Genre: Prophetic, Narrative
The passage portrays the revelation of God’s holiness to Isaiah, his response to God’s calling and the warnings that were to be pronounced to His people.
Isaiah’s Commission falls under the ‘Judgment’ Division of the whole book. This section emphasizes God’s judgment against Judah and Jerusalem. Portrayed here as well is Isaiah’s role in reminding the inhabitants of this place to turn back to God lest they face downfall.*
3. Isaiah responded to God’s calling of reminding His people to turn back to Him. This incident happened the year King Uzziah died and when a generation of unclean lips inhabit the place where Isaiah resided. The commissioning happened inside the temple, upon the altar.
God, Isaiah, Seraphims
Jewish Temple, upon the altar
Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne 1-3
Isaiah, seeing the Lord’s holiness, was convicted of his filthiness 4-5
Atonement was given upon the acknowledgement of Isaiah’s guilt 6-7
Isaiah responded to God’s calling 8
The condition of God’s people was revealed, along with the healing that God offers 9-10
The account happened in day, the year King Uzziah died.
1. Matthew 13:13-17 – Isaiah 6:9-10
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained why He uses Parables—to disclose the knowledge of the Kingdom of God. The passage ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving...’pertains to the unbelieving Jews, who hear the parables but don’t really get the message that lies beneath. The prophecy Isaiah was pertaining to came to pass in this generation.
2. Acts 28:26-28 – Isaiah 6:9-10
During the apostles’ ministry to the Jews, the same statement (‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving...’) was seen to be fulfilled. Unconvinced with the gospel message, they left Paul. What has happened truly attested to the condition of their hearts—closed and calloused.
1. Knowledge of the Kingdom of God
In Matthew 13:13-17, Jesus stated His reason for using parables, and that is to disclose the secrets of the Kingdom of God to those who believe Him. Those who ‘hear but never understand, see but never perceive’ are those who haven’t turned to Him. When a parable is stated, the believer gets what lies beneath the surface and the unbelieving ‘hears’ what is just plainly said.
2. Turning back to God
Callousness prevents a person from understanding God’s message. During Isaiah’s time, if the inhabitants of Jerusalem turned back to God, they will get healed. In our time, putting our faith in Jesus reconciles us to God. He is the only One who could tenderize our hearts and heal us from spiritual blindness.
3. God’s Holiness and man’s depravity
Upon seeing God’s holiness, Isaiah exclaimed, “Woe to me... for I am a man of unclean lips." (v.5) This scenario can be compared with one’s conversion to Christ. When a person gets to know how holy God is and how high His standards are, he sees his real condition as well—sinful and one who has fallen short of His glory.
The seraphim’s act of taking tongs from the altar and putting it on Isaiah’s lips is a picture of God’s initiative of reaching out to His people that they might experience reconciliation to Him, thus be used by Him (‘Here am I, send me’). Here the term ‘atonement’ was mentioned:
"See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." V.6
Upon having a realization of Isaiah’s sinfulness, God offered him cleansing. Upon Christ’s death, reconcilitation with God can be experienced by man. One has to put his faith on Christ and His act of atonement to experience this.
The realization of one’s sinfulness and the offer of atonement both spring from God’s initiative.