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The Lord High and Lifted Up
There is a twofold vision suggested in the first verse of our study. "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne." That which concerns us is the little word, "also." It definitely suggests that Isaiah had two visions: the one was the death of Uzziah; the other was the life of the Living Lord. The one was a dark picture; the other was a picture radiant with glory.
Let us consider this twofold viewpoint lest we become despondent over the dark hues which lie around us. This is a very necessary thing, particularly in the study of prophecy. If we look only at the dark side we would become, more or less, gloomy, therefore we need to see the brighter visions of the Lord's Return.
1. The dark side of our picture. This related to the death of Uzziah. King Uzziah had been one of Israel's greatest kings surpassed perhaps only by David, Solomon, and Hezekiah. Uzziah reigned sixty-two years in Jerusalem. He erected great towers, built up strong defenses, and accomplished notable things. However, he became proud and sought to be more than king for he went into the house of the Lord to offer up incense. The priest rushed in and rebuked him. He answered roughly. Then it was that God smote him with leprosy. The effect of the death of Uzziah was very depressing upon the young Prophet Isaiah. No doubt, when he saw Uzziah in death, he saw the breaking down of the kingdom.
To us King Uzziah stands as a type of the antichrist. In him was pride, as well as prowess. He sought to be a king-priest even as the antichrist who will seek to have religious honors, and to lift himself up above God, and to sit in the temple of God. The dark side of the present hour picture seems much the same as it was in that day. Sin was overwhelming, and kingdoms were tottering.
2. The bright side of the picture. Isaiah saw also the Lord high and lifted up. No matter how dark the horizon of the present hour may be, the Morning Star is about to burst forth, and the sun will soon be rising in its glory.
(1) The upgoing is a part of the bright side of our picture. At any moment we are expecting the sound of the trumpet at which time the dead in Christ will rise, and the living in Christ will be caught up.
(2) The Marriage Supper is the bright side for it will be a wonderful hour. The Lord said, "Blessed are they which are called unto the Marriage Supper of the Lamb."
(3) The downcoming. The descent from Heaven with Christ and with the angels will be a time never to be forgotten.
(4) The reign with Christ. Here is a picture of such hues that our heart rejoices as we consider the glory of His reign and the joy of our being with Him.
If Christians are tempted to become gloomy and grouchy as they see the dark side of this present hour landscape, let them turn their eyes beyond the present moment to the next great event. There the sun is shining and beyond the shadows is that other day of gladness and joy forever.
I. THE THRONE (Isaiah 6:1 )
Our verse describes King Uzziah's death. Then the Prophet says, "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the Temple." There are many marvelous pictures of thrones in the Word of God.
1. There is the present throne-sitting of Christ. When our Lord left the earth He ascended on high and sat down at the right hand of God on the Father's throne. There He sits at this moment against that time when His enemies will be made His footstool. He sits a victor over death and hell. He sits the conqueror of Satan for He ascended through principalities and powers, and sat down above them. He sits at the right hand of the Father as the Head of the Church, thus we see just a little of the present glory of the Throne of our Lord.
2. There is the throne which will be placed in the Heavens. It is described in Daniel 7:1-28 , and also in Revelation 4:1-11 and Revelation 5:1-14 . Daniel speaks of it as "cast down" because, it is brought down to be set up. On this throne the Father sits with the sealed book in His hands. The Son stands by and takes the Book, Around the throne are the four living ones, the four and twenty elders, and an innumerable company of angelic beings. This throne presents glory and dazzling brightness. It is past all human description.
3. There is the Millennial Throne. This is the throne of David, and of David's greater Son, On this throne Jesus Christ will sit and reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords.
4. There is a fourth throne, and that is the Eternal Throne, the Throne of God and of the Lamb. As we think of these Thrones we feel like joining with the seraphim as they give their praise.
II. THE SERAPHIM (Isaiah 6:2-3 )
"Each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly." It seems that these angelic beings stand before the Lord in all humility. They hide themselves in order that they may magnify their Lord, They are ready always to do His bidding. They cried one to another and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory."
The seraphim were speaking of that wonderful hour when Christ will come and the earth will indeed be filled with the knowledge and the glory of the Lord. The same words, "Holy, holy, holy," are used in Revelation 4:1-11 as the tribulation throne is prepared for judgment. The repetition of the words (three times) seems to suggest to us that the Father is holy, the Son is holy, and the Spirit is holy. The triune God is thus adored. The ministry of angels stands before us in one striking way, and that is their worship of God.
Angels are also ministering spirits sent forth from God to wait upon His saints. They delight to do all the will of God, and to worship Him. They announced the birth of Christ. They succored Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. They stood at His empty tomb. In His ascension they accompanied Him to the glory, and in His return they will come back with Him to the Mount of Olives.
III. THE CRY OF UNCLEANNESS (Isaiah 6:5 )
When Isaiah saw this wonderful vision, it had a very striking effect upon him. Our Scripture says that Isaiah cried, "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."
1. A sense of sin always overwhelms us as we stand in the presence of the Holy One. How can we profess any holiness or righteousness of our own? The flesh is corrupt and it never appears more corrupt than it does by comparison with His holiness.
