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God’s staff team: the divine council

There’s a colorful cast of characters in heaven’s administration. God is not a dictator who barks out orders. He is a loving, relational, covenant God who shares his rule with a celestial staff to assist his people on earth. God has a great team! There are cherubim, seraphim, and angels! Let’s focus on the seraphim.

God is totally in charge, but in the Bible, he is seen surrounded by a nameless host of celestial beings who are portrayed as sitting on “thrones” in an assembly (e.g., Col 1:16; Rev 4:4-5, 10). “Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?” (Ps 89:5-8).

No one is like God—and the council is in awe of him. When God laid the foundation of the earth, the heavenly council shouted for joy: “Let’s roll! Let’s get this party started!” (Job 38:7)!

Although God doesn’t need a council, he chooses to rule the world in partnership with loyal teammates. Members of the Court of heaven are described as “seraphim”—which means “shiny (fiery) flying serpents” (Is 6:2). Amazingly, Isaiah’s call took place amid the assembly around God’s throne. “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts,” cried the seraphim, until the Lord asks them a question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Is 6:3-8). For us? For God and his council! More astonishing is that Isaiah answers: “Here am I! Send me,” says the mere mortal. God is a God of teamwork! Yes, God shares his rule with his heavenly and human partners to mediate his presence on earth.

Another vivid depiction of the Court in action is found in 1 Kings 22:19-23. This time, it’s a prophet named Micaiah that gets a sneak peek of the heavenly assembly in session. “I saw the LORD sitting on his throne,” Micaiah says, “and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another.” Again, God asks a question of the council, to which different council members offer suggestions for what do to the fiendish king Ahab. “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’” Notice that the LORD asks the angel, “‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’” God listens to his staff team. So, God said, “You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.” There are questions, discussions, and suggestions in God’s Situation Room. The notion of the divine council underlines the fact that “we do not have simplicity without complexity in the divine world and the governance of the cosmos” (Patrick D. Miller).

What can we learn from the seraphim?

1) God wants to hear what you think. So, ask questions and offer your suggestions!

2) Be “on call,” ready to contribute to God’s mission.

3) Be a team player. Teamwork requires courageous humility.

There is something beautiful about how God works. Everyone participates, everyone contributes to God’s kingdom.