The Call (Isaiah 6): Woe to Me! Send Me!

Isaiah 6:1-13
"I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne..." "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips ... and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isa 6:1, 5, 8, NIV).

Ponder and ask yourself:
  • Have you heard "the call"?
  • Have you "seen" God? Have you seen the Lord? Do you really want to see God?
  • Have you felt woe? Doomed by your sins?
  • Do you have a sense of what your specific calling is?
  1. Confronting a vision of God (1-4): Confronts a vision.
  2. Conviction and confession (5): Confesses his sin.
  3. Cleansing and consecration (6-7): Cleansed by grace.
  4. Calling and commissioning (8-13): Called by God.
  • Calling (8).
  • Caution (9-10): Cautioned about people.
  • Context (11-13): Context explained.

  1. There are very few dates elsewhere in Isaiah, so why might Isaiah have dated his experience (1a, 5b; Jn 12:41)? How do you think one sees God (Mt 5:8)? Have you seen the Lord?
  2. What does "high and exalted," "sitting on a throne" convey (1b)? What does this say about the identity of the Servant in 52:13 (57:15)? If the hem of his robe filled the temple (1c), how big was the Lord? Why do you think that this is the only description of God in the poem (Ex 24:10)?
  3. Why do you think the seraphim covered their faces and feet (2)? What is the appropriate attitude of worship?
  4. 6:3 says two things about Yahweh. One has to do with his essence: The Holiest One. The other has to do with his relationship to creation. What is the point of this latter statement (Isa 11:9; 40:5)?
  5. How loud was the cry of the seraphim (4; Ps 19:1–3)? What affect does "filling with smoke" convey?
  6. Why do you think Isaiah reacted in such a strong way (5; Gen 32:30; Ex 33:20)? What does seeing the King have to do with it (Lk 5:8)? Why doesn't he say "a man of unclean heart" (Mt 15:18)? Why does he include the people? Why does he repeat "Lord of Hosts" (Lord Almighty, Lord of Heaven's Armies) from the cry of the seraphim? Have you felt woe? Have you felt doomed by your sins?
  7. What is the significance of a coal from the altar touching Isaiah's lips (6–7)? How hot was the coal? What is the part of fire in all of this? What kind of an experience was it? Fun? Has God revealed sin to you in order to remove it?
  8. Why does Isaiah only now hear God speak (8)? Why doesn't God speak directly to Isaiah? Why does Isaiah respond so readily? Have you heard "the call"? Do you have a sense of what your specific calling is?
  9. Why would God say such a thing (9–10)? Does God not want the people to be healed? How might Bible study make a person worse? How might this be a caution to yourself? Why do you think the New Testament quotes these verses so frequently (Mt 13:14-15; Mk 4:12; Lk 8:10; Jn 12:39-40; Ac 28:26-27; also Rom 11:7; 2 Cor 3:14)?
  10. What does Isaiah's question say about the level of his commitment (11a)? (What questions might you/I have asked?!)
  11. Why was the destruction to be so thorough (11b-13a)? What is God's intended last word (13b; Job 14:7–9)?
  1. Confronts a vision (1-4).
  2. Confesses his sin (5).
  3. Cleansed by grace (6-7). God reveals sin in order to remove sin.
  4. Called by God (8).
  5. Cautioned about people (9-10).
  6. Context explained (11-13).