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Book of Isaiah

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Isaiah 6

King James Version
Isaiah’s Commission
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.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
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.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
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.
8 Also 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.
9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
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.
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,
12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.
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.

Bible Commentary
The vision is dated, for the greater certainty of it. It was in the year that king Uzziah died, who had reigned, for the most part, as prosperously and well as any of the kings of Judah, and reigned very long, above fifty years. He saw the Lord Jesus; so this vision is explained John 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory and spoke of him, which is an incontestable proof of the divinity of our Saviour. He it is who when, after his resurrection, he sat down on the right hand of God, did but sit down where he was before, John 17:5.  His throne being erected at the door of the temple (as princes sat in judgment at the gates), his train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world (for it is all God's temple, and, as the heaven is his throne, so the earth is his footstool), or rather the church, which is filled enriched, and beautified with the tokens of God's special presence.2
2 Above the throne, as it were hovering about it, or nigh to the throne, bowing before it, with an eye to it, the seraphim stood, the holy angels, who are called seraphim-burners; for he makes his ministers a flaming fire,
Psalms 104:4. Special notice is taken of their wings (and of no other part of their appearance), because of the use they made of them, which is designed for instruction to us. They had each of them six wings, four were made use of for a covering, as the wings of a fowl, sitting, are; with the two upper wings, next to the head, they covered their faces, and with the two lowest wings they covered their feet, or lower parts. This bespeaks their great humility and reverence in their attendance upon God, for he is greatly feared in the assembly of those saints, Psalms 89:7. They not only cover their feet, those members of the body which are less honourable (1 Corinthians 12:23), but even their faces. Two were made use of for flight; when they are sent on God's errands they fly swiftly (Daniel 9:21), more swiftly with their own wings than if they flew on the wings of the wind.2
3 The anthem, or song of praise, which the angels sing to the honour of him that sits on the throne, was sung with zeal and fervency--they cried aloud; and with unanimity--they cried to another, or one with another. The song was the same with that which is sung by the four living creatures,
Revelation 4:8. The seraphim praise God with one of his most glorious titles: the Lord of hosts. None of all the divine attributes is so celebrated in scripture as this is. The Jews thought the glory of God should be confined to their land; but it is here intimated that in the gospel times (which are pointed to in this chapter) the glory of God should fill all the earth.2
4 The house was shaken; not only the door, but even the posts of the door, which were firmly fixed, moved at the voice of him that cried. This violent concussion of the temple was an indication of God's wrath and displeasure against the people for their sins; and it was designed to strike awe upon us.2
5 With what a pure lip did the angels praise God! "But," says the prophet, "I cannot praise him so, for I am a man of unclean lips." The angels had celebrated the purity and holiness of God; and therefore the prophet, when he reflects upon sin, calls it uncleanness.  What gave occasion for these sad reflections at this time: My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. He saw God's sovereignty to be incontestable--he is the King; and his power irresistible--he is the Lord of hosts. Isaiah was thus humbled, to prepare him for the honour he was now to be called to as a prophet.2
6 One of the seraphim immediately flew to him, to purify him, and so to pacify him. God has strong consolations ready for holy mourners. Further, angels are ministering spirits for the good of the saints, for their spiritual good. Here was one of the seraphim dismissed, for a time, from attending on the throne of God's glory, to be a messenger of his grace to a good man; and so well pleased was he with the office that he came flying to him. Here is a comfortable sign given to the prophet of the purging away of his sin.2
7 The seraph brought a live coal from the altar, and touched his lips with it, not to hurt them, but to heal them--not to cauterize, but to cleanse them; for there were purifications by fire, as well as by water, and the filth of Jerusalem was purged by the spirit of burning,
Isaiah 4:4. This live coal was taken from off the altar, either the altar of incense or that of burnt-offerings, for they had both of them fire burning on them continually. An explication of this sign: "Lo, this has touched thy lips, to assure thee of this, that thy iniquity is taken away and thy sin purged.2
