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High Above the Seraphim

High Above the Seraphim

To truly offer pleasing worship to our Lord, our lips, minds, and hearts must align in perfect harmony, and it is in this beautiful unity of spirit and truth that we find the essence of genuine worship. And what better way to achieve this than through the power of a great hymn deeply rooted in the scriptures? Such a hymn can take us on a profound journey, drawing out emotions not only from the words contained in its verses, but also from the words committed to memory through the diligent study of God’s word.

Inspired by the visions experienced by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6 and the apostle John in Revelation chapter 4, “High Above the Seraphim” transports us into heaven itself. As we lift our voices in unison, we can sense the same overwhelming fear, awe, and wonder that Isaiah and John must have felt.  Let us carefully examine each verse, allowing its message to penetrate our hearts and minds more deeply.

Verse 1: High above the seraphim Sounds an everlasting hymn; Voices echo thro’ the hall And shake the temple wall. Living creatures bless the King, Four and twenty elders sing, “Worthy, He who overcame;” “The Word of God” His name.

As we sing this hymn, we too find ourselves transported before the very throne of God.  Creatures unknown to man live here, offering endless praise to God, saying “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isa 6:3) and “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8).  These declarations carry such weight and power, that they shake the very foundations of heaven.

These mysterious celestial creatures are called seraphim, which is translated “fiery ones.”  While they possess features resembling humans, with faces, feet, and hands, they are adorned with six wings.   It’s unclear why these Seraphim are called fiery ones – perhaps it’s because of their fiery zeal for God, or perhaps because their appearance has a fiery aspect to it.  Whatever the case, these seraphim are magnificent beings, but their splendor pales in comparison to the omnipotent God who reigns upon the heavenly throne.

Isaiah, recognizing his unworthiness to behold such a scene, said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa 6:5).  We, too, are reminded of our own unworthiness before the majestic throne of God, as our sinfulness and insufficiency stand exposed in the face of His glory.

Witnessing Isaiah's contrition, one of the seraphim swiftly approached him with a burning coal, touching his lips and declaring, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”  It is this theme of atonement that we’ll explore further in the second verse.

Verse 2: Praise the Seed of Abraham! All dominion to the Lamb! Sing of Him, in glory slain, “Lord God Almighty reigns!” Shout the God-breathed prophecy; “He who was will ever be!” “Kings of earth have passed away!” The Son is Lord this day!

In the presence of our holy God, no sin can remain. Like Isaiah, we can also experience the redemptive power of atonement; but in our case, it is not the seraphim but the Lamb who was slain that brings about our reconciliation.

John's vision unveils a glorious scene, where the living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and the multitude of angels join their voices in praising Jesus, proclaiming, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:10).

The song also references God-breathed prophecies, which proclaim the eternal rule of Jesus (Heb 1:8) and God’s eternal nature.  John’s revelation calls the Lord “the Alpha and the Omega who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev 1:8).  While the kings of Earth pass away, as do all “former things” (Rev 21:1-4), the reign of Christ extends beyond the confines of the initial heaven and earth, reaching into the vastness of eternity.

And now, as the song gracefully transitions, our attention turns to the anticipation of our eternal rest in the new heaven and new earth.

Verse 3: Night to night I come to Him, Kneel before His diadem; While a thousand thousand sing, I fall before the King. Soon will He be changing me, Clothed in immortality, Swallowed up in victory, And evermore to be.

In this final verse, we find ourselves among the triumphant host of redeemed saints. As we stand before the Lord, we join our voices with the seraphim, angels, and elders in adoration and bow in worship before the King. The closing lines echo 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, as we eagerly anticipate the transformation of our mortal bodies into immortal ones. Clothed in immortality, we will experience the ultimate victory over death, affirming the triumphant proclamation: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

“High Above the Seraphim” is a hymn that lifts our spirits to the heavenly realm, drawing inspiration from the visions experienced by Isaiah and John. It humbles us, reminding us of our unworthiness in the presence of the Almighty, while offering solace through the forgiveness granted to us. Finally, the hymn exalts the redemptive power of Jesus, the Lamb of God, proclaiming His eternal dominion, and it stirs anticipation within our hearts for the glorious triumph over death and the eternal rest that awaits us in heaven.

-  Dan Harbin