Typical and Symbolic Representations of the Four Gospels
During our examination of the characteristic differences of the four Gospels, we have purposely refrained from making more than a passing reference to the various intimations we have of this in the Old Testament. We will now attempt to gather, as far as we may, some of these symbolic intimations.
1. The curtains of the tabernacle (Ex. 26:1-14).
"The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us" (John 1:14). Those who have studied the symbolism of the tabernacle know how rich it is in setting forth the perfections and beauties of our Lord Jesus Christ. The boards of acacia, wood covered with gold, and the different articles in the holy places made of the same materials, show our Lord in His incorruptible humanity, overlaid with His divine glory. We might say it is God's appreciation of His beloved Son who has taken the form of a servant. So, acacia wood, speaking of His humanity, gives the form to everything. This is all overlaid with gold: the form of man, the display of God.
In the curtains we have that which more particularly sets forth the person of our Lord as manifested here upon earth. A very suggestive thought is given in the Hebrew word for "curtain." It is from the root, meaning "to tremble" or "to fear," given to it, no doubt, as, suspended from above, the curtain trembled with every breath of wind upon it. Our blessed Lord was "of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord." He was the perfectly dependent One, hanging upon every word of God and therefore moved by the faintest breath of the Spirit as expressing the will of God for Him.
We may expect, therefore, the curtains to set forth our Lord in His life as revealed to us in the four Gospels upon which we have been dwelling, and the question is whether these curtains, not only in general put Him before us as the dependent One glorifying God in His every step, but whether we may look further and expect to find certain correspondences between the symbolism of each set of curtains and one of the Gospels. There were four sets of curtains. Beginning from the innermost — the first, or more composite set, was of fine twined linen in which blue, purple and scarlet were woven together in cherubim; next, the curtain of goats' hair; next, one of rams' skins dyed red; and fourth, a covering of badger or seal skin over the whole. We will look at these in their order.
(1) The curtains of blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen. We will in a moment take up the subject of the various colors, and therefore will not dwell upon these now. It must suffice to say that in this first set of curtains we have the most complete and composite presentation of our Lord; but what strikes us especially is that all was embroidered in the form of cherubim. These were governmental figures suggesting the righteousness and judgment which are the foundation of God's throne. They are connected with His rule and government. When we come to inquire whether any one of the Gospels sets our Lord before us specifically in this way, we at once respond, Matthew. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom in which the King is presented to us, the One into whose hands all authority and judgment have been committed. Matthew, then, comes first.
(2) The covering of goat-skins. There are two thoughts connected with the goat: The first is that by its independence, self-will, hardness and the dark color of its hair, it naturally suggests sin. Our Lord shows this in the parable of the judgment of the nations when the sheep stand for the blessed, and the goats for those who are under the curse. We shall find in a little, too, that the sin-offering was distinctively a goat. When Jacob and his mother undertook to deceive the aged Isaac, the skin of the kid of the goats was put upon his hands and neck. The goats' hair then may well suggest at once the thought of sin.
But there is another thought coming perhaps before this. The hair was spun into a rough cloth and this seems to have been worn by prophets. We have, for instance, Elijah described as wearing a hairy garment, or called a hairy man. So, in general, the prophets wore a hairy garment (see Zech. 13:4, "A rough garment to deceive.") It will not do violence to this thought if, in addition, we suggest that this rough garment of coarse, hairy cloth was probably worn by servants. Our Lord speaks of this when He says, "They that wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces." John the Baptist wore a garment of camel's hair, doubtless with similar meaning.
The color of this garment of goats' hair was probably black or dark brown, "black as the tents of Kedar," for it was used much in the tent life of the wandering Arabs. The covering, then, of goats' hair suggests to us our Lord as a prophet and in the lowly place of a servant. As the Prophet, He would call the people's sin to mind, and thus the appropriateness of the dark, sombre cloth. All these are suggested in the Gospel of Mark.
(3) The Rams' skins dyed red. We must anticipate a little here what we shall dwell upon later on. The ram is the typical animal of the burnt offering. In the energy of his strength and his intensity he fittingly sets forth our Lord as revealed to us in the Gospel of John. The skins reminds us that it is in the giving up of His life that our Lord is fully manifested. This, the red seems to suggest. The Gospel of John sets our Lord forth in this character. Here was an energy and a devotedness unto death in which all went up to God. The other curtains had dimensions. This has none given. God alone can estimate the measure of the devotion of His beloved Son. Indeed, it is a measure which knows no limit.
