ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE DOMINION OF ANGELS
"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, LEST HE PUT FORTH HIS HAND, and TAKE ALSO OF THE TREE OF LIFE, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So He DROVE OUT THE MAN; and 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. 3:22-24).
When we come to the garden of Eden it is evident that this is more than merely a piece of real estate somewhere over in Mesopotamia! No such place has ever been found, neither the angel with the flaming sword to keep men out. The garden of God is not a physical place located on this or any other planet. It is a STATE OF BEING. It is a higher existence for man than this cursed state we find ourselves in by physical birth. It is the state of being that man was in when he was first brought forth from the creative hand of God and placed here upon earth. It represents man living in the presence of God! Man with the incorruptible life of God accessible to him! Man as master and lord over all things! Man living above sin, sickness, sorrow, pain or death! Blessed realities, one and all! This great truth of man's STATE OF BEING constituting the garden of God is one of the tremendous themes which courses its way like a mighty river through the Scriptures.
Think of the momentous tragedy when that first blessed pair, made in the image of God, commissioned to rule the world and have dominion over all things, entered into transgression at the forbidden tree and consequently "God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man..." The original denotes something more than a gentle dismissing. The words "sent him forth" are the term used in speaking of the divorce of a wife from her husband, which implies a violent separation, a stern and angry ejection. Man was thrust forth from the garden, thus losing his life, his glory, and his DOMINION.
THE CHERUBIM AND THE FLAMING SWORD
When man was banished from his realm of life, glory and dominion, the record states, "So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24). Man must be excluded from the tree of life until a provision is made by which he can approach and partake of it. Nor is Adam merely driven out of Paradise; but a guard is assigned to the place to make any approach to it impossible, just as watches are stationed in the vicinity of fortresses and armies. The Cherubim were placed to "KEEP THE WAY of the tree of life," and it is interesting to note that the word here for "keep" is in the Hebrew "shamar", meaning to guard, to protect, to hedge about as with thorns. The illustration is clear, if you would keep your neighbor's cows out of your garden you must fence it with a good thorny hedge (modern day barbed wire)! Thus, life was denied to mankind by God, and so death came upon every man, even those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.
Moreover, those Cherubim at the gate of Eden did not have a metal sword to ward off such as would approach, but the Hebrew denotes a movable sword, that is, a flash or a flame, such as of lightning, which is unsteady and blinds the eyes. This flame or lightning is depicted as having the form of a sword of the Cherubim, no living human being makes his way across that dread portal! The tree of life, yea, all that Eden represents, was guarded by the power of death, it became untouchable, divinely unapproachable. From that day Adam's life before the gate is a continuous attack upon the realm from which he is excluded. It is a flight and a search upon the cursed ground of the carnal realm to find what he has lost, and then a repeated, desperate rage against the power with the flaming sword; he continually runs against it, it always stands in his way, and the sword is formidable, preventing his circumventing it. Nothing is plainer in the whole Word of God than the fact that the Cherubim with the flaming sword were not stationed at Eden's gate to point, direct, or guide man back into life - they were placed there for the express purpose of SHUTTING MAN OUT FROM LIFE! The guards of Paradise were not appointed to show man the way back to his lost heritage; rather, they were assigned their determined duty "LEST he put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Gen. 3:22).
The Cherubim bespeak a REALM OF DOMINION which we shall explore later. The word that proceeds from the Cherubim is typified in the flaming sword. The word "sword" is found in the Bible over 400 times. That indicates the tremendous importance the Spirit of God attaches to it. There are both the positive and negative aspects. Hear the Word of the Lord as the apostle Paul speaks of the whole armor of God, admonishing the saints to "put on...the sword of the Spirit, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD" (Eph. 6:17). Then the writer to the Hebrews declares that the sword of God's Word is "QUICK". Quick means LIVING AND ACTIVE - LIFE-GIVING! "For the Word of God that speaks is alive and full of power - making it active, operative, energizing and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword..."(Heb. 4:12, Amplified). Ah, yes, here is the sword that conquers the death in us and GIVES LIFE! As it is written, "It is the SPIRIT that quickeneth; the FLESH profiteth nothing...for the LETTER KILLETH, but the SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE" (Jn. 6:63; II Cor. 3:6). The sword of the Spirit is the quickening, energizing, life-giving WORD OF GOD!
