"Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 10:14 NIV)
What is a Cherub?
A Cherub, or plural form Cherubim, is a celestial figure frequently referenced in the Bible. In Christian, Jewish, and Islamic literature, the cherubim are angelic winged beings with human, animal, or birdlike attributes who serve as throne bearers of God.
Cherubim are described as serving the will of God, performing divine duties in the earthly realm. Their initial responsibility was protecting the Garden of Eden, as referenced in the book of Genesis.
The Cherubim are angelic beings associated with the worship and praise of God. Cherubim are first introduced in the Bible in Genesis 3:24, “After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” Before his rebellion and fall from heaven, Satan was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:12-15).
Discover further scripture references to the Cherub and their relation to other angelic beings, including Lucifer, before his fall.
Cherubim in the Bible
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the Cherub, or Cherubim, are first mentioned in connection with the removal of our first parents from Eden (Genesis 3:24). There is no implication given of their shape or form. They are next discussed when Moses was commanded to provide furniture for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:17-20). God promised to commune with Moses "from between the cherubim" (Exodus 25:22). This expression was afterward used to denote the Divine abode and presence (Isaiah 37:16; Psalm 80:1).
In Ezekiel's vision (Ezekiel 10:1-20), they appear as living creatures supporting the throne of God. From Ezekiel's description of them (Ezekiel 1), they appear to have been compound figures, unlike any real object in nature; artificial images possess several animals features and properties. Two cherubim were placed on the mercy seat of the ark; two of colossal size overshadowed it in Solomon's temple.
Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4-14) speaks of four, and this number of "living creatures" is mentioned in Revelation 4:6. Those on the ark are called the "cherubim of glory" (Hebrews 9:5), i.e., of the Shechinah or cloud of glory, for on them the visible glory of God rested. They were placed at each end of the mercy seat, with wings stretched upward and their faces "toward each other and toward the mercy seat." They were anointed with holy oil, like the ark and other sacred furniture.
The cherubim were symbolic. They were intended to represent spiritual existence in immediate contact with Jehovah. Some have regarded them as symbolical of the chief ruling power by which God carries on his operations in providence (Psalm 18:10). Others interpret them as having reference to the redemption of men and as symbolizing the great rulers or ministers of the church. Many other opinions have been held regarding them, which need not be referred to here. On the whole, it seems most satisfactory to regard the interpretation of the symbol as variable, as is the symbol itself.
Cherub and Seraphim
The critical distinction between the heavenly beings known as cherubim and seraphim is their form: cherubim have four faces and four wings, while seraphim have six wings. In the Bible, both the cherubim's and seraphim's central purpose is to sit near the throne and serve God.
Cherubim appear in several books of the Bible, including Genesis, Ezekiel, Kings, and Revelation. Their four faces are ox, lion, man, and eagle, although Ezekiel replaces the ox with the face of a cherub. They move quickly, using a wheel within a wheel, and their wings cover their body.
Seraphim only appear in the book of Isaiah. Their name means "burning ones, flying serpents." Seraphim use two of their wings for flight. Like the cherubim, they are among the highest order of angelic beings.
Find more information about the Seraphim Angels
Cherubim in Revelation
The description of Revelation 4:6-9 also seems to be representing cherubim. The cherubim follow the purpose of magnifying the righteousness and sovereignty of God. This is one of their primary responsibilities throughout the Bible. In addition to glorifying God, they also serve as a visible reminder of the power and glory of God and His lasting presence with His people.
The Heavenly Worship: Revelation 4
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.
The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."
Cherubim Names from Scripture
Here are angelic figures from the Bible that are mentioned as being Cherubim: