“Above him stood the seraphim. …And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’” (vv. 2–3).
– Isaiah 6:1–3
As we have seen, Matthew 12 includes several instances of our Lord’s encounter with demons and His teaching about these wicked spirits (vv. 22, 43–45). The forces of evil, however, are not the only supernatural agents at work during the ministry of Jesus. Matthew also writes of the role of angels in the life of Christ (for example, 1:18–21; 4:11). In order to examine the nature and activities of these figures, we will now take a short break from Matthew and follow Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Angels and Demons as our guide.
It would be hard to discount the role of angels in the history of redemption. As an indication of their importance, note that the Greek word for angel, angelos, occurs more frequently in the New Testament than hamartia, the term for sin, and agape, one of the words we translate as “love.” Although angels are frequently mentioned, we must also admit that there is not as much information about them as there is on other topics like salvation and ethics. Angels are mentioned frequently, but the focus is often more on the messages they bring than the nature of the angels themselves. Nevertheless, we can learn much from the descriptions of angelic activity found in Scripture.
Today’s passage illustrates that at least some of the angels are tasked with the continual worship of God in heaven. The seraphim described have six wings: two for flying, two for covering the face, and two for covering the feet (Isa. 6:1–2). In the Bible, men and women are often blinded when in the presence of the Almighty (Acts 9:1–9), presumably because of the glorious light of His splendor. Thus it would seem that the angels in Isaiah 6 cover their eyes to protect themselves from this light. This underscores just how different the Lord is from His angels. These angels have not sinned and are holy, yet they must shield themselves from God’s transcendent and majestic holiness.
These angels worship the Creator, emphasizing His moral perfection and otherness with the threefold repetition: “Holy, holy, holy.” (v. 3). In our corporate worship we are privileged to enter heaven and join with these magnificent creatures in praise of God’s glory and grace (Heb. 12:18–24).
Hebrews 12:18–24 tells us that worship is more than just the gathering of saints in an earthly sanctuary. When we praise God alongside His people we actually enter heaven itself, bearing witness with the angels to our Lord’s holiness and beauty. We should, therefore, never consider worship as something dull and dreary, for we enter into the gates of heaven and join the angels in God’s throne room singing praises of His majesty.