Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sunday School Lesson June 2 Holy, Holy, Holy

June 2, 2013   Holy, Holy, Holy
Additional Study Notes
6:1. Since Isaiah ministered during King Uzziah’s reign (1:1) Isaiah’s vision of God in the year . . . Uzziah died would have occurred within the 12 calendar months before or after the king’s death in 739 b.c. If the vision occurred before Isaiah began his ministry then obviously the vision was before the king’s death. However, if the vision came sometime after the prophet’s ministry started-see comments earlier under ”B. Isaiah’s commission (chap. 6)“-then Isaiah could have seen the vision within the calendar year (739 b.c.) either shortly before or shortly after the king died.
This time notation points to a contrast between the human king and the divine King (v. 5), God Himself and to some contrasts between Uzziah and Isaiah. In Uzziah’s long (52-year), prosperous reign (2 Chron. 26:1-15) many people were away from the Lord and involved in sin (2 Kings 15:1-4; Uzziah is also called Azariah). By contrast, God is holy (Isa. 6:3). In pride, Uzziah disobediently entered the temple (insensitive to the sin involved) and was struck with leprosy which made him ceremonially unclean (2 Chron. 26:16-20). Isaiah, however, was sensitive to sin, for he stated that he and his people were spiritually unclean (Isa. 6:5). Though Uzziah was excluded from the temple (2 Chron. 26:21) Isaiah was not.
Three things struck Isaiah about God: He was seated on a throne, He was high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple . In the most holy place of the temple in Jerusalem, God’s glory was evident between the cherubim on the atonement cover over the ark of the covenant. Therefore some Israelites may have erroneously thought that God was fairly small. However, Solomon, in his dedicatory prayer for the new temple, had stated that no temple could contain God and that in fact even the heavens could not contain Him (1 Kings 8:27). Therefore Isaiah did not see God on the ark of the covenant, but on a throne. Almost 150 years later Ezekiel had a similar experience. He envisioned God being borne along on a great chariot throne by living creatures called cherubim (Ezek. 1). To Isaiah, the throne emphasized that the Lord is indeed the true King of Israel.
God’s being ”high and exalted“ symbolized His position before the nation. The people were wanting God to work on their behalf (Isa. 5:19) but He was doing so, as evidenced by His lofty position among them.
The Lord’s long robe speaks of His royalty and majesty. His being in the temple suggests that though He hates mere religiosity (1:11-15) He still wanted the nation to be involved in the temple worship. The temple and the temple sacrifices pictured the righteous dealings of the sovereign God with His covenant people.
6:2-4. Seraphs, angelic beings who were above the Lord, are referred to in the Scriptures only here. ”Seraphs“ is from śārap̱, which means ”to burn, “ possibly suggesting that they were ardent in their zeal for the Lord. It is also noteworthy that one of the seraphs took a burning coal to Isaiah (v. 6). They had six wings (the four living creatures Ezekiel saw each had four wings, Ezek. 1:5, 11). Covering their faces with two wings indicates their humility before God. Their covering their feet with two other wings may denote service to God, and their flying may speak of their ongoing activity in proclaiming God’s holiness and glory.
In calling to one another the seraphs, whose number is not given, were proclaiming that the Lord Almighty is holy. The threefold repetition of the word holy suggests supreme or complete holiness. This threefold occurrence does not suggest the Trinity, as some have supposed. The Trinity is supported in other ways (e.g., see comments on Isa. 6:8). Repeating a word three times for emphasis is common in the Old Testament (e.g., Jer. 22:29; Ezek. 21:27). The seraphs also proclaimed that His glory fills the earth (cf. Num. 14:21) much as His robe filled the temple. By contrast the people of Judah were unholy (cf. Isa. 5; 6:5) though they were supposed to be a holy people (Ex. 22:31; Deut. 7:6).
As the seraphs cried out, Isaiah saw the temple shake and then it was filled with smoke (Isa. 6:4). The thresholds (cf. Amos 9:1) were large foundation stones on which the doorposts stood. The shaking (cf. Ex. 19:18) suggested the awesome presence and power of God. The smoke was probably the cloud of glory which Isaiah’s ancestors had seen in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21; 16:10) and which the priests in Solomon’s day had viewed in the dedicated temple (1 Kings 8:10-13).
b.     Isaiah’s response to the vision (6:5)
