ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE DOMINION OF ANGELS
"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, LEST HE PUT FORTH HIS HAND, and TAKE ALSO OF THE TREE OF LIFE, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So He DROVE OUT THE MAN; and 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" (Gen. 3:22-24).
When man was banished from his realm of life, glory, and dominion, the record states, "So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." Man must be excluded from the tree of life until a provision is made by which he can approach and partake of it. Nor is Adam merely driven out of Paradise; but a guard is assigned to the place to make any approach to it impossible, just as watches are stationed in the vicinity of fortresses and armies. The Cherubim were placed to "KEEP THE WAY of the tree of life," and it is interesting to note that the word here for "keep" is in the Hebrew "shamar", meaning to guard, to protect, to hedge about as with thorns. The illustration is clear, if you would keep your neighbor's cows out of your garden you must fence it with a good thorny hedge (modern day barbed wire!). Thus, life was denied to mankind by God, and so death came upon every man, even those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.
Because of the cutting, flaming sword of the Cherubim, no living human being could make his way across that dread portal! The tree of life, yea, all that Eden represents, was guarded by THE POWER OF DEATH; it became untouchable, divinely unapproachable. Nothing is plainer in the entire Word of God than the fact that the Cherubim with the flaming sword were not stationed at Eden's gate to point, direct, or guide man back into life - they were placed there for the express purpose of HUTTING MAN OUT FROM LIFE! The guards of Paradise were not appointed to show man the way back to his lost heritage; rather, they were assigned their determined duty "LEST he put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."
The Cherubim represent a REALM OF DOMINION. In the beginning Adam was given dominion over all things. When he was driven from Eden's lovely garden he not only lost his dominion but was brought under dominion. Not only did he relinquish his God-given rulership but alas! now he himself would be ruled over. He forfeited his Sonship to become a servant. Upon his departure from Eden, the man who was destined to rule the whole vast universe at once became subject to an authority over him - the Cherubim at the gate! We would be blind readers indeed, if we could not see that the authority of the Cherubim, the sword of the Cherubim, yea, the administration of the Cherubim constituted A DOMINION OVER ADAM'S LIFE!
THE MINISTRATION OF DEATH
As I meditated upon the Cherubim and the flaming sword in Genesis the Lord began to speak to me saying, "The flaming sword is a word." I would ponder this, arrive at nothing, only to have the words come again, "The flaming sword is A WORD!" Then in a sudden burst of divine illumination, the truth of it dawned upon me. Jesus Christ is THE WORD - THE LIVING WORD - and IN HIM IS LIFE! But the flaming sword at the portal of Eden is A WORD, not The Word, not the Living Word of the tree of life, but the FORM of the Word, that is, A WORD about THE WORD! But this word is a DEAD WORD, it is FORM without ESSENCE, LAW without LIFE, it is "the letter that killeth," the whole realm of FORM, LAW, EMPTY EXTERNAL CEREMONIES, SACRAMENTS, ORDINANCES and RITUALS, creed and tradition, all of which SHUT MEN UP INTO A FORM while cutting them off from the SUBSTANCE.
When Adam left Eden's glory his fallen mind was in mercy shut out from that blessed realm of life, for it was unfit to deal with heavenly things. FORMS OF TRUTH (for the Cherubim and the flaming sword were such forms) reveal, as through a veil, some ray of glory such as the fallen mind and nature can bear. To the fallen man the way back into life and reality was closed, he could not enter there. But - at the gate were FORMS OF THE HEAVENLY, carnal representations of that higher realm; Cherubim, veiling the reality and yet revealing the shadow of God's glory; "figures of the true," which the natural mind could understand, instead of purely spiritual communications, serving as a veil for heavenly things, reminding man in a vague kind of way of a realm now lost to him, and yet, like the veils of the tabernacle, which were covered with Cherubim, shutting man out from the very substance of that which lies within!
In my previous article on this subject I set forth in some detail the great truth that the Cherubim represent an angelic administration - THE DOMINION OF ANGELS. The Scriptures abound with evidence that the ministry of the angelic realm is the administration of the LAW - the realm of commandments, regulations, external observances of ordinances, do this, don't do that, perform this ritual and that rite etc. etc. In the giving of the law to Israel we read, "And thou shalt put into the ark THE TESTIMONY which I shall give thee...And He gave unto Moses two tables of TESTIMONY, TABLES OF STONE, written with the finger of God. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand" (Ex. 25:16; 31:18; 32:5,16).
