Seraphim Viewing the Lord
“Above [the LORD] 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. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ ” (vv. 2–3).- Isaiah 6:1–3
Exorcisms were among the miracles that our Savior performed most frequently. As we see in Mark’s gospel, Jesus came to overthrow the kingdom of darkness, and that meant confrontations with demonic spirits who had possessed human beings and obscured the image of God in them (Mark 1:21–28; 5:1–20; 7:24–30; 9:14–29). However, demons were not the only supernatural beings Jesus encountered, for we know that angels ministered to Him in times of need (1:13). Since angels and demons play significant roles in Jesus’ life and ministry, it will be good for us to consider what the Word of God has to say about these spirits. Dr. R.C. Sproul will help us do just that as we pause our study of Mark and use his teaching series Angels and Demons as a basis for the next few days of study.
Angels appear frequently throughout the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. In fact angelos, the Greek word that means “angel/messenger,” occurs more frequently than the term translated as “sin” (hamartia). Yet at the same time, Scripture does not give us much detailed information about these beings. They appear at key points in redemptive history to help God’s people, but the Bible says little about their appearance and origin. Still, the information we do have is sufficient for what we need to know about angels.
Isaiah 6:1–3 tells us that not a few angels continually worship the Lord in His heavenly throne room. These angels, or seraphim, have six wings, two each for flying, covering their faces, and covering their feet. That they must cover their faces fits well with the Bible’s description of God’s glory as a blinding light (Matt. 17:1–3; Acts 9:1–9; Rev. 1:16)—even the angels cannot look directly on our Creator. Thus we see that while the Lord and His angels are both supernatural beings, God remains in a class entirely distinct from the angels. The seraphim who worship Him in heaven have never sinned; nevertheless, they cannot look on God directly. They must protect their eyes from a direct apprehension of the Lord’s transcendent purity or they will be blinded by the light of His majestic glory.
In their worship, the angels in God’s heavenly throne room cry out, “Holy, holy, holy” (v. 3), with the threefold repetition of this attribute indicating how it defines His very essence. This is the One whom we worship as well, as we enter into heaven itself when we come before Him and join with the angels to praise His holy majesty (Heb. 12:18–24).
That even the angels must shield their eyes in the presence of God shows the reverence with which we are to approach our Creator. He is our Most Holy Lord, so we cannot be irreverent in our worship. We come before Him knowing that He is holy by nature, and we can be holy only by grace. We trust Him to sustain us in His presence, remembering who He is and who we are. That is part of what it means to worship God in spirit and truth.
Passages for Further Study
1 Timothy 5:20–25