I shall not hesitate to explain to you, dear ones, that there are two aspects of the Word of God. Jesus Christ is THE WORD - THE LOGOS - THE LIVING WORD! But there is also that word which Paul calls "the letter". The letter is the record and history, the laws, rules and regulations, the types, shadow and figures, the external observances of sacraments, ordinances and rituals, the visible FORM OF THE WORD which tells us, in terms understandable by the NATURAL MIND, many things ABOUT the Living Word, Jesus Christ. As I meditated upon the Cherubim and the flaming sword in Genesis the Lord began to speak to me saying, "The flaming sword is a word." I would ponder this, arrive at nothing, only to have the words come again, "The flaming sword is A WORD!" Then in a sudden burst of divine illumination, the truth of it dawned upon me. Jesus Christ is THE WORD - THE LIVING WORD - and IN H-I-M IS LIFE! But the flaming sword at the portal of Eden is A WORD, not The Word, not the Living Word, but the FORM of the Word, that is, A WORD about THE WORD! But this word is a DEAD WORD, it is FORM without ESSENCE, LAW without LIFE, it is "the letter" that "killeth," it keeps men from life and shuts them up unto the dominion of death. It should not be difficult to understand that as Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God, the sword of the Spirit that quickens, so is the letter of the Word a deadly sword, killing, rather than quickening. Ah, TWO WORDS, the Living Word and the letter of the Word. And TWO SWORDS...the Living Sword of the Spirit and the death-dealing sword of the letter of the Word!
It is important to note that the sole purpose of the Cherubim with the flaming sword was to KEEP MAN OUT from life! The flaming sword did not minister life, but death. It did not impart life, neither did it point to life or lead to life. It was a SWORD OF DEATH...a WORD OF DEATH! It was not the sword of the Spirit, but the sword of the letter of the Word!
THE FLAMING SWORD
Man's approach to the realm where God dwelt was barred completely by the flaming sword - by A WORD which issued as a fiery, consuming stream from the dominion of the Cherubim. With what divine genius does the Holy Spirit on the blessed pages of God's Word unfold for us the identity of this death-angel. There was a day in the long ago when God's chosen people Israel stood before Mt. Sinai. The cloud and fire of His divine presence covered the mountain and the voice of God called Moses to come up into the mount amidst flaming fire, black darkness, rushing wind and out of it a trumpet-blast, the voice of the Almighty speaking human words. There in the midst of flaming flashes of fire (the flaming sword!) the LAW was given, which Paul in II Cor. 3:6-7 speaks of as THE MINISTRATION OF DEATH. "The letter killeth," he tells us, "but the Spirit giveth life."
So terrible was the voice from Sinai that those who heard it begged and prayed that it might say no more, for what it commanded was more than they could bear. So fearful was the spectacle that Moses cried out as Adam did at Eden's gate, "I am terrified and tremble!" Amidst the terror of blinding, piercing streaks of lightning and the deafening roar of thunder, under which the whole mountain shuddered, God gave the law, the letter that killeth, the MINISTRATION OF DEATH! Fearful judgment, fierceness of fire, devouring the adversaries - this is the message from Sinai!
How I wish God's people could understand the law. The law of the Old Testament was of a three-fold character: (1) the Civil law of rules and regulations governing every aspect of daily life, social relationships, business dealing etc. (2) the Ceremonial law of external religious observances of sacrifices and offerings, of feast days and holy days, of rites and ceremonies, of ritual washings (baptisms) and purifications etc. (3) the Moral law of the Ten Commandments, the "thou shalts" and the "Thou shalt nots".
The Old and New Testaments are contrast. Law and life are the contrasts. You surely have noticed how Paul clearly points out the striking differences between the ministration of the law and the ministration of the Spirit in II Cor. 3:6-11. "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, mush more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious."
LAW and LIFE - what contrast! FORM or ESSENCE - what a difference! Every creature naturally acts according to the life that is in it, without any law or compulsion from without. The bird needs no law to bid it fly, or the fish to make it swim: its life makes it a delight. A law is a proof that the life is lacking. The law that forbids stealing is a proof that the lie of those for whom it is made is wrong. And a law is not only a proof that the right life is lacking, but it is helpless to produce it. And not only is it helpless to produce it, but it administers judgement to those who break it. It may check and restrain, but cannot transform. It can demand, but cannot give; it has power to command, but not to create what is seeks.
