The Cherubim - RR272G14

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Cherubim
Course: Course - Doctrine of Authority
Subject: Subject:Political Studies/Doctrinal Studies
Lesson#: 14
Length: 0:39:27
TapeCode: RR272G14
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Doctrine of Authority.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Thus saith the high and lofty One, Who inhabiteth eternity, Whose name is holy. I dwell in the high and holy place with him, also, that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. If thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Let us pray. O Lord our God, Who art the Author of all things; and in terms of Whose will and purpose, all things move. We thank Thee that by Thy sovereign grace, Thou hast made us a part of Thine eternal purpose. Give us grace, therefore, so to walk day by day that our eyes may ever be fixed where Thy true purpose is to be found, in Christ our Lord. Bless us this day and always, and grant that our hearts and minds be open to Thy Word; and that by Thy Spirit, we may be made strong in Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen. [00:01:30]

Our scripture this morning is from Ezekiel ...[edit]

Our scripture this morning is from Ezekiel 28:11-19—Ezekiel 28:11-19; and our subject as we continue our studies in the doctrine of authority is the cherubim—the cherubim. Ezekiel 28:11-19. “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” [00:04:35]

In the hands of fallen man, things depreciate...[edit]

In the hands of fallen man, things depreciate; not only things, but words, also. This is certainly true of the key word in our text: cherubim and cherub. Cherubim is the plural of cherub. The idea we have nowadays of cherubs or cherubim is of little baby-like angelic things, flitting around on picture postcards and Christmas cards, totally without meaning, just beautiful little objects. Nothing could be further from the truth. Popular art, as with angels and many other things, has seriously distorted scripture. We meet with the cherubim, first of all, in Genesis 3:24, where the cherubim with flaming swords keep the fallen man out of the Garden of Eden. And I Samuel 4:14, we meet them again; and God is said to be enthroned upon the cherubim, an image we meet with again and again. We are not told much about the real cherubim, except that they are next to God. They are creatures beyond our ability to imagine, but we do know something from scripture about their significance for us. [00:06:30]

Moreover, the interesting thing is that pagan antiquity...[edit]

Moreover, the interesting thing is that pagan antiquity was well aware of cherubim; and the cherubim were recognized as symbols of authority, so that the insignia, as well as the thrones of pagan kings, had some kind of depiction of cherubim. From one country to another, the depiction varied, but one thing was clear: although pagan antiquity did not know what cherubim looked like, they knew that cherubim somehow represented authority, were symbols of authority, and were next to God; so that if there were authority on earth, the cherubim were used to symbolize them; not only so, but when we have depictions of Canaanite gods seated upon their thrones, they are flanked by cherubim. Thus, cherubs, or cherubim, were always associated with the gods and with kings as a symbol of power and of authority. The scripture tells us they are real beings next to God, representing Him, symbolizing for us authority. Cherubim were carved at either end of the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. They represented the throne of God and the power of God, His Government. We encounter references to them in Exodus 25:18-22 and Hebrew 9:5, and Ezekiel the 10th chapter. We find they were, according to Ezekiel 26 and verse 31, and II Chronicles 3:7, embroidered on the curtains and the veils of the tabernacle, and on the walls of the temple. [00:09:07]

The symbolic use of cherubim in antiquity tells us...[edit]

The symbolic use of cherubim in antiquity tells us how pagans understood their meaning: they symbolize authority. Ezekiel’s words concerning the king of Tyre were thus understandable to the king of Tyre and to others, because at this point the pagans clearly understood what the Bible meant by cherubim, what they set forth, what they symbolized. So that when this prophesy is made to the king of Tyre, he knew what it meant, whether he believed it or not. We know that some of the prophets did include to the pagan nations in their prophesies, and sent their prophesies to them, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” and “This is the judgment of God upon you.”

