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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 6

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-13

By Chuck Smith

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 ( Isaiah 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" ( 2 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( Isaiah 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! ( Isaiah 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 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Mat 7:1-29 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 ( Isaiah 6:5 );

I'm crooked and I dwell amongst.

and I have unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips ( Isaiah 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" ( 1 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" ( Psalms 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" ( Psalms 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 crookedness 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( Isaiah 6:9 ).

And so God said,

Make the heart of the people fat ( Isaiah 6:10 ),

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

their ears heavy ( Isaiah 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 ( Isaiah 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 ( Isaiah 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. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/isaiah-6.html. 2014.
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