"Show us the Father...And He saith...he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." (John 14:8–9)
Our two previous articles disclosed some startling truths about the elusive cherubim. We saw how the primary purpose of the cherubim placed at the east of Eden was to prevent fallen man from entering back from where he was cast. This is typified by the cherubim being sown with cunning work into the curtains and veil of the tabernacle.
The curtains and veil speak of the physical makeup of man (his body of flesh) and his soul (mind, will, intellect, and emotions.) The cherubim are sown into the very fabric of man: in the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. He can no more escape them than he can the serpent that feeds upon the dust of his makeup.
The Scriptures are also covered by these cherubim. But when we discount the translation errors, it is probably more in men's minds rather than the scriptures themselves, for — "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16). Without the same anointing that inspired the scriptures, the cherubim will form false imaginations of them as they wield a flaming sword of theological ideas. They become the letter that kills rather than Life that lives. Without Christ, the stone remains over the tomb of the Word, and men will believe and teach whatever the mind imagines about the One buried within. The cherubim are ever-present to keep that which is Holy from the corruption of man.
On the other hand, the cherubim reflect God's glory in a measure, and they are seen in each of the three realms of man — his body, his soul, and his spirit. Even in his fallen state, man shines with a measure of glory, especially as he begins his journey back to God. It begins when he leaves the camps in the wilderness, and ends in the Holy of holies of the tabernacle. Oh, but what a mystery these creatures are. They are true paradoxes, ever working in man as he makes his transition. On one hand they reveal God's glory, while on the other, they conceal it.
It is clear that man is created in God's image. All we have to do is to peer into his eyes, or take note of his intelligence, or observe how he is able to create, and we can readily see a little of God's glory. At the same time the glory is shining, this god–man conceals the greater glory, the glory that lies not on the surface, but within. The first glory is that of the candlestick, afterwards comes the show bread, and then we see the glory of the altar of incense. These three are contained in the Holy place.
The greater glory yet is above the Mercyseat in the deepest chamber of man — the Holy of holies, and the cherubim cover this glory as well. Here the believer's spirit has been joined to the Lord's Spirit — and they are one. The cherubim are made of pure gold, which we know is a shadow and common type of God's nature. We read in Hebrews concerning these pure shadows:
"Who serve unto the
example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he
was about to make the tabernacle....For the law having a shadow of good things
to come..." (Heb 8:5 & 10:1).
The cherubim mentioned in the book of Hebrews, even though a shadow, were cherubim of glory (Heb 9:5). Nevertheless, as glorious as they were, shadows cover, and THESE CHERUBIM COVER and OVERSHADOW the greater glory of the Mercyseat.
Like the cherubim of
the veil, we see them revealing the glory of God in a measure; but in the Holy
of holies it is on a higher plane. It is not so much in the image of the natural
man, but of the spiritual man. Here the paradox is also apparent. While the
cherubim shine in this new image of Gold, they conceal the very glory their eyes
are fixed upon — the Lord Himself:
"And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony..." (Exo 25:22). Although there is a glory of God revealed by the cherubim, they guard, they protect, they conceal, they cover — they OVERSHADOW the GREATER GLORY!
The Cherubim — the
EXPRESS IMAGE OF GOD'S THOUGHT, the SONS OF GOD — who know this place of God's
habitation, see His Glory; but as stewards of His mysteries, they OVERSHADOW and
keep this hallowed place secure. The wings of their glory COVER the greater
glory, and the ones attempting to invade that sacred realm see nothing but
DARKNESS. This is what the New Testament word OVERSHADOW reflects, as well as
the Old Testament word COVER.
Using Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, we will notice both words:
Overshadow (kataskiazo) from the Greek, means to overshade, to cast a shade upon. Cover (cakak) from the Hebrew, means to entwine as a screen; to fence in, cover over, protect, and to hedge in, block, stop the approach, shut off.