Over the generations, this prophesy concerning the king of Tyre has had very fanciful interpretations. Some have insisted it has reference to Satan. There is no authority for that. We do know what has been understood concerning this; and what I have to say is nothing unusual or new. The meaning has been well understood over the generations. Patrick Fairbairn, more than a century ago—great Scottish expositor—gave a careful and specific interpretation of it. Just in passing, the stones that are described that are not familiar to us: the sardius was probably the ruby—it could have been the sard or cornelian; the carbuncle was either modern jasper or green jade; and the stones of fire represented power, a god-like authority; and our God is spoken of in Hebrews as a consuming fire. [00:11:37]

But now, to the meaning of this...[edit]

But now, to the meaning of this: the king of Tyre is compared to Adam in the Garden of Eden. More than Adam, he had great power in a developed—in a civilized—context, surrounded by wealth. Tyre was Phoenicia. The Phoenicians were remarkable traders; their trading enterprises carried them all over the Mediterranean world, and far afield. We do know that Phoenicians regularly traded in Ireland, and also in Britain. As a result, Tyre was a center of very great wealth and prosperity. So, in a sense, he had perfection—everything men in that day could dream of. His life, we are told, summed up, or sealed up the sum of available wisdom, beauty, power, and wealth. It represented the finest in the human ideal and in the human scene of his day. He sat, we are told, upon the holy mountain of God; that is, upon the pinnacle of power: a power from God by the providence of God.

Moreover, to have power, to have a rich and favored place in life, is to inhabit God’s sanctuary, according to scripture. It is to be like the cherubim: near to God, and His power and authority. Now, we’re not used to thinking this way. We have so long separated things material from things spiritual (because of a false spirituality), we fail to see that in the Bible, God presents this picture of wealth, of power, of prosperity, and a general ease of living as being greatly favored, as being close to the cherubim, or like unto the cherubim. So, God says that wherever there is an authority that prospers, an authority that lives with ease and without problems, it is comparable to being near the cherubim, or with the King of Tyre, like unto the cherubim. [00:14:51]

The importance of this prophecy should now be obvious...[edit]

The importance of this prophecy should now be obvious: wherever great power is to be found, we must see it as due to God’s providence. It can come as a blessing, or as a judgment on an era; but a concentration of wealth, of authority, and of a general prosperity in a civilization is to be seen as making it into a potential new Garden of Eden. It is interesting that in the first half of the last century, people sometimes spoke of America in the early years of this Republic as a new Eden, because they saw in terms of scripture, in terms of the kind of prophecy given in Ezekiel

that God was bringing a combination of blessings to focus here in this country. So man was, as it were, in a Garden of Eden; or, another term used, in the happy Republic.

Now, Ezekiel’s language tells us a great deal about God’s intentions concerning Eden, God’s goal for history: it is a glorious, a prosperous world paradise under God and His Word. The purpose of godly authority is to develop such an order. Even before Patrick Fairbairn, Carl Friedrich Keil, the German commentator, said of this text, and I quote, “The king of Tyre is called a cherub, because, as an anointed king, he covered or overshadowed a sanctuary, like the cherubim upon the Ark of the Covenant. What this sanctuary was is evident from the remark already made at verse 2, concerning the divine seat of the king. If the seat of God, upon which the king of Tyre sits, is to be understood as signifying the state of Tyre, then the sanctuary which he covered or overshadowed as a cherub will also be the Tyrian state.” [00:17:50]

We’re not used to thinking this way, because our thinking...[edit]

We’re not used to thinking this way, because our thinking has not been biblical. It has been overly spiritualized, and it has been pietistic. The cherubim, as we have seen, symbolize God’s power and authority, and wherever in history prosperity and authority come into focus, we have God’s cherubim, as it were, covering and providing power to that people. For those who use that power and prosperity apart from God, as the king of Tyre was doing, judgment follows. Then there is the downfall of the people and of the rulers of the state, as of Tyre. This should tell us something about what God intends for countries, such as Britain and the United States, and others, who have been blessed, but have not seen themselves as having been covered by the cherubim for God’s purposes: to establish His purpose upon earth. The meaning of cherub and cherubim is, thus, very important. [00:19:30]

Now, for a long time, many scholars have held that...[edit]

