Wednesday, July 05, 2023

2023.07.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 6

Read Isaiah 6

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year did Isaiah see this (Isaiah 6:1)? Whom did he see? Where? What filled the temple? Who stood above the throne (Isaiah 6:2)? How many wings did each have? What did each do with those wings? What did they cry to one another (Isaiah 6:3)? By what were the door posts shaken (Isaiah 6:4)? With what was the temple filled? What did Isaiah say about himself (Isaiah 6:5)? What were his lips like? What had his eyes done? What did one of the seraphim do in Isaiah 6:6? What did he have to use to take the coal from the altar? To what did he touch it (Isaiah 6:7)? What did he say had been done when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips? What did Isaiah hear in Isaiah 6:8? What did the voice ask? Who answered? In what way? To whom was Isaiah sent to do what (Isaiah 6:9)? What was he telling them to do, but fail to do (verse 9b–c)? But what would this speech itself do (Isaiah 6:10a–c)? In order to prevent what from happening (verse 10c–f)? Upon hearing such a call, with what question does Isaiah respond (Isaiah 6:11a)? What is the answer (Isaiah 6:11-12)? But what will the Lord leave in the land (Isaiah 6:13a)? And what will they receive now (verse 13b, cf. Isaiah 6:6-7)? And what does the Lord call this stump that will be atoned for by fire (Isaiah 6:13c–e)?

What would we see, if we could see the spiritual world? Isaiah 6 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Yahweh is a King of unimaginable, perfect holiness and glory, Who atones with fire so that undone sinners may be holy unto Him. 

In the first five chapters, Isaiah had prefaced his book especially with the great privileges that Judah had enjoyed, the great purpose behind those privileges, but their great perversion of their purpose and the great punishment that was coming as a result. 

Now, in chapters 6–12, hope is not presented in an earthly king, but the heavenly One—Who will somehow become an earthly King, not currently, but in the future. Chapter 6 sets up that hope against the backdrop of the end of a 52-year reign of a good king, whose worthless and wicked son was now to assume the throne. When king Uzziah died, it would have seemed on earth that the curtain was falling upon the southern kingdom.

But God gives His prophet to see behind the curtain. 

This isn’t exactly encouraging at first. When he sees the Lord on a throne, not just high but high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1), he is getting a pre-incarnation glimpse of the Son (cf. John 12:37–41). And the King’s servants are burning-ones, seraphim, who are conducting themselves as the lowliest of worshipers, despite being flame-creatures (Isaiah 6:2). They know what to do with their lips (Isaiah 6:3)! The whole house is filled with smoke (Isaiah 6:4), and he realizes that this is the reality of which the incense-filled tabernacle was just a lowly picture. For, the flame-beings shouted not that the heavens were full of Yahweh’s glory, but that the earth is. 

So… the first encounter with the flame of God’s glory in this chapter is literally mortifying. Isaiah cries out that he is undone—a sinner from among sinners. There is no room for comparing himself favorably to others, because he is infinitely further below God than any measure by which he is above others. When a sinner gets a glimpse of God, there’s no room for pride, only for desperation.

The second encounter with the flame of God’s glory is marvelously encouraging. So hot is the flame of the intensity of God’s glory that the flame-being has to use tongs (!) to retrieve the coal that the King has willed him to get (Isaiah 6:6). It’s as intense as Isaiah’s offense against God, for it is sufficient to purge his sin (Isaiah 6:7).

The third reference to flame is the burning in Isaiah 6:13. Even all the judgment that God brings upon the people will be a purging judgment; verse 13b parallels Isaiah 6:7d. The tent that remains is not a stump of leftovers looking back to what had been, but rather a “holy seed” looking forward to what the Lord will bring from them. For Isaiah, this is a great comfort, because the ministry that he volunteers for (Isaiah 6:8) is one that is not going to get immediately desirable results. Being used by God to be an instrument of hardening (Isaiah 6:9-10) seems so dreadful that Isaiah cries out to know how long he will have to do this (Isaiah 6:11a–b). God’s plan is that Isaiah’s ministry of purging the people back in the exile (Isaiah 6:11-12) is a prerequisite to the great salvation that is to come (Isaiah 6:13). This is something that Isaiah’s ministry has in common with our Lord’s earthly ministry (cf. John 12:37–41). Let ministers and believers in times of hardening in the church take heart; the Lord Whom they serve is expressing the intensity of His burning glory by saving, ultimately and most of all. The time and place that He assigns to us is well worth joyful diligence in the service of Him Who has purged our sins.

How has God displayed His glory in saving you? What danger does that glory pose to your church/nation?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You, our King, Who are high and lifted up upon Your throne. Forgive us for failing to realize that Your glory burns intensely all around us, and that our sin is so offensive, that only the full burning of Your glory is great enough to atone for us. Purge our sin away by the sacrifice of Christ, and give unto us to serve Him Who will do all that is necessary to gather His church to Himself, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH434 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

No comments:

Post a Comment