I must tell you, when people are in this place, beholding nothing but Christ and His glory, they will also cast a shadow over it. They will hedge it in, block it from intruders, stop the approach of the profane, and shut off any avenue other than the holiness of God. When they speak, those without light will see nothing but a shadow, a dark thing, and declare them as evil and not good. The overshadowing cherubim will be accused of blasphemy, as their Lord before them; for they too will cover the greater part of God's glory while manifesting another.
THE CHERUBIM OF JESUS
After sharing this thought recently with the brethren in El Paso, our dear friend and co–laborer in Christ, J. Preston Eby, brought out something that helped tremendously in understanding this paradox. It was the catalyst that harmonized the two opposing factors. In essence he said: "Although Jesus came to reveal the glory of God, it was continually being concealed. When He was conceived in the womb of Mary, her veil of flesh concealed Him, but not forever. After nine months He was manifested as a babe in a manger. God's glory was seen in the form of His uniquely begotten Son; but His own body concealed a greater glory. This scenario followed Him all the way to Pentecost, and continues to this day in His body of many members."
You see, although Jesus was the expression of God's glory, His own body of earth concealed a brighter glory. He was the brightness of God's salvation to the world, but not many could see it due to the cherubim sewn into the veil of His flesh. Simeon alone was allowed to see beyond the obstruction to behold His glory (Luke 2:25–32). Even Joseph and Mary marveled at the things this just and devout man spoke concerning Him. They knew how Jesus was conceived and who He was, for the angels told them nine months or so before. Nevertheless, Simeon saw something they had not yet seen. The promising words of the Holy Spirit to this old man came to pass that day — that he would not see death before he saw the Lord's Christ, the light of the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. It was opened for Simeon to see the Light of God's glory shining through the window of revelation. In an instant, he saw the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The overshadowing wings of the cherubim unfurled for a moment, and he gazed upon the One who would be slain for the sins of the whole world, and then sit upon God's throne of glory. For the next thirty years, His glory was seen by no one else. If it was, there is no record of it.
After being baptized in the Jordan River, Jesus manifested the Glory of God every where He went; but still, the glory was concealed by the cherubim of His own body, not to mention the ones in people's minds. Even in the light of all His miracles and profound wisdom, the Pharisees could only see Him as a carpenter's son. They knew He could not do the things He did unless God was with Him, as Nicodemus confessed (Joh 3:2); but they still didn't know who He was or where came from. They thought He came from Nazareth, the city of no good things. His miracles were tremendous. They could see God's glory in them; but His greater glory remained hidden. Due to the cherubim, they could not see He was born from above. Unlike Peter in Matthew 16:16, their eyes were veiled from His Glory as the Christ, the Son of the living God. They could neither see Him as the pure sacrifice of the outer court, nor could they peer into the Holy place and see that He was about His Father's business. They certainly couldn't see His Lordship over all. The only thing they could see was darkness. As far as they were concerned He was a rabble–rouser who was bent on wrecking their enterprising business.
His glory was also concealed in the tomb. The stone, which is not unlike the carnal mind, concealed it. And the guards also, which are typical of the cherubim at the Garden, insured the concealment of His glory. Even so, neither the earth nor the guards could hold and overshadow Him forever. After three days He was seen again — first by Mary Magdalene, then the disciples. Many more saw Him during the next forty days, and lastly by those at His ascension.
One would think that after His resurrection, Jesus would easily be recognized and His glory seen by all, but not so. For even this body concealed His glory. Only when people's eyes were opened was He truly seen. His glory surfaced as He showed His nail–scarred hands, blessed and broke bread, and told the disciples which side of the boat to fish from. Apart from these selected occasions of revelation, He remained hidden under the overshadowing wings of the cherubim.
COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN
Forty days later He was overshadowed again — this time by a small cloud as it received Him out of their sight. And then the whole dimension of the heavens became His covering. For ten days He was hidden from the view of all things earthly. Afterwards, the heavens released Him and He came in like manner that He went away — from heaven and in a cloud. This time the cloud that received Him the 120 at Pentecost. From there it grew into a much larger cloud. Three thousand were added on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41), five thousand at another time (Acts 4:4), and the clouds have not stopped growing. God has magnified His glory since that notable day. And now, there is a great cloud of witnesses who continually reveal Him, while they do their part in concealing Him. This cloud can be seen over the earth; but to unopened eyes, it is a dark cloud.
Jesus told Caiaphas the high priest, "...HEREAFTER shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in THE CLOUDS of heaven" (Mat. 26:64). Caiaphas has been dead many centuries, and Jesus has yet to appear in natural rain clouds. There is certainly no record of Him doing so, neither while Caiaphas lived, nor since. Some say it will be at the general resurrection when he (Caiaphas), and every eye, will see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven — but we don't think so. The fact is, Caiaphas saw Him coming a long time ago — in the clouds of His many saints.
Every Christian should know that His people are called clouds of power (Psa 68:34–35). This is basic understanding. They should also know we are now seated with Him in heaven (Eph 2:6). And there is one more bit of basic knowledge — heaven is a relationship in Christ, it is a spiritual sphere or realm, not a piece of real estate in outer–space.
Therefore, if His people are His clouds (Psa 68:34–35), and we are already seated in heaven (Eph 2:6), where clouds, of course, belong — what does this say? Simply put — WE ARE THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN, HEREIN IS WHERE OUR LORD DWELLS, and THESE ARE THE SAME CLOUDS IN WHICH HE COMES. HE APPEARS IN THE CLOUDS OF HIS SAINTS! In His glorious coming, however, we don't want to forget the cherubim. They are also in the clouds, and they conceal Him. What a paradox.
Several years ago the Lord gave me a dream, a night vision as it is called in the scriptures, and it is just as vivid today as it was then. It was about His coming with power in the clouds of heaven. This is what I saw:
Margit and I were sitting in the front–room of a house, high in the mountains. It was nestled in a canyon of tall pines and quaking–aspens. A wide variety of people were in this room with us. Some were my relatives, some were close friends, a few were those who had served the Lord with us in the years past, but had gone back to their old ways in the world. A few who had gone back were fairly religious, but only in the measure of 'will worship'. There was a show of godliness, but no substance. Some had never served the Lord in any form or fashion. As we all sat and talked to one another, I was startled by a brilliant light from outside. In my spirit I knew the time had come — that the Lord was appearing in His glory! I jumped to my feet and with great excitement, I shouted — "HE'S HERE! HE'S HERE! IT IS TIME! COME ON, LET'S GO!" Margit was the first to respond, and was immediately at my side. The two of us rushed out with the others following close behind. They had no idea what the excitement was all about, but due to the urgency in my voice they poured out of the house to see what was happening. I looked up to where the light was coming from, and all the heavens were covered with thick, dark clouds. From horizon to horizon, as far as the eye could see, was nothing but thick, dark, low hanging clouds; but throughout their expanse, I could see continuous surges of light. The light in the clouds was like hidden lightning bolts streaking through a huge thundercloud, with only the impulses of their light being apparent.
What joy flooded my soul! The Lord of Glory was appearing! Then the clouds began to part. In one region directly above us a passageway quickly formed. It went back a little distance and turned to the right. I believe the light continued to pulse throughout the entirety of the clouds, but I can't be sure — for my full attention was on the tunnel. My heart leaped when I saw a brightness filling it. Before He appeared, I knew who it was. It was the Lord, and He was making His way toward the opening. I could hardly believe that the time had come. But it had, He was coming, and I would now see Him face to face.
I briefly looked around, expecting to see all those with me as overjoyed as I was; but to my amazement, only Margit could see this wonderful display in the clouds. They had puzzled expressions upon their faces, and not because of what was happening in the clouds, for all they could see were the thick, dark clouds. They were puzzled, because they could not see why Margit and I were so excited. Nevertheless, we had no time to explain anything to them, so we focused again on the coming glory.
