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                          "THE BOOK OF ISAIAH"

                  Isaiah's Vision Of The Holy God (6)

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS SECTION

1) To examine Isaiah's vision of God sitting on His throne

2) To consider how God hardens the hearts of those who refuse to hear

3) To note that desolation and captivity would be themes of Isaiah's
   prophecy

SUMMARY

The sixth chapter contains Isaiah's Vision Of The Holy God.  It is
commonly thought the vision served as his commission to be a prophet of
God and thus marks the beginning of his ministry.  Others believe it
came to him after years of preaching and was designed to deepen his
spirituality (ISBE).  If it occurred at the beginning of his ministry,
Isaiah may have delayed its mention to stress his message rather than
himself as prophet.

The significance of the vision merits careful examination.  The first
section can be described as The Prophet's Vision, in which Isaiah
describes the revelation of the Lord of hosts exalted in the temple and
praised by seraphim (6:1-4).  The second section depicts The Prophet's
Reaction as his consciousness of guilt fills him with despair in what he
has seen (6:5).  In the third section, we read of The Prophet's
Absolution in which he is purged from his sin (6:6-7).  The final
section reveals The Prophet's Commission as Isaiah first accepts the
call for service and then told what the Lord would have him say to the
people.  The prospect for success appears dim for he is being sent to a
hardhearted people, but the vision closes on a promising note regarding
the holy seed (6:8-13).  What is noteworthy is that the apostle John
says that in this vision Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus Christ (Jn
12:37-41)!

OUTLINE

I. THE PROPHET'S VISION - REVELATION (6:1-4)

   A. THE DATE OF THE VISION...
      1. In the year King Uzziah died - 6:1a
      2. This would be about 740-739 B.C.
         a. Many believe this vision was the prophet's first call to
            preach
         b. If so, then Isaiah's ministry spanned nearly 50 years

   B. THE LORD IN THE VISION...
      1. Sitting on a throne, high and lifted up - 6:1b
      2. The train of His robe filling the temple (Solomon's temple?)
         - 6:1c

   C. THE SERAPHIM IN THE VISION...
      1. Their position - 6:2a
         a. Standing above the throne - cf. NKJV, KJV
         b. Or above the Lord - cf. ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV
         c. Or around Him - cf. the Septuagint
      2. Their wings - 6:2b
         a. Each had six wings
         b. Two covered their faces, two covered their feet, with two
            they flew
         c. Not to be confused with 'cherubim' (cf. Eze 10:1-22)
            1) Cherubim were below the throne; seraphim were above it
            2) Cherubim primarily provided transportation; seraphim
               offered praise
            3) "The most that can be said with certainty about the
               seraphim is that they were a separate group of attendants
               who praised God at His throne" - ISBE (revised)
      3. Their praise - 6:3
         a. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is
            full of His glory!"
         b. "The threefold recital of 'holy' probably indicates the
            absolute holiness of Him who sits on the throne" - Hailey

   D. THE AUDIOVISUALS IN THE VISION...
      1. The posts of the door shaken by the voice of the seraphim
         - 6:4a
      2. The house was filled with smoke - 6:4b
         a. The smoke may have been part of the 'Shekinah' or
            'glory-cloud'
         b. Which was often a manifestation of the presence of God - cf.
            Exo 40:34-38; 1 Kin 8:10-11; Eze 10:4; Re 15:8

II. THE PROPHET'S REACTION - PROSTRATION (6:5)

   A. HIS DESPAIR...
      1. "Woe is me, for I am undone!" - 6:5a
      2. Compare with others who had similar visions
         a. Ezekiel (fell on his face) - Ezek 1:28
         b. Daniel (lost all strength, face on the ground) - Dan 10:5-10
         c. John (fell as dead) - Re 1:17

   B. HIS CONSCIOUSNESS OF GUILT...
      1. "Because I am a man of unclean lips" - 6:5b
      2. "And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" - 6:5c
      3. "This expression evidently denotes that he was a 'sinner,' and
         especially that he was unworthy either to join in the praise of
         a God so holy, or to deliver a message in his name." - Barnes

   C. HIS REASON FOR HIS DESPAIR...
      1. "For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts" - 6:5d
      2. Perhaps he was mindful of Exo 33:20 ("for no man shall see Me,
         and live")
      3. How do we reconcile other statements like it? - cf. Jn 1:18;
         6:46; 1 Ti 6:16; 1 Jn 4:12
         a. What Isaiah saw was just a 'vision'
         b. Yet it appeared to him as real, and he reacted accordingly

III. THE PROPHET'S ABSOLUTION - PURIFICATION (6:6-7)

   A. APPROACHED BY A SERAPHIM...
      1. One of the seraphim flew to him - 6:6a
      2. In his hand a live coal taken with tongs from the altar - 6:6b
      3. If this was in the literal temple, then the altar was likely
         the 'altar of incense'

   B. PURGED OF HIS SIN...
      1. The seraphim touch Isaiah's mouth with the coal - 6:7a
      2. His iniquity is declared taken away and his sin purged - 6:7b
      3. He could now offer acceptable service to the Lord - cf. Psa 51:
         12-15

IV. THE PROPHET'S COMMISSION - CONSECRATION (6:8-13)

   A. THE LORD'S QUESTION AND ISAIAH'S RESPONSE...
      1. "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" - 6:8a
         a. The 'Us' may reflect the triune nature of the Godhead
         b. Compare Gen 1:26; Jn 1:1; 12:39-41
      2. "Here am I! Send me." - 6:8b
         a. Free from guilt, Isaiah has no fear in serving the Lord
         b. If we really believe our sins are forgiven, would we
            hesitate to go and do whatever or wherever the Lord would
            have us?

   B. THE COMMISSION GIVEN TO ISAIAH...
      1. The charge - 6:9-10
         a. What to tell the people
            1) "Keep on hearing, but do not understand;"
            2) "Keep on seeing, but do not perceive."
         b. What effect this will have on the people
            1) "Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears
               heavy, And shut their eyes;"
            2) "Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears,
               And understand with their heart, And return and be
               healed."
         c. Isaiah was to preach, but God knew their hearts would only
            harden
            1) Jesus dealt with people who had similar hearts - cf. Mt
               13:13-15
            2) Then why preach?
               a) So those with hardened hearts will know on the day of
                  judgment just how hard their hearts really were!
               b) As we shall see, there is always a 'remnant' who will
                  accept the word
      2. The term - 6:11-12
         a. Isaiah asks "How long?" - 6:11a
         b. The Lord's response 6:11a-12
            1) "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant"
            2) "The houses are without a man, The land is utterly
               desolate,"
            3) "The Lord has removed men far away, And the forsaken
               places are many in the midst of the land."
         c. I.e., until the day of judgment has come and passed; in
            Isaiah's day, until cities are destroyed and people taken
            captive
      3. The remnant and holy seed - 6:13
         a. A remnant shall return and be for consuming, like the stump
            of a tree cut down
         b. The stump shall contain the holy seed (the faithful remnant)
            - cf. Ro 11:5

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THIS SECTION

1) What vision does the sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah contain?
   - Isaiah's Vision Of The Holy God

2) What purpose did the vision serve?  What does it tell us about
   Isaiah's ministry? (6:1)
   - To call Isaiah and commission him as a prophet of God
   - That his ministry began in the year King Uzziah died

3) What did Isaiah see? Where was it? (6:1)
   - The Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; in the temple

4) What stood above or around the Lord? What did one say to another?
   (6:2-3)
   - Seraphim, each with six wings
   - "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of
     His glory!"

5) What sounds and sights accompanied the voice of the one who cried
   out? (6:4)
   - The posts of the door were shaken; the house was filled with smoke

6) What was Isaiah's reaction?  Why did he feel this way? (6:5)
   - "Woe is me, for I am undone!"
   - He was a man of unclean lips (i.e., a sinner), living in the midst
     of others like him

7) How was Isaiah assured that his sin was purged? (6:6-7)
   - A seraphim took a live coal and touched his mouth with it, telling
     him that his iniquity was removed

8) What did Isaiah hear the Lord say?  How did he respond? (6:8)
   - "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?"; "Here am I! Send me."

9) What was Isaiah to tell the people? What was he to do by such
   preaching? (6:9)
   - Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not
     perceive.
   - Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut
     their eyes

10) How long was Isaiah to proclaim his message? (6:11-12)
   - Until the land was desolate and the Lord has removed people far
     away

11) What small ray of hope was revealed to Isaiah in this vision? (6:13)
   - A tenth (remnant) shall remain in the land, though for burning; the
     holy seed will be in the stump
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