Knowledge of the Holy: Isaiah's vision of Jesus!

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Knowledge of the Holy: Isaiah's vision of Jesus!

by I Gordon

Let's look at another encounter that someone had with the Lord. This time it is the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah was given a tremendous vision of the glory of God. Isaiah saw the heavenly throne room and more importantly he saw the One that sat upon the throne. But what did he see? Who did he see? And what impact did it have upon Isaiah's life? Let's have a look at Isaiah 6:1-8.

Why was King Uzziah's death mentioned?

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.

So we see straight away that this vision of God occurred in the year that King Uzziah died... Why do you think Isaiah's vision of the Lord occurred at the same time that King Uzziah died? Who was Uzziah? Was he a good king? A bad king? Uzziah was by and large a good King but he became proud in his later days and was smote with leprosy. He lived with leprosy in a separate house until the day he died. His story can be read in 2 Chr 26. But there is an important point that is being taught here and that is this: Worldly leaders come and go but there is One that never changes, whose throne is never left. That is what God was about to show Isaiah. And whatever, or whoever, we lose in this world, we can always give thanks that there is One that cannot be lost or removed. This is the emphasis of the following verse and it was this truth that God wanted to teach Isaiah at this important time. 

Hebrews 13:5-6 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," (6) so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?"

Isaiah also writes that he saw the Lord... But how could Isaiah see Yahweh? Didn't Jesus say that no one has seen the Father? So who was it that Isaiah saw? Who is this 'Lord' that was seated in heaven on a throne, high and exalted? The answer to that is 'Jesus'. No man has seen God Jesus said, but He has made God known. It isn't just speculation that this is Jesus for scripture specifically says that Isaiah saw Jesus.

John 12:37-41 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. (38) This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (39) For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: (40) He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them. (41) Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.

It is also worth pointing put that Isaiah saw Jesus seated on a throne. There is a literal throne in Heaven. This obviously speaks of authority and kingship for only kings sit on thrones. Our Lord Jesus is high and exalted, above all. This throne was seen by other prophets in the Old Testament. 1 It is an interesting fact that there are 47 mentions of 'throne' in the New Testament and 35 of them are in the book of Revelation! Why would that be? Because it is emphasizing, at a crazy time in human history, that God is King of Kings and is on the throne! But most of our world doesn't want to know about this. David Guzik writes well concerning man's approach to this thought today:

"The bottom line of atheism or materialism is that they believe there is no throne; there is no seat of authority or power all the universe must answer to. The bottom of humanism is that there is a throne - but man sits upon it. But the Bible makes it clear that there is a throne in heaven, and no fallen man sits on the throne, but the Lord GOD is enthroned in heaven."

To that we could also add that the bottom line of Satanism is that there is a throne but that Satan should be sitting on it and that he should be worshipped. That is actually where this world is heading when a man, whom Satan indwells, will take his seat in the temple and declare himself to be God!

Some strange creatures!

Isaiah 6:2 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.

We also see that around the throne are some unfamiliar creatures. 'Seraphs' are some type of angelic being. While only mentioned by name here there seem to be the same as the living creatures seen in Ezekiel's vision and by John in the book of Revelation. Although there are some differences as well as the Serpahs are said to have six wings and the living creatures Ezekiel saw had four.

Ezekiel 1:4-6 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north-- an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, (5) and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, (6) but each of them had four faces and four wings.

Revelation 4:6-8 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. (7) The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. (8) Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

The name 'sereph' means 'fiery, burning ones' and brings to mind the description of angels in Hebrews 1:7  which says 'And of the angels He says, "WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE." Concerning their activity Ray Stedman writes:

Their characteristics are symbolized for us. Each of them had three pairs of wings. With two they covered their faces, a picture of reverence, of the impossibility of looking at the full glory of God, just as it is impossible for us to behold the burning glory of the sun. With two wings they covered their feet. The feet, in Scripture, are a picture of earthly, personal activity. By covering their feet the angels are testifying that their authority is a derived authority; it does not spring from them, but from the One they worship and serve. With the other two wings they flew, a symbol of ceaseless activity and swiftness in service. Thus the seraphim are an angelic order concerned with the beauty and majesty of the One whom they serve. They serve him in reverence and humility, eager to carry out his work.

The threefold holiness of God

Isaiah 6:3-4 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.

We see that the Seraph's cry out the same as the living creatures in Revelation 4:8 above - "Holy, Holy, Holy" In Jewish thought, a double repetition of a word emphasized the point2 - But the threefold repetition completes and confirms the matter. The Lord God, Jesus, is complete holiness. He is set apart and there is none like Him. He is not like anyone else. There are none that are His equal, none that can be compared to Him. He is unique! David Guzik writes:

'What is the LORD set apart from? He is set apart from creation, in that the Lord GOD is not a creature, and He exists outside of all creation. If all creation were to dissolve, the Lord GOD would remain. He is set apart from humanity, in that His "nature" or "essence" is Divine, not human. God is not a super-man or the ultimate man. God is not merely smarter than any man, stronger than any man, older than any man, or better than any man. You can't measure God on man's chart at all. He is Divine, and we are human.'

We see also that the whole earth is filled with the glory of the Lord. We know from other prophecies that this will become abundant and evident for all to see:

 Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

But if we have eyes to see, we know that the whole earth IS full of His glory already. Study ANY aspect of this planet in detail and you will see the glory of God. People who don't want to acknowledge the presence of God think that the intelligence and beauty displayed in creation is simply the result of 'random processes' but who has ever heard of random processes producing coded systems with incredibly complex and beautiful designs? Can chaos produce information? Can randomness produce fine tuning? Can everything come out of nothing (without God?). And what does this creation tell us about God and the glory of God? It speaks of...

  • His existence (for as mentioned creation demands a creator and design demands a designer)

  • His power (for there has to be something or more accurately someone, that holds all things together)

  • His perfection (for all of creation works together perfectly. We need the ants, we need the bees, we need the worms etc etc... Everything has a role and works in unison and perfection together)

  • His care (even over minute details in both creation and in our lives)

  • His knowledge (for who could start to create even the smallest part of His creation? Could you make a flower? Man might manipulate God's seeds but they can't come up with their own!)

No wonder the job of these Seraph's is to simply cry out day and night 'holy holy holy!' This is Jesus that did all of this! And as the Seraphs spoke there was shaking and smoke filled the temple. This again suggests the awesome power and presence of God.

Isaiah's reaction to seeing Jesus

Isaiah 6:5 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."

Woe is me! That is the reaction of the godly man Isaiah in seeing Jesus Christ. The events were enough to completely shake Isaiah! Here was a man who was God's servant. He heard directly from God. He obeyed God and served Him with his whole heart. And yet faced with a vision of the holiness of God his only thought was that he was undone!

Psalms 36:9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

In the light of God's glory we see light... and that includes the light of seeing ourselves! The Apostle John, the one who leaned on Jesus' bosom, saw the Lord in His glory in Revelation 1 and fell down as a dead man! He saw the difference between himself and the Lord! And Isaiah can only see himself in stark contrast to what he has seen in heaven. This experience is quite common.3 All Isaiah can say is woe is me... I an undone! Charles Spurgeon said that "God will never do anything with us till he has first of all undone us." He also said that "Whenever God means to make a man great, He always breaks him in pieces first." This is what was happening to Isaiah. He can see that he is a man of unclean lips. By why speak of the lips?4 What is so wrong with the lips? Obviously the lips are the exit of that which lives in the heart for, as Jesus said, 'out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.' (Matt 12:34)

The Lord's reaction to Isaiah's reaction

Isaiah 6:6-8 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." (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!"

So what would happen to this one with unclean lips and an unclean heart when he comes into contact with the ruler of the universe... the One who is perfect holiness? Would Isaiah be struck down, scolded or judged? No... we find that there is atonement. A coal from the altar touches his lips and his sin is atoned for. Praise God that He always has a way of atonement ready for those that see their sin! But God not only forgives Isaiah... He wants to use him! The voice of the Lord comes from the throne saying 'Whom shall I send and who will go for us?' God is still asking this question today. Hopefully those that have seen that their sin has been forgiven respond in the manner Isaiah did - 'Here am I. Send me!' It is love and gratitude towards the God of all grace that motivates the heart to want to serve.


So what about you? Have you seen the Lord? Have you glimpsed His holiness? Have you seen that Jesus is high and exalted above all others? If so has it impacted how you live your life? For if all that we have is theological truth that has no bearing upon our lives then we don't have much do we? And what of your lips and heart? Have they been cleansed by the blood of Jesus? Have you received forgiveness like Isaiah did? If so then the simple normal response would be to do what Isaiah did... to say 'Here am I Lord. I will go. How can I be used?' We are often scared of that thinking of the worse case scenario, that the Lord will send us off somewhere we'd rather not go! But He isn't like that.  


  1. 1 Kings 22:19 Micaiah continued, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.

    Ezekiel 1:25-28 Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. (26) Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. (27) I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. (28) Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

    Daniel 7:9-10 As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. (10) A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. 

  2. For example like where Jesus would often emphasize a point by saying 'truly truly I say unto you...' 

  3. Daniel had the same experience (Dan 10:15-17) as did Peter who, faced with the grace and kindness of Jesus, could only say 'Depart from me for I am a sinful man' (Luke 5:8) But Jesus knew this and loved him anyway. And he had great plans to change Peter into someone that would be greatly used! 

  4. Guzik lists some verses that some up the lips of fallen man from te book of Psalms:

    By nature, our lips are full of flattery and false intent: 'With flattering lips and a double heart they speak' (Psa 12:2).
    By nature, our lips lie and are proud: 'Let the lying lips be put to silence, which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous' (Psa 31:18).
    By nature, our lips deceive: 'Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit' (Psa 34:13).
    By nature, our lips are violent: 'Swords are in their lips' (Psa 59:7).
    By nature, our lips bring death to others: 'The poison of asps is under their lips' (Psa 140:3).