This is a Bible study on Isaiah 6:1-13.

5 pages.

Isaiah 6:1-13 - Do Not Ignore God’s Word

Read Isaiah 6:1-13.


If you grew up in the city, accustomed to the noises of squealing tires and police sirens all through the night, you would have a hard time getting to sleep in the country. The stillness of a summer night punctuated only by the sound of the crickets would tend to keep you awake—but eventually you would get accustomed to it and have no trouble falling asleep. Conversely, when you first move to the city from the quiet of the country, you will be kept awake all night by the sound of the sirens—but after repeated exposure to those wailing sirens, you would come to ignore them and be able to sleep right through them.

It is beneficial to your physical health and welfare to be able to ignore the sounds of the night and sleep right through them in undisturbed tranquility. But it will prove to be disastrous to your spiritual welfare if you take the same approach to the Word of God, ignoring it and failing to heed it. Such was the case with Old Testament Israel.

We must be aware of the danger in being exposed to the Word of God—especially on a continuous basis—but not responding to that Word in faith and obedience. Let us not ignore God’s Word, because to do so will result in dangerous spiritual consequences.

Do Not Ignore God’s Word, because You are Dealing with the LORD of Hosts🔗

In verse one Isaiah writes, “I saw the Lord.” Isaiah had a personal encounter with the living God. He finds himself lifted out of the ordinary affairs of everyday life and suddenly standing in the presence of God. He here uses the name “Adonai,” the One who rules over all, the One who is the absolute Lord and Master.

Do we have a true appreciation of who God is? Do we wrongly view Him as being impotent or irrelevant; thinking, “I’ve got such great problems that not even God can solve them!”? Or do we appreciate the fact that He is the Almighty and Sovereign Lord over all? That He is the God who created us, the God who constantly sustains our life, and the God before whom we will one day give an account?

Isaiah describes this revelation of God in the following terms. The LORD was seen “seated on a throne.” He reveals Himself to be the true Ruler over the world, the sovereign Lord of creation and history. Do we suffer from spiritual nearsightedness, not able to see beyond the human rulers of the nation; or accepting the false pagan assumption that fate or chance controls history and the lives of men? Or do we have a true spiritual perception; recognizing that the LORD governs nations and He directs history for the accomplishment of His own purpose and the fulfillment of His own eternal plan? Note, for example, the description of the LORD given by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:11. In that passage the LORD is described as the God who “causes all things to work for the sake of his own plan.” That is to say, He causes all things to operate and interact in such a way that they will contribute to the fulfillment of His own sovereign will and plan.

Isaiah further testifies that the LORD is seen to be “high and exalted.” His divine majesty and sovereignty are not to be compared to the temporal and temporary sovereignty of earthly rulers; the LORD is transcendent above all. Do we appreciate the fact that God is not just a “superhuman”? On the contrary, He is in a category all by Himself; He is God, and as such He is to be worshiped, revered, trusted, and obeyed.

As the LORD is seated upon His throne, He is attended by angelic beings called “seraphs,” (literally, “burning ones”). Their very being as “burning ones” illustrates the infinite purity and glory of the LORD. Note their position, they are seen standing above the LORD, forming a halo of living glory and being ever ready to do His bidding.

Note, secondly, their description: each one had six wings. With two wings each covered his face, to shield himself from the awesome brilliance of the glory of God. With two wings each covered his feet, an act of humility and reverence in the presence of God, (note Exodus 3:5, where Moses, when standing in the presence of the LORD, is instructed, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”). With two wings each of them flew, carrying out the LORD’s bidding as His faithful servants.

Thirdly, note the seraphim's occupation: they are continually praising God. They are continually proclaiming His holiness. His holiness is absolute and infinite, hence the three-fold cry of “Holy, holy, holy.” It was His holiness that was the attribute most neglected and abused by the nation. In Isaiah 5:19 woe was pronounced upon those who taunted the prophet of the LORD and the LORD Himself, urging Him to perform the righteous judgment that He had threatened to enact against the sinning nation: “Woe to those who say, 'Let [God] hurry, let him be quick to do his work, so that we may see it! Let that which the Holy One has determined to do come and occur, so that we may experience it!”

