What does Isaiah 6:1 mean?
ESV: In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
NIV: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
NASB: In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
CSB: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple.
NLT: It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.
KJV: In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Isaiah's book takes a sudden turn in chapter 6. After the previous five chapters of prophecy and judgment, the author suddenly stops to give his credentials. It's as if he's answering the question, "What makes you qualified to tell us that the Lord's judgment is coming?"
Some scholars speculate this chapter was originally meant to be the introduction to the book. Others suggest that Isaiah had been preaching for a while before the Lord officially called him to be a prophet. Many commentators, though, insist that Isaiah 6 fits well both as a conclusion to Isaiah 1–5 and as an introduction to Isaiah 7–12.
Whether or not Isaiah had started preaching before this moment may be uncertain. But this verse makes it clear that his ministry began within a year or so of the death of King Uzziah. Uzziah, also called Azariah, became king of Judah at the age of 16 in 792 BC (2 Chronicles 26:1). He was a godly, effective, and well-respected king and reigned until his death around 740 BC.
We don't know if Isaiah was literally, physically in the temple when he saw what is described in this chapter or if he was elsewhere. In truth, it doesn't matter. His encounter with the Lord and His angels was genuine and set the course for the rest of his life.
The vision is of God, seated on a throne, raised up in the temple. The Lord's kingly garb fills the space. In these times, the longer the train of a royal garment, the more important the one who wore it. Isaiah's description symbolically identifies God as the greatest of all possible kings.
Scripture suggests that those who directly, personally see the Lord God would drop dead. God Himself said so to Moses in Exodus 33:20, "Man shall not see me and live." It was the common understanding of people throughout the Old Testament. Having said that, several people came face-to-face with the "angel of the Lord" throughout Israel's history (e.g., Genesis 16:9–13; Exodus 24:9–11; Judges 6:11–24). The difference seems to be that these appearances were made by God the Son in the form of a human being or angel. Theologians call them "theophanies." This term means appearances made by Christ before He was born as a baby to Mary. Some scholars read John's references to this passage (John 12:38–41) to indicate that Isaiah saw Christ on the throne of heaven in the form of a vision—not a literal face-to-face encounter. This would be why he was spared from death that would come from seeing the full glory of the Godhead with his naked eyes.
It seems significant that the Lord reveals Himself as the king to Isaiah in the year that Uzziah dies. God seems to be emphasizing to Isaiah that He is the one true king of all, no matter who sits on the throne of Judah. Isaiah served as God's messenger to Judah during the times of four of her kings (Isaiah 1:1)
Isaiah 6:1–7 describes Isaiah's call to serve as God's prophet in response to a powerful vision. This vision takes place near the beginning of his ministry, which is also the same year that King Uzziah of Judah dies. In this vision, Isaiah sees the Lord on a throne in His temple. Angelic seraphim call out about God's holiness in voices that shake the building. The prophet is overwhelmed by his own uncleanness. One of the seraph touches his lips with a coal from the altar, pronouncing his sin paid for.
Isaiah 6 describes the vision of God, experienced by Isaiah, which began his work as a prophet. He sees the Lord in royal robes sitting on a throne in the temple. There are angelic seraphim calling out to each other about His holiness. Isaiah is overwhelmed by his own uncleanness until one seraph touches his lips with a burning coal from the altar. With his sin symbolically atoned for, Isaiah volunteers to go to his people on behalf of the Lord. The message he preaches will not penetrate their dull hearts. Yet Isaiah must preach until the judgment comes.
Isaiah 6 seems to answer the question of why Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1) was qualified to speak of Judah's sin and the Lord's coming judgment. The previous five chapters have already been on this topic. Isaiah describes seeing God in the temple on a throne, while hearing seraphim calling out about the Lord's holiness. After his lips are cleansed, Isaiah volunteers to take the Lord's message to his people Judah. The Lord shows Isaiah that message will not be received and that he will preach until the judgment comes. Chapters 7 and 8 detail Isaiah's early prophecies, including a famous prediction about the Messiah.
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
Accessed 2/21/2024 6:34:20 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.