8 Here is a communication between God and Isaiah about this matter. God needs not either to be counselled by others or to consult with himself; he knows what he will do, but thus he would show us that the sending forth of ministers is a work not to be done but upon mature deliberation.  God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all concur, as in the creating, so in the redeeming and governing of man. God now appeared, attended with holy angels, and yet asks, Whom shall I send? For he would send them a prophet from among their brethren,
Hebrews 2:17. It is a rare thing to find one who is fit to go for God, and carry his messages to the children of men: Who is sufficient? Such a degree of courage for God and concern for the souls of men are seldom to be met with. Isaiah had been himself in a melancholy frame (Isaiah 6:5), full of doubts and fears; but now that he had the assurance of the pardon of his sin the clouds were blown over, and he was fit for service and forward to it. What he says denotes His readiness: "Here am I, a volunteer, not pressed into the service."2
9 God takes Isaiah at his word, and here sends him on a strange errand--to foretell the ruin of his people and even to ripen them for that ruin. These verses are quoted in part, or referred to, six times, in the New Testament, which intimates that in gospel time these spiritual judgments would be most frequently inflicted. Isaiah must preach to a people that would hear him indeed, but that is all; they will not heed him; they will not understand him; they will not take any pains, nor use that application of mind which is necessary to the understanding of him; they are prejudiced against that which is the true intent and meaning of what he says, and therefore they will not understand him, or pretend they do not. They see indeed; but they perceive not their own concern in it; it is to them as a tale that is told.2
10 That, forasmuch as they would not be made better by his ministry, they should be made worse by it; those that were wilfully blind should be judicially blinded (
Isaiah 6:10): "They will not understand or perceive thee, and therefore thou shalt be instrumental to make their heart fat, senseless, and sensual, and so to make their ears yet more heavy, and to shut their eyes the closer; so that, at length, their recovery and repentance will become utterly impossible; they shall no more see with their eyes the danger they are in, the ruin they are upon the brink of, nor the way of escape from it; they shall no more hear with their ears the warnings and instructions that are given them, nor understand with their heart the things that belong to their peace, so as to be converted from the error of their ways, and thus be healed."2
11 That the consequence of this would be their utter ruin,
Isaiah 6:11,12. The prophet had nothing to object against the justice of this sentence, nor does he refuse to go upon such an errand, but asks, "Lord, how long?" (an abrupt question): "Shall it always be thus? Must I and other prophets always labour in vain among them, and will things never be better?" Or, (as should seem by the answer) "Lord, what will it come to at last? What will be in the end hereof?" In answer to this he is told that it should issue in the final destruction of the Jewish church and nation. "When the word of God, especially the word of the gospel, had been thus abused by them, they shall be unchurched, and consequently undone.2
12 Their cities shall be uninhabited, and their country houses too; the land shall be untilled, desolate with desolation, the people who should replenish the houses and cultivate the ground being all cut off by sword, famine, or pestilence, and those who escape with their lives being removed far away into captivity, so that there shall be a great and general forsaking in the midst of the land; that populous country shall become desert, and that glory of all lands shall be abandoned." Note, Spiritual judgments often bring temporal judgments along with them upon persons and places. These predictions being so expressly applied in the New Testament to the Jews in our Saviour's time, doubtless this points at the final destruction of that people by the Romans, in which it had a complete accomplishment, and the effects of it that people and that land remain under to this day.2
13 There was a remnant reserved in the last destruction of the Jewish nation: But in it shall be a tenth, a certain number, but a very small number in comparison with the multitude that shall perish in their unbelief. That they shall return from sin to God and duty, shall return out of captivity to their own land. That they shall be eaten, that is, shall be accepted of God. That they shall be like a timber-tree in winter, which has life, though it has no leaves: As a teil-tree and as an oak, whose substance is in them even when they cast their leaves, so this remnant, though they may be stripped of their outward prosperity and share with others in common calamities, shall yet recover themselves, as a tree in the spring, and flourish again; though they fall, they shall not be utterly cast down. The holy seed in the soul is the substance of the man; he that is born of God has his seed remaining in him,
1 John 3:9.2

References and notes
1. King James Authorized Version
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible -
3. HIS MAJESTY by Ray C. Stedman -





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Isaiah 6
Bible Commentary
Isaiah's Commission
Seraphim and Cherubim

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Author of Isaiah

The prophet Isaiah was the author of the book called by his name.


