Who Are the Seraphim?
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. Isaiah 6:1, 2, (NKJV)
Isaiah 6 describes strange creatures around the throne of God that are not seen any place else in Scripture. These are the seraphim…beings that are described as having six wings. Two wings cover their faces, two cover their feet and with the other two they fly. Are there really such strange looking creatures in heaven close to God? Surely their eyes would be in their faces which would be covered by their wings. How could they see where they were flying if their eyes were covered? Maybe this description is actually a symbolic depiction of something else. If symbolic, then perhaps they hold the secret to something God has been reserving for his people living in the end times—something not to be known in past ages but in the Word waiting to be unveiled by the Holy Spirit to his people who would need this information in the period just preceding the return of Christ.
The seraphim are not the only strange looking creatures described in the Word as being in heaven. There are the four living creatures of Ezekiel 1 that have four faces—the face of a lion, the face of an ox, the face of an eagle and the face of a man. And then again in Revelation there are four living creatures that are “covered with eyes in front and in back.” These are astonishingly bizarre looking beings if we take these descriptions literally. I mean, really, can you imagine a creature that has eyes all over its body? Or one with four different faces all at the same time? Or with six wings, four of which cover parts of its body? Surely these are symbolic, but symbolic of what?
As always, the best place to find the answers to our questions is to use Scripture to interpret Scripture. One major clue in identifying what these creatures may represent has to do with numbers and their spiritual meaning. The numbers six and four have to do with human beings and with earth. Six has to do with man who was created on the sixth day. Four is very much a number of earth—four directions (north, south, east and west), four seasons (summer, winter, fall, and spring), four elements (earth, air, fire and water) etc. These creatures are in heaven, close to God, but part of their descriptions puts them in the realm of earth. How do we reconcile this? Usually things in heaven have heavenly numbers such as three, seven and twelve or multiples thereof in their descriptions, but numbers relating to these creatures definitely tie them with earth in some respect.
If we approach the Scriptures with the principle in mind that the second coming of Christ is being announced symbolically in many places, especially in passages that are difficult to understand, then we have a good starting place for interpreting many of these seemingly strange accounts including the seraphim as seen here in Isaiah 6. With this in mind I would like to begin my interpretation of Isaiah 6 from the standpoint of the end times and the second coming of Christ. Let’s begin with the first verse which sets the stage for the appearance of the seraphim in verse 2:
Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
To understand the spiritual interpretation beneath the surface here we must view this verse as something inward and allegorical rather than outward and historical. I am not discounting the fact that this actually happened historically, but I am saying there is more to be understood than what is merely on the surface. Therefore, Isaiah, the one having the vision, will represent a believer living in the end times. Since our interpretation is inward rather than outward, King Uzziah represents something inside this believer, something that has died and because it is dead it no longer inhibits his ability to see the Lord. Let’s look at a few facts about King Uzziah that will show us what this thing that has died in this believer represents.
If you will remember your Old Testament history, Uzziah became king of Judah when he was sixteen years old and reigned for 52 years. Under the influence of the prophet Zechariah, Uzziah was a good king and obeyed God, but when Zechariah was no longer available to advise him, Uzziah made a foolish decision. He attempted to take over the duties of the priests in the temple by burning incense before the Lord. This was forbidden by God because only the priests were permitted to do this. Uzziah resisted the attempts of Azariah the priest and 80 other priests to stop him, so God struck him with leprosy at that very moment, and he remained a leper until the day of his death. (2 Chronicles 26)
Uzziah had brought the kingdom of Judah into the greatest prosperity it had known since the reign of Solomon. He became lifted up in pride over his successful reign and that is when he attempted to take over the duties of the priests. So we can easily see that Uzziah represents pride and a very insidious kind of pride that takes credit for what God has done. It was God who made this reign great, not Uzziah. Pride often leads us to do things in our own strength according to our own initiative. God has to strike this down. For Uzziah it was done outwardly and written as an admonition to warn Christians of all succeeding generations about the dangers of pride. There is a scripture regarding him that has impressed me greatly:
…he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God…(2 Chron 26:15b, 16a).
We must always be on guard that when life and ministry are going well for us, we must not accept credit for it ourselves. As Jesus said, there is only one who is good and that is God. Anything good in us, anything that prospers is due to what God in us has done through us.
Now we can see the importance of the beginning of this first verse of Isaiah 6, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord…” When we are in pride we cannot see God, but now that pride (Uzziah) is dead, this believer can see God, and he sees God in his greatness, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up and his train filling the temple.
Part 2 of this series will show us some very exciting things God wants to do for his faithful believers living in these end times!
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