6:5. This vision of God’s majesty, holiness, and glory made Isaiah realize that he was a sinner. When Ezekiel saw God’s glory he too responded with humility. (Cf. the responses of Job, Job 42:5-6; Peter, Luke 5:8; and the Apostle John, Rev. 1:17.) Isaiah had pronounced woes (threats of judgment) on the nation (Isa. 5:8-23), but now by saying Woe to me! (cf. 24:16) he realized he was subject to judgment. This was because he was unclean. When seen next to the purity of God’s holiness, the impurity of human sin is all the more evident. The prophet’s unclean lips probably symbolized his attitudes and actions as well as his words, for a person’s words reflect his thinking and relate to his actions. Interestingly Isaiah identified with his people who also were sinful (a people of unclean lips).
c.     Isaiah’s cleansing and message (6:6-13)
6:6-7. Realizing his impurity, Isaiah was cleansed by God, through the intermediary work of one of the seraphs. It is fitting that a seraph (perhaps meaning a ”burning one“) touched Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal . . . from the altar, either the altar of burnt offering, on which a fire was always burning (Lev. 6:12), or the altar of incense where incense was burned each morning and evening (Ex. 30:1, 7-8). This symbolic action signified the removal of the prophet’s guilt and his sin. Of course this is what the entire nation needed. The Judahites needed to respond as Isaiah did, acknowledging their need of cleansing from sin. But unlike the prophet, most members of the nation refused to admit they had a spiritual need. Though they, through the priests, burned sacrifices at the temple, their lives needed the purifying action of God’s ”fire“ of cleansing.
6:8. The rest of this chapter deals with the message Isaiah was to preach to Judah. Significantly he was not called to service till he had been cleansed. After hearing the seraph’s words (vv. 3, 7) he then heard the Lord’s voice.
God asked, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? The word ”Us“ in reference to God hints at the Trinity (cf. ”Us“ in Gen. 1:26; 11:7). This doctrine, though not explicit in the Old Testament, is implicit for God is the same God in both Testaments.
The question ”Who will go?“ does not mean God did not know or that He only hoped someone would respond. He asked the question to give Isaiah, now cleansed, an opportunity for service. The prophet knew that the entire nation needed the same kind of awareness of God and cleansing of sin he had received. So he responded that he would willingly serve the Lord (Here am I).
6:9-10. Probably Isaiah, responding as he did in verse 8, thought that his serving the Lord would result in the nation’s cleansing. However, the Lord told him his message would not result in much spiritual response. The people had not listened before and they would not listen now. The Lord did not delight in judging His people, but discipline was necessary because of their disobedience. In fact the people, on hearing Isaiah’s message, would become even more hardened against the Lord. Interestingly six of the seven lines in verse 10 are in a chiasm: heart . . . ears . . . eyes are mentioned in lines 1-3, and in lines 4-6 they are reversed: eyes . . . ears . . . hearts. This is a common arrangement of material in the Old Testament. Possibly this pattern emphasizes the ”eyes, “ mentioned in the middle. Jesus quoted part of this verse to explain that Israel in His day could not believe because they would not believe (see comments on John 12:40).
6:11-13. Isaiah’s response to the message implies that he was ready to speak whatever God wanted him to say. Yet he wondered how long he would have to go on delivering a message of judgment to which the people would be callous. The Lord answered that Isaiah was to proclaim the message until His judgment came, that is, till the Babylonian Exile actually occurred and the people were deported from the land (v. 12), thus leaving their ruined cities and fields (v. 11). Though Isaiah did not live that long, God meant he should keep on preaching even if he did live to see Judah’s downfall. The tenth that remained in the land (v. 13) refers to the poor who were left in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:14). But most of them were laid waste (Jer. 41:10-18; 43:4-7).
Isaiah, perhaps discouraged by such a negative response and terrible results, was then assured by the Lord that not all was lost. A remnant would be left. God compared that remnant to stumps of terebinth and oak trees. From this stump or holy seed of a believing remnant would come others who would believe. Though Judah’s population would be almost totally wiped out or exiled, God promised to preserve a small number of believers in the land.

