The Host of Heaven

Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew” (Isa. 6:2).

- Isaiah 6:1-3

On account of the Bible’s influence, angels have always played a prominent role in Western art. Recently, however, there has been much additional attention paid to angels in popular culture. After many decades of a naturalistic bias in much of Western society, a new spirituality has emerged that takes a little from this religion and a little from that religion, combining it all into an unstable mix that is not true to any of the belief systems from which people pick and choose. This new spirituality likes to confess belief in angels, as long as they are divorced from the absolute claims of Christianity. It is not uncommon, in fact, to be stuck behind a car with a bumper sticker that promotes belief in angels, alongside others in favor of Wicca, Buddhism, and/or various additional spiritualities.

Scripture, on the other hand, describes angels as servants of the Creator and His people (Heb. 1:13–14), beings who would by no means allow themselves to be associated with any lesser deity. They are powerful creatures tasked with glorifying God and fighting on His behalf against all His enemies. That former task is the emphasis of today’s passage, which describes Isaiah’s famous vision of the Lord in the year that King Uzziah died (Isa. 6:1–3). Surrounding the divine throne were several seraphim or angels, as the same beings are described elsewhere in the Bible. The Hebrew term seraphim means “burning ones,” so it is likely that these creatures had an appearance like fire, at least in this case.

Some commentators note that the position of the wings on these seraphim would have made each of these beings seem like an individual flame (v. 2). But whether or not this was the case, the way in which the angels were using their wings says much about their activity and disposition. Apparently, angels are humble beings, for in Isaiah’s vision they covered their eyes so as not to gaze upon the greater light of the Creator. There is no reason to believe that they do anything less today when in the presence of God Almighty. Also, constant motion was what Isaiah saw as these angels proclaimed the holiness of God and moved about with their wings (v. 3). Today these beings continue to be active in service to our triune Creator, fulfilling the purposes of the Lord for His glory (Luke 2:8–13).

Coram Deo

There are many privileges that come with serving the Lord, one of which is knowing that He has appointed true angels to watch over us (Ps. 91:11–12). We are not guarded by the chubby little creatures with tiny wings that often appear in popular artwork; rather, we are protected by mighty beings who derive their strength from His hand. Our Lord has not abandoned us, having appointed the heavenly host to fight on our behalf.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 23:20–33
Psalm 103:20–21
Matthew 4:1–11
2 Thessalonians 1:5–7

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