Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth” (2 Kings 19:15).
God revealed His will for the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. Through Moses, a law was given and a means of worship was established. A covenant enjoined the people to God through the sprinkling of blood. God commanded and inspired a chest to be built, “two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height” (Exodus 25:10). It had a lid fitted to the top with the likeness of two heavenly creatures called cherubim. God’s presence there was specific.
And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel (Exodus 25:22).
Here was an express point of meeting for the children of Israel and God. It was for the sake of directing their lives. It was above the mercy seat.
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs15:3). Also, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is everywhere. Yet, He said He would be between the cherubim. Therefore, this place which God arranged for His people was for them and for them alone – a special place of meeting, a node far removed from the Gentile world with its gods and goddesses of wood and stone. God’s presence was invisible – Spirit, clearly demonstrated by His place between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. Hezekiah said in his prayer, “the One who dwells between the cherubim” (2 Kings 19:15). God arranged an intimate place among the Jews, as in “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm133:1). His dwelling in their midst was a demonstration of His love.
This arrangement gave His people an immediate emphasis of something they already knew; the spiritual world is superior to the creation. Bezaleel gave form to the cherubim (cf. Exodus 27:1-9). A statuary shadow was arranged, showing beings of spirit in the presence of the LORD. The Hebrew brethren could not look upon this arrangement. They were told about it and could read the divine instructions concerning its concealment and the handling of the Ark during its transportation (cf. Num.4:5-6, 15, 20). This further emphasized the exclusiveness and holiness of God in contrast to the world of flesh. Once a year, the Ark was glimpsed by the high priest. His eyes took in the Ark by the dim glow of burning incense on the Day of Atonement. Latent light from the menorah may have briefly suffused this shadowy realm when he entered the most holy place with blood. Here was a symbol, elements of creation in heaven (the likeness of Cherubim) and earth (the high priest) made holy through giving honor to the Creator. Atonement for sins was the pattern. It spoke of hope – man’s reconciliation to God.
“He who dwells between the cherubim” makes us wonder: What is the fulfillment of this through Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah? We know what was given on Mt. Sinai was given to prepare the people for the Messiah (see Galatians 3:24, “the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ”). At the very least, the scene above the Ark shows the Invisible God providing a means for man to be close to Him – yes, even more than close, a means for loving fellowship with Him. This shows something far superior to enjoying the “presence of God in nature.” (As if nature alone is sufficient to reveal His will.)
Another part of God dwelling between the cherubim is made clear through the scriptures.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22).
We have assurance that through Jesus we can “boldly” enter into the presence of God.
What a contrast with the vain religious world with its statues, portraits and religious regalia. In our flesh, we love to have it so. However, religious artifacts are a disguise. In the name of devotion to God, we look to the creation and things made by human hands to venerate Him, when, in fact, we are only worshiping our imagination. That kind of thing is done because of how it makes us feel. Sensuality is not to be confused with spirituality. We are warned about those who would do such things;God calls us to higher ground.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit (Jude 1:17-19).
Through faith we approach One whose face we cannot see, and whose form we do not know. We approach God in the knowledge of what He has done.
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
The Father dwells in Jesus to such a greater extent than when His presence was among Israel “between the cherubim.” It doesn’t stop there. If we draw near in the full assurance of faith, there is a fulfillment which none can give other than Jesus. Jesus made supplication to the Father for His apostles, whose prayer extends to us:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-21).
How does that translate? I think this passage Ephesians shows us something of what Jesus meant:
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:17-21).