Prophecy of Isaiah – Isa 6: What Is A Seraph?

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Isa 6: What Is A Seraph?

Before we continue our studies here in Isaiah, we need to go back and define with the scriptures exactly what is a 'seraph'. So that is what we will do before we continue to discuss the function and work God has for the seraphims around His throne "in the holy place... [of] the heavens themselves" (Heb 9:23).

We have just learned that the seraphims, the four living creature, the four cherubims, the four beasts and four and twenty elders are one and all types of God's elect who were "redeemed... to God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation":

Rev 5:8  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 5:9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

We have learned that the seraphims have a message to bring to those who make up the house of God, which message causes the posts of the door of the house of God to be moved and to fill His house with smoke:

Isa 6:3  And one [seraphims, vs 2] cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isa 6:4  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

I have written on this subject earlier, but for this study I want to make clear here in this sixth chapter of Isaiah exactly what these seraphim are before we continue with what we are told their purpose and function is in the holy place of the temple of God in "the heavens themselves".

'Seraphim' is the Hebrew plural of the Hebrew word 'seraph', so:

What is a 'seraph'?

We have discussed the Biblical description of the four living creatures, the cherubims and the four beasts of Ezekiel 1 and 10 and Revelation 4 and 5. In all four of those chapters these four living creatures around the throne of God, in His temple in heaven, are described as 1) a man, 2) a lion, 3) an ox, and 4) an eagle.

Eze 1:10  As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

These are the exact same faces on the four creatures "in the midst of and round about the throne" of God in the holy place in His temple in the heavens, in the book of Revelation:

Rev 4:6  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Rev 4:7  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

It is very interesting, when we take notice, that three of these four beasts are unclean wild beasts. The man, the lion, and the eagle are all unclean wild beasts. The only beast of the four which is not unclean, according to the requirements of Leviticus 11, is the ox.

Lev 11:2  Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
Lev 11:3  Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Lev 11:13  And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,

With that in mind, we will now examine what the scriptures reveal is a 'seraph', which we are told is also a winged beast right there with "the Lord sitting upon a throne".

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.
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.

Here is Strong's definition of this Hebrew word 'seraph' translated as 'seraphims' only here in Isaiah six.

From H8313; burning, that is, (figuratively) poisonous (serpent); specifically a saraph or symbolical creature (from their copper color): - fiery (serpent), seraph.

And here are all the entries for this word in the Old Testament:

Total KJV Occurrences: 7
fiery serpent, 5
Num_21:6 (2), Num_21:8, Deu_8:15, Isa_14:29, Isa_30:6
seraphims, 2
Isa_6:2, Isa_6:6

If this Hebrew word 'saraph' is five times translated as 'fiery serpent', then why is it translated as 'seraphims' here in Isaiah 6:2 and 6?

Let's look at the verses where this word 'saraf' first appears:

Num 21:4  And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
Num 21:5  And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
Num 21:6  And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

The word 'fiery' here in verse 6 is the word 'saraph'. It is the same word translated as 'seraphims' in Isa 6. Israel is once again complaining against God for bringing them out of Egypt, and consequently God sent fiery serpents to bite and devour rebellious Israel. Immediately after the Hebrew word 'seraph' is the Hebrew word 'nachash', which is consistently, without exception translated as 'serpent' or 'serpents', throughout the Old Testament.

Here is Strong's definition for the Hebrew word 'nachash'

From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): - serpent.
Total KJV occurrences: 31

After the Lord sent the "fiery serpents [the 'seraph nachash'] among the people, and [after] they bit the people; and much people of Israel died":

Num 21:7  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
Num 21:8  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 
Num 21:9  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

The words 'fiery serpent' in verse 8 have only the Hebrew word 'seraph' behind them, unlike the words 'fiery serpent' in verse 6, where they have both words 'seraph', and 'nachash' behind the phrase 'fiery serpent'. Nevertheless 'fiery serpent' is a good translation of the word 'seraph' because the very next verse tells us that in obedience to the Lord's commandment in verse 8 to "Make you a fiery serpent", "Moses made a serpent [a nachash] of brass, and put it upon a pole."

So the beasts biting Israel were serpents, but they were not just any serpent as they were poisonous, 'fiery' serpents, 'seraph nachash', because "they bit the people; and much people of Israel died."

A 'seraph' is clearly not just a serpent. A 'seraph' is a poisonous serpent whose bite kills us. We have always been conditioned to believe that dying is not good, and dying of a snake bite is certainly never considered to an experience anyone in his right mind would ever want to endure.

But what does Christ tell us we must endure before we can find our life?:

Joh 12:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Joh 12:25  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

The story of what happened to Israel proves the truth of this counterintuitive principle given to us by Christ:

Num 14:22  Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
Num 14:23  Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:

"Those men... have not listened to my voice... shall not see the land..." But why did they "not hear [Christ's] voice"? Christ Himself answers that question:

Joh 8:43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw [Greek: drag] him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The death of the generation that saw all the miracles Christ performed in Egypt, who came up out of Egypt and still tempted God, had to die and could not enter into the land. That is still true, and the Lord sends serpents to destroy us because we, at that point in our spiritual journey, are "of our father the devil", and we must be destroyed at the hand of "that old serpent the devil":

Joh 8:44  Ye [who believe on Christ, verses 30-32, who witnessed Christ's miracles, who ate Christ's loaves and fishes, You] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [Here is another Biblical example of four differents symbols for the same one evil spirit "the Devil, and Satan"]

The serpent is not a free agent. He is nothing more than a very necessary tool in the Lord's hand. This is nowhere any more clearly demonstrated than in the events surrounding the death and crucifixion of our Lord Himself. Those who are given to see must acknowledge:

Act 4:26  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
Act 4:27  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
Act 4:28  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 

Christ Himself is prefigured by both a lamb and a lion, two very different beasts:

Joh 1:29  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God,which taketh away the sin of the world.

