Isaiah 6 Study Notes


6:1-13 Most prophets record a time when God called them to their ministry. Moses received God’s call at the burning bush (Ex 3). Jeremiah heard God tell him that he had been chosen from the womb to deliver a message of judgment and salvation to the nations (Jr 1:4-10). Ezekiel experienced an incredible vision while in exile in Babylon (Ezk 1:4-3:27). Isaiah received his commissioning vision in the temple, but in his vision the temple was transformed into the throne room of heaven itself.

6:1 King Uzziah (called “Azariah” in 2Kg 15:1) died about 740 BC. He had been a relatively good king, and did “what was right in the Lord’s sight” (2Kg 15:3), though he did not remove the high places. God also blessed Uzziah’s reign with prosperity and military success. His death, coupled with the rise of Assyria, created great uncertainty in Judah. Note that God is so great that just the hem of his robe filled the temple.

6:2 The seraphim were angelic creatures of great power and importance. Their name means “burning ones,” and the implication of fire evokes thoughts of danger and mystery. Covering their eyes shielded them from the brilliance of the divine glory. Covering their feet (possibly used here as a euphemism) may have been a posture of submission.

6:3 The word holy spoken three times is emphatic or superlative and points to God’s otherness. He is completely separated from anything profane or sinful. His sovereignty is underlined by the fact that his glory filled the whole earth.

6:4 It was probably the entire building that was shaking to its foundations at the thunderous hymn sung by the seraphim. The smoke was likely incense, which cloaked Isaiah’s vision in mystery.

6:5 In the presence of such holiness, Isaiah felt the weight of his own sinfulness. He feared for himself because he knew that God did not tolerate uncleanness in his presence.

6:6-7 God prepared Isaiah by cleansing his lips, the instrument by which he would execute his prophetic task. He did this symbolically by having one of his seraphim touch the prophet’s lips with a burning coal. Fire can purify (Nm 31:22-23), and this burning coal was taken from the altar where sacrifices were offered to atone for sin (1Ch 6:49).

6:8 Isaiah’s readiness to serve contrasts with the reluctance of Moses and Jeremiah (Ex 4:1-17; Jr 1:6).

6:9-10 Isaiah was a prophet with a message of judgment. God’s commission recognized that, because of its sin, Israel’s healing could only come about through their punishment. Isaiah’s message from God would serve only to distance them even more from God. These verses are quoted in the NT to explain why Jesus taught in parables (Mt 13:14-15; Mk 4:12; Lk 8:10) and to explain the people’s lack of response to the gospel (Jn 12:40; Ac 28:26-27).

6:11-13 From the start Isaiah knew that his message would not lead God’s people to repentance. They would experience destruction. Even so, a remnant would survive. This remnant is pictured as a stump that is left after a mighty tree falls.