Isaiah 6

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

6:1.  “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”


Uzziah, meaning my strength is Jehovah, is also called Azariah, meaning helped of Jehovah.  His reign of 52 years began when he was just sixteen, and was marked by obedience to God, see 2 Chronicles 26:3-5, until his attempt to intrude into the priest’s office, for which he was stricken with leprosy until his death, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21, his son Jotham reigning as regent in those intervening years.


In contrast with the ignominious fall of Uzziah is this vision given Isaiah of the glory of the exalted Lord, a wonder beyond human comprehension being that of the willing condescension that led Him to lay aside His glory, and come down to earth in the guise of a Servant, the exhortation to us being, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:5-8.


The Father’s recompense of the Son’s willing obedience is recorded in the verses that follow, “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; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9-11.


In the present context train means the skirts of his robe, its great length signifying the extent of His power and glory.


6:2.  “Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain (two) he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”


This is the only scriptural reference to seraphim, who appear to have been guardians of God’s throne.  The name is derived from a word meaning to burn, and signifying their absolute holiness. Their covering their faces with a pair of wings is generally understood to be indicative of their reverence in the Divine presence, an attitude which rebukes the irreverence, not only of the unconverted, but of many believers also, in the presence of God.


Since the feet speak of the walk or manner of life, their being covered may be the symbolic announcement of the truth that the work of the seraphim transcends human comprehension.


6:3.  “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”


The announcement of God’s holiness is seldom heard today even from the lips of believers; and relative to His glory, the sad truth is that even amongst believers it is seldom even mentioned, much less proclaimed.


6:4.  “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”


The smoke may have been the gleaming cloud of God’s glory, but in the present context we can’t dismiss the fact that it may have been also indicative of His anger.  Well might the Temple foundations tremble at the sound of God’s voice raised in wrath.


The terror impelled by that sound may be gauged from what is written in Revelation 6:15-17 relative to the final judgment of the world, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”


6:5.  “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”


“Woe is me” is also translated, “Alas, I feel beaten, I am doomed, I am lost”; and “man of unclean lips” is also rendered, “foul-mouthed.”  As compared with others, a man may seem relatively righteous.  It is only in the blazing light of Divine holiness that the utter filthiness of even the best of unconverted men is revealed; nor is it difficult to understand the magnitude of their terror on that day when they will stand before God for judgment, with that all-revealing beam exposing even their innermost thoughts.  Jesus Christ is the only secure refuge from the awful wrath of an offended God, and the man who fails to enter that hiding place by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, is of all fools the greatest.


6:6.  “Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar;”


The seraph lifted the glowing coal with the tongs, but he carried it in his bare hand, and suffered no hurt, his inherent holiness rendering him impervious to the pain that would normally have resulted from such an act.  This is a symbolic picture of the state of every believer.  His faith in Christ cleanses him from all sin, thus exempting him from ever having to suffer the terrible torment of the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.


6:7.  “And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”


It may seem strange that the touch of the glowing coal, which purged the prophet’s sin, should have been upon his lips; but the mystery is removed when we remember what is written relative to every believer, “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,” Romans 10:9.  Verbal confession of Christ as Savior is an essential part of salvation; and only those whose iniquity has been taken away, whose sin has been purged, can make that confession, and render acceptable service.


This teaches also that God will not use an unclean vessel.  If we would render effective service we must keep ourselves clean, every sin being confessed, repented of, and forsaken the moment we become aware of it.


6:8.  “And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me.”


The “us” here refers to the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


God still seeks witnesses to carry His good news of the gospel to earth’s perishing millions.  Dare we who have been made the recipients of “so great salvation” Hebrews 2:3, refuse to obey His command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mark 16:15?


6:9.  “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.”


This may well be the most solemn verse in the Bible, for it pronounces the eternal doom of a people phenomenally privileged. God had revealed Himself to them for centuries, and in countless ways, but they had stopped their ears, stoned His messengers, and had virtually bidden Him to depart from them.  And He was about to take them at their word.  Their repeated rejection of His appeals had finally exhausted His sorely-tried patience, and now they who might have made themselves heirs of eternal blessing, had instead made themselves heirs of eternal wrath.  The warning against such folly is recorded in Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” and again in Job 36:18, “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee,” and again, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Corinthians 6:2.


Tomorrow may be too late.  Tomorrow you may have crossed the invisible line that separates God’s mercy from His wrath, and then though you may live for many more years your endless doom is sealed: the awful lake of fire with its everlasting torment will be your eternal dwelling place.


Will any honest man deny that our modern, sophisticated, wealthy, pleasure-loving, so-called “Christian” western world has dismissed Him with the very same thinly-veiled contempt?  And His recompense of their wickedness is the same as that suffered by rebel Judah.  They too hear, but understand not; they too read, but perceive not.  The Bible is a book whose meaning is hidden from their understanding, for the Holy Spirit, grieved and quenched by their rebellion, refuses to disclose the spiritual message lying beneath the surface of its literal language.  The obedient believer however, is given that enlightenment, and revels in the enjoyment of the spiritual riches which accrue from his reading and meditation.


6:10.  “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”


This continues the message the prophet was to deliver to disobedient Judah.  God Himself would now stupefy them, making their hearts unreceptive, dulling their perception, so that spiritually they would neither hear, nor see, nor understand.  Having exhausted God’s patience, they had passed for ever beyond the pale of mercy, and were doomed to perish, i.e., endure eternal torment in the lake of fire.  Multitudes, without knowing it, cross that same invisible line every day, their descent into that awful lake being just as certain as if they were already there.


To convert is to turn around, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, be healed spiritually, be saved, be born again.


6:11.  “Then said I, Lord, how long?  And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant; and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,”


6:12.  “And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.”


It was Isaiah who asked how long it would be before the people would be ready to listen, God’s fateful answer being as recorded here.  They would rebel until appalling judgment had desolated the land, leaving it without inhabitant, they having been slain or led away into captivity.  This was fulfilled first in the Assyrian conquest, and then by that of the Babylonians, and in yet another by the Romans in AD 70, these, terrible as they were, being but precursors of the yet more dreadful mayhem that will occur during the reign of the Beast in the now imminent Great Tribulation.                                 


6:13.  “But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”


The tenth refers to the remnant left in the land by Nebuchadnezzar, see 2 Kings 24:14.


This is generally understood to mean that even though Israel will be repeatedly invaded, and the bulk of the people be removed by captivity and death, yet a few will be left, and be as the stump of a felled tree which sprouts new life again, that remnant being the seed through which the nation will be preserved to enjoy millennial blessing.


History attests the accuracy of the prophecy.  The Diaspora of AD 70 scattered Israel amongst the nations until 1948, when the British mandate gave her Palestine as a homeland, to which the Jews have been returning ever since.  But her testing is not yet ended.  In the now imminent Great Tribulation she will again face destruction, this time at the hand of the Beast, but will be miraculously delivered by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish His millennial kingdom, in which she will be elevated to a place of supremacy over the nations, fulfilling her long promised destiny, so often thwarted by her disobedience.

[Isaiah 7]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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