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The prophet in this chapter is soaring very high in visions and revelations of the Lord. Here is much of Jehovah's grace, in the glories of the Redeemer's person and kingdom, in this Chapter. The prophet gives the date of it also.
Wherefore the prophet was so particular as to put down the precise time, when the Lord favoured him with this glorious vision, which he relates in this chapter, is not said; but from the strong impressions it made upon his mind, it was indeed impossible, that he himself should ever forget it. Jacob at Bethel, and Moses at Horeb, where the visions of God began with them, could neither of them ever lose the remembrance of the time or place to all eternity. Reader, you and I have our spots, our Bethels of remembrance also, I hope. They are sweet things in the believer's recollection. The year that Uzziah died, was memorable, 2 Chronicles 26:21-23 . But what we are most highly interested to observe, in the relation of this vision of the prophet, is the intention of it, and for what purpose the account of it is handed down in all ages to the church. This is the grand point for us to attend to, that what Isaiah hath here recorded, under the Spirit of the Lord, we may take home to ourselves, and by the lively exercises of faith, behold our interest in it. May God the Holy Ghost thus unfold its glories to our hearts. He tells us, that in this vision, he saw the Lord, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Now, Reader, I pray you to turn to that blessed chapter of John the Evangelist, where the Holy Ghost hath decidedly explained the relation of the prophet, and made application of it to the person and glories of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Mediator and Head of his people; These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory and spake of him, John 12:41 . Hence the Lord, whom the prophet saw, was the Lord Jesus Christ, in his mediatorial glory. And this serves at once to unfold, and explain to us a thousand things of the highest moment to our joy and comfort, to have right apprehensions concerning, for it throws a light upon all those other scriptures, where the visible appearance of the Lord is spoken of, and which from other scriptures compared with them, we otherwise could not explain. As for example, it is said, Exodus 33:11 , that the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. So again, Exodus 24:9-10 , Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, went up into the mount: and they saw the God of Israel! Yet in all the parts of scripture, we find one uniform account given, of the impossibility of seeing Jehovah's face, and live, Exodus 33:20 ; 1 Timothy 6:16 . How are these scriptures to be reconciled? The Evangelist John hath done it in a single verse: No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, John 1:18 . Hence nothing can be more plain, than that all the manifestations God hath been graciously pleased to make of himself in all ages of the church, hath been in the person of his dear Son, as the God-man Mediator, both before his incarnation and after; as the Son of God was, (as he himself saith) set up from everlasting in this glorious character, as the Head of his Church, so his glory in that character, was frequently manifested to the Church, and to special servants in the church. What a blessed thought to the Church, and to the people. The Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, which Isaiah saw, was Jesus. Hence, Reader, what unanswerable testimonies are found in this one scripture, to the Godhead of your Lord. Surely it never can be questioned whether he be possessed of all divine attributes, that was thus seen upon a throne in heaven. Surely none, if they thought aright, would doubt the sovereignty and eternity of his nature and essence, who thus sat on a throne, as if to intimate both his power, and glory, and government, and dominion. And how blessedly are those sweet words of our Lord Jesus explained by this very scripture: what and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? John 6:62 . So again: No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven, John 3:13 . Blessed Jesus, we thank and adore thee for these gracious manifestations of thyself. Oh let the train of thy graces fill our souls, as the train of thy glory filled the temple, Revelation 3:21; Revelation 3:21 .
