239. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures. This symbolizes the Word of the Lord from the firsts of it in its lasts, and its protections.
I know people will be surprised at my saying that the four living creatures symbolize the Word. This is nevertheless their symbolic meaning, as we will later show.
The four living creatures here are the same as the cherubim in Ezekiel. In chapter 1 there they are called likewise living creatures, but cherubim in chapter 10, and they were, as here, a lion, an ox, a human being, and an eagle. 1
In the Hebrew there they are called hayyoth, 2 a word which indeed means creatures, but one derived from hayyoh, 3 meaning life, from which the name of Adam's wife, Hawwah, 4 also was derived (Genesis 3:20). In Ezekiel a creature is also called hayyah, so that these creatures can be called living ones.
It does not matter that the Word is described by creatures, since the Lord Himself is sometimes called in the Word a lion, and often a lamb, and people possessing charity from the Lord are called sheep. Moreover, an understanding of the Word, too, is in subsequent chapters called a horse.
It is apparent that these living creatures or cherubim symbolize the Word from the fact that they were seen in the midst of the throne and around the throne. The Lord was in the midst of the throne, and because the Lord embodies the Word, it could not appear elsewhere. They were also seen around the throne, because they were seen in the angelic heaven, where the Word exists also.
 The fact that cherubim symbolize the Word and its protection is something we showed in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 97, , where we said the following:
...the literal sense of the Word is a protection for the genuine truths which lie within; and the protection consists in the fact that the literal sense can be turned this way or that, (or) explained in accordance with one's comprehension, and yet without harming or violating the Word's inner meaning. For it does no harm for the literal sense to be interpreted differently by different people. But harm is done if the Divine truths that lie within are distorted, for this does violence to the Word.
The literal sense protects this from happening, and it does so in the case of people caught up in falsities derived from their religion, who do not defend those falsities; for they do not inflict any violence.
This protection is symbolized by the cherubim and also described by them in the Word. The same protection is symbolized by the cherubim which, after Adam and his wife were cast out of the Garden of Eden, were placed at its entrance, regarding which we read the following:
(When) Jehovah God... drove out the man..., He caused cherubim to dwell at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:23-24)
The cherubim symbolize a protection. The way to the tree of life symbolizes an entryway to the Lord, which people have through the Word. The flaming sword which turned every way symbolizes Divine truth in outmost expressions, which is like the Word in its literal sense, which can (as we said) be turned in the way stated.
(Verweise: Teachings about the Sacred Scripture 97)
 The cherubim of gold positioned on either end of the mercy seat which was on top of the ark (Exodus 25:18-21) have the same meaning. Because this is what the cherubim symbolized, therefore Jehovah spoke with Moses from between them (Exodus 25:22; 30:6, 36, Numbers 7:89)....
This, too, was what the cherubim on the curtains of the Tabernacle and on the veil in it symbolized (Exodus 26:1, 31). For the curtains and veils of the Tabernacle represented the outmost elements of heaven and the church, thus also the outmost expressions of the Word.
This was also what the cherubim inside the temple at Jerusalem symbolized (1 Kings 6:23-28), and what the cherubim carved on the walls and doors of the temple symbolized (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35). Likewise the cherubim in the new temple (Ezekiel 41:18-20)....
(Verweise: Ezekiel 10:1)
 Since cherubim symbolized a protection to prevent a direct approach to the Lord and heaven and to Divine truth such as it is inwardly in the Word, so that people must approach indirectly through its outward expressions, therefore the following is said of the king of Tyre:
You, the seal of the measure, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, were in Eden, the garden...; every precious stone was your covering... You were the cherub, the spreader of a covering... I destroyed you, O covering cherub, in the midst of fiery stones. (Ezekiel 28:12-14, 16)
Tyre symbolizes the church in respect to its concepts of truth and goodness, and therefore its king symbolizes the Word where those concepts are found and from which they are drawn. It is apparent that here he symbolizes the Word in its outmost expression, which is its literal meaning, and the cherub, its protection, for the passage says, "You, the seal of the measure," "every precious stone was your covering," "You were the cherub, the spreader of a covering." The precious stones mentioned here as well symbolize the truths in the Word's literal sense (no. 231).
 Since cherubim symbolize Divine truth in outmost expressions as a protection, therefore we are told in the book of Psalms:
...O Shepherd of Israel..., You who sit upon the cherubim, shine forth! (Psalms 80:1)
Jehovah..., sitting upon the cherubim. (Psalms 99:1)
(Jehovah) bowed the heavens and came down... And He rode upon cherubim... (Psalms 18:9-10)
To ride upon cherubim, to sit on them and be seated on them is to do so upon the outmost meaning of the Word.
The Divine truth in the Word and its character is described by cherubim in the first, ninth and tenth chapters in Ezekiel. But inasmuch as no one can know what the particulars of their description symbolize except one to whom the spiritual meaning has been disclosed, and inasmuch as this meaning has been disclosed to me, we will relate briefly what is symbolized by each of the particulars mentioned regarding the four creatures or cherubim in the first chapter in Ezekiel. They are as follows:
 The outward Divine atmosphere of the Word is described in verse 4.
It is represented as human in verse 5; as conjoined with spiritual and celestial qualities in verse 6.
The character of the natural component of the Word is described in verse 7.
The character of the spiritual and celestial components of the Word conjoined with the natural one, in verses 8-9.
The Divine love of the celestial, spiritual and natural goodness and truth present in it, separately and together, in verses 10-11.
Their looking to a single end, in verse 12.
The atmosphere of the Word emanating from the Lord's Divine goodness and truth, which give the Word life, in verses 13-14.
The doctrine of goodness and truth present in the Word and emanating from the Word, in verses 15-21.
The Lord's Divinity transcending it and present in it, in verses 22-23; and emanating from it, in verses 24-25.
The Lord's transcending the heavens, in verse 26.
His possessing Divine love and wisdom, in verses 27-28.
These are the symbolic meanings in summary form.