This is a familiar scene, filled with awe as Isaiah reveals a scene from heaven, where the glory of God is overwhelming; Isaiah struggles with words to portray what he has seen. The three-times holy reinforces the unbroachable gap between Creator and creature. Holy refers to being set apart from something. Natural man cannot approach God any more than a fish can approach an eagle. The eagle can swoop low and snatch up a fish; so God in Christ was brought low in order to snatch up sinners.
A side note: in verse 1 we read that robe of God filled the temple. The Hebrew word is “seam” – as of the seam of His robe fills the temple. Again, I see this as indicating God is simply beyond our comprehension. We can understand Him in part, but full knowledge of Him is beyond us.
Isaiah 6:4 (HCSB) “The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices.” I think the author of Hebrews was pondering this when the Spirit gave him this: Hebrews 12:25-29 (HCSB) “Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
Isaiah was undone, ruined, because he was “a man of unclean lips in a nation of unclean lips.” A Scripture reference to this is Exodus 6:12 & 30, where Moses tries to excuse himself from service to God in speaking to Israel (verse 12) and to Pharaoh (verse 30) because he is a man of uncircumcised lips. The remedy for Moses and the nation of Israel was not for the males to be circumcised in the flesh, but for them all to be circumcised of the heart (Deut 10:16), which would be done by God. The remedy for Isaiah was to have his lips cleansed with fire – both of these point to the regeneration by the Spirit, wherein we are cleansed from sin by the imputed righteousness of God and circumcised without human hands.
Isaiah, called of God, agrees to serve Him – no excuses. Here we read of encouragement to gospel preachers.
Isaiah 6:9-10 (HCSB) “And He replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. Dull the minds of these people; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed.”
Contrary to the disciples of Osteen, Hybels, Warren, and the SBC leadership, those who proclaim the gospel of Christ are not to be concerned with the opinions and responses of sinful man; we are to be faithful to the One Who called us.
Isaiah didn’t shrink back but did ask, “for how long, Lord?” Isaiah 6:11-12 (HCSB) “And He replied: Until cities lie in ruins without inhabitants, houses are without people, the land is ruined and desolate, and the LORD drives the people far away, leaving great emptiness in the land.”
YHWH will drive the people out, leaving the land empty and the house of Israel desolate. So we are to be consistent and faithful in preaching His Word, even if people are driven away and the temporal signs of wealth fall away.
Isaiah 6:13 (HCSB) “Though a tenth will remain in the land, it will be burned again. Like the terebinth or the oak that leaves a stump when felled, the holy seed is the stump.”
A tenth (remnant) will still be in the land, as Paul wrote: Romans 11:5 (HCSB) “In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.” But though a remnant remains, “the land it will be burned again” – the judgment of God will consume all, as when He returns to judge the nations and make all things new.
Peter agrees: 2 Peter 3:10-13 (HCSB) “But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that ⌊day⌋ the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, ⌊it is clear⌋ what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.”
No matter what goes on in this age, on this earth, our call is be fixed in Christ, focused on Christ, holy in conduct (not like the world!) and godliness (like Christ!) as we wait for and EARNESTLY desire His return.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 (HCSB) “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”