From the light thrown upon this blessed vision, in the other parts of scripture, as before shown, and all evidently, and plainly directed to prove that it is the person of Christ, who manifested himself to the prophet; we shall now be the better able to enter into an apprehension of all that follows; that is, as far at least as our capacities are enabled to go in the subject; and I hope that both writer and reader, will find cause to adore Jehovah, in his threefold character of person, in and through the only medium by which we can approach to adore him, even this glorious God-man Mediator, for such gracious and saving discoveries of himself. The seraphim, which are here said to have stood above, Paul calls the cherubim of glory: consequently they are not angels, Hebrews 9:15 . A reference to other scriptures, will, I think, prove that they cannot mean angels. The first account we have of a subject like this in Isaiah's vision is Genesis 3:24 , where cherubim and a flaming sword, are said to have been placed at the east of the garden of Eden. In Leviticus 1:0 ; Isaiah 6:2 , Jehovah saith, I will appear in the cloud on the mercy - seat. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, chap. 1 (Ezekiel 1:0 ) the vision he saw of the glory of the Lord, was under the similitude of four living creatures. And as an explanation of this astonishing vision, John the beloved apostle, in the view of heaven opened, which he was favoured with, saw four beasts in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, Revelation 4:6 . Now angels are nowhere said in scripture to be in the midst of the throne. What those seraphim in Isaiah's vision are, I do not presume to say: but I humbly conceive, from the frequent mention made in scripture of them, and especially as having the face of a man joined in the representation, and this from the very opening of the word of God, at the garden of Eden, to the close of it in the Revelation; that it is intended to set forth the divine glory: and at the same time to show that the only access to Jehovah for fallen man, is in and through the person, glory and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word itself, Seraphim, which is plural, means Burners. And this will not be found unsuitable to the idea, that they represent the glory of the Lord, in and through a Mediator; for the Holy Ghost hath by the apostle, declared, that our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29 . And the hymn sung, which Isaiah heard, I humbly conceive, was not sung by the seraphim, but the heavenly host; similar to that song, which John heard, of redemption. They that sung it were neither the beasts nor the elders: for Jesus took not upon him the nature of angels. The song of redemption could only be sung by the redeemed from among men. See the words of the song itself, Revelation 5:9-10 . Respecting the wings of the seraphim, it is worthy remark, that nothing is said of their form. If upon the supposition that they themselves are designed as symbols of God in Christ, there will be no difficulty in the apprehension concerning those wings. The Lord is veiled to his people in covering; and swiftness to fly to their help and salvation; and yet, in the dispensations of his providence, his path is hidden: these may be easily understood as emblematically represented. Concerning the infinite holiness of Jehovah, which the hymn celebrated, every part of scripture concurs in the testimony. And in nothing more, than by the wonders of redemption. God never took a more decided method to impress his creatures with a due sense of the holiness of his nature, than by the death of Christ. In that one act, a greater display was made of the holiness of Jehovah, than if all creation had been offered up in sacrifice. It spake in the loudest voice, that rather than the Lord's holiness shall be tarnished, the holy child Jesus shall die. The effect wrought in heaven, by the voice of him that cried, may serve to show the infinite awfulness of the divine presence, even in mercies. Reader, think what a solemn thing it must be to have to do with God, even when God is coming forth to bless. Oh the tremendous state of unregenerated sinners, when the Lord comes forth to judgment!
Here we see, even in God's own servant, what trembling is induced in a near apprehension of God's presence. Men may think lightly of sin, who never felt the galling chain of it; and some poor unawakened sinners, who have never ascertained what righteousness is, by the divine standard, may fancy much of themselves, and of their own righteousness; but when a soul hath once seen God in Christ by faith, and Jesus expiating sin by no less a sacrifice than himself, then all self-complacency and self-righteousness fall to the ground. Reader, I pray you look at Isaiah in this view of him, and hear his confession; then turn to observe Job's account of himself, Job 42:5-6 ; and then hearken to the Lord's testimony of him, Job 1:8 ; then look at David, the man after God's own heart, Psalms 51:1-5 ; hearken also to Paul's relation, Romans 7:18 , to the end: and if such views do not humble your soul to the very dust of the earth, depend upon it, it is because the Holy Ghost hath never convinced you of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment John 16:8-11 .
Reader! do remark with me, the infinite grace of the Lord! see how, amidst all the sanctities of heaven, the case of a poor sinner upon earth was taken notice of, and provided for. Depend upon it, the Lord is continually so doing for all his people. By one of the seraphim flying to Isaiah and performing this act of grace, I confess that I am but the more strengthened in my belief, that the seraphim were representations of Jehovah in Christ. It is the office of the Holy Ghost to take of the things of Jesus, and show them unto the people. The altar can mean no other than Jesus. And it is the blood of Jesus which alone cleanseth from all sin. But while I thus express my views of the passage, I desire to do it with the lowest reverence. I only humbly inquire if it may not be so? Very, very far from speaking decidedly upon it. Lord, take away the iniquity both of my lips and pen, as thou didst in mercy, remove the prophet's guilt!
Here, if I mistake not, the subject takes a different turn. Isaiah in the former part, relates what he had seen and heard in a special relation to himself, and the Church, to whom he ministered: but here he relates what he was witness to, in relation to a higher mission than that of any among the sons of men. He begins it with an also, as if to disconnect what went before from what now follows: Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Let the Reader consult those scriptures, where a consultation is as it were set forth between the persons of the Godhead, and then may the Lord enable him to determine for himself, (for far be it from me to determine for him) whether this be not a similar instance. Thus at creation, Genesis 1:26 . So again at the destruction of Babel, Genesis 11:5-7 . And why may we not suppose that this vision which the prophet Isaiah was favoured with, was a representation given to the Church, through him, of the conference at redemption? And if this be the case, it is Jesus, and not Isaiah who gives the answer, here am I, send me, see Psalms 40:7 . Reader, pray consult those sweet scriptures, they will amply reward your attention; and may the almighty Author of them himself explain them! Isaiah 42:1-8 ; then Isaiah 50:5-9 .
