The Seraphim - RR272H15

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Seraphim
Course: Course - Doctrine of Authority
Subject: Subject:Political Studies/Doctrinal Studies
Lesson#: 15
Length: 0:28:50
TapeCode: RR272H15
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Doctrine of Authority.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Let us worship God. Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the message which we heard from Him, and declare unto you, that God is light; and in Him is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin. Let us pray. We come to Thee, our Father, according to Thy Word, and confident in prayer; for Thou hast commanded that we should come to Thee, to cast our every care upon Thee, and to make all our wants and wishes known to Thee through Jesus Christ; and so we come. We pray, our Father, for our country. Deliver us from the hands of ungodly men. Cleanse us, and make us again a godly and a free people. We pray for Thy suffering saints the world over, that Thou wouldst deliver them and confound the powers of humanistic statism. Bless us in faithfulness to Thee, and grant now that by Thy Word and by Thy Spirit, we may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law. In Jesus’ name. Amen. [00:01:35]

Our scripture lesson is from Isaiah, the ...[edit]

Our scripture lesson is from Isaiah, the 6th chapter; Isaiah 6. Our subject: the seraphim. “In the year that King Uziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of Him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” [00:04:56]

Our subject this morning is the seraphim...[edit]

Our subject this morning is the seraphim. I wish my voice were up to the subject, but we’ll do the best we can, in spite of this very bad chest cold. The seraphim appear only once in the entire Bible, in this chapter. The word here translated as “I saw the Lord also sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple”—that word temple can also be translated as “palace.” And by some scholars, such as E. J. Young and J. A. Alexander, it was, in fact, so translated. This is a vision of the throne of the palace of the universe; and the King, the Lord of Hosts, high and lifted up. The remarkable fact is that above it stood the seraphim. They are human in appearance, but each one had six wings. We meet with the seraphim no where else. But very obviously the seraphim are of paramount importance, because they are throne attendants, and their position is above the throne, above God: “Above it stood the seraphim.” [00:07:02]

Now, throne attendants, first of all, do not have very...[edit]

Now, throne attendants, first of all, do not have very much significance in the world today, because the throne, in monarchies that exist, is by and large meaningless. Monarchs are, for the most part, ornamental, symbolic; and hence, a courtier no longer is someone next to the throne, to whom is delegated a vast amount of power. But this chapter is not talking about throne attendants or courtiers in any modern sense. Here is the throne of the government of the universe, and anyone next to the throne obviously has power.

Then, second, a very critical point is this (we will raise it now, and then return to it later): in any court throughout history, the throne attendants or courtiers were always on a lower level. The king looked down upon them. As a matter of fact, an item of considerable protocol in Japan over the decades has been the fact that the Emperor is short, and we have had a bad habit of sending particularly tall men to Japan as our ambassadors, especially just prior to World War II. It was a way of insulting the Japanese. It created problems when the ambassador was presented at court, because he was so tall. Thus, over the generations, over the centuries, it has been important that the throne be above the courtiers and, certainly, all others who come to the throne of government. But here, we encounter the seraphim, and we are plainly told “above the throne stood the seraphim.” So, the seraphim clearly stood above God. [00:10:04]

R. K. Harrison has said of the seraphim that they were an order of angelic beings responsible for guardianship and worship; also, that they exercised an atoning ministry, as in verses 5 through 7, when he is purged of his sins, and his iniquity is taken away by the action of one of the seraphims. The seraphim, thus, are clearly ministers of state for the government of the whole universe. The cherubim, whom we studied last week, are under God, and He is depicted as riding upon the cherubim. In Psalm 18:10, God is portrayed as enthroned upon the cherubim; and also in I Samuel 4:4, and many and other verses, He is seated on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies between the cherubim. But the seraphim are above God. They, thus have a higher function than the cherubim. Even the ungodly king of Tyre could be compared to the cherubim, because he exercised authority in government; and all who do so are compared to the cherubim by scripture. But no human being is compared to the seraphim, neither in their function, nor in their stations. [00:12:13]

The seraphim in Isaiah ...[edit]

The seraphim in Isaiah 6 are portrayed giving an antiphonal praise and worship of God. One cried unto another and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” E. J. Young, among others, has translated the second part of their antiphonal cry: the fullness of the earth is His glory. Young calls attention to the fact that there is in theology a distinction made between God’s essential glory, and His glory as revealed in creation. And then Young noted, “What is God’s glory? It is the revelation of His attributes. By regarding the universe which He has created, we behold His glory, His perfection, and His attributes. The revelation of God in the created universe is declarative glory. It’s sufficient to convince men of God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice, as well as of his almighty power, so that man is without excuse.” [00:13:51]

With respect to the saying...[edit]

With respect to the saying/phrase, “the fullness of the earth, of the whole earth,” Calvin commented, and I quote, “Literally it is the fullness of the whole earth, which might be understood to refer to the fruits, and animals, and manifold riches with which God has enriched the earth, and might convey this meaning, that in the ornaments and great variety of furniture of the world the glory of God shines, because they are so many proofs of a father’s love. But the more simple and natural interpretation is, that the glory of God fills the whole earth, or is spread through every region of the earth. There is also, I think, an implied contrast, by which he put down the foolish boasting of the Jews, who thought that the glory of God was nowhere to be seen but among themselves, and wished to have it shut up within their own temple. But Isaiah shows that it is so far from being confined to so narrow limits, that it fills the whole earth. And to this agrees the prophecy which immediately follows in verse 10, about the blinding of the peoples, which opened up for the Gentiles admission unto the Church of God; for they occupied that place which the Jews had forsaken and left empty.” One can say that Calvin’s statement could be applied today to the nations and to churches, which seem to feel that the glory of God and the fullness of His revelation is limited to their church, or to their people, or their race. And so we have the same sin repeated. [00:16:08]

This praise of God by the seraphim calls attention...[edit]

This praise of God by the seraphim calls attention to the transcendent and total power and authority of God, the Creator King. The purification and atonement exercised by the seraphim is not an independent function: they are attendants of the throne; they govern who approaches the throne, and God’s terms require atonement before man approaches God. The commission to Isaiah in verses 9 through 13 is judgment: captivity; and then the restoration of a remnant is to be proclaimed. The preparation is purging and atonement, for Isaiah and for the people.