(4) The badger skins or sealskins. The outermost covering of all was made of badger skins, or as the word is now generally rendered, sealskins. It seems to have been an animal living in the water and yet not belonging to it, suggestive of one sustained in a strange element. The skins of these were used for shoes, and as is particularly mentioned, the shoes of a bride (Ezek. 16). They suggest that separation of our Lord from the world in which He walked, a separation which marked Him out as rejected. Thus, He had "no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
The Gospel of Luke presents our Lord as the Son of Man, and while attractive to faith, He was rejected by the world at large. As a Man among men, He was most approachable, welcoming the lowly and never refusing to receive the vilest and most unworthy who would appeal to His mercy. All this, however, did not make Him popular. His rejection is accentuated in the Gospel of Luke. From the very first at Nazareth, we find He was despised and men esteemed Him not. We think therefore that the badger-skin can fittingly suggest the Gospel of Luke — of the Son of Man who walked this earth as man, and yet was separate from the world in which He lived.
2. The colors in the curtains
We noticed in passing, that the curtains in the first covering were made of four colored materials, the purple, scarlet, blue and fine twined. linen. Does each of these also suggest a distinctive Gospel bearing its specific character?
(1) The purple. Purple is the color of royalty, and the Gospel which presents to us the King of the Jews is Matthew. We see it all through the Evangelist; no matter where He is, whether teaching upon the summit of the mountain the lofty principles of the Kingdom, or coming down to its foot to lay His royal hands in healing upon the poor leper, it is always the King in His royal progress — unknown, alas, and unrecognized by the mass of the people; but for faith ever the King of Israel. Thus, the purple is manifested in the Gospel of Matthew.
(2) The scarlet. Scarlet is also a color of royalty, but now rather of a world-wide splendor, the kingdoms of the world and their glory. There is also, as we already have had suggested, the thought of death in it; and these two thoughts are blended together in the royal scarlet, as, for instance, in the cochineal or scarlet worm. Our Lord says of Himself, "I am a worm and no man," as He was brought into the dust of death, a sin offering for us; but it was in this very presenting of Himself as a sin offering, that our Lord manifested His own glory and gained title to all the glory of this world. How fitting it is that scarlet, in brilliant contrast, should set forth the same Gospel as the dark goats' hair covering. Mark displays Christ as the sin offering, who by His atoning sacrifice has gained title to sit upon the throne of God as King over all creation.
(3) The blue. Blue is the heavenly color. There is one Gospel which distinctively sets our Lord before us as the heavenly Man — the Son of Man which is in heaven. In Matthew we have no ascension into heaven because it is the earthly Kingdom that is prominent. In John also we have no ascension because it is all heavenly. Blue is the characteristic color upon everything here: new birth is from above; salvation is the knowledge of God; eternal life looks on to the entrance into heaven. The very confession of sin is in the light of God's holy presence. Thus, the color of blue unmistakably reminds us of the Gospel of John.
(4) The white. Fine linen, we are told, is the righteousnesses of saints (Rev. 19:8). Its spotless whiteness as applied to our Lord suggests the perfection, not of His Godhead, but of His humanity. He was holy, harmless, undefiled. He was also "that holy thing" which was born of Mary, called the Son of God. Throughout Luke, we have Him presented to us in this holy, spotless humanity, so that His transfiguration shows His garments exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth could make them, giving us what God had ever before Him, the glory of the holiness that was intrinsically in our blessed Lord. These four colors thus seem to correspond to the four Gospels.
3. The ingredients of the ointment and incense (Ex. 30:22-33).
We have here a description of the holy ointment which was to be put upon all parts of the tabernacle; and in the same chapter (vers. 34- 38) a description of the incense which was to be put upon the golden altar before the veil. The ingredients in both of these were four; do these suggest to us again our four Evangelists?
Without doubt, the sweet spices are a symbol of Him who was ever fragrant unto God. We know that the unction of the Spirit upon our Lord was but the setting forth of His own preciousness, and similarly the ointment upon the tabernacle reminds us of Him all of whose garments smell of myrrh and cassia and aloes. In like manner the daily offering up of the incense as a sweet savor to God is a figure of the presentation of the excellences of Christ. All true worship is the offering up to God of this sweet savor.
We notice that in both the ointment and the incense, there were four different kinds of sweet smelling spices, and we are led to ask if we have not here also a symbolic suggestion of Christ in the four Evangelists somewhat in the manner of the colors and the curtains. We are not able to speak as definitely about these, perhaps, as about the others; yet without desiring to appear fanciful, we will offer a few suggestions as to these various spices.
In the ointment there were myrrh, cinnamon, sweet calamus and cassia. The first and the last were in quantity double the other two.
(1) Myrrh. Myrrh seems, both by its composition and the frequency of reference to it in other portions of Scripture, to be the prominent ingredient. It was the resinous gum of a tree, bitter to taste and exceedingly fragrant. It was used for embalming the dead and was also a perfume used in connection with marriage. We suggest that what is set forth in the myrrh is found prominently in the Gospel of John. Our Lord is anointed by Mary here in anticipation of His death. That death was before Him from the outset, and we may say all His teachings and all His miracles were connected with that. His first testimony to the Jews was: "Destroy this temple," etc. His words to Nicodemus in connection with the new birth speak of the inevitable necessity of the cross. The Bread of life was to be given only through His sacrifice; through the entire Gospel, there is the fragrance of His death. Need we add it was a proof and pledge of the love of God, the love of Christ which passeth knowledge?
(2) Cinnamon. Cinnamon is a well-known tree whose bark has to be removed, doubtless taking the life of the tree, to furnish an article of fragrance and sweet flavor in food, as well as a medicine. The Gospel of Mark gives this ingredient. There is the freshness and activity of unwearying labor here that offers a peculiar fragrance, most refreshing and acceptable. As our Lord is presented to us in this Gospel, we have Him providing the true medicine for the sin-sick soul.
(3) Sweet Calamus. Calamus, or sweet cane, is an aromatic, growing in the mire, sending up a shoot or cane in the air. The Gospel of Luke shows us the perfect Man growing amidst the most contrary surroundings; out of the mire of this world He extracts nothing but that which is fragrant for God. His own life is purity,while surrounded by uncleanness without. There is, moreover, in the Gospel of Luke, a pungency in dealing with men which may well remind us of the calamus.
(4) Cassia. Cassia is a strong cinnamon, belonging we are told to the same family, particularly useful in medicine and furnishing by its pungency a special strength to the entire blended ointment. The Gospel of Matthew seems to answer to this thought of the cassia being in the same quantity as the myrrh, double the cinnamon or the calamus. It suggests that character of our Lord in the Gospel of the Kingdom, in which we have strength, pungency, vigor and dignity, an enlargement and intensifying of the cinnamon, we might say, as Matthew in one way is an enlargement of Mark.
All these four ingredients were to be mingled with oil. So the Holy Spirit takes the characteristics of our blessed Lord in each of the Gospels, blending them all in sweetest fragrance. Doubtless, we have the characteristics of each in every Gospel, and yet there is a prominence in the one which may be suggested in the ingredient which we think answers to it.
We come now to speak similarly of the incense. The four ingredients here are different: stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense.
(1) Stacte, or nataph (Heb.), meaning "a drop." This seems to point to the myrrh under another form, exuding in drops from the tree. At any rate, there is the thought of the spontaneous outflow of the sweet spice, suggesting that spontaneous outflow of fragrance which marks our Lord nowhere more beautifully than in the Gospel of John. We therefore connect this spice with that Gospel.
(2) Onycha. This is said to be a shell-fish obtained from the borders of the Red Sea and yielding, when crushed, a delicious perfume. In the Gospel of Mark, as we have already seen, our Lord's death occupies a prominent position as being distinctively the sin-offering. The Red Sea, and the crushing of the shell-fish, remind us somewhat of the crushing of the cochineal, producing the scarlet dye. We therefore connect the onycha with Mark.
(3) Galbanum. Galbanum probably resembles cassia. This is said to be not particularly fragrant in itself but to have the special property of imparting strength to other ingredients. In Matthew, our Lord as King often speaks in an authoritative, absolute way. Particularly in rebuking the sins of the Pharisees and scribes, His language is so strong that it almost seems unlike what we would expect. If any of His own, too, exposed themselves to correction, He loved them too much not to point it out most faithfully, and the rules of His Kingdom are given as super-ceding Moses. Thus we have the galbanum as applied both to His enemies and His friends.
(4) Frankincense. The word for this speaks of its whiteness, reminding us again of that fine linen which we think is prominent in the Gospel of Luke. It surely does no violence to this Gospel to connect with it the fragrance of the frankincense, the exhibition of that perfect Life which went up as a sweet savor to God. It may be remembered that frankincense was put upon the showbread and upon the meat-offerings. This was all offered up in sweet fragrance to God. We thus connect the frankincense with the Gospel of Luke.
4. The Offerings (Leviticus 1-7).
There were four offerings: the burnt, the peace, the sin and the trespass offerings.
The first two are "sweet savor" offerings, in that they were burnt either in whole or in part upon the altar, thus ascending in sweet savor to God. The trespass and sin offerings, however, were more directly connected with the putting away of sin, and in their fullest character, were burnt without the camp.
Connected with the burnt and peace offerings, there was the meat offering (or, as it had perhaps better be rendered, the meal or food offering) which is a type of our Lord in His life, and thus symbolizes the narratives of that life up to the time of the cross. The sacrifices proper are all symbolic of our Lord's death. What is to occupy us now, therefore, is not so much the manner in which He is presented in His life, as the aspects of His holy death, which is dwelt upon in each of the Evangelists in a characteristic way.
(1) The Burnt Offering. The burnt offering represents our Lord as offering Himself up unto death, in whole-hearted obedience maintaining the glory of God. As He declares in the Gospel of John, "I lay down My life of Myself; no man taketh it from Me; I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father." We have here beautifully blended together the willing-hearted devotion of our Lord to the glory of His Father, and obedience to Him even unto death. The Gospel of John sets this before us. It is the "whole burnt offering," which was all offered up to God. There is no prominent thought of sin; it is seen only in the death made necessary by it; and the words, "It is finished" show that all is accomplished, and all is most acceptable to God.
(2) The Peace Offering. The peace offering, as its name suggests, speaks of reconciliation effected. In this sacrifice, the inwards and the fat were burnt upon the altar after the manner of the burnt offering. A part also went to the priest, and all the rest to the offerer; so that we have beautifully set forth the participation in communion with God, with Christ, and the believer sharing with the divine Persons in this communion. How God has found His delight in the work of His beloved Son!
The fat speaks of energy, an energy in man usually shown in self-will and rebellion, but which in Him went willingly to the cross, offering itself without spot to God. The inwards, the vital organs, similarly speak of the inward springs of the life of our Lord being wholly devoted to His Father. His inward affections, the reins, the exercise of judgment in the refusal of evil, all these in unblemished purity were presented to God in His death. It was this which tells of God's share in the death of our Lord.
Similarly, the priest's share reminds us that our Lord and indeed all the priestly family, share together in the blessed results of His atoning work. He Himself "shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied." There is a sense in which the results of His own atoning work must fill the heart of our blessed Lord with joy. We too, blessed be His name, learn in a priestly way to feed upon the breast and the shoulder, typical respectively of His affections and His power. These both have been made good to us through His atoning sacrifice.
It is not difficult to connect this aspect of the death of our Lord with the Gospel of Luke, in which we find these truths prominently presented. It is here that our Lord says: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." It is here, too, that He gives to the penitent thief, expiring at His side, the assurance of forgiveness and reconciliation to God. Other features suggest the same truth, so that we can easily see how the death of our Lord is presented as the peace offering in the Gospel of His humanity.
(3) The Sin Offering. The sin offering and trespass offering are closely connected together. In the former, however, we have a deeper view of sin than in the latter. Sin is seen in its essence as abhorrent to God, and which necessarily brings down His judgment. In the sin offering aspect we have Christ made sin for us, He who knew no sin. In this, what is prominent is not what His death was to God, as in the burnt offering, nor even God's participation in communion with our Lord and the saved soul; but the judgment of God poured out without limitation upon the spotless Substitute who had volunteered to take the place of the guilty. It is the infliction of divine wrath against sin; this being the prominent thought, we need not be surprised to find that in Mark we have the cry of anguish, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" This is wanting in both John and Luke for the reasons already indicated. It is especially appropriate in Mark for the reasons which we have given in looking at the second covering of the tabernacle. There, as will be remembered, we saw our Lord as the Prophet bearing witness to the sin of men. The connection was so close that we anticipated something of that which is now being said in pointing out that Mark was suggested by the goats' hair, speaking of sin. When we bring the two thoughts together, of our Lord's prophetic service in Mark and His being forsaken of God upon the cross, we can see how both lines blend harmoniously together.
Infinitely pathetic, as well as solemn, it is to think that He who declared His people's sin should be the One made sin for them — putting away the very guilt which His faithfulness detected.
(4) The Trespass Offering. Closely connected with the sin offering, as we have said, it differed from it chiefly in that it looked upon sin, not so much in its inherent essence as enmity against God, as in its resulting injury. God, for instance, has been robbed by man of that which belonged to Him, robbed of the obedience due Him; robbed of the glory which should have been His through creatures so marvelously adapted to show forth that glory. Man has taken the time which belonged to God and used it for himself. He has taken wealth, opportunities, position, everything which belonged to Another and applied it to his own use. In this way, his sin is a trespass against God. He has been unfaithful in the truth committed into his hands, and is guilty of the trespass.
This view of sin, while it is not so deep as that of the sin offering, has perhaps a wider application. Indeed, we may say that in general all conviction begins with the trespass feature. We are awakened to see that we have disobeyed God in this or that particular, and very often an effort at restitution is made. It is the governmental aspect of sin. Matthew is the governmental Gospel, in which the rule of God and of the King in His kingdom are set forth. It is fitting, there, and most blessed to see that in the Gospel in which the glories of the King are put before us, His grace is seen in meeting the trespass of His people, their violation of the principles of His government to which they owed implicit obedience.
Thus the narrative of the death of our Lord in Matthew resembles that in Mark. In both, there is the cry of forsaken anguish, for God's wrath is poured out against sin and against trespass. In the language of the 69th psalm, we hear the blessed Sufferer in expiation of a guilt in which He had no share, saying: "Then I restored that which I took not away." Similarly, we find in Matthew's Gospel the immediate results of our Lord's death in the opening of the graves and the resurrection of some of the saints which slept. These are a part of the governmental remission of sin which appropriately find their place in the Gospel of Matthew.
5. The Cherubic Figures
The cherubim are first mentioned after the fall in the Garden of Eden. They were placed at the entrance of the garden, with a flaming sword turning every way to keep the way to the tree of life. Man had forfeited a right to that tree, and divine mercy shut him out, to learn a way of access to God on different ground from that of creature obedience which he had permanently lost. Never again could the creature be put into the relationship with God occupied by our first parents before sin entered the world. Thus, the cherubim are seen as the judicial guardians of the way of approach to God.
We next find them in the book of Exodus upon the mercy-seat. Here again they are evidently ministering in the presence of God. In the book of Psalms, we are told righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His throne, and we need not therefore hesitate to connect these attributes with the assessors to that throne, who stand pleading for divine righteousness and divine judgment. How preciously does this thought fit in with the truth of the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat on the day of atonement by the high priest! Here was a sacrifice of such efficacy that the priest who offered it as the representative of a sinful people could enter and remain in the presence of God, while God's dwelling place could continue in the midst of a sinful and rebellious people.
The cherubim bear witness to this. Once and again they are alluded to in the historical books and in the Psalms, always it would seem with reference to the mercy-seat. Even when God is seen riding upon a cherub, it is an intimation of what is called in the Chronicles, "the chariot of the cherubim," the mercy-seat. This thought is further dwelt upon in the book of Ezekiel, where, in connection with God removing from His temple because of the sins of His people, we find His glory borne by the cherubim eastward to the Mount of Olives, to disappear until, in type, the time of restitution should come and the cherubim would restore the glory back to its place, to its abode in the temple (Ezek. 43:2-5).
In Ezekiel, for the first time, the cherubim are described. There were four, and their faces were respectively like the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:10). This brings us to what we have in Revelation (Rev. 4:6-8) — a description of God's throne. When we come to symbols of the Deity, we need not be surprised to find them necessarily multiplied in order to give us some full conception of that which is beyond all our descriptions. We have, therefore, in Revelation, the throne of God and the One who sat upon it, with the lamps of fire burning before it; and connected with it, as assessors or attendants upon the Throne, we have the four living creatures, the cherubim of the Old Testament, combined here, however, in their worship, with the seraphim or burning ones described in the 6th chapter of Isaiah.
We must return now to another line of truth for a moment, in order to see what connection there is between these living creatures and the Gospels.
First of all, we think there need be little hesitation in conceding that they are representative of angelic or superhuman beings. As such, they exhibit some of those prerogatives which God has entrusted to them as executors of His will. But when we go back of that and ask to whom. God has committed all judgment, we are reminded that it is not to the angels that He has "put into subjection the world to come whereof we speak," but unto His Son, for "The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all should honor the Son as they honor the Father."
The execution of judgment committed to the angels, therefore, is but a type of that fuller and more complete judgment which is committed to His Son. We find, too, in both the Old Testament and in Revelation, that angels are sometimes types of our Lord. The three men who visited Abraham were superhuman. One of them, indeed, was the Lord. And in Revelation, we have a great and strong angel who is evidently the Lord Himself. (See Rev. 8:3.) Whatever judgment is committed to the angels, therefore, is done only as they are in subjection to, and as they set forth something of, the character of the Son. We are thus prepared to see how these four living creatures suggest certain aspects of our Lord's character, aspects which indeed in a limited way may be seen in angelic beings who will be associated with Him in the administration of His kingdom and the execution of His judgments.
This brings us to where we can apply the symbolism of the cherubim to the person of our Lord, and we are prepared to ask: What distinctive resemblances are there between each of the living creatures and the corresponding Gospels.
That there are characteristic differences in the living creatures goes without saying. The lion, the calf, the man, and the eagle, are all diverse the one from the other. Let us now see in what way each of these corresponds with one of the Evangelists.
The Lion. The lion is the king of beasts, the well known symbol, even in the world, of royalty. In the book of Revelation itself, our Lord is spoken of as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." It is therefore no imagination to connect this emblem of our Lord with the Gospel of Matthew, in which He is presented as the King. It is this first beast, the lion, who calls forth (Rev. 6:2) the rider on the white horse who goes forth conquering and to conquer. The world refused the true King and His reign of righteousness and peace. Rejecting Him, they necessarily invite, as indeed the chief priests did when they said: "We have no king but Caesar," this world's ruler who goes forth to conquer for his own glory.
The Calf. This is evidently the ox of Ezekiel. As the lion is the symbol of royalty, so the ox is of labor. "Much increase is by the strength of the ox" (Prov. 14:4). This patient animal devotes its great strength to the service of man, willingly toiling for his good. How blessedly did our Lord bow Himself to the yoke in order to serve the will of God and man's need! It is this which, as we have seen, is prominent in the Gospel of Mark, which links that book with the second of the living creatures. It is this creature that calls out the second rider, on a red horse, who takes peace from the earth (Rev. 6:4). Where the peaceable service of our Lord is refused, there must be war and bloodshed, which He would have averted.
The Man. The face of a man suggests intelligence, sympathy and all that is essentially human. We would miss indeed this face were it absent from that glorious symbolic representation of our Lord. We have sufficiently dwelt upon this character in the Gospel of Luke to connect it with this living creature. Christ as the Son of Man, His human birth, His human sympathies, the gospel of His grace going out to men to gather them about Himself, all are prominent here. Our Lord fed the poor. Because of His rejection, the third creature calls forth the third rider, who stands for famine (Rev. 6:5, 6). In the Gospel of Luke we have the parable of the great supper and the Father's feast for the returning prodigal. Where these are refused, there must come indeed a famine, not only for the individual, but for the world which has rejected Him.
The Eagle. The eagle is the bird that soars in the heights. It is typical of that heavenly character of our Lord which is set forth in the Gospel of John. Here we have the highest, greatest, heavenliest thoughts of the person of Him who was manifested in flesh. Throughout the entire Gospel we are lifted above earth. We soar on high in company with Him who is the embodiment of all that is heavenly, divine and glorious. The rejection of such an One brings the opposite of what He offered to men — life, eternal life as linked with Himself and presented to a lost world for acceptance. Rejecting Him, nothing is left for them but the rider on the pale horse, death, with the accompaniment of judgment (Rev. 6:7, 8).
Thus the cherubic figures confirm and illustrate the characteristic differences in the-Gospels upon which we have been dwelling.
6. Other General Suggestions
Doubtless, there are many other resemblances. The four pillars which held up the veil in the tabernacle (Ex. 26:32) — a type of our Lord's flesh (Heb. 10:20) may suggest the four Gospels which present the person of our Lord. These pillars rest upon silver sockets, suggesting that redeemed men hold up Christ to view. The Evangelists were themselves children of God; otherwise, they would not have been chosen to present God's Son.
The four major Prophets may also have characteristics which correspond to the Gospels. Isaiah seems, as the great governmental prophet so frequently quoted, to stand for Matthew; Jeremiah, the prophet of sorrow and of toil, may remind us somewhat of Mark; Daniel, the Gentile prophet, may suggest Luke; while Ezekiel, soaring aloft and with special similarities to the Revelation of John, may be suggestive of the transcendent theme of the fourth Evangelist.
No doubt other resemblances could be found, and those which have been given are laid before the reader rather for further examination and testing than positive teaching.