Notes for Isaiah 6

Chapter 6

v. 1: As Barnes notes (137), this is probably not Isaiah’s first call to prophecy.  Isaiah 1:1 says that he was prophesying “in the days of Uzziah.”  Still, I suppose he may have received this call “in the year” Uzziah died (which would have been a noteworthy year for reference) but before the king’s actual death.  He would then have been prophesying “in the days of Uzziah.”

v. 6: In concept, the temple here seems to be the same as that in Jerusalem.  I’m not sure whether Isaiah means for us to understand that it is the actual temple in Jerusalem or its heavenly counterpart.  In either case, the structure serves as both temple and throne room for the LORD.

The spatial position of Isaiah in this vision is difficult to figure out.  In the temple, God would be seated in the Most Holy Place, his throne being the Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Mercy Seat.  Since Isaiah sees God “with his eyes,” it seems reasonable to assume that at the beginning of the vision he is in the Most Holy Place, because the curtain would have blocked his view from the Holy Place.  Also, the account never states that Isaiah left the presence of God during the vision, so I believe he remained in the Most Holy Place throughout.  The seraph, however, leaves to fetch the coal (unless he already had it from the beginning of the vision) from “the altar” outside the Most Holy Place.  Barnes believes this altar to be the Bronze Altar, where the sacrifices were made outside the temple in the Great Court (141).  It might also be the Golden Altar of Incense, which was located in the Holy Place just outside the curtain for the Most Holy Place.  (See 2nd Chronicles notes for diagrams of the temple.)

v. 9: I believe these verses are meant to be satirical and ironic rather than literal.[1] I don’t believe God literally wants Isaiah to go preach to people “so that they may not comprehend with their minds and turn and be healed.”  I think God phrases Isaiah’s commission in this way because he knows it will fail since the people are already so hard-hearted.  Their condition reminds me of those people who have lost the good of the intellect in Dante’s Inferno. See also 42:19-20, 43:8, 44:18, and 45:19.  See also note on 63:17.



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