Text: Isaiah 6:1-13
When God’s people go astray, He sends His prophets to frankly and bluntly warn them of their sin and admonish them to repent and return to Him. Again, when I speak of God’s people, I am speaking of the church, Jewish believers, and Jews that do not yet believe that Jesus is their Messiah.
In the days of Isaiah, God’s people are headed for disaster — exile (separation from His presence), and even death and condemnation. Oh, but if they will repent as I did, the Lord and I will rejoice and sing (Zephaniah 3:17)!
The LORD does not desire for any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). So, He sends Isaiah to speak to Jerusalem and Judah. He gives Isaiah visions, and words with which to paint a picture of what the Lord has shown him.
And He sends me to the church today, though I am only a pastor and teacher. But by His grace, I am what I am. As I read Isaiah, I see what the Lord showed him, as if the Lord was showing it to me. If I were going to give this a title, I would call it, “Seeing the Lord.”
Verse 1 —
Something happened to Isaiah near the beginning of his assignment to prophesy to Judah and Jerusalem. In the year of King Uzziah’s death, He saw the Lord, sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
Isaiah saw the Lord — the Christ, Jesus — in the temple which is in heaven. That it was Jesus is confirmed by the Apostle John —
John 12:40 “I have blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.”41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.
God the Father said this of the Jews who rejected His Son. So, Isaiah saw a vision of his Messiah! And what was the Lord doing, in Isaiah’s vision?
Sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted. Indeed, He sits at the right hand of the Father, just as He did before anything was (John 1:1-2, 17:5, and will continue to do for eternity. There is no place more lofty and exalted than to be seated — not standing, but seated and equal — at the right hand of God the Father!
And what else did Isaiah find remarkable? The train of His robe filled the temple. I do not want you to miss the significance of the length of the train of His robe. In those days, when a king conquered another king, he would cut off a piece of the defeated king’s robe, and have it sewn onto the train of the his own robe. Thus, the more victories, the longer the train of the robe!
I tell you, Isaiah saw Jesus, the coming Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who never is defeated, who is always victorious, and thus has a robe with a train that fills the temple in heaven — the one of which the earthly temple was a much smaller copy. Jesus always is victorious! And when you come to Him, and receive His salvation and reconciliation, and ask Him to crucify your sin nature, you will share in His victories! He will set you free, indeed, from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36)!
Verse 2 —
Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings. With the first pair of wings, each seraph covered his face. With two wings, each seraph covered his feet. And with the remaining two wings, each seraph flew. Their faces and feet were covered as an expression of awe and reverence, for they stood in the presence of God the Father and God the Son.
Verse 3 —
And one seraph called out to another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts — a title of the One who was sent to save us — the whole earth is filled with His glory, His splendor, His weighty presence.
Holy, Holy, Holy is He! The Lord is completely pure, completely different from the fallen world to which He was sent, but of which He was not part. If you truly come into His presence, if you truly see Him as He is, and not what the church has made Him, you will cry these things, just as the seraphim did! And when the Holy One comes into you, He will make you holy, also.
What has the church made Him? She has made Him into her own image.
Verse 4 —
The Lord called out! His voice is so powerful that the foundations (door sockets) of the thresholds of the temple trembled. And the temple filled with smoke, like a vapor, and Isaiah could not minister, but could still see —
Revelation 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power . . .
It was just as it was at the dedication of the temple that Solomon had built for the Lord —
1Kings 8:10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
Verse 5 —
And what is the reaction of all who see the glory of the Lord? An absolute and complete understanding of our innate impurity of heart!
Then Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!” I am undone! I will be destroyed, for my eyes have seen Him, and He is holy, and I am not! In the presence of His holiness, you will feel just as Isaiah did!
I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips. Jesus said —
Luke 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (NIV)
His lips were impure because his heart was impure, and so were the lips and hearts of the people of God! What would Isaiah do?
Verses 6-7 —
Isaiah could do nothing, but a seraph flew to him, with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And the seraph touched Isaiah’s mouth with it, saying, “Behold, this has touched your lips, and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
It was a picture of the work Jesus Christ would do when the Father sent Him to the earth. He is the coal that touches us and purifies our hearts! He is the refiner (Malachi 3:1-3) who takes away (turns off, removes) our moral perversity and willful disobedience —
Malachi 3:1 “See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 2:2 But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness . . .
This is more than a picture of salvation — it is a picture of His purification of human hearts! The lips are clean, thus the heart is clean! He suddenly comes into your body, which suddenly becomes His temple!
Beloved, you can do nothing, in order to purify your heart. But since Jesus came and died and rose and ascended and was glorified, He is the purifier of hearts. And when does He purify our hearts?
When He fills us with His Spirit! Peter confirmed it, testifying to the leaders of the church regarding the Gentile, Cornelius, and his house —
Acts 15:9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.
Verse 8 —
Now Isaiah was ready for a higher calling than he could ever imagine. After he was purified, he heard the voice of the Lord — again, the coming Christ — saying, “Who shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then Isaiah said, Here am I. Send me!”
Who will go for Us! I do not want you to miss it. Who is the “Us?” He is not speaking of angels, nor seraphim. They do not send. Only God sends. So, He speaks to God the Father! Who will go for Us, to announce My coming?
So Isaiah does not hesitate to say, Send me! Here am I! I will do it! It is the same for all whose hearts have been purified. We no longer serve ourselves, but Him!
Verse 9 —
In mankind’s eyes, Isaiah’s assignment is not glorious. He will serve God by speaking the truth to His rebellious people, but no one will listen! The Lord said, Go and tell them, “Keep on listening but do not perceive, keep on looking but do not understand.”
Why would the Lord tell them that? The teachers of His people pored over the Bible, dissecting it but yet perceiving nothing, and understanding nothing. And God’s people did not go and look for themselves then, nor do they now. They simply listened to their blind teachers. Jesus said —
Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’”
But Isaiah is to let them alone, while he continues to faithfully speak the words of the Lord. As Jesus Christ said of the blind teachers of that day —
Matthew 15:14 “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Who are you listening to, beloved! Know the Word, so you are not deceived!
Verse 10 —
And by the words the Lord will have Isaiah speak, the hearts of His rebellious people will be rendered less and less responsive. The callouses on their hearts will become even thicker, their ears duller, and they will screw their eyes shut. They will not want to hear that they need to repent and return to the Lord! And so they will refuse Isaiah’s words.
It is the same today, in the church. “Repent” is a word seldom heard in our hallowed halls. If someone should speak it, they are rejected, just as Isaiah was!
They will not repent because they do not want to repent. But if they did repent, they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return to the Lord and be healed in their relationship with Him!
Verses 11-12 —
Then Isaiah said, How long? Lord, how long will they continue to rebel against You? How long must I speak, knowing that they will not listen?
And the Lord answered, until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people, and the land is utterly desolate. Isaiah sees that the LORD, God the Father, has removed men far away, and Isaiah views forsaken places in the midst of the land.
Isaiah would speak, and Jeremiah and others after him. But because God’s people will refuse to listen, they will be destroyed, and their cities, houses, and the land itself will be utterly, completely desolate. They will no longer inhabit Jerusalem and Judah, because they will be killed in battle or carried off into exile by Babylon!
He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But He will discipline and punish them, for they are going their own foolish way, to their own hurt. I tell you the truth from my own experience, rebellion will ruin you! I was utterly desolate, exiled from the presence of the Lord! I was removed far away from Him, and was deserted because I deserted Him!
Verse 13 —
But there will be a tenth portion in it, some who will return to the land after 70 years of exile. They will reject Jesus Christ, though, for He will not fit their idea of who the Messiah should be and what He should say and do.
And so the land would be subject to burning once again, by the Romans in 70 AD.
That was the end of the temple, the end of temple worship. The Lord did it, that they might return to Him, see their Messiah, and ask Him to purify them so their bodies would become His temple. He only dwells in holy places, beloved!
There will be a stump that remains — even the holy seed, those who have believed into Jesus Christ. He always leaves a remnant of His people, for He will keep His promise to David.
There will be a remnant of Jews who attend synagogue and are taught by their rabbis that Jesus could not have possibly been the Messiah. They will continue with the traditions of Judaism, which they idolize.
But the stump that is the holy seed will flourish. The Lord will purify their hearts when they have their own personal Pentecost. Then, those holy ones will go forth, shining with His light.
Lord, may your people open their eyes, ears, and hearts to you! And may your church see herself, and repent! Amen, Lord! So be it.