High and Lifted up
Rev. Robert J. Bushman
Isaiah 6:1-8 (AKJV)
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting on a throne,
high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly.
3 And one cried to another, and said,
Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips:
for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it on my mouth, and said, See, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said I, Here am I; send me.
King Uzziah was one of the most successful Kings of the Southern Kingdom (Judah).
His name literally means “Jehovah is strength” and his life illustrates the meaning of his name.
Uzziah became Judah’s eleventh King at age 16 and held the second longest tenure as Judah’s monarchy (52 years) (783 – 742 BC)
He is also one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
He was a vigorous and able ruler, in the earlier part of his reign, under the influence of a prophet named Zechariah, he was faithful to God, and "did that which was right in the sight of the LORD"
In Jerusalem he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses to shoot arrows and hurl large stones.
His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.
Tragically his biography does not end on the note of success but of failure.
16 But when he (king Uzziah) became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
17 Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men.
18 They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the
19 But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged;
and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense.
The great historian Josephus wrote;
In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it, and fell upon the king's face, insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately.
Instead of being buried in the sepulcher of the Kings in Jerusalem, he was buried in a field outside of the city. (2 Kings 15:7; 2 Chr. 26:23).
That lonely grave would eloquently testify to coming generations that all earthly monarchy must bow before the the King of all kings, the one who is High and lifted up, and that no interference could be tolerated with that unfolding of His purposes.
It was a critical time in Judah - the year that King Uzziah died. He had reigned for 52 years and under his rule the kingdom had prospered, extended its borders and for most of that time been at peace with Israel (the Northern kingdom) and together they had been strong enough to keep enemies at bay.
It is this ironic twist in Uzziah’s career. One would expect a marvelous accolade to be chiseled into the grave marker of Uzziah. However, the eulogy is stated with four simple words, “He is a leper.”
1-In verse one of our text it says; “In the year that King Uzziah died,”
It seems that the time, and occurrence was of importance to Isaiah.
Here he is at this cross road, a place of sorrow, wondering what the future would hold for him and for Judah. Things were going to be changing with the rise of a new king.
We all find ourselves at these difficult crossroad moments at different times during our lives, maybe at the death of a parent, our a spouse, and our world has come crashing down on us.
Isaiah said it was at this time he had something wonderful took place.
He said; “I saw also the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.'
We don’t know where Isaiah was when he had this vision of the Lord, though some have surmised that he might have actually been in the temple worshiping with all of the people at this time.
Isaiah’s vision of the Lord doesn’t seem to be a vision of the Lord seated on a throne in the Holy of Holies of the temple, but rather a vision perhaps of the heavenly temple of which the temple on earth was a type or a symbol.
The mighty kings of the earth would sit on a throne that were lifted up high, and in fact Solomon’s throne was said to be higher than that of any of the other kings in the world.
He wrote; “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
The train of the Lord’s robe was so large that it filled the temple.
In this vision, the temple is thrown open to view, even to the most holy place. The prophet, standing outside the temple, sees the Divine Presence seated on the throne and the Divine glory filled the whole temple.
Isaiah stood entranced at the farthest possible distance from Him that sat upon the throne, namely, under the door of the heavenly palace or temple.
What he still further felt and saw, he proceeds to relate in verse 4; “And the posts of the door moved (it shook) at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
"Now Isaiah sees high-ranking angels called seraphs near God’s throne.
"Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.
Seraph (means a fiery being)
What an awesome and yet terrifying sight!
We don’t know much about Seraphs, since this is the only reference specifically to them.
But it is the actions of these heavenly beings that are more important than any speculation about their position among the other angels.
We can only imagine the might of creatures such as these seraphim who when they declare to each other the holiness of the Lord that the foundations of the temple shakes.
As they hover above the throne, they cover their faces and feet. They demonstrate great reverence for the One on the throne and great humility in his presence.
They call to one another in a great and powerful hymn of praise.
They cried to each other in alternate responses. One cried 'holy;' the second repeated it; then the third; and then they probably united in the grand chorus, 'Full is all the earth of his glory
‘Holy’ is the attribute of the Lord which most separates Him from all of the rest of creation.
Holy means; set apart, for a special purpose, in this case the Lord is holy and set apart from all others, worthy of the praise of Heaven and Earth.
It has also been surmised by the church throughout the ages that the threefold declaration of the Lord’s holiness reveals the fact that the Lord is a Triune God, comprised of three distinct persons, who are yet one in essence.
The whole earth is full of his glory.” in other words; the earth reeks with the glory of God.
In John 12:41, John wrote; “These things said Isaiah, because he saw his glory; and he spake of him.
In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. He is not only the High a high and exalted king, he is the lifted up messiah.
John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,”
John 8:29,” So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
God's temple is the church and His people on earth are filled with his glory and His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple which is the whole world, for it is all God's temple.
Verse 5-Isaiah' s response;
“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.”
Blue lights are nice.
But when they are flashing in your rear view mirror, your heart races and your mind reacts,
“Woe is me! I am ruined!
Speeding ticket… points on my license… increase in insurance…”
When face to face with one who could punish, fear takes over.
Isaiah’ s reaction was no different when he was confronted, not with a speeding ticket, but a vision of the Lord, seated on his throne with his robe filling the temple.
Three times the word “Holy” resonates in the vision.
Smoke filled the room.
Isaiah' s first reaction when faced with the power and holiness of the Almighty God was the exclamation, “Woe to me! I am ruined!”
What Isaiah sees is more than he can handle.
He is completely overwhelmed by the holiness of God.
In this moment, Isaiah is faced with the reality of who he is – a sinner; a sinner who is now standing in the presence of a holy and righteous God.
You can almost feel the desperation as he cries out, “Woe to me! I am ruined!” There is nothing quite like a fresh encounter with the holiness of God, to bring us to our knees and to remind us of who we are.
Psalm 103:14 says “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust”, but sometimes we need a little reminder, that apart from God, apart from His Spirit within us, we are nothing.
Standing in the presence of the LORD that day, Isaiah knew that he was nothing.
Woe is me! - That is, I am filled with overwhelming convictions of my own unworthiness, with alarm that I have seen Yahweh.
He cries out, “I am a man of unclean lips; I cannot say, Holy, holy, holy! which the seraphs exclaim.” They are holy; I am not so holy: they see God, and live; I have seen him, and must die, because I am unholy.
“Only the pure in heart shall see God; and only the pure in heart can live in his presence for ever.” (Matthew 5:8 )
When we see the Lord in all his glory it is like looking into a mirror and we see the true state of our hearts and we like Isaiah confess our sin as the only proper response to seeing a Holy God.
When Jesus revealed a little bit of his glory to Peter, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8)
John in Revelations 1:17 wrote; “(When I saw The Holy Lord), I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
Isaiah was aware of having ‘unclean lips’, and James pointed out in James 3:2 that if you can master what comes out of your mouth you can master your whole body.
Back to our text Isaiah 6: 6
6-Then one of the seraphs 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.”
Notice how God initiates the cleansing of Isaiah soul. Out of the mouth the heart speaks.
The beauty of this passage is that our loving Father does not leave Isaiah despairing because of his sin.
He sends the seraph to him to cleanse him, and to restore him.
He takes away his guilt and provides atonement for his sin.
God reaches out to Isaiah and offers him grace and forgiveness at a time when Isaiah couldn’t have felt any more undeserving.
What do you think Isaiah felt as the burning coal was being brought to his lips?
Was it punishment? His ruin?
He soon experienced the unexpected. With the coal the Lord purified Isaiah.
He did not punish him as his sins deserved.
Isaiah was told, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
The altar where the coal burned must have been the brazen altar where the animal sacrifices were burned, and the fire of a coal from the altar burned the sin away from the life of Isaiah.
This is the great reality of the LORD Almighty. He has every right to punish us for our sin,
but his love brings not the coal of judgment, but the coal of purification.
Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he assures us “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Thine iniquity is taken away - That is, whatever obstacle arising from your own consciousness of unworthiness, is taken away.
The Jews expected pardon in no other mode than by sacrifice; and the offering on their altar pointed to the great sacrifice which was to be made on the cross for the sins of human beings.
A great doctrine is presented that it is only by sacrifice that sin can be pardoned; and the Messiah, the sacrifice himself, is exhibited as issuing the commission to Isaiah to go and declare his message to people.
What relief! What joy!
Like the joy and relief you would feel if the officer did the unexpected when he came to your car window and said, “While I clocked you 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, I will pay your fine. Your record is clear.”
Isaiah would declare that;
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” Isaiah 53:5-6
No man or woman is ready to serve the Lord until he or she first realizes the sinfulness of his own heart, and how unrighteousness he or she truly is.
God does not call the righteous, but rather sinners. But sinners are soon turned into saints by His touch, and saints are turned into ambassadors for the King of all kings, He who is high and lifted up.
Isaiah 6;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!”
Isaiah was not pressed into service.
He did not go against His will.
He did not go feeling that someone was twisting his arm behind him.
He freely volunteered to go, and he did so knowing the state of the people and thus how rough of a road it would be that he would have to travel as God’s representative to His people.
No wonder Isaiah then answered the Lord’s call, “Here am I Send me!”
The fact that the angel touched the lips of Isaiah, the lips which Isaiah had just confessed to be ‘unclean’, indicates that the Lord had sanctified those lips and that now Isaiah would speak from the throne of the Lord Almighty Himself, for Isaiah was being called to the prophetic office.
May our response to God’s unexpected grace be the same!
“Send me! I will live for you!”
When God is high and lifted up in our hearts we to can answer God's call to go.
High and Lifted Up
Author: Dianne Wilkinson
Copyright: Homeward Bound Music (BMI). Used by permission.
Album: High and Lifted Up (1993)
Jesus said, “If I be lifted up,
“I will surely draw all men unto me”
So as Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness
So high and lifted up must Jesus be
See Him on the cross, His eyes of love
Looking down on all who stood and watched His shame
As they mocked Him, and they scourged Him, God turned His eyes away
While high and lifted up, He took the blame
High and lifted up, a loving Savior
High and lifted up for all to see
Reconciling God and man forever
High and lifted up on Calvary
Jesus said, “I’ll surely come again
“That where I may be you will be near”
So I’m looking toward the Heavens, up to the Eastern Sky
Where high and lifted up He shall appear
There to meet a Bride adorned and waiting
As all of Heaven’s angels start to sing
Never more to be a lowly man of Galilee
As high and lifted up we see the King, the King
High and lifted up in all His glory
High and lifted up in robes of white
Coming back to rule and reign forever
He is high and lifted up on clouds of light
High and lifted up is Jesus Christ