Vision of Jehovah in His Temple.
Isaiah is outside, near the altar in front of the
temple. The doors are supposed to open, and the veil hiding the Holy of
Holies to be withdrawn, unfolding to his view a vision of God
represented as an Eastern monarch, attended by seraphim as His
ministers of state (1Ki 22:19),
and with a robe and flowing train (a badge of dignity in the East),
which filled the temple. This assertion that he had seen God was,
according to tradition (not sanctioned by Isa 1:1; see Introduction), the pretext for sawing him
asunder in Manasseh's reign (Heb 11:37). Visions often occur in the other
prophets: in Isaiah there is only this one, and it is marked by
characteristic clearness and simplicity.
1. In … year … Uzziah
died—Either literal death, or civil when he
ceased as a leper to exercise his functions as king [Chaldee],
26:19-21). 754 B.C. [Calmet] 758
(Common Chronology). This is not the first beginning of Isaiah's
prophecies, but his inauguration to a higher degree of the prophetic
6:9, &c., implies the
tone of one who had already experience of the people's obstinacy.
Lord—here Adonai, Jehovah in
Isa 6:5; Jesus Christ is meant as
speaking in Isa 6:10,
according to Joh 12:41.
Isaiah could only have "seen" the Son, not the divine essence
1:18). The words in Isa 6:10 are attributed by Paul (Ac 28:25,
26) to the Holy Ghost.
Thus the Trinity in unity is implied; as also by the thrice "Holy"
6:3). Isaiah mentions the
robes, temple, and seraphim, but not the form of God Himself. Whatever
it was, it was different from the usual Shekinah: that was on the mercy
seat, this on a throne; that a cloud and fire, of this no form is
specified: over that were the cherubim, over this the seraphim; that
had no clothing, this had a flowing robe and train.
2. stood—not necessarily the posture of
standing; rather, were in attendance on Him [Maurer], hovering on expanded wings.
the—not in the Hebrew.
seraphim—nowhere else applied to God's
attendant angels; but to the fiery flying (not winged, but
rapidly moving) serpents, which bit the Israelites (Nu 21:6), called so from the poisonous
inflammation caused by their bites. Seraph is to burn;
implying the burning zeal, dazzling brightness (2Ki 2:11; 6:17; Eze 1:13; Mt 28:3) and serpent-like rapidity of the
seraphim in God's service. Perhaps Satan's form as a serpent
(nachash) in his appearance to man has some connection with his
original form as a seraph of light. The head of the serpent was the
symbol of wisdom in Egypt (compare Nu 21:8; 2Ki
18:4). The seraphim, with six
wings and one face, can hardly be identified with the cherubim, which
had four wings (in the temple only two) and four faces (Eze 1:5-12). (But compare Re 4:8). The "face" and "feet" imply a human
form; something of a serpentine form (perhaps a basilisk's head, as in
the temples of Thebes) may have been mixed with it: so the cherub was
compounded of various animal forms. However, seraph may come from a
root meaning "princely," applied in Da 10:13 to Michael [Maurer]; just as cherub comes from a root (changing
m into b), meaning "noble."
twain—Two wings alone of the six were
kept ready for instant flight in God's service; two veiled their faces
as unworthy to look on the holy God, or pry into His secret counsels
which they fulfilled (Ex 3:6; Job 4:18; 15:15); two covered their feet, or rather the
whole of the lower parts of their persons—a practice usual
in the presence of Eastern monarchs, in token of reverence (compare
1:11, their bodies).
Man's service a fortiori consists in reverent waiting on, still
more than in active service for, God.
3. (Re 4:8). The
Trinity is implied (on "Lord," see on Isa 6:1).
God's holiness is the keynote of Isaiah's whole prophecies.
whole earth—the Hebrew more
emphatically, the fulness of the whole earth is His glory
4. posts of … door—rather,
foundations of the thresholds.
smoke—the Shekinah cloud (1Ki 8:10; Eze
5. undone—(Ex 33:20). The same effect was produced on others
by the presence of God (Jud 6:22; 13:22; Job
42:5, 6; Lu 5:8; Re 1:17).
lips—appropriate to the context which
describes the praises of the lips, sung in alternate responses
(Ex 15:20, 21; Isa 6:3) by the seraphim: also appropriate to
the office of speaking as the prophet of God, about to be
committed to Isaiah (Isa 6:9).
seen—not strictly Jehovah Himself
(Joh 1:18; 1Ti 6:16), but the symbol of His presence.
6. unto me—The seraph had been in the
temple, Isaiah outside of it.
live coal—literally, "a hot stone,"
used, as in some countries in our days, to roast meat with, for
example, the meat of the sacrifices. Fire was a symbol of purification,
as it takes the dross out of metals (Mal 3:2, 3).
the altar—of burnt offering, in the
court of the priests before the temple. The fire on it was at first
kindled by God (Le 9:24), and
was kept continually burning.