Furthermore, the seraphim are found continually proclaiming the LORD's dominion over the earth: “the whole earth is full of his glory,” (or, “the fullness of the whole earth is His glory”). He is the sovereign Lord over all the earth, as the Psalmist declares, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it; the world, and all who dwell in it; 2because he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Psl. 24:1-2). All belongs to the LORD and it is His glory to reign over all the earth. It is also His right to receive glory from all the earth:

1Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth... 3Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples; 4for great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods... 7Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name... 9Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 10aSay among the nations, 'The LORD reigns.' Psl. 96:1,3-4,7-8a,9,10a

Verse four appears to indicate that the seraphs are serving as heralds, proclaiming the coming of the LORD to the nation, and to the earth. Note that the house was filled with smoke, just as when the LORD came down and His presence filled the Old Testament temple in the days of Solomon:

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD; 11so that the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. 1 Kgs. 8:10-11

Whenever we are exposed to the Word of God, let us never ignore it. On the contrary, let us be careful to respond to that holy Word, responding to it with faith and obedience, because we are dealing with none other than the LORD of hosts Himself.

Do Not Ignore God’s Word, because You are Dealing with the Word of His Grace🔗

Upon seeing the LORD of glory, Isaiah cries out, “Woe to me!” He fears himself to be doomed. “I am ruined!” Literally, he is declaring himself to be destroyed.

Do we appreciate what it is really like to have a close encounter with God? Note, for example, Daniel’s experience when he saw Christ in His glory:

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. 6His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. 7I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Dan. 10:4-8

Isaiah goes on to explain the reasons for his terror. He begins by confessing, “I am a man with unclean lips.” The scene of the angelic beings ceaselessly praising God and testifying to God’s holiness, convicts Isaiah of what should be true of him, but what was, in fact, not the characteristic of his speech and life. What comes out of our mouth? Words of praise addressed to God, and words of truth, purity, and grace addressed to men? Or must we confess that the words of James 3:9-10 are true of us? “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” Isaiah goes on to testify, “I live among a people with unclean lips.” Isaiah becomes acutely aware of the damnable contrast between the holy choir of angels on the one hand, and himself and the sinful nation on the other.

Isaiah fears for his life, because, as he declares, “my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” What mortal, sinful man can see God and live? Note the reaction of Samson’s father when he and his wife saw the LORD, “’We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’” (Judg. 13:22) What mortal, sinful man can stand in the presence of God? The prophet Malachi asks, “Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? for he will be like a refiner’s fire...” (Mal. 3:2).

But this honest confession of sin on the part of Isaiah is met with the ministry of God’s mercy. “Then [following Isaiah’s confession] one of the seraphs flew unto me.” When there has been a sincere confession of sin before the LORD, then, by means of this angelic being, the LORD draws near to this man who could not draw near to the LORD.

When we pray, do we take the posture of the Pharisee? The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this publican. 12I fast twice a week and give a tithe of all that I get” (Lk. 18:11-12). Or, is our prayer like that of the publican? “But the publican stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Lk. 18:13). Take careful note of our Lord’s commentary on these respective prayers: “I tell you that this man [i.e. the publican], rather than the other, went home justified before God” (Lk. 18:14).46

Isaiah goes on to relate that the seraph came to him “with a live coal in his hand that he had taken with tongs from the altar.” The live coal represents the burning, sin-consuming holiness of God, here being applied in mercy to purify the repentant sinner and not consume him. For the New Testament fulfillment of this Old Testament interaction between the LORD and Isaiah, consider 1 John 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Whenever we are exposed to the Word of God, let us be careful that we do not ignore that holy Word; on the contrary, let us respond to it with faith and obedience, because we are dealing with the Word of God’s grace. As the Apostle Peter states, “the word of the the word of good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25).

Do Not Ignore God’s Word, because to do so is Spiritually Fatal🔗

In verse nine, Isaiah is given the following commission by the LORD: “Go and tell this people, Keep on hearing, but do not understand. Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” The people are instructed to continue to hear the Word of God, but without understanding; they are instructed to see the work of God, but without perception.

Consider the commission the LORD here gives to Isaiah (vs. 10), and its bearing upon our own souls: “Cause the heart of this people to become callous. Cause their ears to become closed, and shut their eyes; so that they may not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return to me and be healed” (Isa. 6:10).

Isaiah’s continual preaching of the Word of God, following upon all the preaching done by all the previous prophets, would have the effect of making the people insensitive and unresponsive by virtue of the repetition of the message, especially in light of their present habit of unresponsiveness. Isaiah’s ministry was a ministry of judgment, a ministry designed to produce hardening in the lives of a people who had refused to respond but had habitually chosen to ignore the Word of the LORD.

Ironically, the very message that was originally intended for salvation would now become to them an instrument of judgment: How else could they be saved except by the preaching of God’s Word, declaring their sin and directing them to Christ as their Savior? Yet, the continued exposure to that Word—without the response of faith and obedience—would result in the people becoming callous and indifferent to that life-giving Word.

