Isaiah 6:2 - Humbly ready to obey
“Above (the robe) were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two their covered their feet, and with two they were flying.Isaiah 6:2
Before he starts his ministry in the year that King Uzziah of Judah died, the prophet Isaiah gets a small glimpse of God’s throne room (Isaiah 6:1). But Isaiah sees only the end piece of God’s robe and nothing else of the Lord our God. However, Isaiah does see seraphs above God’s robe. The word “seraph” means “burning one.” God is often described as surrounded by fire, and these flaming messengers guard the throne room to keep it pure and holy.
But take note of the six wings of these seraphs: “With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” What do all these wings indicate? Well, with the first two wings the seraphs cover their faces in order to stop themselves from seeing God. The Lord is holy and the seraphs realize this full well. They cannot look at God and at his majesty. They need to cover their eyes.
The seraphs also cover their feet, a less honourable part of their body. The seraphs are self-conscious in front of such a holy God. Just imagine that you stand exposed in front of an important leader: would you not try to cover yourself up? These seraphs realize that they are not worthy to be gazed on by the Almighty. They are only creatures, whereas God is the exalted Creator. And so they cover their feet with two wings as well.
The third set of wings is used by the seraphs to fly continually. They hover over the robe of God’s kingly garment, ready for action. Just picture a bird guarding and feeding its young. It hovers without resting, looking for food and guarding its chicks. In a similar way, the seraphs are hovering around the throne, ready at all times for action, ready to do the will of God!
And what a contrast these actions form with King Uzziah and the people of Judah in the days of the prophet Isaiah. Uzziah entered the Holy Place to offer incense on the altar that stood right in front of the Most Holy Place (2 Chronicles 26:16). He thought that he could look at God a little closer. But in contrast, the seraphs cover their eyes; they do not dare to look at the Holy God.
Uzziah and the covenant people of Judah were willing to expose their weaknesses and sins before God without second thought. Uzziah even gets angry in the temple when the priests tell him off (2 Chronicles 26:19). He certainly does not stand in awe of God’s holiness and cover himself. But in contrast the seraphs cover their feet; they do not want to be exposed before the Holy God.
King Uzziah serves God in his own manner and not according to the laws that the Lord gave. God had commanded that only the priests should enter into the Holy Place, but King Uzziah ignores this command of God and simply enters (2 Chronicles 26:18). In contrast the seraphs are flying and always ready to obey God fully; they are always ready to do the will of the Almighty.
And what a beautiful picture this forms for us. Do you realize and stand in awe of the holiness of God? Is your reaction like that of the prophet Isaiah, who cries out a little later: “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (v 5)?
The prophet Isaiah realizes that whereas the seraphs were only finite creatures and separated from the Creator, for Isaiah and all humans there is an even bigger thing separating us from God, namely sin – which Isaiah speaks of as “unclean lips.” We need the grace of God to reach out to us. We need to be saved by Jesus Christ from our unclean lips and broken lives.
As you do your daily task, do you take the holiness and majesty of God into consideration and do you honour Him for that, just like the seraphs who cover their eyes? Are you continually aware that you are a finite creature and a sinner, so that you humble yourself before God – relying on the work of Christ – just like the seraphs who cover their feet? And are you always ready to obey God fully and according to his will, always “hovering” like the seraphs, ready to obey God at every turn in your life?