Now the role of the cherubim, which we studied last week, is oriented to history and to man. The cherubim guarded the gates of paradise after man’s Fall. Under their power and authority, man is to move to paradise regained to a new world under God. Every man who exercises authority, whether it be in his home, or on the job, or wherever everyone of us are—men and women, alike—where we exercise authority, we are functioning as the cherubim of God. Thus, the authority of the cherubim is history and time oriented. It summons us to develop the meaning of God’s covenant with man. The cherubim are providential powers, and men who exercise God-ordained authority are compared to the cherubim; so that we are called to work wherever we have authority as the cherubim of God. [00:18:25]

But the seraphim are shown standing above the throne...[edit]

But the seraphim are shown standing above the throne; and the focus, thus, is God-centered, theocratic, and eternal. The king of Tyre and men without faith are compared to cherubim, because of their office and their opportunities; but no man is compared to the seraphim. And even Isaiah, God’s prophet, must be purged when he stands before the throne: this, the seraphim do. All men (let me repeat) who have authority, great or small, must work as God’s cherubim to exercise authority, dominion, and judgment, to be a blessing in God’s kingdom and creation. The seraphim symbolize and represent God’s authority in its essence, which is total in its holiness, and visible in the fullness of the whole earth. God’s throne presents His absolute rule over all creation; and the fact that the seraphim stand above the throne tell us that the focus of all authorities is above all creation and above every other creature, including the cherubim. Isaiah, seeing the throne and seeing God upon it, seeing the seraphim and hearing them, cries out, “I am undone,” which means “I am reduced to silence,” or, it can also mean “I am reduced to death, for I have seen God; I, who am a sinner.” And the fact of man’s sin, his membership in a fallen humanity, means a death sentence in the presence of God. But Isaiah is cleansed. He is purged. He finds atonement, and then his calling. [00:21:04]

The regenerative power of God comes out of the nature...[edit]

The regenerative power of God comes out of the nature and the being and the authority of God. The generating power of God, which alone gives men the power to exercise valid and faithful authority, comes from the highest point in the being of God, in the government of God, from above the throne, from the level, as it were, of the head of God. From out of the throne we are told the judgment proceeds, in Revelation 4:5; but from above the throne, from absolute and eternal headship, from the highest rank of authority, from the highest point of power, atonement and regeneration proceed. Atonement, thus, and regeneration manifest God’s grace, authority, and power; and it tells us how when we are in God’s covenant what is the high point of the manifestation of God toward us: it is his grace and his atoning power, his regenerating mercy unto man. So that this, for us who are in the covenant of God, is the essence of God’s relationship to us. Therefore, we can say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”

Let us pray. O Lord our God, we thank Thee for Thy word. We thank Thee that the seraphim set forth for us Thy relationship to us, as atonement and regeneration, as mercy. Give us grace ever to walk in Thy covenant, so that we may know Thy regenerating power; that we might manifest it to the ends of the earth; that we as Thy people might be a people of the atonement, of blessing, and of mercy. Bless us to this purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are there any questions now in our lesson? Yes? [00:24:36]

[Questioner] I have two questions...[edit]

[Questioner] I have two questions. One, related to verse 13 in chapter 6: what is meant by “and shall return and shall be eaten?”

[Rushdoony] Yes. Shall return—when it is returned and hath been bruised—is a better translation there. That is, it’s going to go into captivity; it’s going to be devoured, as it were. It’s going to be punished; but it is going to survive. So it can mean “eaten,” but it means they’re going to be consumed by suffering; but they’re going to be delivered, a tenth of them.

[Questioner] And my other question’s related to the angels: where do the angels fall within the scheme of order of created beings, other than man {unclear} seraphim and cherubim?

[Rushdoony] Angels are definitely not on the level of the seraphim or the cherubim. They are declared to be ministering spirits unto man, so that they are below men. Now, one psalm speaks of them as “man is a little lower than the angels”: that’s a mistranslation. So, angels are ministering spirits to men. [00:26:23]


[Questioner] When you say “more,” is that not necessarily in terms of their created abilities, but in terms of their authority?

[Rushdoony] In terms of status, yes.


[Questioner] Well, Calvin says that God hated Jesus Christ, at the same time loved Him. Did he mean that he hated the sins which Jesus Christ took on?

[Rushdoony] Yes, because we are told that in the atonement, the literal words of scripture are: “He was made sin for us.” In other words, He, in his own person, took upon Himself the sin of all the elect from the beginning to the end of time, and became, as it were, sin in His person, while still being God the Son. So, in Himself, as the epitome of all the sins, summing it up, He faced the last judgment and the death penalty of God.

Any other questions or comments?

Well, if not, let us bow our heads in prayer. Thy word, O Lord, is truth, and Thy word is strength and peace to our hearts, mind, and being. Empower us by Thy Spirit that we may go forth to serve Thee faithfully. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:28:41]