cf. confer, compare
vv. verses
v. verse
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

The following excerpted from:

June 1, 2013
By Sam E. Stone
This quarter we will consider God’s people and worship, learning from Isaiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. First we will study important sections from Isaiah. His book includes many important messianic prophecies. Israel was to be the means by which God’s blessing would come to all nations of the world.
Isaiah prophesied during the divided kingdom. He was called in the year that King Uzziah died (about 740 BC), with most of his ministry focused on the southern kingdom (Judah). In the opening chapters of his book, Isaiah warns the rebellious people of God’s judgment upon them. In chapter five he lists six “woes” for the nation.
Humble Before GodIsaiah 6:1-4When the prophet saw the Lord, he was seated on a throne. After Isaiah’s vision of seeing the land forsaken under God’s judgment, he now experienced the reality of being in the presence of the all-knowing and all-powerful deity. Seated on a throne, his train (the fringes of his royal robe) filled the temple (2 Chronicles 18:9). Scripture teaches that no person may see God and live (John 1:18), but John 12:41 explains, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.”
Surrounding the throne were the seraphim, “winged creatures, human in form, for they are represented as having hands, feet, and voices” (W. Fitch). This is the only mention of seraphim in the Bible. Some feel they are similar to the “cherubim” (Ezekiel 10) or the “four living creatures” (Revelation 4:6-8), but there are obvious differences between them.
These beings called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” With antiphonal song, they gave great emphasis to God’s holiness. (See other examples of emphasis by repetition in Jeremiah 7:4; 22:29; and Ezekiel 21:27.) R. B. Y. Scott suggests, “The Hebrew language has no way to express the superlative except by repetition. Holiness is the essential quality of deity, glory the manifestation of deity in the natural world.”
The effect of their voices was that the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.James Smith writes, “The heavenly temple shook with the mighty strains of the hymn of these angels. Smoky clouds of incense filled the entire temple and shielded the eyes of the prophet from looking directly upon the glory of deity.”
Forgiven by GodIsaiah 6:5-7
The effect of being in the presence of God himself was almost more than Isaiah could bear. “Woe to me!” he cried. As one who spoke for the Lord, he sensed particularly his failures of speech. “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

He acknowledged that it was not only his people who were guilty of doing wrong, but he himself as well. His lips were unworthy to speak God’s message to the people (compare Job 40:4, 5). No sooner had Isaiah sensed his need of cleansing and forgiveness than it was provided by one of the seraphim.
Isaiah’s experience was similar to that of Jeremiah. “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9). This is the classic description of God inspiring his prophets. In the days of the tabernacle, coals of fire were taken from the altar on the Day of Atonement and brought to the Most Holy Place. There atonement was made both for the high priest’s sins and for those of the nation itself (see Leviticus 16:11-17). Isaiah’s sins were removed when the live coal touched his lips. “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Fire is often used in Scripture to represent cleansing (see 1 Peter 1:7).
Service to GodIsaiah 6:8
God himself asks two questions—”Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Now Isaiah has a clean heart and a new capacity to hear, understand, and obey the words of the Lord. He responds simply and humbly, “Here am I. Send me!” Like Abraham, Moses, and Samuel, Isaiah answered as every faithful servant should, indicating his readiness to do whatever God may command. Kyle Yates observed that today’s text contains the “woe” of conviction, the “lo” of cleansing, and the “go” of service. In the verses immediately following our printed text, God sent Isaiah forth to deliver his message to the people of Israel
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
May 27: 2 Chronicles 26:1-5
May 28: 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
May 29: 2 Kings 15:32-38
May 30: Isaiah 6:9-13
May 31: Joshua 24:14-24
June 1: Psalm 24
June 2: Isaiah 6:1-8

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