and eyes radiate with love and warmth." Why is this? Because that is what the heart of God is! The full revelation of God's love is coming to all those that would seek His face daily.
To be face to face with someone speaks of closeness and intimacy. The closer you get to a person's face the more you can look in their eyes and see their heart. It is also interesting to note that human beings are the only species on earth that I know of that are face to face in their sexual relationship. This should speak to us about the closeness that God wants to have with us! Moses, being in the Old Testament, was not able to see the face of God and live. But we who are in Christ can see His face and live because we have died with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me! "But He (God) said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live" -- "Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen" (Exodus 33:20,23 NASB). In the New Testament we are called to seek His face and to know Him; not only by the hearing of the ear, but through the revelation of our heart that can only come through intimacy and knowing God in the secret place of His presence. "Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…" (Hebrews 12:2 NRSV).
The Word and glory of God (Jesus) has already shone in our hearts, even as Moses' face shone with the glory of God. The Hebrew word for "Shone" is "Qaran," meaning to push or gore, to shoot out horns of light. It would be like us looking at the sun without any eye protection. It will cause great pain to our eyes. But so will the word of God because it is the greatest light and will cause great pain to those who live in the deception of religion and in the darkness of the world system. Have you ever come out of a dark room and turned on the light? Pain comes to our natural eyes. So it is with our spiritual eyes when we first see new truths in God's word. The light exposes darkness of sin and false doctrine in us! Peter demonstrated this on the day of Pentecost when the people said to him, "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart" (Acts 2:37)? The truth of God's word brought great conviction and pain to the hearts of the people because they were not right before God and their foundation was being shaken.
If we want to see God's glory as Moses did, we must see it in the word as Moses did in the Law, even though it was a fading glory that he and the children of Israel saw. But the New Testament gospel is not a fading glory; it's an eternal one! "And if what was fading away came with glory (the Law), how much greater is the glory of that which lasts" (2 Corinthians 3:11 NIV)! Moses had to keep his face covered because the glory of the Law was fading away. "We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away" (2 Corinthians 3:13 NIV). The glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ will never fade away because it is eternal! Hallelujah! Truly, God's glory has been revealed to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ, for He has already given to us His eternal word and truth (see John 17:22). "Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Colossians 1:12-13 NASB). The revelation of truth in us is the kingdom of God's light and love!
The fading glory of the Lord was upon the Law when it was engraved in stone tablets that were given to Moses on the mountain. The Law was fading because the gospel was to be written upon our heart, and it was to be an unfading glory! "But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was" (2 Corinthians 3:7 NASB). After Moses received the stone tablets they were to be placed in the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies. The glory of the Lord remained upon it there until Israel refused to repent of their sin. The glory of the Lord left the Temple of God in Ezekiel 10:18 and it never returned. But now the eternal unfading glory (Jesus Christ) has appeared in earth to free men from the power of sin, "which is the Law" (see 1 Cor. 15:56). John wrote, "The life appeared (Jesus, the glory); we have seen it (Him) and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life (Jesus), which was with the Father and has appeared to us" (1 John 1:2 NIV).
God has now given us His eternal light. It is His word in us so that we might be and live the truth in this dark world! Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14). The glory of His truth spoken through us is to be given to the world living in the darkness of sin and lies. "Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (Luke 1:78-79). Jesus is that great Light in us. We must not hide Him any longer, for He/we are the Light of the world.
The very word of Life that Jesus is, is no longer hidden in a golden box somewhere, but is in us, (the temple of the Lord) to change us into His likeness; for we are becoming the word of God! God created man by His spoken word. And by His word (glory) in us, we will again be conformed into His word (Jesus). Our prayer must be, "Lord fill me, "this earth," with the glory of the Lord and give me the "knowledge" of your glory so that I may know you more intimately each day!" "For the earth (us) will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14 NASB). The scriptures declare that the whole earth is filled with God's glory, even though it seems to be hidden from most people. So also is His glory hidden in His word and people, yet most Christians miss Him! The whole purpose of our life on earth is to come into the full likeness of God's glory (Jesus). If we have not grown into this we have not come into God's perfect will for our life. We cannot just know God's truth, but we must become it! Amen, and amen!
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