Isaiah 6:1-3 "In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Ezekiel 10:20-21 "These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; so I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands."
The late theologian J. Hampton Keathley, III wrote an article on the purpose of studying the supernatural beings we find in the Bible (the article is found online at: https://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels). In that article we read:
“The fact that God has created a realm of personal beings other than mankind is a fitting topic for systematic theological studies for it naturally broadens our understanding of God, of what He is doing, and how He works in the universe.”
Today we want to dive further into identifying what the Bible teaches about various orders of spiritual beings that populate the supernatural realm of Heaven, God’s throne room and which affect activities here on earth.
We find Cherubim roughly sixty places in 13 books of the Bible. As noted in our last session, we could liken Cherubim as a sort of “secret service” to God. A brief summary of what the Cherubim do follows below.
a. Cherubim first appear in Genesis 3:24 – “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Cherubim as an order of spiritual beings defend the honor of God. Consequently, their presence, more-often-than-not, signified God’s holiness in judgment.
b. The revelation of Cherubim extends into God’s design of the first Jewish worship center – the Tabernacle. Moses writes in Exodus 25:18, “You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat.” Almost ten other passages in Exodus speak of Cherubim occurring in the metal work and fabric embroidery of the tabernacle’s design. God was communicating through the design of the tabernacle that He wanted to meet with His people, and they with Him (see Exodus 25:22).
c. By the days of King David, Cherubim were closely identified with the throne of God – a short-handed way of describing God’s Divine presence and authority. In 2 Samuel 6:2 we read: “And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.”
d. The prophet Ezekiel affords us the most detail description of Cherubim in Ezekiel 10:20-21, “These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; so I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands.” As a final thought about Cherubim, we find them mentioned in the descriptions of the ark of the covenant in Hebrews 9:5 and the heavenly worship scene of Revelation 4-5.
Theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer describes the Seraphim from his series on “Angelogy” (that is, “the study of angels”): “The Seraphim title speaks of unceasing worship, their ministry of purification, and their humility.” These spiritual beings are defined by the Hebrew noun “seraph”, which literally means, “burning one”. Isaiah 6:2-3 is the key Bible passage that mentions these specific creatures: “Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” The only other passage that we may find Seraphim (some would classify them as similar to the “Cherubim”, opinions vary) is in Revelation 4:8. Seraphim function like stained-glass windows in a mighty cathedral – pointing our attention to the source of their existence – God Himself!
There is only one archangel mentioned in the Biblical text, namely, “Michael” (see Daniel 10,12; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7). Michael’s power and abilities exceed that of regular angels. In Revelation 12:7-9a we get an idea of Michael’s power: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down….”.
For the sake of completeness, the Book of Daniel mentions what are called: “The Watchers”. We only find these beings in three verses of the entire Bible (Daniel 4:13,17,23). The execution of God’s decree came through what Daniel 4:17 describes as: “the decree of the watchers” - “This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men.” These “watchers” are perhaps among the most mysterious and least known of all the spiritual beings we encounter in the Bible. Most English translations will either translate the underlying Aramaic term as “watchers” or insert the term “angelic” alongside “watchers”. I won’t go into all the details of the wider background of Daniel that we can use as clues to their identity – only to say that “the watchers” are associated somehow with God’s throne and the announcing of his decrees.
We’ve considered four different classifications of spiritual beings that occupy various rankings in the Bible's portrayal of the supernatural realm. Time nor space does not permit comment on the remaining beings that the Bible collectively refers to as: "angels". The angels are another order of spiritual beings that, like their higher-order spiritual counterparts, function to point us to God. I will close with the following note of application from theologian Wayne Grudem:
“As angels find it their highest joy to praise God continuously, should we not also delight each day to sing God’s praise, counting this as the highest and most worthy use of our time and our greatest joy?”