The Light grew brighter as He neared the bend of the tunnel — and suddenly He was there! He appeared! I could then see why there was so much light flashing through those heavenly clouds — HE HIMSELF WAS A LIVING BALL OF FIRE! The fire was like liquid light, and it enfolded upon itself with waves of glory. This living fireball was self–existent, and needed no outside fuel to sustain it. It was so bright and so glorious. Words fail to express it.
After rounding the curve, He proceeded forward. He came to the edge of the opening — and stopped. He stopped short of leaving the clouds. At that instant I knew Margit and I would be caught up and changed into the likeness of that fire. But to my disappointment — I awoke from the dream, with nothing tangible, only the burning promise of what was to come. (Another had a similar dream/vision.)
As I lay upon my bed, pondering what I had just seen, the Spirit opened my understanding to much of it. I then knew why He didn't leave the clouds, for we were assured long ago that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). I also understood that we cannot put a single human face on Him for the sake of identification. He is not known that way. Although He may appear as a man to various ones from time to time, it is only by the Spirit that He is recognized and known. It is a wonderful thing when He appears to individuals in the form of a man; but it is by the Spirit that they know who He is, and not by His physical features.
The pulsating flashes of light in the clouds came about as He made Himself known within His many–membered body, charging them with great power. Those whose lives were of the earth could not see the glory of this inner manifestation. It was as if they were blind. Those who make up His body (the clouds of Heaven), however, will have no trouble at all in seeing Him in His brilliant glory. But for the others, He will remain a hidden mystery. Until the season comes for their own salvation, they will see nothing their earthly hearts desire. But when their eyes are opened, they too will be seated with Him in the heavens. With open eyes they shall embark on the wonderful journey of life.
At times, those who are one spirit with the Lord can already see His glory throughout His body of saints; but when it begins to surge — look up, for the change is at hand. "And then" as Jesus trumpeted the sound long ago, "shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:27–28). Some have tried to lay hold of this by faith alone, claiming they have already arrived; but when the Lightning of Christ begins to jolt the body awake, they will quickly know they were mistaken.
The fact is, brethren, "...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). Although He has never left us, we have not yet seen His transforming glory — for that part of Him has been veiled by the cherubim. Oh, how we yearn to see Him as He is! But with patience we shall wait.
If we have had trouble seeing Him, how much more those without the Spirit? They said to Jesus, "Show us the Father," and He replied, "When you see Me you see the Father." The point is, the Spirit had not been given, and they could not see Him for who He really was. The cherubim of Christ veiled the glory of His Father's image, not to mention those of their own flesh. They, therefore, could not see the Father. Neither can He be seen in His body of many members; for the cherubim spread their wings in His heavenly clouds and cover His bright glory.
From the time of His appearing in the earth, Jesus has been magnifying and manifesting His Father. What a wonderful blessing He has been to creation; but along with the revelation of God's glory, there has always been the keeping, the guarding, the covering, i.e., the overshadowing of God's greater glory. Although mighty things have been seen over the ages — especially since Pentecost in the clouds of His many–membered body — each member of that body does its part in covering that priceless glory within.
Noting the paradox of this veiling darkness and shining glory, Samuel wrote this:
"He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under His feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and He was seen upon the wings of the wind. And He made darkness pavilions round about Him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. Through the brightness before Him were coals of fire kindled" (2 Sam 22:10–13). On one hand, we see darkness and thick clouds as He rode upon the cherub; but on the other hand we see brightness and coals of fire.
Until today, I had not seen how closely related the words of Samuel are to the dream the Lord gave me. What a wonder He is! Years later He brings it to mind for our encouragement and edification.