We note that they were TABLES OF STONE, bespeaking a cold, dead, hard WORD. These were written by the finger of God, but contained within nothing of the LIFE of GOD HIMSELF. It was the LAW, called a "testimony", which is the same word as "witness." The law came as a testimony, a witness to the children of Israel of that which was holy, just, and good. So long as they obeyed it (which they never fully did!) it witnessed to their good. However, if they did not keep the law, it became a testimony against them, revealing the awfulness of their sin, how they missed the mark, went beyond limits, and they had to face the verdict, "the soul that sinneth, it shall DIE!" The law revealed God's holiness but at the same time was their executioner. Being God revealed in STONE it was the outward FORM OF TRUTH but not the LIVING ESSENCE OF TRUTH that quickens and makes one with God.
Many and varied have been the speculations about the identity of the Cherubim. Some have taken the highly symbolic description in Eze. 1:10 quite literally and view the Cherubim as celestial winged creatures having physical features both animal and human, each with four faces: of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Some have seen in the two Cherubim overshadowing the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies a representation of the Father and the Holy Spirit gazing with satisfaction upon the blood-stained mercy seat of Christ's redemption. Others have interpreted the two Cherubim as illustrating two attributes of Jehovah's character - Love and Justice. Then there are those who see these Cherubim as two aspects of the Christ, Head and body, while others identify them as the Sons of God who are the radiance of the glory of God and the flawless expression of God's nature.
In spite of all the considered opinions of men, a careful and prayerful study of the Biblical record concerning the Cherubim clearly demonstrates one significant fact: the ministry of the Cherubim was never a POSITIVE ministry, it was always (without exception) a NEGATIVE ministry! It may be said with certainty that their purpose was not to reveal God's glory, but rather to conceal it! They did not ever bring men to God, but they did shut men out from God! Throughout the Old Testament the Cherubim are seen in relation to judgment on sin. They are the GUARDIANS of the life and the holiness of God. The following are some examples:
1. Gen. 3:21-24 - The Cherubim standing in judgment in the beginning guard the
tree of life with the flaming sword at the gate of Eden.
2. Ex. 26:31-33 - The Cherubim are inwrought within the veil (Heb. 10:20), and
are seen guarding any presumptuous intrusion to the Holiest of All.
3. Ps. 80:1 - The Shepherd of Israel dwells between (not IN) the Cherubim.
"Thou that dwellest between the Cherubim, shine forth (from your conceal-
4. Ps. 99:1 - The Lord reigns and sits between the Cherubim.
THE CURTAINS OF THE TABERNACLE
The most costly building, for its size, ever erected, was the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Though only forty-five feet long, and fifteen feet wide, and having only two rooms, one the size of an ordinary living room, and the other the size of a bedroom, its cost is estimated to have exceed two million dollars. All of its framework and its furniture was overlaid with pure gold. It stood within an enclosure the size of a city lot, and was bounded by a white linen fence seven and one-half feet high, suspended on sixty pillars or posts of solid brass, resting upon sockets of brass. This enclosure was called the Court of the Tabernacle. White linen, of course, speaks of God's perfect righteousness. The brass pillars point to God's judgment upon sin. God's perfect holiness, revealed in the tables of the law which He gave by the hand of Moses, prevents and forbids man from coming unto God, as long as he has sin upon him. This fence, therefore, was put up to close God in and to shut the people of Israel out from the realm in which God dwelt!
The roof of the Tabernacle consisted of our layers of material. The first covering placed over the Tabernacle, and, therefore, the only one which would be visible from the inside, was a curtain of fine twined linen, embroidered with blue and purple and scarlet color. It covered the entire top of the Tabernacle and hung over the sides, almost to the ground. Of this first and innermost layer of fine linen we read, "Moreover thou shalt make the Tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with Cherubim of cunning work shalt thou make them" (Ex. 26:1).
Three outstanding truths are clearly evident in this verse. First, the first and innermost set of coverings are emphatically called in the Hebrew "The Tabernacle." "Thou shalt make the Tabernacle, ten curtains." The Tabernacle! Dwelling place of God! But could it not also be called the HIDING PLACE of God? for the curtained roof and walls of this blest abode veiled Him completely from the eyes of Israel, and none dared intrude thither; not even the priests themselves were allowed to pass within the veil. No worship was carried on there; no communion between God and man; no revelation of the One who dwelt there ever penetrated through the veil; no human voice was ever heard within its precincts. In fearful majesty the God of Israel dwelt between the Cherubim of glory. The express purpose of the curtains, then, was to CLOSE GOD IN and SHUT MAN OUT. Man's entrance into the Tabernacle where God dwelt was barred completely by the curtains.
Secondly, we are told that there were to be exactly TEN curtains. Ten is a number of TESTIMONY. Ten stands for responsibility, intensified, signifying the measure of responsibility and its judgment or reward. This is a number used under the LAW, there were TEN COMMANDMENTS representing the law-covenant, man was responsible under the law to keep the commandments and bear a testimony for God and, if he did not, the law was a testimony against him!
Thirdly, and in our present study the most important feature of all, beautifully embroidered in the pattern of these linen curtains were the FIGURES OF CHERUBIM overshadowing both the Holy Place, and the Holiest of All! This main curtain consisted of ten separate curtains coupled together to make one great covering for the interior of the Tabernacle. Moses received minute instructions as recorded in Ex. 26:1, "Thou shalt make the Tabernacle with ten curtains: WITH CHERUBIM OF CUNNING WORK shalt thou make them." The Hebrew indicates that the curtains were A MASS OF CHERUBIM! Is it not truly remarkable that the Cherubim standing in judgment at Eden's gate should again appear in the Tabernacle of Moses, interwoven upon the ten curtains of the divine law, standing guard over the realm of God's life and glory and fullness as they did of old? Indeed, their ministry here was the same as in the beginning - to "guard" the way in to God's life and shut men up under A WORD OF DEATH!
I have previously stated the fact that the ministry of the Cherubim is consistently through the Scriptures revealed as a negative one, ever concealing the life and glory of God, always shutting man out from life; a veiled, vague, shadowy manifestation of glory, but a ministration of condemnation and death. Nowhere is this more evident than when we come to the veil of the Tabernacle. The whole ritual of Old Testament worship, under the law, was one that served to maintain the distance between God and man. BOUNDS WERE SET ABOUT SINAI, so that not even a beast might touch it: and the people felt their safest place was afar off. One tribe alone was permitted to encamp around the Tabernacle: one family alone of that tribe was singled out to be allowed to enter the Holy Place: and one man alone of that family had access to the Holiest; and that, only once a year, and with such preparations, and fearful ceremonies, as must have inspired him with dread, lest, in the very act of approach, through some omission, he might incur the judgment of the Most High. All others were barred, and any attempt to enter meant certain death.
Now, the way into the Holiest was barred completely by a heavy veil. Behind this veil was the Ark; over the Ark the manifest presence and glory of God; and before any can enter into that realm the veil must be taken care of. The Hebrew word translated "veil" is derived from an unused verb signifying to break, and in a secondary sense, to separate. It is called "the veil of the covering" (Ex. 39:34; 40:21). It was hung up in order to SEPARATE between the Holy Place and the Most Holy, and also to cover or hide the Ark (Ex. 26:33; 40:3). A veil is a divider or a separation curtain used to HIDE SOMETHING. A number of veils are revealed in the Scriptures, all fulfilling the same purpose:
1. The veil of the Tabernacle (Ex. 26:31-35).
2. The veil of the Temple (II Chron. 3:14).
3. The veil upon Moses' face (Ex. 43:33-35; II Cor. 3:11-16)
4. The veil of Christ's flesh (Heb. 10:19-20).
5. The veil of blindness on Israel (II Cor. 3:13-16; Rom. 11:25).
6. The veil upon all nations (Isa. 25:6-9).
I have stated these things to emphasize the following fact: Just as the fine linen curtains had inwrought Cherubim, SO THIS VEIL WAS TO HAVE CHERUBIM! "And thou shalt make a veil of...fine twined linen of cunning work: WITH CHERUBIM shall it be made: and the veil shall DIVIDE unto you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy" (Ex. 26:31,33). Furthermore, the veil measured TEN CUBITS giving us another picture of the LAW. Any man who presumed to come into the presence of the Holy One of Israel had to face that law. Not only did he face the law, he also came face to face with the Cherubim - the angelic administration which administered and enforced the law!
The measurement of the veil (ten cubits) bespeaks the LAW. The Cherubim interwoven in the veil are the angelic principalities and powers, the administrators of the law-system. The veil itself, we are told by the apostle, is THE FLESH OF CHRIST. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, HIS FLESH." Armed with this understanding that the veil is HIS FLESH I would point out the wonderful significance of the CHERUBIM EMBOSSED UPON THE VEIL, thus something imposed upon the flesh of Christ. Consider now how remarkable this statement by the apostle Paul, "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, MADE UNDER THE LAW, to redeem them that were under the law (angelic rule), that we might receive the adoption (placement) of SONS" (Gal. 4:4-5).
Hear it! As the veil of the Tabernacle lay beneath the image of the Cherubim, so was the human FLESH OF THE SON OF GOD PLACED U-N-D-E-R T-H-E L-A-W! The Son of God left His glory, and descended to the depths of shame and reproach. He came into a world of men on this side of Eden, this side of the Cherubim and the flaming sword, and took our place of disgrace. He came down in human form, took upon Him the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7), and was made in the likeness of men, made under the curse of the law, subjecting Himself to the principalities and powers upholding the law, the ministration of death.
Now notice what the writer of Hebrews says of Him: "But we are able to see Jesus, who was RANKED LOWER THAN THE ANGEL FOR A LITTLE WHILE, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death" (Heb. 2:9). The Authorized Version reads, "But we see Jesus, who was MADE A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS..." This phrase, "made a little lower than the angels" does not mean that He was merely a little less important than the angels, or that His body was in some way inferior to that of the angels; the Greek indicates that He was made SUBORDINATED TO ANGELS, lower in rank, therefore ruled over and governed by the dominion of the angelic realm!
To be "subordinated to angels" is the same as being "made under the law," for all who are under the law (and all that it represents) are subjected to its angelic government. My dear friend, if you go to China, the moment you step off the plane in Peking, whether you like it or not, you are at once SUBJECT TO ITS COMMUNIST RULERS. By virtue of entering upon their territory and sphere of influence, you place yourself under their power. It is same with the law! The moment a man places himself under the law HE STEPS OUT FROM UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF THE SON OF GOD BY THE SPIRIT and subordinates himself to THE DOMINION OF ANGELS! Now perhaps we can understand the terrible solemnity of the statement made by Paul in Gal. 5:3-6, "I say this solemnly again to every one of you: every man who consents to be circumcised is bound to obey all the rest of the Law! If you try to be justified by the Law you automatically CUT YOURSELF OFF FROM THE POWER OF CHRIST, you put yourself OUTSIDE THE RANGE OF HIS GRACE. For it is by faith that we await in His Spirit the righteousness we hope to see. In Christ Jesus there is no validity in either circumcision or uncircumcision; it is a matter of faith, faith which expresses itself in love." And again, "but now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I HAVE WASTED MY EFFORTS ON YOU!" (Gal. 4:9-11, New International Version).
THE CHERUBIM OVER THE MERCY SEAT
Before proceeding to the glorious triumph of Sonship over the government of the angels, bear with me as I share briefly one further aspect of the ministry of the Cherubim. The Ark of the Covenant, a gold-plated, oblong box, stood behind the veil in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. It was a symbol of the nature and life and authority of God - the place of His throne. The Ark was surmounted by a crown of gold. Placed over the top of the Ark was the mercy seat, and upon it God came down in the Shekinah pillar of fire and cloud. Over this mercy seat, with out-stretched wings, stood the Cherubim, the guardians of God's life and glory. It is of utmost importance that we grasp the picture presented here.
Let us meditate in deep reverence upon a few of the Scriptures which speak of the function of the Cherubim over the mercy seat. "And the Cherubim spread out their wings on high, and COVERED with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another" (Ex. 37:9). They did WHAT? REVEALED God's grace and glory? Oh no! my brother, my sister, they did no such thing! They "COVERED" the mercy seat, the place of God's glory! The word in the Hebrew is "saka" meaning to FENCE IN, COVER OVER, HEDGE IN and SHUT UP. Ah! the ministry of the Cherubim hasn't changed one iota since the day they made their appearance at the gate to Eden! Even here, in the typology of the Holiest of All, they are still seen fencing God in, covering over His glory, hedging in His life, and shutting man out!
The all-wise and eternal God, recording with unerring accuracy through the pages of His blessed book, again bears immutable witness to the fact that the ministry of the Cherubim is the ministry of CONCEALING GOD rather than REVEALING HIM: "And the priests brought in the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord unto his place...into the Most Holy place, even UNDER THE WINGS of the Cherubim: for the Cherubim...COVERED THE ARK" (II Chron. 5:7-8). The Hebrew word here for "COVERED" is "kacah" meaning TO COVER, CLOSE, CONCEAL, HIDE and OVERWHELM! No revelation of God here!
Heb. 9:5 says, "And over it (the Ark) the Cherubim of glory SHADOWING the mercy seat..." The Greek word for "SHADOWING" is "kataskiazo" from "kata" meaning "down" and "skia" meaning SHADE, SHADOW, DARKNESS OF ERROR and ADUMBRATION, all bespeaking the same truth which courses its way like one mighty river of unbroken revelation through the pages of Holy Writ. Significant the term "darkness of error" - the whole realm of law, ritual, creed and tradition is AN ERROR - for does not the apostle John declare, "The LAW was given by Moses, but GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ!" (Jn. 1:17). That which is NOT TRUTH is, obviously, ERROR. The Scripture could well be stated, "AN ERROR was given by Moses, but...THE TRUTH came by Jesus Christ." Jesus Himself said, "I am the way, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but BY ME" (Jn. 14:6).
To every Christian with a spiritual mind and an understanding heart it should be extremely obvious that nothing in the whole vast universe except Jesus Christ IS T-H-E T-R-U-T-H. There is A TRUTH in the law, and in ritual, in creed, ceremony, ordinances, baptisms, communions, foot washings, etc. but it is the words without the music, the outer shell without the kernel within, the external FORM OF TRUTH void of the power of the INDWELLING SPIRIT OF LIFE.
