Isaiah’s Vision

Isaiah 6:1 – 13

Isaiah’s father, Amoz, was related to King Uzziah, and Isaiah was initially a royal scribe. Although we are not told what he was doing specifically at that crucial moment (v.1), we can surmise that it was probably just another ordinary day for him, when God decided to show up. What unfurled before his sight absolutely petrified and stunned him (v.5), as the ground he stood on shook violently as the seraph spoke, and smoke filled the environs (v.4). God privileged him to an aspect of heavenly proceedings in His inner sanctum, and then decisively drew him into the midst of the Heavenly council concerning his unusual assignment of hardening the hearts of his future audience in preparation for His judgment, as they would not listen to Him, before any national restoration would occur.

What instantaneously impacted Isaiah was the pervasive holiness that emanated from God’s presence and the unbreachable distance between man and God (v.1-3), transforming his self-confidence into one who suddenly sensed his absolute unworthiness. Possibly for the first time in his life, Isaiah became conscious of the meaning and depth of God’s holiness. An appreciation of God’s holiness will always show up our innate sinfulness, and draw from us a response when our desire is to sustain an ongoing fellowship in Christ. The indescribable glory and majesty that he saw on the Throne was astounding for its lack of description of God’s features, indicating that he possibly could not see Him clearly or was not allowed to see Him at all. As the seraphs, with covered faces, were intoning their worship of God’s glory in the created order (v.2), Isaiah suddenly became aware of himself and voiced his condemning fears; censuring himself for his impurity and the uncleanness of the nation, yet knowing that he was still miraculously alive. These proceedings must have triggered Isaiah’s memory of King Uzziah’s own wilful trespass into the Temple for which he was struck down with leprosy, and he remained unclean till his death (2 Chr 26:16-21). Furthermore, his thoughts about his countrymen show us Isaiah’s pastoral heart, which did not escape God’s attention too. Not until he was purified – with his guilt removed and sins forgiven, by a symbolic ritual purification applied by a seraph (vv.6-7), was Isaiah available to speak towards the Throne, implying that his service to God can only begin when he came to an end of himself.

To be in the presence of the King, the Lord of Hosts, was to be transformed by His forgiving grace and love and to be overwhelmed by His profoundly reassuring presence that He was in full control of the tumultuous political situation following the demise of King Uzziah, with a resurgent Assyria. Instantly, when the need to represent God was suggested, he instinctively volunteered, seemingly without any hesitation even though he did not know the nature of the mission. Did he have a choice? Yes, unlike most of the other prophets, God gave him a choice! (v.8). As God spelt out the onerous responsibility of his new task, it did not seem to overcome him, demonstrating his instinctive trust and confidence in God Almighty, having seen Him from afar.

Due to the difficulties of God’s message to His people, Isaiah was called to faithfulness in the discharge of his new commission; whether he would be successful promulgating it was never in question by God. When we begin to see the greatness of our God, we will inevitably cease to consider Him as One who exists just to serve us, but like Isaiah, our life is offered up for His use entirely. When God cautioned that we ought to be holy as He is holy (Lev 11:44-45), He implies that our state of impurity and uncleanness is unacceptable in our fellowship with Him. Would that be asking too much of us?