The Berean Expositor
Volume 50 - Page 90 of 185
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circumstances? The commission suggests that there was nothing that could be done. He
saw a need: but to see a need is not, in itself, sufficient. Something more must be `seen'.
There being nothing Isaiah could do, he did the only thing possible, he "took it to the
Lord in prayer". For he was in the Temple, and "in the year that king Uzziah died", he
says, "I saw the Lord". The word `saw' signifies to see clearly. He had a clear concept
of the God Who was to commission him. It can be comparatively easy to see the need,
and equally easy to see (as in the case of Moses) a course of action, which seems to be
reasonable and humanly acceptable; but in addition to seeing the need, there is the
greater need to see the Lord; to have a clear concept of the God we serve. In the Temple
this was granted to Isaiah.
He saw also the contrast between his knowledge of the king who had died, and the
King Who lives forever. He saw the mortal and the Immortal; the leprous and the
glorious; the sinful and the holy. It was the glory and holiness of Jehovah which
impressed him:
"I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the
temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings: with twain he covered
his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried
unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of
his glory" (Isa. 6: 1-3).
He saw also the Lord: as well as a good king who failed at the moment of his
strength, a new king, untried. He saw the King Who reigns forever, Who is also the God
of the Covenant: the Covenant keeping God Who would not fail, no matter what might
After Isaiah's vision his reaction was the reaction of all who clearly see the Lord.
Not, as is often the case today, "Jesus is my Friend", or I smile because God loves me,
truth though these things may be, Isaiah's reaction was:
"Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the
midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts"
(Isa. 6: 5).
This was a depressing picture if ever there was one, a hopeless man surrounded by
hopeless men, faced with the glory and holiness of the unchanging God. Such is the
vision made plain in the cross of Christ. But neither vision ends there.
"Then flew one of the seraphims, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken
with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath
touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged" (6: 6 and 7).
The discerning vision of reality leads to forgiveness; the fire of sacrifice cleanses, the
blood of the cross brings peace and reconciliation. Only then is the man (or woman) God
calls, fit for service, and not until the vision of God's glory and holiness and of man's
weakness and sinfulness has wrought in the man the attitude which can experience the
mercy and forgiveness of God, can he be commissioned for the good works "God hath