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Isaiah 6:1-13 NOTES

Isaiah 6:1-13 - EXEGESIS

Isa. Chaps. 1-5 CONTEXT: In chapters 1-5, Isaiah uses harsh words to speak of Judah's wickedness. He speaks of Judeans as rebellious children (1:2) and "people loaded with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken Yahweh. They have despised the Holy One of Israel. They are estranged and backward." (1:4). He says that the faithful city has become a whore (1:21). He tells of a vine grower (God) who planted a vineyard (Judah) with choice vines, expecting it to yield grapes, but "it yielded wild grapes" (5:1-2). Dip into chapters 1-5 at random, and you will find yourself reading about Judah's sin or God's judgment. Isaiah's tone throughout is critical and condemnatory. It seems surprising that the events of chapter 6 are reported where they are rather than at the beginning of the book. The first verse of chapter 1 speaks Isaiah's vision. It would seem appropriate for Isaiah's call to be reported in chapter 1 instead of chapter 6. Scholars are divided with regard to this issue. Are the events of chapter 6 Isaiah's initial call, or are they a subsequent call that defines his call and gives it direction? It could be that chapters 1-5 are intended to be introductory-to set the stage, so to speak-and that chapter 6 is the beginning of the "action" portion of the book. It could be that a later redactor (editor) pieced the book together as we find it today. A full discussion of the possibilities is beyond the scope of this exegesis, because there are so many scholarly opinions on this point (See Oswalt, 171 ff. for an overview). However, it seems to me that Isaiah's work in chapters 1-5, denouncing Judah's sin and warning of judgment, was necessary to prepare Isaiah for the surprise that he experiences in chapter 6. For five chapters, he has pointed his judgmental finger at his fellow Judeans. In chapter 6, in the presence of Yahweh's holiness, he suddenly recognizes his own unholiness. It finally occurs to him that he is not only dwelling among a people of unclean lips, but that he is one of them-that his lips are unclean-that he, too, is subject to judgment. It is that "Aha!" moment that humbles him and prepares him for a life of service beyond anything that he otherwise could have rendered.


1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him, each having six wings: with two each covered his face, and with two each covered his feet, and with two each flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of armies. The whole earth is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,

"In the year that King Uzziah died" (v. 1a). Uzziah (known as Azariah in 2 Kings 15) was one of the better kings of Judah-the best after Solomon. He began his reign at age 16, reigned 52 years, and "did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh" (2 Chronicles 26:3-4). He commanded a mighty army, defeated the Philistines, and collected tribute from the Ammonites. He built towers and encouraged agriculture. "But when he had was strong, his heart was lifted up, so that he did corruptly, and he trespassed against Yahweh his God" (2 Chronicles 26:16). Toward the end of his life, he tried to usurp priestly prerogatives, and God afflicted him with leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:20).
• Uzziah's reign began sometime around 790 B.C. and he died sometime around 742 B.C.-a half-century reign during which Judah prospered. However, Tiglath-pileser began to reign in Assyria in 745 B.C.-in the last years of Uzziah's reign-and soon brought Assyria to a position of world dominance. Soon, Tiglath-pileser would begin pressuring Judah, and Judah's fortunes would wane. Uzziah's successors would find themselves unable to deliver the kind of peace and prosperity that Judah had enjoyed during Uzziah's reign. Thus Uzziah would be remembered fondly and his death would be remembered with great sadness. "In the year that King Uzziah died" is a phrase heavy with meaning. Judeans would remember Uzziah's reign as "the good old days."
Isaiah's ministry will span approximately four decades, beginning sometime around 742 B.C. and continuing through the rest of the century.

"I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up:" (v. 1b). In the year that a great earthly king died, Isaiah was privileged to see an even greater heavenly king sitting on a throne in the temple-probably in the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem temple. The throne was "high and lofty" -appropriate for God's exalted nature.
•Earlier, God told Moses, "You cannot see my face; for man may not see me and live" (Exodus 33:20; see also Exodus 19:21). However, there were occasions where people were allowed to see God and live (Genesis 16:13; Exodus 24:10). This is one of those.

"and his train filled the temple" (v. 1c). This detail conveys the sense of awe that Isaiah feels in the presence of Yahweh. To him it seems that Yahweh's robe fills the temple. He feels too small to see beyond the hem of Yahweh's robe.

"Above him stood the seraphim" (v. 2a). "Seraph" is a transliterated Hebrew word (a word brought into the English language as it sounds in the original language)-seraphs or seraphim are plurals of seraph. Most scholars believe that the word, seraphim, means "fiery serpents." Scott believes that it means "burning ones" and that the idea of serpents is derived illogically from Numbers 21:6, 8 (Scott, 208).

"Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face. With two they covered his feet. With two he flew" (v. 2b). As noted in verse 1b above, people were not usually allowed to see God and live. The seraphim cover their faces to protect them from seeing God. "Covered their feet" is probably a euphemism for covering their nakedness.
"One called to another," (v. 3a). This suggests antiphonal choirs, where one choir sings a phrase from one part of the sanctuary and another choir sings a response from another part. Just imagine several choirs of perfect voices, positioned throughout an acoustically perfect temple, singing antiphonally. Each response would come from a new direction and would complement the earlier song rather than copying it. The effect would be rich and beautiful-almost beyond a person's ability to absorb.

"and said, 'Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of Armies! The whole earth is full of his glory!'" (v. 3b). The Hebrew language depends on repetition for emphasis, and this threefold repetition depicts the epitome of holiness. The author of the book of Revelation uses this same image and thrice-holy formula (Revelation 4:8).
These are the words of the song sung by the seraphim choirs-a hymn of praise-a tribute to God's holiness and glory. God's holiness is an inherent part of his being. God's glory is the visible manifestation of his magnificent presence. Holiness and glory are often linked in Old Testament descriptions of God.

"The foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke" (v. 4). The seraphim sing so loudly that the doors of the temple shake. The temple is also filled with smoke from incense (Exodus 25:6, 29; 30:1, 7, 27, etc.) and/or burnt sacrifices. The smoke and violent shaking are reminiscent of Moses' encounter with Yahweh at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18).


5 Then I said, "Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of armies." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin."

"Then I said, '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 my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of Armies!'" (v. 5). Isaiah speaks, confessing his guilt. As noted above, he has railed for five chapters against his sinful nation and its people. He has used graphic language to describe their guilt and the judgment that they should anticipate. Now, in the presence of the Almighty, he is overwhelmed by his own guilt. In the presence of Yahweh's holiness, he is struck by his own unholiness. He sees that, like the other citizens of Judah, he too is guilty-that he, too, is deserving of judgment.
• To gain some sense of how Isaiah felt, imagine how you would feel in the presence of a modern saint-someone like Mother Teresa. In the presence of saintliness, most of us feel spiritually drab by comparison. Their holiness accentuates our unholiness. Now multiply that feeling by a thousand, and you begin to understand how Isaiah felt. To get the full impact, multiply by infinity.

"unclean lips" seems like an odd phrase to use here. It is not only Isaiah's lips that are unclean, but his whole person. Why would he speak only of unclean lips? Jesus gives us a clue when he says, "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34) and "the things that proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart" (Matthew 15:18). The point is that unclean lips (a secondary uncleanness) express what is in an unclean heart (the root uncleanness). Isaiah's unclean lips give expression to his unclean heart, just as the unclean lips of the people of Judah (on whom Isaiah has been pronouncing judgment) give expression to their unclean hearts. It is only when Isaiah finds himself in the presence of Yahweh's holiness that he recognizes his own uncleanness.

"for my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of Armies!" (v. 5b). To see "the King, Yahweh of Armies," is to die. Isaiah must think that he is about to be incinerated on the spot.

"Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar" (v. 6). While there is no mention of Yahweh commanding the seraph to take this action, it is clear that the seraph is doing God's will. While a live coal could come either from the incense altar or the sacrificial altar, the latter seems more appropriate for cleansing a person's sins. Temple sacrifices involve blood atonement, which makes possible forgiveness of sin.

"He touched my mouth with it, and said, 'Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin forgiven'" (v. 7). The seraph touches Isaiah's mouth with the live coal, burning away the uncleanness of his lips and heart. He who was unholy is made holy. He who was unfit to stand in God's presence is, by the grace of God, made fit.


8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Isaiah has spoken, confessing his guilt. Now God speaks, addressing the heavenly council (the seraphim and whatever other angelic host might be present). "The throne room of God is the policy room of world government. There is business to conduct. There is creation to manage. There are messages to be sent"
(Bruggemann, 59-60).

God asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah is only a bystander, overhearing God's question. God says neither where the envoy is to go nor what the envoy is to do-nor does God ask Isaiah to volunteer.

"Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah, caught up in the excitement of the moment-grateful to be cleansed and even more grateful to be alive-volunteers to be God's envoy, even though he does not know where Yahweh will ask him to go or what Yahweh will ask him to do. In essence, Isaiah writes Yahweh a blank check, offering to go wherever and to do whatever. This is unusual in the call stories of the Old Testament, where people often object to their call (Exodus 3:11; 4:10; Judges 6:15; Jeremiah 1:6).
• But something like Isaiah's response happens yet today whenever a person of faith commits him/herself to God's service. When making such a commitment, the person cannot say, "I will serve God as long as I can do it here"-or "I will be happy to serve God in this way but not in that way." The commitment must be to serve God, and the person making such a commitment can only wonder where God will lead.


9 And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not understand; And keep on looking, but do not gain knowledge.' 10 Make the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes blind,

So that they will not see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed."
• But Preachers tend to preach on verses 1-8 and to ignore verses 9-13, because these latter verses represent God as having made up his mind to condemn people. Having determined the verdict, God wants nothing-not even repentance-to interfere with the judgment that he will soon render. That clashes with our idea of a loving God.
• But However, the two passages go together. Verses 1-8 tell of the messenger, while verses 9-13 tell of the message. The message is dismal, but it has a twist-a hopeful twist-at the end. Everything is to be destroyed and re-destroyed. It will appear that no life could possibly emerge from the twice-burned wreckage, but life will emerge-a holy seed-a bright green ray of hope growing improbably from the charred wreckage. A remnant will survive to carry on Yahweh's plan.
• But The idea of a remnant is found throughout the Old Testament. Typically, God judges sinful people, allowing many to die-sometimes quickly as in the great flood (Genesis 7), and at other times slowly, as on the journey to the Promised Land. In each instance, God chooses a faithful remnant to survive and carry on his work. In this book, Isaiah often raises the hope of a remnant (10:19-22; 11:11, 16; 28:5; 37:4, 31; 46:3). The idea of a remnant continues in the New Testament (Matthew 7:14; Romans 9:27-29; 11:2-5, 7; Revelation 12:17).

"He said, 'Go, and tell this people,'" (v. 9a). The phrase, "this people," distances Yahweh from the people of Judah-rather like a father saying "this kid" instead of "my son" or "my daughter." In better times Yahweh said, "my people" (Exodus 3:7; 6:7).

"'You hear indeed, but don't understand; and you see indeed, but don't perceive.'" (v. 9b). This describes what has been happening. "This people" has had every opportunity to hear and see. Their history is replete with stories of their relationship with Yahweh-how he chose them-and loved them-and led them-and even how he punished them when they sinned. They have scripture and temple worship as constant reminders of this relationship. Yahweh has given them every possible advantage, but they have
nevertheless failed to comprehend-failed to understand-failed to obey.
• But Their failure is willful, and has taken place because their hearts are far from God. They do not understand, because they don't want to understand. If they were to understand, they would have to change-and they don't want to change.

"Make the heart of this people fat. 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 turn again, and be healed." (v. 10). "If anyone hardens his heart, God will complete the hardening. Anyone whose heart is hardened has his condition made even worse by the call to repent" (Kaiser, on verse 10). A call to repent only causes such a person to raise his/her defenses even higher.
• But But Yahweh's purpose is redemptive. Yahweh won't be an "enabler"-a person who supports intolerable behavior. Yahweh will allow "this people" to fall-to "hit bottom," if we may borrow a phrase from Alcoholics Anonymous. Otherwise, they will limp along forever in their sins.
• But Prophets are seldom popular. They speak truths that people don't want to hear and are often persecuted for their trouble (Matthew 5:12). Being a prophet is thankless at best and dangerous at worst. Still, a prophet can find satisfaction by speaking the truth-and by hoping that people will respond and be saved. But Yahweh will not permit Isaiah to hope. Isaiah is to speak the truth while knowing in advance that the people will refuse to respond.
• But It seems that Yahweh has willed that it be so-that he has no interest in seeing "this people" repent-that he has no desire to see them healed. We are left to wonder if Yahweh's love is truly everlasting (Psalm 103:17)-if he has "forgotten to be gracious" and has "withheld his compassion" (Psalm 77:9). It is a possibility that doesn't sit well with our one-dimensional idea of a gracious, loving, and forgiving Father.
• But But it seems to me that there is a parallel between Yahweh's dealing with "this people" and his earlier dealings with the people of Israel in the wilderness. In that earlier situation, Yahweh dealt with their sin by forcing them to wander in the wilderness until they all died-died without entering the Promised Land.
While that was a severe judgment, it fell far short of a final judgment. The original Israelites died in the wilderness, but Yahweh fulfilled his promise to Israel by allowing their children to enter and possess the Promised Land. Yahweh punished the sinful Israelites, but continued the covenant relationship through their children.
• But Something similar will happen here. "This people"-the people to whom Isaiah will proclaim the truth-will soon be exiled. Their exile will continue for decades-a lengthy period during which most of them will die. But their children will live, and Yahweh will enable a remnant to return and to rebuild the city and the temple.
• But As Yahweh gives Isaiah his charge, it seems obvious that he has already decided on this scenario. If the people were to repent without experiencing the rigors of exile, their repentance would be half-hearted. Better that they die! Better that the promise be worked out through their children!
• But We will see these words again in the New Testament. Each of the Synoptics will report Jesus as speaking them (Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10), and the authors of the Gospel of John will quote them (John 12:37-43), as will the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:26-27).


11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate, 12 The LORD has completely removed people, And there are many forsaken places in the midst of the land. 13 Yet there will still be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak. Whose stump remains when it is cut down. The holy seed is its stump."

"Then I said, 'Lord, how long?'" (v. 11a). "Lord, how long," is more a lament than a question. It expresses despair rather than seeking precise information. It appears in the book of Psalms as a plaintive cry (Psalm 13:1; 35:7; 79:5; 89:46). When God says, "How long," it is usually a cry of frustration at Israel's recalcitrance (Exodus 10:3; 16:28; 14:11, 27), but here it is a cry of grief.
• Isaiah's response makes it clear that he is surprised and dismayed at the task that the Lord has given him. He finds no pleasure in the prospect of Judah's demise or in being a party to it. This is not what he anticipated when he raised his hand to volunteer.

"He answered, 'Until cities are waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land becomes utterly waste, and Yahweh has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. If there is a tenth left in it, that also will in turn be consumed: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remains when they are felled'" (v. 11b-13a). Most scholars treat verses 11b-13a as Yahweh's response to Isaiah's "How long?" question. Yahweh answers that the destruction will continue until it is complete. Not even a tenth part will be allowed to remain. The only glimmer of hope is that Yahweh doesn't say that the people will die, but rather that they will be sent far away-a reference to the exile that they will soon experience. However, most of them will die in exile. Most will never see their beloved city again. "Even so, there is a limit on this judgment. Isaiah won't have to preach doom forever. There will be an end to this end" (Strawn, 309).
• Dunn sees verse 11 as Yahweh's response to Isaiah's question, "How long, O Lord?" He then sees verses 12-13a as a second question from Isaiah, and translates those verses as follows: "When YHWH shall have removed humankind and the abandoned area in the land's core (shall have become) great, if (perchance there be) yet in it a tenth part, if it turn, will it be for burning?" (Dunn, 101). He says that Isaiah's question "assumes the fulfillment of God's judgment, but also (it is hoped) assumes the survival of a tiny remnant. It then poses the question of the future: Will the ban apply to all future generations? Will they too be banned from repentance and summarily condemned to 'burn'?" (Dunn, 109).
• The terebinth is also known as the turpentine tree, because it produces resins from which turpentine can be derived.

"so the holy seed is its stock." (v. 13b). These few words are the glimmer of hope that emerges from verses 9-13. They represent well the reality that they portray, in that they surprise the reader, who has just waded through a sea of words full of desolation and emptiness and charred embers. Just as the people of Isaiah's day would have been heartened by the image of a spot of green emerging from a charred stump, so also we are heartened by these hopeful words at the end of this difficult passage. The good news of this half-verse is that Yahweh will not abandon his people forever. He will continue to honor the covenant made so long ago with Abram (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham's descendants will suffer, but a remnant will survive to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple.

EW Commentary - Isa. 6:1-13

A. The conviction of the prophet.

1. (6:1-2) What Isaiah saw.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

a. In the year that King Uzziah died: King Uzziah of Judah had a long and distinguished reign, described in 2 Chronicles 26 and in 2 Kings 15:1-7 (Uzziah is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15).
i. Uzziah began his reign when he was only 16 years old, and he reigned 52 years. Overall, he was a good king, and 2 Kings 15:3 says, he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 2 Chronicles 26:5 says, He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper.
ii. Uzziah also led Israel in military victories over the Philistines and other neighboring nations, and he was a strong king. Uzziah was an energetic builder, planner, and general. 2 Chronicles 26:8 says of Uzziah, His fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for he became exceedingly strong.
iii. But Uzziah's life ended tragically. 2 Chronicles 26:16 says, but when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. In response, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, and he was an isolated leper until his death.
iv. So, to say in the year King Uzziah died is to say a lot. It is to say, "In the year a great and wise king died." But it is also to say, "In the year a great and wise king who had a tragic end died." Isaiah had great reason to be discouraged and disillusioned at the death of King Uzziah, because a great king had passed away, and because his life ended tragically. Where was the LORD in all this?

b. I saw the LORD sitting on a throne: Where was the LORD in all this? The LORD was sitting on a throne! God was still enthroned in heaven and was still in charge of all creation.
i. There is a throne in heaven, and the LORD God sits upon it as the sovereign ruler of the universe! This is the central fact of heaven; that there is an occupied throne in heaven. God does not sit on a chair in heaven. Anyone might sit on a chair. But sovereign kings sit on thrones. Judges sit on thrones. Those with proper authority and sovereignty sit on thrones.
ii. Isaiah was not alone in seeing God's throne. Almost everyone in the Bible who had a vision of heaven, was taken to heaven, or wrote about heaven spoke of God's throne: The prophet Michaiah saw God's throne (1 Kings 22:19). Job saw God's throne (Job 26:9). David saw God's throne (Psalm 9:4 and 9:7, 11:4); The Sons of Korah saw God's throne (Psalm 45:6, 47:8). Ethan the Ezrahite saw God's throne (Psalm 89:14). Jeremiah saw God's throne (Lamentations 5:19) Ezekiel saw God's throne (Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1). Daniel saw God's throne (Daniel 7:9). The Apostle John saw God's throne (Revelation 4:1-11). In fact, the book of Revelation may as well be called "the book of God's throne," because God's throne is specifically mentioned more than 35 times in that book.
iii. The core belief of atheism or materialism is that there is no throne; there is no seat of authority or power all the universe must answer to. The core belief of humanism is that there is a throne - but man sits upon it. But the Bible makes it clear that there is a throne in heaven, and no fallen man sits on the throne, but the Lord GOD is enthroned in heaven.
iv. Isaiah may have been depressed or discouraged because a great leader of Judah was no longer on the throne. God in heaven now shows Isaiah, "Don't worry about it, Isaiah. Uzziah may not be on his throne, but I am on My throne."

c. High and lifted up: The throne was exalted and majestic. The throne set its Occupant in a superior position.

d. The train of His robe filled the temple: Kings of that time would wear robes with long trains because they were difficult to maneuver and work in. Wearing a long train meant, "I am important enough that I don't have to work. I am a person of honor and dignity. Others must serve me and wait upon me." Essentially, the same is said when a bride wears a dress with a long train today.
i. God is so honored, so important, so dignified, that the train of His robe filled the temple. That's a long train.

e. Above it stood seraphim: Surrounding the throne of God are angels known here as seraphim. In many other passages, these angels are known as cherubim (Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 37:16; Ezekiel 10:3) or as the living creatures of Revelation 4:6-11. This is the only chapter in the Bible where these creatures are named seraphim.
i. Some deny that cherubim and seraphim refer to the same beings. But the name seraphim means, "burning ones." Ezekiel 1:13 describes cherubim (see also Ezekiel 10:15) this way: their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. That certainly seems to describe burning ones.

f. Each one had six wings: In Revelation 4:8, the Apostle John also mentions their six wings. They need the six wings, so each can cover his face (to show they are too lowly to look upon the LORD), so each can cover his feet (to hide this "humble" area of the body, so nothing even possibly deficient is seen in the LORD's presence), and so each can fly.
i. The LORD said to Moses, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live" (Exodus 33:20). Apparently, the same is true even for angels, so the seraphim cover their faces.
ii. "The two wings with which the angels fly mean nothing else than their ready and cheerful performance of the commandments of God.... 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." (Calvin)
iii. "For the seraph remembers that even though sinless he is yet a creature, and therefore he conceals himself in token of his nothingness and unworthiness in the presence of the thrice Holy One." (Spurgeon)

g. Each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew: The seraphim used four of their wings to express their humility and used two of their wings to express their willingness and ability to serve God. This is the proper balance.
i. "Thus they have four wings for adoration and two for active energy; four to conceal themselves, and two with which to occupy themselves in service; and we may learn from them that we shall serve God best when we are most deeply reverend and humbled in his presence. Veneration must be in larger proportion than vigor, adoration must exceed activity. As Mary at Jesus' feet was preferred to Martha and her much serving, so must sacred reverence take the first place, and energetic service follow in due course." (Spurgeon)

2. (3-4) What Isaiah heard.

And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

a. One cried to another and said: The seraphim are not even directly addressing the LORD God here. They are proclaiming His glorious nature and character to one another, in the presence of the LORD.

b. Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: Why do they repeat "holy" three times? Wasn't it enough to simply say that the LORD was "holy" once? It wasn't enough. They say it three times because there are Three Persons in the One God.
i. Calvin didn't think that this was the best verse to prove the Trinity, but he still saw the truth of the Trinity here. "The ancients quoted this passage when they wished to prove that there are three persons in one essence of the Godhead.... I have no doubt that the angels here describe One God in Three Persons."

c. Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: Why do they repeat "holy" three times? Wasn't it enough to simply say that the LORD was "holy" once? It wasn't enough. In the Hebrew language, intensity is communicated by repetition. To say the LORD is holy says something. To say the LORD is holy, holy, says far more. To say, holy, holy, holy is the LORD is to declare His holiness in the highest possible degree.
i. What does it mean that God is holy, and holy in the highest possible sense? Holiness, at its root, has the idea of apartness. It describes someone, or something, which is set apart from other people or things. An object can be holy if it is set apart for sacred service. A person is holy if they are set apart for God's will and purpose.
ii. What is the LORD set apart from? He is set apart from creation, in that the Lord GOD is not a creature, and He exists outside of all creation. If all creation were to dissolve, the Lord GOD would remain. He is set apart from humanity, in that His "nature" or "essence" is Divine, not human. God is not a super-man or the ultimate man. God is not merely smarter than any man, stronger than any man, older than any man, or better than any man. You can't measure God on man's chart at all. He is Divine, and we are human.
iii. Yet, because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), humanity is compatible with Divinity. They are different, but they do not automatically oppose each other. This is how Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, could add humanity to His deity when He became a man. Unfallen humanity is not deity, but it is compatible with it.
iv. God's holiness is a part of everything He is and does. God's power is a holy power. God's love is a holy love. God's wisdom is a holy wisdom. Holiness is not an aspect of God's personality; it is one characteristic of His entire Being.

d. The whole earth is full of His glory: The seraphim surrounding the throne of God could see this probably more clearly than Isaiah could. We are often blind to the obvious glory of God all around us.

e. The posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out: The seraphim are majestic beings, and their voice carries weight. When they speak, the doorposts of God's throne room shake! The idea may be that Isaiah was watching from the doorway, and when the seraphim cried out, he could feel the doorposts shake.
i. Yet these high, majestic beings - perhaps the highest beings in all of God's creation - have one occupation. Their existence is given over to the praise and worship and honor of the LORD God who is enthroned in heaven. What could we possibly do that is a higher calling than that?
ii. They sang so powerfully the doorposts were shaken! Shouldn't we sing with the same passion, the same heart, the same intensity? Do those angels have more to thank and praise God for than we do?

f. The house was filled with smoke: This smoke reminds us of the pillar of cloud that represented the presence of God (Exodus 13:21-22), the smoke on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18), and the cloud of God's Shekinah glory that filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10-12). A cloud of glory often marks the presence of the LORD.

3. (6:5) What Isaiah felt.

So I said: "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 my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."

a. Woe is me, for I am undone: What made Isaiah feel like he was coming apart? Two things. First, the sight and sound of the seraphim. Second, the vision of the Lord GOD.
i. When Isaiah saw the angels, in all their holy humility, obedience, and praise to God, he realized not only that he was unlike the Lord GOD, he was also unlike the angels. They could cry out Holy, holy, holy and praise God so beautifully, but he could not because he was a man of unclean lips. "I am a man of unclean lips; I cannot say, Holy, holy, holy! which the seraphs exclaim. They are holy; I am not so: they see God and live; I have seen him, and must die, because I am unholy." (Clarke)
ii. When Isaiah saw the LORD, he knew what kind of man he was. As poorly as he compared to the seraphim, that was nothing in relation to how he compared to the LORD. This vision (or actual experience) of the throne of God did not immediately make Isaiah feel good. The more clearly he saw the LORD, the more clearly he saw how bad his state was.
iii. Isaiah's deep sense of depravity is consistent with the experience of other godly men in the presence of the LORD. Job (Job 42:5-6), Daniel (Daniel 10:15-17), Peter (Luke 5:8) and John (Revelation 1:17) each had similar experiences.
iv. I am undone is not a bad place to be. "God will never do anything with us till he has first of all undone us." (Spurgeon)

b. Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: Isaiah saw his sinfulness, and the sinfulness of his people, mainly in terms of sinful speech.
i. By nature, our lips are full of flattery and false intent: With flattering lips and a double heart they speak (Psalm 12:2). By nature, our lips lie and are proud: Let the lying lips be put to silence, which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous (Psalm 31:18). By nature, our lips deceive: Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit (Psalm 34:13). By nature, our lips are violent: Swords are in their lips (Psalm 59:7). By nature, our lips bring death to others: The poison of asps is under their lips (Psalm 140:3).
ii. Isaiah did not think for a moment that this was his only sin, but he saw that this was an example of the great and incurable disease of sin in him and his people.

c. For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts: Isaiah was a righteous, godly man by all outward appearance. Yet when he saw the enthroned King, the LORD of hosts, he saw how sinful he was in comparison.
i. Isaiah's life may have been as brilliant as a diamond. But when you lay a diamond against a perfectly black background and have the right light upon it, you can see every flaw and imperfection - flaws that were invisible before. Even so, when Isaiah's righteous life lay against the background of God's perfection, it looked different.

B. The cleansing of the prophet.

1. (6:5) A seraphim brings a coal from the altar.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.

a. One of the seraphim flew to me: These angelic beings, surrounding the throne of God, ministered to Isaiah. One flew to Isaiah with a live coal - which means the coal was still hot and burning. It was so hot that even an angel had to use the tongs from the altar.

b. The altar: This must be heaven's version of the altar of incense that was set before the holy of holies in the tabernacle of God (Exodus 30:1-10). We know that the earthly tabernacle God instructed Moses to build was made after the pattern of a heavenly reality (Exodus 25:9).
i. The throne is for God; that is where He rules and reigns. The altar is for us; that is where we find cleansing and purging from sin. We should never confuse the two.
ii. "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, because in sacred things every human mixture is absolute profanation. By this figure, therefore, Isaiah was taught that all purity flows from God alone." (Calvin)

2. (6:7)A coal from the altar cleanses Isaiah's lips.

And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged."

a. And he touched my mouth with it: This must have been painful; a burning hot coal applied to the lips, one of the more sensitive areas of the body. Yet, nothing is written that Isaiah reacted in pain. Either there was no pain, because of a special blessing by God, or the pain did not matter because of the majesty of the surroundings and the goodness of the cleansing.
i. Isaiah knew he did not serve the LORD like these seraphim, the burning ones. So God said, "I will light a fire in you, also!" That is why a burning coal was used to purify Isaiah. "Jehovah, who is a consuming fire, can only fitly be served by those who are on fire, whether they be angels or men." (Spurgeon)
ii. Isaiah cried out, Woe is me, for I am undone! (Isaiah 6:5) We might think that a burning coal to the lips would be more painful than a vision of the holy God. But for Isaiah, it was more disturbing to see the holiness of God, and to see his lack of holiness, than it was to have a burning coal applied to his lips.

b. Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged: Isaiah's sin had to be burned away; the fire of judgment was applied to his place of sin.
i. This was obviously a spiritual transaction. If one has a sinful mouth, it will do nothing to place a burning hot coal on their lips. That will not take away or purge their sin.
ii. Yet, the same principle works on our behalf in regard to Jesus' work on Calvary. Our sin was placed upon Him, and He was burned with the fire of God's judgment. Yet because He was holy and righteous Himself, the fire of God's judgment did not harm Him; it only burned away the sin, our sin.
iii. Once Isaiah had met with the LORD, been convicted of his sin, and cleansed from its guilt, then he was ready to serve God. "The effect of that live coal will be to fire the lip with heavenly flame. 'Oh,' says one man, 'a flaming coal will burn the lip so that the man cannot speak at all.' That is just how God works with us; it is by consuming the fleshly power that he inspires the heavenly might. Oh let the lip be burnt, let the fleshly power of eloquence be destroyed, but oh for that live coal to make the tongue eloquent with heaven's flame; the true divine power which urged the Apostles forward, and made them conquerors of the whole world." (Spurgeon)

C. The commission of the prophet.

1. (6:8) God calls and Isaiah responds.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

a. Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? God looked for someone to send. He wanted someone to go.
i. How strange it is for God to ask a question at all! What does God wonder about? What questions would He have? What does God not know? But God was asking for a person because God wants to reach the world, and He wants to reach it through willing people. It isn't that God doesn't know who these people are. It is that God is waiting for ready hearts to reveal themselves.
ii. How strange it is that this God of majesty, sovereignty, and power asks for volunteers! He could easily create robots to do His work or command angels to carry out His will. But God wants willing, surrendered servants. Have you been waiting for God to force you to serve Him? He looks for volunteers.

b. Whom shall I send: This means that the missionary, the Christian worker, the witness of Jesus Christ, is sent. This is a divine commission. Who will go for Us means that the missionary, the Christian worker, the witness of Jesus Christ, has decided to go. God's divine will to send and the human will to go are in perfect cooperation
i. Here we see another subtle reference to the Trinity. Who is sending? I or Us? It seems to be the same Person speaking in both the singular and the plural. It is the same Person! "The change of the number, I and us, is very remarkable; and both being meant of one and the same Lord, do sufficiently intimate a plurality of the persons in the Godhead." (Poole)

c. Here am I! Send me: Isaiah emphatically answered God's call. He did not hesitate. Isaiah wanted to be the answer to God's question.
i. What created this kind of heart in Isaiah? First, he had a heart that had been in the presence of God. He had a heart that knew its own sinfulness. He had a heart that knew the need among the people, the need for God's word. He had a heart that had been touched by God's cleansing fire. And he had a heart that heard God's heart to reach the nations.

d. Send me: This meant Isaiah was submitted to the LORD in all his service. He didn't even say, "Here I am, I will go." Isaiah would not go at all unless he knew he was sent by the LORD. Many are quick to say, "Here I am, I will go" but never wait for the LORD to send them.

2. (6:9-10) His mission described.

And He said, "Go, and tell this people: '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; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed."

a. And He said, "Go": When we say, "Here am I! Send me" to the LORD, we should expect that He will say "Go." He may say, "Go and serve Me here" or "Go and serve me there" or "Go and be prepared for future service," but God always has a "Go" for us.

b. Go and tell these people, "Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing but do not perceive": God told Isaiah to go and preach to a people who wouldn't respond so that their guilt would be certain. As Trapp wrote, Isaiah would "Preach them to hell."

c. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: This is an unsatisfying audience and ministry for any preacher. Isaiah might not be satisfied with this ministry. The people might not be satisfied with it. But God would be satisfied with it.

d. And understand with their heart, and return and be healed: This shows what the word of God can accomplish when it is received with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart. It brings understanding to our hearts, it makes us return, and it brings healing to our lives. If you are under the word of God and these things aren't happening to you, ask God to work with your eyes, ears, and heart.

3. (6:11-13) Isaiah is told how long he must prophesy this way.

Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered: "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate, The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump."

a. Lord, how long? This is a logical question from anyone who is given such a difficult commission. "Do I have to preach to those who won't hear, and their rejection of my message will ultimately seal their doom? How long will I have to serve in that kind of ministry?"

b. Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant: This answered the question of how long Isaiah was to preach. He should preach until destruction comes. He should preach in hope of the restoration of a remnant (yet a tenth will be in it, and will return). Even though Isaiah's ministry was difficult, it was not without hope.

c. And be for consuming: The remnant will indeed return, but even the remnant will eventually be judged. Israel was not done being disobedient when they returned from the Babylonian captivity, and God was not done bringing His judgment on a disobedient Israel.
i. "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." (Grogan)
ii. We would expect this dramatic call of Isaiah to open the book. But the Bible clearly states that the message is more important than the messenger. Isaiah's message was more important than Isaiah the messenger.
iii. When Isaiah saw the LORD, who did he see? He saw God in the Second Person of the Trinity, he saw Jesus before He added humanity to His deity. We know this because the Apostle John quotes Isaiah 6:10, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, adds: These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41).

Isa. 6:1-13 - C. Smith Commentary

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Isaiah, chapter 6, as Isaiah records for us his commissioning by God for his ministry. Now you remember in chapter 1 that Isaiah tells us that his time of prophecy extended through the kingdom or through the kings of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. As we pointed out, it is thought that he was put to death by the evil son of Hezekiah, Manasseh. But his call to his ministry as a prophet is given to us in chapter 6, and it so happened that it came,

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 (Isa 6:1).

Uzziah was a very popular king. He had reigned over Israel for fifty-two years. He began his reign when he was just sixteen years old. Under his reign the nation, and actually I say Israel, but it was the Southern Kingdom of Judah over which he was reigning. And during this period, Judah had great military advancement and great prosperity. They developed a great water system, enlarged their agricultural area. They enlarged their territory by moving into the territory of the Philistines-something that they weren't able to do prior to this under the other kings. He tore down the walls of Gath and of Ashdod, the great Philistine stronghold. He planted settlements in the Philistine territory. He had a very strong and powerful standing army of 310,000 men. They set their scientists at work building new types of war weapons for those days, great slings to throw huge stones and to shoot arrows and so forth. And he overall strengthened the nation mightily, so that the people felt very secure and very comfortable during the reign of Uzziah. He was a popular man.

The name of Uzziah spread abroad throughout all the land, even to the going down to Egypt. Everybody heard of him. And not only that, everybody was talking about him. And the name Uzziah was on the lips of all the people. And very importantly we read, "And as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper" (II Chronicles 26:5). He was a prosperous king. He was a popular king, the kind of a man that you have great confidence in because of his accomplishments. And so the people had great confidence in Uzziah. They had come to trust in him and rely upon him, perhaps too much so, as is often the case with a good, popular leader.

People begin to rely upon them too much and you get your eyes on to man and off of the Lord. And you begin to put your trust in man rather than in the Lord. And so many times it is necessary when that becomes the case, that in order that we might get our eyes back on the Lord, God has to remove the man. And oftentimes God does take that man that you've been relying on and trusting in and removes him out of the scene, in order that you might get your eyes upon God. Such was the case with Uzziah. And so it's very significant that Isaiah would say, "In the year the king Uzziah died I saw the Lord." Prior to that his eyes were on Uzziah. Prior to that his trust was in Uzziah. He was a good, popular king. Things are going well. Things are prosperous. Yet you don't, it seems, unfortunately, think about the Lord so much in prosperity. It's when all of a sudden calamity strikes.

The throne is empty. What are we going to do? Uzziah's son is not the same as his dad. He's surely not capable as was his father. The Northern Kingdom is going down the tubes. Anarchy is reigning, actually. One king after another is being assassinated. There is confusion. And they are in danger of being wiped out. What are we going to go? Uzziah's dead. The throne is empty.

But Isaiah received a vision. A vision of the Lord in which he realized that the throne is not empty. "In the year king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple." So God having removed his idol, Isaiah got his eyes now upon the Lord, and he sees that the throne is not vacated. That God is upon the throne. Oh, how important it is for us to realize that God is on the throne. That God is ruling over the affairs of our lives and God is ruling over the affairs of the world. We are prone to tremble when we see the world conditions. As you just look at the things that are happening in the world today, it's enough to scare any sane man and give him a heart attack. But if you look beyond and realize hey, God is ruling, God is in control, then I can rest. I can sleep at night, only because I know that God is in control. I know that God is sitting upon the throne. So important that we realize that God is upon the throne. In our lives God rules, God reigns. That's the important thing. So because God does reign, whatever does come upon my path is there because God has allowed it to come upon my path. The Lord reigns. And it is so important that we have this as a mental concept constantly. God reigns.

Now he describes the throne of God. He sees the seraphim that are above the throne of God. And he describes the seraphim. Now we are told that there are also cherubim around the throne of God, and these are angelic beings. And evidently there is a great similarity between the cherubim and the seraphim. Now in Ezekiel, he also, and we'll be getting to that soon, he also had a vision of the throne of God in chapter 1 and chapter 10. And he described the cherubim, other angelic beings that are around the throne of God.

In John, chapter 4, he had a vision of the throne of God. And he saw the glassy sea in front of the throne. He saw the emerald around the throne of God, and then he also saw these living creatures. Whether the seraphim or the cherubim that John describes, we do not know. But basically their ministry is that of just worshipping and leading the worship of God around His throne, as the cherubim or the creatures in Revelation cry, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, which is, which was, which is to come" (Revelation 4:8), so here the seraphim. They are described as having six wings. With two of them they cover their face, with two of them they cover their feet and they use two of them to fly. Interesting looking creatures to be sure. They are not, though, to be mistaken as birds or some kind of an animal, because they are highly intelligent creatures.

And one cries to another, and says, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (Isa 6:3). Declaring the glory of God and the holiness of God. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke (Isa 6:4).

And so he describes the heavenly scene, even as John described the heavenly scene in Revelation, chapter 4 and 5, and even as Ezekiel describes in chapter 1 and 10. Now I would recommend these chapters as important reading for any serious child of God. Because he is describing something that you're going to be seeing before very long. Events that you're going to be watching. And if you don't read about them and know what's going on, then you're going to look like some hick when you get to heaven, mouth open, and everybody will know you didn't do your homework. So these are interesting portions to study, so that when you get there and the whole thing is coming down and the cherubim are saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty which is, which was, which is to come," then you can say, "All right, now watch those twenty-four guys. Watch them, they're going to take their crowns and throw them on that glassy sea. Watch this now, you know." And you'll be able to really play it cool because you know the sequence of the worship there about the throne of God. So I highly recommend the reading of these portions where the throne of God is described. Always with each description there is that awesomeness of God, the Creator of the universe, as He sits upon His throne, as He rules and reigns over the universe, and that worship and acknowledgment of Him about the throne. Isaiah had the vision of the throne of God.

Then said I, Woe is me! (Isa 6:5)

Because now he sees himself in a whole new light. Up till now he had been looking at himself in the dim light of the world in which he lived. And in the dim light of the world around us we don't look too bad. In fact, we look pretty good. But I'll tell you, be careful of looking at yourself in a mirror in the sunshine. Nothing is hid. I mean, looking at yourself in that light is a whole different story. And so looking at ourselves in the light of God is a whole different story. I don't know, I don't know of a single man who has had a true vision of God who didn't more or less with Isaiah say, "Woe is me!"

When Peter realized it was the Lord, he said, "Depart from me, Lord. I'm a sinful man." When Daniel describes his vision of God and all, he said, "My beauty turned into ugliness." Seeing God, we see ourselves in the true light. And no man can be proud. You see a man who is proud, you see a man who has not yet seen God.

Jesus in the beatitudes, in His great manifesto in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 began the beatitudes. In fact, He began the whole sermon by saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Now He begins the sevenfold description of the Christian in these beatitudes, the characteristics that mark the Christian. But the first characteristic is poor in spirit. From whence comes this poverty of spirit? It comes when I see God. That's the beginning of my walk with God. My vision of God begins my walk with Him, and in the vision of God, seeing God, I see myself. And as I see myself I say, "Hey, woe is me. I'm nothing." Poverty of spirit.

"Blessed are they which mourn," the next characteristic, "for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). My poverty of spirit leads me to weeping over my condition. How could I do those things? How could I have done that? And I see myself now in God's light and oh, what a revelation that is. "Then said I, 'Woe is me!'"

for I am undone (Isa 6:5); I'm crooked and I dwell amongst. and I have unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips (Isa 6:5):

So he saw one of the seraphim then that flew, and with his tongs he took a glowing coal from off the altar. Now the study of the tabernacle is extremely interesting, because the tabernacle is a model of heaven and the throne of God. And so if you want to really know what heaven is going to look like, that is the throne of God area of heaven, you can study the tabernacle and there you have a little model. And God said to Moses, "Make sure that you make it according to the specifications." Why? Because it's a model of heavenly things. So even in the earthly tabernacle they had the altar with the coals, so there in heaven is an altar with coals. And one of the seraphim went to the altar with tongs, took these coals and he brought it to Isaiah and he touched his lips with that glowing coal. And he said, "Your iniquity is taken away, or your crookedness is taken away." His cry, "Woe is me for I am crooked." Your crookedness is taken away. And your sin is cleansed. I'm a man of unclean lips. "Your sin is purged," he said, "or cleansed." So the cleansing by the work of God.

Notice it wasn't Isaiah's work. It was God's work. Isaiah's was the recognition of his condition. God's work was that of the cleansing then once he recognized his condition. All God wants you to do is acknowledge your condition. He doesn't ask you even to reform. That comes. But He asks you to just acknowledge, to confess. "If thou shall confess thy sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). But you got to confess your sin. "Woe is me! I'm undone. I'm dwelling amongst the people of unclean lips. I have unclean lips." Your crookedness is taken way. Your uncleanness, your sin is cleansed. What a glorious thing, the work of God. And it comes immediately upon my acknowledgment and confession.

David in the thirty-second Psalm begins the psalm, "O how happy is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalm 32:1). And before I confess my sin, hey, I was just dried up inside. It was like the drought of summer. I was so dry and parched. My bones were aching. For the hand of God was heavy on me. Then I said, "I will confess my sin unto the Lord and Thou forgavest my sin" (Psalm 32:5). Just before he got the words out of his mouth, the minute in his heart he said, "Oh, I'm so horrible, I'm just going to confess. I'm going to just turn it over to God," in that moment the cleansing and the forgiveness came. And that's just how anxious God is to cleanse and forgive you. The moment in your heart you say, "God, I have sinned. I'm sorry. Woe is me; I'm crooked. My lips are unclean." Just that quick the seraphim came and said, "Hey, your crooked-ess is taken away. Your sin is cleansed." Oh, the beautiful work of God's grace and the forgiveness in His love for us. All He asks is you just confess. He is willing and wanting to wash and cleanse you from all your sins.

But that isn't the end of it. God does want to work in your life. God will work in your life if you give Him the opportunity. But God never stops there. God wants to work through your life. There is a needy world out there. It's in darkness. You are dwelling in the midst of people of unclean lips. And they need to know that God will wash and cleanse them also. So the work of God in your life always ends up objectively. First of all subjective, what God can do for you. But then what God can do through you to touch others. And that's what it's all about.

So I saw God. When I saw God, I said, "Woe is me!" When he heard them declare, "Holy, holy, holy," declaring the holiness of God, then you see yourself and, "Woe is me, I'm crooked."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall we send, who will go for us? Then said I (Isa 6:8),

Now he's speaking again. But now this is a different, this is a man who is now being cleansed. This is a man whose life has been touched by the fire of God. And He said, "'Who shall we send?' 'Then said I,'"

Here am I [Lord]; send me (Isa 6:8).

Once God has touched your life, then God wants to use your life to touch others. God has a work that He wants to do. And the problem is always, who will go for us? Whom will we send? Jesus said, "Behold the fields are white unto harvest but the laborers are few" (Matthew 9:37). Who will go for us? Whom shall we send? The man whose life has been touched by God becomes an available instrument for God. "Here am I, Lord. Send me." And his commission:

And so God said to him, Go, and tell this people (Isa 6:9),

Now at this time Judah was on the road down. They have forsaken the living God. Idol worship had been introduced. There were times of spiritual reform, but they were usually surface. They never got into the real heart of the nation itself. And yet, God wasn't going to just let them be destroyed without still a witness. But they weren't going to really listen to the witness, but still God was going to be faithful and witness to them anyhow. And that is, to me, an interesting thing about God. Even though a person isn't going to respond, even though a person won't listen, yet God will still give them the chance. God will still speak to them. He doesn't cease talking. And so He said, "Go tell this people."

You may hear indeed, but you don't understand; you may see indeed, [but you're really not seeing,] you don't perceive (Isa 6:9). And so God said, Make the heart of the people fat (Isa 6:10),

That is, give them the word. Give them the message of God. That they'll have no excuse.

their ears heavy (Isa 6:10),

Just hang the message on them.

shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and be healed. Isaiah responded to the Lord, How long? And he answered, Until the cities are wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate (Isa 6:10-11),

Now God was going to continue to preach to these people and continue to warn these people and continue to give them opportunity until the whole land was desolate, till the last one was left. God will continue His witness. Even as God will continue His witness to the world today and is bearing witness to the world today, but the world today isn't listening. They're making fun of the witness of God. But still we are to witness. God will not leave Himself without a witness. Oh, the political cartoonists on the editorial pages are having a field day with the moral majority, and with creation and evolution.

I saw on Daily Pilot today in the editorial page a cartoon of some big, fat slob saying to his little son who's coming home from school with his books, "God made me in His own image, you know, and after His likeness. I didn't evolve." It's just dispersion that is cast against God, really. And still we're to preach. Still we're to bear witness. Still we're to warn. Though they don't listen, though they don't see, though their hearts are heavy, though their eyes are blinded, still God wants a witness left with them. Until the place is desolate there's nothing left, God will bear witness.

Now the church is the instrument by which God is bearing His witness to the world today. But the church will soon be taken out. The witness of the church is just about over. Once the church is taken out, it doesn't mean God's witness is over. Just the witness of the church is over. God's going to send two witnesses, powerful witnesses with all kinds of power, and He's sending them to Jerusalem. God will also seal 144,000 of the Jews that will be witnesses for Him during these dark, dark, dark hours that are coming upon the earth. And then God is even going to send angels flying through the midst of heaven orbiting the earth bearing witness and preaching the everlasting gospel and warning men not to take the mark of the beast. Even down to the end, even by angelic beings God is going to keep His witness going until the whole place is desolate, left without inhabitants. For God is faithful in bearing His witness to the people.

So how long, Lord? Till the whole thing is over. So the witnesses, God had His witnesses, His prophets, who were warning the people right up until and through the time that Nebuchadnezzar carried off the first captives. Jeremiah was still there bearing witness to the people. Telling them to repent and turn to God and get right with God.

And the LORD has removed people far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet it shall be that a tenth will return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof (Isa 6:12-13).

In other words, an oak tree cast its leaves. It looks like it's dead, but yet it comes back. The teil tree looks like it's so dead, but yet it comes back. So it will look like the nation Israel is dead. It will appear that way, but yet God said, "I'll bring them back. A tenth part, only one in ten will return. But I will bring them back." And so God's promise of bringing the people back from the captivity.