Reader, pray attend to these verses: for so important are they considered in the gospel-church, that no less than six times are they taken notice of, and referred to, in the after-writings of the scriptures. All the Evangelists quote them, and they are again spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles, and by the Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans. See in proof, Matthew 13:14 ; Mark 4:12 ; Luke 8:10 ; John 12:39-40 ; Acts 28:26-27 and Romans 11:8 . And what awful confirmations have we of their truth, both in the word of God, and the experience of men in all ages! Even when Jesus himself; who spake as never man spake, was the preacher!
Here the prophet, as if struck with what he had seen and heard, puts in a question, and a solemn one it is: "How long shall it be that the enemy of souls shall triumph, and fallen man remain under the ruins of his apostacy?" Hear what Jesus himself saith as mediator on this subject, Isaiah 49:4 . And how have his servants in all ages complained, Jeremiah 20:9 . John heard also the anxious question of the martyrs, much to the same amount, Revelation 6:9-10 .
Oh what a verse of blessedness, what a promise full of Jesus and his glory, is here! O for grace to behold, and to enjoy Jesus in it! The Jewish nation could not be destroyed, because Christ, after the flesh, was to spring out of the stock of Abraham: and on his account the nation should be saved. It is, saith the Lord, but as a tenth, but as a remnant; nevertheless, in that tenth, in that remnant, there is the holy seed. Jesus is the substance contained in all, as the teil tree, or the oak, in the acorn of which, from the first creation, all the subsequent oaks are folded up. Precious thought! In Jesus, from everlasting to everlasting, all his seed, his people, his children were deposited, and will be brought forth from age to age, until the last is completed. Reader, was there ever a more blessed close to a most blessed chapter? O for grace to bless the eternal Spirit for such a revelation! Now, Lord we see why it is, that sinners are preserved amidst all their undeservings. There is one that standeth by and looketh on, and while to our eye there is nothing to be seen, but, like the withered blighted branch of the vine, everything is unpromising, and dead, and lifeless; yet there is in it a tenth; yea, Jesus is in it; Destroy it not, he saith, for a blessing is in it. So, saith Jehovah, in his rich mercy and free grace, so will I do for my servants sakes, that I may not destroy them all, Isaiah 45:8 .
MY soul, close not the book: for the same Lord, the same Adonai, yea thy Jesus is still upon his throne, as he was in the days of the prophet, and thou by grace, through faith, as he by open vision, mayest draw nigh and behold him; for he calls upon thee, and upon all poor, needy, perishing sinners, like thyself, to come hither and behold the glory which he had with his Father before all worlds. And do not forget that thy Redeemer's throne is a throne of grace as well as glory, on which Jesus sits to receive his poor, and to give out of his fulness. And, for thy great encouragement, do not forget also, that while thou art benefited by his grace, Jesus will be glorified in giving out to thy necessities; yea, God thy Father will be glorified in Jesus, whenever a poor sinner is made blessed and happy in Jesus. Come then, my soul, to his throne, and let God be glorified in his Son, and Jesus be glorified in thy salvation; in thy finding grace to help in every time of need.
And behold, my soul, the glorious seraphim above the throne, and round about the throne, and let their appearance comfort and encourage thee! Yea, let thy hymn go forth in the language of heaven: for surely never would the heavenly song have been handed down to earth, if it had not been meant that the redeemed upon earth, from among men, might learn and sing it. Cry aloud my soul, with holy joy, and say, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.
But while thou art singing with a new-strung heart of redemption, the song of heaven, and the spirits of just men made perfect; forget not, O my soul, that thou art still a man of unclean lips, and that thou dwellest in the midst of a people of unclean lips. Yes, precious Jesus, I would not only remember this, but through all eternity, never, never lose sight of it. Heaven itself will be more heaven to my soul in the view, that from the brink of hell it was Jesus brought me. Thy love, thy grace, thy pity, thy compassion, blessed Lord, is now the sole cause of my song of grace, and will be my everlasting song of glory to all eternity. Oh for the continual cleansing from off thine altar, Lord Jesus! let the live coal be daily, hourly administered to purge mine iniquity, and to make me clean in thy blood.
And O, my gracious God, grant me, grant thy Church, thy people favor, that it may not be said, to the ministry of thy holy word Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Oh Lord! give to him that writes, and to him that reads, the hearing, the seeing, the understanding, the believing heart; that we may both enter into the full enjoyment of this blessed vision, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! Lord! let it he found in our souls experience, and to our souls joy, that there is in us, as in the teil tree and the oak, that glorious substance, the holy seed, even Jesus, in all his merits, blood, and righteousness, for the salvation of our souls! May this be found our portion, in the love and mercy of God our Father; the grace, blood, and righteousness of Jesus Christ; and the fellowship and communion of the Holy Ghost! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter