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Isaiah 6

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Isaiah's Commission (ch. 6:1 - 10)        


Many people wonder why the commission of Isaiah is found in chapter 6 and not in chapter 1.  We really don't know why this is so.  It was simply Isaiah's choice. Or, should I say the Holy Spirit's choice.  So, we should understand that in order of a time sequence, chapter 6 is probably before chapter 1. 


Verse 1 states, "in the year when King Uzziah died".   King Uzziah died in 740/739 B.C..  He was struck with Leprosy.  See 2 Chronicles 26:19 to 21 and 2 Kings 15.  His name means "Yahweh is strength".  He was also known as Azariah.  When the letters "iah" end a name, you know that ending means "Yahweh".   Uzziah was King of Judah from 783 to 742 B. C..  


Kings often changed their names when they became kings in those days.  Thus Uzziah might not have been named Uzziah prior to being king.  The addition of the letters "iah" often meant royalty.  Some say that Isaiah himself had some connection with royalty for this very reason. 


In the very year that Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord.  The Lord here is Yahweh.  The question always arises.  Did Isaiah really see the Lord.  John 1:18 states that no one has ever seen God, except for His one and only Son.  We know that God is spirit, and I don't believe humans can see spirits in their own ability. 


The apostle Paul makes a comment of this that some often miss.  He said that God lives in "unapproachable light that no one has seen". (1 Timothy 6:16)  Now Paul should know about such things, being one who was caught up into the third heaven to see things that one cannot speak about. (2 Corinthians 12:1-6)  This tells me that even though Paul was caught up to paradise, he did not see God Himself.  God is unapproachable and no one can see Him.      


You might recall in Exodus 33:11 that Moses met with God, and as the text states, he met "face to face with God'.  Yet, in verse 9 of the same chapter we see that God appeared to Moses as a cloud.  I do not believe that Moses actually saw God at any time.  He saw the glory of God as seen in the cloud.  I'm not sure that we will ever see God.  Like Moses, we may see His glory, but maybe not He Himself.  That being said, time will tell.


So, when it comes to Isaiah seeing the Lord, seeing Yahweh, I don't believe that Isaiah saw God.  Some think he actually saw pre-incarnate Jesus, which might well be the case.  Others suggest, like Moses, he saw the glory of God.  Still others believe he saw a anthropomorphic expression of God.  That is to say, God appears human like in order to communicate to man.  If God is a spirit, does He really sit on a throne?  Does He wear clothes?  Does He have a robe?  The word "train here means "hem".  The hem of a garment was very important in Hebrew culture.  Depending what was down on it, told much about the man wearing the robe. 


Note in verse 2 that Isaiah saw "seraphs".  This is the only place in the Bible where seraphs are mentioned.  There are cherubim mentioned else where, but they are described a bit differently than seraphs.  Some believe that seraphs and cherubim are the same, while others believe they are two distinct angelic creatures.  Some also believe that the four beasts of Revelation 4 are angelic type beings.  It is quite possible that there are a number of different types of angels.  Some look more like men, like Gabriel and Michael, that is, assuming they don't appear to men in an anthropomorphic sense.


In verse 3 we note that these seraphs were calling to one another; "holy, holy, holy".  Some see an illusion to the Trinity here since "holy" is said three times, but that is pretty speculative.  Old Testament Hebrew did not really have adjectives and adverbs to help describe a noun or a verb.  So, "holy, holy, holy", in Hebrew really means, "the most holy". 


The seraphs cry out,  "holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty".  The KJV  rightly uses the word "hosts" instead of "Almighty".  The Hebrew word "tsabe" that the NIV translates as "Almighty" means "army".  The Lord here is the Lord of a vast heavenly army.  He is the Supreme military general of the universe. 


The seraph's then say, "the whole earth is filled with His glory".  These words clearly speak of the time seen in the book of Revelation, assuming you are a Prophetic Futurist.  The earth has not yet been filled with the glory of the Lord, but it will be when the New Jerusalem descends from heaven onto the New Earth, as we see at the end of Revelation.


Some might think the earth will be filled with the glory of God when Jesus rules from Jerusalem for one thousand years, and that might be true to a degree, but not to the degree we see here, or so I think.  I believe there is a progression here between the ages.  We have the Old Testament age, where Israel was meant to represent God to the nations, but failed.  Then we have the New Testament age, where the church, with the aid of the Holy Spirit is to represent God to the nations, but, for the most part will fail as well.  Then, we have the next age as seen in the thousand year rule of Christ,  and, He will not fail.  But, if you study 1 Corinthians 15, you will see that there will come a time where Jesus hands all things back over to God the Father.  I believe that will take place when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven onto the New Earth.  God will be all in all, and His glory will fill all the earth.  We need to realize that during the thousand year rule of Christ, there will not be perfection.  People will still have the choice to disobey Jesus, as seen in the last chapter of the book of Zechariah. 


In verse 4 you see the word "smoke".  Like the "cloud" we noted earlier, "smoke" is the glory of the Lord that was seen here in the temple.  Both clouds and smoke in the Bible are symbolic of God's glory, and just maybe, the clouds and smoke are His glory, not simply symbolic.


