Isaiah the Faithful Servant
Sermón: Isaiah the Faithful Servant (Isa.6:8)
Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" 9 He said, "Go and tell this people: "`Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull
and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." 11 Then I said, "For how long, O Lord?" And he answered: "Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged, 12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. 13 And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land."
NBLH En el año de la muerte del rey Uzías vi yo al Señor sentado sobre un trono alto y sublime, y la orla de Su manto llenaba el templo. 2 Por encima de El había serafines. Cada uno tenía seis alas: con dos cubrían sus rostros, con dos cubrían sus pies y con dos volaban. 3 Y el uno al otro daba voces, diciendo: "Santo, Santo, Santo, es el SEÑOR de los ejércitos, Llena está toda la tierra de Su gloria." 4 Y se estremecieron los cimientos de los umbrales a la voz del que clamaba, y la casa se llenó de humo. 5 Entonces dije: "¡Ay de mí! Porque perdido estoy, Pues soy hombre de labios inmundos Y en medio de un pueblo de labios inmundos habito, Porque mis ojos han visto al Rey, el SEÑOR de los ejércitos." 6 Entonces voló hacia mí uno de los serafines con un carbón
encendido en su mano, que había tomado del altar con las tenazas. 7 Con él tocó mi boca, y me dijo: "Esto ha tocado tus labios, y es quitada tu iniquidad y perdonado tu pecado." 8 Y oí la voz del Señor que decía: "¿A quién enviaré, y quién irá por nosotros?" "Aquí estoy; envíame a mí," le respondí. 9 Y El dijo: "Ve, y dile a este pueblo: 'Escuchen bien, pero no entiendan; Miren bien, pero no comprendan.' 10 Haz insensible el corazón de este pueblo, Endurece sus oídos, Y nubla sus ojos, No sea que vea con sus ojos, Y oiga con sus oídos, Y entienda con su corazón, Y se arrepienta y sea curado." 11 Entonces dije: "¿Hasta cuándo, Señor?" Y El respondió: "Hasta que las ciudades estén destruidas y sin habitantes, Las casas sin gente, Y la tierra completamente
desolada; 12 Hasta que el SEÑOR haya alejado a los hombres, Y sean muchos los lugares abandonados en medio de la tierra. 13 Pero aún quedará una décima parte en ella, Y ésta volverá a ser consumida Como el roble o la encina, Cuyo tronco permanece cuando es cortado: La simiente santa será su tronco."
Isai 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (NBLH) Y oí la voz del Señor que decía: "¿A quién enviaré, y quién irá por nosotros?" "Aquí estoy; envíame a mí," le respondí.
Opposite: Jonah’s response
Isaiah = Yawhew is Salvation……salvation (deliverance) is key theme of his book.
Father: Amoz; Wife was a prophetess, 2 sons: “Shear-jashub” (“a remnant shall return,” 7:3) and “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (“hasting to the spoil, hurrying to the prey,” 8:3).
Contemporary of Hosea and Micah
His ministry spanned @ 58 yrs (739 when Uzziah died to 681 when Sennacherib died
Wrote specifically for the Southern Kingdom (Judah), which would fall to the Babylonian Empire a little more than 100 years later in 586 b.c.
It was a difficult time of international upheaval, when first one power and then another threatened Judah. But the greatest dangers were not outside the nation; they were within.
Quoted 65xs in NT, more than any other prophet; mentioned by name over 20 xs
Isaiah was a favorite book of Paul, quotes or alludes to it @ 80xs
Known as the “evangelical Prophet,”
Used the name “Lord” (Yahweh) by itself 300+ xs;
Used Lord Almighty, Yahweh ṣeḇā’ôṯ; Lord of hosts“), most common compound 52 xs
His favorite name for God is “the Holy One of Israel,” used 25xs.
Chap.1-39 Message of Judgment
Chap.40-66 Message of Comfort
Isaiah was a man who loved his nation. phrase “my people” used 26xs.
Hebrew word translated “comfort” also means “to repent.” God brings comfort, not to rebellious people but to repentant people.
Book of Consolation” chapters 40–66 divided into three sections; each focuses on a different Person of the Godhead and a different attribute of God.
chapters 40–48 exalt the greatness of God the Father;
chap 49–57, grace of God the Son, God’s Suffering Servant. Servant key word, used 17xs
chap 58–66, the glory of future kingdom when the Spirit is poured out on God’s people
MISSIONARY & RESURRECTION SUNDAY GOAL
pray for a lifetime for your family’s salvation
Mark 5:19 Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."
John 4:53 Then the [Canaan royal official] father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and all his household believed.
Acts 11:14 He [Paul] will bring you [Cornelius] a message through which you and all your household will be saved.'
Acts 16:15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.
Acts 16:31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."
Acts 18:8 Crispus [Crispo], the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
1Cor 1:16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas [Estéfanas]; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 16:15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers,
2Tim 1:16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
2Tim 4:19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.
Rom 16:10 Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. [Aristóbulo]
JM - 6:1–5 In preparation for calling Isaiah to be the prophet who would proclaim the coming judgment, God gave him a vision of His majestic holiness so overwhelming that it devastated him and made him realize his own sinfulness.6:1 King Uzziah died. After 52 years of reigning, leprosy caused the death of Uzziah in 739 b.c. (2 Chr. 26:16–23). Isaiah began his prophetic ministry that year. He received the prophecies of the first 5 chapters after his call, but at 6:1 he returns to authenticate what he has already written by describing how he was called. I saw. The prophet became unconscious of the outside world and with his inner eye saw what God revealed to him. This experience recalls the experience of John’s prophetic vision in Rev. 4:1–11. high and lifted up. The throne was greatly elevated, emphasizing the Most High God. train. This refers to the hem or fringe of the Lord’s glorious robe that filled the temple. temple. Though Isaiah may have been at the earthly temple, this describes a vision which transcends the earthly. The throne of God is in the heavenly temple (Rev. 4:1–6; 5:1–7; 11:19; 15:5–8). 6:2 seraphim. The seraphim are an order of angelic creatures who bear a similarity to the 4 living creatures of Rev. 4:6, which in turn resemble the cherubim of Ezek. 10:1ff. six wings. Two wings covered the faces of the seraphim because they dared not gaze directly at God’s glory. Two covered their feet, acknowledging their lowliness even though engaged in divine service. With two they flew in serving the One on the throne. Thus, 4 wings related to worship, emphasizing the priority of praise. 6:3 one cried to another. The seraphs were speaking to each other in antiphonal praise. Holy, holy, holy. The primary thrust of the 3-fold repetition of God’s holiness (called the trihagion) is to emphasize Gods separateness from and independence of His fallen creation, though it implies secondarily that God is 3 Persons. See Rev. 4:8, where the 4 living creatures utter the trihagion. full of His glory. The earth is the worldwide display of His immeasurable glory, perfections, and attributes as seen in creation (Rom. 1:20). Fallen man has nevertheless refused to glorify Him as God (Rom. 1:23). 6:4 shaken … smoke. The shaking and smoke symbolize God’s holiness as it relates to His wrath and judgment (Ex. 19:16–20; Rev. 15:8). 6:5 unclean lips. If the lips are unclean, so is the heart. This vision of God’s holiness vividly reminded the prophet of his own unworthiness which deserved judgment. Job (Job 42:6) and Peter (Luke 5:8) came to the same realization about themselves when confronted with the presence of the Lord (Ezek. 1:28–2:7; Rev. 1:17). 6:6–13 Isaiah’s vision has made him painfully aware of his sin and has broken him (66:2,5); in this way God has prepared him for his cleansing and his commission. 6:6 coal … altar. The hot coal taken from the altar of incense in heaven (Rev. 8:3–5) is emblematic of God’s purifying work. REPENTANCE IS PAINFUL. 6:7 taken away … purged. Spiritual cleansing for special service to the Lord, not salvation, is in view. 6:8 Us. This plural pronoun does not prove the doctrine of the Trinity, but does strongly imply it (Gen. 1:26). Here am I! Send me. This response evidenced the humble readiness of complete trust. Though profoundly aware of his sin, he was available. 6:9,10 do not understand … do not perceive. Isaiah’s message was to be God’s instrument for hiding the truth from an unreceptive people. Centuries later, Jesus’ parables were to do the same (Matt. 13:14,15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; 29:9,10; 42:18; 43:8; Deut. 29:4; John 12:40; Acts 28:26,27; Rom. 11:8). 6:11,12 how long? Because of such rejection from his people, the prophet asked how long he should preach this message of divine judgment. God replied that it must continue until the cities are desolate (v. 11) and the people have gone into exile (v. 12). 6:13 a tenth … will return. Though most will reject God, the tenth, also called “stumps” and “holy seed,” represents the faithful remnant in Israel who will be the nucleus who hear and believe.
BKC - isaiah’s commission (chap. 6) Though this is one of the better-known chapters in the Book of Isaiah, at least three problems in it have caused debate among Bible students. The first problem concerns the chronological relationship of chapter 6, which records God’s call of Isaiah, to the preceding five chapters on judgment and deliverance. Did Isaiah minister for a period of time before being commissioned, or is this chapter out of order chronologically but in order logically? Some have argued that since the vision occurred ”in the year that King Uzziah died“ (v. 1) Isaiah must have had some previous ministry (chaps. 1-5) since he is said to have ministered during the reign of Uzziah (1:1). It can be countered, however, that Isaiah saw this vision anytime up to 12 months before the king’s death. In that sense then his vision was ”in“ Uzziah’s reign. It is possible, as some suggest, that Isaiah, seeing the sinful condition of the nation (chaps. 1-5), set himself apart from that nation until he saw the vision of God and then realized that he too was part of the sin problem. He also was ”a man of unclean lips“ (6:5). On the other hand it is possible that the vision and commissioning of chapter 6 came before he delivered the messages in chapters 1-5 and that he recorded this experience here as a fitting logical climax to the stinging indictment in those chapters. Chapter 6 emphasizes the extreme depravity of the nation, contrasting it with God’s holiness. Here Isaiah also emphasized that the people lacked spiritual insight and would not turn from their sinful condition. A second problem pertains to whom Isaiah saw. Isaiah ”saw the Lord“ (v. 1), whom he called ”the Lord Almighty“ (v. 3) and ”the King, the Lord Almighty“ (v. 5). Because the Apostle John wrote that Isaiah ”saw Jesus’ glory“ (John 12:41), Isaiah may have seen the preincarnate Christ, who because of His deity is the Lord. The prophet did not see the very essence of God for no man can see Him (Ex. 33:18; John 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 John 4:12) since He is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17). But there was no problem in Isaiah’s seeing God in a vision or a theophany, much as did Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:3-28), Daniel (Dan. 7:2, 9-10), and others. A third problem is related to the fact that Isaiah’s vision was in the temple (Isa. 6:1). Was Isaiah there because he was a priest? Jeremiah was the son of a priest (Jer. 1:1) and Ezekiel was a priest (Ezek. 1:3), but the Book of Isaiah says nothing about Isaiah being of priestly lineage. If he were not carrying out priestly duties he may have been a worshiper there when he saw the heavenly vision. Or perhaps he, like Ezekiel (Ezek. 8:1-4), was not physically in the temple but was transported there in a vision. Isaiah’s vision of the Lord (6:1-4) 6:1. Since Isaiah ministered during King Uzziah’s reign (1:1) Isaiah’s vision of God in the year . . . Uzziah died would have occurred within the 12 calendar months before or after the king’s death in 739 b.c. If the vision occurred before Isaiah began his ministry then obviously the vision was before the king’s death. However, if the vision came sometime after the prophet’s ministry started-see comments earlier under ”B. Isaiah’s commission (chap. 6)“-then Isaiah could have seen the vision within the calendar year (739 b.c.) either shortly before or shortly after the king died. This time notation points to a contrast between the human king and the divine King (v. 5), God Himself and to some contrasts between Uzziah and Isaiah. In Uzziah’s long (52-year), prosperous reign (2 Chron. 26:1-15) many people were away from the Lord and involved in sin (2 Kings 15:1-4; Uzziah is also called Azariah). By contrast, God is holy (Isa. 6:3). In pride, Uzziah disobediently entered the temple (insensitive to the sin involved) and was struck with leprosy which made him ceremonially unclean (2 Chron. 26:16-20). Isaiah, however, was sensitive to sin, for he stated that he and his people were spiritually unclean (Isa. 6:5). Though Uzziah was excluded from the temple (2 Chron. 26:21) Isaiah was not. Three things struck Isaiah about God: He was seated on a throne, He was high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple . In the most holy place of the temple in Jerusalem, God’s glory was evident between the cherubim on the atonement cover over the ark of the covenant. Therefore some Israelites may have erroneously thought that God was fairly small. However, Solomon, in his dedicatory prayer for the new temple, had stated that no temple could contain God and that in fact even the heavens could not contain Him (1 Kings 8:27). Therefore Isaiah did not see God on the ark of the covenant, but on a throne. Almost 150 years later Ezekiel had a similar experience. He envisioned God being borne along on a great chariot throne by living creatures called cherubim (Ezek. 1). To Isaiah, the throne emphasized that the Lord is indeed the true King of Israel. God’s being ”high and exalted“ symbolized His position before the nation. The people were wanting God to work on their behalf (Isa. 5:19) but He was doing so, as evidenced by His lofty position among them. The Lord’s long robe speaks of His royalty and majesty. His being in the temple suggests that though He hates mere religiosity (1:11-15) He still wanted the nation to be involved in the temple worship. The temple and the temple sacrifices pictured the righteous dealings of the sovereign God with His covenant people. 6:2-4. Seraphs, angelic beings who were above the Lord, are referred to in the Scriptures only here. ”Seraphs“ is from śārap̱, which means ”to burn, “ possibly suggesting that they were ardent in their zeal for the Lord. It is also noteworthy that one of the seraphs took a burning coal to Isaiah (v. 6). They had six wings (the four living creatures Ezekiel saw each had four wings, Ezek. 1:5, 11). Covering their faces with two wings indicates their humility before God. Their covering their feet with two other wings may denote service to God, and their flying may speak of their ongoing activity in proclaiming God’s holiness and glory. In calling to one another the seraphs, whose number is not given, were proclaiming that the Lord Almighty is holy. The threefold repetition of the word holy suggests supreme or complete holiness. This threefold occurrence does not suggest the Trinity, as some have supposed. The Trinity is supported in other ways. Repeating a word three times for emphasis is common in the Old Testament (Jer. 22:29; Ezek. 21:27). The seraphs also proclaimed that His glory fills the earth (Num. 14:21) much as His robe filled the temple. By contrast the people of Judah were unholy (Isa. 5; 6:5) though they were supposed to be a holy people (Ex. 22:31; Deut. 7:6). As the seraphs cried out, Isaiah saw the temple shake and then it was filled with smoke (Isa. 6:4). The thresholds (Amos 9:1) were large foundation stones on which the doorposts stood. The shaking ( Ex. 19:18) suggested the awesome presence and power of God. The smoke was probably the cloud of glory which Isaiah’s ancestors had seen in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21; 16:10) and which the priests in Solomon’s day had viewed in the dedicated temple (1 Kings 8:10-13). Isaiah’s response to the vision (6:5) 6:5. This vision of God’s majesty, holiness, and glory made Isaiah realize that he was a sinner. When Ezekiel saw God’s glory he too responded with humility. (Job 42:5-6; Peter in Luke 5:8; John in Rev. 1:17.) Isaiah had pronounced woes (threats of judgment) on the nation (Isa. 5:8-23), but now by saying Woe to me! (24:16) he realized he was subject to judgment. This was because he was unclean. When seen next to the purity of God’s holiness, the impurity of human sin is all the more evident. The prophet’s unclean lips probably symbolized his attitudes and actions as well as his words, for a person’s words reflect his thinking and relate to his actions. Interestingly Isaiah identified with his people who also were sinful (a people of unclean lips). Isaiah’s cleansing and message (6:6-13) 6:6-7. Realizing his impurity, Isaiah was cleansed by God, through the intermediary work of one of the seraphs. It is fitting that a seraph (perhaps meaning a ”burning one“) touched Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal . . . from the altar, either the altar of burnt offering, on which a fire was always burning (Lev. 6:12), or the altar of incense where incense was burned each morning and evening (Ex. 30:1, 7-8). This symbolic action signified the removal of the prophet’s guilt and his sin. Of course this is what the entire nation needed. The Judahites needed to respond as Isaiah did, acknowledging their need of cleansing from sin. But unlike the prophet, most members of the nation refused to admit they had a spiritual need. Though they, through the priests, burned sacrifices at the temple, their lives needed the purifying action of God’s ”fire“ of cleansing. 6:8. The rest of this chapter deals with the message Isaiah was to preach to Judah. Significantly he was not called to service till he had been cleansed. After hearing the seraph’s words (vv. 3, 7) he then heard the Lord’s voice. God asked, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? The word ”Us“ in reference to God hints at the Trinity (”Us“ in Gen. 1:26; 11:7). This doctrine, though not explicit in the Old Testament, is implicit for God is the same God in both Testaments.
The question ”Who will go?“ does not mean God did not know or that He only hoped someone would respond. He asked the question to give Isaiah, now cleansed, an opportunity for service. The prophet knew that the entire nation needed the same kind of awareness of God and cleansing of sin he had received. So he responded that he would willingly serve the Lord (Here am I). 6:9-10. Probably Isaiah, responding as he did in verse 8, thought that his serving the Lord would result in the nation’s cleansing.
How ever, the Lord told him his message would not result in much spiritual response. The people had not listened before and they would not listen now. The Lord did not delight in judging His people, but discipline was necessary because of their disobedience. In fact the people, on hearing Isaiah’s message, would become even more hardened against the Lord. Interestingly six of the seven lines in verse 10 are in a chiasm: heart . . . ears . . . eyes are mentioned in lines 1-3, and in lines 4-6 they are reversed: eyes . . . ears . . . hearts. This is a common arrangement of material in the Old Testament. Possibly this pattern emphasizes the ”eyes, “ mentioned in the middle. Jesus quoted part of this verse to explain that Israel in His day could not believe because they would not believe (John 12:40). 6:11-13. Isaiah’s response to the message implies that he was ready to speak whatever God wanted him to say. Yet he wondered how long he would have to go on delivering a message of judgment to which the people would be callous. The Lord answered that Isaiah was to proclaim the message until His judgment came, that is, till the Babylonian Exile actually occurred and the people were deported from the land (v. 12), thus leaving their ruined cities and fields (v. 11). Though Isaiah did not live that long, God meant he should keep on preaching even if he did live to see Judah’s downfall. The tenth that remained in the land (v. 13) refers to the poor who were left in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:14). But most of them were laid waste (Jer. 41:10-18; 43:4-7). Isaiah, perhaps discouraged by such a negative response and terrible results, was then assured by the Lord that not all was lost. A remnant would be left. God compared that remnant to stumps of terebinth and oak trees. From this stump or holy seed of a believing remnant would come others who would believe. Though Judah’s population would be almost totally wiped out or exiled, God promised to preserve a small number of believers in the land.
BKC - 1:1 The Retribution of God (chaps. 1-39) In this first major division of the book, Isaiah wrote much about the judgment that was to come on Judah because of her failure to follow the Mosaic Covenant. God’s punishment would prove to the nation that He fulfills His Word. This section also speaks of judgment which is to come on the whole world (chaps. 13-23). All nations of the earth stand guilty before the Holy One of Israel. In this section on judgment Isaiah also emphasized blessing which will come to the nation because of her covenantal relationship with the Lord. For example, in the Lord’s indictment of Judah (chaps. 1-6) 1:24-31 refers to the nation’s restoration, 4:2-6 speaks of a remnant of survivors, and 6:13 refers to a ”holy seed“ or a remnant. In the prophecies on deliverance (chaps. 7-12) Judah, Isaiah wrote, would be delivered from the Aram-Israel alliance (7:3-9; 8:1-15; 9:7-10:4). But also God’s glorious empire, the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:1-6) will rise (Isa. 11) and the regathered people will sing a song of salvation (chap. 12). In chapters 13-23, on God’s judgment on the nations, the prophet wrote that Israel will be restored to the land and will rule over the peoples who have oppressed her (14:1-2). Moab will go to Israel for protection and the establishment of justice and order (16:1-5). The worship of the true God will signal peace on earth (19:19-25). In the section on punishment and kingdom blessing (chaps. 24-27) much is said about restoration. God will preserve His people (chap. 25) and will be praised by the restored ones (chap. 26). Evil will be judged (27:1) and the remnant restored (27:2-6). Judgment will have a refining effect (27:7-13). In the section on the woes (chaps. 28-33) a word of comfort is included at the end of each of three portions of these chapters. Judgment will purge the people (28:23-29), a remnant will glorify the Lord (29:17-24), and the Lord will bless and protect His people (30:23-26; 31:4-9). The King will reign in justice and righteousness (chaps. 32-33). Even in the vengeance section (chaps. 34-35) Isaiah mentioned that a remnant will be gathered together (34:16-17) and the land will be freed from the curse and the remnant will live in joy (chap. 35). In beautiful and varied language Isaiah made the point that sin must be rooted out of the nation and the world. Eventually, in the Millennium, righteousness will be enforced and the nation will dwell in prosperity and peace because of her renewed relationship with the Lord.