Joh 1:36  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Hos 11:10  They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

Rev 5:5  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

In Numbers 21 the seraph, the poisonous serpent, was the instrument of Christ to kill rebellious Israel, and a likeness of the seraph was also the instrument of Christ to give life to those who had been bitten by the serpents when they looked upon the saraph, the brazen serpent. Christ knew what all of this meant when He made this statement concerning Himself:

Joh 3:14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
Joh 3:15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 
Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Those who looked on the serpent did not perish but lived, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

It is Christ who likens Himself, and the life He brings to us, to a serpent being lifted up in the wilderness to give life to those who had rebelled against Him. It should be coming clearer to us what Christ means when He tells us:

Rev 21:6  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Christ wants us to know that He is the beginning and the end of all His works. But He also wants us to know that He starts out with marred vessels of corruptible clay:

Jer 18:4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

1Co 15:50  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

"The vessel that He made of clay was marred in the hand of The Potter", and the crooked serpent was also made as a crooked serpent in that same hand:

Job 26:13  By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. 
Job 26:14  Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

We 'hear such little portion of Him' that we wonder why He has four unclean beasts, including a seraph, a venomous serpent, around His throne, with only one clean beast there.

Yet both "the four beasts and the four and twenty elders" tell us that they are symbols of those who "Christ has redeemed... to God... out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation [to be] made... unto their God kings and priest [to] reign on the earth."

What a wonderful part of this "revelation of Jesus Christ" which is what the book of revelation is all about!

Rev 1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

What this means is that these seraphims and the four beast of Revelation 4 and 5 are all a part of the revelation of Jesus Christ, whose revelation is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, including both of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel.

Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God ["in the heavens", Heb 9:23];
Eph 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple ["in heaven", Rev 9:11] in the Lord:
Eph 2:22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The single message of all these symbols

We are God's habitation "in heaven". In the book of Ezekiel the four faces of the cherubims are shared by each of the four cherubims. This demonstrates that when we see each creature as an individual creature in the revelation of Jesus Christ, we must remember the truth revealed here in Ezekiel, that we all share all the four faces, and that when we fly, we all fly together because:

1Ki 6:27  And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.

Eze 1:9  Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
Eze 1:10  As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Eze 1:11  Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
Eze 1:12  And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

Putting all that is revealed to us concerning these seraphims, cherubims, four beasts, and four and twenty elders together, we now know they are all the symbols of those who have been "redeemed... to God by [Christ's] blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; [and will be] made... unto [their] God kings and priests: and [will all] reign on the earth" (Rev 5:8-9).

The fact these creatures, in Ezekiel and in Revelation, are 'four' tells us they represent the whole body of Christ: The Number Four

Having wings which are joined together, tells us they represent the "one body [of Christ with] many members". For their wings to be touching each other as they fly tells us they must be of the same one mind, the mind of Christ.

1Co 12:12  For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ. (ACV)

1Co 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

That the four beasts are all of one mind is confirmed in Ezekiel one where we are told these "four living creatures" without hesitation all go "whither the spirit was to go". (Eze 1:12)

Summary and Conclusion

The seraphs, are venomous serpents. Only in Isaiah 6 is this Hebrew word translated as 'seraphims'. The fact these venomous seraphims are located at the throne of God, that they each have six wings, and that they cry 'Holy, holy, holy' one to another, demonstrates that these 'seraphims' are just different symbols of the same thing prefigured by the four living creatures, the four cherubims, of Ezekiel 1 and 10, and the four beasts and the four and twenty elders of Revelation 4 and 5.

Just as the cows and the ears of corn both symbolized the same thing in Pharaoh's dream, so also all these symbols are one and all figures of those who have been redeemed to God by Christ out of every nation of mankind:

Gen 41:25  And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
Gen 41:26  The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.

Rev 5:9  And they [The four beast and the 24 elders, Rev 5:7-8] sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 
Rev 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

The only reason why these 'seraphs' are not translated as 'fiery serpents' in Isaiah six, while they are called "fiery serpents" everywhere else that Hebrew word 'seraph' appears, is apparently simply because the translators could not bring themselves to tell us that the scriptures teach that venomous serpents are symbols of those who surround the throne of God.

The use of the symbolism of three unclean wild beasts and venomous serpents with only one clean beast, around the throne of God, is given to make us mindful of what we are without the favor and the work of the grace of Christ within the lives of all who are the elect of God. God's elect are, in and of themselves, no better or any more worthy of the Lord's favor than Satan himself. All of God's creatures are just what He has made them to be, and this, in the final analysis, is the Truth of the Word of God:

Heb 2:11  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.

Even though we were first the offspring of venomous serpents and wild beasts, we are all of the same heavenly Father as Christ, and through Christ and His Christ, all men, "each in his own order", "all... in Adam" will be made alive in Christ, who "is not ashamed to call [all men] his brothers".

1Co 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

If the Lord wills, we are "they that are Christ's [who are to be] made alive... at His coming". Being made to know this should make us proclaim with the apostle:

1Jn 3:1  Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1Jn 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

It doesn't get any better than that!

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