2. The basis of the Prophet's vision. He said, "Woe is me!" He said, "I am undone." Then he added, "Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." Isaiah was confessing his sin inasmuch as he felt that the sin of his people was upon him. The sin of Israel, and particularly of the two tribes, has ever been the sin of their lips. Following the days of Christ Paul wrote, Their "mouth is full of cursing." He also said that the name of the Lord was blasphemed continually because of them. Enoch anticipated (Judges 1:14-15 ) the last days as they are at this moment when he prophesied about ungodly speeches which are against Christ. He called them "hard speeches."
Let us beware lest any of us should have a tongue speaking evil, but above all, lest we have tongues speaking evil against the Lord of Glory.
IV. THE CLEANSING (Isaiah 6:6-7 )
"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: 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."
1. The live coal. This stands before us as the symbol of God's judgment against unclean lips. Sin had been acknowledged by Isaiah. He had confessed humbly, therefore it was that God was going to judge the sin and take it away. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes, He will sit as the Refiner and the Purifier of silver.
2. The live coal from off the altar. There seems to be here a passing of judgment from the people to the Saviour, He suffered. He took the punishment of our sins in order that we might go free. There is no other way by which we can be cleansed, than with the live coal from off the altar. It is the sacrifice of the Son of God that gives us cleansing.
3. A cleansed people. When the Prophet uttered the words, "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged," he spoke prophetically. There is a time coming when the Children of Israel will see the Lord "high and lifted up." In that day Israel will mourn and weep as one who weeps for an only son. They will confess their sins, and God will purge them. A nation will be born in a day.
V. A CALL TO SERVICE (Isaiah 6:8-9 )
After the cleansing had taken place Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then Isaiah quickly answered and said, "Here am I; send me."
1. The inquiry: "Whom shall I send?" Following the day of Israel's rejection God sent for His church. Christ said, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." The Lord called His twelve disciples "Apostles" because they were "sent ones." We are sent of God "into all the world" to preach the Gospel to every creature.
The Church, however, will soon be caught up to be with the Lord. Then Israel will once more be called into service. Remember, that before Israel serves she must be made clean. The sin of her lips must be taken away. This is also true with us. God never calls anyone to service until he has been cleansed.
2. The answer, "Here am I; send me." Isaiah certainly spoke for himself, but he did more. In speaking for himself he set forth Israel's response to the Lord's call when He shall have returned.
Saul of Tarsus was another example of Israel's redemption and mission. Saul was saved by the forth shining of a Light, a light similar to the one set forth in our chapter. He immediately confessed His sins, and was purged. Then it was that he heard the voice saying that he was chosen to bear the Name of the Lord before the Gentiles.
Thus, both Isaiah and Saul set before us the story of Israel's future salvation and cleansing. They also proclaim the hour when Israel will be God's ambassadors to the four quarters of the earth when the Gentiles shall hear the message from the lips of the Jews and shall be saved.
VI. THE PRESENT BLINDNESS (Isaiah 6:10 )
The Holy Spirit in speaking to Isaiah utters a tremendous prophecy relative to the Children of Israel. It covers the period of time which elapses between the days of the Prophet, and the days of Israel's ultimate regeneration. The Scripture reads: "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."
1. Israel's blindness is temporary. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:1-36 speaks these words, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." Thus it is that Israel's blindness is a judicial blindness, but it is also a temporary blindness.
2. A wonderful redemption. The time is coming when Israel's eyes will be opened. The Bible tells us they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced. That is in the Old Testament, In the last Book of the New Testament in speaking of Christ we read, "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him." This is not only a physical sight; it is also a spiritual vision. They saw Christ physically when He came the first time. They did not see Him spiritually. They knew Him not. They fulfilled everything that had been spoken concerning Him, although they knew it not.
When Christ comes again His chosen people will have eyes that see and hearts that believe.
VII. THE TIME SETTING (Isaiah 6:11-13 )
1. The curse pronounced. As the Holy Spirit concluded His testimony Isaiah cried, "Lord, how long?" The answer was, "Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land."
Everything spoken in these words has been fulfilled. Israel's cities were wasted. Many of them were left without an inhabitant. Their land also was left unfilled; it was utterly desolate. God's people, the Jews, were removed far away. There was a great forsaking in the midst of the land. There are those who assert that Israel will never be brought back again, but that they will be obliterated, or, perhaps, amalgamated by the nations. This is impossible. God's Word never fails.
2. The promise made. God answered the "How long?" with an "until." That is a wonderful word. It has already scoped the years since Christ "until" this hour. "Until" is a wonderful word because it carries with it the promise that Israel cannot be forsaken forever.
Do we remember how the Lord Jesus said, "Your house is left unto you desolate? * * Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord"? No man can read such words without knowing that Christ is returning, and that Israel will receive Him and see Him, saying, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord."
Do we not remember how Christ said concerning His people, "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"?
When that "until" shall have run its course, then they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory.
"There is in a little churchyard in Switzerland a simple inscription on the tomb of one who perished in an Alpine accident which has always appealed to me with singular force: 'He died climbing.' He had heard the call of the mountains and had lost his life in endeavoring to respond. We have heard the call of the Risen Christ, but unlike the climber, we gain our lives in our sustained attempt to respond worthily. 'Seek those things which are above,' is a call to enjoy the highest possible life for the very struggle develops latent possibilities and capacities, and each step upward is into fuller liberty and more perfect manhood." J. Stuart Holden.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Isaiah 6". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16