In that marvelous declaration at the opening of John's gospel, - "In the beginning was THE WORD, and the word was with God, and the word WAS God," - much more involved than that which meets the casual eye. THE WORD here is in the Greek THE LOGOS. In the beginning was the Logos. We do not a word in English that is the direct equivalent of Logos. In fact, it is well nigh impossible to express its meaning by even the use of a sentence or a paragraph. The LOGOS is the WORD SPOKEN, but it is more than that. It is the LIVING SPOKEN WORD, and yet more than that it is A LIVING PERSON speaking THE LIVING WORD. Dr. Adam Clarke says it should remain untranslated. It was THE LOGOS who spoke the words, "Let there be light," and there was light. It was THE LOGOS who before the tomb of Lazarus said, "Lazarus, come forth," and he came forth. The Logos is the living, speaking, manifesting, LIFE-GIVING WORD OF GOD!
The only true God I know about is the One who identifies Himself as the LIVING God! The only true Word I know anything about is that Word which is "LIVING AND ENERGETIC" - as Heb. 4:12 says in the Greek - and is "sharper than any two-edge sword." Thus, any word that is not living, life-giving and energetic is NOT T-H-E W-O-R-D OF GOD! It may be a true word about The Word; it may be a beautiful doctrine, a good commandment, a beneficial law, a touching ceremony, an inspiring ritual, a soothing sacrament, an excellent program, a religious exercise, a successful method, even an ordinance seemingly instituted by the letter of the Word - but it is not The Word of God! The Word of God is The Logos - the Living Word - Christ Himself, who IS THE TRUTH. Anything, then, that purports to be the Word of God, no matter how much truth it is, is NOT the Word of God unless it is COMING FORTH IN LIFE AND PRODUCING LIFE.
In FORM the TRUTH of God, stripped of its LIFE, is turned into a LIE, and this is what the passage Heb. 9:5 means when it says in the Greek that the Cherubim "shadow" the Ark of His Presence, bringing a DARKNESS OF ERROR over the realm of God's ineffable glory! That which appears to be reality, but is, in fact, form, is A WORD which is AN ERROR. This is what Paul was pointing out in II Tim. 3:1-9 where he says, "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud...having a FORM of godliness but denying the POWER (life) thereof...EVER LEARNING (the form of truth) but never able to come to the knowledge of THE TRUTH (Christ, the Substance)."
In closing these thoughts on the ministry of the Cherubim I would mention that the Cherubim over the mercy seat stood "with their faces ONE TO ANOTHER; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the Cherubim" (Ex. 37:9) The face always represents the outer revealing of the inner nature. But here, instead of an open face turned outward in revelation, the faces are turned inward - concealing! Can we not see by this that in the Cherubim, the law, the letter of the Word, the form of truth, there is NO REVEALING OF GOD, but a dark and terrible concealing of His life!
BEYOND THE CHERUBIM!
And then, "in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to REDEEM THEM THAT WERE UNDER THE LAW" (Gal. 4:4-5). Not to redeem them that were under the power of sin, lust, fornication, drunkenness, murder and thievery, but to redeem them that were under THE LAW! Oh yes, thank God! He saves from all those things, but to redeem means to purchase, to buy back, and those He purchased were under the dominion of the Cherubim with the flaming sword. Christ came under the dominion of that law and its administrators, walked under it and fulfilled it PERFECTLY, then in that consecrated human body He took our sins to the cross, He paid the penalty and the price, and when He finished the work let us see what happened to the veil which represented His flesh: "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, THE VEIL OF THE TEMPLE WAS RENT IN TWAIN FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM..." (Mat. 27:50-51). No human hand rent the veil in twain; neither was it torn from the bottom towards the top, but a hand from above rent it from the top to the bottom.
It was a miracle. It was a heaven-sent miracle. Historic writers tell us that the veil was so firmly woven that two teams of oxen pulling in opposite directions, with the veil between them, could not tear it apart. Neither could the veil be repaired, for it was rent by God's hand from the highest heaven. History also tells us that the priests tried to mend and sew the veil together again, but were unable to, for no thread, no cord, would hold in the repaired part. It was rent once for all, and forever. Access to the heaven of heavens, to Paradise lost, to that blessed Eden from which man was banished was to be laid open; no love and no power could either have devised or accomplished this, but the love and power of God. The grand and glorious truth to which the Spirit of God would now draw our attention is this: THE SAME HAND THAT RENT THE BEAUTIFUL FABRIC WHICH HITHERTO HAD CONCEALED THE HOLIEST OF ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY RENT THE CHERUBIM UPON IT! In all my thirty years of ministry I do not recall ever having heard any teacher or preacher touch upon that fact. There are so many things written in God's Word that beggar description, defy understanding and challenge explanation, but their mystery can be revealed and made shining clear by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. This wonderful truth - that Jesus not only opened up the way through the veil, but as well THROUGH THE CHERUBIM - will open up a whole new world of understanding and glory to those whose enlightened minds can grasp the wonder of it. Yes, Jesus passed from the Holy Place of His sanctified human flesh into the Most Holy Place of His glorified body - FAR ABOVE not only the realm of human flesh, but FAR BEYOND the angelic dominion of the LAW and A-L-L E-X-T-E-R-N-A-L F-O-R-M-S O-F T-R-U-T-H!
How often through the years have I encountered a lack of comprehension among the people of the Lord! They have eyes, but they do not see. They examine the outer shell, but never taste the kernel within. They say they understand, but their spirit has not grasped the truth. Someone will ask, "How do you know they do not see or understand?" The answer is so simple. TRUTH TRANSFORMS the receiver and flows from him so that deep calls unto deep. During recent months numbers of people have told me that they have entered with Christ beyond the veil, into the Holiest of All. You will have to write a very large book, dear ones, if you are going to convince me that you have passed through the veil while you continue to observe the outer forms of the church systems and practice the carnal ordinances, external ceremonies, man-made methods, babylonian holidays and holy days, programs etc. which are a visible FORM OF TRUTH BUT NOT T-H-E T-R-U-T-H ITSELF. Ah, talk is cheap indeed. It is not he who proclaims the theory of entering with Christ beyond the veil who has entered, but he who once for all leaves behind ALL THE OLD ORDER OF THE HOLY PLACE to enter with Christ in to a realm higher far than any observance or dominion beside THE FULLNESS OF THE LIFE OF GOD W-I-T-H-I-N!
Let me present to you this realm - BEYOND THE CHERUBIM! The Greek word for "heaven" is "ouranous." The meaning of "ouranous" is ELEVATION, HEIGHT, EXALTATION, EMINENCE. It has both natural and spiritual applications. In its spiritual application it bespeaks THE REALM OF THE SPIRIT in which God and all celestial beings dwell - FAR ABOVE the realm of the physical, material, earthly, and mortal. It is not a geographical or astral location. It is not a place. It is A DIMENSION OF LIFE AND REALITY, A STATE OF BEING, A SPHERE OF EXISTENCE. Every spirit life-form lives on a plane of spiritual awareness and being. Each of these planes constitutes a "heaven", a spiritual realm ABOVE THE PHYSICAL. Jesus, in His body of resurrection, ascended up "F-A-R A-B-O-V-E A-L-L PRINCIPALITY AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION, AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED." He was made to sit at the right hand of God, FAR ABOVE the realms of all the other forms of spiritual life that inhabit God's vast universe; not above them geographically, but above them in RANK, in QUALITY OF LIFE, in EMINENCE and POWER and NATURE and GLORY!
In the Scriptures there are many "heavens." Each is an "ouranous," a plane of spiritual life, an order of being, a rank, a realm of dominion, a sphere of activity, a nature and glory - elevation, height, exaltation and eminence. In Eph. 1:20-21 we have something more. "...which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES, F-A-R A-B-O-V-E ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION, AND NAME THAT IS NAMED, not only in this world, but in that which is to come." The Greek phrase en tois epouraniois, "in heavenly places", bears a remarkable revelation. Here the word "ouranous" is compounded with another word and the compound word thus formed is of such great import to us that we must consider it very, very carefully. We have the Greek word "epi," which means "superimposition," or in plain speech, ABOVE or OVER. When joined to "ouranous," it becomes "epouraniois." The two words joined together mean "above heaven" or "higher than the heavens" or "the highest heaven" or "FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS."
Our Lord and Saviour when on earth, was made under the law, for a little while lower in rank than the angels; He descended beneath all heavens to be made in fashion as a man, and, with all of Adam's race was subjected to the angelic dominion established by God over this planet. But then He arose the conquering Christ. And not only that, but He ascended victor over all the powers of the realms beneath AND ALL THE POWERS OF THE REALMS ABOVE! "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is ABOVE EVERY NAME" (Phil. 2:9). Or as Paul tells us in Eph. 4:10, "He...ascended up FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS." This does not mean, as the Churches so foolishly tell us, that Jesus ascended up to some Disney World in the sky, far above all the galaxies. Nowhere is it stated that He ascended up beyond planets, stars, or universes. Hear it! "He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand 'IN EPOURANIOIS' FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION, AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED...AND HATH PUT A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S UNDER HIS FEET" (Eph. 1:20-22).
"Far above all principality and power" means not merely above witches and goblins and demons and devils. It means above all the angelic hosts in celestial realms, yea, above E-V-E-R-Y N-A-M-E that is named anywhere in all God's unbounded heavens! Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Majesty on high, exalted NOW.
And let demons rage. Let fools and unbelievers hang their heads in shame. We quote once more from that blessed Book which is given by inspiration of God and is wonderfully true. "BUT GOD...HATH quickened US together WITH CHRIST...and hath raised US UP together, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS!" (Eph. 2:4-6). And this "heavenly places" where we now sit with our Lord and Saviour is this same SUPER-HEAVEN, or epouraniois, the same position which He holds "far above all heavens." We who have come the way of the cross, we whose spirits have been quickened by His Spirit, are enthroned with Him in this super-eminence N-O-W. This is not a place. It is the realm far above every dominion INCLUDING THE DOMINION OF ANGELS! It is the sphere of God's own divine life where we live in Him and move in Him and have our being in Him. And yet Christians in ignorance and unbelief sing, "When we all get to heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be!" Ah, it IS! Heaven for those made alive in Christ is not a future hope. It is not something we are expecting to receive; it is a present reality, a blessed and eternal reality NOW. Oh yes, our bodies may still be tied to earth, but those truly born from above are discovering the blessedness of HEAVEN N-O-W!
There is a much misunderstood passage of Scripture in Col. 2:15 where we read, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The popular interpretation of this verse is that the principalities and powers "spoiled" by Christ were the negative forces of the demonic kingdom - that Christ, by His death and resurrection, overcame the demonic realms, conquering and humiliating Satan and his hosts, triumphing over them. With the deepest reverence and godly fear I must declare to you that Jesus did indeed conquer sin, death, and Satan, but this glorious fact IS NOT THE SUBJECT IN THE VERSE QUOTED ABOVE. The notion that these principalities and powers were devils is a most grievous error. Note the verse that precedes this: "Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note with its legal decrees and demands, which was in force and stood against us - hostile to us. This note with its regulations, decrees and demands HE SENT ASIDE AND CLEARED COMPLETELY OUT OF THE WAY by nailing it to His cross" (Col. 2:14, Amplified). Then the verse immediately following our text: "Let no man therefore (because the principalities have been "spoiled") judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come, but the body (substance, reality) IS OF CHRIST" (col. 2:16-17).
The subject here is not the bondage of the Devil, but the ordinances of the LAW! Interesting that the Greek word for "having spoiled" is "apekousamenos" which is a compound Greek word consisting of two prepositions and noun. APO means "away from;" EK means "out from;" and OUSAMENOS means "strip or put off." The compound word means to strip off from ones self, as clothes or armor, having the force of getting out of ones garments, wholly putting them away from one's self. It is obvious that the principalities and powers here are none other than the angelic host THROUGH WHOSE MINISTRY THE LAW WAS ADMINISTERED! Christ came to earth "made under the law," but blessed be God! He came out from under that rule, rising into a higher order to live no longer after the law of a carnal commandment but after the POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE.
Let us consider further the work of the cross and of the Christ who died upon it that our minds may be enlarged and we might better understand how this LAST ADAM included IN HIMSELF every person and everything that belonged to the OLD creation on this side of Eden's gate, putting it all out of the way, nailing it to His cross. In thus crucifying the whole world in His Son, He robbed principalities and powers and all rulers of condemnation and death of the fearful power they held over us by reason of the fall. By His death He blotted out and made ineffective every ordinance that was against us, because laws are not made for dead men nor do they apply to men of the new creation who, with Him, have risen to newness of life, but to those only who still live as members of the old creation.
When Christ arose from the realm of Adam's death He then ascended - passed right through the dominion of the Cherubim with the flaming sword! He strode boldly and fearlessly back into Eden's garden; He claimed again the dominion and the eminence and the glory which once belonged to the first Adam. He made an open show of the Cherubim realm, not only triumphing over them to pass through the gate, but leading them in a splendid celestial procession, showing them as HIS SUBORDINATES AND SUBJECTS, becoming Himself the Head not alone to His body, the Church, but indeed "...the Head of A-L-L PRINCIPALITY AND POWER!"(Col. @;10).
We rejoice in the triumph of Christ - in His life, at Calvary, at the tomb, and we can glory in how He "...disarmed the principalities and powers ranged against us and made a bold display of them... triumphing over them in it" (Col. 1:15). Significant that in the Greek text the words "in it" are literally IN HIMSELF. HE gained the total victory IN HIMSELF. Now all this victory must be worked INTO US - not known merely as "positional truth", but experientially FULFILLED IN US, as it as IN HIM. As the magnificence of His triumph, and of our joint-seating with Him in the higher than all heavens, far above all principality and power and dominion breaks in divine illumination upon our minds, we will live no longer in slavish bondage to powerless laws, empty ordinances, and vain religious observances, but risen with Him we will live gloriously and victoriously by the INDWELLING LIFE OF GOD'S SON!
