The Seraphim: Part 6: A Closer Look at Wings
A Closer Look at Wings
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. (Isaiah 6:2)
The word “wings” in Scripture is usually symbolic unless it is used in connection with birds. The first usage of the word, other than “winged fowl” once in Genesis and once in Deuteronomy, is found in Exodus where God spoke to Moses saying:
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself (Exo 19:4).
Think of all the things God did to bring the people out of Egypt. Were they not all demonstrations of God’s great power—the ten plagues (only the first three of which touched the Hebrews) and then the parting of the Red Sea? These were not natural occurrences as some people claim, but all were demonstrations of God’s great power and intervention into the affairs of humankind. The motivation behind the exhibition of this power was God’s love for his people and his desire that all people would see his great power and glory and turn to him from their lifeless gods of wood and stone. From this and other places in Scripture, it is easy to see that one signification of wings is the power of God.
Applying this spiritual understanding for the word “wings” to the seraphim, we could say that these people, typified by the seraphim, have usage of God’s divine power. Of course, this power would never be misused for their own selfish purposes because they have completely died to self and only live to minister to God and to their fellow human beings.
Guarding and Protecting
Another way the word wings is used in Scripture has to do with guarding and protecting. The seraphim seem to be guarding something having to do with their faces and their feet. Most of the applications of the word wings in Scripture has to do with protection. For example:
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, (Psalm 17:8)
Before revealing more about wings, let’s look at another marvelous truth revealed in the phrase “the apple of your eye.” It is interesting that the Hebrew word for “apple” actually means “pupil.” Keep me as the pupil of your eye brings to mind a picture of the pupil completely surrounded by the iris of the eye. The iris, the colored circle surrounding the pupil, controls the size of the pupil and allows different amounts of light to enter the eye. One cannot help but think about how God, the one who determines how much understanding (light) we are able to receive, is in a sense like the iris. In this way he protects us from understandings of spiritual things that could be dangerous for us in the light of our ability to live according to what we know. He gives us the light we need according to the circumstances of our lives and what we are willing or able to assimilate into our lives.
Many Christians don’t understand that God judges us according to the light we have and what we do with it. We should know this because of his many parables and illustrations on this in his Word. For example the servant who knew his master’s will and did not do it is beaten with many stripes while the servant who did not know was beaten with few stripes. This teaching closes with the words:
But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)
With this understanding in mind, we can see that the seraphim, as deeply spiritual persons, have light from God, spiritual understandings, that they cannot tell everyone. They guard this to protect others. These understandings are necessary in order for them to be this close to God and also may have to do with the power they have—power used to help others and do God’s will.
To be hidden under the shadow of his wings is to be close to God’s breast and covered with his wings. This reminds me of Jesus’ words to Jerusalem:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Here are a few scriptures about finding safety under God’s wings:
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge; (Psalm 91:4)
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. (Psalm 57:1b)
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. (Psalm 61:4)
I believe these scriptures make it clear that wings are metaphorical and that they signify protection and power. I have personally, in times of great distress and fear, used the metaphorical concept stated in these verses to visualize myself under God’s wings, up close to his breast and have felt the comfort that comes to my heart through picturing truth.
Now that we know what wings can represent, let’s look at more truths regarding the seraphim and their wings. One thing we need to examine is the spiritual meaning depicted in their having six wings in three groups of two.
Wings and their Numbers
As stated previously, the number six here should be viewed only according to its spiritual interpretation which tells us that the seraphim are people. What they do with their six wings (their spiritual mind) tells us something about them—about their calling and their character to be more specific. Let’s look at this verse again to examine another number—the number two (twain in the KJV).
Isa 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
Two can mean division and difference. Two can also mean they are one in testimony and friendship. (Bullinger) The number two in this verse is indicating more than one person in each seraph. These people signified by the seraphim are not alone. Jesus is with them. They are so like him they have become one with him. They are different but they are one in purpose and character. Whatever they do, they do together with Jesus. We have seen that wings are the spiritual mind. Therefore in Isaiah 6:2 we see these persons’ minds (wings) are joined with Jesus’ mind (one in purpose and character), which brings us to Philippians 2:
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, (Phil 2:1-5).
Isaiah 6 gives us a symbolic picture depicting Philippians 2! The seraphim are of one mind—they are one in testimony, purpose and friendship. They have fulfilled the biblical mandate to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” They are of one mind with Christ, and because of this they are of one mind with one another as Paul encouraged in his Philippian letter, “…be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
This is a picture of what God intends for his end time church. The church as we see it today is far from this. However, there is an invisible church we don’t see and someday I believe we will see it. In other words, God has people with this level of maturity, humility and devotion scattered in many places. Some are in churches that meet in buildings, some are in home churches, and some have given up on church per se and just fellowship with two or three other believers with whom they can share scriptures, pray and help each other. However, I see by the Spirit great persecution coming upon the church. Everything about the visible, institutional church today that is not biblically substantiated is going to pass away.
In the next segment on the Seraphim we will learn more about what they did with their wings.