"The Throne - The Living Ones and the Wheels" (continued)
The Cherubim: Symbols of Holiness and Life
Firstly, then, the Cherubim. We need not describe them; their description is here. We need say very little about the detailed features of their makeup: all that will be familiar. We want to come quite simply and directly to the real function of these living ones. Of course it must be underlined that this is oriental symbolism. It is a symbolic representation of something spiritual. People in the East reading these things would have a more ready apprehension of this way of presenting truth than perhaps we have. But God has chosen to convey His great truths in this symbolic and illustrative way; and we have to get through the symbolism and the illustration - if need be forget the forms, forget the characteristics described - and get straight to the heart of the matter: what is their message? What is it that they are intended to convey?
From a reflection upon the many appearances of the Cherubim in the Bible, it can be seen that invariably, on every occasion, they stand related to one thing; their function is ever and always to proclaim that the Throne of God is a holy Throne; that His government is a government of holiness. It will at once be seen how vital and appropriate this is, standing right at the beginning of the history of judgment contained in these prophecies. For everything that follows, including the large section of judgments, both of Israel and in the nations, under this supreme Throne, is in relation to an unholy state, and a demand that that shall be judged and put away. The glory waits for that, and waits upon that. The glory ever and always waits upon holiness, because it is a Throne of Glory which is the glory of Holiness. The government of that holiness is represented here in this Throne, and in the Man on it.
But that is not all. These cherubim are called "living ones". The idea of life, of livingness, is always associated with them. They come up again and again in that connection. At the moment it is this, that holiness and life are combined in them: the life waits on the holiness; the holiness gives rise to the life. You cannot separate these two things. You cannot have the life without the holiness; you cannot have the holiness without it leading to life. It is always working like that, to and fro. More holiness, more life; more life, more holiness. These "living ones" are, in representation, the custodians of the Divine holiness for the sake of the Divine life. For the things that are in the balances all the way through this book are life and death; that is where the battle is being fought out. It is a question of life and death for Israel, for the nations; but the deciding thing is this matter of holiness.
(continued with # 49 - The Cherubim In the Garden, In the Tabernacle and In the Temple")