6/25/2015

Rather random rambling ruminating reflections from Isaiah 6 commentaries


Holiness is the Lord's hidden gloryglory is the Lord's visible (omnipresent) holiness.

Glory is the shining out of who God is -- he is holiness. Holiness is part of the inner distinctiveness of God that is revealed in all his activity and his "glory" is the outward manifestation of the brightness of his majesty and holiness.

Holiness is the essence of God's nature. God himself is the supreme revelation of holiness (Isa 6:3). God's absolute holiness reveals how separate, different, or totally other he is in comparison to all other aspects of the created world. “Holy, holy, holy” is not just repetition; it is emphasis. It isn’t one + one + one; it’s perfection x perfection x perfection.

No other threefold adjective appears in the entire OT. God alone is God. He is not like us, only bigger and nicer. He is in a different category. He is holy.

The necessary first step before any true confession of sin is having an understanding of the glory and holiness of Almighty God who rules the heavens and the earth.

Not rapture but terror. When Isaiah saw God in all of his majesty and glory (6:1-4), it produced not rapture but sheer terror (Isa 6:5a). He knows himself to be utterly ruined and his absolute need for deliverance because he is unclean (6:5b). Before the presence of God Isaiah identifies himself so completely with those whose sins he has been denouncing throughout chapters 1-5. Before God degrees of sin become irrelevant.

Purely by grace. Isaiah is cleansed, not by his own efforts, but purely by the grace of God (6:6-7). The removal of guilt indicates that the consequent punishment will not be exacted from Isaiah. The same grace is available to Israel as a whole (Isa 1:18), but by their arrogance they cut themselves off from it.

The messenger is just as guilty as his congregation. Isaiah's words and message will be those of a forgiven man (6:7), himself as guilty as those to whom he will offer life or death.

Experience fire before cleansing. It is characteristic that judgment is prominent in the cleansing. The fiery messenger and burning coal must have seemed at first anything but salvation (Isa 4:4), yet they come from the place of sacrifice and spoke the language of atonement. Fire, in the OT, is not a cleansing agent but the expression of the active, even hostile, holiness of God (Gen 3:24; Num 11:1-3; Dt 4:12, 33, 36).

Brought in to be sent out. The immediate effect of atonement is reconciliation (Isa 6:8). Being joined to God means joining a missionary society. Isaiah has been brought in in order to be sent out. Isaiah first saw the Lord far off (Isa 6:1), but now he is near enough to hear the divine musing (6:8). He had once been silenced by sin (Isa 6:5), but as the redeemed sinner he is free to speak. The God who shuts him out with smoke (Isa 6:4) has brought him home.

Hard and calloused hearts. 6:9-13 reveal that Isaiah's message is essentially one of judgment. It is described more in terms of its effects rather than its content: it will harden hearts (9-10). The very unresponsiveness of the people show that they have chosen arrogance and indifference. They will thus experience devastation and exile (11-12). Isaiah's messages will simply confirm the hardened hearts of those who are already refusing to listen to God. In short, God warns Isaiah that there will be no positive results in the hearts of many who will listen to what Isaiah says. Instead of bringing conviction, humility, and confession of sins, Isaiah's divine messages will have the primary effect of hardening people or confirming their hardened unwillingness to respond positively to God. These people have repeatedly chosen to refuse to follow God. For most of them it is past the time of repentance; the time of judgment is at hand. Those who think of God as one who offers only grace and mercy may have trouble accepting this image of God. Isaiah 1-5 give ample evidence of the people's refusal to follow God.

Isaiah was a man with:
  1. a big vision of God (1-4).
  2. a deep awareness of his own sinfulness (5).
  3. a profound experience of the grace of God (6-7).
  4. a willingness to spend and be spent in God's service, whatever the cost (8).
Isaiah 6 towers like a majestic peak and is of central importance in the book of Isaiah. It records a pivotal turning point in Judah's history and marks a new era in Isaiah's preaching. The experience of having a glimpse of the majesty of God's glory dramatically impacted his theology and caused him to understand God's purpose for his life in a new way. The prologue or introduction (ch. 1-5) of Isaiah culminates in Isaiah's call to ministry.