Overview of Isaiah 6

In this chapter we have,
I. A very awful vision which Isaiah saw of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:1-4), the terror it put him into (Isaiah 6:5), and the relief given him against that terror by an assurance of the pardon of his sins, Isaiah 6:6,7.
II. A very awful commission which Isaiah received to go as a prophet, in God's name (Isaiah 6:8), by his preaching to harden the impenitent in sin and ripen them for ruin (Isaiah 6:9-12) yet with a reservation of mercy for a remnant, (Isaiah 6:13). And it was as to an evangelical prophet that these things were shown him and said to him.


Isaiah's Commission

In Isaiah 6 Isaiah is given a vision of the glory of God. Some commentators feel that this event is what introduced Isaiah to his prophetic ministry. From the placement of the chapter, however, it is clear that it follows ministry which he has already had. In Chapter 1 we looked at his first message to the people of Judah. He had prophesied for some years of ministry during the reign of King Uzziah who is also called Azariah in the Book of Chronicles.3


Who was Uzziah?

Uzziah (also called Azariah) began his reign at age 16, and for 52 years ruled Judah. For the most part he was a good and righteous king. The record shows that he followed in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. But the Book of Chronicles tells us that when Uzziah "grew strong, he became proud, to his own destruction." He presumed to enter the office of priesthood. He went into the temple, taking incense from the altar of incense which he sought to offer before the Lord. Immediately he was struck with leprosy. He spent his remaining years isolated from the court, living the lonely life of a leper. This permitted trouble to begin in the kingdom of Judah. Ominous clouds were already darkening the national sky as enemies gathered around the nation. Chaos threatened as the young prince Jotham came into office.3


What are the Seraphim?

On each side of the throne stood mysterious guardians, each supplied with six wings: two to bear them up, two veiling their faces, and two covering their feet. The Lord's highest servants, they were there to minister to Him and proclaim His glory, each calling to the other: "Holy, holy, holy, Yahweh of hosts; all the earth is full of His glory." Such, in substance, is Isaiah's vision from which may be inferred all that Sacred Scripture discloses concerning the seraphim. Although described under a human form, with faces, hands, and feet (Is., vi, 2, 6), they are undoubtedly existing spiritual beings corresponding to their name, and not mere symbolic representations as is often asserted by advanced Protestant scholars. Their number is considerable, as they appear around the heavenly throne in a double choir and the volume of their chorus is such that the sound shakes the foundations of the palace.4


Seraphim & Cherubim

The seraphim are distinct from the cherubim who carry or veil God, and show the presence of His glory in the earthly sanctuary, whilst the seraphim stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court. In Christian theology, the seraphim occupy with the cherubim the highest rank in the celestial hierarchy. The Book of Enoch 61:10; 71:7, also mentions the seraphim at least twice, together with and distinctly from the cherubim.4


Flying Fiery Servants

The name seraphim is oftentimes derived from the Hebrew verb saraph ("to consume with fire"), and this etymology is very probable because of its accordance with Isaiah 6:6, where one of the seraphim is represented as carrying celestial fire from the altar to purify the Prophet's lips. Many scholars prefer to derive it from the Hebrew noun saraph, "a fiery and flying serpent", spoken of in Numbers 21:6; Isaiah 14:29, and the brazen image of which stood in the Temple in Isaias's time (2 Kings, 18:4); but it is plain that no trace of such serpentine form appears in Isaias's description of the seraphim.4


Isaiah Song Category

The Isaiah Song Category is a great starting point for searching the songs which make up this music category. The song category page contains Daily Scriptures and easy links to song previews and song pages. The song pages include interesting background information and commentary about the songs and the Bible author. Sometimes there are links to related web pages including Bible Quotes, Sermons, Music samples, and Bible Puzzles.

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