From Isaiah 5-8
Isaiah has a vision where he enters the temple of the LORD. He has an immense vision of the holiness and overwhelming presence of the LORD. His sin is atoned for and he accepts the mission to preach the word of the LORD. In today’s post we consider the message he is called to preach.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Isaiah’s call happens within the context of a supernatural vision of immense proportions.
6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. (Isa 6:1–4)
“When Isaiah saw the throne, the hem of the LORD’s robe filled the temple. Later tradition associated the robe of God with his entourage, the heavenly host, and it may be that the more ambiguous “train” better captures the sense of the vision; “His train,” that is, his attendants, “filled the temple.” The Targum of Isaiah and the LXX say that the temple was filled with his glory; again, later tradition found in Philo (Conf. Ling. 171) shows that the visible glory of the LORD was the angels who filled the created order, and since the hekal (nave) of the temple represented the created order, we see here that the LXX is quite consistent with what is known of temple imagery in a later period. The cherubim depicted on the walls of the temple (2 Chr 3:7) became the heavenly host.” (Barker, M., 2003. Isaiah. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 504.)
The LORD is holy above all else. Holy – Morally and spiritually excellent. He is awesome and commands respect.
His power, presence and sight fills all the earth with his glory. Glory – The splendor, honour and sheer heaviness of his being.
Isaiah is overcome with his presence. Would you be?
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isa 6:5–7)
Isaiah in the presence of the LORD is immediately confronted with his own unworthiness. For some, to see the LORD’s face means death (Ex 33.20). Yet some are able to see the LORD and live including Moses (Ex 33.11), the elders with him (Ex 24.10), Isaiah here (Isa 6) and Ezekiel (Ezek 1.26-28).
Isaiah was touched with the burning coal from the altar in the temple.
“Isaiah saw the King, the LORD of hosts (6:5). One of the seraphim then picked up a coal from the incense altar and took away the guilt and sin from his lips (v. 7). This small altar inside the temple was used for incense offerings (Exod 30:1–6; 1 Kgs 6:22), and so the heavenly and earthly temples coalesce. The incense altar appears also in Ezekiel’s vision, where the man in linen is told to take coals from between the cherubim and set fire to Jerusalem (Ezek 10:6), and in John’s vision, where an angel takes coals from the golden altar before the throne and throws them onto the earth (Rev 8:5).” (Barker, M., 2003. Isaiah. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 504.)
How have you been touched from the altar of the LORD, your guilt removed, your sin atoned for?
Forgiven by the LORD, Isaiah is ready to be called into mission.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isa 6:8)
The LORD calls out to the beings in the temple. Who will go out with his message? Who will do his will?
How have you responded to the LORD’s call? What did he call you to do?
Isaiah seems to respond immediately. This is the reason for his vision. His cleaning and commission into proclaim the word of the LORD.
9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isa 6:9–10)
Isaiah is called to speak to a people who would not understand or accept his message. His message would ‘make the heart of this people dull’. ‘Make their ears heavy’. ‘Blind their eyes’.
Isaiah’s message would further reduce their ability to respond in repentance and faith in the LORD.
‘Lest they see’, ‘lest they hear’, ‘lest they understand’ and be healed. His message would go so far as to prevent them from responding to the LORD and being healed.
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump. (Isa 6:11–13)
How long should he preach this message which dulls peoples hearts, deafens their ears and blinds their sight to the LORD? The LORD says until their cities are laid waste and the people are sent into exile as a punishment for their sin.
The tree will be felled, the remaining stump is a holy seed. Ripe to do the LORD’s will.
I wonder if Isaiah would have responded the same way to the LORD’s call if he had known before hand he was being sent to effectively harden Judah’s hearts to the LORD and repentance?
Israel was about to fall. Eventually so would Judah and be sent into exile. One comforting thought is that Isaiah’s message was not only judgment and repentance. It included pockets of hope. People need hope. I’m sure Isaiah looked forward to the day when these prophecies were fulfilled.
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.
11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God,
but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.” (Mk 4.10-12)
Jesus sends his disciples out with the same kind of message Isaiah was sent out with. The Jews in turn, descendants of Isaiah’s listeners, responded in the same way to Jesus’ parables.
Yet through their message some are still called. Some understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. They speak about Jesus, him being king and his kingdom.
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isa 6.8)
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