HomeBLOGMy Teaching on Isaiah 6:1-4 Prolific, Powerful & Prophetic
December 16, 2018
My Teaching on Isaiah 6:1-4 Prolific, Powerful & Prophetic
The sermon notes to this sermon, can be found below the embedded video.
During the early church the book of Isaiah was known as the “fifth Gospel.” I could imagine how the Apostles used this book as their “gospel,” and how they lived out this message in their ministry.
Though I’m not teaching thru the entire book (maybe not even not the whole chapter), I’ll name a few of the many important themes in Isaiah. We see the naming of Immanuel (7:14), the promise of the Davidic child (9:6-7), the suffering of the servant (52:13 thru 53:12), and the proclamation of comfort (61:1-3).
The book of Isaiah is shaped by theological, literary, and historical forces. Having taught through the book of Revelation, I can appreciate the similarities in Isaiah 6.
One scholar describes chapter 6 as this,
“The theological thrust of the book flows out of Isaiah’s vision of the Holy One of Israel (Ish. 6:3), and the expectation that his manifest presence and glory is a mirror text that shapes the message of the whole book with its motifs of Yahweh’s kingship, God’s cleaning of Isaiah, Israel’s’ defilement and hardening, Isaiah’s proclamation of judgement and salvation, the desolation and decimation of Zion, and the small remnant (Holy Seed).” (pg. 250)
“We find Isaiah’s narrative of his vision of the holy, glorious, exalted, almighty King. He narrates a theophanic experience (vs 1-4) in which he saw “the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted,” heard the seraphim proclaiming Yahweh’s holiness and glory, and experienced the phenomena of smoke and an earthquake. When he became aware that he has seen “the King, the LORD of hosts” (vs 5), he confessed his defilement and that of his people. The book of Isaiah presents the reader with Yahweh’s exaltation in holiness and glory. He is the King over all creation.” (pg. 255)
Let us first read the entire chapter.
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.”
Over the Centuries various scholars have divided this chapter in various ways. I will do the following. It is strongly marked by three divisions, which are themselves also divided into three.
Verses 1-4: ‘The glory,’ and this too is in three parts ~ (a) the throne (b) the seraphim (c) their cry.
Verses 5-7: ‘The vessel to honor,’ which is prepared by ~ (a) confession (b) provision (c) remission.
Verses 8-13: ‘The commission’ and those three parts are ! (a) its terms (b) its limitations (c) the restoration.
But in this study, I’m only teaching the first four verses. Verses 1-4 – “the glory”
Vs 1-4. ‘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.’
Isaiah said in vs 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.” This word Uzziah means ‘the power of Jehovah,’ or ‘my strength is Jehovah.’ Bear in mind that similarly Romans 1:16 says ‘the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.’ Oh let us love both the power of the Gospel, and the authority of the Scriptures.
Before King Uzziah’s death in 739 or 740 B.C., he reined for 52 years. Under his reign, Israel was blessed with Divine favor. They were benefiting from peace and prosperity.
Though Uzziah was a successful earthly King, he was dying of leprosy, as Israel was dying of their unrepentant sins.
Uzziah sought God for a while, but when he was strong he ‘grew proud’ to his destruction.
It’s recorded in 2 Chronicles 26:5 that he “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.”
2 Chron. 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.”
Uzziah later died a leper, and Israel has never been the same since. Though I am a supporter of Israel, we must be honest with ourselves. The nation of Israel (as we know it today), is a nation that is dying as a leper. Today they foster a spirit of anti-Christ, including homosexual parades shouting “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”
One of my friends is a Herald, and he went to Israel to preach in their streets. Only to have their lives seriously threatened.
The nation of Israel had followed King Uzziah to their demise. In some ways that sounds like the USA today. Israel and the U.S.A share many similar ungodly characteristics.
In vs 1a Isaiah said that he “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,”
Isaiah “saw” the Lord. This is known as a Theophany. A Theophany is a visible manifestation of God.
Like John being “in the spirit” on the island of Patmos, Ezekiel “saw” the Lord. However this was not a ‘face to face’ encounter like we have with each other.
It was here that the Lord granted Isaiah a transforming vison of His glory. In spite of the wickedness of the earth, the Lord in His Omnipotence was still on His throne.
