What does Isaiah 6:9 mean?
ESV: And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
NIV: He said, 'Go and tell this people: ''Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
NASB: And He said, 'Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not understand; And keep on looking, but do not gain knowledge.’
CSB: And he replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive.
NLT: And he said, 'Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
KJV: And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Verse Commentary:
Isaiah has eagerly volunteered to go and represent God's message to the people of Judah (Isaiah 6:8). Now the Lord begins to reveal to Isaiah what shape this message will take. It is not the hopeful one.

His first message to the people of Judah would be to tell them not to listen to him. The purpose here is not that God explicitly, forcibly stops people from understanding or repenting. Prophets were sometimes told to deliver messages as if they, themselves, were accomplishing some task (Jeremiah 1:10) He is stating that God's words, through Isaiah, will fall on closed ears. Isaiah was commanded to deliver a message from God but warned that he should not expect them to receive it.

This and the following verse (Isaiah 6:10) show that God knows the people of Judah are already too far gone into their sin to turn back before judgment comes. Still, the Lord will be faithful to tell them the truth, even if He will not help them to act on it. Maybe more importantly, the Lord will be faithful to future generations through Isaiah's messages. They will hear, through Isaiah's writings, both the Lord's call to Judah to repent and the price paid by Judah for refusing to repent.
Verse Context:
Isaiah 6:8–13 finds Isaiah newly cleansed with his sin atoned for. In response to the Lord's question about who to send, Isaiah eagerly volunteers to take God's message to his people in Judah. The Lord reveals to Isaiah that the message will not penetrate the hearts of the people. They will reject the warnings about the coming judgment. Yet they will not be given any excuses. Isaiah must continue to preach until that judgment happens and the land is laid to waste with the people are exiled. A remnant will remain, however.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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).
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