Chapter six records what most people consider as Isaiah’s commissioning by God. “The year of King Uzziah’s death” was 740 B.C. In his vision, Isaiah saw the Lord 1 on the throne in the heavenly temple 2 (Isaiah 6:1-8). Seraphim means “fiery or burning ones”; they are a class of angelic beings that serve in God’s presence. When Isaiah realized what was happening, he groaned in fear for his life, because he had seen God. One of the seraphim purified him, forgiving his sin, which also gave him confidence to speak. When God asked for a volunteer from among the heavenly assembly, it was Isaiah who stepped forward.
The message God sent to Israel via Isaiah was not encouraging (Isaiah 6:9-13). The people did not have the heart or mind to listen to God, and sending Isaiah to preach would only harden them further, like Pharaoh hardened against Moses. Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 in Matthew 13:10-15, when his disciples asked why he spoke in parables to the crowds, who had rejected him as well. No amount of solid, biblical preaching can turn a heart that is already rejecting God.
When Isaiah asked how long this would be the case for his people, God said it would last until the judgment was complete. The immediate fulfillment was the invasion of Assyria in 722 B.C., with its final destruction of northern Israel about 20 years later. The longer fulfillment is seen in the Church Age, when Israel is under a “partial hardening” while primarily Gentiles are being saved (Romans 11:25). This will be lifted in the Tribulation, when Israel will finally turn to the Messiah (Matthew 23:39).
- The word here is אֲדֹנָי, ’adonay, “lord, master” (“sovereign master” in the NET), not יְהוָה, YHVH, the personal name of God often translated as “the LORD.” The name is used in Isaiah 6:3 by the seraphim. ↩
- For the tabernacle / temple that currently exists in Heaven see Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:1-5; Revelation 14-16. ↩