In this bible study we discover that God travels in a chariot of fire, and we explore whether or not we can ride one like Elijah did!
- 1 Kings 6:23-28
- Ezekiel 1:13-21
- Ezekiel 1:25-28
- Psalms 99:1
- Ezekiel 10:9-13; 18-19
- Daniel 7:9
- 1 Chronicles 28:18
- 2 Samuel 22:10-11
- Ezekiel 1:4-6
- Isaiah 66:15
- Psalms 68:17
- Genesis 28:12
- Ezekiel 1:15
- 2 Kings 2:1; 11-12
4 Cherubim in the Temple
We questioned last week that if the 4 Living Creatures of Revelation were cherubim, why were there only 2 cherubim represented above the ark whereas there are 4 in Heaven. It came to my attention that although there were only 2 cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant, there were actually 4 cherubim around the presence of God in the temple. This reinforces what we see in Revelations with the 4 Living Creatures.
There were two cherubim on the ark, and there were two other cherubim that were placed in the temple in the Holy of Holies.
1 Kings 6:23-28
23For the inner sanctuary he made a pair of cherubim out of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long, and the other wing five cubits—ten cubits from wing tip to wing tip. 25The second cherub also measured ten cubits, for the two cherubim were identical in size and shape. 26The height of each cherub was ten cubits. 27He placed the cherubim inside the innermost room of the temple, with their wings spread out. The wing of one cherub touched one wall, while the wing of the other touched the other wall, and their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28He overlaid the cherubim with gold.
- These two cherubim were in the Holy of Holies but are different from the two cherubim on the ark
- Therefore there are 4 cherubim around the ark similar to the 4 Living Creatures seen in John’s vision
Cherubim and God’s Throne
13The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
15As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
19When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
- The four living creatures [cherubim] looked like burning coals of fire or like torches
- There were four wheels. One associated with each creature
- The wheels were like a wheel intersecting a wheel
- Neither the creatures nor the wheels turned when they moved
- The wheels went where the creatures went and they didn’t turn either
- It’s as if they moved together like one object/unit
25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
- Upon the throne was a being who had the likeness of the glory of God
- The throne was lapis lazuli (a blue stone)
- The throne was above the living creatures
1The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
- God’s throne is between the cherubim
God Travels on Cherubim
Ezekiel 10:9-13; 18-19
9I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. 10As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 11As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn aboutb as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. 12Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. 13I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.”
18Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. 19While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.
- The Glory of God went above the cherubim and the wheels and went where they went
- When the cherubim and wheels unit moved, God moved with them
- It’s as if God was riding on the cherubim
- It’s as if the throne, cherubim, and wheels were one unit
9“As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
- We see that the wheels can be considered part of God’s throne
- If the wheels can be considered part of the throne then what about the cherubim?
1 Chronicles 28:18
18and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.
- This implies that the cherubim are God’s chariot
2 Samuel 22:10-11
10He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
- God flew upon the cherubim
- God uses the cherubim for travel
- He mounted the cherubim - sounds like a horse
The Whirlwind and the Chariots of Fire
4As I looked, behold, a storm wind[whirlwind or Hebrew “spirit-storm”] was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. 5Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. 6Each of them had four faces and four wings.
- The cherubim came in a whirlwind
- They came with a great cloud of fire
- They was something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire
- The cherubim were within the glowing metal object
15For behold, the LORD will come in fire
And His chariots like the whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
- God’s chariots are like whirlwind and fire
- This is talking about the 2nd coming of Christ
17The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.g
- There are thousand of thousands of cherubim
It’s clear now that God rides upon a chariot which is contains cherubim. And He has a great number of these chariots.
Chariots Are Another Gateway
We previously studied Jacob’s dream in which a ladder was the gateway from Heaven to earth. Angels used his ladder to ascend and descend between Heaven and earth. We later saw that Jesus referred to Himself as the ladder saying angels would descend and ascend on Him.
We now see that God ascends and descends while riding upon cherubim, and in His throne chariot. Since the chariots are a method used to traverse between Heaven and earth they can be seen as another gateway to travel between Heaven and earth.
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
- We saw that Jacob’s ladder was described as resting on the earth with its top reaching to Heaven
We saw in Ezekiel’s vision that the top of the chariot rested beneath the firmament and the wheels touched the earth.
15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.
- One wheel upon the earth symbolizes that the wheel was the gateway from Heaven to earth
This chariot vehicle is another means of traversing between Heaven and earth.
Is God the only one who can ride these “chariots”?
Riding the Chariot
2 Kings 2:1; 11-12
1When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
- Not only did the cherubim take Elijah from one location to another, but they took him to Heaven
- They took him from the natural realm to the spiritual realm
- They took him to another dimension
- Elizah went to Heaven while he was still alive!
Elijah showed that a human could ride one of these Heavenly chariots to ascend to Heaven. For this reason, the term “riding the chariot” is used to describe ascending up to God. It is a term used to describe people ascending to the spirit realm.
The Hebrew word used here for chariot is merkabah (Strongs #04818, 44 times). It is a term used for any wheeled carriage, vehicle, or wagon, irrespective of the number of wheels. The primary characteristic of a chariot is that it has wheels. The word Merkaba or Merkava (Literally translated from Hebrew as Chariot of Light or Chariot of the Soul).
Some rabbis believe that it is dangerous to teach on Ezekiel’s visions so they forbade either the reading or the expounding of it. Rabbinic orthodoxy tended to discourage speculation on the meaning of Ezekiel’s vision. “No wise man is to share his understanding of the Merkabah with a person less enlightened than himself”.
Some think that these chariots could explain UFO sightings. They argue that since the only vehicle of travel known in Ezekiel’s time was a chariot, he would have referred to any vehicle as a chariot. They claim that Ezekiel’s description could be used to describe a metal spaceship with 4 propellers underneath it.
Personally, I’ll stick to what Ezekiel’s said...
Ezekiel’s vision came in a period of history after the temple had been destroyed. After the destruction of the temple, God’s appearance to the Israelites and involvement in their lives diminished. If God dwelt in the temple and the temple had been destroyed, some Jews wondered if this could mean that God had been destroyed along with it? Ezekiel’s vision of a moveable throne-chariot brought with it a message of hope. God is still alive and He can go anywhere and everywhere.
We saw that God’s throne along with the cherubim and whirling wheels served as a vehicle for travel for God. This vehicle allowed Him (and Elijah) to travel between Heaven and earth. We saw that the chariots are a gateway to travel between Heaven and earth.
Other gateways for crossing between the natural and the spirit realm that we’ve already discussed include:
- Jacob’s ladder
- Angels ascended and descended upon it
- He said angels would ascend and descend upon Him
- Jacob’s stone
- He named it the “House of God”
- Tower of Babel
- It’s top would have reached to Heaven
- The pyramids of Giza
Other terms we’ve used for crossing between the natural and spiritual dimensions include:
- Ascending Jacob’s ladder
- Going up the mountain of God
- Most encounters with God were on a mountain top
- Being in the spirit
- And now “Riding the chariot”
Presenter: Michael Leadon
- The 4 living creatures surrounding God’s throne were cherubim even though there were only 2 cherubim on the ark of the covenant.
- There are actually 4 cherubim represented in the temple because there were two large cherubim created that stand besides the ark in the Holy of Holies. This coincides with the number of cherubim seen around God’s throne in Heaven
- We read scriptures that spoke of God riding upon the cherubim
- We took another look at Ezekiel’s vision and saw that the 4 living creatures with their outstretched wings and with the four wheels formed a movable base.
- Together with God’s throne these form a vehicle which God travels.
- This vehicle is referred to God’s chariot, or His throne chariot.
- We looked at characteristics surrounding the appearance of the chariot in Ezekiel’s vision such as the whirlwind, and realized that this was the same chariot on which Elijah rode to when he went to Heaven
- We saw that this chariot is a gateway for going from the natural world to the supernatural world. It is a means of traveling to and from the spirit realm from the natural realm.
- The term “Riding the Chariot” is used to refer to passing from the natural realm into the spiritual realm
Heaven by Paula Gooder
13Look! He advances like the clouds,
his chariots come like a whirlwind,
his horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe to us! We are ruined!
- God’s chariots come like a whirlwind
- It talks about God’s horses and His chariots
9He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
- When God came down from Heaven he was mounted on the cherubim
So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
- God’s presence would come between the cherubim
- God’s throne is between the cherubim
- God would physically come and dwell between the cherubim above the ark
1Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
shine forth 2before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
come and save us.
2 Kings 19:5
And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: "LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
- Cherubim surround God’s throne
The Catholic hierarchy lists Thrones as separate beings from Cherubs.
- This is probable since we see that the ark of the covenant is separate from the cherubim in the temple
- Hebrews 9:4 states that the Ark contained "the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant."
- Aaron’s rod that budded could symbolize the tribe of Israel
6Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. 9Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.made the stars.
- The vault is between Heaven and earth
2The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
3and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
flames of fire his servants.
2 Kings 6:15-17
15Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
- Horses and chariots symbolize military might