Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year that King Uzziah died I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphs; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of Hosts; the whole earth full of His glory. 4 And the doorposts moved at the voice of the one who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts. 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar. 7 And he laid it on my mouth and said, Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.
The prophet Isaiah starts by giving us a timeline of when he was given this vision from God; “in the year that King Uzziah died.” King Uzziah was a strong king and did right in the sight of the Lord until his last year. He reigned for 52 years and His last year God stuck him with leprosy for charging into the temple to offer incense, which was a provision assigned only to God’s priest, and forbidden to anyone else. King Uzziah had a great reputation and his method of death was well known throughout Israel, that when Isaiah wrote; “when King Uzziah died” all who read new exactly what timeline was being referenced. The significance about the timeline is that, according to Saint Jerome; who was a 4th century theologian, historian, and the author of the Latin Vulgate, which was his translation from the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into the Latin language; claims that in the same year King Uzzia died, Romulus was born, who became one of the founders of Rome. Rome became the fifth kingdom God used as His judgment over Israel, which postdated Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Greece. Everything thing that was glorious about Israel died with King Uzziah; and Rome was used as God’s means to destroy the second temple in AD 70, which marked the final abolishment of ceremonial works, and manifested the prophecy of Christ in Matthew 24; ushering in the new covenant of salvation by grace instead of old covenantal justification through ceremonial rituals.
In the vision of Isaiah in Chapter 6:1 he said, “I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.” Isaiah saw Jesus Christ sitting on His throne. We can safely deduce from scripture that this was Christ and not God the Father who Isaiah saw, because Exodus 33:20 reads as God was speaking to Moses; “You cannot see My face. For there no man can see Me and live.” The eyes of man are to corrupt to stand the sight of God’s Holy Glory, that if the Holiness of God were to just appear to us for just the smallest fraction of a second; we would die. Sin cannot survive wherever perfect holiness abounds, and we are that sin that cannot abound in the presence of God’s Holiness.
Isaiah saw the train of Christ as He sat on His temple. The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge defines the Lord’s train as the bottom portion of His robe or garment. In addition; John Gill claims that, His train is perhaps symbolizing all of Christ’s gifts and graces upon His temple, which is the church all over the world. God said in Isaiah 66:1 that; “Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool.” It is my personal belief that the expression from Isaiah may have also been allegoric for the presence of Christ throughout the entire temple, which may also be an extension throughout the entire globe where the presence of God’s Glory may abound, and wherever the Gospel is preached.
Verse 2: Above it stood the Seraph. Or the Seraphim as the King James words it. The Hebrew word is Saraph, which means fiery or burning, perhaps denoting that they are full of brilliance and illumination from being in the presence of God’s glory.
Psalms 104:4 reads; “He makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire.”
There is great mystery regarding the nature of these types of angels. RC Sproul said in his six part Holiness series, that when God creates something; He creates creatures that are adaptive to its sounding nature. In the case of these Seraphs; they are in close proximity of Christ’s Holiness while they worship and serve God at His will. They have six wings with two they fly and are always ready to take flight at the command of God. With two they covered their eyes. Many theologians believe that they have their eyes covered because of the superlative Glory and Holiness of God. Others believe they cover their eyes because of their modesty and humility before God; I do not believe they cover their eyes because they may be destroyed, such as us human creatures would be destroyed because wickedness abounds in our very being, but not angels. Christ said in;
Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father in Heaven.”
The interpretation of their humility before God the Father makes great sense, not only are they recognizing themselves as created beings from God’s glorious creativity, and that even as angels they recognize they are not worthy to look upon such Holiness; but it ought to make us sinners realize that if the holy angels are in Heaven in the nearness of God’s glory and cover their faces, then what is your position now? How do you come before the majesty of God when you pray to Him, and when you worship Him? Are you on your feet before the throne of God?
Psalm 99:5 reads; “Praise Jehovah our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy.
Do you think that when one comes to God and worship at His footstool; it ought to be done in proper submission while standing up? No! It is done humbly as we fall prostrate to the floor at His feet. Look at the reaction of Abraham and Moses when they spoke to God.
In Genesis 17:1 it reads; “And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I am the Almighty God! Walk before Me and be perfect.”
Look at the supreme authority! “I am the Almighty God!” And look at what is demanded; for us to walk before Him and be perfect. Even if we could be perfect, and not have one sin within our anatomy; we would still not be worthy of His Holy presence. But we praise God for the Son He provided for our justification; that we are declared perfect and righteous based on the work of someone else, who is Jesus Christ. Therefore now it resonates within our minds; the writings of the holy epistles, that the just shall live by faith. In verse three of Geneses 3; it follows that Abraham fell on his face.
Consider now Moses in;
Exodus 3:6 And He said; I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Are you afraid of God? If not then why not; is it because you have always been told that God is love and love is God and all is love? All that is true, but furthermore God is Holy; His love is a quality of His Holiness. Holiness is a superior attribute of God. Love Him yes because He first loved us and saved us, but respect and fear Him because He has the power to cast one’s body and soul to eternal torment, which is something His Holiness demands from Him. No one deserves to look at the presence of God’s Holy Majesty, but thank Him; thank Him for His mercy on us.
In Exodus 33; there is a beautiful dialogue between God and Moses. Read the entire chapter and I dare you not to sense the Holiness of God in these passages. God tells Moses to take his people to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; a land flowing with milk and honey. God said He will send an angel with them to substitute the presence of God walking with them. God said they are a stiff necked people and if He walked in the midst of them, He would kill them. Moses pleaded with Jehovah; earnestly asking Him to go with him and His people, so that all nations can see that we are separated from the rest of the nations. He tells God that He has not told Moses who it is He will send with His people in God’s place. He reminds God that God has told Moses He knew Moses by name and found grace in His sight. Moses said if this is true then be with them in their travels, so that he may know God and His ways; and if not then leave them there where they are. And God granted Moses his request, and said he had found grace in His sight and that He knew Moses by name.
It follows that Moses requested one more thing from God; in verse 18 Moses said, “I beseech You, let me see Your glory.” God said in verses 19-23; “I will make My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you . . . You cannot see My face. For there no man can see Me and live . . . Behold! There is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon a rock. And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. And I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back parts. But My face shall not be seen.
God is incredibly gracious to Moses. God was under no obligation to grant Moses his request. Knowing that for Moses to see His face with the naked eye would result in the death of Moses. God in all His Wisdom and Grace calculated a way to grant some of Moses’ request. God said “I will make my goodness pass before you,” John Calvin wrote that; “The passing by signifies a vision of brief duration,” (Calvin). In this vision the goodness of God is all that consists of His glory; from His attributes, His Holiness, His sovereign works, to the glory of God which is Jesus Christ. John Gill writes that the goodness of God is Christ Himself. We can only speculate what God showed Moses as He passed by Him, but it is not farfetched to believe that God showed Him the work of God and Christ, as the redeemer of man passing by Moses; just as God passes over the sins of man as He forgives the iniquity of those who believe in Christ.
Furthermore; God said to Moses that as He passed by him, God would proclaim His name Jehovah before him. In verse 17 of this same chapter; God said to Moses He knew Him by name, which is a phrase from God showing the highest esteem for an individual. Those who have studied the attribute of God’s foreknowledge may remember and understand that clearly. Moses asked God in verse 13; “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found grace in Your sight, make me see now Your ways, that I may know You.” For God to tell Moses not only will I show you my glory, but I will declare my name as I pass by you; is expressing to Moses that, not only do I know you by name; but now you also Moses, will know me by name.
God told Moses to go and stand in the cleft in a rock. A cleft is an indention or opening in the mountain like a small cave. As God passed by Moses; He covered him with His hand so that he would not look upon God’s face as He passed by, otherwise it would have meant instant death for Moses. After passing by Moses and proclaiming His name; He removed His hand so that Moses can receive a glimpse of God’s backside. At this point Moses had now seen more of God than anyone to date. From the miraculous plagues in Egypt, the liberation of God’s people, the splitting of the Red sea, the feeding of God’s people with heavenly manna, and water from the rock which he would strike so that water would flow out for his people to drink. Bible scholars agree that this cleft where God told Moses to stand was an indention in Horeb where Moses would strike for water.
We know in the Old Testament Psalm 18:2 God is referred to as the Rock. We also know in the New Testament 1Corinthians 10:4 Christ is referred to as the Rock. The Christology in this is that the cleft; the rock who God told Moses to stand on as God passed by was Jesus Christ, who we stand on for our salvation from the wrath of God as He passes by. Even God in His mercy just as He covered Moses with His hand; God covers those whom He chose with His awesome gracious hand, so that we may not be consumed by His fire but instead; just as God removed His hand from Moses, He allowed Moses to see the Holy glorious goodness of His backside, and for us who believe in Christ at one point we were not yet ready to see the revelation of Christ, but God when He so willed; decided to remove His hand from us so that we may see the glory of His backside, which is Jesus Christ the Rock we stand on for our salvation!