Ah, beloved, the law is not the way to God, neither does it point, direct or guide man back into life, instead it bars the sinner from coming to God. It says, "Do this, or die. Keep this, or perish." The law, ANY LAW, was not designed to save a single member of Adam's fallen race, or to keep anyone saved, but rather to cause us to look else where. We cannot progress with God into true Sonship until the Spirit of God has made wonderfully real to our hearts the blessed fact that there is not a law, commandment, creed, ordinance, ritual, sacrament. ceremony, tradition or EXTERNAL OBSERVANCE OF ANY KIND that can bring you closer to God! They are, one and all, but thieves and robbers as Jesus said (Jn. 10:8), for while men trust in them they rob men of the life of God in the Spirit, standing between the seeker and Christ, shutting him up into a FORM while cutting him off from the SUBSTANCE. And I must state with the greatest possible clarity that nowhere in all the world has the FORM OF TRUTH, EMPTY EXTERNAL CEREMONIES, ORDINANCES and RITUALS held more deadly sway than in the church system. The flaming sword of the dead LETTER OF THE WORD has slashed its way from the pulpits until the precious life of the Spirit has been lost and the horrid stench of death hangs like a shroud over God's people. Moses's law or the man-made rules and rituals of your church, it makes no difference, my friend, ALL LAW is a DEAD WORD and will kill you!
Please bear with me for a few moments more as I point out the importance of the law to give to anyone, for while these things may seem elementary to many of us, they are basic to the things I shall later concerning the ministry of the Cherubim. "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it sayeth to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and ALL THE WORLD MAY BECOME GUILTY BEFORE GOD. Therefore by the deeds of the law shall NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED in His sight, for by the law is THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN (not the knowledge of God!). But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested..." (Rom. 3:19-21). The law (all kinds of laws!) has been preached in an effort to produce righteousness. It will produce a righteousness, but only self-righteousness. Paul states in Rom. 4:15, "The law results in divine wrath..." Again, "But then law came in, ONLY TO EXPAND AND INCREASE THE TRESPASS making it more apparent and exciting opposition" (Rom. 5:20, Amplified). "The sting of death is sin; and THE STRENGTH OF SIN IS THE LAW" (I Cor. 15:56). The law demands perfect obedience. One single sin is enough to bring swift and fearsome judgement, for James says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he IS GUILTY OF ALL!" (James 2:10). So Paul says, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN!" (Gal. 2:21)
Righteousness and life do not come by the law; therefore, something else must come by the law. What is it? What does the law bring forth? The law brings us to CONDEMNATION AND DEATH! "The ministration of DEATH, written and engraven in stones." In the light of this truth can we doubt that the flaming sword at Eden's gate bespeaks a WORD OF DEATH - the LAW - the FORM OF TRUTH? The flaming sword SEPARATED mankind from the presence and power of God! It shut God up from man, and man out from God! It stood between man and his lost heritage in God and said, "Stay out, keep away, no admittance!" This, I am convinced, is what Paul meant when he penned these inspired words to the saints at Galatia: "Is the law then to be looked upon as a contradiction of the promises? Certainly not, for if there could have been a law which gave men spiritual life then that law would have produced righteousness. But, as things are, the Scripture has all men "imprisoned" under the power of sin, so that to men in such condition the promise might be given to all who believe in Jesus Christ. Before the coming of this faith we were all IMPRISONED UNDER THE POWER OF THE LAW, with our only hope of deliverance the faith that was to be shown to us. The law was like a STRICT TUTOR IN CHARGE OF US until we went to the school of Christ and learned to be justified by Him. Once we have that faith we are COMPLETELY FREE FROM THE TUTOR'S AUTHORITY. For now that you have faith in Christ Jesus you are SONS OF GOD" (Gal. 3:21-26, Phillips).
THE DOMINION OF ANGELS
We have stated that the Cherubim represent a REALM OF DOMINION. In the beginning Adam was given over all things. When he was driven from Eden's lovely garden he not only lost his dominion but was brought under dominion. Not only did he relinquish his God-given rulership but now alas! he himself would be ruled over. He forfeited his Sonship to become a servant. Upon his departure from Eden, the man who was destined to rule the whole vast universe at once became subject to an authority over him - the Cherubim at the gate! We would be blind readers indeed, if we could not see that the authority of the Cherubim, the sword of the Cherubim, yea, the administration of the Cherubim constituted A DOMINION OVER ADAM'S LIFE.
I am convinced by the Spirit of God that the Cherubim represent an angelic administration - the dominion of angels! Before proceeding with this thought it is significant to note that the word "angel" in both Hebrew and Greek simply means "MESSENGER," which in no way in itself limits it to celestial beings. "Angel" means messenger: one sent with a message, who is both the message itself and the personal representative of the Sender. The Hebrew word "malack" equals "messenger." The Greek word "aggelos" means "Messenger." Anyone sent with a message is a messenger - an angel. If there had been Western Union messengers in Bible times they would have been called "Western Union Angels," for "angel" means "messenger."
The very same word is used of those sent by men, those sent by Satan (II Cor. 12:7), and those sent by God. Any messenger sent by a king, or any other person, is in both the Hebrew and the Greek languages, an angel of that person, viz: a messenger. If sent by a human being, the messenger-angel was the personal representative of that one, in the message he was commissioned to bear. Lk. 7:18-28 speaks of the messengers of John the Baptist as angels and in verse 24 we read, "And when the messengers (angels) of John were departed..." These same messengers are called disciples (Mathetai) in verse 18. If sent by God, the messenger-angel was the personal representative of God, in the message he was given to bear. In Lk. 7:27 John the Baptist is denominated as an angel, "Behold, I send my messenger (Gr: "aggelos" - angel) before thy face..." It could just as well have been translated, "Behold, I send my angel before thy face..." The context always decides whose angel the messenger is. John was filled with the Holy Spirit, to bear a word of God, and accomplish a mission for God and for the Anointed One - Christ. In the anointing, the word, and mission, John was a man-angel of God, the greatest prophet born of women!
In the Old Testament the technical term "Angel of Yahweh" refers specifically to the eternal Word of God in His appearances to men as God's mouthpiece or "messenger." There are many passages where He is identified as Yahweh Himself. For example, "the Angel of the LORD (Yahweh)" in Gen. 31:11-13 says, "I am the God of Bethel," and, in Ex. 3:2-6, He declares, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham."
Any messenger of God is His angel, His personal representative in that particular mission and message. "And Jacob went his way, and the angels (messengers) of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, This is GOD'S HOST: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim (two companies, two armies)" (Gen. 32:1-2). The Word of God is not lacking in evidence that there are in God's universe both TERRESTRIAL ANGELS and CELESTIAL ANGELS, messengers of spirit from heaven and messengers in the flesh on earth. On the nigh of the birth of Jesus Christ, the solitary shepherds faithfully tending their flocks in the fields surrounding the slumbering city of David were startled by the sudden interruption of their mundane activities as "the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them" (Lk. 2:9). And just as suddenly and supernaturally there was with the angel "a MULTITUDE OF THE HEAVENLY HOST praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Lk. 2:13-14). Then follows the significant statement, "And it came to pass, as THE ANGELS were gone away from them I-N-T-O H-E-A-V-E-N, the shepherds said one to another..." (Lk. 2:15). Ah, angels from heaven! The apostle Paul referred to these when he wrote these words of exhortation: "But though we, or AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8).
While there are messengers or angels on many planes, both in the flesh and in the spirit, I have no hesitation in saying that there is a messenger-realm, an angelic-order that is a special creation of God and distinct from both God Himself and the man-angels so often seen in the Bible. There is a verse of Scripture in Heb. 2:5 that reads thus: "For unto the angels HATH HE NOT put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak." In verses 1-4 of the same chapter we find that the preaching of the "great salvation" brought by Jesus brings us finally to a glorious new age in which the saints shall rule and reign over all things. In verses 10-12 the apostle reveals that these ruling saints are the Sons of God. My heart goes out in prayer that the God of all wisdom and understanding will open the hearts of all who read these lines that they may see that the world to come shall not be ruled over by the messenger-realm, the angelic-order - but by MAN! If man-angels, whether in the flesh or out of the flesh, are the only angels there are, then these words of inspiration are totally without meaning or intelligence: "For God did not put the future world of men under the control of angels, and it is this world that we are now talking about. But someone has truly said: What is MAN, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visiteth him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands; Thou didst put ALL THINGS under his feet. Notice that when the writer put "all things" under the sovereignty of MAN: he left NOTHING OUTSIDE OF HIS CONTROL. But we do not yet see "all things" under his control" (Heb. 2:5-9, Phillips). Again, "For to which of the angels did He ever say such words as these: Thou art My Son, This day have I begotten thee? Or, again: I will be a Father to him, and he shall be to Me a Son? Does He ever say this of any of the angels: Sit thou on MY right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?" (Heb. 1:5, 13-12, Phillips).
Three outstanding truths are clearly evident in these verses. First, there is an order of angels which are not men. Secondly, these angels will not rule over the world to come. And thirdly, the Sons of God, born from above, are of a divine order HIGHER FAR THAN ANY OF THE ANGELS, to whom is given all power and authority. Of Christ and His "many brethren" it is written, "This Son, radiance of the glory of God, flawless expression of the nature of God, Himself the upholding power of all that is, having effected in person the cleansing of men' sins, took His seat at the right hand of the majesty on high - BEING MADE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE ANGELS, as He hath by inheritance obtained a MORE EXCELLENT NAME THAN THEY...it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom all things, in bringing MANY SONS TO GLORY, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are ALL OF ONE: for which cause He is NOT ASHAMED TO CALL THEM BRETHREN" (Heb. 1:3-4; 2:10-11, Phillips & KJV).
We should direct our thoughts to yet another consideration, the meaningful words of Paul in I Cor. 6:1-3, "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that WE SHALL JUDGE A-N-G-E-L-S? How much more things that pertain THIS LIFE." The writer of Hebrews says that angels shall not judge the world, but Paul states that the saints shall not only judge the world, but will even judge the angels! Ah, can we not see by this that GOD HIMSELF IS PREPARING A GOVERNMENT AND A KINGDOM that will swallow up all others until the kingdoms of this world, and all the principalities and powers of the heavenlies have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. Can we not see that there is a company of saints, the Sons of the Most High, who shall yet govern this world and all the unbounded heavens in wisdom and righteousness? And can we not see that there is an angelic-realm which shall not rule the world to come, and the very fact that it is specified that they shall not rule THE WORLD TO COME proves that they DO RULE - there is a realm which is subject to the DOMINION OF ANGELS!
With these thoughts in mind we approach a most enlightening passage of Scripture. Among the most precious and awe-inspiring chapters in God's precious book, Hebrews chapter two stands out in magnificence. After contrasting the ministry of angels with the ministry of Sonship in chapter one, the writer proceeds to say, "THEREFORE we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which WE HAVE HEARD, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the WORD SPOKEN BY ANGELS was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be SPOKEN BY THELORD, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him" (Heb. 2:1-3).
Two "WORDS" are presented to us in these verses. The first is THE WORD OF ANGELS. Of that word it is stated, "...and every transgression received a just recompense of reward." The second is THE WORD SPOKEN BY THE LORD. This is the word which brings "so great salvation." Oh! that God may give us hearts to grasp the importance of these things which have been hid from the wise and the prudent, but God hath revealed them unto babes! In the whole world and in all of history there have never been but two words: the WORD OF ANGELS and the WORD OF THE LORD! The word of angels brought judgement to the hearers, whereas the Word of the Lord brings great salvation. The word of angels was spoken of old, the Word of the Lord began to be spoken when Jesus came into the world.
The Scripture abound with the evidence that the word of angels is the LAW - the whole realm of commandments, regulations, external observances of ordinances, ceremonies, traditions etc., while the Word of the Lord is the gospel (good news) of CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY. The word of angels is "the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones," but the Word of the Lord is "the ministration of the Spirit written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." The word of angels is "the letter that killeth," whereas the Word of the Lord is "the Spirit that quickeneth" as Jesus said, "The WORDS that I speak unto you, THEY ARE SPIRIT, and they are LIFE" (Jn. 6:63).
The Jews counted it one of their great privileges that the law was GIVEN BY THE MINISTRATION OF ANGELS. Paul declared that the law "was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it (the law) was ORDAINED BY ANGELS in the hand of a mediator" (Gal. 3:19). I am aware that someone will exclaim, "But the law wasn't given by angels, the law came by Moses!" Let us read this verse from the Amplified Bible which brings out the truth quite clearly, "And it (the law) was arranged and ordained and appointed THROUGH THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF ANGELS and was given by the hand of a go-between - an intermediary person (Moses) between God and man." Yes, Moses received the law on behalf of Israel, in so doing he acted as the "mediator" (go-between) between God and Israel, but in addition to this fact it is revealed that God communicated the law to Moses THROUGH THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF ANGELS!