NO MAN CAN SEE GOD AND LIVE
Jesus was the Word made flesh, and dwelt among us. His glory was beheld, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). At every hand this Living Word revealed His Father's glory, but at the same time a dark cloud concealed it, and there was good reason for doing so: "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live" (Exo 33:20 NASB).
God in His mercy covers Himself from the eyes of men. If He didn't, they would be destroyed by His consuming fire. If the fulness of God's glory had been seen in Jesus, no one would have lived to talk about it. The cherubim of His Adamic form protected those He walked among, not to mention the thick cloud in the carnal minds of the religious rulers.
God's radiance is revealed little by little. He is seen more and more as the individual progresses, and when they shine with the same brilliance as their Lord, and know as they are known — those of the world will see them, but no more than they saw Jesus. Some, however, may see as clearly as John did while on the Isle of Patmos. At least two angels (Grk. aggelos, messengers) were so arrayed in God's glory that he fell down to worship them — but they would not allow it. They said: "See thou do it not: I am THY FELLOWSERVANT, and OF THY BRETHREN that have the testimony of Jesus...and OF THEM WHICH KEEP THE SAYINGS OF THIS BOOK: worship God" (Rev 19:10 & 22:9).
It is hard to imagine anyone being filled to such capacity of God's glory that a man like John, the apostle of love, would fall at his feet and worship him. Nevertheless, it happened, and we can now see this same glory is the destiny of Sons.
It is little wonder that the wings of the cherubim overshadow the glory over the Mercyseat. This glory is in the very midst of God's overcomers. If they were not overshadowed, they would mistakenly be worshiped. In this reference, we cite the words of Jesus, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mat 18:20). He is not up in the heavens somewhere, He is in the heavens in the midst of them; but still, He is covered by the cherubim. If people saw the glory of those who are one with Him, they would certainly be worshiped; but lest they die, it is not permitted. Remember — "...For there shall no man (adam, Heb.) see Me, and live" (Exo 33:20). As Jesus said, however, the cherubim of pure gold shall see Him: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Mat 5:8).
Men of the earth will never see such splendid glory. No doubt, it was the same with the people and Jesus as it was with Moses and the Lord when He passed by: "And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by" (Exo 33:22). Prior to a person's transformation, they must be covered, else they would die. We can see this in a small way with the glory of our own sun. The earth is covered with a dense atmosphere and blanket of clouds, and it lives; while the moon has no covering, and it is dead. This is one of the necessities of the covering cherubim — to preserve men alive until the time of their change.
Along the path of pressing toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God, both, the right hand of revealing and left hand of concealing are always present. This has been evident from before the very beginning of our walk. Before we knew anything of God and His Glory, the cherubim at Eden's gate stood firm. They are seen in the curtains of the tabernacle (the fleshly skin houses we are made of), and also in the veil of our carnal minds. Even in the Holy of holies they are seen — and this is where we are joined to the Lord and become one with Him.
There are no cherubim at the door where the sin–offering lies. They are not seen anywhere in the outer court of the slain Lamb. Although no one comes to Christ unless the Spirit draws them, the Lamb of salvation is not overshadowed by the cherubim. The truth is, it is not difficult to approach unto the Sacrifice. The only things required are: to be drawn (Joh 6:44), have a repentant heart (2 Cor 7:10), have a desire to be saved (Gen 4:7), and exercise a confessing tongue (Rom 10:9–10). For one to see the glory of death, the cross of Jesus, is a simple matter. Before any of God's further glory is seen, however, the cherubim must be dealt with.
When we go into the
Holy place, and on to the Holy of holies, they are seen everywhere. They are
always veiling and covering God's glory. Whether we like it or not, He will be
hidden to some degree or another until the proper time of full manifestation.
The greatest glory we presently know is on an individual basis, which is
contained between the two cherubim that overshadow the Mercyseat. But praise
God! His glory does not remain there forever. He gets bigger!
"Then the glory of the LORD went up from the CHERUB...and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory" (Ezek 10:4).
Elwin R. Roach
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