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Lowell Brueckner

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I Saw the Lord


Remember: We will not be writing the whole portion of Scripture in the article, so you will have to have your Bible open and follow along, as I attempt an expository lesson. 

8. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 6

I wonder if Isaiah had any idea how many people in all the world and at different times would read and marvel at this account of his calling. It is probably the chapter of this book that is most preached, only exceeded by chapter 53. It is the personal testimony of the calling from the Almighty that began his prophetic ministry. His calling was timely, necessary and purposeful.

Men disappoint us

He was being prepared during the long reign of King Uzziah, which was for the most part good. As happens in the case of so many who taste the blessing of God and experience success, Uzziah became proud and thought himself indispensable. He took the responsibility out of God’s hands and went beyond his limitations. He was not the only king, who attempted to presume the duties of a priest. Israel’s first king, Saul, made that fatal error and immediately lost favor with God. The road of self-importance is a dangerous one to take. Uzziah became a leper, was placed in quarantine and his son took on the administrative responsibilities.

…And he died, like the poor mortal being that he was. Show us, Isaiah, the true picture of our life and end every one, and help us, oh God, not to forget: “All flesh is grass and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades” (40:6, 7). In the year of Uzziah’s death, God raised up Isaiah, to bring the necessary word from God, a living word that accomplished His purposes for Israel in that day and continues over the centuries to this day. This is the word that was so honored by Jesus and His apostle, Paul. It was the one book that was preserved in its entirety in a cave above the Dead Sea for over 20 centuries.

A high and mighty concept of God

Isaiah has observed the lesson of Uzziah and many other things from the Israel of his day, but he is not ready yet to perform in the office of a prophet. He needs to be placed directly in the presence of the King of Kings to experience His glory. He needs to see the sovereign King, who sits on the throne and reigns, after earth’s rulers and nations pass into oblivion. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (v.1). It is not enough to speak or write, the word must imprint the soul and penetrate to the core of the personality through personal encounter. From this experience came Isaiah’s favorite term in referring to God: The Holy One of Israel.

Behind this experience is a principle that determines the true state of the church and every individual Christian. It certainly regulates the power of the word that flows through the mouth of the one, who delivers it to the people. Let us not assume that the word by itself will impact the hearts of the hearers, without the driving force of the anointed lips of human vessels. We have often heard it said that it is only our responsibility to tell the truth; after that God is in charge of the results. Though it bears a certain particle of truth, this saying serves better to excuse the impoverished speaker for his powerless performance.

Here is the sad and tragic truth concerning preachers, the individual Christian and the body of believers today, according to A.W. Tozer in his great book, The Knowledge of the Holy: “It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.” Having lived through those middle years of the 20th Century, I can testify that the concept of God in general has not improved over the past 50-60 years. It has markedly declined to yet a lower level.

If His train fills the temple, then it is easily deduced that the temple must be emptied of all else. For that reason, Jesus went angrily through His Father’s house, driving out every vestige of distraction from the worship of the godhead. There cannot be fullness, until there is first a discharge of every attraction and idol in the temple of the Holy Spirit. The One on the throne is not called Jehovah in this place, but Adonai: the Lord, Master, Sovereign ruler, Provider. “Isaiah,” wrote the apostle John, “saw His glory, and he spoke of Him” (Jn.12:41). John was speaking of Jesus. When He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high after His ascension, He sat again, where He sat before, when Isaiah saw Him high and lofty.  

This initial experience was the reason behind every success in Isaiah’s ministry in his day, and, by the inspired written word, to our day.  Isaiah also saw exalted attendants, who served as a royal guard, above the charge of the hosts of angels (v.2). We have no idea of the number of them, but they are described as six-winged beings and their name means ‘burning ones’. They have two wings to cover their lower bodies in decency, two to cover their faces in awe, and two to carry out divine orders with rapidity.  They remind us that full service to God requires decency and awe in His presence, as well as swift obedience.

God’s holiness in contrast to man’s sinfulness

Many years ago, I was taught to carefully notice that the cry, which is drawn from the innermost beings of heaven’s mightiest and most glorious creatures is not “Love, love, love”. The chief preoccupation in celestial realms is His holiness: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (v.3). It is the praise of the living creatures in heaven heard by John in the book of Revelation 4:8, as well. Heaven is primarily concerned with the thrice-holy God and the compromise of His holiness in that realm is unthinkable. “Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life… outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying” (Rev.21:27, 22:15).

The Lord is sovereign on earth, as well as in heaven, and we are involved in making His glory known below, as in verse 4, in smoke and shaking power. The hearts of God’s people today need to blend with Isaiah’s: “Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence - as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil - to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!” (ch.64:1-2). We should be consumed with the need for days of heaven upon earth.

What is the proper human response to a powerful revelation of the glory of Christ, penetrating into the depths of the human heart? “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (v.5). Here is another woe to add to those of chapter 5. It is the woe of the convicted sinner, seeing no hope in himself or from anyone around, to rebuild his ruined soul. Job saw Him: “My eye sees You. Therefore I loathe and abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Peter saw him and exclaimed:  “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Lk.5:8). Saul of Tarsus saw Him: “Brighter than the sun, shining all around me… and when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying… ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth’” (Ac.26:13-15). So also did John see Him: “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man” (Rev.1:17).

There is no earthly remedy for those cut down and slain by the Spirit of God and, in fact, they will never be the same again. They are crucified with Christ. A burning one comes to Isaiah with a burning coal and touches his mouth (v.6-7). With that one heavenly, supernatural touch, “your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven”, provision was made for his sin, by the One who sat on the throne in glory. The high and lofty One descended from His throne, “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped… He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil.2:6. 8).

Would you please notice that Isaiah must say “amen” to all that is happening to him at this time? “‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I, Send me!’” (v.8). Man becomes aware of the great, eternal purposes of the Almighty, unfolding in his life, and he makes a positive response. “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision,” said Paul and Mary said, Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” The Lord said, “Who will go for Us?” He did not say, “Who will go for Me?” Every open, believing heart will see the trinity involved in all the works of God, from creation to the cross and beyond.

An unpopular message

As I heard someone say recently, “Verse eight is the place, where preachers close their message.” Without going into too much more detail, we will take notice that the Lord informs Isaiah, through the rest of the chapter, of the people’s future rejection of his message. It’s not a very encouraging prospect. From the beginning he knows that he has an unpopular and discouraging ministry to carry out. Every true prophet of God had to struggle with an obstinate majority most of the time. They wouldn’t listen, refused to understand, opposed, persecuted and sometimes killed them. Yet he responded and yet he preached, because his goal was not to gain the approval of the masses, or to turn the world right side-up, but to please the one, who had called him. In Paul’s words to Timothy, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus… so that (we) he may please the one who enlisted him (us) as a soldier” (2 Tim.2:3-4).

Strange as it may seem, the message of Isaiah was intended so that people would not perceive or understand (v.9), so that they would become insensitive with dull ears and dim eyes. It actually would prevent them from hearing and understanding, so that they would not be healed! (v.10). That only seems strange, until we hear Jesus saying the same thing, concerning His ministry. “I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Mt.13:13) and He went on to quote exactly what we are reading in Isaiah 6:10. The multitudes did not and could not comprehend the words of Jesus. The parables were designed and delivered for that purpose. He terminated His parables saying, “He who has ears, let him hear” (Mt.13:43). Then a few humble and open people came to Him privately to be taught.

So it was with Isaiah, so it was with Christ, and so it is in our day. The gospel only falls rightly upon prepared ears and the rest are hardened. Men do not have in themselves the capability to train their own hearts and ears to seek after God. They are fallen creatures, who not only cannot save themselves, but they cannot even take the first step in God’s direction. They cannot seek, they cannot understand, they cannot repent, and they cannot believe. That is the state of fallen man, and no one can ever be saved, until God initiates a work within them. That’s the plain teaching of Paul and before we ever begin to evangelize, we had better know it… and we had better pray that God will prepare hearts.

In Israel, as we have been learning, judgment was going to fall and desolation would take place (v.11). Men would be carried away into captivity (v.12) and then further judgment would fall and finally only a remnant would be left… a stump, a holy seed, from which a shoot could spring (v.13). Isaiah’s loyalty had to be in the high and lofty One, who was revealed to him. His joy was in the remnant, who understood and received his message.


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