This Word Lord is the Hebrew word ‘ădônây. It is a noun masculine, and is used 438 times. So much for the blasphemous heresies in the novel and movie “the shack” – featuring God as a woman.
This ‘ădônây refers to God’s Sovereignty.
He said the Lord was “sitting” upon a throne. This word “sitting” is the Hebrew word yâshab (yä·shav), which means to sit down (specifically as a judge, in ambush, in quiet); by implication, to dwell, to remain.’ This word “throne” is the Hebrew word kissê’ (kis-say), which is a “seat of honour, a throne with royal dignity, authority and power.”
In vs 1b he said the Lord was “lifted high, exalted over all.”
Matthew Henry said,
“See God upon his throne, and that throne high and lifted up, not only above other thrones, as it transcends them, but over other thrones, as it rules and commands them. Isaiah saw not Jehovah —the essence of God (no man has seen that, or can see it), but Adonai —his dominion. He saw the Lord Jesus; so this vision is explained (Jn. 12:41), that Isaiah now saw Christ’s glory and spoke of him, which is an incontestable proof of the divinity of our Saviour.”
Matthew Henry also said,
“He sits upon a throne —a throne of glory, before which we must worship,—a throne of government, under which we must be subject,—and a throne of grace, to which we may come boldly. This throne is high, and lifted up above all competition and contradiction.”
Imagine this scene. When Isaiah sees the Lord “high and lifted up, he was hearing the Trisagion (tri-sag-ian) “holy, holy, holy.” He saw the seraphim, and gained a sense of God’s glory.
If you don’t know what a Trisagion is, I’ll explain that later in verse 3.
Vs 1c says that “his train filled the temple.”
This ‘train’ (shûl) is a noun masculine, which is the ‘robe and hem’ worn only by the High Priest. Hence the hem of His raiment fills the glorious temple.
Henry Matthew said,
“See his temple, his church on earth, filled with the manifestations of his glory. 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. See the bright and blessed attendants on his throne, in and by whom his glory is celebrated and his government served (v. 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, Ps. 104:4. They burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory and against sin, and he makes use of them as instruments of his wrath when he is a consuming fire to his enemies. Whether they were only two or four, or (as I rather think) an innumerable company of angels, that Isaiah saw, is uncertain.”
Isaiah’s vision of verse 1 prepares us for the climax of verse 7.
But for now, verse 2 says “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.”
Liberals and contemporaries have a skewed view of what angels, cherubim’s, and seraphims look like. They describe them as little people with fat bottoms playing a harp on a cloud. Or chubby cartoon characters. Though these seraphims share some similarities with the four creatures seen in Rev 4:6, they are not the same.
These seraphims in verse 2 are the Hebrew word śârâph (saw-rawf’). It is a masculine noun which means they are a ‘fiery serpent,’ a ‘poisonous serpent,’ they are the ‘burning effect of poison.’
But the Cherubim are different. Though they represent the righteousness of God’s government, but their wings are not for flight, their wings are for protecting.
As one scholar said,
“The seraph searches, the cherub protects: the seraph speaks of burning holiness, the cherub of inflexible righteousness: the seraph active, the cherub passive; yet we find, both in Ezekiel and in Revelation, living creatures that combine the characteristics of both seraph and cherub. One is therefore inclined to believe that we see symbolic personifications of divine qualities, rather than actual personalities.”
These Seraphims represent the burning, holiness and judgement of Almighty God. They are angelic flames of pure nuclear powered praise. As the Scriptures also refers to God as a “consuming fire.”
I can only imagine the seraphims 6 wings as the following. 2 wings folded downwards, 2 wings folded over their faces, and 2 wings raised for flight.
In verse 2c Isaiah saw him “cover his face” with his wings. The seraphim covered his face out of a profound reverence for the Lord. He could not, or would not dare to look at God’s glory.
As Matthew Poole said,
“He durst not presume to look directly upon him, and judged himself neither able nor worthy to behold the brightness of his glory.”
Matthew Henry said,
“The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God’s commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory.”