What is presented here is a very mysterious and sobering phenomenon. It is a form of judgment enacted by God against those who have the privilege of hearing His Word, but who passively ignore or actively resist that sacred Word—and do so consistently and constantly. May we not let this happen to us. Let us not cause the Word of God, which is intended to give us spiritual life, become the means of giving us spiritual paralysis of the heart that will lead to spiritual death and finally to damnation, all because of a willful and continual disregard of that life-giving Word.

Whenever we are exposed to the Word of God, let us be careful to heed that holy Word; responding to it with faith and obedience, because to ignore it is spiritually fatal. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:15).

Discussion Questions🔗

  1. When is it that Isaiah is given a vision of the Lord (cf. Isa. 6:1); what is significant about this? Note 2 Chron. 26:3-4. Just as Isaiah received assurance at this time of transition, and even national crisis, what assurance is given to us as Christians? See Psl. 46:1,

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne—high and exalted, and the train [of his robe] filled the temple. Isa. 6:1

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem...4And he did [what was] right in the sight of the LORD... 2 Chron. 26:3-4

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psl. 46:1

  1. How does the Lord reveal Himself to Isaiah at this time? See Isa. 6:2-4. As a Christian, do you appreciate the majesty and the holiness of the LORD? What does Jeremiah tell us is an appropriate response to the LORD, and why is this so? See Jer. 10:6-7a. How does the LORD look upon those who regard Him with a reverential fear? See Psl. 103:13,

Above him stood the seraphs, each one having six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two wings they covered their feet, and with two wings they flew. 3They were calling out to one another, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.' 4At the sound of their voices the foundations of the thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. Isa. 6:2-4

Inasmuch as [there is] none like you O LORD, (you are great, and your name is great in might), 7who should not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your rightful due... Jer. 10:6-7

As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him. Psl. 103:13

  1. How does Isaiah react, when he finds himself standing in the presence of the living God? See Isa. 6:5. Why is he especially conscious of his “unclean lips?” Note Jas. 3:2. When Isaiah has acknowledged his sinful condition before our holy God, what does the LORD do for him? See Isa. 6:6-7. What assurance does the LORD give us, and on what condition? See 1 Jn. 1:9, 7b,

Then I declared, 'Woe to me! I am ruined!—for I am a man with unclean lips and I live among a people with unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.' Isa. 6:5

...we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in speech, he is a blameless man, able also to bridle the whole body. Jas. 3:2

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7He touched my mouth with it and said, 'See, this has touched your lips—your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.'Isa. 6:6-7

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jn. 1:9

the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 Jn. 1:7b

  1. What question does the LORD now ask, and how does Isaiah respond? See Isa. 6:8. Why do you suppose Isaiah responded so heartily? Was it because he was aware he was being called to serve none other than God Himself? Note Col. 3:23-24. Or because he was aware that he had become the recipient of great mercy? Note Lk. 7:47. What motivates you to serve Christ?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord inquiring, 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I, send me.' Isa. 6:8

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you are serving the Lord Christ. Col. 3:23-24

Jesus said of the woman who had wiped His feet with her hair: Therefore, I say to you, her sins, [which are] many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loves little. (Lk. 7:47) “Her abundant love is...not the cause of her receiving forgiveness [note vs. 50, “your faith has saved you”], but the result as well as the proof [or evidence] of her having received forgiveness...” Norval Geldenhuys, “The Gospel of Luke,” The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Reprint, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1968), 234. Her many sins have been forgiven; the awareness of being forgiven, and her appreciation for forgiveness, is evidenced in her expression of great love for Christ.

  1. What assignment does the LORD now give Isaiah? See Isa. 6:9-10. What does this mean? What happens when a person is exposed to the Word of God, especially on a continuous basis, but either ignores the Word or rejects it? Note the case of the Roman governor, Felix (Acts 24:24-26). What warning does the LORD give us? See Heb. 3:15,

He said, 'Go and tell this people, ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand. Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10Cause the heart of this people to become callous. Cause their ears to become closed, and shut their eyes; so that they may not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return to me and be healed.' Isa. 6:9-10

And after some days, when Felix came...he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25Now as [Paul] reasoned about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified and answered, 'Go away for now; when I have a convenient time, I will call for you.' 26He hoped that money would be given to him by Paul; therefore, he sent for him more often and conversed with him. Acts 24:24-26

Felix’s refusal to respond to the Word caused him to become callous to the Word, thereby cutting himself off from the only means of salvation.

Today, if you should hear his voice, harden not your hearts...Heb. 3:15

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