7. mouth … lips—(See on Isa 6:5). The mouth was touched because it was the
part to be used by the prophet when inaugurated. So
"tongues of fire" rested on the disciples (Ac 2:3, 4) when they were being set apart to
speak in various languages of Jesus.
iniquity—conscious unworthiness of
acting as God's messenger.
purged—literally, "covered," that is,
expiated, not by any physical effect of fire to cleanse from sin, but
in relation to the altar sacrifices, of which Messiah, who here
commissions Isaiah, was in His death to be the antitype: it is implied
hereby that it is only by sacrifice sin can be pardoned.
8. I … us—The change of number
indicates the Trinity (compare Ge 1:26; 11:7). Though not a sure argument for
the doctrine, for the plural may indicate merely majesty, it
accords with that truth proved elsewhere.
Whom … who—implying that
few would be willing to bear the self-denial which the
delivering of such an unwelcome message to the Jews would require on
the part of the messenger (compare 1Ch 29:5).
Here am I—prompt zeal, now that he has
been specially qualified for it (Isa 6:7; compare 1Sa 3:10, 11; Ac 9:6).
9. Hear … indeed—Hebrew,
"In hearing hear," that is, Though ye hear the prophet's
warnings again and again, ye are doomed, because of your
perverse will (Joh 7:17),
not to understand. Light enough is given in revelation to guide
those sincerely seeking to know, in order that they may
do, God's will; darkness enough is left to confound the wilfully
43:8). So in Jesus' use of
parables (Mt 13:14).
see … indeed—rather, "though ye
see again and again," yet, &c.
10. Make … fat—(Ps 119:17). "Render them the more hardened by thy
warnings" [Maurer]. This effect is the
fruit, not of the truth in itself, but of the corrupt state of
their hearts, to which God here judicially gives them over
63:17). Gesenius takes the imperatives as futures. "Proclaim
truths, the result of which proclamation will be their
becoming the more hardened" (Ro 1:28; Eph 4:18); but this does not so well as the
former set forth God as designedly giving up sinners to
judicial hardening (Ro 11:8; 2Th 2:11). In the first member of the sentence,
the order is, the heart, ears, eyes; in the latter, the reverse
order, the eyes, ears, heart. It is from the heart that
corruption flows into the ears and eyes (Mr 7:21, 22); but through the eyes and ears
healing reaches the heart (Ro 10:17), [Bengel]. (Jer
5:21; Eze 12:2; Zec 7:11; Ac 7:57; 2Ti 4:4). In Mt 13:15, the words are quoted in the
indicative, "is waxed gross" (so the Septuagint),
not the imperative, "make fat"; God's word as to the future is
as certain as if it were already fulfilled. To see with one's
eyes will not convince a will that is opposed to the truth (compare
Joh 11:45, 46; 12:10, 11). "One must love divine things in
order to understand them" [Pascal].
be healed—of their spiritual malady,
sin (Isa 1:6; Ps 103:3; Jer 17:14).
11. how long—will this wretched
condition of the nation being hardened to its destruction continue?
until—(Isa 5:9)—fulfilled primarily at the
Babylonish captivity, and more fully at the dispersion under the Roman
12. (2Ki 25:21).
forsaking—abandonment of dwellings by
their inhabitants (Jer 4:29).
13. and it shall return, and … be
eaten—Rather, "but it shall be again given over to
be consumed": if even a tenth survive the first destruction, it
shall be destroyed by a second (Isa 5:25; Eze 5:1-5, 12), [Maurer and Horsley].
In English Version, "return" refers to the poor remnant left in
the land at the Babylonish captivity (2Ki 24:14; 25:12), which afterwards fled to Egypt in fear
25:26), and subsequently
returned thence along with others who had fled to Moab and Edom
40:11, 12), and suffered
under further divine judgments.
tell—rather, "terebinth" or
"turpentine tree" (Isa 1:29).
substance … when … cast …
leaves—rather, "As a terebinth or oak in which,
when they are cast down (not 'cast their leaves,' Job 14:7), the trunk or stock
remains, so the holy seed (Ezr 9:2) shall be the stock of that
land." The seeds of vitality still exist in both the land and the
scattered people of Judea, waiting for the returning spring of God's
favor (Ro 11:5, 23-29). According to Isaiah, not all Israel,
but the elect remnant alone, is destined to salvation. God shows
unchangeable severity towards sin, but covenant faithfulness in
preserving a remnant, and to it Isaiah bequeaths the prophetic legacy
of the second part of his book (the fortieth through sixty-sixth