Isaiah 6. God Commissions the Prophet.

Key Notes: King of the day: Jotham. Christ on the throne. The Holy Seed. Isaiah's mandate in NT.

King of the Day". Jotham, Uzziah's son (IIChron.27), was 25 when he became king (750–731BC). He was co-regent while his father was in quarantine because of his leprosy. He obeyed God, but the people did not follow him and continued their corrupt practices. He was a builder of towers, forts, cities and walls. He conquered the Ammonites and they paid tribute for three years. He was powerful because he ordered his ways before God. It is wise to serve God; He is our source of power.

Isaiah chapter 6 has captured the imagination of millions of Christians. It has only 13 verses and is frequently memorized. Its content is sublime, and terrifying.

6:1 Uzziah died and Jotham was king. In the life of Israel, the death of a good king would be mourned. Uzziah's death was meaningful to Isiah. But since Uzziah had been a leper for more than a decade, and was isolated from the palace, perhaps his death was only a marker of time. The contrast between the king and the Lord cannot be missed. Uzziah died in quarantine for disease. The Lord is in an exalted position, sitting on a throne as King in the temple. Isaiah sees God in a new way.

6:2 Above Him stood seraphim, angels whose name means "burning ones." They are not named elsewhere in Scripture. They cover their bodies with four wings, and fly with two.
6:3 They called to each other "Holy, Holy, Holy, is JHWH Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of His Glory."
6:4 Their voice was powerful enough to rattle the lintel posts of the temple. The house was full of smoke.

Where was Isaiah? Not in the temple. The train of God's robe filled the temple; there would not be a place for him to stand. The house was filled with smoke; he could not breathe there. The sound rattled the foundations; he could not bear it. We imagine him prostrate on the ground before the entrance to the temple.

6:5 He was undone, lost, overcome with his own sin and the sin of his people. The vision of God is the most effective way to understand our sinfulness. Isaiah was a saint, and all the more aware of sinfulness.
Why unclean lips? The utterance of speech reveals the deep aspects of our nature. "How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt.12:34)

6:6 Salvation came from God: a seraph took a burning coal with tongs from the altar (where sacrifice was offered), and touched his lips, taking away his guilt and forgiving his sin. This indicates that the action was spiritual, rather than physical. If Isaiah's mouth was literally burned, he would not be able speak at all.
6:7 An open invitation came from the Lord: "Whom shall I send and who will go for us?"
6:8 Isaiah was now ready: "Here am I. Send me."

6:9 The charge to the prophet was stunning.
Tell the people of Israel that they are deaf, blind and stupid.
Provoke them to be heavy and dull, without understanding.

6:11 Isaiah understood the doleful message and wanted to limit it, at least in time.
6:12 How long? Until there is nothing left. Israel will be decimated, deported and then ravaged again.
6:13 There will be nothing left but the stump. But the stump is the holy seed. That is the one glimmer of hope.

Of angels. Cherubim are named most often. They guarded the way to the tree of life. (Gen.3:22–24). Their image was carved in gold on the Ark of the Covenant. (Ex.25:19). They were part of Ezekiel's vision. (Ezek.10:6). Cherubim and Seraphim appear to be separate orders of angels.

Whom did Isaiah see? He cried out that he was undone because his eyes had seen the King, JHWH of Hosts. In Ex.33:29 God told Moses "You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live."  ITim.6:16 says God "...dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see." So he could not have seen the blazing glory of the Father. John.12:41 quotes Isa.6:5 and comments "Isaiah said this because he saw His {Jesus'}glory and spoke of Him." Isaiah saw Jesus in His Pre-incarnate Glory.

Signs of the Trinity in Isa.6.
•"Holy, Holy, Holy": Christians see the Trinity in this three-fold angelic praise.
•"Who will go for us?" Like the expression in Gen.1:26 "Let us make man in our image...." pleural pronouns used by God favor the Trinity.
•Christ on the throne helps us see part of the Trinity.

"The holy seed is its stump." Throughout its history, and to the present day there has always been a remnant (Rom.11:5) within the ethnic group called Jews that belong to God. The ultimate hope for Israel is that God preserves the nation on account of the elect. (Rom.11:7). "As Isaiah predicted, 'If the Lord of Hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom...and Gomorrah.'" (Rom.9:29). " regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers." (Rom.11:29)

The "holy seed" is the cradle of the Messiah, the believers who preceded Christ, who surrounded Him at His birth, became His followers and proclaimed Him to the world. Ultimately the whole nation will receive salvation. "...and so all Israel will be saved." (Rom.11:26.)

What NT use was made of Isaiah's commission? It is the most frequently quoted OT reference. Jesus quoted Isaiah's sad prophecy early in his public ministry. His people rejected Him and in response, He began to speak in parables. (Matt.13:14–15). John cited Isa. 6 again at the end of Jesus' public ministry. (Jn.12:37-). Paul quoted it to the Jewish leaders of Rome at the end of his ministry (Acts 28:26) and also used it to confirm God's dealings with Israel in Rom.11:8.

"Whom shall I send and who will go for us?" The call comes to us today as it did then. And hopefully there is a willing response from us now as it was then, despite the resistance we must expect.