A Holy God, An Unclean People

Isaiah 6:1-13

A white flag – something we all recognize, know what it means, understand it fits in a particular kind of setting. Snowball fight in the back yard – sovereign nations lined up on opposite sides of a boundary – white flag presumes conflict. Same is true when emissary comes with message of peace; implies war of some sort. 2000 years ago, when army appeared in sky with the lead spokes-Angel, brought a message of peace. Would have been irrelevant if there weren’t a war.

Shepherds were in middle of global conflict, so are we and likewise Isaiah. In fact, Isaiah was God’s man to serve as the point man for a time in war that is nearly as old as humanity. In a God-given vision Isaiah saw and heard clearly what the conflict was all about. Isaiah also shown what would bring an end to conflict and sad truth that many would not embrace God’s terms for peace. In fact, he was told majority of people he prophesied to would reject his message.

Tough news – you volunteer for a job, then are told that by human standards of measurement you’ll be a failure. Isaiah experienced something, believed something that made him hang in there anyway, even when told failure applied not only to him but those in later generations also.

A. the prophet’s vision v.1-4

glorious sovereign majesty

high and lofty

King Uzziah had just died, political change/upheaval in Jerusalem; King of kings still firmly enthroned above all

not sharing authority – train filled temple

even if someone wanted, no room for them to stand in throne room; has both power and authority to carry out his purposes

God with his people

may be a temple in heaven, but no altar there; no need for sacrifice there, only here

signifies he is not with his people to destroy but to reconcile. Learn from apostle (John 12:41) this one Isaiah saw in vision none other than the Lord Jesus, God the Son, sent 700 years after Isaiah to do his work of redemption.

angelic attendants

reverently humble

covering face and feet, mindful of distance between Creator and creature; even if heavenly being designed for life in God’s immediate presence. No “hey homey” or high-fives or easy familiarity here or on Isaiah’s part either.

ready to serve

having wings to fly; shown by response to Isaiah’s cry of woe later in v.6

perpetual praise

emphasizing God’s distinguishing characteristic. Seraphs had “inside view” of glory of God, fuller and less restricted even than Moses on the mountain. Overcome with God’s superlative holiness, his glory; seeing glory of Creator in all his works, described as filling the earth. God’s glory – the revealing, the display of his attributes: infinity, immutability, perfection, eternity, immensity, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, justice,……

declaration of his character


perfect, self-existent (independent of his creation), completely free and separate from what is sinful. When confronted by clear sight/understanding of God’s holiness, man is acutely aware of his own lack of holiness.

B. the prophet’s response v.5-8

feeling of impending doom/destruction – woe; how can I experience this and survive?

identified the problem

his sinfulness in presence of God’s holiness – when Isaiah saw God, he saw himself. ” ‘I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’”

acknowledged he was completely at the mercy of the LORD of hosts

under the authority and at the disposal of Sovereign God who had rights of ownership and rulership. God made all, sustains all, governs all, has right and power to do as he chooses with his creation

received remedy required by God’s terms of peace

symbolic, giving Isaiah assurance of forgiveness. Coal coming from the altar signified necessity of sacrifice for forgiveness – foreshadowed in Old Testament animals, full and final in the Lord Jesus

immediate response – I’ll go.

didn’t matter where or for what purpose. All that mattered was that he would be doing God’s bidding, serving God in some capacity.

C. the people’s need v.5, 7, 10

Isaiah didn’t think himself better or worse than fellow Jews – all in same boat: I have this problem, the people I live with have the same problem (v.5). They didn’t need more time, more things, more hard work, more successes. Needed what they could not provide for themselves, what must come from another source.


not external impurity, has to do with moral condition. Result of failure to achieve God’s standard: perfection. God doesn’t grade on a curve, it’s pass/fail. Only one passed, the Lord Jesus (outcome never in doubt); the rest fail – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).


if the people had sinned against God (anything we say, think, do…) God can’t simply overlook it; would be unjust. God couldn’t write it off like a bad debt, someone had to pay penalty. Because Lord Jesus would pay penalty for sin in full, seraph could take message from God to Isaiah – you are forgiven.

seeing and hearing and understanding

in order to be cleansed, forgiven, had to: see the need, hear the remedy, understand they had only one option – God’s way. This was what Isaiah experienced – saw both God’s holiness and his utter lack of it (not that he wasn’t a nice guy, just wasn’t morally perfect); heard God’s remedy of forgiveness granted to one who repented and trusted God for acceptance and a future; understood the message and acted on it.


disease of the soul – not something fixed by pills or poultices or hot packs or prostheses. No CAT or PET scan or MRI or X-ray or endoscopy can find and fix the disease. Only one in the universe specializes in soul medicine – God. Only He can give necessary healing, point you in right direction for future.

Have you heard God’s call and turned to him in repentance? Like Isaiah, he calls you to life of faithfulness, not success. Proclaim the message of the Gospel, the good news of salvation by faith in Christ, by word and life. Live pleasing to God trusting he will give strength to do so, leave results of your witness to him.

Have you heard God’s call and responded by saying, “I’m good, thanks. Things are kinda busy right now. Check with me later.” It’s later. You have no guarantee of your next breath or tomorrow or next week or next year. Because the Lord Jesus took on human form, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died and rose again to save his people from sin, you can receive cleansing and forgiveness and healing if you will turn to him in faith.



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