The Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8
“… each had six wings …” (v.2) RSV
Although they may speed through the air, most, if not all angels, do not have wings. It is the Cherubim and Seraphim who have wings. The two Cherubim are depicted on the Ark of the Covenant made in the time of Moses. Their wings met each other above the box, creating a space known as the ‘mercy seat’ (Exodus 37:9). Years later, Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem. In its Inner Sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each 15 feet high, with a wing span of 15 feet (1 Kings 6:23-24). God is always said to “sit enthroned on the cherubim” (e.g. 1 Samuel 4:4, 2 Kings 19:15).
Many, many years later in the Temple, the prophet Isaiah had a dramatic vision of the Seraphim. Each of these had “six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew” (Isaiah 6:2).
Cherubim and Seraphim are highly symbolic figures. In the song known as the ‘Te Deum’ we sing: “To thee Cherubim and Seraphim: continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of thy Glory.” (1662 Book of Common Prayer). These creatures seem to be continually in the presence of God. Wherever they are, there is God.
So they were seen either in wood and gold, or in vision. There is obviously more in heaven and earth than we can ever imagine. It is truly enlarging to our faith to contemplate these revelations and to worship the creativity and majesty of God. Perhaps we can utter the words of the Queen of Sheba when she visited Solomon and saw all his splendour and experienced his wisdom: “the half was not told me” (2 Chronicles 9:6).
One day, when we pass through the veil and shed this earthly flesh, our eyes shall be opened and we shall see what we have never been able to see before.
Lord, thank you for the mysteries and the magnificence. Your greatness and the extent of your creativity is more than I can ever conceive. Amen.
1 What other created beings in the Bible have wings?
2 What does God do with his ‘wings’?