Isaiah is the only Biblical writer who mentions the Seraphim by that name, but the four Living Creatures (or ‘beasts’ in the King James) described by the Apostle John in the throne room scenes of Revelation are nearly identical to the Seraphim in every respect.
And before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” – Revelation 4:6-8 (ESV)
Visions of the Throne Room
Consider the following similarities between the Seraphim of Isaiah 6 and the four Living Creatures of Revelation 4:
- Both minister around God’s throne
- Both have 6 wings
- Both are involved in heavenly worship
- Both cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy”
But what about the differences between the creatures in these two passages? Are they significant enough to rule out identifying one being with the other? The differences are as follows:
- In Revelation there are four Living Creatures.
- While more than one Seraphim are present in Isaiah, an exact number is not given.
- The four Living Creatures have unique faces: lion, bull, man and eagle.
- The faces of the Seraphim in Isaiah are covered by their wings.
- The Living Creatures are full of eyes, in front and back, around and within.
- Isaiah doesn’t mention the Seraphim being “full of eyes.”
Contradictions, or Additional Information?
It’s important to note that none of these supposed differences are actually contradictory. The fact that in his vision Isaiah doesn’t specify there were four Seraphim doesn’t mean John is contradicting him in Revelation. John is merely providing additional information by giving an exact number.
Likewise, the fact that the four unique faces of the Living Creatures are not mentioned in Isaiah’s account of the Seraphim doesn’t preclude the Seraphim from also having these four unique faces, especially when one recalls Isaiah’s testimony that the faces of the Seraphim he saw were covered by two of their wings and so were therefore not visible to him.
The same principle holds true in the case of whether the Seraphim were “full of eyes.” Just because Isaiah doesn’t mention it doesn’t prove they weren’t. We know the Seraphim are closely related to the Cherubim, which Ezekiel also describes as being full of eyes (Ezekiel 1:18, 10:12).
Tomorrow we’ll look more closely at the comparisons and the contrasts between the Cherubim and the Seraphim.