Isaiah 6:1-81NIV New International Version Translation
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!”
In this figurative vision, the temple is thrown open to public view, even to the most holy place. Isaiah, standing outside the temple, sees God seated on the mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. This vision is further explained, in John 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ’s glory, and spoke of Him, which is our full proof that Christ is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through Him the way into the holiest is laid open to us.
We see God’s temple, His church on earth, filled with His glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God’s temple. And yet God dwells in every penitent heart. We see the blessed attendants by whom Government government is served. Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means “burners;” they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God’s commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of God’s counsels, government, or promises. All vainglory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in His glory. This vision of God overwhelmed Isaiah with a sense of his own sinfulness. We have no hope if there is not a Mediator between us and the Holy God. A glimpse of heavenly glory is enough to convince us that all our righteousnesses is nothing more than filthy rags. There is no man that would dare to speak to God after seeing the justice, holiness, and majesty of God, without understanding God’s glorious mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.
The live coal is meant to be the assurance given to Isaiah of the forgiveness of his sins, and the acceptance of his work, through the atonement of Christ. Nothing is more powerful to cleanse and comfort the soul, but what is taken from Christ’s intercession. The taking away of sin is necessary to our speaking with confidence and comfort, either to God in prayer, or from God in preaching. When we complain of the burden of our sins, they are taken away through the grace offered by our God through Christ. It is only then do we see the dangers of sin. We are then equipped to go out and share the good news about our Savior, Christ and the grace freely offered by our God.
Items for Discussion
- Where do people go today to see and compare themselves against the standards of holiness only found in God?
- What, in this world, helps you draw contrast to your own sinful life versus the perfections found in God?
- How is the image of Isaiah’s lips being touched by burning coals different than our concept of forgiveness?
- When the burden of sin is lifted, how does that make you feel?
- How did the removal of Isaiah’s sin help him see his role in spreading the “Good News?”
- Thinking of the last question, how do you think that sin inhibits the spreading of the “Good News?”
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ 20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
This parable shows that different servants have been given different abilities, and that the danger is for the person with relatively smaller ability to do nothing. This parable shows that every servant has been given the same gift and that the difference in results is not due to differing gifts, but to differing levels of diligence in using the gift.
The fact that each of ten servants received a mina shows that it was not just the twelve apostles who were in view, but rather, God’s servants in general. Thus the parable is not directed just to those in leadership, but to all of Christ’s subjects, to us. The fact that each was given the same amount shows that it is not referring to differing gifts, but to something that all followers of Christ share in common, namely, the Word of God and in particular, the central message of that Word, the Gospel. We all have been given the same Gospel and we are told to do business with it for Christ during His absence.
Unless you possess the gospel as your own, you are not a Christian, no matter how often you attend church. A Christian has heard the good news that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners and has personally believed that good news as his or her own. In other words, a true Christian does not just believe in a general sense that Jesus is the Savior. They believe it in a personal sense, that Jesus is THEIR Savior. He died for THEIR sins.
While each of us wait for Christ’s return, we must do Christ’s “business” with the Gospel in a hostile environment. There is always a risk in doing business in a hostile environment. But this parable’s message is that there is a greater risk is not to do business at all. When we carefully wrap up the Master’s mina (the Gospel’s message) in a handkerchief, we are not using it for His purposes. Also, it is implied here and taught elsewhere, that the power of the Gospel is in the message itself, not in the skill of the messenger.
Items for Discussion
- What makes a person hesitant to share the Gospel?
- What are the circumstances that you consider dangerous, a risk when it comes to sharing your faith?
- What characteristics about God do you see in this parable?
- What does God do with a person who has shared the Gospel’s message of good news?
- Do you believe that this parable is telling us there are “degrees of glory” in heaven?
- While the job was minor and the risk was small, just one mina, what did God do for those who obeyed?
- What should the church be doing more of to help equip you for your task, your “business,” sharing the Good News?
- 1NIV New International Version Translation