Verse 5 shows us Isaiah's response to the presence of God.  He cried.  He didn't simply say. He cried, "woe to me".  In the presence of God, no human, no flesh, is seen as anything but unholy and depraved.  Isaiah says that he is a man of unclean lips and lives among people of unclean lips. 


Modern Christianity has been influenced too much by worldly philosophies, such as positive thinking and self esteem.  In the presence of God, we have no self esteem.  It's useless.  I believe that before we try to improve on a low self esteem we think we might have, we first strip ourselves of the false self esteem we have.  We are nothing in the presence of the Lord.  It is from this place of depravity we build self esteem that is really God's esteem He places within us. 


One of the major themes in the apostle Paul's second letter to the Corinthians is that in himself, he is nothing.  He is only an earthen vessel, but this is how God wants it to be.  When we realize we are nothing, then, and only then can God's glory shine through us.  Self, and false self esteem only gets in the way.  It block's God's glory from being seen in our lives. 


Notice that Isaiah says he is a man of "unclean lips"  The Bible speaks much about our lips.  Jesus scorned the Pharisees by saying they honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. (Mark 7:6)  Jesus also said that it's not what goes into a man the defiles him but that which comes out of him, that is, comes out of his mouth. (Mark 7:15)  Then James echoes what Jesus said when he said that if you think you are religious, then keep control of your tongue. (James 1:26)


We see in verses 5 and 6 that one of the seraphs touches Isaiah's mouth with hot coals.  Now this suggests that this whole event is a vision.  I doubt if Isaiah's literal lips were burned by the hot coals.  It would defeat the purpose of the calling God placed on his life to prophesy on His behalf. 


The point here is that by touching Isaiah's lips with the hot coals in this vision, his sins were atoned for.  You might ask, "what does that mean"?  I believe there is a lot of symbolism going on here, but the text clearly states that Isaiah's sins were atone for, or, forgiven.  They were forgiven so he could preach the word of the Lord. 


Somehow this event reminds me of Acts chapter two where the tongues of fire came down and sat on the believers as they received the Holy Spirit into their lives.  Fire is symbolic of the cleansing of sin. It's also connected with the tongue.  Our tongues need to be redeemed, sanctified, for the purpose of God.  That is part of what took place in Acts 2. 


It's clear to me, that prior to the cross of Christ, Isaiah's sins were forgiven.  I believe that all the implications of that need more thought.


In verse 8 God asked Isaiah, "whom shall I send?  And who will go for us"?   It is interesting that the apostle Paul uses similar language in Romans 10:14 when he is encouraging his readers to preach the gospel.  Paul asks a similar question. "How can they believe on the One whom they have not heard?  How can they hear without someone preaching to them". 


God doesn't have to ask Isaiah a question here.  He knows how Isaiah will respond.  God often asks us questions.  These questions aren't for His benefit to know our response.  It is for our benefit.  It is important for us to verbalize our response.  Paul, in Romans 10 as well states the importance of verbally proclaiming your faith.  "With your mouth confession is made unto salvation". (Romans 10:9 and 10)  Confession is a basic part of one's life as a Christian.  Whether the confession of sins or the confession of faith.


Isaiah confessed exactly what God wanted to hear.  He said, "here am I, send me".  What else could Isaiah possibly say, after being in the presence of the Lord as he was.  This too reminds me of the apostle Paul who spent time in the presence of the Lord.  Paul felt that he had no other choice than to respond positively to the call of God on his life, as seen in 1 Corinthians 9:16.


In verse 9 God responds to Isaiah by saying, "go".   The first thing God told Isaiah to say was not a happy uplifting message.  He was to tell Judah that her inhabitants were ever learning but never understanding.  That reminds me so much of today's world. 


Judah was ever seeing but never perceiving.  Like today, we see, we discover, so much, but we perceive so little the important things in life.  We're caught up with the superfluous. 


Note in verse 10 that it is God who will cause Judah not to hear, learn, see, or understand.  It is God who puts an even higher barrier between Him and Judah.  We need to realize that He does this because it was Judah who first built the barrier.  God does not cause anyone to not understand.  He only does such a thing to those who refuse to understand.  In New Testament terms, the apostle Paul teaches that in the last days, God will send people a strong delusion so they will believe the lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:11)  The reason why God sends this strong delusion in the first place is because they refused to come to the truth.


In verse 11 Isaiah asks God for how long he should prophesy this.  God said in verse 12 until Judah is destroyed.  Note in verse 12 where it says, "until they are all sent away".  This is in reference to Judah being captured and sent away to Babylon that was yet another 100 or so years into the future.


Verse 13 closes this chapter.  God speaks of a tenth being left in the land.  This is God's remnant, those who will follow the Lord at all costs.  God always has people who will serve Him, even in the midst of much sin and darkness.  God takes a tithe out of the people for Himself.  It's important to know that the remnant of God will live in a desolate land.  Even though they serve Him, they live in desolation.  That was true in Isaiah's day, and it can be, and will be, true in our day as we come to the end of this age. 



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