|Angel with the Flaming Sword by Edwin Blashfield (1893)|
Give me a strong, young, masculine angel any day -- one with a big flaming sword!
To be honest, I also enjoy artists' renditions of the cherubs. Jesus came to earth, after all, as a baby and I absolutely delight admiring, holding, cuddling, and loving babies. I'd gladly gather with baby angels around the Christmas crib thinking about the pure innocence of babes.
The role of the "cherubim," however, is really much different than what we see in artists' works filled with plump, naked baby angels. The cherubim are the first angels mentioned in the bible. What was their role? Protecting the Garden of Eden with flaming swords.
"And the Lord God...placed before the paradise of pleasure cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Gen. 3:23)Doesn't sound like a job for a baby angel, does it? Can you see a baby in the picture below wielding that sword? Not a very scary image is it? But angels always begin their conversation with humans by saying, "Do not be afraid." Why would they do that if they aren't big and bright and scary?
|Adam and Eve Driven Out of Eden -- Gustave Doré|
When it comes to protection from the powers of evil, send me a warrior angel with a weapon who will surround me with a wall that keeps out all the demons of hell. There are certainly plenty of those in the neighborhood these days! And I'd like somebody stronger than I am between me and them!
I'm not sure where the idea of baby angels came from, but they aren't biblical at all. If you read the roles of the nine choirs of angels, none could be performed by a baby. From what I've read, the little chubby cherubs originated with the secular: ancient pagan mythology in art which depicted the "putto," a naked, chubby male child -- Cupid, for example. During the Renaissance, there was a resurgence of interest in classical art and the winged babies became popular in Christian art. Raphael's Sistine Madonna is a famous example and the little angels even made the Christmas postage stamp one year.
|One more by Gustave Doré from the illustrations for Milton's Paradise Lost.|