One of the Five Solas (or pillars of the reformation) is “Soli Deo Gloria.” These Seraphims were sinless, so giving God all the glory came natural for them. But we humans are sinners. Therefore we require regeneration, and the Holy Spirit to enable us to deny ourselves, giving all the glory to the Lord.
Verse 2d says “and with twain he covered his feet.”
This covering his feet can have different meanings (speculation only here).
His secret parts (including legs), which should teach us modesty (Deut. 28:57, Isa. 12:20 / 36:12, Exod. 4:25). Years ago I used to wear shorts in church, but never again.
His feet were not worthy of the dignity and majesty of the Lord.
Verse 2e says “and with twain he did fly.”
This means he was always ready to move or execute the Lord’s commands (Dan. 9:21).
Verse 3 says “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
In vs 3a this verb “and one cried” in the Hebrew is a “commission” to ‘preach, proclaim, or pronounce.’
This is similar to what heralds do in the streets. We have a “commission” to preach, proclaim, or pronounce.’
One of the biggest obstacles that street preachers face, are ‘professing’ Christians opposing this great work.
Forgive me for the rabbit trail. Years ago I sat under the teaching of Pastor Todd B. here in Redlands. During a men’s Bible study he shared his disdain for street preachers (that was also meant for me). He referred to them as nothing but men “standing on the corner with a bullhorn yelling at people!”
Whether it be the commission of a Seraphim lifting their voice, or Christians lifting our voices today, or the rest of the Lord’s church lifting their voices later in glory; there will be an eternity of lifting voices and singing praises all for His glory.
In Matthew 28 (aka the Great Commission), it says in verses 19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
In vs 3b this Seraphim cried-out a set of three Holy’s, and they cried-out onto one another singing in consort to the praise of the Lord. Because God is not just Holy, He is Holy Holy Holy.
This word Holy is the Hebrew word qâdôsh (kaw-doshe’) which means ‘sacred, moral, God (by eminence), an angel, a saint, a sanctuary, the holy One.
These three holies reveal more than God’s Trinitarian nature. They underscore the degree of His justice, sacredness, morality, holiness, majesty, being set apart. These three holies are not mere repetition; they are with ‘great emphasis.’
Perhaps it is accurate to refer to this as a Trisagion (tri-sag-ian) hymn (or service). A Trisagion is a ‘triple invocation’ declaring that God is holy holy holy. Today most “invocations are man-centered, this Trisagion was 100% God centered.
Trisagion’s were common in the early church, and are still common in our more orthodox churches. Including but not limited to, at the conclusion of a ‘Rite of Burial.’
Often times my prayers are ‘Trisagion in nature.’ As I will spend time praying ‘to and thru’ each distinct person of the Trinity. Often times I pray specifically to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to fertilize the soil before Heralding the Gospel.
Have you ever given a Trisagion prayer of thanksgiving? Many have taken their salvation (or ‘professing’ salvation) for granted. When is the last time you’ve given thanks to each distinct person of the Trinity for their ordo salutis?
Throughout the Scriptures the Godhead is working in agreement with each other – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Lord willing if I go beyond verse 4 later, you will see a prophetic portrait of salvation in this chapter.
But salvation is the monergistic work of the Godhead. Even the water baptism (an ordinance of the Lord’s church) includes all three distinct persons of the Trinity. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Saturday I watched a video memorializing the life and ministry of Los Angeles fire Captain John White. I knew John from decades ago. He was president of ‘Fire Fighters for Christ, Intl.’ While he was concentrating on evangelizing the firefighter community, I was doing the same for the law enforcement community.
But the problem with that video memorializing John White (at Rick Warren’s “church”), is that even in John’s oldest age (in his 80’s) as seen in that video, he was still engaging in kindergarten elementary unbiblical methods of evangelism.
Even in his latter days (according to that video) he was unbiblically telling the masses ~
• “Jesus is standing at the door of your heart,” or • “invite Jesus into your life”, or • “ask Jesus into your heart,” or • “He’s knocking on the door of your heart, and He wants you to open the door to your heart, and invite him to come in,” or • “Say this prayer” etcetera etcetera.
To engage in these unbiblical soteriologies, and to claim these as legitimate salvations is not only unbiblical, they are anti-biblical. It robs God from His glory. It is heresy to tell people that they are saved by doing these childish unbiblical things. Not failing to mention that John cannot know if these people were truly saved, or not.
My ‘mentor at large’ Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Many of you are angrier at me for saying that, than you are angry at anti-biblical soteriologies (or blasphemies). But Theology and Doctrine matters. Oh God, help me grow more each day. Help me repent when I err with Your Word (as I do). And help me repent, and not repeat.
Christians ought to be more like the Seraphim in verse 2, who covers their face, “Oh Lord it was not me, You alone are worthy of praise!”
The Bible speaks of the splendor of God’s holiness (Exod. 15:11), and the incomparability of God’s holiness (Isaiah 40:25).
The late F.C. Jennings said,
“In this threefold ascription we may again see “God manifested;” and as we remember the still clearer revelation of Matt.28:19, we hear in this antiphonal (antif-o-nal) cry not a mere repetition for emphasis, but the recognition of a trinity of Divine Persons, each of whom is hymned as holy; and at the same time, in view of John 12, we must remember that it is Jesus’ glory on which Isaiah looks, and this threefold ascription only says that “in Him all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). Oh, the depths of God in Christ! (1 Cor. 2:10).”
As another scholar said, “The essence of this proclamation is that God is completely and totally holy, in every way distinct and wholly apart from all that He rules.”
Yes thru this threefold ascription God is made manifest, and glorified. And Christ whom reconciled His church to the Father is exalted.
This Seraphim leads a cadence, where no doubt every Seraphim was in unity with every beat (not that there was a beat).
Similarly when those saved die and go to heaven, there won’t be contemporary “Christian music” in heaven. There won’t be any Lauren Daigle’s singing her pro homosexual agenda. There won’t be entertainment. But Christ’s remnant will be with their Bridegroom, perhaps singing a Trisagion Theology from their lips. All of them will be in unity, and none of them will be complaining about the “noise.” No man will be praised, no man will receive credit, and each and every praise from our lips will go to Yahweh.
Verse 3d says that “whole earth is full of His glory.” So can you imagine His glory later in heaven?
Not only will the Lord Judge the entire earth, He will save His elect from all corners of the earth. His glory will be revealed, and He will be glorified in both His judgment and His salvation of others.
But wait. Let us go to verse 4, to see what happens as a result of the Seraphim crying out God’s glory. Today this would be breaking news on TV, and in Section A, Column 1.
Verse 4 says “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
This shaking is most likely an earthquake which represents God’s just judgment and wrath. According to John chapter 3, every human that is not born again, is already condemned, and the wrath of God awaits them. Matthew Poole described the moving of these posts of the doors as this.
The posts of the door, together with the door itself, as if the door was to be removed, and the temple thereby to be exposed to the view and rapine of profane persons. Such violent motions were commonly tokens of God’s anger.”
Verse 4b says “and the house was filled with smoke.”
This could be a token of God’s omnipresence.
However since it says in 1 John that no one can actually see God, and that no one can hide from God (Heb 4:13-15), then perhaps that is why his vision was “filled with smoke.” He was forbidden to actually see God, he could not run, nor could he hide.
Just as the smoke profited Isaiah from seeing God, the shaking and movement of the doorposts in the threshold, prevented Isaiah from entering into the presence of the Lord.
F.C. Jennings said
“Everything was moved, for in contrast with this earth, nothing is insensate in that scene. To the prophet’s awe-struck sight, the very foundation of swaying in responsive awe to His glory. This was their antiphon to the utter ascription of the Intelligences of Heaven…”
Though this vision is very much about God’s judgment, the dying state of Israel, and preparing Isaiah to be a Prophet, hell will be full of smoke as well.
The Bible describes hell as the following (an eternity of) ~ • fire and brimstone • flames of fire • a furnace of fire • a fiery hell • a burning wind • a judgment of fire • an eternal fire • pits of darkness • a fiery oven • an unquenchable fire • Eternal punishment -and a lake of fire.
And the punishment in hell is described as the following ~ • a smoke of your torment • the weeping and gnashing of teeth • eternal death • eternal destruction • eternal torment • no rest, day and night • And your worm does not die, and the fire does not quench.