The Lord’s indictment of the nation (chaps. 1-6) the heading for the book (1:1)
1:1. Isaiah’s prophecies focus on Judah and Jerusalem. His book is called a vision, which suggests that the prophet ”saw“ (2:1) mentally and spiritually as well as heard what God communicated to him. This word ”vision“ also introduces the prophecies of Obadiah, Micah, and Nahum. Isaiah was familiar with the city of Jerusalem and its temple and royal court. By this time the Northern Kingdom (Israel) was in its final years. The Northern Kingdom fell in 722 b.c. to the Assyrians who were seeking to conquer the entire Syro-Palestine area. Isaiah wrote specifically for the Southern Kingdom (Judah), which would fall to the Babylonian Empire a little more than 100 years later in 586 b.c.
WIERSBE - Anyone reading Isaiah’s first two messages might be inclined to ask, “What right does this man have to pronounce judgment on the leaders of our land and the many worshipers in the temple?” The answer is in this chapter: Isaiah’s account of his call to ministry. Before he announced any “woes” on others, he first confessed his own sin and said, “Woe is me!” He saw the Holy One of Israel, and he could not keep silent.
Note four stages in Isaiah’s experience with God.
#1 SIGHT: HE SAW THE LORD (Isa. 6:1–4). We assume that Isaiah was in the temple when this marvelous event occurred, but we cannot be sure. The temple referred to in verse 1 is the heavenly temple, rather than Solomon’s temple. King Uzziah died in 740 B.C. and was one of Judah’s greatest leaders, even though in his latter years he was disciplined for disobeying God (2 Chron. 26:16–21). A great king may have left his throne on earth, but the greatest King was still seated on the throne of heaven. According to John 12:41, this was the Lord Jesus Christ. Only here are the seraphim mentioned in Scripture. The Hebrew word means “to burn” and relates these creatures to the holiness of God. This is why they repeat, “Holy, holy, holy” before the throne of God. Some students think that the seraphim are the “living creatures” described in Revelation 4:6–9. For young Isaiah, the outlook was bleak. His beloved king had died, his nation was in peril, and he could do very little about it. The outlook may have been bleak, but the uplook was glorious! God was still on the throne and reigning as the Sovereign of the universe! From heaven’s point of view, “the whole earth” was “full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3; Num. 14:21–22; Ps. 72:18–19). When your world tumbles in, it is good to look at things from heaven’s point of view.
#2 INSIGHT: HE SAW HIMSELF (Isa. 6:5–7). The sight of a holy God, and the sound of the holy hymn of worship, brought great conviction to Isaiah’s heart; and he confessed that he was a sinner. Unclean lips are caused by an unclean heart (Matt. 12:34–35). Isaiah cried out to be cleansed inwardly (Ps. 51:10), and God met his need. If this scene had been on earth, the coals would have come from the brazen altar where sacrificial blood had been shed, or perhaps from the censer of the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:12). Isaiah’s cleansing came by blood and fire, and it was verified by the word of the Lord (Isa. 6:7). Before we can minister to others, we must permit God to minister to us. Before we pronounce “woe” upon others, we must sincerely say, “Woe is me!” Isaiah’s conviction led to confession, and confession led to cleansing (1 John 1:9). Like Isaiah, many of the great heroes of faith saw themselves as sinners and humbled themselves before God: Abraham (Gen. 18:27), Jacob (32:10), Job (Job 40:1–5), David (2 Sam. 7:18), Paul (1 Tim. 1:15), and Peter (Luke 5:8–11).
#3 VISION: HE SAW THE NEED (Isa. 6:8). The nation needed the Lord, and the Lord wanted a servant to minister to the people. Isaiah volunteered to be that servant. He did not discuss his call with the Lord, as did Moses (Ex. 3:11–4:15) and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4ff), but accepted the appointment and made himself available to his Master. Never underestimate what God can do with one willing worker. There is an even greater need for laborers today, and we have tremendous opportunities for sharing the Gospel with a lost world. Are you one of God’s willing volunteers?
#4 BLINDNESS: The nation could not see (Isa. 6:9–13). The Lord did not give His servant much encouragement! Isaiah’s ministry would actually make some people’s eyes more blind, their ears more deaf, and their hearts more calloused. VV 9–10 are so key they’re quote 6 Xs (Mt.13:13–15; Mk 4:12; Lk 8:10; Jn 12:40; Act 28:25–28; Ro. 11:8). God does not deliberately make sinners blind, deaf, and hard-hearted; but the more that people resist God’s truth, the less able they are to receive God’s truth. But the servant is to proclaim the Word no matter how people respond, for the test of ministry is not outward success but faithfulness to the Lord. God told Isaiah that his ministry would end in seeming failure, with the land ruined and the people taken off to exile (Isa. 6:11–12). But a remnant would survive! It would be like the stump of a fallen tree from which the shoots (“the holy seed”) would come, and they would continue the true faith in the land. Isaiah needed a long-range perspective on his ministry or else he would feel like he was accomplishing nothing. “Go and tell” is still God’s command to His people (v. 9; Matt. 28:7; Mark 5:19). He is waiting for us to reply, “Here am I; send me.”. [God is still calling volunteers!]
WYCLIFFe - The Vision of God in His Holiness. 6:1-4. Uzziah’s death in 740 or 739 B.C. marked the passing of a golden age of spiritual vigor in Judah (at least until the king’s sin of presumption ten years before his decease); and his ungodly grandson, Ahaz, was perhaps already exerting an influence in Jotham’s government. To the discouraged prophet, as he knelt in prayer at the Temple at Jerusalem, the Lord granted a transforming vision of His glory. He thus assured Isaiah that despite the apparent triumph of wickedness on earth, the Lord Jehovah still reigned omnipotent upon his heavenly throne, adored by the mighty angels of heaven (symbolically represented by the six-winged cherubim). Even the foundations of the earthly Temple trembled at the thunder of the angelic choir, and the sanctuary was filled with the incense smoke of adoring prayer. Confession, Cleansing, and Santification. 6:5-7. How could the prophet’s impure lips repeat that angelic song? His conscience was burdened by a sense of personal weakness and failure. He could only confess his helplessness and fallen estate. But God’s redeeming grace hastened to meet his need, applying to his lips a coal from the incense altar (originally from the altar of blood sacrifice; Lev 16:12). Isaiah was thus cleansed and equipped for praise, intercessory prayer, and the proclamation of God’s word. Response and Commission of the Yielded Believer. 6:8-13. Every believer is saved to serve; from the time of conversion a witness for God. But note that Isaiah was invited by the query, Who will go for us? (v. 8). God can use only willing, loving service. Coupled with the thrice-repeated “Holy” of 6:3, this reference to us may well point to the trinitarian plurality in God (although it may also include the angels as associated with God in common viewpoint and purpose). Isaiah was thereupon commissioned to preach God’s message faithfully and fearlessly, even though his ministry would result in rejection and apparent failure. 9. Render this, Keep on hearing and keep on seeing, as the Hebrew syntax demands. Because Israel’s rejection of Isaiah’s message was foreseen, their hearing of it would be like not hearing at all. And their unwillingness to hearken would result in the judicial blinding of their hearts. (For the sake of vividness their negative response is put into the imperative mood, although of course the prophet would not have quoted these exact words in addressing his people.) 13. Yet his work was not to be in vain, for after the utter destruction of the Chaldean invasion here foretold (resulting in complete depopulation of the land), a tenth of the deported population of Judah would come back—shall return (for so this verb should be translated in view of the appearance of Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub—A remnant shall return—in the next chapter). That is, a remnant would return to Palestine in faith, trusting in God’s promises to establish them there. Nevertheless, even this remnant would be consumed by invasion and warfare (notably in the time of Antiochus IV of Syria). Israel would be perpetuated only by the faithfulness of a still smaller remnant, the holy seed, who was to spring out of the stump of the felled tree of Judah. (The terebinth and oak are especially prone to produce such shoots from their stumps.)
THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH - 1a The year that King Uzziah died was about 740 bc. His notably long and prosperous reign (2 Ki. 15:1–7; 2 Ch. 26) had entered troubled waters internationally when the accession in 745 bc of the vigorous imperialist Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria threatened the sovereignty of the Israelite states. If Isaiah drew comfort from the fact that as the earthly king was dying he saw a vision of the heavenly king, he does not say so. According to 1:1 Isaiah entered on the prophetic office while Uzziah was still alive. Why then does he not date his call from ‘the fifty-second year of Uzziah’? No other prophet dates an event by a death, though Isaiah does so twice (14:28) and each time with significance. He is a true Old Testament historian for whom the events of history, accurately recorded, are a declaration from and about God. Such an event was the death of Uzziah. For years the king had lived in alienation and separation, under divine displeasure (2 Ki. 15:5; 2 Ch. 26:16ff.), and as his death approached he remained, to the human eye, uncleansed. Thus, Uzziah, as the darkness of death closed in upon him, was symbolic of Isaiah’s view of the nation, its plight and its problem. The prophet saw in respect of one what he feared for all—that the time had come when even the Lord was saying ‘What more ought I to have done?’ (5:4). But in this hour of death Isaiah discovered that the Lord still had a word of new life to speak (verses 7–8).
1b Isaiah says, I saw the Lord, and though it is true that ‘no-one has ever seen God’ (Jn. 1:18) for in his essential being he is Spirit (Is. 31:3; Jn. 4:24), yet he graciously condescends to clothe now this side of his nature and now that with visibility for the instruction and comfort of his people (Jos. 5:13–15). Isaiah was thus allowed to see the Lord (’aḏōnāy, ‘the Sovereign’; Jn. 12:41). The reticence is notable. We learn of robes, a throne, attendants—all that fills the mind with a sense of majesty—but the Lord is not described. God’s sovereignty is real; he sits on a throne, in the seat of authority and power, high and exalted. In 52:13 the same paired words refer to the Lord’s Servant; in 57:15, to the eternal God himself. A personal reference is suitable here: the Lord is high in his own nature, exalted/‘lifted up’ by the acknowledgment of his sovereignty. This exalted sovereignty is ‘earthed’ (66:1)—the phrase filled the temple expresses the general truth that God is present in all his majesty at the centre of his people’s life. The temple is no mere symbol of his indwelling presence; it is the reality of it. But there is also the specific truth that in the temple the Lord meets with his people on the basis of sacrifice. This in particular is the point where heaven touches earth. The vision thus prepares for its climax in verse 7. 2 The seraphs are above him in the position of servants standing and waiting on a seated master. The heavenly beings, seraphs/‘burning ones’ (from √śārap̄, ‘to burn’; Am. 2:12: This is what the LORD says: "For three sins of Moab, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. Because he burned, as if to lime, the bones of Edom's king,), are found only here. Imaginatively, it is possible that with two wings folded downwards, two folded over their faces and two raised for flight, they seemed to Isaiah like huge flames but the reality is that he experienced their burning ministry (6–7) and for this he remembered them and named them accordingly. All three verbs, covered, covered and were flying, are of continuous action. The scene is one of constant motion (Ezk. 1:14) at the divine bidding. They covered their eyes, not their ears, for their task was to receive what the Lord would say, not to pry into what he is like (Dt. 29:29). We can only conjecture why they covered their feet. The foot is not particularly creaturely that they should hide their feet in humility before the Creator. The use of the euphemism of ‘feet’ for sexual parts (7:20) would involve an inappropriate attribution of sexuality to these heavenly beings. The foot is, however, metaphorically the organ of activity and of life’s direction (Ps. 18:33〈34〉; Pr. 1:15–16; 4:27). In covering their feet they disavowed any intention to choose their own path; their intent was to go only as the Lord commanded. 3 The seraphim were calling to one another; are we to picture them standing each side of the throne and responding to each other in antiphonal song? At any rate, the song is continuous and its theme is the holiness of the Lord and his presence in all his glory in every place. Hebrew uses repetition to express superlatives or to indicate totality. Only here is a threefold repetition found. Holiness is supremely the truth about God, and his holiness is in itself so far beyond human thought that a ‘super-superlative’ has to be invented to express it. The etymology of the ‘holiness’ word-group (√qāḏôš) is debated. The possibilities seem to be ‘brightness’ and ‘separatedness’. ‘Brightness’ suggests the unapproachable God (1 Tim 6:16 with Ps. 104:2); ‘separatedness’ is the positive quality which distinguishes or defines God. On the whole, the latter provides the easiest summary of Old Testament evidence, but either way the question arises what it is that makes him unapproachable or what it is that constitutes his distinctiveness. The answer is that it is his total and unique moral majesty. When people fear before God (Jdg. 6:22; 13:22) it ‘is not the consciousness of … humanity in the presence of divine power, but the consciousness of … sin in the presence of moral purity’. Isaiah is here the normative Old Testament man. This transcendent holiness is the mode of God’s immanence for the whole earth is full of his glory/‘that which fills the whole earth is his glory’, i.e. it is not only the one thing that is capable of filling everything but the thing which actually does so. Holiness is God’s hidden glory; glory is God’s all-present holiness. 4 Shaking is the customary reaction of earth to the divine presence (Ex. 19:18; Hab. 3:3–10). Concentrated on doorposts and thresholds it specifically prohibits Isaiah’s entry to the divine presence, just as smoke forbids him to see God. The divine nature as such is an active force of total exclusion. Why is this? 5 Isaiah tells us how the facts of verse 4 are to be interpreted. He knows his loss, describes it and explains it. nidmêti (ruined) is from √dāmâ (‘to be silent’), which is used of the silence following disaster or death. ‘Silenced’ would be telling in this context, i.e. excluded from the heavenly choir, forbidden even to join from afar in adoration, but the silence of death must be included too. The explanation of this judgment is that what we might reckon the lightest of sins (unclean lips) is linked with what we might accept as the least threatening of privileges (seen … the Lord) but the mixture is deadly. Isaiah adds the fact that he accepted unclean speech in society and made no attempt to separate himself from it (live among) as an aggravation of his guilt. But on reflection did he consider that if he can be forgiven, so can they? Did he here begin to see the solution to the national darkness of 5:30? My eyes have seen has the sense of ‘I have seen directly for myself’ (Dt. 4:3). To think of the Lord as the King, the Lord Almighty/‘of hosts’ was a commonplace. The vision, therefore, was not of something hitherto unknown but, so to speak, of the ‘ordinary’, what the Lord always is—‘the Holy One of Israel’, to use Isaiah’s special title for him. 6 Then one of the seraphs flew, i.e. by the command of God (verse 2). The initiative has been heaven’s all along; revealing (2–3), excluding and condemning (4–5) and now sending the seraph to the one he has chosen to save. In the Old Testament fire is not a cleansing agent but is symbolic of the wrath of God (Gn. 3:24; Nu. 11:1–3), his unapproachable holiness (Ex. 3:2–6; 19:18–25) and the context of his holy law (Dt. 4:12, 33, 36). The live coal which was brought to Isaiah was fire from the altar. The perpetual fire (Lv. 6:12–13) on the altar went beyond symbolizing divine wrath, for the altar was the place where the holy God accepted and was satisfied by blood sacrifice (Lv. 17:11). It holds together the ideas of the atonement, propitiation and satisfaction required by God and of the forgiveness, cleansing and reconciliation needed by his people. All this is achieved through substitutionary sacrifice and brought to Isaiah, encapsulated in the single symbol of the live coal. 7 The Bible does not deal in dumb signs; application leads to explanation (he touched my mouth and said …). (i) The touching of the lips with the live coal shows how God ministers to the sinner at the point of confessed need (verse 5). (ii) The effect is instantaneous. The two verbs, has touched and is taken away, are co-ordinate perfects, stressing that as soon as the one happened the other happened also. Isaiah contributes nothing; all is of God—‘This touched your lips and your iniquity went’. (iii) A comprehensive work of dealing with sin takes place. Isaiah confessed what he knows (lips) but God deals also with his guilt/‘iniquity’ (‛āôn), the inner reality of the deviant nature, and with his sin (ḥaṭṭā’a), the specific instances of shortcoming. (iv) All of this arises from the payment of the price. The verb ATONED FOR (KIPPĒR) means ‘to effect a kōp̄er’ or ‘ransom price’, the price which justice requires. KB remarks, ‘The Hebrew, considered for itself, leads to “cover” as the original meaning … God covers guilt out of free grace, but his acting thus is less the pardon of a father than the releasing by a judge.’ As we speak of a sum of money as sufficient to ‘cover’ a debt, so kippēr/kōp̄er is the payment of whatever divine justice sees as sufficient to cover the sinner’s debt, the death of the substitute sacrifice on the altar.
8 The immediate effect of atonement is reconciliation. Isaiah had heard and then lost the voice of the ‘burning ones’ in verse 3 but now he hears the Lord’s voice. The Lord (’aḏōnāy) was first seen afar off (1) but now Isaiah is near enough to overhear him saying/ ‘as he said’. Isaiah had expressed his own ‘silencing’ (5) but now he is free to speak to God and to associate with his purposes. The us in who will go for us? is a plural of consultation (1 Ki. 22:19–23). The NT however, relates this passage both to the Lord Jesus (Jn. 12:41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.) and to the Holy Spirit (Acts 28:25They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:] finding here that which will accommodate the full revelation of the triune God. The future revealed in principle (6:9–13) Verses 9–10 describe the spiritual expectations Isaiah may have had regarding his ministry; verses 11–13a, his historico-political expectations; and verse 13b, his Messianic expectations.
9–10 Isaiah’s message (9) and his task (10) constitute, at first sight, the oddest commission ever given to a prophet: to tell people not to understand and to effect heart-hardening and spiritual blindness! There is, however, no way to evade the plain meaning of the verses. Verse 9 speaks of both the outer faculties (hearing, seeing) and the inner ones (understanding/‘discerning’, perceiving/‘knowing’). Verse 10 arranges these into a rounded structure (heart, ears, eyes, eyes, ears, heart) thus emphasizing a total inability to comprehend. The use of these verses in the New Testament is an additional reason to be concerned to interpret them correctly and a simple approach lies to hand: How did Isaiah obey them? According to the criticism levelled at him in 28:9–10, Isaiah taught with such simplicity and clarity that the sophisticates of his day scorned him as fit only to conduct a kindergarten. The Isaianic literature as it has come to us bears all the marks of a plain, systematic, reasoned approach. It is clear that Isaiah did not understand his commission as one to blind people by obscurity of expression or complexity of message. He, in fact, faced the preacher’s dilemma: if hearers are resistant to the truth, the only recourse is to tell them the truth yet again, more clearly than before. But to do this is to expose them to the risk of rejecting the truth yet again and, therefore, of increased hardness of heart. It could even be that the next rejection will prove to be the point at which the heart is hardened beyond recovery. The human eye cannot see this point in advance; it comes and goes unnoticed. But the all-sovereign God both knows it and appoints it as he presides in perfect justice over the psychological processes he created (Ex. 4:21). It was at just such a point that Isaiah was called to office. His task was to bring the Lord’s word with fresh, even unparalleled clarity, but in their response people would reach the point of no return. The imperatives of these verses must, therefore, be seen as expressing an inevitable outcome of Isaiah’s ministry (2:9). And, of course, so it turned out to be, as is made clear in chapters 7–11. These were the days in which the decisive word was spoken and refused. ‘Opportunity in human life is as often judgment as it is salvation.’ 11–13a For how long … ? is shorthand for ‘How will things go and what will be the end?’. The Lord predicts cities and land devastated and emptied (11), deportation (12), and, even then, a further process of wasting (13a). Isaiah is left with no illusions about Jerusalem or any notion of its sacrosanctity. Presently he will learn that the Assyrians would not be the agent in this as far as Jerusalem was concerned and presently too the ultimate agent will be revealed to him. But here, at the outset of his ministry, he already knows the end: a colossal tragedy proceeding from a single cause—they heard and refused the word of the Lord. Isaiah is alerted to the fact but not to its timing. Assyria introduced the policy of deporting subject peoples (2 Ki. 17) and this was continued by the Babylonians (2 Ki. 24–25). The prediction was at home in its own times. The literal translation of sent everyone is ‘put humankind’, and that of the land is utterly forsaken is ‘abundant the forsaken [thing] in the midst of the earth/land’. ‛aśı̂rı̂yyâ (tenth) is used in Leviticus 27:32 of a tithe ‘holy to the Lord’. If the word carried overtones of a reserved portion, it would not now be so. For laid waste (√bā‛ar) see 3:14.
13b Do the preceding verses, then, represent the final fall of the curtain on the Lord’s valiant efforts to save a people for himself? Ask another question: Was Isaiah’s deadly sin the end for him? The ‘burning one’ approached with fire but when the fire touched the voice said, ‘Forgiven’. So here too. The tree is felled but the voice says, ‘The holy seed’. Typically of Isaiah, hope is the unexpected fringe attached to the garment of doom. The comparison with the felled trees starts by appearing to describe the meagre remains following the further attrition of verse 13a but suddenly it is found not to be the conclusion of the earlier sentence but the start of a new thought: within the stump there is life! The meaning of ’ēlâ (terebinth) and ’allôn (oak) is uncertain; they may be two species of oak. The holy seed will be the stump is (lit.) simply, ‘the seed of holiness its stump’. The saying is not self-explanatory, but the way in which verse 13b balances and forms an inclusio with verse 1a (see the outline on p. 75) suggests that already here the reference is to the shoot out of the stem of Jesse (11:1); the promise of the Messiah is the guarantee of a future people over whom he will reign. But Isaiah also uses ‘seed’ of the people who will finally enjoy the promises (41:8; 43:5; 45:25; 53:10; 59:21; 65:9, 23; 66:22). The ‘holy seed’ could be the remnant, called holy and written unto life in Jerusalem (4:3)
EXPOSITORS The Vision and Call of the Holy One (6:1-13) The position of this great passage in the book has aroused much discussion. We might have expected the volume of his collected prophecies to begin with it. The book is not alone, however, in deferring reference to the call of God to a later passage (cf. Amos 7:14-15). In fact, our sense of difficulty may well reflect modem Western individualism, for the Bible teaches that the message is far more important than the messenger (Phil 1:15-18). If Isaiah's oracles are arranged according to a plan determined by the message, then we shall see that the location of this chapter is just perfect (see comment at v. 5) Verse 1 contains a date (one of the book's few references to dates); and it introduces a section written in the first person singular, which may be compared in certain ways with the "we" passages in the Acts of the Apostles. The last instance of this phenomenon is in 8:18; so some commentators take it that the autobiographical section terminates at that point. Others take it as far as 9:7, because of the links of vocabulary and thought that bind these later verses to what preceded them. 1 The date of Uzziah's death has been much disputed Isaiah 14:28-32 is an oracle from the year of the death of King Ahaz, and it has a clear appropriateness to the political situation of that time. We would not be surprised, therefore, to find something similar here; and we can well imagine the spiritual value to the prophet himself of a vision of the almighty King when an earthly reign of over fifty years had come--or was coming--to its end. The vision of the Lord's transcendence never left Isaiah: the exaltation of Israel's great God is a frequent theme in his oracles (2:10-22; 37:16; 40:12-26; 57:15).Perhaps the last clause of this verse relates to God's immanence, though this depends on the significance of the word "temple" here. Is it the earthly or the heavenly place of worship? Virtually all modern commentators assume the former, though Delitzsch is an important exception. Some of the older commentators who did assume that the earthly temple was intended doubted whether the prophet was physically present in it and thought it possible that he may have been transported there in a vision. Young also allows for this possibility: "To insist that Isaiah must have been in the Temple as he received the vision does despite to the visionary character of the message." It is really impossible to be certain, but happily it makes little difference to our understanding of the chapter and its message. 2 This is the only biblical passage where heavenly beings are called "seraphs." It is evident from references in Scripture to angels, archangels, principalities, powers, cherubim, seraphim, etc., that there is a great variety among the heavenly beings created by God. This should occasion no surprise, for the created earth too is the scene of great diversity. The seraphs are bright creatures, for the word means "burning ones"; yet they hide their faces from the greater brightness and the glory of the Lord. In view of Matthew 22:30, it is best to take the reference to fleet literally and not as a euphemism for the sex organs. Covering the feet suggests humility. 3 There is no indication of the number of seraphs seen by Isaiah. Many scholars think that he was present at an act of worship in the temple, perhaps at the New Year, and that the antiphonal singing of the Levitical choir was echoed by the heavenly seraphs of his vision. This is conjectural but cannot be ruled out. The apostle Paul evidently believed that angels are present at Christian worship. It is interesting that the chief passage this idea appears in (1 Cor 11:2-16) deals with veiling and unveiling in the presence of God, referred to also here. The trisagion, or threefold ascription of holiness (Rev 4:8), has been interpreted in reference to the Trinity since the early fathers. Cautious commentators, including Calvin, are inclined to play this down somewhat. He says, "The ancients quoted this passage when they wished to prove that there are three persons in one essence of the Godhead. I do not disagree with their opinion; but if I had to contend with heretics, I would rather choose to employ stronger proofs." It is best for us simply to say that--in the fuller light of the NT--we can see the appropriateness of this threefold expression, which also places added stress on the holiness of the heavenly King. We go to the NT for clear trinitarian teaching and to the OT for hints of it. The theme of divine holiness is of towering importance in Isaiah This man of God could never forget the disclosure of transcendent purity he encountered when he was called to prophetic service (Ezek 1). The language of fullness, employing the same Hebrew verb (male), occurs three times in these verses (vv. 1, 3, 4), twice in application to the temple and once to the whole earth. So this passage, insisting as it does on the awesome transcendence of the sovereign God, also emphatically teaches his immanence. His transcendence is not remoteness, or aloofness but is known through his presence in his created world and temple. Divine transcendence and immanence are always held in balance in biblical theism. Isaiah himself says later (12:6), "Great is the Holy One of Israel among you."
The word "glory" (kabod is used of God in his manifestation to his creatures. The essence of deity is inscrutable, but something of his glory can be seen if God is pleased to disclose it (Exod 33:17-23; Ezek 1:28). The Targum on Isaiah also employs the word in v. 1, with its rendering "I saw the glory of the Lord." In John 12:41, after quoting Isaiah 6:10, John said that Isaiah "saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." This amazing statement is in fact altogether consistent with the high christology of the NT writers, for Jesus is God incarnate, and the same God is revealed in both Testaments. This might in fact suggest that John understood the trisagion in trinitarian terms. 4 God's power is sometimes manifested in a physical tremor (Exod 19:18; Acts 4:31) and his presence in a cloud of smoke (Isa 4:5; Exod 33:9). So the God who normally hides himself from the senses occasionally made himself known in a form accessible to them, and he ultimately did so in the consummate unveiling of himself in his Son (1 Jn 1:1-4). 5 The word translated "woe" here (oy) is different from that used several times in chapter 5 (hoy, vv. 8, 11, 20, 21, 22), though they are similar in form, pronunciation, and meaning. They are, in fact, synonyms, each possessing various nuances ranging from the threat to the sigh. If this part of the book has been arranged with an eye more to its message than to its chronology, this "woe" may have been viewed as the climax of the series that began at 5:8. The reference in this verse to the people's sin strengthens this possibility the more so as sins of the tongue have found their place in chapter 5 at least twice (5:18-20) and possibly a third time, for acquittal (5:23) was made known by a pronouncement of the judge. This verse teaches us that in order to be an effective channel for God's penetrating word, the power of that word must be felt in the person's own conscience. It is true that the lips of the prophet were destined to proclaim God's truth; but if he was in the temple at worship (v. 1), the primary reference may be to the defiled lips of the worshiper (1:15; 29:13). The people of the OT always felt a deep apprehension at the prospect of seeing God (Gen 32:20; Exod 33:20, Judg 6:22; 13:21-22). This must have been underlined still more for Isaiah as he saw even the unfallen seraphs covering their faces in the presence of the Most High. -7 To serve God, Isaiah needed to be a clean instrument. It is the God of burning holiness himself (33:13-16) who provides this cleansing from the sacrificial altar. There are indications elsewhere in the OT of the purifying efficacy of fire (Num 31:22-23; Mal 3:2). Despite the priestly context of both these passages, however it is too much to say, that Israel must have had a regular ritual of cleansing by fire. Is there any connection between the fact that the seraphs are "burning ones" (v. 2) and the fact that the instrument of purification administered to the prophet by one of them burns? Isaiah, like many other OT writers, had a strong etymological awareness, especially in connection with names (7:3; 8:1-4). He may well have learned from this experience that sinful human beings can join in the worship of the "burning ones" only when purified by the fire of God (4:4). It is his holiness expressed in sacrifice that burns away sin (33:13-16).
8 As we have already noted at v. 3, biblical teaching presents beautiful balance. This is true in relation to a multitude of themes, and another example occurs here. The message of God to Isaiah in vv. 9-10 is strongly predestinarian. How appropriate, therefore, that the verse preceding them should place such emphasis on the prophet's responsibility! He is not coerced into service; rather, his will makes its ready response as a grateful reaction to God's forgiving grace. No doubt Isaiah's very response was itself the product of divine grace, but this is not where the stress falls here. Instead, we see him faced with the challenge to personal commitment. The plural "us" is often linked theologically with v. 3 and interpreted in terms of the Trinity. It is an unusual phenomenon, found elsewhere in the OT only in Genesis (1:26; 11:7). Many modern scholars have taken it to be a reference to a council of heavenly beings. There are, of course, many biblical passages that picture God surrounded by the heavenly hosts. Not one of these, however (unless, of course, the present passage is an exception), suggests that he, the omniscient and all-wise God, called on them for advice or even identified them with him in some way in his utterance. What a pagan king may have attributed to "the decree of the watchers" (Dan 4:17 KJV, but note the way NIV renders this), Daniel called "the decree of the Most High" (Dan 4:24). In a context that speaks both of waters and mountains (and so of nature) and of nations (and so, by implication, also of history), the Lord refutes the notion that he consulted others (40:13-14). The plural, therefore, suggests either the divine majesty or that fullness of his being that was to find its ultimate theological expression in the doctrine of the Trinity. 9-10 The suggestion, made by some modern scholars, that this passage was written only after Isaiah had already experienced the people's hardness of heart is based on rationalistic presuppositions. It is of the same order as the idea that our Lord's predictions of his passion were manufactured by the church. Not only did the Lord Almighty know what would occur, but he planned it; for he is King (vv. 1, 5). Some commentators consider the phrase "this people" (v. 9) to be contemptuous, but O. Kaiser makes the relevant comment that it is not normally so in the OT (Exod 3:21; 5:22; 17:4; 18:18; Num 11:14; Deut 5:28; Josh 1:2; Mic 2:11; and Hag 1:2). On the other side, however, passages from Isaiah himself, like 9:16 and especially 29:13, do suggest a measure of contempt. It is really not possible to be sure here. The words of God to Isaiah are quoted in each of the Gospels (Matt 13:14-15; Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:10; John 12:39-41) and twice by Paul (Acts 28:26-27; Rom 11:8). Each quotation is given as a comment on the rejection of God's word in Christ. The synoptic references are of particular interest; for they all occur in connection with the parable of the sower, which, like this present passage, anticipates widespread failure to make proper response to the words but which also, as here (v. 13), shows cause for hope. The holy seed of the vision finds its NT counterpart in the good soil of the parable. Once again we are impressed by the structure of the book; for this chapter immediately follows and precedes examples of wrong reaction to God's word. In 5:24 it is the people who reject it, and in chapter 7 Ahaz refuses it. Note also the statement that God "is hiding his face from the house of Jacob" in 8:17. Through his prophets of that generation, God warned his rebellious people that both the declaration of the word (Amos 8:11-14) and the grace of repentance in response to it were in the sovereign hand of God the King. We should note also that this hardening judgment was pronounced after centuries of his people's defective hearing of his word, and so it may be seen to be judicial as well as sovereign.
11-12 Delitzsch is probably right in seeing Isaiah's question (v. 11) to be related to both the duration and the consequences of his prophetic ministry. The tone of the question is one of lament (Pss 13:2; 74:10; 79:5; 80:4; 89:46; 94:3; Hab 1:2; Zech 1:12). It should not be assumed that the prophets found God's message of judgment easy to utter (Jer 1:68, 17; Ezek 2:38 et al.). They belonged to the nation they addressed and must often, like Jeremiah, have wept for its sins and its certain judgment Jer 9:1; 14:17). The opening chapters of the book (as well as later passages in it) record material--from the events of the prophet's day (1:79) and from oracles of future judgment (3:25-26; 5:8-9, 13, 17)--illustrating these verses. 13 The devastation, great as it was to be, would not be total; but even its survivors would have to submit to further judgment. The illustration from nature, however, introduces an element of hope. God has so ordered the plant kingdom that almost total destruction does not always extinguish life. He has a continuing purpose of life for the remnant of his people (4:2). The word "seed" in this verse suggests a possible link with the promise given to Abraham that his seed would continue and be blessed by God (Gen 17:18; Isa 51:2). The concept of the seed may take its place with "branch" and "servant" as subject to significant development within the Book of Isaiah. (4:2.) It is purely biological, for example, at 5:10, 55:10; designates the people as evil and under judgment in 1:4 [NIV, "brood"], 14:20 [NIV, "offspring"], 57:3-4; presents the remnant after judgment here in 6:13; and refers to the "progeny" of the Servant of the Lord in 53:10 [NIV, "offspring"]. Most frequent of all is the concept of the seed of Jacob that is destined for blessing (e.g., 43:5 [NIV, "children"]; 44:3 [NIV, "offspring"]; 54:3 [NIV, "descendants"]; 66:22 [NIV, "descendants"]). How astounding that God should use the word "holy" (qodes) of the remnant of his people when it has been used already in v. 3 in relation to his own transcendent being! This is condescending grace indeed!
ZODIATES - Is 6:1-13 — This chapter presents God’s calling of Isaiah. Some see this as Isaiah’s initial call to his prophetic ministry. Others, who note that the book is generally arranged chronologically, suggest that it was a special call after he had already begun his ministry. Isaiah’s call began with a vision of God’s holiness (vv. 1-4). This vision terrified Isaiah and made him feel totally inadequate and unclean (v. 5; see also Job 42:5, 6; Ezek. 1:28; 4:23 and Dan. 10:811). When the angel touched Isaiah’s lips with the hot coal from the altar and said that his sins were forgiven (vv. 6, 7), Isaiah was fit for service to God. Later, when God asked for a representative, Isaiah responded with an answer that has been an example to believers ever since. Isaiah answered, “Here am I; send me” (v. 8). Like Jeremiah (Jer. 1:17-19) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:3-7), Isaiah was commissioned to speak to obstinate people who rejected God. The words of Isaiah’s commission (Is. 6:9, 10) were used repeatedly by Jesus in the New Testament to explain why He taught in parables (Matt. 13:14, 15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10). John also referred to them when he explained why so few Jews had responded to Jesus’ message (John 12:40), and Paul used them to explain why he had switched the emphasis of his ministry from the Jews to the Gentiles (Acts 28:26, 27).
LIFE APP BIBLE - God commissions Isaiah
Notes for 6:1 The year that King Uzziah died was approximately 740 B.C. He remained leprous until he died because he tried to take over the high priest's duties (2Chronicles 26:18-21). Although Uzziah was generally a good king with a long and prosperous reign, many of his people turned away from God.
Trees and prophets share at least one important characteristic -- both are planted for the future. Yet seedlings are often overlooked and prophets often ignored. Isaiah is one of the best examples of this. The people of his time could have been rescued by his words. Instead, they refused to believe him. With the passing of centuries, however, Isaiah's words have cast a shadow on all of history. Isaiah was active as a prophet during the reigns of five kings, but he did not set out to be a prophet. By the time King Uzziah died, Isaiah may have been established as a scribe in the royal palace in Jerusalem. It was a respectable career, but God had other plans for his servant. Isaiah's account of God's call leaves little doubt about what motivated the prophet for the next half century. His vision of God was unforgettable. The encounter with God permanently affected Isaiah's character. He reflected the God he represented. Isaiah's messages -- some comforting, some confronting -- are so distinct that some have guessed they came from different authors. Isaiah's testimony is that the messages came from the only One capable of being perfect in justice as well as in mercy -- God himself. When he called Isaiah as a prophet, God did not encourage him with predictions of great success. God told Isaiah that the people would not listen. But he was to speak and write his messages anyway because eventually some would listen. God compared his people to a tree that would have to be cut down so that a new tree could grow from the old stump (Isaiah 6:13). We who are part of that future can see that many of the promises God gave through Isaiah have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We also gain the hope of knowing that God is active in all of history,including our own.Strengths and accomplishments: Considered the greatest Old Testament prophet Quoted at least 50 times in the New Testament Had powerful messages of both judgment and hope. Carried out a consistent ministry even though there was little positive response from his listeners His ministry spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah Lessons from his life: God's help is needed in order to effectively confront sin while comforting people One result of experiencing forgiveness is the desire to share that forgiveness with others God is purely and perfectly holy, just, and loving
6:1ff Isaiah's vision was his commission to be God's messenger to his people. Isaiah was given a difficult mission. He had to tell people who believed they were blessed by God that instead God was going to destroy them because of their disobedience.
6:1ff Isaiah's lofty view of God in Isa 6:1-4 gives us a sense of God's greatness, mystery, and power. Isaiah's example of recognizing his sinfulness before God encourages us to confess our sin. His picture of forgiveness reminds us that we, too, are forgiven. When we recognize how great our God is, how sinful we are, and the extent of God's forgiveness, we receive power to do his work. How does your concept of the greatness of God measure up to Isaiah's?
6:1-3 The throne, the attending seraphs or angels, and the threefold holy all stressed God's holiness. Seraphs were a type of angel whose name is derived from the word for "burn," perhaps indicating their purity as God's ministers. In a time when moral and spiritual decay had peaked, it was important for Isaiah to see God in his holiness. Holiness means morally perfect, pure, and set apart from all sin. We also need to discover God's holiness. Our daily frustrations, society's pressures, and our shortcomings reduce and narrow our view of God. We need the Bible's view of God as high and lifted up to empower us to deal with our problems and concerns. God's moral perfection, properly seen, will purify us from sin, cleanse our minds from our problems, and enable us to worship and to serve.
Notes for 6:5-8 Seeing the Lord and listening to the praise of the angels, Isaiah realized that he was unclean before God, with no hope of measuring up to God's standard of holiness. When Isaiah's lips were touched with a live burning coal, however, he was told that his sins were forgiven. It wasn't the coal that cleansed him, but God. In response Isaiah submitted himself entirely to God's service. No matter how difficult his task would be, he said, "Here am I. Send me!" The painful cleansing process was necessary before Isaiah could fulfill the task to which God was calling him. Before we accept God's call to speak for him to those around us, we must be cleansed as Isaiah was, confessing our sins and submitting to God's control. Letting God purify us may be painful, but we must be purified so that we can truly represent God, who is pure and holy.
Notes for 6:8 The more clearly Isaiah saw God (Isa 6:5), the more aware Isaiah became of his own powerlessness and inadequacy to do anything of lasting value without God. But he was willing to be God's spokesman. When God calls, will you also say, "Here am I. Send me!"?
Notes for 6:9-13 God told Isaiah that the people would listen but not learn from his message because their hearts had become calloused (hardened) beyond repentance. God's patience with their chronic rebellion was finally exhausted. His judgment was to abandon them to their rebellion and hardness of heart. Why did God send Isaiah if he knew the people wouldn't listen? Although the nation itself would not repent and would reap judgment, some individuals would listen. In Isa 6:13 God explains his plan for a remnant (holy seed) of faithful followers. God is merciful even when he judges. We can gain encouragement from God's promise to preserve his people. If we are faithful to him we can be sure of his mercy.
Notes for 6:11-13 When would the people listen? Only after they had come to the end and had nowhere to turn but to God. This would happen when the land was destroyed by invading armies and the people taken into captivity. The "tenth" refers either to those who remained in the land after the captivity, or those who returned from Babylon to rebuild the land. Each group was about a tenth of the total population. When will we listen to God? Must we, like Judah, go through calamities before we will listen to God's words? Consider what God may be telling you, and obey him before time runs out
JM COMM INTRO– Title The book derives its title from the author, whose name means “The Lord is salvation,” and is similar to the names Joshua, Elisha, and Jesus. Isaiah is quoted directly in the NT over 65 times, far more than any other OT prophet, and mentioned by name over 20 times. Author and Date Isaiah, the son of Amoz, ministered in and around Jerusalem as a prophet to Judah during the reigns of 4 kings of Judah: Uzziah (called “Azariah” in 2 Kings), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1), from ca. 739–686 b.c. He evidently came from a family of some rank, because he had easy access to the king (7:3) and intimacy with a priest (8:2). He was married and had two sons who bore symbolic names: “Shear-jashub” (“a remnant shall return,” 7:3) and “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (“hasting to the spoil, hurrying to the prey,” 8:3). When called by God to prophesy, in the year of King Uzziah’s death (ca. 739 b.c.), he responded with a cheerful readiness, though he knew from the beginning that his ministry would be one of fruitless warning and exhortation (6:9–13). Having been reared in Jerusalem, he was an appropriate choice as a political and religious counselor to the nation. Isaiah was a contemporary of Hosea and Micah. His writing style has no rival in its versatility of expression, brilliance of imagery, and richness of vocabulary. The early church father Jerome likened him to Demosthenes, the legendary Greek orator. His writing features a range of 2,186 different words, compared to 1,535 in Ezekiel, 1,653 in Jeremiah, and 2,170 in the Psalms. Second Chronicles 32:32 records that he wrote a biography of King Hezekiah also. The prophet lived until at least 681 b.c. when he penned the account of Sennacherib’s death (37:38). Tradition has it that he met his death under King Manasseh (ca. 695–642 b.c.) by being cut in two with a wooden saw (Heb. 11:37). Background and Setting During Uzziah’s prosperous 52 year reign (ca. 790–739 b.c.), Judah developed into a strong commercial and military state with a port for commerce on the Red Sea and the construction of walls, towers, and fortifications (2 Chr. 26:3–5,8–10,13–15). Yet the period witnessed a decline in Judah’s spiritual status. Uzziah’s downfall resulted from his attempt to assume the privileges of a priest and burn incense on the altar (2 Kin. 15:3,4; 2 Chr. 26:16–19). He was judged with leprosy, from which he never recovered (2 Kin. 15:5; 2 Chr 26:20,21). His son Jotham (ca. 750–731 b.c.) had to take over the duties of king before his father’s death. Assyria began to emerge as a new international power under Tiglath-Pileser (ca. 745–727 b.c.) while Jotham was king (2 Kin. 15:19). Judah also began to incur opposition from Israel and Syria to her north during his reign (2 Kin. 15:37). Jotham was a builder and a fighter like his father, but spiritual corruption still existed in the Land (2 Kin. 15:34,35; 2 Chr. 27:1,2). Ahaz was 25 when he began to reign in Judah and he reigned until age 41 (2 Chr. 28:1,8; ca. 735–715 b.c.). Israel and Syria formed an alliance to combat the rising Assyrian threat from the E, but Ahaz refused to bring Judah into the alliance (2 Kin. 16:5; Is. 7:6). For this, the northern neighbors threatened to dethrone him, and war resulted (734 b.c.). In panic, Ahaz sent to the Assyrian king for help (2 Kin. 16:7) and the Assyrian king gladly responded, sacking Gaza, carrying all of Galilee and Gilead into captivity, and finally capturing Damascus (732 b.c.). Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria led to his introduction of a heathen altar, which he set up in Solomon’s temple (2 Kin. 16:10–16; 2 Chr. 28:3). During his reign (722 b.c.), Assyria captured Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom, and carried many of Israel’s most capable people into captivity (2 Kin. 17:6,24). Hezekiah began his reign over Judah in 715 b.c. and continued for 29 years to ca. 686 b.c. (2 Kin. 18:1,2). Reformation was a priority when he became king (2 Kin. 18:4,22; 2 Chr. 30:1). The threat of an Assyrian invasion forced Judah to promise heavy tribute to that eastern power. In 701 b.c. Hezekiah became very ill with a life-threatening disease, but he prayed and God graciously extended his life for 15 years (2 Kin. 20; Is. 38) until 686 b.c. The ruler of Babylon used the opportunity of his illness & recovery to send congratulations to him, probably seeking to form an alliance with Judah against Assyria at the same time (2 Kin. 20:12 ff.; Is. 39). When Assyria became weak through internal strife, Hezekiah refused to pay any further tribute to that power (2 Kin. 18:7). So in 701 b.c. Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, invaded the coastal areas of Israel, marching toward Egypt on Israel’s southern flank. In the process he overran many Judean towns, looting and carrying many people back to Assyria. While besieging Lachish, he sent a contingent of forces to besiege Jerusalem (2 Kin 18:17–19:8; Is. 36:2–37:8). The side-expedition failed, however, so in a second attempt he sent messengers to Jerusalem demanding an immediate surrender of the city (2 Kin. 19:9ff.; Is. 37:9ff.). With Isaiah’s encouragement, Hezekiah refused to surrender, and when Sennacherib’s army fell prey to a sudden disaster, he returned to Nineveh and never threatened Judah again. Historical and Theological Themes Isaiah prophesied during the period of the divided kingdom, directing the major thrust of his message to the southern kingdom of Judah. He condemned the empty ritualism of his day (1:10–15) and the idolatry into which so many of the people had fallen (40:18–20). He foresaw the coming Babylonian captivity of Judah because of this departure from the Lord (39:6,7). Fulfillment of some of his prophesies in his own lifetime provided his credentials for the prophetic office. Sennacherib’s effort to take Jerusalem failed, just as Isaiah had said it would (37:6,7,36–38). The Lord healed Hezekiah’s critical illness, as Isaiah had predicted (38:5; 2 Kin. 20:7). Long before Cyrus, king of Persia appeared on the scene, Isaiah named him as Judah’s deliverer from the Babylonian captivity (44:28; 45:1). Fulfillment of his prophecies of Christ’s first coming have given Isaiah further vindication (7:14). The pattern of literal fulfillment of his already-fulfilled prophecies gives assurance that prophecies of Christ’s second coming will also see literal fulfillment. More than any other prophet, Isaiah provides data on the future day of the Lord and the time following. He details numerous aspects of Israel’s future kingdom on earth not found elsewhere in the OT or NT, including changes in nature, the animal world, Jerusalem’s status among the nations, the Suffering Servant’s leadership, and others. Through a literary device called “prophetic foreshortening,” Isaiah predicted future events without delineating exact sequences of the events or time intervals separating them. For example, nothing in Isaiah reveals the extended period separating the two comings of the Messiah. Also, he does not provide as clear a distinction between the future temporal kingdom and the eternal kingdom as John does in Revelation 20:1–10; 21:1–22:5. In God’s program of progressive revelation, details of these relationships awaited a prophetic spokesman of a later time. Also known as the “evangelical Prophet,” Isaiah spoke much about the grace of God toward Israel, particularly in his last 27 chapters. The centerpiece is Isaiah’s unrivaled chap. 53, portraying Christ as the slain Lamb of God. Interpretive Challenges Interpretive challenges in a long and significant book such as Isaiah are numerous. The most critical of them focuses on whether Isaiah’s prophecies will receive literal fulfillment or not, and on whether the Lord, in His program, has abandoned national Israel and permanently replaced the nation with the church, so that there is no future for national Israel. On the latter issue, numerous portions of Isaiah support the position that God has not replaced ethnic Israel with an alleged “new Israel.” Isaiah has too much to say about God’s faithfulness to Israel, that He would not reject the people whom He has created and chosen (43:1). The nation is on the palms of His hands, and Jerusalem’s walls are ever before His eyes (49:16). He is bound by His own Word to fulfill the promises He has made to bring them back to Himself and bless them in that future day (55:10–12). On the former issue, literal fulfillment of many of Isaiah’s prophecies has already occurred, as illustrated in Introduction: Historical and Theological Themes. To contend that those yet unfulfilled will see non-literal fulfillment is biblically groundless. This fact disqualifies the case for proposing that the church receives some of the promises made originally to Israel. The kingdom promised to David belongs to Israel, not the church. The future exaltation of Jerusalem will be on earth, not in heaven. Christ will reign personally on this earth as we know it, as well as in the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 22:1,3)
BKC - The Book of Isaiah is one of the most- loved books of the Bible; it is perhaps the best known of the prophetic books. It contains several passages that are well known among Bible students (1:18; 7:14; 9:6-7; 26:8; 40:3, 31; 53). It has great literary merit and contains beautiful descriptive terminology. Isaiah also contains much factual material about the society of Israel around 700 b.c. Besides pointing out the shortcomings of the people the prophet noted that God always has a remnant of believers through whom He works. Isaiah spoke more than any other prophet of the great kingdom into which Israel would enter at the Second Advent of the Messiah. Isaiah discussed the depths of Israel’s sin and the heights of God’s glory and His coming kingdom. Author and Date. The author of this book was Isaiah the son of Amoz (Isa. 1:1). The name “Isaiah” means “Yahweh is salvation.” Though more is known about Isaiah than most of the other writing prophets, the information on him is still scanty. Probably Isaiah resided in Jerusalem and had access to the royal court. According to tradition he was a cousin of King Uzziah but no firm evidence exists to support this. He did have personal contact with at least two of Judah’s kings who were David’s descendants (7:3; 38:1; 39:3).
Isaiah was married (8:3). He had two sons, Shear-Jashub (7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:3). Some have supposed from Isaiah’s commissioning (chap. 6) that he was a priest, but no evidence in the book supports this. The year of Isaiah’s death is unknown but it was probably after Hezekiah’s death in 686 b.c. (and therefore probably in Manasseh’s sole reign, 686-642) because Isaiah wrote a biography of King Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:32). Isaiah’s death would have occurred after Sennacherib’s death (Isa. 37:38), which was in 681 b.c. Since the prophet’s ministry began sometime in Uzziah’s reign (790-739 b.c.) Isaiah ministered for at least 58 years (from at least 739, when Uzziah died [6:1], to 681, when Sennacherib died). According to tradition dating from the second century a.d., Isaiah was martyred by King Manasseh. Justin Martyr (ca. a.d. 100-165) wrote that Isaiah was sawed asunder with a saw (Heb. 11:37). As is true of all other prophetic books in the Old Testament (except Lam.), the Book of Isaiah bears the name of its author (Isa. 1:1). Many modern scholars divide the book into two or more parts and say that each part had a different author. However, according to strong Jewish and Christian tradition the book had only one author. No doubt was cast on the Isaian authorship until the 18th century when critics began to attack a number of Old Testament books and to question their authorship and internal unity. Isaiah prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah (1:1). The reigns of these kings (including coregencies) were: Uzziah (790-739), Jotham (750-732), Ahaz (735-715), and Hezekiah (715-686). (See the chart “Kings of Judah and Israel and the Preexilic Prophets, ” near 1 Kings 12:25-33.) These years in Israel’s history were a time of great struggle both politically and spiritually. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was deteriorating politically, spiritually, and militarily and finally fell to the Assyrian Empire in 722 b.c. The Southern Kingdom of Judah looked as though it too would collapse and fall to Assyria, but it withstood the attack. In this political struggle and spiritual decline Isaiah rose to deliver a message to the people in Judah. His message was that they should trust in the God who had promised them a glorious kingdom through Moses and David. Isaiah urged the nation not to rely on Egypt or any other foreign power to protect them for the Lord was the only protection they would need.
Hosea and Micah were Isaiah’s contemporaries. Many have noted several parallels between the messages and vocabularies of Isaiah and Micah. The Book of Isaiah is the first of the 17 Old Testament prophetic books not because it is the oldest but because it is the most comprehensive in content. Unity. Many scholars question the unity of the book, holding that it was originally two books (with chaps. 40-66 written by “Deutero-Isaiah, ” who supposedly lived during or after the Babylonian Captivity) or even three (chaps. 1-39; 40-55; 56-66 with the last division written by “Trito-Isaiah”). Many conservative scholars have answered liberal scholars’ arguments against the unity of the book. The evidence for its unity is both external (evidence outside the Bible and in other books of the Bible) and internal (evidence within the book itself).1. External evidence. As already stated, Jewish tradition has uniformly ascribed the entire book to Isaiah. The Dead Sea Scrolls include a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah, thus pointing to its acceptance as one book by the Qumran community in the second century b.c. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament in the second century b.c., gives no indication that the Book of Isaiah was anything other than a single book.Christian tradition has uniformly assumed that Isaiah was a single work until the 18th century when liberals began to challenge that position. The New Testament writers assumed that Isaiah was the author of the entire book. In the New Testament all the major sections of Isaiah are quoted under the title Isaiah. For example, John 12:38 ascribes Isaiah 53:1 to Isaiah, and John 12:39-40 ascribes Isaiah 6:10 to Isaiah. Several portions of Isaiah 40-66, which are quoted in the New Testament, are ascribed to Isaiah (Isa. 40:3 in Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; John 1:23; Isa. 40:3-5 in Luke 3:4-6; Isa. 42:1-4 in Matt. 12:17-21; Isa. 53:1 in Rom. 10:16; Isa. 53:4 in Matt. 8:17; Isa. 53: 7-8 in Acts 8:32-33; Isa. 65:1 in Rom. 10:20). Interestingly Isaiah is mentioned by name 22 times in the New T, more than any other Old T prophet. Jesus Christ assumed that Isaiah was the author of the whole book. Jesus was given the “scroll of the Prophet Isaiah” (Luke 4:17-19) which He unrolled and from which he read Isaiah 61:1-2. 2. Internal evidence. Some of the same terms occur throughout the whole book. For example, “the Holy One of Israel” a title for God, occurs 12 times in chapters 1-39 and 14 times in chapters 40-66. This title is used only 6 times elsewhere in the entire Old Testament (2 Kings 19:22; Pss. 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Jer. 50:29; 51:5). The “highway” motif occurs in several parts of the book (Isa. 11:16; 19:23; 35:8; 40:3; 62:10). The “remnant” theme occurs in 10:20-22; 11:11, 16; 28:5; 37:4, 31; 37:32 and also in 46:3 (kjv). The establishment of justice is a theme in the first division of the book (9:7; 11:4; 16:5; 28:6; 32:16; 33:5) and in the second division (42:1, 3-4; 51:5). And “peace” is mentioned 11 times in chapters 1-39 and 15 times in chapters 40-66. “Joy” occurs 13 times in chapters 1-39 and 19 times in chapters 40-66. Also the Hebrew word na‘ăṣûṣ (“thornbush”) occurs in the Old Testament only in Isaiah 7:19 and 55:13 (“thornbushes” in 33:12 translates a different Heb. word).
Similar passages occur in both parts of the book:
The theological unity of the book argues for a single author. This theological factor is strong evidence for persons who believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Chapters 40-55 emphasize the fact that God would deliver His people from captivity in Babylon. Through Isaiah God predicted that Cyrus would appear on the scene (44:28-45:1) and deliver Judah from captivity. In chapters 40-55 (esp. 43:5-6, 16, 19) the theological point is made that God was telling His people about the return from the Exile beforehand so that they would believe in Him when that event came to pass. In this way He differed greatly from the surrounding nations’ gods. As the sovereign God He can foretell events; this ability proves His uniqueness in contrast with false gods. However, liberal scholars, denying the predictive element in Old Testament prophecy, say that the references to Cyrus mean that chapters 40-55 must have been written after Cyrus ruled Persia (559-530 b.c.). But if those chapters were written after the time of Cyrus this means that the God of Israel did not foretell that event and is no different from the gods of the surrounding nations. Therefore to say that chapters 40-55 were written after Cyrus’ time strips those chapters of theological validity and makes them almost meaningless.Purpose. Isaiah’s primary purpose was to remind his readers of the special relationship they had with God as members of the nation of Israel, His special covenant community. Like the other writing prophets, Isaiah knew of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:2-3; 15:18-21; 17:3-8, 19) in which God promised that Israel would (a) enjoy a special relationship with Him, (b) possess the land of Canaan, and (c) be a blessing to others. Isaiah was also aware of the Mosaic Covenant, given Israel at the time of the Exodus from Egypt and repeated by Moses to the generation of Israelites who were about to enter Palestine. Throughout the Book of Deuteronomy God through Moses had promised the people that as members of the covenant community they would be blessed by Him if they lived according to the Mosaic Covenant (e.g., Deut. 28:1-14). But He also warned them that if they did not obey His commands and decrees they would experience the curses (punishments) spelled out in the covenant (Deut. 28:15-68) including exile from the land (see the chart “The Covenant Chastenings, ” near Amos 4:6). However, because of the Abrahamic Covenant in which God promised blessing on Israel and the world, Moses could confidently affirm that even after the people had been exiled from the land the Lord would someday bring them back to the land of promise and establish them in His kingdom. So Isaiah was calling the people of Judah back to a proper covenantal relationship with God. He was reminding his generation of the sinful condition in which they were living and of its consequences. God would judge the nation, but He would also eventually restore them to the land (cf. Deut. 30:1-5) with full kingdom blessings because of His promises to Abraham. Isaiah was aware (from Deut. 28:49-50, 64-67) that Judah was destined for exile as had recently befallen the Northern Kingdom. His book, then, was directed to two groups of people: (a) those of his generation, who had strayed from the covenantal obligations given them in the Mosaic Law, and (b) those of a future generation who would be in exile. Isaiah was calling the first group back to holiness and obedience, and he was comforting the second group with the assurance that God would restore the nation to their land and would establish His kingdom of peace and prosperity. The theme of “comfort” is dominant in Isaiah 40-66 (“comfort” occurs in 40:1 [twice]; 51:3, 19; 57:18; 61:2; 66:13; “comforted” occurs in 52:9; 54:11; 66:13; and “comforts” is used in 49:13; 51:12; 66:13)-13 times compared with only 1 occurrence of “comforted” (12:1) in chapters 1-39. Themes and Theology. Some difficulty exists in determining a central theme for Isaiah around which all the other material in the book revolves. Some have suggested that the book has two themes, one for chapters 1-39 and another for chapters 40-66. Judgment seems to be the emphasis in the first part, and salvation and comfort are prominent in the second. Since Isaiah followed the theology of Deuteronomy (punishment must come for failure to live according to the Mosaic Covenant before a time of blessing can come), the two parts of Isaiah can be reconciled. Chapters 1-39 point out the nation’s problem of sin which must be rectified before a proper relationship with the covenant God can be restored. Judgment, emphasized in chapters 1-39, is the purifying force that leads to the forgiveness and pardoning of sins emphasized in chapters 40-66 (cf. 27:9). Ultimately redemption for Israel must come from the “ideal Servant, ” the Messiah, who will accomplish what the servant-nation cannot do. This accounts for the so-called “Servant Songs” in the second major division of Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). But chapters 40-66 emphasize more than redemption from sin. Those chapters go beyond that to speak of a change in the cosmos, of the Lord’s restoration of His created order. In chapters 1-39 judgment on sin is stressed; in chapters 40-66 atonement for that sin and the resulting change in people and the world system are discussed. Judgment, then, must come before blessing can follow. Isaiah had a lofty view of God. The Lord is seen as the Initiator of events in history. He is apart from and greater than His Creation; yet He is involved in the affairs of that Creation. In the ancient Near East names were more meaningful than they are today. A person’s name was an indication of his or her character. The Book of Isaiah is no exception, for in this book the meanings of God’s names play an important role in several prophetic utterances. Isaiah used the name “the Lord” (Yahweh) by itself more than 300 times, making it by far the most prominent name for Deity Isaiah used. Since this name is the covenant name for God, it is natural that Isaiah used it often. He also frequently used the name “God” (’ělōhîm) in both parts of the book. It is noteworthy that “God” occurs six times in chapter 40 (vv. 1, 3, 8-9, 27-28; “God” in v. 18, however, translates the shorter form ’ēl), which introduces the section on comfort for the covenant people. As the one supreme Deity, God can give comfort to His people. (See earlier comments on the theme of “comfort” in Isa.) ’Ēl seems to be used as a polemic against the other gods, for a number of its occurrences appear in the section in which the Lord was speaking of His sovereignty over false gods (chaps. 40-48). Four times God affirmed, “I am God (’ēl)e 43:12; 45:22; 46:9 (twice). ”Lord“ (’ăḏōnāy or the shortened form ’āḏôn) suggests God’s dominance over His Creation and is used numerous times in Isaiah, many of them in chapters 1-39. ”The Lord Almighty“ (Yahweh ṣeḇā’ôṯ; kjv, ”the Lord of hosts“), the most common compound name for God in the Book of Isaiah, appears 46 times in chapters 1-39 and 6 times in the remainder of the book. This compound title links the covenant name of God (Yahweh) with His sovereignty over all heavenly powers. God is also called ”the Lord, the Lord Almighty“ (’ăḏōnāy Yahweh ṣeḇā’ôṯ) 10 times. He is referred to as ”the God of Israel“ 12 times, and ”the Holy One of Israel“ 25 times. ”Redeemer“ is used of God 13 times, all in chapters 41-63, which stress God’s redeeming work for Israel, and only one other time in the rest of the Old Testament.
WIERSBE - Because God’s prophets were correct all of the time, they didn’t have to explain away their mistakes. “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true,” wrote Moses, “that is a message the Lord has not spoken” (Deut. 18:22). “To the law and to the testimony,” wrote Isaiah; “if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (8:20). Isaiah was a man who had God’s light, and he was not afraid to let it shine.Before we examine the text of Isaiah’s prophecy, let’s get acquainted with the background of the book so that we can better understand the man and his times.
1. The man
The name “Isaiah” means “salvation of the Lord,” and salvation (deliverance) is the key theme of his book. He wrote concerning five different acts of deliverance that God would perform:
(1) the deliverance of Judah from Assyrian invasion (chaps. chaps. 36–37).
(2) the deliverance of the nation from Babylonian Captivity (chap. 40);
(3) the future deliverance of the Jews from worldwide dispersion among the Gentiles (chaps. 11–12);
(4) the deliverance of lost sinners from judgment (chap. 53);
(5) the final deliverance of creation from the bondage of sin when the kingdom is established (chaps. 60, 66:17ff).
There were other Jewish men named Isaiah, so the prophet identified himself seven times as “the son of Amoz,” not to be confused with “Amos” (1:1; 2:1; 13:1; 20:2; 37:2, 21; 38:1). Isaiah was married, and his wife was called “the prophetess” (8:3), either because she was married to a prophet or because she shared the prophetic gift. He fathered two sons whose names have prophetic significance: Shear-jashub (“a remnant shall return”; 7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (“quick to plunder, swift to the spoil”; 8:1–4, 18). The two names speak of the nation’s judgment and restoration, two important themes in Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah was called to his ministry “in the year that King Uzziah died” (6:1), which was 739 B.C. [53 yrs total ministry] Isaiah ministered through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, who died in 686. Tradition says that Manasseh, King Hezekiah’s successor, killed Isaiah by having him sawn in half (Heb. 11:37); but there is no record of this in Scripture. What kind of a man was Isaiah the prophet? As you read his prophecy, you will discover that he was a man in touch with God. He saw God’s Son and God’s glory (chap. 6; John 12:41), he heard God’s message, and he sought to bring the nation back to God before it was too late. Isaiah was a man who loved his nation. The phrase “my people” is used at least twenty-six times in his book. He was a patriot with a true love for his country, pleading with Judah to return to God and warning kings when their foreign policy was contrary to God’s will. The American political leader Adlai Stevenson called patriotism “not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” He was not thinking of Isaiah when he said that, but Stevenson’s words perfectly describe the prophet and his work. He was also a man who hated sin and sham religion. His favorite name for God is “the Holy One of Israel,” and he uses it twenty-five times in his book. (It is used only five times in the rest of the Old Testament.) He looked at the crowded courts of the temple and cried out, “They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (1:4). He examined the political policies of the leaders and said, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help...but they look not to the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord” (31:1). Jehovah was holy, but the nation was sinful; and Isaiah called the people to repent. Isaiah was certainly a courageous man. Unafraid to denounce kings and priests, and unwavering when public opinion went against him, he boldly declared the Word of God. For three years Isaiah wore only a loin cloth to dramatize the victory of Assyria over Egypt (chap. 20). In so doing, he hoped to get the attention of a people who were blind to their country’s danger. He was a man skilled in communicating God’s truth. Not content with merely declaring facts, Isaiah clothed those facts in striking language that would catch the attention of a people blind and deaf to spiritual truth (6:9–10). He compared the nation to a diseased body (1:5–6), a harlot (v. 21), a useless vineyard (chap. 5), a bulging wall about to fall down (30:13), and a woman in travail (66:8). Assyria, the enemy, would come like a swollen stream (8:7–8), a swarm of bees (7:18), a lion (5:29), and an axe (10:15). Like our Lord Jesus Christ, Isaiah knew how to stir the imagination of his listeners so that he might arouse their interest and teach them God’s truth (Matt. 13:10–17).
2. The monarchs Isaiah prophesied during the days of “Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (1:1). The nation had divided after the death of Solomon (1 Kings 12), but the priesthood and the Davidic throne belonged to Judah. The ten northern tribes formed the kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), with Samaria as its capital city; and Benjamin and Judah united to form the kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital city. Though Isaiah predicted the fall of Israel to Assyria(chap. 28), which occurred in 722 B.C., his major focus was on Judah and Jerusalem (1:1). Uzziah is also called Azariah. At the age of sixteen, he became co-regent with his father Amaziah and was on the throne for fifty-two years (792–740). When his father was assassinated in 767, Uzziah became the sole ruler and brought the nation to its greatest days since David and Solomon (2 Kings 14:17–22; 15:1–7; 2 Chron. 26:1–15). “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction” (v. 16). He tried to intrude into the priest’s ministry in the temple, and God judged him by smiting him with leprosy. It was in the year that King Uzziah died that Isaiah was called to minister (Isa. 6:1).Jotham was co-regent after his father became a leper, and his record as king was a good one (2 Kings 15:32–38; (2 Chron. 27). He reigned for twenty years, and it was during his time that the Assyrian Empire began to emerge as a new and threatening power. During the last twelve years of Jotham’s reign, his son Ahaz served as co-regent; but Ahaz was not one of Judah’s good kings. Ahaz forged political alliances that eventually brought Judah into bondage to Assyria (2 Kings 16; 2 Chron. 28). Judah was repeatedly threatened by Egypt from the south and Syria and Israel from the north, and Ahaz depended on an alliance with Assyria to protect himself. Isaiah warned Ahaz that his alliances with godless Gentiles would not work, and he encouraged the king to put his trust in the Lord (Isa. 7).Hezekiah reigned forty-two years and was one of Judah’s greatest kings (2 Kings 18–20; 2 Chron. 29–32). He not only strengthened the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah, but led the people back to the Lord. He built the famous water system that still stands in Jerusalem.
The ministry of Isaiah spans a period of over fifty years, from 739 B.C. (the death of Uzziah) to 686 B.C. (the death of Hezekiah); and it probably extended into the early years of King Manasseh. It was a difficult time of international upheaval, when first one power and then another threatened Judah. But the greatest dangers were not outside the nation; they were within. In spite of the godly leadership of King Hezekiah, Judah had no more godly kings. One by one, Hezekiah’s successors led the nation into political and spiritual decay, ending in captivity in Babylon. The British expositor G. Campbell Morgan said: “The whole story of the prophet Isaiah, as it is revealed to us in this one book, is that of a man who spoke to an inattentive age or to an age which, if attentive, mocked him and refused to obey his message, until, as the prophetic period drew to a close, he inquired in anguish, ‘Who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ ”
3. The message The following suggested outline will help you get an overview of this magnificent book.
Theme: the salvation (deliverance) of the Lord
1. Sermons against Judah and Israel—(1–12)
2. Burdens of Judgment against the Gentiles—(13–23)
3. Songs about Future Glory—(24–27)
4. Woes of Coming Judgment from Assyria—(28–35)
5. Historical Interlude—(36–39)
a. Hezekiah delivered from Assyria—(36–37)
b. Hezekiah deceived by Babylon—(37–38)
1. God’s Greatness—(40–48) (The Father vs. idols)
2. God’s Grace—(49–57) (The Son, God’s Servant)
3. God’s Glory—(58–66) (The Spirit and the kingdom)
Isaiah opens his book with a series of sermons denouncing sin: the personal sins of the people (chaps. 1–6) and the national sins of the leaders (chaps. 7–12). In these messages, he warns of judgment and pleads for repentance. The Prophets Amos and Hosea were preaching similar messages to the people of the Northern Kingdom, warning them that time was running out. But the Gentile nations around Judah and Israel were not innocent! In chapters (13–23), Isaiah denounced them for their sins and warned of God’s judgment. Israel and Judah had sinned against the Law of God and were even more guilty than their neighbors, but the Gentile nations would not escape God’s wrath. In the way they had behaved, these nations had sinned against conscience (Rom. 2:1–16) and against human decency. The Prophet Amos was preaching the same message in the Northern Kingdom, but he denounced the Gentiles first and then warned the Jews (Amos 1–2). As you study the Book of Isaiah, you will discover that the prophet intersperses messages of hope with his words of judgment. God remembers His mercy even when declaring His wrath (Hab. 3:2), and He assures His people that they have a “hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Isaiah 24–27 is devoted to “songs of hope” that describe the glory of the future kingdom. Isaiah sees a day when the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah will return to the land, be reunited and redeemed, and enter into the blessings of the promised kingdom. Chapters 28–35 focus on the impending Assyrian invasion of Israel and Judah. Israel will be destroyed and the ten tribes assimilated into the Assyrian Empire. (This is the origin of the Samaritans, who were part Jewish and part Gentile.) Judah would be invaded and devastated, but Jerusalem would be delivered by the Lord. At this point in his book, Isaiah moved from prophecy to history and focused on two key events that occurred during the reign of King Hezekiah: God’s miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians (chaps. 36–37), and Hezekiah’s foolish cooperation with the Babylonians (chaps. 38–39). This section forms a transition from an emphasis on Assyria to an emphasis on Babylon, for the last twenty-seven chapters look ahead to the return of the Jewish remnant from Babylonian Captivity. The Jewish rabbis call Isaiah 40–66 “The Book of Consolation,” and their description is accurate. Addressed originally to the discouraged Jewish exiles returning to an impoverished land and a ruined temple, these chapters have brought comfort and hope to God’s people in every age and in every kind of difficult situation. The Hebrew word translated “comfort” also means “to repent.” God brings comfort, not to rebellious people but to repentant people. The arrangement of chapters 40–66 is not accidental. “The Book of Consolation” is divided into three sections; each focuses on a different Person of the Godhead and a different attribute of God. Chapters 40–48 exalt the greatness of God the Father; chapters 49–57, the grace of God the Son, God’s Suffering Servant; and chapters 58–66, the glory of the future kingdom when the Spirit is poured out on God’s people. Note the references to the Spirit in 59:19 and 21; 61:l; and 63:10–11 and 14. Servant is one of the key words in this second section of the Book of Isaiah. The word is used seventeen times and has three different referents: the nation of Israel (41:8–9; 43:10); Cyrus, king of Persia, whom God raised up to help Israel restore their nation and rebuild their temple (44:28; 45:1; see Ezra 1:1); and Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Isa. 42:1, 19; 52:13; 53:11), the Suffering Servant who died for the sins of the world. While Assyria and Egypt vie for center stage in chapters 1–39, it is Babylon and Persia that get the attention in chapters 40–66. In summary, Isaiah had an immediate word of warning to both Israel and Judah that Assyria was on the march and would be used by God to punish them for their sins. Occasionally, Isaiah uses this invasion to picture “the day of the Lord,” that future time when the whole world will taste of the wrath of God. The prophets often used immediate circumstances to illustrate future events. Isaiah had a word of promise to Judah that God would deliver Jerusalem from the enemy for the sake of David’s throne. There was also a word of hope for the future Jewish exiles in Babylon, that God would rescue them and help them restore their nation and their temple. But Isaiah’s greatest message is his word of salvation, announcing the coming of the Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, who would die for sinners and one day return to earth to establish His glorious kingdom.
4. The Messiah Isaiah is much more than a prophet: He is an evangelist who presents Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Gospel. Isaiah’s “Servant Song” about Jesus (Isa. 52:13–53:12) is quoted or alluded to nearly forty times in the New Testament. The prophet wrote about the birth of Christ (7:14; 9:6; Matt. 1:18–25); the ministry of John the Baptist (Isa. 40:1–6; Matt. 3:1ff); Christ’s anointing by the Spirit (Isa. 61:1–2; Luke 4:17–19); the nation’s rejection of their Messiah (Isa. 6:9–11; John 12:38ff); Christ, the “stone of stumbling” (Isa. 8:14; 28:16; Rom. 9:32–33; 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6); Christ’s ministry to the Gentiles (Isa. 49:6; Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47); the Savior’s suffering and death (Isa. 52:13–53:12; Acts 3:13; 8:32–33; 1 Peter 2:21–25); His resurrection (Isa. 55:3; Acts 13:34); and His return to reign as King (Isa. 9:6–7; 11:1ff; 59:20–21; 63:1–3; Rom. 11:26–27; Rev. 19:13–15). There are many other references in Isaiah to the Messiah, and we will notice them as we study this book. It is this emphasis on redemption that gives Isaiah a message for the whole world. While it is true he ministered to the little nation of Judah, and wrote about nations and empires that for the most part are no longer on the world scene, his focus was on God’s plan of salvation for the whole world. Isaiah saw the greatness of God and the vastness of His plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike. Isaiah was a patriot but not a bigot; he saw beyond his own nation to the gracious work God would do among the Gentile nations of the world.nI have a feeling that the Book of Isaiah was a favorite book of the Apostle Paul. He quotes from it or alludes to it at least eighty times in his epistles and in at least three of his recorded messages (Acts 13:22–23, 34, 47; 17:24–29; 28:26–28). This interest in Isaiah may stem from the fact that Jesus quoted Isaiah 42:7 and 16 when He spoke to Paul on the Damascus Road (Acts 26:16–18). When Jesus encouraged Paul during his ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:9–10), He referred to Isaiah 41:10 and 43:5. Paul’s call to evangelize the Gentiles was confirmed by Isaiah 49:6. Like the Prophet Isaiah, Paul saw the vastness of God’s plan for both Jews and Gentiles; and like Isaiah, Paul magnified Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Five times in his letters Paul refers to Isaiah53 As you study Isaiah and discover God’s prophetic plan for the nations of the world, don’t miss his emphasis on the personal message of God’s forgiveness. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (1:18). “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins” (44:22). “I, even I, am He, who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (43:25). How can “the Holy One of Israel,” a just and righteous God, forgive our sins and remember them no more?“But [Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (53:5).It was on the basis of this truth that Peter declared, “To [Jesus] all the prophets witness, that through His name, whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).“Who hath believed our report?” Isaiah asks us (Isa. 53:1).“If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established,” he warns us (7:9,).If you have never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him into your life, then do so now. “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (45:22).“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
POSB - The Call of God’s Prophet Isaiah: Three Elements Necessary to Serve God, 6:1-13 (6:1-13) Introduction: many are called but few are chosen (Mt.20:16; 22:14). What exactly does this mean? Simply that many individuals have been called by God to minister to people, but few have ever responded to the call. Far more have rejected the call to service than have responded positively. When an opportunity to minister crosses our path, we should grasp the opportunity. We should meet whatever need there is lying in our path. We should never neglect a person or persons in need—whether hungry, impoverished, sick, hurting or otherwise, not if the person is truly in need. No matter what the call to service may be, if the call comes from God, we should surrender to the call In the year that King Uzziah died, the Lord gave Isaiah an extraordinary vision of Himself. Obviously, young Isaiah needed this very special encounter with the Lord. Why this was necessary is not specifically stated, but several reasons can be gleaned from Scripture. First, Isaiah’s faith needed to be strengthened. He needed to know beyond any doubt who the Lord is and the extreme importance of the message being given to him. It was the Lord of hosts, the sovereign Creator and Majesty of the universe who was calling the young man to proclaim God’s message to the world. Second, Isaiah evidently needed to be humbled. He needed to be shown just what terrible sinners he and the people were, especially when seen in the light of God’s glory and holiness (v.3, 5). Third, Isaiah needed to be stirred with a renewed sense of urgency to proclaim God’s warning of coming judgment. It was absolutely essential that the people repent, turn back to the Lord if they were to escape the coming judgment. If they failed to repent, God’s execution of justice was sure to sweep down upon them. Fourth, Isaiah evidently needed to be prepared for a challenging and difficult ministry. The people’s hearts were hard, their ears deaf, and their eyes blinded to the truth of God’s Word that He alone is the only living and true God. Therefore, they had to be charged to worship Him alone and to obey Him, living righteous and holy lives as His commandments stipulate. Fifth, this was a critical time in the history of the nation. King Uzziah was either dying or else already dead. Under Uzziah’s leadership the nation had flourished economically and militarily. The king had launched a massive program of public works and construction projects in addition to strengthening the military. As a result, there was little or no unemployment. The people were very successful in their businesses, agriculture, and ranching ventures. Almost everyone had a prosperous lifestyle. However, in the latter years of Uzziah’s reign, he slipped into sin and exposed a terrible flaw in his character. He was seen to be full of pride and self-importance. Shockingly, he had forced his way into the temple and assumed the role of a priest, God’s appointed intercessor. Usurping the position of a priest was a very serious offense in the eyes of the Lord. For that reason the Lord had afflicted Uzziah with leprosy, and he was forced to live in isolation until his death. Left with no choice, King Uzziah had to put his son Jotham in charge of the government as his co-regent upon the throne. Although unknown to Isaiah and the people of his day, Uzziah’s death was to mark a major change in the history of the Jews. Following the reign of King Uzziah, the prosperity and peace that the nation had known began to decline. His son Jotham was a good king, but Jotham’s son Ahaz was a terrible ruler. He led the nation in a downward spiral of wickedness and false worship. Although the tide was turned back to righteousness under Hezekiah’s rule, Isaiah was to have a very difficult ministry. The prophet’s ministry was launched in the year that King Uzziah died, the very period in which the utter disintegration of the nation began. Of course, the Lord knew the significance of the historical change that was taking place. He knew the desperate need of the people for a prophet who would courageously stand before them and proclaim the Word of the living Lord. To this end, Isaiah was being called. He was to minister to a nation that was declining, marching ever so rapidly down the spiral of utter disintegration and ruin. The people were given over to greed and covetousness, indulgence and drunkenness, lies and deception, pride and arrogance, and the mockery and persecution of the righteous. In fact, throughout Isaiah’s entire ministry he faced a people with perverted values, a people who called evil good and good evil. Sadly, the society of his day turned away from the Lord and to false gods and false worship. The people were given over to sin and wickedness. Facing the death of King Uzziah and the resulting shift in government, Isaiah felt a desperate need to seek the face of the Lord. As always, when any genuine believer seeks the Lord, the Lord meets the believer’s need. In Isaiah’s case, the Lord gave him a very special vision of Himself. Isaiah actually saw the Lord sitting on the throne of God, high and exalted in the heavenly temple. Through this encounter with the Lord, Isaiah was set apart for the very special ministry to which he was being called. This is, The Call of God’s Prophet, Isaiah: Three Elements Necessary to Serve God, 6:1-13.
1. A vision of the Lord (vv.1-4).
2. A conviction of unworthiness: all are sinners and need cleansing (vv.5-7).
3. A surrender to the Lord, to His call and commission (vv.8-13).
(6:1-4) Vision, of the Lord, Essential for Service—Call – Called, Essential, to See the Lord—Ministers, Call of, Three Essentials—Exaltation, of God, Vision of—Majesty, of God, Vision of—Holiness, of God, Vision of—Glory, of God, Vision of—Power, of God, Vision of—Presence, of God, Vision of—Temple, Heavenly, Vision of—Jesus Christ, Vision of, by Isaiah: in order to serve the Lord, a person needs a vision of the Lord. A person must know the Lord and understand who He is before he can adequately serve Him. This was true of Isaiah and it is true of every genuine believer, especially the ministers and teachers of God’s Holy Word.
1. The Lord gave Isaiah a vision of His exaltation and majesty (v.1). Isaiah actually saw the Lord sitting on His heavenly throne, high and exalted. Obviously, this was the highest, most elevated throne Isaiah had ever seen or imagined. It was the throne of the King of kings Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John confirms this fact, for he clearly says that it was Christ sitting on the heavenly throne in all His glory and majesty (Jn.12:41). The Lord was exalted as the sovereign God over all the universe: above, before, and over all that exists. Transcending everything, He was exalted above all rulers and governments throughout the universe. He held dominion, ruled and reigned, over all powers and principalities, both in this world and the spiritual world. Isaiah also saw the Lord’s flowing robes fill the heavenly sanctuary. Because of His majesty and royalty, no person was able to stand in His immediate presence or to gaze into His holy face. The train of His robe filled the entire temple.
2. The Lord gave Isaiah a vision of His holiness and glory (vv.2-3). Flying above the Lord’s throne were a number of spectacular creatures called seraphim, who are not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. The word “seraphim” (sarap) means burning ones, suggesting a burning purity and zeal for the Lord. Perhaps their presence suggests the burning, consuming fire of God’s holiness in executing His justice and judgment. In appearance, the seraphim were apparently like humans in that they had faces, feet, and voices. But they were unlike humans in that they had six wings.
Þ With two wings they covered their faces, indicating their unworthiness and humility. They were not worthy to gaze upon the face of the Holy One.
Þ With two other wings they covered their feet, perhaps indicating their reverence for the Lord. They are not worthy to stand before the Lord.
Þ With the other two wings they flew or hovered above the throne of God, possibly signifying their continued ministry of proclaiming God’s holiness and glory. However, their flying could also signify a readiness to undertake any task assigned by the Lord. Isaiah saw and heard the seraphim’s fervent, unbroken praise of God’s holiness and glory (v.3). Obviously, this was their primary ministry. With the deepest fervency possible, the seraphim called back and forth to each other: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts [Lord Almighty]: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The threefold repetition of holy emphasizes that holiness is the most essential characteristic of the Lord. Holiness is the very essence of God’s being. Holy (qadosh) means to be set apart, separated, distinctive, different, transcendent. It also has the idea of perfection, purity, and moral cleanness. The Lord is totally set apart, entirely different from all beings throughout the universe, including mankind. From the very presence of God flows the blazing light of perfection and purity. The very nature of God is light, the brilliance and splendor of light, the most pure light imaginable. As Scripture says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn.1:5). Being holy—the very essence and energy of pure light—God can have no part with evil or things associated with evil. Thus anyone who wishes to be associated with God must be holy even as He is holy. But since no person can achieve such holiness or perfection, a person must come to the Lord and beg for cleansing. This will be dealt with in the next point. For now, God’s holiness is the focus. God’s holiness shines forth as a witness to His perfection. In fact, the blazing glory of God’s presence (His holiness and light) shines so brightly that there will be no need for a sun in the New Jerusalem (Re.21:23). Note the second part of the seraphim’s song: they declare “the whole earth is full of His glory.” Creation—the heavens and earth—declare the glory of God. Wherever we look, whether at the starry sky at night or the astounding beauty of nature, the incomprehensible glory of God is evident.
3. The Lord gave Isaiah a vision of His power and presence (v.4). As the seraphim cried out, the power of their deep voices shook the very foundation of the temple. Even the huge doorposts and thresholds trembled. Witnessing this would remind Isaiah of God’s awesome power and of the angelic agents who were available to execute God’s justice upon the earth. Isaiah also saw smoke fill the temple. Most likely, this smoke was a cloud of glory that symbolized the Lord’s holy presence. His cloud of glory, His presence, had led the Israelites through the wilderness journeys and had also filled Solomon’s temple on the day it was dedicated (Ex.13:21; 16:10; 1 Kings 8:10-13). Thought 1. Any person who truly desires to serve the Lord must have a clear vision of the Lord. The individual must know the Lord and know who He is before he can serve Him as Lord. This is true for all genuine believers, but especially for those in leadership positions such as ministers and teachers of God’s Holy Word.
1) To serve the Lord, we must see the Lord exalted, sitting upon the throne of the universe in all His majestic glory. If we do not know that Christ is Lord, how can we lead people to honor and worship Him, to surrender their lives to Him and obey His Holy Word? Unless we know that Jesus Christ is Lord, we waste our time trying to serve Him. Of what value is any ministry in His Name unless He is Lord? If Jesus Christ were not truly Lord, He would not deserve the worship or service of any person. Therefore, God’s Holy Word declares to us time and again the wonderful truth that Jesus Christ is the exalted, sovereign Lord of the universe.
“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mk.16:19).
“Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God” (Lu.22:69).
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Ac.2:32-36).
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Ac.5:30-31).
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Ro.10:9-10).
“For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Ro.14:9).
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3).
“[God’s mighty power] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep.1:20-22).
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10).
“[Jesus Christ] Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Pe.3:22).
“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Re.5:12).
2) To serve the Lord, we must see the holiness and glory or Christ. If Jesus Christ were not the holy and sinless Son of God, He could not be the Savior of the world. He would be as short of God’s glory as we are and as guilty of sin as we are. He would need a Savior as much as we do. But the wonderful truth is this: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, holy and sinless, the Savior of the world. If we do not know Him as our Redeemer, how can we proclaim His salvation? If we believe Jesus Christ is only another man, guilty of sin, there is no value in lifting Him up as the Savior of the world. He would be nothing more than a mere human being. But the unequivocal declaration of God’s Holy Word is this wonderful truth: Jesus Christ is the holy, sinless Son of God.
“Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” (Jn.8:46).
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
“Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9).
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:25-26).
“For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore” (Heb. 7:28).
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [behavior, conduct] received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pe.1:18-19).
“Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pe.2:22-24).
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (1 Jn.3:5).
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all….And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (Isa. 53:6, 9).
3) To serve the Lord, we must know His power and presence. We must know that He has the power to deliver us from the bondage of sin and death, the power to deliver us through all trials and temptations. In addition, we must know that the Lord’s presence is always with us, guiding and leading us victoriously throughout life. Listen to what God’s Holy Word says about the Lord’s power:
“But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house” (Mt.9:6-7).
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt.18:20).
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mt.28:18).
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mt.28:20).
“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jn.17:2).
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Ac.10:38).
“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Ro.1:4).
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ep.3:20).
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).
“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Ge.28:15).
“And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Ex.33:14).
“When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (De.20:1).
“But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God” (Ps.40:17).
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).
“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:1-2).
(6:5-7) Conviction, of Sin—Unworthiness, Conviction of—Cleansing, Need for, Example—Sin, Universal—Confession, of Sin, Example—Isaiah, Confession of, Sin—Man, Nature of, a Sinner—Guilt, of Sin, All Men—Man, State of – Present State, a Sinner: a deep conviction of unworthiness is necessary to serve the Lord. Confronted with the vision of the Lord in all His majesty and holiness, Isaiah was stricken with a profound sense of unworthiness. He suddenly realized the horrible nature of sin when contrasted with the majestic light of God’s glory and holiness. How filthy, polluted, defiled, dishonorable, and corrupt sin is. Because the Lord is so high and exalted, so pure and righteous, sin stinks within His nostrils. Thus, when Isaiah saw the holiness of God, he realized just how impure and unclean he was. Although he had placed his trust in the Lord years before, in this renewed call to the ministry Isaiah saw how utterly undeserving he was to serve the Lord. Feeling deep anguish within his soul, he cried out, “Woe” (v.5). This is a cry of alarm, a sense that some terrible calamity is about to happen. Obviously he sensed that God’s brilliant holiness was about to strike him dead. He cried out in distress, “I am undone” (nidmeyti). This word means to be ruined, cut off, destroyed, doomed to die. If God dealt with Isaiah in strict justice, he was a doomed man. Flooding Isaiah’s spirit was a deep consciousness of how far short of the glory of God he was. The Lord sat in all His glory and majesty high above the earth, ruling over the entire universe. All sorts of memories no doubt flashed through Isaiah’s mind. He thought about his sins of omission—the times he had failed to do what he should or to be as diligent as he should—as well as his sins of commission—the times he had disobeyed the Lord’s Word, His holy commandments. Sensing a desperate need to confess his failures, he cried out that he was a sinful man, a man of “unclean lips.” Why did Isaiah refer to his “unclean lips” instead of simply saying that he was a man of sin? Probably because he was deeply aware of some recent sin he had committed with his tongue and knew that the root of sin went much deeper. Perhaps he had failed to speak a kind word when it was needed or perhaps he had been silent when he had been given an opportunity to witness for the Lord. Whatever the case, Isaiah knew that his lips were guilty of failing the Lord, guilty of serious sin. An overpowering conviction of sin burned within his soul. And he felt the heavy weight, the total mass of sin that was exposed before the pure holiness and power of God. Having seen the King, the Lord of hosts (God Almighty), Isaiah knew that the Lord could strike out at any moment and destroy the human race. Thus he confessed the sins of the whole world, crying out that he lived among a people of “unclean lips” Obviously, Isaiah was very aware that the sins of the lips or tongue actually flowed from a sinful heart. Later in history, Christ was to express the truth as well as it could be stated.
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Mt.12:35-37)
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mt.15:18-19).
“And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mk.7:20-23).
Having fallen prostrate upon the ground in utter anguish of soul, Isaiah was crushed with a deep conviction of his sin. But the wonderful truth is this fact: the Lord never leaves His people bearing the weight of guilt and sin, not when they confess and turn away from their sins. Knowing the genuineness of Isaiah’s heart, the Lord met his need. Isaiah was cleansed from his sins. One of the seraphim performed the function of a priest. Flying over to the altar, he picked up a burning coal with a pair of tongs. Then flying over to Isaiah, he touched the lips of the prophet with a hot coal and pronounced that he was cleansed from sin. The hot, burning coal symbolized the burning away of sin, the purifying and cleansing of sin. The fact that the hot coal was taken from the altar was a reminder that sin was forgiven through the blood of the sacrifice, the sacrifice that was always offered upon the altar. The seraphim actually pronounced that Isaiah’s sin had been atoned for. This act definitely symbolized God’s atonement for sin. Sometime in the future, Christ was going to die to provide atonement for the sins of every human being. But for now, because Isaiah had confessed his sins, the Lord had the seraphim symbolize the cleansing of Isaiah’s sin. Remember that a sensor full of burning coals had always been taken into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement. It was taken before the Lord by the High Priest when the substitute sacrifice was offered to God on behalf of His people (see outline—§Le.16:11-14 and note—§Le.16:11-14 for more discussion).
Thought 1. A deep conviction of unworthiness is necessary for us to serve the Lord. We must not measure ourselves against one another, for we are all of the same flesh and blood. We are all guilty of giving in to temptation, sinning through acts of commission or omission. Therefore, when we measure ourselves against one another, we are as good as everyone else. But to learn the truth about ourselves, we must measure ourselves against the Lord. When we see the Lord high and exalted, dwelling in the blazing holiness of His being, then we see the truth. We see just how far short of God’s glory we are, how terrible our sin is when contrasted with His perfection and glory (Ro.3:23). The result of this comparison is just what we need: a deep conviction of sin and of unworthiness. Hence, we are driven—or should be driven—to seek forgiveness from the Lord, the only source of true forgiveness. And when the Lord pardons us, we are truly freed. Guilt is erased, and our spirits are set free from depression, discouragement, self-accusation, and the sense of failure. We are set free from the heavy weight of guilt that causes so many emotional problems, problems that far too often crush us and make us helpless, unable to function. Jesus Christ—He and He alone—can and will set us free if we will confess and repent of our sins. In addition, confession and repentance are absolutely essential before we can genuinely serve the Lord. Listen to what God’s Holy Word says:
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Mt.5:4).
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lu.13:3).
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Ac.2:37-38).
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Ac.3:19).
“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Ac.24:25).
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ep.1:7).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn.1:9).
“For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Ps.38:4).
“For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Ps.51:3).
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Pr.28:13).
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7).
“Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips” (Ho.14:2).
3. (6:8-13) Surrender, to the Lord’s Call, by Isaiah—Call, of the Lord, Surrender to—Commission, of Isaiah—Ministry, of Isaiah—Warning, Threefold—Ministry, Difficult, Example: Isaiah surrendered to the Lord’S call and commission, an absolute essential in order to serve the Lord. A person must first hear God’s call and then respond favorably before he can truly serve the Lord. This was true of Isaiah, and it is true of every genuine believer, but especially the ministers and teachers of God’s Word.
1. Isaiah heard God’s call and responded favorably (v.8). As soon as Isaiah had been cleansed from his sins, he immediately heard the booming voice of the Lord calling for a volunteer to go forth to minister to His people. Without hesitation—not leaving time for the seraphim or anyone else to respond—Isaiah courageously offered himself: “Here am I! Send me.” Having been forgiven his sins and sensing deeply that the Lord accepted him, Isaiah was filled with joy and thanksgiving. Therefore with no reservation, Isaiah leapt at the opportunity to serve his Lord. His immediate surrender reveals…a spirit of readiness, both a desire and a willingness to serve the Lord a spirit of resolve, a determination to go and bear witness despite the difficulties a spirit of trust, leaving the success and results up to the Lord. Unlike so many who hesitate or even reject God’s call, Isaiah readily, willingly surrendered to serve the Lord. Whereas Moses and Jeremiah both fought against the call of God, Isaiah offered himself without reservation or qualification.
2. Isaiah was commissioned by God, instructed to go and issue a threefold warning to the people (vv.9-10). First, he was to warn the people about hearing God’s Word but never understanding it. Obviously, many of the people were faithful in their worship attendance. They regularly heard the Word of God. But their repeated hearing was not leading to understanding. Instead of truly listening, their minds were wandering about, focused upon their own affairs or problems. They occasionally witnessed God working in the lives of other people, yet they never perceived that they themselves needed a work of God in their own hearts. Simply stated, when they attended worship service or heard the Word of God being taught, they became sleepy eyed, groggy, and inattentive.
Second, Isaiah was to warn the people against having hard hearts, deaf ears, and blind eyes (v.10). Repeatedly rejecting the Word of God and His work in their hearts had a terrible impact upon the people. It hardened them and rendered them incapable of receiving and responding to God’s Word. Time and again the people refused to hear the Word of God. Consequently, the more they rejected God’s Word, the harder their hearts became and the more deaf and blind they became. Constant resistance resulted in less interest in the Lord. Thus the people were less able to receive Him. They became more and more callous toward God. Note that this experience is so common and so tragic that it is quoted six times in the New Testament (Mt.13:13-15; Mk.4:12; Lu.8:10; Jn.12:40; Ac.28:25-28; Ro.11:8).
Third, Isaiah was to warn the people against continuing to resist to the point of no return. The people could reach a point of never being able to repent, the point of never being able to escape the coming judgment (v.10). People must be warned: the Lord is not playing a game with the human race. His Word must be taken seriously, not trifled with,
ignored, neglected, and certainly not disobeyed. Yet despite God’s warnings, history has shown that people do harden themselves toward the Lord and His Word. They even deny God’s existence and exalt man as lord over his own destiny. These individuals often harden their consciences to the point that they no longer sense conviction of wrongdoing. In doing so, they reach a point of ultimate resistance, a point of never being able to return to the Lord. In other words, a person can become so hardened toward the Lord that he will never repent. The result is sad and tragic, for the person will never be able to escape the coming judgment. He has doomed himself to spending eternity separated from God. It is not God who deliberately hardens the hearts of people, making their ears deaf and their eyes closed. Rather, it is the people who continually resist God’s truth. It is the stubbornness of people’s hearts, their repeated refusal to hear the Word of God and to surrender their lives to Him that dooms them to never accept the wonderful salvation God offers. These were the three warnings Isaiah was commissioned to proclaim to the people. No matter how the people responded, he was to continue proclaiming the Holy Word of God.
3. Isaiah sensed that he was being called to persevere in a difficult, unpopular ministry (vv.11-13). Therefore, he asked the Lord how long the people would resist the truth. God’s answer was threefold, indicating that the situation was to get much worse before it would get better.
a. The people would resist the truth until the hand of God’s judgment fell. Because of their hard hearts, the nation was to be destroyed and the people deported to a far land (vv.11-12). The situation would not get better until the Northern and Southern Kingdoms had been conquered and the people taken into captivity and exiled by the conquerors. (See outline—§2 Kings 17:1-41; notes—§2 Kings 17:1-41; outline—§2 Kings 25:1-30; and notes—§2 Kings 25:1-30 for more discussion.)
b. The people would continue to resist the truth until only a remnant remained, but even this remnant would see the land invaded and wasted again (v.13). Note that the remnant would be only about a tenth of the population. However, they too would experience further destruction due to the hardness of their hearts toward the Lord. This is a clear reference to the future destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar (See outline—§2 Kings 25:1-30 and notes—§2 Kings 25:1-30 for more discussion).
c. The people would go on resisting the truth until the holy seed arose from the stump. The “stump” represents the few survivors that will be left (v.13). This is a wonderful promise, that a holy seed—a small number of true believers—will survive the coming judgment. It will be like the stump of a fallen tree that gives rise to shoots of growth. So it would be with the population of Judah and Jerusalem. There would be a stump, a few survivors of true believers, who would escape the coming judgment. People would continue to resist the truth until these days, so the warning must be issued by Isaiah and then others who follow him. So long as people continue to resist the truth, the warning of God was to be issued against them.
Thought 1. Before we can serve the Lord, we must first surrender to the Him. We must acknowledge Him as the Lord, as the high and exalted Creator of the universe, the Holy One who is to be worshipped and served. Second, we must confess and repent of our sins before we can truly serve the Lord. And then, thirdly, we must surrender to the Lord’s call and commission. We are not called to be successful, but we are called to be available. A spirit of surrender must grip our hearts. No matter the difficulty or hardship of the call, we must be ready and resolved to step forth for the Lord, trusting Him for strength and guidance. If we surrender to the Lord—show Him that our spirits are ready and resolved—He will send us forth in the power of His Spirit. Every step of the way will be directed by His Spirit, and we will be empowered to face any difficulty. No matter how hard the people’s hearts may be or how strong the opposition, the Lord will overshadow us with His presence and empower us to complete the task. The one request of us is not that of intelligence, ability, or skill but that of surrender. God simply calls us to be available, surrendered to His call and commission.
“Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mk.10:28).
“And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him” (Lu.5:27-28).
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lu.9:23).
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Lu.14:33).
“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Lu.18:29-30).
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Ro.12:1-2).
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Ga.2:20).
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:7-11).
“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Pr.23:26).
CALVIN - I saw the Lord. It is asked, How could Isaiah see God who is a Spirit, (John 4:24,) and, therefore, cannot be seen with bodily eyes? Nay, more, since the understandings of men cannot rise to his boundless height, how can he be seen in a visible shape? But we ought to be aware that, when God exhibited himself to the view of the Fathers, he never appeared such as he actually is, but such as the capacity of men could receive. Though men may be said to creep on the ground, or at least dwell far below the heavens, there is no absurdity in supposing that God comes down to them in such a manner as to cause some kind of mirror to reflect the rays of his glory. There was, therefore, exhibited to Isaiah such a form as enabled him, according to his capacity, to perceive the inconceivable majesty of God; and thus he attributes to God a throne, a robe, and a bodily appearance. Hence we learn a profitable doctrine, that whenever God grants any token of his presence, he is undoubtedly present with us, for he does not amuse us by unmeaning shapes, as men wickedly disfigure him by their contrivances. since, therefore, that exhibition was no deceitful representation of the presence of God, Isaiah justly declares that he saw him. In like manner, when it is said that John saw the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove, (John 1:32) the name of the Holy Spirit is applied to the outward sign, because in the representation there was no deception; and yet he did not see the essence of the Spirit, but had a clear and undoubted proof, so that he could not doubt that the Spirit of God rested on Christ. Secondly, it is asked, Who was that Lord? John tells us that it was Christ, (John 12:41,) and justly, for God never revealed himself to the Fathers but in his eternal Word and only begotten Son. Yet it is wrong, I think, to limit this, as some do, to the person of Christ; for it is indefinitely, on the contrary, that the Prophet calls him God. Nor do their views derive any support from the word אדוני, (adonai,) which seems particularly to apply to Christ; for it is often applied to God in an absolute and unrestricted manner. In this passage, therefore, God is mentioned indefinitely, and yet it is correctly said that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ, for at that very time he was the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15.)Sitting upon a throne. He could not have given a better description of God, in regard to place, than in the person of a Judge, that his majesty might strike greater terror into the Jews; for we shall afterwards see the dreadful judgment which the Lord pronounced from his judgment-seat. But lest we should suppose that the Prophet contrived the manner in which he would paint God, we ought to know that he faithfully describes the very form in which God was represented and exhibited to him. It may be questioned whether the Prophet was conducted into the temple, or saw this vision while he was asleep. Though many things are frequently adduced on both sides, which are fitted to leave the matter in doubt, yet it may be conjectured with some probability, that even if he had not been within the temple, this vision might have been presented to him, either in his own house or on a field, in the same manner as to other prophets.And his remotest parts filled the temple. Almost all the commentators understand by this the fringes of his robe, though it may be understood to refer to the extremities of the judgment-seat, giving us to understand that its dimensions were so vast as to extend to every part of the temple. He intends to ascribe to God a venerable aspect, and far beyond any human form. There is great weight in the circumstance that he appeared in the temple; for he had promised that he would meet with his people there, and the people expected his answers from that place, as Solomon had expressly stated at the dedication of it. (1 Kings 8:30.) In order, therefore, that the people might understand that those things came from God, on whom they called every day, and on whom they relied with a vain confidence which puffed them up, this vision was exhibited to the Prophet in the temple. To the certainty of what was said it contributed not a little, that he openly proclaimed that the discourse was not pronounced to him by any mortal man, but was a heavenly oracle, uttered by that God whose name they were accustomed disdainfully to hold out as a pretense, whenever they wished to make any extravagant claims; for otherwise this prophecy would have been harsh and repulsive, and needed great confirmation. It was also not uncommon with the Prophets to say that the Lord spake to them from his temple, or from his sanctuary.2. And the seraphim stood upon it. Having declared that God appeared to him full of majesty and of glory, he adds, that God was attended by angels, whom the Prophet calls seraphim on account of their fervor. Though the etymology of this word is well known, yet various reasons are adduced. Some think that they are called seraphim because they burn with the love of God; others, because they are swift like fire; others, because they are bright. However that may be, this description holds out to us, as in sunbeams, the brightness of God’s infinite majesty, that we may learn by it to behold and adore his wonderful and overwhelming glory. Many think that there were two seraphim, as there were two cherubim that encompassed the ark of the testimony. This opinion I willingly adopt, though I do not venture to make any assertion where Scripture is silent. As it is customary with the sacred writers to accommodate their descriptions of God to those outward signs which were commonly used and familiarly known among the godly, it is possible that the Prophet saw a representation of this kind. While I hold this to be a probable conjecture, I leave room for other interpretations which some may be disposed to prefer; for Daniel saw not two angels only, but thousands of thousands of angels. (Daniel 7:10.) Each one had six wings. This representation is instructive; for those wings thus arranged contained some mystery which it was the will of the Lord should not remain wholly unknown. The two wings with which the angels fly mean nothing else than their ready and cheerful performance of the commandments of God. On this point the resemblance is so clear and manifest, that it will be at once admitted by all who do not take delight in controversy. The two wings with which they cover their face show plainly enough that even angels cannot endure God’s brightness, and that they are dazzled by it in the same manner as when we attempt to gaze upon the radiance of the sun. And if angels are overwhelmed by the majesty of God, how great will be the rashness of men if they venture to intrude so far! Let us, therefore, learn that our inquiries concerning God ought never to go beyond what is proper and lawful, that our knowledge may soberly and modestly taste what is far above our capacity. And yet the angels do not cover their face in such a manner as not to be favored with beholding God in some degree; for their flight is not at random. In like manner we too ought to look at God, but only so far as our capacity shall enable us. As to the remaining two wings, which were placed lower, the difficulty is somewhat greater. Some think that the angels covered their feet, that they might not touch the earth, and contract any defilement from it, as human beings like ourselves are wont to do; for in walking we gather filth and dust, and accordingly, so long as we dwell on earth, we are always tainted by some kind of contagion. This reminds believers that they will have no intercourse with angels till they raise themselves high, and are no longer fastened to the earth. Such is the interpretation given by some expositors. But I rather agree with those who think that the use of those wings was opposite to that of the upper wings; for, as by the upper wings they cover their face, that they may not be overpowered by God’s brightness, so they have also lower wings to conceal them from our view. Now, if it be true that we cannot behold the small and feeble rays of the Divine brightness without being altogether overpowered, how could we gaze upon that unspeakably bright and glorious majesty which lays prostrate all our faculties? Let men learn, therefore, that they are far distant from a perfect knowledge of God, since they cannot even reach to the angels. The latter appears to me to be the more correct exposition, but I do not disapprove of the former.3. And they cried one to another. It was necessary that all these things should be presented to the Prophet in vision, in order to produce a stronger impression on the people, and on Isaiah himself; for the vision was not less necessary to him than to the whole nation, because sharp and painful struggles awaited him, and he could not have boldly announced those events if he had not been previously confirmed. The people also, being warned by this vision how great and how dreadful was the majesty of God, by whom this condemnation was pronounced, had good reason for being alarmed. He who now came forth to public view is God, at the sight of whom the very angels tremble, whose praises they continually and loudly utter, and whom, in a word, they serve and obey; but men, whom he had been pleased to adopt as his children, obstinately and rebelliously opposed him. Now, when we are informed that the angels are employed in uttering the glory of God, let us know that their example is set before us for imitation; for the most holy service that we can render to him is, to be employed in praising his name. When he associates us with angels, it is in order that, while we sojourn on earth, we may resemble and be joined to the inhabitants of heaven. That the harmony between us and the angels may be in every respect complete, we must take care not only that the praises of God may be sounded by our tongues, but likewise that all the actions of our life may correspond to our professions; and this will only be done if the chief aim of our actions be the glory of God. Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts. The ancients quoted this passage when they wished to prove that there are three persons in one essence of the Godhead. I do not disagree with their opinion; but if I had to contend with heretics, I would rather choose to employ stronger proofs; for they become more obstinate, and assume an air of triumph, when inconclusive arguments are brought against them; and they might easily and readily maintain that, in this passage, as in other parts of Scripture, the number “three” denotes perfection. Although, therefore, I have no doubt that the angels here describe One God in Three Persons, (and, indeed, it is impossible to praise God without also uttering the praises of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit,) yet I think that it would be better to employ more conclusive passages, lest, in proving an article of our faith, we should expose ourselves to the scorn of heretics. And, indeed, this repetition rather points out unwearied perseverance, as if the Prophet had said, that the angels never cease from their melody in singing the praises of God, as the holiness of God supplies us with inexhaustible reasons for them. The whole earth is full of his glory. Literally it is, the fullness of the whole earth, which might be understood to refer to the fruits, and animals, and manifold riches with which God has enriched the earth, and might convey this meaning, that in the ornaments and great variety of furniture of the world the glory of God shines, because they are so many proofs of a father’s love. But the more simple and natural interpretation is, that the glory of God fills the whole world, or is spread through every region of the earth. There is also, I think, an implied contrast, by which he puts down the foolish boasting of the Jews, who thought that the glory of God was nowhere to be seen but among themselves, and wished to have it shut up within their own temple. But Isaiah shows that it is so far from being confined to so narrow limits, that it fills the whole earth. And to this agrees the prophecy which immediately follows, (verse 10,) about the blinding of the Jews, which opened up for the Gentiles admission into the Ch of God; for they occupied that place which the Jews had forsaken, left empty4. And the lintels of the posts were moved. This noise was an indication that it was not a human voice which the Prophet had heard; for no mortal man has a voice so powerful as to be capable of making the lintels and posts shake. Now, the Lord intended not only to establish the authority of his voice over the Prophet, but to confirm it to posterity in all ages, that it might never be forgotten. Let us, therefore, know that this noise confirms at this day the voice of God, that we may tremble whenever he speaks; for if inanimate and dumb creatures are moved, what ought we to do, who feel, smell, taste, and understand, for no other purpose than that we may obey his word in a holy and reverent manner?And the house was filled with smoke. This was the common and ordinary sign which the Lord employed with his ancient people; for we read that, whenever Moses entered into the tabernacle, smoke was wont to be diffused through it in such a manner that the people could not see either Moses or the tabernacle. (Exodus 33:9.) The smoke, therefore, which Isaiah describes was not an unusual occurrence; but in the ordinary way God intended to demonstrate that he would display his power in executing judgment on the people.But it may be asked, Why did God manifest his presence by this sign rather than by any other? This question may be answered in two ways. First, it was always the will of God to repress the insolence of men, in pushing their inquiries about his majesty beyond what is proper; for on this point almost all men are too rash and daring. They wish to rise above the clouds, and to penetrate into the secrets of God, while they do not see what lies at their feet. Hence arises a labyrinth of errors, and when the minds of men have been entangled in it, they adopt false and pretended modes of worship; for when men allow themselves to adopt any false notions about God, there is nothing which they will not venture to attempt against him. It was not without good reason, therefore, that he made use of smoke, in order to remind men of their weakness; and yet he did not intend that they should be blind or stupid, that is, that they should have the stupidity and error which the papists disguise under the name of simplicity; but he forbids us to inquire or search beyond what he has revealed to us in his word; for, as Augustine says, “that is a learned ignorance.” Whenever, therefore, smoke of this kind is mentioned, let us know that it lays a restraint upon us from indulging curiosity in our researches into the purpose of God.Secondly, this smoke ought to strike terror, as David, when describing an angry and terrible God, says that clouds and darkness are round about him. (Psalm 97:2.) This also agrees well with the present passage; for he pronounces a dreadful judgment, namely, the blinding of the Jews. Others think that it indicated the burning by which he consumed the temple; but the view which I have given is more probable.5. Wo to me! for I am undone. The Prophet now relates how powerfully he was affected by that vision; namely that he was so terrified by seeing God; that he expected immediate destruction. He assigns the reason for believing that it is all over with him; because, says he, I am a man of unclean lips. I wonder why Jerome renders it, because I was silent; seeing that there is no ambiguity in the expression. דמה (damah) does indeed signify to be silent, but here the undoubted mark of a passive verb is added. This passage may likewise be rendered, Wo to me! for I have been reduced to silence. In the Scriptures silence is often taken for death and those who have been buried are said to have been reduced to silence. But as the meaning is the same, I will not dispute much about the translation. The Prophet therefore means, that he was so terrified as to resemble a dead man. And certainly we need not wonder at this; for the whole man, so far as relates to the flesh, must be reduced to nothing, that it may be renewed according to God. Whence comes it that men live, that is, imagine that they live, and are swelled with vain confidence in their wisdom or strength, but because they know not God? Accordingly, until God reveal himself to us, we do not think that we are men, or rather, we think that we are gods; but when we have seen God, we then begin to feel and know what we are. Hence springs true humility, which consists in this, that a man makes no claims for himself, and depends wholly on God; and therefore on this point the present and similar passages ought to be carefully studied. It was customary with the godly fathers, whenever they saw God, to break out into these words: I am gone; I am utterly undone. (Judges 13:22.) Our life, therefore, until our minds earnestly draw near to God, is a vain delusion; we walk in darkness, and can with difficulty distinguish truth from falsehood; but when we come into the light it is easy to perceive the difference. So when God draws near to us, he brings light with him, that we may perceive our worthlessness, which we could not formerly see, while we entertained a false opinion of ourselves. And yet mine eyes have seen the king, Jehovah of hosts. But does the sight of God bring death to men? For it appears strange that the sight of God or approach to him should take away life, of which he is the source and giver. I reply that this is an accidental result; for it takes place through our fault, and not on account of the nature of God. Death is within us; but we do not perceive it, unless when it is compared with the life of God. This is unquestionably what the Prophet means; for he does not merely say that he is dead, but assigns the reason, because he has unclean lips. But why does he confine the pollution to the lips? Was he pure in understanding, or in the other parts of the body? I answer: the Prophet mentions that which he regarded as the most valuable, his tongue, which was consecrated to God; for God had appointed him to be a Prophet. Even though he was in other respects a sinner, yet because the office which he held was holy, this part of his body was sacred; and as it does not correspond to the divine holiness, he confesses that, even in that part which in itself is more holy, he is polluted. Such appears to me to be the true and natural meaning of this passage, in the explanation of which commentators have hitherto been unsuccessful. And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. This is added by way of explanation; for he includes himself as an individual in the number of the common people, tainted with that pollution which extends to the whole body, and forgets the purity which he had received from God, because it cannot dwell in his presence. Hence it is evident that they are mistaken who imagine that the Prophet spoke under erroneous views; as the common people are wont to contrive a variety of false notions concerning God. For, as I have said, the presence of God and approach to him is the destruction of our flesh; because it shows that we are nothing in ourselves. When he who is conscious of his wretchedness sees God, what can he expect but destruction? For God is our judge, to whom, we know, nothing is concealed or unknown, in whose sight our purity is impure. And if this happened to the Prophet, what ought we to think of ourselves? For what are we in comparison of him? Even if the LORD hath begun to cleanse us, yet we ought to acknowledge our pollution, the remains of which always continue in our flesh. Hence also we ought to draw a universal doctrine, that the lips of all men are impure and polluted, till the Lord has cleansed them; from which it also follows, that human doctrines have an uncleanness which betrays them, and that there is nothing pure but what has come from God.6. Then flew one of the seraphim to me. The Prophet shows what kind of relief was brought to him, when he was so terrified as to think that he was a dead man; and this confirms what we have already said, that purity of lips comes from God alone; for men can produce nothing of themselves but what is filthy and abominable. If it be objected that it is absurd to say that the Lord now cleansed him, as if his tongue had formerly been impure and profane, though it had been the instrument employed by the Holy Spirit, I have already replied sufficiently to that objection. The Lord had already cleansed him, but according to his degree. The cleansing which is now added is greater; for it has its enlargements and additions, which no man can obtain all at once. We must not conclude, therefore, that Isaiah’s lips were impure, because they are now cleansed; but we ought to inquire why it is done. It was because the Lord intended to enlarge and extend his favor towards him, and to raise him to higher dignity, that he might have greater influence over the people; and this was rendered necessary by the character of the times, and the change which had taken place in the state. The fire was taken from the altar, to intimate that it was divine or heavenly; for the law forbade any strange fire to be brought to it, (Leviticus 10:1,) because in sacred things every human mixture is absolute profanation. By this figure, therefore, Isaiah was taught that all purity flows from God alone.7. And applying it to my mouth. We see how God condescends to meet the weakness of human sense. He puts the tongs into the hand of a seraph, that by means of it he may take a coal from the altar and apply it to the Prophet’s mouth. This was, no doubt, done in vision; but by the aid of the outward sign God assisted the Prophet’s understanding. There is no reason to believe that the coal possessed any virtue, as superstitious persons imagine that in the magical arts there is some hidden power. Nothing of this sort is to be found here; for it is God alone who can cleanse our pollution, in whatever part it exists.Here the angel administered the cleansing, but was not the author of it; so that we must not ascribe to another what belongs to God alone. This is expressly stated by the angel himself, who claims nothing as his own, but bringing forward the sacred pledge which he had received from God, laid it as a sacrament on the lips of the Prophet; not that he could not be cleansed without the coal, but because the visible sign was useful for the confirmation and proof of the fact. And such is the use of sacraments, to strengthen us in proportion to our ignorance; for we are not angels, that can behold the mysteries of God without any assistance, and therefore he raises us to himself by gradual advances.Lo, this hath touched thy lips. He shows that the confirmation which was obtained by the sign was not without effect, but that the blessing signified by it was at the same time bestowed, so that Isaiah knew that he had not been deceived. Hence we may infer, that in the sacraments the reality is given to us along with the sign; for when the Lord holds out a sacrament, he does not feed our eyes with an empty and unmeaning figure, but joins the truth with it, so as to testify that by means of them he acts upon us efficaciously. And this ought to be the more carefully observed, because there are few persons in the present day who understand the true use of sacraments, and because many godly and learned men are engaged in frequent disputes respecting them. First of all, we ought to believe that the truth must never be separated from the signs, though it ought to be distinguished from them. We perceive and feel a sign, such as the bread which is put into our hands by the minister in the Lord’s Supper; and because we ought to seek Christ in heaven, our thoughts ought to be carried thither. By the hand of the minister he presents to us his body, that it may be actually enjoyed by the godly, who rise by faith to fellowship with him. He bestows it, therefore, on the godly, who raise their thoughts to him by faith; for he cannot deceive. Unbelievers indeed receive the sign; but because they linger in the world, and do not arrive at Christ’s heavenly kingdom, they have no experience of the truth; for he who has not faith cannot raise his thoughts to God, and therefore cannot partake of Christ. Faith alone opens for us the gate of the kingdom of God; and therefore, whoever wishes to eat the flesh of Christ must be carried by faith to heaven beyond human conception. In short, it is the Spirit of God alone who can make us partakers of that fellowship. And yet it does not follow that the unbelief of men takes anything away from the truth of the sacrament, since God always presents to us a spiritual matter, but wicked men treat it with scorn; just as the grace of God is offered by the gospel, but all do not receive it, though they actually hear it, and are compelled to yield assent to the truth. Besides, we learn from this passage that the sacraments are never separated from the word. The angel does not here act the part of a dumb man, but, after having given the sign, immediately adds the doctrine, in order to show what was intended by it; for it would have been no sacrament, if doctrine had not been added, from which Isaiah could learn for what purpose the coal was applied to his mouth. Let us therefore learn that the chief part of the sacraments consists in the word, and that without it they are absolute corruptions, such as we see every day in popery, in which the sacraments are turned into stage-plays. The amount of the whole is, that there is nothing to prevent Isaiah, who has been perfectly cleansed, and is free from all pollution, from appearing as God’s rep.8. Afterwards I heard the voice of the Lord. The Prophet now begins to discourse about the design of this vision, why God appeared to him with such glorious majesty, in order to ordain him anew as a prophet. It was because he was called to deliver an incredible message about blinding the Jews. On this revolting occasion, therefore, he is more fully assured of his calling, that he may lay aside fear and obey the command of God; for nothing gives greater confidence to pious minds than to know that they obey God. He had also another proof, namely, that the Lord had cleansed him; and this was sufficient to lead him to undertake any task, however difficult. Whom shall I send? The Prophet represents the Lord as speaking, as if he could not find a man qualified for such a message. Some think that this is intended to reprove the ignorance of the priests and prophets; because, though they are very numerous, still not one of them was qualified to teach. This reason carries some probability, but I would rather view it as referring to the certainty of Isaiah’s calling, as implying that it was not at random, but from choice, that the Lord appointed him. There is here, therefore, a weighty deliberation whom the Lord will be pleased to send; not that he hesitates, but such modes of expression are used on our account, just as these words, I will go down and see. (Genesis 18:21.) For God, to whom all things are known, has no need to make any inquiry; but, lest men should think that he acts with precipitation, he thus accommodates himself to the ordinary modes of speaking among men. In like manner, when he asks whom he shall send, the meaning is, that he needs not an ordinary person, but a teacher of uncommon excellence on a subject of the greatest importance. Hence we infer that the authority of Isaiah was confirmed, so that he was reckoned to be not only a prophet, but eminent among the prophets.Who will go for us? I am rather favorable to the opinion that this passage points to Three Persons in the Godhead, just as we elsewhere read, Let us create man in our likeness. (Genesis 1:26.) For God talks with himself, and in the plural number; and unquestionably he now holds a consultation with his eternal Wisdom and his eternal Power, that is, with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here am I. So ready a reply shows how great is that cheerfulness which springs from faith; for he who but lately lay like a dead man dreads no difficulty. Hence we see that the amazement of which we have formerly spoken did not spring from rebellion, in wishing to flee from God, or to refuse the charge which had been laid upon him; but because he needed new grace, that he might know that he would be able to endure the burden. On this account it ought to be observed, that we cannot undertake anything in a proper manner without the evidence of our calling; otherwise we shall pause and hesitate at every step. Besides, it is a powerful aid to our confidence, when we know that we are not destitute of the necessary gifts, but that God has bestowed them on us, in order that we may be better enabled to discharge our office. Now, this remarkable instance of obedience ought to produce such an effect on our minds that we shall readily and cheerfully undertake any task which he may be pleased to enjoin, and shall never refuse any task, however difficult we may imagine it to be. When the Prophet says, Here am I, the meaning is, that he is ready to obey the commands of God; for this mode of expression is frequently employed in Scripture to denote obedience.9. Then he said, Go, and tell that people. This shows still more clearly how necessary the vision was, that Isaiah might not all at once fail in his course. It was a grievous stumblingblock, that he must endure such obstinacy and rebellion in the people of God, and that not only for a year or two, but for more than sixty years. On this account he needed to be fortified, that he might be like a brazen wall against such stubbornness. The Lord, therefore, merely forewarns Isaiah that he will have to do with obstinate men, on whom he will produce little effect; but that so unusual an occurrence must not lead him to take offense, and lose courage, or yield to the rebellion of men; that, on the contrary, he must proceed with unshaken firmness, and rise superior to temptations of this nature. For God gives him due warning beforehand as to the result; as if he had said, “You will indeed teach without any good effect; but do not regret your teaching, for I enjoin it upon you; and do not refrain from teaching, because it yields no advantage; only obey me, and leave to my disposal all the consequences of your labors. I give you all this information in good time, that the event may not terrify you, as if it had been strange and unexpected.” Besides, he is commanded openly to reprove their blind obstinacy, as if he purposely taunted them. “My labors will do no good; but it matters not to me: it is enough that what I do obtains the approbation of God, to whom my preaching will be a sweet smell, though it bring death to you.” (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.)10. Harden the heart of this people. Here the former statement is more fully expressed; for God informs Isaiah beforehand, not only that his labor in teaching will be fruitless, but that by his instruction he will also blind the people, so as to be the occasion of producing greater insensibility and stubbornness, and to end in their destruction. He declares that the people, bereft of reason and understanding, will perish, and there will be no means of obtaining relief; and yet he at the same time affirms that the labors of the Prophet, though they bring death and ruin on the Jews, will be to him an acceptable sacrifice. This is a truly remarkable declaration; not only because Isaiah here foretold what was afterwards fulfilled under the reign of Christ, but also because it contains a most useful doctrine, which will be of perpetual use in the Church of God; for all who shall labor faithfully in the ministry of the word will be laid under the necessity of meeting with the same result. We too have experienced it more than we could have wished; but it has been shared by all the servants of Christ, and therefore we ought to endure it with greater patience, though it is a very grievous stumbling-block to those who serve God with a pure conscience. Not only does it give great offense, but Satan powerfully excites his followers to raise a dislike of instruction on the pretense of its being not merely useless, but even injurious; that it renders men more obstinate, and leads to their destruction. At the present day, those who have no other reproach to bring against the doctrine of the gospel maintain that the only effect produced by the preaching of it has been, that the world has become worse. But whatever may be the result, still God assures us that our ministrations are acceptable to him, because we obey his command; and although our labor appear to be fruitless, and men rush forward to their destruction, and become more rebellious, we must go forward; for we do nothing at our own suggestion, and ought to be satisfied with having the approbation of God. We ought, indeed, to be deeply grieved when success does not attend our exertions; and we ought to pray to God to give efficacy to his word. A part of the blame we ought even to lay on ourselves, when the fruits are so scanty; and yet we must not abandon our office, or throw away our weapons. The truth must always be heard from our lips, even though there be no ears to receive it, and though the world have neither sight nor feeling; for it is enough for us that we labor faithfully for the glory of God, and that our services are acceptable to him; and the sound of our voice is not ineffectual, when it renders the world without excuse. Hence arises a most excellent and altogether invaluable consolation to godly teachers, for supporting their minds against those grievous offenses which daily spring from the obstinacy of men, that, instead of being retarded by it, they may persevere in their duty with unshaken firmness. As it is also a general offense, that the lively word of God, at the hearing of which the whole world ought to tremble, strikes their ears to no purpose, and without any advantage, let weak men learn to fortify themselves by this declaration. We wonder how it is possible that the greater part of men can furiously oppose God; and hence also arises a doubt if it be the heavenly truth of God which is rejected without bringing punishment; for it can hardly be believed that God addresses men for the purpose of exciting their scorn. That our faith may not fail, we ought to employ this support, that the office of teaching was enjoined on Isaiah, on the condition that, in scattering the seed of life, it should yield nothing but death; and that this is not merely a narrative of what once happened, but a prediction of the future kingdom of Christ, as we shall find to be stated shortly afterwards. We ought also to attend to this circumstance, that Isaiah was not sent to men indiscriminately, but to the Jews. Accordingly, the demonstrative particle הנה, (hinneh,) behold, is emphatic, and implies that the people whom the Lord had peculiarly chosen for himself do not hear the word, and shut their eyes amidst the clearest light. Let us not wonder, therefore, if we appear to be like persons talking to the deaf, when we address those who boast of the name of God. It is undoubtedly a harsh saying, that God sends a prophet to close the ears, stop up the eyes, and harden the heart of the people; because it appears as if these things were inconsistent with the nature of God, and therefore contradicted his word. But we ought not to think it strange if God punishes the wickedness of men by blinding them in the highest degree. Yet the Prophet shows, a little before, that the blame of this blindness lies with the people; for when he bids them hear, he bears witness that the doctrine is fitted for instructing the people, if they choose to submit to it; that light is given to guide them, if they will but open their eyes. The whole blame of the evil is laid on the people for rejecting the amazing kindness of God; and hence is obtained a more complete solution of that difficulty to which we formerly adverted. At first sight it seems unreasonable that the Prophets should be represented as making men’s hearts more hardened. They carry in their mouth the word of God, by which, as by a lamp, the steps of men ought to be guided; for this encomium, we know, has been pronounced on it by David. (Psalm 119:105.) It is not the duty of the Prophets, therefore, to blind the eyes, but rather to open them. Again, it is called perfect wisdom, (Psalm 19:9;) how then does it stupify men and take away their reason? Those hearts which formerly were of brass or iron ought to be softened by it; how then is it possible that it can harden them, as I have already observed? Such blinding and hardening influence does not arise out of the nature of the word, but is accidental, and must be ascribed exclusively to the depravity of man. As dim-sighted people cannot blame the sun for dazzling their eyes with its brightness; and those whose hearing is weak cannot complain of a clear and loud voice which the defect of their ears hinders them from hearing; and, lastly, a man of weak intellect cannot find fault with the difficulty of a subject which he is unable to understand; so ungodly men have no right to blame the word for making them worse after having heard it. The whole blame lies on themselves in altogether refusing it admission; and we need not wonder if that which ought to have led them to salvation become the cause of their destruction. It is right that the treachery and unbelief of men should be punished by meeting death where they might have received life, darkness where they might have had light; and, in short, evils as numerous as the blessings of salvation which they might have obtained. This ought to be carefully observed; for nothing is more customary with men than to abuse the gifts of God, and then not only to maintain that they are innocent, but even to be