Salvation in Isaiah 6
King Uzziah of Judah began to reign at the tender age of 16. Much of what we know about his reign is recorded in 2 Chronicles 26 because in 2 Kings 15, where he is mentioned by his other name AZARIAH, he is only given 7 short verses.
Uzziah is described as a Righteous ruler with an important qualification – he was a righteous ruler
“as long as he sought the Lord”
– and as long as he sought the Lord,
“God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26 v 5.
Uzziah excelled in the arts of peace. He ordered wells to be dug for the cattle industry. He cultivated vineyards in the hill country because the text tells us that he loved husbandry – he had an interest in agriculture and farming. Uzziah built fortresses throughout his country. He conquered the Philistines on the west and subdued the Ammonites to the East. He dealt with the Edomites in the South and his army numbered 300,000. Although he achieved many things in the economic and military realm, it was when he applied himself to spiritual things that he prospered most – when moral strength was considered important, then God blessed.
How our political and civic leaders could learn something from men like Uzziah. Moral strength is far more important than military might. We may have thousands of troops ready for war – but unless as a nation we have morality in place in our laws and national behaviour, we will NOT prosper.
Sadly at the end of his life, after a fruitful and prosperous reign he intruded into the priest’s office and burnt incense to the Lord contrary to the law. Kings were to rule – priests were to intercede and appear for men before God. Uzziah had no business trying to do both. There would come One who would be able to do both – the Lord Jesus Christ who is King and priest – sovereign ruler as well as Mediator between God and men.
Pride drove Uzziah – 2 Chronicles 26 v 16 describes how he was
“strong in his heart and it was lifted up to his destruction.”
Uzziah was struck by leprosy and had to retire to an isolated palace while his son became co-regent - a gloomy ending for one who stared out so brightly.
The year that Uzziah died was the year that Isaiah the Prophet found himself in the temple – and Isaiah has told us what happened – in chapter 6 of his prophecy which we read earlier.
Many would maintain that Isaiah seems to be the focus in this chapter. But we need to look again and notice that the Lord God is in fact the centre of attention – and rightly so.
God confronts Isaiah. Then He calls Isaiah to confession. Next God Consecrates the prophet for service. Fourthly comes God’s clear Call to Isaiah followed by God’s Commission to his servant –
Confrontation, Confession, Consecration, Calling and Commission – with the Lord Jesus Christ in the centre of it all.
1. Confrontation Verse 1 – 4
As Isaiah the prophet worshipped in the Temple, Solomon’s great and wonderful Temple, he was overcome by the awesomeness of God. He saw the Lord and he saw angels. He stood at the gate of the porch and gazed straight into the Holy place and into the holy of holies itself. All the intervening obstacles were removed. The great gates of cedar wood were thrown open and the many coloured veil that hung before the innermost sanctuary was drawn aside – and deep within it was a throne of a King, high and lifted up, towering as if into the sky. Scripture does not tell us what the person who sat on the throne looked like. We are merely given outward and inferior images. We are told that it was the Lord; that He was lifted up, elevated as a king on a throne; and that he had a train, presumably looking like a drapery train that a King or Queen has, stretching out behind. This train is said to fill the Temple so large it seemed to have been. This filling must point to something like the glory of the Sovereign Lord God filling the earth.
Around the throne stood seraphims who are angels of flaming glory. Each of these had 6 wings – two to cover their faces so much in awe that they dare not gaze at the Lord’s glory. With two wings they covered their feet, in order to acknowledge the awesomeness of their glorious service. And with the other two wings they were hovering in attendance on the glorious majesty there.
“Holy, Holy, Holy – the whole earth is full of His glory,” they cried to each other. It seems that the seraphim answered each other with these words continually offering these utterances.
The foundations of the thresholds were moved when these seraphim cried out and the whole house was filled with incense smoke.
What an awesome sight this must have been – and God chose to manifest Himself to Isaiah, a mere man. What a contrast this vision was to the dishonour done to God through the ways and doings of God’s people in Judah.
Isaiah could have been fascinated. He could have thought how splendid this is and how fortunate and blessed I am to have this experience. But he did not! This confrontation led Isaiah to be humbled in the dust. And this is what we need when we are confronted by something awesome.
My friends we were confronted with something else awesome this morning – the amazing fact that God would ever reveal Himself to sinners like us! Isaiah was a sinner like us. And sinners are estranged from God because of their sin. So there is only one response to God when he comes in His glory – and that is to be humbled.
2. Confession, v 5
And this is what happened to Isaiah –
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Woe is me is a confession of uncleanness before a holy God. That is the only response that any mortal can make when faced and confronted by the absolute purity and holiness of God the creator and saviour when He makes Himself known. The Apostle John experienced the same when the Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself to John on the island of Patmos – notice what reaction was provoked in John –
Revelation 1 v 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.