Now, for a long time, many scholars have held that the derivation of the word, cherub, is uncertain. In recent years, however, one scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shalom Paul, has traced it, apparently, to the Acadian word, which means to pray and to bless—to pray and to bless: a very interesting meaning. Our Lord declares, as we saw a few weeks ago, that authority and power must be used as a ministry of service: “he that would be greatest among you let him be servant of all.” And now, the very meaning of the cherubim is that they not only symbolize power; but it is power which is to be like a prayer and a blessing. Paul, in Hebrews 9:5, speaks of the cherubim as overshadowing the mercy seat. They are, thus, closely tied to the throne of God, to His authority, and to His mercy. God is repeatedly described as He Who dwells between the cherubim, Who sets forth the majesty, the power, and the glory of God; as, for example, in Psalm 91:1, where we are told, “The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble: He sitteth between the cherubim; let the earth be moved.” In Psalm 80, we have a psalm which refers to the captivity of the northern kingdom, Israel. In the Exodus, the three tribes—Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh—led in the march; and in this Psalm, the Lord is now summoned to lead Israel again as its Good Shepherd; and He is described as the One Who dwells between the cherubim, both in majesty and in mercy. And the first three verses of that Psalm tell us, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up they strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” [00:22:44]

God regards a wealthy and prosperous country, therefore...[edit]

God regards a wealthy and prosperous country, therefore, as a partial fulfillment of the Garden of Eden; and, therefore, to be governed by His authority and fulfill His purposes. The rulers are compared both to Adam, covenant man, and to cherubim. Now prayer is involved; and their essence: intercession. The purpose of authority is godly rule, and the intercession of mercy. Authority must bring judgment, as did the cherubim in Eden; and, Ezekiel tells us, also in Jerusalem. However, authority must be also a blessing. The king of Tyre is told that he was brought forth to be a cherub, one of the cherubim; but he has become a false cherub, and he and his people will be destroyed. Now, there’s an interesting aspect to this prophesy: the king of Tyre was never a believer—never! And, yet, God addresses him and says, “By My providence, you have become great and prosperous. You and your people now are at a pinnacle of power. Your ships go to the far corners of the earth and bring the riches, thereof; and you are a center of world commerce. I have made you a cherub—one of the cherubim. I’ve made you an Adam in the Garden of Eden; but you have not chosen to use these things for my purposes to further my mandate, my dominion mandate. You’ve interposed your own; you’ve developed your own program for yourself in the world; therefore, you shall be judged.” [00:25:24]

Now, if God speaks so to the king of Tyre, a pagan...[edit]

Now, if God speaks so to the king of Tyre, a pagan, how much more so to the Western countries that were once Christian? All authorities, of course, in every sphere, have the same duty and calling. Wherever we have authority, we have the overshadowing of the cherubim, an endowment; and a calling to exercise authority and mercy and power in the name of God. Ezekiel makes the comparison at one point in Ezekiel 31:18, between the trees of Eden, the Garden of Eden, and the Pharaoh and Egypt; so that we see wherever there is power, wherever there is authority, God says, “Here. There’s an opportunity. You’ve been given the authority like unto cherubim to create, to exercise dominion under Me; but you will not turn unto Me.” All authorities in every sphere are accountable. All authorities in every sphere are created to be cherubim, like unto cherubim. This is amazing imagery. It is imagery that tells us a great deal about God’s purpose in creating Eden, God’s purpose for all of history, and God’s purpose for men and nations today. And those who simply pull in to create their little refuges, as though they had no calling under the cherubim, will be judged of God: if the king of Tyre was, how much more so the rulers of the Western nations, governors of states, county commissioners, and others; and each of us in our appointed place. [00:28:15]

Let us pray. O Lord our God, make us ever mindful, as the cherubim overshadow this world, that we have been summoned to exercise authority under Thee; that we have been set in a world that is to be a Garden of Eden; that we are to develop its potentialities and exercise dominion, and subdue the earth; and bring all things, including, first of all, ourselves, into captivity to Jesus Christ. O Lord our God, make us mindful of our calling; and before our day of judgment comes, give us repentant hearts, and grace and power to mend our ways. Grant us this, we beseech Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are there any questions now?

[Questioner] Almost a suggestion of a kind of a parallel there with the Book of Job, when some of the things that this … I don’t know, I can’t quite make the connection … but there’s a suggestion there that God has given, and I don’t quite know exactly how the connection is made, but it just suggests itself very strongly.

[Rushdoony] Well, in Job, of course, very clearly God makes clear that he blesses people, and expects things of them. And when Satan says, “All right, it’s easy for Job to do it.” And He says, “No. There’s more to him than that. He exercises the blessings I give him in faithfulness to me.” So there is that analogy. There’s another analogy, John. If you win the election, you will be called to be a cherub there in the state capitol. [general laughter]

[John] I think I could use that on my stationary. [more laughter]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Questioner] Is that why you brought out a point that cherubs aren’t really these beautiful creatures? [lots of general laughter]

[Rushdoony] [laughing] Cherubs are supposed to scare you.

Any other questions or comments? Yes? [00:31:28]

[Questioner] Well, it is interesting that the artistic...[edit]

[Questioner] Well, it is interesting that the artistic renderings do not convey any sense at all of force; and I think that’s very important, and I think that it’s an interesting point.

[Rushdoony] Yes. I think a great deal could be done to trace the history of that fact in Christian art. We can see how the emphasis came to be on things, not only beautiful, but within the human dimension, so that they would not be terrifying; so that Christian art became increasingly beautiful, rather than awe-inspiring. Then, when there was something of a reaction to this about the time of the Renaissance, the only way to evoke a sense of what had happened was through an emphasis on horror: for example, Grünewald’s paintings of Christ on the cross, which emphasized horror to the nth degree; so that they convey not so much the significance of the event, but the horror of crucifixion; and then in Baroque art to overawe, by opening up the vault of the church, as it were, to heaven, by painting clouds and blue skies, and angels. And the content left the emphasis on something that would be impressive and, at the same time, beautiful, took over. And in our day, of course, religious art has become quite vulgar, it’s become so prettified and utterly human. The theological dimension is left out. Christ is made to look appealing. The apostles are similarly made to look as though they were the kind of man you’d enjoy having in the pulpit and looking up to, and respecting; so that the theological dimension has progressively disappeared from paintings. [00:34:59]

[Questioner] But the films and popular fiction attribute...[edit]

[Questioner] But the films and popular fiction attribute all the power to the dark side—to the Devil.

[Rushdoony] A good point. Yes. Power today is seen as demonic; but not even Satan has power apart from God.

Any other questions or comments?

[Questioner] You know, in early America, there was a very, very healthy mistrust of government power. And the point that Otto just raised now about power being demonic, having a demonic source, if the connection could be established between that and modern government, you might have the key to, again, a healthy rebirth of ….

[Rushdoony] Well, there was a distrust of civil government—not of government, per se—and people took government in a biblical sense then. But power today is seen as demonic, and I think it is, in part, a Manichaean strain in our culture, because in Manichaeanism, you see reality as divided into two things: the good god and the bad god, the good being and bad being; one is light and love and sweetness; and the other is evil, and it is power. So that for the Manichaean temperament, disarmament is a virtue; to be prepared to deal with your enemy militarily is seen as a sin. So the Manichaean temper is going to treat any display of power as evil; and it means, then, the evil to appropriate power—by default. [00:37:16]

Any other questions or comments? Yes?...[edit]

Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Questioner] I’m going to be going to a hearing for the city and county of San {unclear}{unclear} commission in a couple of weeks, concerning my job and future employment with them; and I’ve been tempted to bring in some scripture verses; and I was just wondering if that would be at all appropriate, or whether I should keep things strictly personnel performance and …

[Rushdoony] I think if you maintain a biblical perspective, but don’t use the Bible verses, you’ll be better off, because they will tend to discount you. But if you hit them with hard facts, governed by a biblical sense of justice, you’ll do better, I think.

Well, let’s bow our heads now in prayer, as we conclude our service. O Lord our God, how great and marvelous is Thy Word, and Thy calling unto us. We thank Thee that Thou hast overshadowed this land with Thine cherubims. Grant, O Lord, that we exercise authority and power only from Thee, and in terms of Thy law-word; that we may, again, be a strong and free people, and be a happy Republic, a developing Garden of Eden. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen.[00:39:15]