proud of appearing in borrowed feathers. But they are doubly wicked when they not only do not apply to their proper use, but wickedly corrupt and profane, those gifts which God had bestowed on them.John quotes this passage as a clear demonstration of the stubbornness of the Jews. He does not indeed absolutely give the very words, but he states the meaning clearly enough. Therefore, says he, they could not believe, because Isaiah said, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. (John 12:39.)True, this prediction was not the cause of their unbelief, but the Lord foretold it, because he foresaw that they would be such as they are here described. The Evangelist applies to the Gospel what had already taken place under the law, and at the same time shows that the Jews were deprived of reason and understanding, because they were rebels against God. Yet if you inquire into the first cause, we must come to the predestination of God. But as that purpose is hidden from us, we must not too eagerly search into it; for the everlasting scheme of the divine purpose is beyond our reach, but we ought to consider the cause which lies plainly before our eyes, namely, the rebellion by which they rendered themselves unworthy of blessings so numerous and so great. Paul, too, shows from this passage, on more than one occasion, (Acts 28:27; Romans 11:8,) that the whole blame of blindness rests with themselves. They have shut their ears, says he, and closed their eyes. What Isaiah here ascribes to doctrine, Paul traces to the wicked disposition of the nation, which was the cause of their own blindness; and accordingly, I have stated that this was an accidental and not a natural result of the doctrine. In that passage Paul introduces the Spirit as speaking, (Acts 28:25;) but John says that Isaiah spake thus of Christ, when he had beheld his glory. (John 12:41.) From this it is evident, as we formerly said, that Christ was that God who filled the whole earth with his majesty. Now, Christ is not separate from his Spirit, and therefore Paul had good reason for applying this passage to the Holy Spirit; for although God exhibited to the Prophet the lively image of himself in Christ, still it is certain that whatever he communicated was wholly breathed into him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, however ungodly men may bark against us with their reproaches, that our doctrine ought to bear the blame, because the world is made worse by the preaching of it, they gain nothing at all, and take nothing away from the authority of the doctrine; for they must at the same time condemn God himself and the whole of his doctrine. But their calumnies will not hinder his justice from being displayed, or hinder him from vindicating itself, and at the same time vindicating us. And when they shall be converted . Here he expressly declares that he did not send the Prophet because he intended to save the people; but, on the contrary, because he intended to destroy them. But the word of God brings salvation; at least some benefit must arise from the preaching of it, that it may do good to some, though many are deprived of the advantage by their own unbelief. I answer, the subject treated of is the whole body, which had already been condemned and devoted to destruction; for there were always some whom the Lord exempted from the general ruin; to them the word brought salvation, and on them it actually produced its proper effect; but the great body of the people were cut off and perished through obstinate unbelief and rebellion. So, then, we perceive that the word of God is never so destructive that there are not a few who perceive that it brings salvation to them, and feel that it does so in reality. They shall be healed. We ought also to observe from the order and connection of the words, that the first step of healing is repentance. But in the first place, we must understand what he means by the word healing; for he uses it in reference to the chastisements which had been inflicted on the people on account of their sins. Now, the cause of all the evils which we endure is our rebellion against God. When we repent, he is reconciled to us, and the rods with which he chastised us are no longer employed. This is our healing. And this order ought to be carefully observed, from which it is evident what object the Lord has in view in inviting us to himself, and what is the design of the heavenly doctrine, namely, that we may be converted. This is another part of the Gospel, Repent ye. (Matthew 3:2.) Then, offering reconciliation he holds out remedies for all diseases, not only of the body but of the soul. And such being the eminent advantage derived from the word of God, if we are not reconciled to God as soon as his word sounds in our ears, we have no right to lay the blame on any other, for it rests wholly with ourselves. Indeed, the Prophet here speaks of it as unnatural and monstrous, that, by the doctrine of the word, the native tendency of which is to heal and soften, men should become insolent and obstinate and altogether incurable. It is undoubtedly true, that when we are drawn inwardly, (John 6:44,) it is an extraordinary gift of God, and that the arm of God is not revealed to all, (Isaiah 53:1;) but by this dreadful punishment of obstinate malice, Isaiah intended to teach, that we ought earnestly to beware of despising when God calls.11. And I said, How long, O LORD? Although the Prophets are severe in denouncing the wrath of God against men, yet they do not lay aside human feelings. It is therefore necessary that they sustain a twofold character; for they must proclaim the judgment of God with high and unshaken courage, so that they would rather choose that the world should be destroyed and utterly ruined than that any part of His glory should be taken away. And yet they are not devoid of feeling, so as to be unmoved by compassion for their brethren, whose destruction their office lays them under the necessity of foretelling. These two feelings, though they appear to be inconsistent, are in full harmony, as appears from the instance of Jeremiah, who at first complains of the hard task assigned him of proclaiming destruction to the people, but afterwards revives his courage, and proceeds boldly in discharging the duties of his office (Jeremiah 1:6, 17.) Such was also the state of Isaiah’s mind; for, being desirous to obey God, he earnestly proclaimed His judgments; and yet he had some regard to the people, which led him to entreat, that if this blindness must come upon them, it might not be permanent. There can be no doubt, that when he thus prayed to God, he was moved with compassion, and desired that so dreadful a punishment should be mitigated. Natural affections, (στοργαὶ φυσικαὶ,) therefore, ought not to prevent us from performing what is our duty. For instance, there is the natural affection of a husband to a wife, and of a father to a son; but it ought to be checked and restrained, so that we may chiefly consider what is suitable to our calling, and what the Lord commands. This ought to be carefully observed; for when we wish to give loose reins to ourselves, we commonly plead this excuse, that we are willing and ready to do what God requires, but are overpowered by natural affection. But those feelings ought to be restrained in such a manner as not to obstruct our calling; just as they did not hinder the Prophet from proceeding in the discharge of his duty; for to such an extent ought we to acknowledge the authority of the Lord over us, that when he orders and commands, we should forget ourselves and all that belongs to us. But although the godly anxiety of Isaiah about the salvation of the people is here expressed, still the severity of the punishment is likewise stated, that wicked men may not, as they are wont to do, indulge the hope of some mitigation. Nor can it be doubted that the Prophet was led by a secret impulse from God to ask this, that the stern and dreadful reply which immediately follows might be more fully brought out; from which it is evident what kind of destruction awaits unbelievers, that they will receive no light or moderate punishment, but will be utterly destroyed and cut off. Until the houses be without man, and the land become a desolation. This is an additional aggravation; for it is possible that countries might be wasted, and yet that one city might remain; that even cities might be stormed and laid desolate, and yet very many houses be left. But here the slaughter, he tells us, will be so great, that not only the cities, but even the very houses will be thrown down, and the whole land will be reduced to frightful and lamentable desolation; though even amidst the heaviest calamities some remnant is still left. Though Isaiah said this but once, yet let us understand that it is also spoken to us; for this punishment has been pronounced against all who obstinately disobey God, or who with a stiff neck struggle against his yoke. The more violent their opposition, the more resolutely will the Lord pursue them till they are utterly destroyed.12. Till the Lord have removed men far away. These words contain nothing new, but merely an explanation of the former verse, and a description by other words of the ruin that shall overtake Judea; namely, that God will send the inhabitants far away. He asserts that those who shall survive the war will not be exempted from punishment, for they will be led into captivity. And next he adds a general clause about the desolation of the land; as if he had said that it would be desolate and bereft of inhabitants, because some would flee away, others would be driven into banishment, and others would perish by the sword. Such is the reward prepared for obstinate and rebellious persons, who add crime to crime, till the indignation of God rise to such a height that it cannot be appeased.13. Till there shall be in it a tenth. There is some obscurity in the words; but let us first ascertain the meaning, and then we shall easily find out what is the signification of the words. There are two ways of explaining this passage. Some explain עשיריה (asiriyah) to mean decimation; others make it to mean a tenth part, and consider it to be a collective noun. Undoubtedly, the Hebrew word עשירית, (asirith,) and not עשיריה, (asiriyah,) denotes a tenth part, though the difference between them is not great. Those who render it decimation think that a truce is promised to the people, because from the reign of Uzziah to the destruction of Jerusalem there would be ten kings; and undoubtedly that is the number of kings, reckoning from Uzziah to Zedekiah. His prophetical doctrine would derive no small support from the circumstance, that he could tell the number of kings who should reign even after his death, and that he described not only the fact itself, but likewise the time, and the day. Yet I know not if another meaning be not somewhat more appropriate; for the Prophet appears to hold out to the people this consolation, that they will retain some hidden vigor, and will be capable of sprouting out, though they may appear for a time to be entirely dead; just as, when the winter is past, the trees renew their foliage. But as the former exposition carries sufficient probability, I shall therefore explain the whole verse according to the opinion of those who think that mention is here made of ten kings, so as to mean that, when the ten kings shall have completed their reign, the people will be carried into captivity, and then, as by a conflagration, the whole land will be consumed. At the same time, the reader ought to be aware that whether עשיריה (asiriyah) be rendered a tenth part, or decimation, it may with the utmost propriety be viewed as referring to the people; and then the meaning will be, Till the people be diminished to a tenth part. He had formerly spoken of a remnant, and a very small remnant, (Isaiah 1:9,) and afterwards he will speak of it again, (Isaiah 10:22;) for it was a very small number that remained. It might therefore be naturally viewed as meaning, that out of a thousand there would be left a hundred; out of a hundred, ten; and out of ten, one. And shall return. That is, a change will take place for the better: the Jews will return from captivity to their native country, and the land will assume a new aspect. But this may be thought to be somewhat at variance with what follows; for the Prophet immediately adds, It shall be destruction. How cold comfort will it yield to the people to be restored, if shortly afterwards they shall be again destroyed! Some commentators solve this difficulty, by supposing that Isaiah spoke about the final destruction of the people. But in my opinion he rather means that the destruction will not be complete, but such as happens to trees, when their leaves fall off in the winter, and nothing appears but dead timber; but when spring returns, they bud forth anew: and so also will this people.לבערּ (lebaer) means to burn, and therefore it means here that they will be consumed by a conflagration: but we ought to read it in connection with the metaphor which immediately follows; for Isaiah does not barely mean that it will be consumed, but that it will be consumed like the teil-tree, that is, with the hope of immediate recovery. When Jerome rendered it for exhibition, I know not on what he supposed that opinion to be founded, if it were not that he made a free translation, looking rather to the meaning than to the etymology of the word; for when trees blossom or put forth leaves, their life is again brought forth and displayed; and this meaning will be very appropriate.As a teil-tree and an oak. It appears that Isaiah did not select at random those two kinds of trees; for one of them puts forth its leaves, and likewise sheds them, sooner than the other. So it happened to the tribe of Judah; for first the ten tribes, with the half tribe of Benjamin, were carried into captivity; and thus they who were the first to blossom were likewise the first to decay. This tribe was the latest of all in decaying, not without high expectation of blossoming again; for here the hope of deliverance is held out, and this was different from the captivity of the Israelites. There appears, therefore, to be some appropriateness in this metaphor of the trees; but I would not choose to press it very far.When they cast their leaves. By the phrase, casting of leaves, must be understood that throwing of them down which takes place when trees are stripped of their leaves as of their garment; for trees, in that state of nakedness, appear to be dry and withered; though there remains in them a hidden vigor, through which they are at length quickened by the returning mildness of the season. So in it shall be substance. This is the application of the metaphor, which is exceedingly forcible; for when we see the spiritual grace of God in the very order of nature, we are strongly confirmed. As Paul holds out a likeness of the resurrection in the sowing of corn, which is a daily occurrence, (1 Corinthians 15:36,) so in like manner Isaiah in this passage describes the restoration of the Church, by taking a metaphor from trees, which wither at the end of autumn, but again blossom at the return of spring, and put forth new leaves; which could not happen, did they not retain some vigor during the winter, though to outward appearance they are dead. He foretells that a similar event will happen to this people; so that, although during their hard and oppressive captivity they resemble dry timber, and it may be thought that they can never be delivered, still there will always be preserved in them some vigor, by which they shall be supported amidst those calamities, and shall at length come forth and blossom.This doctrine, we have said, is not peculiar to a single age, and therefore it ought to be carefully observed; for it frequently happens that the Church, amidst the numerous afflictions which she endures, appears to have no strength, and is supposed to be utterly ruined. Whenever this takes place, let us fully believe that, notwithstanding these appearances, there is still some concealed energy, which, though it be not immediately manifest to our eyes, will at length yield its fruit. That energy lies hidden in the word of the Lord, by which alone the Church is sustained. The holy seed. He shows what is that substance, that it consists of a small number of the godly, whom he calls the holy seed; for he means the elect, who would be preserved by the free mercy of God, and thus would survive that captivity. That banishment might be regarded as a cleansing of the Church, by which the Lord took away the ungodly; and when they had been cut off, he collected a people, small in number, but truly consecrated to himself. Some commentators consider this phrase to refer to Christ; but the interpretation appears to be too far-fetched, and it will be more consistent to extend it to all the godly; for the holy seed is the substance of the Church.
|Old Testament Visions|
|In Old Testament times, God often used dreams (when a person was asleep) and visions (when a person was awake) to make His will known. The Egyptian pharaoh’s dream could not be interpreted by his magicians. But Joseph told him that it referred to a forthcoming period of famine in the land (Gen. 41).Does God still speak through dreams and visions today? Interpreters and scholars are divided on this question. Some believe God has no need to speak through dreams, since His Holy Spirit is now available to instruct us in God’s will. But others believe just as strongly that dreams are still means of God’s revelation.Joel, one of the minor prophets, foresaw the outpouring of the Spirit of God on believers as a time when “your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). This prophecy was fulfilled with the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:14–21). Other significant dreams and visions in the Old Testament include the following:||Joseph became governor of Egypt in fulfillment of his dream that he would be prominent over his brothers.|
|Personality||Message of Dream or Vision||Biblical Reference|
|Jacob||Assurance of God’s covenant||Gen. 28:10–15|
|Joseph||Joseph’s future prominence over his brothers||Gen. 37:1–11|
|Solomon||Assurance of God’s wisdom||1 Kin. 3:5–10|
|Jacob||Instructed to go to Egypt||Gen. 46:2–4|
|Isaiah||A Revelation to God’s holiness||Is. 6:1–8|
|Ezekiel||God’s promise to restore His people Israel||Ezek. 37|
|Daniel||The great world powers to come and the glories of Christ||Dan. 7; 8 Dan. 10:5–9|
CAMINO REAL MISSIONARY ESSENTIALS:
Missionaries to our Families (by Resurrection Sunday)
Missions trip to Ensenada……Missions trip to Russia
SEE GOD CLEARLY (6:1-7) esp in light of historical, national, spir condition
Example: Why we need glasses to see better
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. (RV60) En el año que murió el rey Uzías vi yo al Señor sentado sobre un trono alto y sublime, y sus faldas [[el borde de su manto] llenaban el templo.
Every problem (Opp) is designed to help us see God clearer, as he really is
* I saw the Lord (Adonay)
* Jn.12:41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him
* Visions of God ((Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul, John, Steven)
* Seated on a throne = Rev.4
* High and exalted
* train of his robe = ref to hem/fringe of his glorious robe
* filled the Temple = heavenly temple (Rev. 4:1–6; 5:1–7; 11:19; 15:5–8)
6:2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. (RV60) Por encima de él había serafines [serers como de fuego]; cada uno tenía seis alas; con dos cubrían sus rostros, con dos cubrían sus pies, y con dos volaban.
Prelude to Isaiah’s reaction and commission
* Above him were Seraphims = 4 live creatures Rev.4:6; cf cherubim/querebines Ezk.10
Seraphs“ is from śārap̱, which means ”to burn,
* each with 6 wings =
With 2 wings they covered their faces = due to God’s glory
With 2 wings they covered their feet = humbled by divine service
With 2 wings they were flying = to do God’s will
6:3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." (RV60) Y el uno al otro daba voces, diciendo: Santo, santo, santo, Jehová de los ejércitos [Senor Todopoderoso]; toda la tierra está llena de su gloria.
Language of Heaven….the earth is God’s display case
* and they were calling to one another = antiphonal Praise is the Language of Heaven
* Holy, Holy, Holy is = Rev.4:8 where 4 living creatures say same thing (oox)
Rev 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
* Lord Almighty = 60 VV in this book
* the whole earth is full of his glory = Display case for His glory, that’s why he made it
Ps 72:19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
6:4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. (RV60) Y los quiciales [cimientos] de las puertas se estremecieron con la voz del que clamaba, y la casa [templo] se llenó de humo.
* at the sound of their voices = simultaneous
* the doorposts and threshold shook = related to God’s wrath & judgment
* and the temple was filled with smoke =
Rev.15:7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the 7 angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the 7 plagues of the 7 angels were completed.
Ex.19:18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently
6:5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (RV60) Entonces dije: ¡Ay de mí! que soy muerto; porque siendo hombre inmundo de labios, y habitando en medio de pueblo que tiene labios inmundos, [porque] han visto mis ojos al Rey, Jehová de los ejércitos.
Confession and Cleansing precede Commission
* Woe to me! I cried = Isaiah had pronounced woes (threats of judgment) on the nation
(Isa. 5:8f), but now he realized he was subject to judgment.
* I am ruined! = Aware of his sin
* For I am a man of unclean lips = If the lips are unclean, so is the heart.
Gods holiness vividly remind Isaiah of his unworthiness, deserved judgment
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
Ezek 1:28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Rev 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
* and I live among a people of unclean lips =
* and my eyes have seen the King = comp. w/ earthly King that just died (Uzziah)
* The Lord Almighty = 60xs in Isaiah
6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. (RV60) Y voló hacia mí uno de los serafines, teniendo en su mano un carbón encendido, tomado del altar con unas tenazas;
God’s purifying work in his servant
* Then one of the seraphims flew to me = what must Isaiah have been thinking!!!!
* with a live coal in his hand =
* which he had taken with tongs from the altar = cf altar of incense in heaven (Rev. 8:5)
6:7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." (RV60) y tocando con él sobre mi boca, dijo: He aquí que esto tocó tus labios, y es quitada [borrada] tu culpa [iniquidad] y limpio [perdonado] tu pecado.
Repentance is painful
* with it he touched my mouth and said, See, this has touched your lips =
* your guilt is taken away and = Avon, 220xs. one of 4 main words indicating sin in
OT. The noun carries along with it the idea of guilt from conscious wrongdoing.
* your sin is atoned for = Spiritual cleansing for Service to Savior
Chattaah, root occurs 580 xs in OT & is principle word for sin. basic mean of root is to miss a mark
6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (RV60) Después oí la voz del Señor, que decía: ¿A quién enviaré, y quién irá por nosotros? Entonces respondí yo: Heme aquí [aqui estoy], envíame a mí.
Never underestimate what God can do with one willing worker
* Then I heart the voice of the Lord saying = HEAR GOD CLEARLY
* Whom shall I send? He asked the question to give Isaiah, an opportunity for service.
* Who will go for us? = plural pronoun, Gen.1:26
* Here am I =Responded in quick obedience
* Send me = Though profoundly aware of his sin, he was available.
He is not coerced into service; his response is grateful reaction to God's forgiving grace.
OBEY GOD and LEAVE THE RESULTS TO HIM (6:9-13)
But the servant is to proclaim the Word no matter how people respond, for the test of ministry is not outward success but faithfulness to the Lord. When he called Isaiah as a prophet, God did not encourage him with predictions of great success
OBEY GOD and LEAVE THE RESULTS TO HIM (6:9-13)
VV 9–10 so key they’re quoted 6 Xs (Mt.13:13–15; Mk 4:12; Lk 8:10; Jn 12:40; Act 28:25–28; Ro. 11:8).
He probably thot the nation would repent & change once he gave them God’s message
6:9 He said, "Go and tell this people: "`Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' (RV60) Y dijo: Anda, y di a este pueblo: [Escuchen bien, pero no entiendan; Miren bien, pero no comprendan.] ['Por más que escuchen, no entenderán; por más que miren, no comprenderán.'] Oíd bien, y no entendáis; ved por cierto, mas no comprendáis.
* Go and tell this people = SURPRISE for Isaiah
* Be ever hearing BUT never understanding
* Be ever seeing BUT never perceiving
6:10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." (RV60) [Haz insensible] engruesa el corazón de este pueblo, y [endurece, tápales] agrava sus oídos, y ciega sus ojos, para que no vea con sus ojos, ni oiga con sus oídos, ni su corazón entienda, ni se convierta [arrepienta], y haya para él sanidad.
Isaiah’s message was to be God’s instrument for hiding the truth from an unreceptive people. Jesus’ parables were to do the same (Matt. 13:14,15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; 29:9,10; 42:18; 43:8; John 12:40; Acts 28:26,27; Rom. 11:8).
6:11 Then I said, "For how long, O Lord?" And he answered: "Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, (RV60) Y yo dije: ¿Hasta cuándo, Señor? Y respondió él: Hasta que las ciudades estén asoladas y sin morador [destruidas y sin habitants], y no haya hombre en las casas, y la tierra esté hecha un desierto;
This hardening judgment was pronounced after centuries of his people's refusing to hear His word,
* Then I said: How long, O Lord? = HOW….WHY…WHEN…are common ? we ask
* And He answered: God’s answer’s don’t always make sense to us…..nor His timing!
* Until the cities lie ruined and w/o inhabitants
* Until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged
6:12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. (RV60) hasta que Jehová haya echado lejos a los hombres, y multiplicado los lugares abandonados en medio de la tierra. [y el país quede en total abandono].
Isaiah was to proclaim the message until God’s judgment came, till Babylonian Exile occurred and people were deported from the land.
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE……..WHEN GOD IS INVOLVED
6:13 And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land." (RV60) Y si quedare aún en ella la décima parte, ésta volverá a ser destruida; pero como el roble y la encina, que al ser cortados aún queda el tronco, así será el tronco, la simiente santa.[ retoño sagrado]
Isaiah needed a long-range perspective on his ministry or else he would feel like
he was accomplishing nothing.
* and though a tenth remains in the land = The tenth that remained in the land refers to
the poor who were left in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. A remnant would be left. God compared that remnant to stumps of terebinth and oak trees. From this stump or holy seed of a believing remnant would come others who would believe. Tho Judah’s pop would be almost totally wiped out or exiled, God promised to preserve a small number of believers in the land.
* it will again be laid to waste
* BUT as the terenbinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down
* SO the holy seed will be the stump in the land
GOD IS STILL CALLING VOLUNTEERS!
Be an Isaiah……Volunteer for Service and leave the results to Him