When our sinfulness becomes a reality to us in our souls; when our consciences hurt so much; when we are struck by the enormity of our offensiveness before the Lord Jesus Christ, then the only possible reaction, genuine reaction, is to fall down before him and confess our unworthiness. Isaiah was overwhelmed by his sinfulness. The presence of the Divine Majesty precipitated this in Him. Has this happened to us? We heard of the desperate plight of our souls this morning – sinners lost in our sins, people of unclean lips, living amongst a people of unclean lips.” There is a connection with King Uzziah here. We recall that leprosy was his punishment – now if anyone approached him in his special segregated palace he was obliged by law to cry out, with his hand over his lips, Unclean! Unclean! (Leviticus 13 v 45) In scripture leprosy is often a metaphorical picture of the pollution of sin. Now Isaiah himself feels himself to be in this condition spiritually. No man could see God without suffering death. His vision of the glory of God had reduced him, in his own estimate, to the level of his guilty and defiled nation.
Yet notice now what happens to Isaiah - and it becomes an analogy for us. “For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!”
This is what we need my friends! We need to see the king! We need, in our minds and souls, to see the Lord of Hosts. The One sitting on the throne, high and lifted up was the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we know? The Saviour confirmed it one day –
John 12 v 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
Oh how we need to see His glory! This morning we saw our sin, our depravity. We were forced to look at our selves and see the problem of deepest dye called our sin. But Isaiah points us to a sight of the Lord Jesus Christ high and lifted up – the only one who can do anything for us! And we need
3. Consecration, v 6 – 7
From the Mediator, the Sovereign King, one of the angel seraphim was sent with a live coal taken from the altar to cleanse the prophets lips, and to purge away his sins. Isaiah had deplored that part of his body, his lips, that were the focus of his uncleanness. The coal was laid on his lips and his iniquity was removed and his sin was atoned for – a coal represented the effects of the sacrifice.
Isaiah had come to the temple to worship. He had come to bow down – he had seen the Lord and had come to the mercy seat – the throne of mercy and grace. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was indicated here and the effects of the sacrifice pointed to Pardon, cleansing and acceptance of the person of Isaiah. It points to our consecration too. It is a glorious picture of the experience of each of us when we come to acknowledge our sin having been confronted by it, confessing it to God and then receiving the cleansing we so desperately need. And all this when we look to Christ Jesus the saviour. When we lift up our soul’s eyes to our wonderful Master and see only holiness and perfection in Him, then we can find the grace that He gives us to rekindle love to Him and for Him. And we look away from our selves and our depravity and see glory and perfection in Him – and come to believe that His life in us begins that process of changing our souls into the people we should be – taken up utterly with Him. Oh there is so much to discourage us if all we concentrate on is our sin and our selves, our failures, our weaknesses, our wrong thinking.
Consider Him the scripture says. Look unto Him and be saved, says another passage in Isaiah.
Micah 7 v 7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Philippians 3 v 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Are we looking to the Lord Jesus Christ tonight? Is He the object of our desire?
4. Calling v 8
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
The prophet Isaiah comes under the overwhelming sense of the love of the crucified Lord Jesus Christ as he bows in the Temple. It is then that He hears a voice of calling – and it is only under the influence of love and forgiveness that he was constrained to answer the call. Isaiah’s heart was changed – just as Paul’s heart was changed after his Damascus Road experience of conversion. Isaiah said, “Here am I send me.” Paul began straightaway to preach in the Synagogues that the Lord Jesus was the Christ the Son of God. Both came to the mercy seat – both were called by sovereign grace – first to salvation and then to service. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed His glory to them both – Isaiah in the Temple – Paul in the open air – a blinding light – a vision of seraphims and one on the throne.
Oh my friend you do not have to wait for such an experience before you can be saved. Every one comes to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a different and unique way. But when it comes you will know – for sure!
5. Commission v 9 – 13
Isaiah was sent on a mission to a stubborn nation as a prophet, whose task is not the easiest. But his commission came after an experience of closeness to God. The more that we appreciate the facts of the character of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and the glories of His person, the more deeply we will realise our own sinfulness and sense our own utter unworthiness. But this merely serves to exalt His worthiness and His perfection – and that is what we want is it not? When we are tempted to feel low and depressed about ourselves; when we are conscious of our sin and failure, and our un-usable ness in His church – let us look upwards to heaven and see Him there – the dying lamb, my perfect spotless righteousness, the great unchangeable I am, the King of glory and of grace!
Look ye saints! the sight is glorious; See the Man of Sorrows now, From the fight returned victorious, Every knee to Him shall bow; Crown Him! Crown Him! Crowns adorn the Victor’s brow! (Thomas Kelly, 1769–1855)
Christ is the One to whom we look – let us keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus