Ezekiel 41:18-20, 25
And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces;…
Among the difficulties that attend this question, it seems clear that these composite forms were intended either to represent the human or the angelic, not the Divine. The idea of any artistic representation of the Divine Being in a Hebrew temple is surely quite inadmissible (see Deuteronomy 4:15-17). Making our choice, then, between the human and the angelic, we distinctly prefer the former, and think that the general idea is that man, when raised to the highest conceivable condition, when possessed of the greatest variety of powers, should bring everything he has and is to the worship and service of God. The fact that, in Ezekiel's vision, the cherubim had so large a share in the ornamentation, "made through all the house round about," suggests the very close connection there should be between the finest and highest powers of man and the worship of God. In other places (see Ezekiel 1.) we have a far fuller description of these "living ones," and there we have the idea not only of "peerless strength and majesty" suggested by the "face of a young lion" (ver. 19), but also of patient, productive labor (the ox), and of penetrating vision (the eagle); while the thought of swift motion is conveyed both by the wings and the wheels of the prophet's former vision. Conceive man at his very best, endowed generally with such powers as he is never or rarely possessed of now; add to those capacities which he does enjoy those which are borrowed from other nonhuman spheres; and as he would then be, thus invested, thus enlarged and crowned, the fitting thing would be for him to be found in the temple, blessing and praising God. This is so, in several aspects and for many reasons.
I. IT IS HIS MOST SACRED AND BOUNDEN DUTY. For however high in dignity man may rise, and to whatever commanding faculty he may attain, it is certain that:
1. He will always owe everything he may be or may possess to the creative power of God, and that:
2. He will be dependent on the providential goodness of God for their continuance. Thus gratitude and hope should bring him to the sanctuary, to bless God for bestowing them upon him, and to ask him to sustain and to enlarge them.
II. IT IS HIS TRUEST AND HIGHEST HONOR. There are many engagements by which man does some honor to his human nature; e.g. conversing, reading, discussing, meditating, planning, learning, executing works of art, composing works of literature, etc. But never does he confer such honor on himself as when he is worshipping God; then the life of the "living one" reaches its very highest point. To come consciously into the near presence of God, to hold communion with the Eternal, to hymn his praise, to dwell in thought upon his nature and his high purposes, to speak his Divine truth or hear it, to work with him toward the gracious and glorious end he has in view, - there is nothing we can do, here or perhaps hereafter, so worthy of, so honorable to, our human nature. Man reaches the very summit of his manhood when he is engaged in worshipping God.
III. IT IS THE SOURCE OF THE PUREST AND MOST EXALTING JOY. Of all sources of delight, beginning with the sensuous and rising to the spiritual, there can be none purer or more ennobling than this.
IV. IT BRINGS DOWN A LARGE SHARE OF DIVINE BLESSING. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it was made with cherubims and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces;