The Cherubim


Genesis 3:24 - So he drove out the man; and he 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.

What or who is/are the cherubim? Does the bible mention cherubim again?


Genesis 3 is where we are first introduced to the concept of Cherubim. It's purpose was to keep or guard the way to the tree of life, as you quoted in Genesis 3:24, so that man could not live forever (see v. 22-23) in a corrupt (sinful and sin prone) state. One writer put it this way:

But, if Adam had eaten of the Tree of Life, when reduced to such misery as this he would have sought death, but it would have fled from him. He would have found no deliverance. This, however, would not have been the worst of it. He would have involved all his posterity in the same interminable calamity. The earth would at length have become crowded with undying generations of sensual and devilish men; who, if any virtue should survive, would afflict it a hundredfold. (Elpis Israel, page 144, John Thomas)

As we continue through Scripture we discover that (and I will not be going into great detail here) the Cherubim in the garden became representative of those who keep or guard the way to eternal life so that those seeking it may do so according to God's ways rather than their own (see for example Genesis 18:19; Exodus 19:5; Malachi 2:7; Proverbs 10:17; Isaiah 26:2; John 14:5-6; Acts 18:25-26).

What are the Cherubim in the Garden of Eden?

They were angels through whom God was working (Psalm 68:4; Psalm 18:10; Psalm 104:3-4), who had the specific job of representing God's mercy (which we've looked at above) and and warn of His judgment (the concept of the sword: Deuteronomy 32:41; Psalm 7:11-12; Isaiah 66:15-16) in His punishment of Adam and Eve for their sin. In this too, they pre-figure those who use the sword of God to warn of God's judgment (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17) and teach of His mercy (Acts 16:17; Psalm 119:9-16; Acts 4:12).

Are there Cherubim found in the rest of Scripture?

Yes, and in fact they play a large role in the building of the Tabernacle (tent of worship: Exodus 25:19; 37:8) in the Wilderness, in the Temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Kings 6:24-27) and in prophetic Scripture (see for example Ezekiel 1:1-28; 10:1-22; Revelation 4), and will be found in the future Temple when Christ returns to the earth to reign (see Ezekiel 41:18-25).

Written by Matthew Smith