That magnificent saint, Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost, indicted his murderers with these pungent words moments before his untimely death in the streets of Jerusalem, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom have been now the betrayers and murderers; who have received the law BY THE DISPOSITION OF ANGELS, and have not kept it" (Acts 7:52-53). Then speaking to them of Moses, he declared, "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness WITH THE ANGEL WHICH SPAKE TO HIM IN THE MOUNT SINAI...who received the lively oracles to give unto us" (Acts 7:38). From these statements of Holy Writ it may be said with certainty that Moses WAS NOT ALONE ON MOUNT SINAI! And neither was God alone on the holy mount!
The words of the Psalmist are very revealing, "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). At Sinai the Lord was in the midst of that blazing phenomena which the ancients called "Shekinah". We read that "Moses went up into the mount and a CLOUD covered the mount. The GLORY OF THE LORD abode upon Mount Sinai. The CLOUD covered it six days; and the seventh day (God) called unto Moses out of the midst of the CLOUD. The sight of the GLORY OF THE LORD was like DEVOURING FIRE on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the CLOUD...and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights" (Ex. 24:15-18). Thus, according to the Psalmist, the Shekinah or blazing "chariots of God" which rested upon Mount Sinai, and in the midst of which Yahwey was enthroned, and from which He spoke to the children of Israel, and by which He communicated the law to Moses, were billions of celestial beings which formed "a cloud", "like devouring fire", manifesting "the glory of the Lord". In other words "the pillar of fire", or "Shekinah", is not composed of earthly fire which consumes, but of a vast company of celestials of whom the apostle wrote when he said, "For to which of the ANGELS did He ever say such words as these: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee? Or, again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a Son? Further, when He brings His Firstborn (Son) into this world of men, He says, LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP H-I-M. THIS is what He says of the ANGELS: Who maketh of His angels winds and HIS MINISTERS (servants) A FLAME OF FIRE. But does He ever say this to any of the angels: Sit thou on My right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet? Surely the ANGELS ARE NO MORE THAN SPIRITS IN THE SERVICE OF GOD, commissioned to SERVE THE HEIRS of God's salvation!" (Heb. 1:5-7, 13-14, Phillips).
Note further that the "chariots of God" composed of innumerable blazing angelic hosts are said by the Psalmist to surround the King of Glory "as in the holy of holies". This confirms the truth that the "pillar of fire" which is also called the "cloud", is composed of the angelic host which surrounds the throne of God in the manner in which Ministers of State surround a King in his courtroom. "As God was at Sinai" so also "He was in the Holy of holies". In both instances He dwelt in the midst of the Shekinah. The Glory Cloud penetrated the goat hair tabernacle and came to rest between the gold Cherubim above the mercy seat (Ex. 25:10). Observe that the "pillar of fire" did not consume the goat hair tent. The reason? The "fire" is composed of angelic spirit beings who are God's ministers (servants), and whom He has made "FLAMES OF FIRE". These flames do not consume the servants of God, yet they may burst as the wrath of God is poured from the cup of His fury - for these are administrators, the upholders and the executors of HIS LAW!
We will never comprehend the importance of the superiority of SONSHIP over the ANGELIC DOMINION until we understand that to the angelic realm is committed the ministry of the law. The dispensing of the law is an angelic ministry. The upholding of the law is an angelic administration. And the power of the law rests in the DOMINION OF ANGELS.
BEYOND THE ANGELIC DOMINION
The angelic realm and the law are inseperable. The law was given by the disposition of angels. The word "disposition" is from the Greek "diatage" meaning "arrangement, i.e. institution." In the English language some of the synonyms for disposition are administration, management, conduct, direction, control, and superintendence. The angelic not only delivered the law into the hands of Moses, but throughout the entire dispensation of the law they were the unseen but ever-present ADMINISTRATORS and RULERS of the law-system. Thus, every man who is UNDER THE LAW is also subject to the DOMINION OF ANGELS!
The law is the flaming sword, the fiery, consuming, devouring, judgmental WORD, the outer FORM of truth, the letter that killeth, the ministration of death stationed so long ago at the portal of Paradise. "The law made nothing perfect," declared the apostle, "but the BRINGING IN OF A BETTER HOPE DID" (Heb. 7:19).
"Being made SO MUCH BETTER than the angels, as He (Jesus) hath by inheritance obtained a MORE EXCELLENT name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, THOU ART MY SON, this day have I begotten thee?" (Heb. 1:4-5). The superior excellence of Sonship above angels consists in this, that God has wrought redemption for us in His Son, has quickened our spirit with His Spirit, begetting us out of the loins of His own divine life. The whole epistle of Hebrews is the unfolding of the glory of the person and work of the Son. As the New Testament is higher and grander than the Old, so is the realm of Sonship higher and more excellent than angels. The more completely we comprehend this, and have our hearts permeated by it, the better we shall apprehend the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus now prepared for us. The book of Hebrews is "the book of BETTER THINGS." The book begins with a glorious declaration as to how God speaks and reveals Himself to us. Once He spoke through prophets and angels (Heb. 1:1; 2:2), but now He reveals Himself in Sonship. And dear friend, if you think Jesus is keeping all the glory of this Sonship and heir-ship to Himself, then you haven't read Rom. 8:17 where it tells us that we are HEIRS OF GOD, and JOINT HEIRS WITH CHRIST.
If we would grasp the truth and experience the reality of this we must tarry here in deep humility until God reveals to us what it means, that HIS SON is the Captain, the Leader of our salvation, bringing many Sons to glory. The infinite excellence of SONSHIP above the angels is the measure of that heavenly life THE SON brings and gives within the SONS. The angels could tell of God and of life and of righteousness. The Son has, the Son is, that LIFE OF GOD, and gives it. He that has THE SON, HAS LIFE!
Ah, yes, Jesus has been highly exalted and given a name above every name, seated at the right hand of the majesty on high; there He dwells, opening up and keeping open THE WAY BACK INTO EDEN, even a NEW and a LIVING WAY, through the veil, into the Holiest of All. He brings us back to our lost dominion. He brings us to the throne of the universe, the throne of our Father. Let no one think that I speak of what is too high. I speak of what is your heritage and destiny. The same share you have in Jesus on the cross, you have in Jesus on the throne. Be ready to sacrifice the earthly life for the heavenly; to follow Christ fully in His separation from the flesh and the world and His surrender to the Father's will; and Christ in the heavenlies will prove in you on earth the reality and power of HIS HEAVENLY LIFE!
No promise is given to the angels of having all enemies put under their feet, not of sitting on the right hand of God, nor of being joint heirs with Christ. Yet these promises are all given to us, after having first been given to the first begotten Son of God. No angel will ever know what it is to sit in the throne of God. This place is reserved for "him that overcometh," for the saints who are in Christ Jesus. Sonship is a relationship to Deity that angels cannot know. Heb. 1:10 shows that the firstborn Son was the creator of heaven and earth. Heb. 1:6 states that God Himself became human substance and was brought into this world of sin. When the firstborn came into the world of men the angels were told to worship Him. Why? Because He was the very substance of Deity. He was their creator! Why did they have to be told to worship Him? Because He was so much in the likeness of man! Angels would not worship man, they had been given dominion over man. They had to be told that this man was more than man, He was Deity veiled in humanity. I am sure that many of my readers would tremble in awe and marvel at the presence of a mighty angel. Yet, the realm of Sonship is HIGHER FAR THAN THE ANGELS WILL EVER ATTAIN TO! This is the place Jesus walked and overcome every enemy. This is His inheritance which He shares with us, His body.
It is recorded in the book of Exodus (Ex. 34:29) that, upon Moses' return to the congregation of Israel after He had gone up into Mount Sinai to receive the covenant of the law, the skin of his face shone with the glory of God and he hung a veil over his face so that the children of Israel would not behold the glory that was slowly fading away. Have you ever wondered why it was that the face of Moses shone after he had received the law that kills, and why he put the veil over his face? Now when Paul was commenting on this remarkable incident in the life of Moses, he said, "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather (more) glorious? And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, THAT CHILDREN OF ISRAEL COULD STEDFASTLY LOOK T-O T-H-E E-N-D OF THAT WHICH I-S A-B-O-L-I-S-H-E-D" (II Cor. 3:7-8, 13).
The manifestation of the ANGELIC GLORY must have been awesome - the talk of the whole camp of Israel. However, the real purpose that Moses covered his face with the veil was not to enable the people to look at him, but that "the children of Israel COULD NOT LOOK TO THE E-N-D of that which is abolished." Israel never did know at what time the glory-shine ended, whether it lasted for an hour, or a day, or a week, it just faded away under the veil and one day Moses appeared without the veil, and program carried on.
The law has a glory, the glory of the angelic realm, but it does not compare to the glory that is in THE SON. When Moses received the law from the hands of the angels, his face shone with the glory of the law. This glory would fade away, but Israel would not see the glory of the law fade in contrast with the glory of Christ. Many even today do not see the purpose of the veil that Moses put on. It was not just because his face was too bright to look at, but because the GLORY WOULD FADE and Israel could not see the fading glory of the law. Moses put the veil over his face as an illustration that the fading of the law was something ISRAEL REFUSED TO SEE!
I must tell you plainly that many Christians today also refuse to see the fading glory of the law as they cling to their iron-clad rules, regulations, dress codes, do this, don't do that, observe this ordinance in this precise way or you will go to hell, the continual preaching of judgment and damnation upon the people. Much ministry we have in the church systems today is tainted with the ministry of the law - the exhortation to works for justification, external observances of rituals and ordinances by which the blessing of God is supposedly ministered, bondage to multiplied church laws and regulations etc. You can always spot a person who is living under the power of the law - the law is a MINISTRY OF CONDEMNATION! (II Cor. 3:9). You can also recognize the man or woman walking in the spirit of Sonship. A Son is not a minister of condemnation. Jesus is not a minister of condemnation, but of love, forgiveness, and mercy. "For God sent not His SON into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him MIGHT BE SAVED" (Jn. 3:17). When the law said that one caught in the act of adultery should be stoned, the SON said, "NEITHER DO I CONDEMN THEE: go, and sin no more" (Jn. 8:5-11). Jesus said in John 5:45, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is ONE THAT ACCUSETH YOU, EVEN MOSES (the law), in whom YE trust." My brother! My sister! Hear the words of Paul in Rom. 8:34: "Who is there to condemn us? Will Christ Jesus, the Messiah, Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?" Christ maketh INTERCESSION for us. He will not condemn and intercede at the same time, that gets ridiculous!
To be a minister of the New Priesthood is to release people into grace by faith, not by works. In the atmosphere of God's grace and glory the believer can then be dealt with by God until the whole nature is changed and transformed from a sinner under death to a saint under life. No man can stop sinning to be saved! Once a man has been saved by the grace of God through faith, he can then learn by God's grace HOW TO STOP SINNING TO BE M-A-D-E P-E-R-F-E-C-T! We are in a transition period. The hangover of the law is still upon us, for though it has been thoroughly taken away, we have clung to its principles. If a preacher demands that you drop your cigarettes or drinking before you can experience God's grace - he is saying that you are under the law and must earn your way into grace. If you are exhorted to do something to get blessed, you are still under the law and receiving by works. If someone commands, "Thou shalt not be angry with thy wife," or "Thou must not covet a new fancy car," - where is the power to perform it? We all know we are to love one another. When a preacher rants and raves because of the lack of love, where is the power to perform it? It is certainly NOT IN THE DEMAND! "You should have family devotions" -"You must not overeat" - "You should be on time to meetings" - we all know this is well and good, we desire to do even as we are told and yet fall short. Why? Because we have been ministered to as by law. Paul said, "I preach CHRIST - the power of God!"
Thank God! there is a New Covenant of grace, and in that grace is contained the power of God to transform. There is no one single leap into perfection, but how we rejoice that the EXTERNAL LAW with its angelic dominion is done away, replaced by the NEW COVENANT which is established upon better promises, for the Spirit's inworking shall fulfill within us all the righteousness of the law, being a ministration of righteousness unto more abundant life.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that all who live their lives under rules, laws, by-laws, creeds, commandments, regulations, what we must or must not eat or drink, what we must or must nor wear, how we must observe this ordinance, that ceremony, and the other ritual HAVE PLACED THEMSELVES UNDER THE DOMINION OF ANGELS and do despite to the Spirit of grace and life in Christ Jesus.
We are not admonished to LOOK UNTO THE LAW, but to LOOK UNTO CHRIST. We are nowhere told to LOOK FOR ANGELS, but "unto them that look for HIM shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28). Even that which was made glorious (that is, the law) had no glory at all by reason of the glory that excelleth. The glory that excelleth is the LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST. Surely, if that which speaks death to sinners is glorious, that which speaks of incorruption, immortality, and eternal life to saints is more glorious. All who walk in the life of Sonship have no veils over our faces, but REFLECTS LIKE MIRRORS THE GLORY OF THE LORD. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into His own image. Glory!
It has been impossible to adequately introduce a subject so vast and of such depth as THE DOMINION OF ANGELS in this brief and somewhat feeble article. We shall close here and follow on next month with a deeper consideration of the mysteries of THE CHERUBIM AND THE FLAMING SWORD.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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