I received the following question:
Hi Nathan, clear this up for me from the last Bible study you said Satan at one time was guarding Gods throne and he was a Cherubim. In Isa. 6:1-7 it has the Seraphim hovering over God’s throne and they have six wings the highest order. That would make the Cherubim the 2nd order of Angels. Talk to you soon.
Thanks for the good question!
I would agree that the cherubim are guarding the throne of God, as we see in Ezekiel 10, which reveals that the living creatures surrounding the throne of chapter 1 are the cherubim.
Satan is spoken of in Ezekiel 28, I believe, as the “king of Tyre” as opposed to the “prince of Tyre,” the human ruler spoken of earlier in the chapter. That this is Satan is clear from verse 13, where is says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God.” We know of only four who were in Eden, the garden of God: Adam, Eve, the LORD God, and the serpent Satan. The human ruler of Tyre was not there, and so this must be speaking of Satan. Then in verse 14 it says,
“You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.”
We are never told anywhere else what Satan is (though many assume he is an angel), but this verse reveals it: he is a cherub, not an angel or a spirit, and certainly not one of Adam’s race. He is called a cherub again in verse 16 speaking of his punishment, “And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.”
To me it is really difficult to try to make out that cherubim and seraphim are two separate creatures. For one thing, the two are never listed together. If they are two orders of beings, both surrounding the throne of God, why do no authors ever mention them together? Then, Isaiah is the only one who calls the creatures seraphim. Yet seraphim means “burning ones,” and in Ezekiel 1, the cherubim are described: “ As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire.” This would make “burning ones” an apt description for the cherubim. What the seraphs cry in Isaiah is pretty close to the same thing the four living creatures of Revelation cry around the throne. If these are the seraphs, not the cherubs, why does Revelation never mention the cherubs? If the seraphs are the ones surrounding the throne and really are the closest ones to it and the cherubs are second closest, why does Revelation mention the seraphs, the elders, and numerous angels, but never the cherubs? Why were there four cherubs surrounding the ark in the temple, two on the mercy seat and two statues standing above it, and yet no seraphs?
That said, the seraphs of Isaiah and the living creatures of Revelation are mentioned as having six wings, whereas the cherubs of Ezekiel are mentioned as having four. The cherubs are said to have four faces apiece, whereas the four living creatures of Revelation are only mentioned as having one apiece, although each of the four has one of the four faces of the cherubim. These things make them sound like they might be different.
Yet I think it is easier to explain these differences than it would be to try to explain why two orders of important creatures who surround the throne of God are never mentioned together. Perhaps Isaiah could not see their four faces in Isaiah 6 since they had their faces covered with wings. Perhaps Ezekiel only saw four wings because they had tucked two of them away. Perhaps by the time Revelation came each cherub had “specialized” his appearance to only one of his four faces somehow. We really know little about these creatures or how they work. For that matter, Revelation is the only book that mentions them being covered with eyes, an obvious fact that it seems strange Isaiah and Ezekiel would have missed. Should we speculate three orders of beings, then? It just seems to me that all these must be the same, and the minor differences in the descriptions of their appearance are easier to explain than the strange fact (if true) that such similar beings surround God’s throne but are never mentioned together.
Thanks for the great question. Keep studying the Word!