Isaiah 6:1-81NIV New International Version Translations
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For 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.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
At the time of Isaiah’s encounter with God documented in chapter 6, he was already a prophet. God was calling him to a greater task than he had ever envisioned. Isaiah was to be given the task of preaching a message of judgment to his entire nation. The experiences Isaiah would encounter were preparation for the work ahead. Our verses will look at how God inspired the Isaiah for service. His revelation in the glory of God would be the foundation. In turn, this would lead Isaiah to a response of confession, which brought cleansing, which in turn enabled him to hear the Word of God, which carried a commission to preach the message. The verses are Isaiah telling us the story.
Verse 1 – Isaiah is tells us what he saw. Whether it was in his mind or real, we do not know. Isaiah sees God Himself. In Exodus 33:20 we read, “No man shall see me (God) and live.” From that verse, one would have believed that he would only see God when he died. But many people in the Old Testament (the first 39 books in the Bible) saw God and they stayed alive! Some examples are Abraham (Genesis 18:1-3), Jacob (Genesis 32:24-30) and Moses (Exodus 3:4). One possible explanation is in John 12:41: “Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory.” Jesus came to Earth as a baby. He was born on this Earth in Bethlehem. But he was alive before that too. Jesus is God, but people looked at him. They saw him, but they did not die!
In Isaiah’s vision, he was not in the temple, but he was outside it. We know that for two reasons:
- Isaiah was probably not a priest. So he could not go into the actual building, the temple itself.
- The altar in verse 6 was outside the building.
Verse 2 – A ‘seraphim’ is an angel of fire. Their wings were never still. They were covering their faces because they could not look at God. We don’t know why the seraphim were covering their feet. Notice that the seraphim had faces, hands and feet, as people have.
Verse 3 – We do not know how many seraphim there were but called to each other in pairs. In the first 39 books of the Bible, angels (seraphim) do not usually sing but declare on behalf of God. So why is God Holy?
- God is Holy because he has not sinned.
- God is bright, as the sun is bright. Just as people cannot look at the sun, so they cannot look directly at God.
Verse 4 – If the doorsteps shake, so will the whole house! Isaiah was perhaps near the door of the temple. The altar was near the door. When God is near, the ground often shakes. There is often smoke and fire as well. Some examples of that are in Exodus 19:18, Psalm 18:7-8 and Habakkuk 3:3-10.
Verse 5 – Isaiah cannot prophesy because his ‘lips are not clean’. He cannot even praise God together with the seraphim. Isaiah has seen the holy God. That fact of Isaiah being in God’s presents exposed Isaiah’s sinful nature to him. The king whom he saw was God himself.
Verse 6 – Isaiah was sad because his lips were not clean. He had said things he was ashamed of and knew were sinful. The seraphim used tongs to take a very hot coal from the fire. Then the seraphim touched Isaiah’s mouth with the coal. The point to remember here is that God sent the seraphim to Isaiah and God had actually showed himself to Isaiah. All through chapter 6, God is acting first!
Verse 7 – God showing two things to Isaiah.
- God had taken away Isaiah’s feeling that he was responsible for his sins.
- God had covered Isaiah’s sin, so that God could not see it.
Isaiah recognized his sin before God and he was forgiven. It is a two-step process or else God cannot forgive us.
Verse 8 – In verse 1, God was very high up but near enough now for Isaiah to hear him speak. That happens when God forgives us. We can hear him speak. There is nothing between God and a person whom he forgives.
Items for Discussion
- How does God speak to us today?
- Why do you think that the recognition of one’s sin is so important to being able to hear God?
- What is the difference between recognizing sin and repentance?
- What benefits can you find in the fact that God spoke to Isaiah before he repented for his sinful mouth?
- Isaiah was transformed by forgiveness – How would you expect humans to be transformed in their own lives when they are forgiven?
- What significance to you see in God’s use of fire to clean Isaiah’s lips?
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
The Bible gives us more information about Mark than any of the other gospel writers with the exception of the apostle John. Luke mentioned Mark’s name several times in Acts. Mark’s ministry must have started at home. A young Jerusalem church met in his mother’s home. Mark also started the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas but ended his trip early. Mark later travelled with Barnabas to Cyprus. He became significant in the life of Paul, being one of the last people the apostle mentioned in his final letter written to Timothy.
Mark’s most significant personal connection was the one he had with Peter, making Peter Mark’s most likely source for the material in his gospel. Mark’s mother’s house was a regular enough stop for Peter that the servants recognized him by voice alone (Acts 12:12–14). And it appears that Mark was present at Gethsemane, a young man watching the arrest of Jesus from a safe distance (Mark 14:51–52). Some believe that the Last Supper took place in Mark’s home. Because of the detail and eye witness accounts, the later gospels frequently referenced accounts from Mark. Mark’s gospel was first.
Jesus finds four men working as fishermen on the lake called Galilee. They had their own boats. It was a family business. In other words, their families had done this work for a long time. Then Jesus came telling the men that God had other work for them. They must leave their work, their boats and their families. The men had worked with fish. But soon, the men would work with people. Jesus would teach the men. They became his disciples his special students.
Items for Discussion
- What do you find hard to believe about this story?
- What things can you conclude about our Savior from this story?
- How do you think the families of the four men must have felt about the encounter?
- Commercial fishing is a difficult career. What made fishermen good disciples?
- How would you know if you have had an encounter with Christ/God? In other words, how do you know if you are called?
- Putting both our Isaiah verses and Mark’s gospel message together, how would you summarize the role of Christians in helping others hear God’s calling?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations