Isaiah Lesson 2: “Holy, Holy,Holy” (Isaiah 6:1-9a) Pastor Barry Bruce
Isaiah’s Vision Isaiah 6:1-4, Psalms 46:10, James 3:3-10, Psalms 141:3
Have you ever saw something that absolutely shut your mouth? A vision that left you speechless! Maybe it was seeing the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or your newborn baby for the first time. Perhaps it was the vision of the falling towers on 9.11.2001, or the more recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino (December 2, 2015/ Inland Regional Center: 14 killed, 22 injured), maybe it was the sudden news of the death of a loved one. Maybe it was as simple as that good looking guy or girl that looked you in the eye and smiled, but for goodness sake, being speechless doesn’t happen to us humans often enough does it?
It is an absolute fact that humans talk too much and therefore listen to God too little. We need to be still and know He is God (Psalms 46:10). Christians should be aware that talking too much is detrimental to our walk with God and our witness in the world. James reminds us, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue his religion is useless” (James 1:26). James later says that controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things to do, humanly speaking (James 3:2). In fact, “no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:7). Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to help us with the task, and here is a helpful prayer: “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
The vision that Isaiah relays to us in Isaiah 6:1-4 shut his mouth! Isaiah found himself suddenly transported to the temple in Heaven. Their he saw the Lord sitting on His throne and flying angels (seraphim and cherubim are winged angels) all about Him. The sound of their voices shook the temple that he was in as they sang “holy, holy, holy”, and gave God glory (see also John’s similar vision in Revelation 4:1-11).
“Ruined” Isaiah 6:5, Romans 14:11-12
The scripture doesn’t say how long it was before Isaiah could speak or even that he was speechless at all; however, it is reasonable to assume that he was speechless for a time because of the words that he expressed in verse 5: “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!” Whenever we experience a “speechless moment” we are caught off guard, confounded, awestruck, undone, ruined! We suddenly feel all together small, vulnerable and humbled. We suddenly remember that we are not deity ! In this case, Isaiah was suddenly in the presence of He who was and he realized that he was not clean. He was not holy and he was in the presence of one who was.
We all need to be “ruined” like Isaiah was. We all need to be knocked down off of our own pedestals where we have elevated ourselves as god’s of our own sinful appetites. We need to be shut up in awe of the one who is God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, The First and the Last. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End! We need to sober up from the drunken attitude we have about ourselves and realize that we are worthy of nothing but judgment and wrath.
Isaiah suddenly realizes that he is an unclean man and that he lives among unclean people. He realizes that his mouth is full of cursing, gossip, lies, sarcasm, bitterness and rage. This mouth he praises God with also flows a filthy stream. Isaiah cries out in repentance and the gracious God he fears (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10) provides a remedy for his dirty mouth (life).
The Remedy Isaiah 6:6-7
Suddenly a Seraphim (lit. angelic “burning one”) grabs a hot coal from the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips with it and he is cleansed. This symbolic action atoned for Isaiah’s sin. The altar is the place that the priest would offer blood sacrifices for the temporary forgiveness of man’s sin. Fire is always a symbol of God’s judgment. The temporary forgiveness through a blood sacrifice on the burning altar was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ permanent forgiveness through His own blood shed on the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). The seraph touched Isaiah’s lips because that is where he was most conscious of his sin. (Where are you most conscious of your sin?) Of course, this is what the entire nation needed. Judah needed to respond as Isaiah did, acknowledging their need of cleansing from sin. But unlike the prophet, most members of the nation refused to admit they had a spiritual need. Are you like Isaiah or Judah? Do you acknowledge your sin, repent and allow God to cleanse you, or do you pridefully continue in your sin?
Our Call and Response Isaiah 6:8-9a, James 4:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Once Isaiah 1.) humbled himself before God, 2.) Identified his own sin and repented for it 3.) he was forgiven (atoned for by God) 4.) The Lord then invited Isaiah to work with Him to bring His kingdom (“your will be done” Matthew 6:9-10) plans to earth. 5.) Isaiah responded: “Here am I. Send me.” God said, “Go!”
This is the five point process of redemption for every man. We humble ourselves and then are exalted by God to do His work for his kingdom cause, but we must be “ruined” first. We must be humbled and “silent” before the Almighty God.
Be Holy! Isaiah 6:1a, 2 Chronicles 26:3-5, 16-21, 1 Peter 1:15-17
Likely it was King Uziah’s death that prompted Isaiah’s vision and repentance. Scripture tells us how and why this good king died a bad death. Pride came before his leprous fall. As a Christian one’s salvation is secure. Sins are forgiven (past, present and future) in Christ “Once for all” (1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 1:9), however, consequences of our rebelliousness to deal with sin remain. Let us stay humble in the sight of the Lord and seek to be Holy as He expects His children to be, for He is.