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Cherubim and the Flaming Sword

by M.J. Agee

"I knew" Ezekiel said, "that they were the cherubims" (Ezek. 10:20)

After almost constantly reading man's works about the Bible for seven years, I still had no answers for certain questions. For instance, I wanted to know what the cherubim and flaming sword stood for in Genesis 3:24 and what the cherubim were in Ezekiel's visions. No author had explained them to my satisfaction. I laid my hands on my open Bible and said, "Lord! you'll have to show me..."

Not knowing how he would show me, I started looking up all the pertinent words in Hebrew in both Genesis 3:24 and Ezekiel 1, hoping something would shed light on the subject. It did. The light that shone was the sunshine, but that is getting ahead of my story.

What are Cherubim?

In Scripture, we first hear of Cherubim in Genesis 3:24, but we are not told what they are. After Adam's sin, we read that the Lord,

drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, (kerubim) and a flaming sword (chereb, destroying weapon) which turned every way, to keep the way of (to, as in the NASB) the tree of life.

Where is "east of the garden?" From Genesis 2:14, we find that the Garden of Eden was in the vicinity of the Euphrates River. Halley's Bible Handbook quotes an interesting ancient Babylonian inscription that shows that the garden was near Eridu, twelve miles south of Ur, where Abraham came from. The inscription said,

Near Eridu was a garden, in which was a mysterious Sacred Tree, a Tree of Life, planted by the gods, whose roots were deep, while its branches reached to heaven, protected by guardian spirits, and no man enters.

In Revelation 22:2, we find that the tree of life truly did reach Heaven. It is now in Heaven. It may come as a surprise, but east of the Garden of Eden can be anywhere between Earth and Heaven, which rises in our eastern sky.

Are Cherubim Guardian Spirits?

The Babylonian inscription mentioned "guardian spirits." Are Cherubim guardian spirits? The answer is complex. The Cherubim do guard. That much I can tell you now. They guard the path to Heaven to make sure nothing enters Heaven that would defile it. As to whether they are spirits or not must wait until we find the scriptural clues that show us exactly what they are.

Ezekiel Saw the Cherubim

The very fact that Ezekiel saw the Cherubim in his visions in chapters 1 and 10 suggest that they are something concrete rather than spirit. He saw them. Usually spirits are not seen for they are like the wind. Webster's definition of concrete is revealing. He said it is "a mass formed by concretion or coalescence of separate particles of matter in one body."

Ezekiel's Vision of Four Cherubim

Ezekiel's first vision is where the sunlight gave me my first inkling of what the Cherubim really are. The "heavens were opened" to Ezekiel in his visions. I should have paid more attention to that clue before, but I didn't. Ezekiel looked up at the sky. The Cherubim were in the heavens. He saw a whirlwind that fanned out to form a great doughnut shape. Within it's boundaries, he saw four flying heavenly bodies. In the middle was the radiant sun, "a fire infolding itself, and a brightness (nogah, sunlight) was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber."

This time, it really paid off to look up the word "brightness" in Hebrew. If the fire infolding itself had sunlight about it, it was our Sun. The passage suddenly took on a whole new meaning. These things really are in the sky.

The next clue came quickly. Ezekiel 1:15 said that one wheel was "upon the earth." Wow! now what kind of a wheel does Earth have? The next verse says that the appearance of the wheels was "as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel." How does Earth's wheel fit inside other wheels? Oh! I got the picture. Earth's orbit fits into the concentric orbits of the terrestrial planets. Around those is a cloud of small pieces of a planet that broke up, our Asteroid Belt. In order of distance from the sun, we have Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. These planets are the Cherubim Ezekiel saw in his vision of the heavens.

Their four faces are the four cardinal points of the compass. The same pictures were on the flags placed at the compass points outside the Israelite encampment in the wilderness. The extremities or outer borders of the Cherubim look like disks, "like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass" (1:7). They sparkled in the sunlight.

As for the likeness of the living creatures (lively heavenly bodies that can fly), their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps (1:13).

Is there any doubt in your mind? Don't the planets look like disks, burning coals of fire, lamps lit at dusk in the approaching darkness of night.

The Lord's throne is above these Cherubim, i.e., farther away from the sun. Ezekiel 1:26 says,

And above the firmament (expanse of space) that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man (Christ) above upon it.

This stone also had "as it were the appearance of fire" (1:27).

When Ezekiel realized what he had seen, he said, "And when I saw it, I fell upon my face." Don't you feel like that too? Ezekiel had seen Heaven. He had seen the Lord's throne upon it. What an awesome sight. I certainly was thrilled when I first saw Heaven floating like a pearl of great price up there in space.

In chapter 10, Ezekiel saw the throne and Cherubim again. He said,

THEN I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, and the appearance of the likeness of a throne....And their (the Cherubim's) whole body (i.e., heavenly body), and their backs, and their hands (extremeties, i.e., outer edges, borders), and their wings (symbolic of flight), and the wheels (orbits), were full of eyes (full orbs, i.e., circular) round about, even the wheels that they four had (10:1,12).

Once you get the picture, you can see beyond the symbolism and the awkward translation to imagine the real things Ezekiel saw moving around the sun like lamps in the heavens.

What is the Flaming Sword?

Just as the Cherubim of Genesis 3:24 are in the heavens, the flaming sword is also in the heavens. Ezekiel saw it. In Ezekiel 1:13, he said that "it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning." This is a "chereb," a destroying weapon. It is piece of the planet that split apart. The explosion threw some shards into cometary Earth-crossing orbits--NEA's. Thus Ezekiel saw the flaming sword, also called the Sword of the Lord, going "up and down" among the terrestrial planets. In Isaiah 34:1-8, the Lord said,

COME near, ye nations, to hear: and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies (they will attack Israel that day): he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter...the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The Sword of the Lord is filled with blood...the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea....For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

In his second vision, Ezekiel also saw that coals of fire would be taken "from between the cherubims" and scattered over Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:2,6,7). This has to do with the main events on the Day of God's Wrath.

The flaming sword was associated in the first book of the Bible with Eden, near the Euphrates River. In the last book of the Bible, we see Babylon, also near the Euphrates, destroyed in that same area of the world. And how is she destroyed? "there fell a great star (aster) from heaven, burning as it were a lamp" (Rev. 8:10). This "aster" is the flaming sword of Genesis 3:24. It is the destroying weapon out of the Lord's armoury.

The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons (plural) of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans...destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left....their day is come, the time of their visitation. The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple (Jeremiah 50:25-28).

The flaming sword is likely to be a binary asteroid that breaks apart for "a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea" (Rev. 8:8). This rock hits the Mediterranean Sea. It turns Ashkelon and Gaza into future fields for flocks and spews those coals of fire that Ezekiel saw taken from between the cherubims over the city of Jerusalem.

Both these rocks (and many smaller ones in scattered areas) hit Earth at noon on the Feast of Trumpets in 2007. Scripture says,

BLOW ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm...the day of the LORD cometh...A day of darkness: (Joel 2:1,2).

I will cause the sun to go down at noon...I will turn your feasts into mourning (Amos 8:9,10).

Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah...for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity (Zephaniah 2:4).

Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not...When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating....This is the portion of a wicked man (the False Prophet) from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God (Job 21:19,23,29).

  The Foolish Virgin and Laodicean Parallel

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Updated 4-26-08