Isaiah 6:1–13comment (0)
March 5, 2009
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Isaiah 6:1–13
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Honor the Lord
Self-centered human nature tends to take a pragmatic view of religion. Spiritual matters are of interest if a payoff is involved. In other words, people tend to view the Lord as One who should grant them their wishes. He is seen as One whose job it is to forgive people, watch over them, help them succeed, protect them from harm and ensure that they prosper. God’s Word, however, stresses that God is not a servant but rather the holy Lord of all who merits people’s worship, honor and service.
The Lord Is Holy (1–4)
King Uzziah’s death in 740 B.C. marked the end of the golden age of spiritual vitality in the southern kingdom of Judah. Uzziah’s ungodly grandson Ahaz was already exerting an evil influence in the government of his father, Jotham. With Uzziah’s death, wickedness seemed to have triumphed. But God gave to His servant Isaiah a transforming vision of His majestic holiness. Regardless of how it looks on earth, the sovereign God still rules omnipotently from His heavenly throne.
As the discouraged prophet knelt in prayer at the temple in Jerusalem, the Lord gave him a vision of His glory. Isaiah saw the Lord in glorious splendor, seated upon His throne, high and lifted up. His long, loose, flowing royal robe was filling the temple so that there was no room left for anyone to stand. Heavenly attendants, mighty angels of heaven described as “seraphim,” were surrounding the throne, filling the temple with shouts of God’s holiness. Even the temple’s foundations trembled at the voices of the seraphim, and its sanctuary was filled with the incense smoke of worship.
The seraphim (“burning ones”) are spiritual beings who possess faces, feet, hands, wings and voices. They use human language and understand moral concepts. They are God’s obedient servants, ready to serve the Lord by continually praising Him by declaring His holiness — His absolute independence from all that is created and His complete goodness and separation from what is sinful. We honor God by recognizing His holiness.
People Are Sinful (5)
What he had seen and heard had a profound effect upon Isaiah. He was in the presence of God, and all he could think of was his own sinfulness. His conscience was stricken with a sense of personal weakness, failure and guilt. He saw himself as helpless and deserving divine judgment. The seraphim praised God with pure lips, but this Isaiah could not do. His lips were unclean, meaning he as a man was spiritually unacceptable in God’s presence. Furthermore he lived in a culture that was unclean. Once we understand God’s holiness, we will also understand our sinfulness and the divine punishment we deserve. We honor God when we acknowledge our sinfulness.
Atoned People Serve the Lord (6–8)
Although Isaiah’s sinfulness was unmistakable, he was not banished from God’s presence. Instead God’s redeeming grace intervened to meet his need. One of the seraphim applied to his lips a coal from the incense altar, a symbolic assurance that his sins were forgiven. The seraph’s words explained this action of cleansing Isaiah.
Cleansing and forgiveness were freely granted to him. The temple sacrifices foretold the necessary sacrifice Jesus would later make on the cross. His sacrifice is the basis for all cleansing and forgiveness. All people can receive God’s atonement if they will repent and receive by faith God’s Son, who died to atone for their sins.
Consequently Isaiah was cleansed and equipped for praise, prayer and proclamation of God’s Word. Following his cleansing, Isaiah volunteered to serve the Lord. We also honor the Lord by volunteering to serve Him.
Serving Can Be Demanding (9–13)
Isaiah was not given an easy ministry. Before he began, he was told that multitudes of people would not listen to him and thus judgment would come upon his nation. But the situation was not completely hopeless. There would be “a tenth portion” of the nation who would be faithful to the Lord. God always has His remnant, those who trust and follow Him. Like Isaiah, we honor the Lord by persevering in difficult and demanding times.