In closing this article my prayer is that the God of all wisdom and understanding may reveal to each of my readers the majesty of the High Calling which is yours in Christ. We are living in an hour of intense interest in the ministry and visitation of angels. How many God's people would tremble in awe and marvel at the presence of a mighty angel! Today we have these self-proclaimed prophets announcing their visions and dreams, telling of spectacular angelic visitations and their special revelations and doctrines - and God's precious saints are inspired to seek after a visitation by angels. I must speak a word against that! Dear ones, if you cherish the bright hope of Sonship hearken to the words of the apostle Paul in Col. 2:18-19, "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping (paying respect to) angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not HOLDING THE HEAD, from which all the body...having nourishment ministered...increaseth with the increase of GOD." The Moffatt translation reads, "Let no one lay down rules for you...with regard to fasting or ANY CULT OF ANGELS, presuming on his visions and inflated by his sensuous notions, instead of KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THE HEAD..." The Phillips translation says, "Nor let any man cheat you of your JOY IN CHRIST by persuading you to make yourselves 'humble' and fall down and worship angels. Such a man is...in his cleverness forgetting the Head. It is from THE HEAD ALONE that the body...is nourished and built up and grows according to God's laws of growth."
To not "worship" angels means simply that we are not to give them a degree of respect or homage or esteem not due to them. Oh, beloved, the realm of Sonship is HIGHER FAR THAN THE ANGELS WILL EVER ATTAIN TO! Angels are N-O-T your superiors - they are your inferiors! THEY marvel and stand in awe of YOU! Oh, yes, God may dispatch an angel with a message to you, many are the examples of this in the Word, for "the angels are...spirits in the service of God, commissioned to SERVE THE HEIRS of God's salvation" (Heb. 1:14, Phillips). But - if a Western Union messenger delivers a telegram to your house with an important message you don't stand in awe of the messenger boy and ecstatically announce to all your friends, "Oh, guess what! A Western Union messenger appeared at my door yesterday at 10:00 A.M. Oh! Oh! Oh!" You just receive the message, thank the messenger (who is probably your inferior), and let him go his way. The angels are but the lowly messenger boys in the Kingdom of God.
There are certain things that you can do that angels cannot do. God has never called an angels His "son". No promise is given to the angels of having all enemies put under their feet, nor of sitting on the right hand of God, nor of being joint-heirs with Christ. Yet all these promises are given to us who have been raised up to sit with Him in the higher than all heavens. The angels live and move in the lower heavens. Spiritually, they don't "descend" to deliver a message to you, they must "ascend", finding temporary admittance into a realm not theirs, as when the will ever know what it is to sit in the throne of God. This place is reserved for "him that overcometh," for the saints who are in Christ Jesus. Sonship is a relationship to Deity that angels cannot know.
Angels cannot preach the gospel or expound the deep mysteries of God. I have met people who were asking angels to explain Scriptures and discuss doctrine with them. That is dangerous! Every such one I have met, without exception, has fallen into a delusion! Never, never, my brother, my sister, ask an angel to explain Scripture or discuss the truths of the Kingdom of God. The fact is, he doesn't know half as much as you about the purposes of God! Did you know that? The apostle Peter makes this crystal clear in these inspired words, "The prophets who prophesied (under the Old Testament) of the grace which was intended for you, searched and inquired earnestly about this salvation. They sought to find out to whom or when this was to come which the Spirit of Christ working within them indicated when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. It was then disclosed to them that the services they were rendering were not meant for themselves and their period of time, but for you. It is these very things which have now already been made known plainly to you by those who preached the good news to you by the same Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these things THE VERY ANGELS L-O-N-G T-O L-O-O-K!" (I Pet. 1:10-12, Amplified). I can assure you, beloved, that the angels are STILL INQUIRING about the revelation God is giving His saints in THIS HOUR! The angels understand nothing that pertains to the realm of Sonship and the Kingdom of God. They DO understand LAW - external rules and forms. And it is interesting that many who have claimed supernatural revelations about keeping the law were visited by an angel and received their "revelation" from an angel - NOT FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT! The realm of law and legalism lies within the province of the angels. The ministration of death is referred to in the Scriptures as "the word spoken by angels," whereas the ministration of life by the Spirit is declared to be "the Word spoken by the Lord" (Heb. 2:2-3). The high and holy things in the realm of the CHRIST-LIFE can never be revealed to anyone by an angel, but blessed be God! He "hath revealed them unto us BY HIS SPIRIT: for the SPIRIT (not angels) searched all things, yea, the deep things of God (which angels can only desire to look into!)" I Cor. 2:10
"Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a Son?" Oh, yes, when Christ overcome this dark world He ascended to the higher than all heavens, passing through each realm, overcoming in each, becoming Head in each, reaching the highest plane of all - GODHOOD - there to rule over all the realms beneath Him. It is THERE that you and I are given JOINT-SEATING WITH HIM! If we live in this "epouraniois", LET US ALSO WALK IN THIS "EPOURANIOIS"! Beyond the veil, beyond the Cherubim, in the Holiest of All - Eden regained!
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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