Isaiah 6:7
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.
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(7) And he laid it upon my mouth.—So Jehovah “touched the mouth” of Isaiah’s great successor (Jeremiah 1:9); but not in that case with a “coal from the altar.” That prophet, like Moses (Exodus 4:10), had felt only or chiefly the want of power (“Alas! I cannot speak), and power was given him. Isaiah desired purity, and his prayer also was answered.

Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.—The clauses express the two elements of the great change which men, according to their varying systems, have called Conversion, the New Birth, Regeneration; but which is at all times a necessary stage in the perfecting of the saints of God. Pardon and purity are the conditions alike of the prophet’s work and of the completeness of his own spiritual life.

6:1-8 In this figurative 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 mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. See God upon his throne. This vision is explained, Joh 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory, and spake of Him, which is a full proof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. 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 he dwells in every contrite heart. See the blessed attendants by whom his 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 his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory. This awful vision of the Divine Majesty overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own vileness. We are undone if there is not a Mediator between us and this holy God. A glimpse of heavenly glory is enough to convince us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Nor is there a man that would dare to speak to the Lord, if he saw the justice, holiness, and majesty of God, without discerning his glorious mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. The live coal may denote the assurance given to the prophet, of pardon, and acceptance in his work, through the atonement of Christ. Nothing is powerful to cleanse and comfort the soul, but what is taken from Christ's satisfaction and intercession. The taking away sin is necessary to our speaking with confidence and comfort, either to God in prayer, or from God in preaching; and those shall have their sin taken away who complain of it as a burden, and see themselves in danger of being undone by it. It is great comfort to those whom God sends, that they go for God, and may therefore speak in his name, assured that he will bear them out.And he laid it upon my mouth - Margin, 'And he caused it to touch my mouth.' This is the more correct rendering. It was a slight, momentary touch, sufficient merely to be a "sign or token" that he was cleansed.

Thine iniquity is taken away - That is, whatever obstacle there existed to your communicating the message of God to this people, arising from your own consciousness of unworthiness, is taken away. You are commissioned to bear that message, and your own consciousness of guilt should not be a hinderance. To understand this, it should be remembered that "fire," among the orientals, has been always regarded as an emblem of "purifying." Thus the Sabeans, the followers or Zoroaster in Persia, worshipped "fire," as the emblem of a pure divinity; see Malachi 3:2-3; compare Matthew 3:2. Every minister of the gospel, though conscious of personal unworthiness and unfitness, should yet go freely and cheerfully to his work, if he has evidence that he is called and commissioned by God. "Is purged." Is purified, is removed - תכפר tekupâr from כפר kâphar, "to cover, to overlay;" then to make an atonement for, to expiate, to cover sin, to pardon it, to affect or to procure forgiveness; and then to purify in general, to make whole; compare the note at Isaiah 43:3. This does not mean, that the fire from the altar had any physical effect to purify him from sin, but that it was "emblematic" of such a purifying; and probably, also, the fact that it was taken from the altar of sacrifice, was to him an indication that he was pardoned through the "atonement," or expiation there made. 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. There is here a beautiful "union" of the truths respecting sacrifice. The 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.

7. mouth … lips—(See on [694]Isa 6:5). The mouth was touched because it was the part to be used by the prophet when inaugurated. So "tongues of fire" rested on the disciples (Ac 2:3, 4) when they were being set apart to speak in various languages of Jesus.

iniquity—conscious unworthiness of acting as God's messenger.

purged—literally, "covered," that is, expiated, not by any physical effect of fire to cleanse from sin, but in relation to the altar sacrifices, of which Messiah, who here commissions Isaiah, was in His death to be the antitype: it is implied hereby that it is only by sacrifice sin can be pardoned.

He laid it upon my mouth slightly, so as only to touch my lips, and not to burn them; which God could easily effect.

Thy sin purged; this is a sign that I have pardoned and purged the uncleanness of thy lips, and do own and accept time as a fit minister for my service. And he laid it upon my mouth,.... Because he had complained of the impurity of his lips, and that his mouth might take in by faith this comfortable doctrine of pardon, and it might be filled with praise and thankfulness; it denotes the ministration of the Gospel, as a means of the application of pardoning grace:

and said, lo, this hath touched thy lips; this coal, as a symbol of the word; the particle "lo", or "behold", is prefixed to this declaration, as requiring attention to a matter of importance, and as expressing something wonderful, and declaring something sure and certain; all which the pardon of sin is, and which is spoken of without a figure in the next words:

and thine iniquity is taken away: which was abominable in his sight; a burden to him, and the cause of his distress; even all his iniquity, and particularly the iniquity of his lips he had been mourning over, and confessing; this was taken away, as by the sacrifice of Christ, from the sight of God, so from his own conscience, by the application of pardon:

and thy sin purged; or "atoned for", or "covered" (q); which is done meritoriously, only by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; and in a way of application by the Spirit of God, through a promise, and by the ministry of the word; which latter is here meant. The Targum is,

"and he disposed "it" in my mouth; and said, lo, I have put the words of my prophecy in thy mouth, and thine iniquities are removed, and thy sins are expiated, or forgiven.''

(q) "expiatur", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius; "expiabitur", Montanus, Piscator; "proprie tegere". Forerius.

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thy iniquity is taken away, and thy {n} sin purged.

(n) This declares that man cannot render due obedience to God, till he has purged us.

7. and thine iniquity … purged] and thy guilt passes away and thy sin is atoned for. The last word is the technical term for the expiatory effect of the sacrificial ritual.Verse 7. - He laid it upon my mouth; literally, he caused it to touch my mouth; i.e. "he touched my mouth with it." He brought it into contact with that part of him which the prophet had recognized (ver. 5) as the seat of impurity. Thine iniquity is taken away. By the contact the prophet's impurity is purged, and he is freed from it. The symbolical net showed

(1) that sin could be purged;

(2) that the highest angelic nature could not, alone and of its own force, purge it; and

(3) that the purging could come only from that fire which consumes the incense that is laid upon the altar of God. Dr. Kay suggests that this fire is "the Divine love." The time of the occurrence here described, viz., "the year that king Uzziah (Uzı̄yahu) died," was of importance to the prophet. The statement itself, in the naked form in which it is here introduced, is much more emphatic than if it commenced with "it came to pass" (vay'hi; cf., Exodus 16:6; Proverbs 24:17). It was the year of Uzziah's death, not the first year of Jotham's reign; that is to say, Uzziah was still reigning, although his death was near at hand. If this is the sense in which the words are to be understood, then, even if the chapter before us contains an account of Isaiah's first call, the heading to chapter 1, which dates the ministry of the prophet from the time of Uzziah, is quite correct, inasmuch as, although his public ministry under Uzziah was very short, this is properly to be included, not only on account of its own importance, but as inaugurating a new ear (lit. "an epoch-making beginning"). But is it not stated in 2 Chronicles 26:22, that Isaiah wrote a historical work embracing the whole of Uzziah's reign? Unquestionably; but it by no means follows from this, that he commenced his ministry long before the death of Uzziah. If Isaiah received his call in the year that Uzziah died, this historical work contained a retrospective view of the life and times of Uzziah, the close of which coincided with the call of the prophetic author, which made a deep incision into the history of Israel. Uzziah reigned fifty-two years (809-758 b.c.). This lengthened period was just the same to the kingdom of Judah as the shorter age of Solomon to that of all Israel, viz., a time of vigorous and prosperous peace, in which the nation was completely overwhelmed with manifestations of divine love. But the riches of divine goodness had no more influence upon it, than the troubles through which it had passed before. And now the eventful change took place in the relation between Israel and Jehovah, of which Isaiah was chosen to be the instrument before and above all other prophets. The year in which all this occurred was the year of Uzziah's death. It was in this year that Israel as a people was given up to hardness of heart, and as a kingdom and country to devastation and annihilation by the imperial power of the world. How significant a fact, as Jerome observes in connection with this passage, that the year of Uzziah's death should be the year in which Romulus was born; and that it was only a short time after the death of Uzziah (viz., 754 b.c. according to Varro's chronology) that Rome itself was founded! The national glory of Israel died out with king Uzziah, and has never revived to this day.

In that year, says the prophet, "I saw the Lord of all sitting upon a high and exalted throne, and His borders filling the temple." Isaiah saw, and that not when asleep and dreaming; but God gave him, when awake, an insight into the invisible world, by opening an inner sense for the supersensuous, whilst the action of the outer senses was suspended, and by condensing the supersensuous into a sensuous form, on account of the composite nature of man and the limits of his present state. This was the mode of revelation peculiar to an ecstatic vision (ἐν ἐκστἀσει, Eng. ver. "in a trance," or ἐν πνεὐματι, "in the spirit"). Isaiah is here carried up into heaven; for although in other instances it was undoubtedly the earthly temple which was presented to a prophet's view in an ecstatic vision (Amos 9:1; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 10:4-5; cf., Acts 22:17), yet here, as the description which follows clearly proves, the "high and exalted throne"

(Note: It is to this, and not to ‛Adonai, as the Targum and apparently the accents imply, that the words "high and exalted" refer.)

is the heavenly antitype of the earthly throne which was formed by the ark of the covenant; and the "temple" (hēcâl: lit., a spacious hall, the name given to the temple as the palace of God the King) is the temple in heaven, as in Psalm 11:4; Psalm 18:7; Psalm 29:9, and many other passages. There the prophet sees the Sovereign Ruler, or, as we prefer to render the noun, which is formed from âdan equals dūn, "the Lord of all" (All-herrn, sovereign or absolute Lord), seated upon the throne, and in human form (Ezekiel 1:26), as is proved by the robe with a train, whose flowing ends or borders (fimibrae: shūilm, as in Exodus 28:33-34) filled the hall. The Sept., Targum, Vulgate, etc., have dropped the figure of the robe and train, as too anthropomorphic. But John, in his Gospel, is bold enough to say that it was Jesus whose glory Isaiah saw (John 12:41). And truly so, for the incarnation of God is the truth embodied in all the scriptural anthropomorphisms, and the name of Jesus is the manifested mystery of the name Jehovah. The heavenly temple is that super-terrestrial place, which Jehovah transforms into heaven and a temple, by manifesting Himself there to angels and saints. But whilst He manifests His glory there, He is obliged also to veil it, because created beings are unable to bear it. But that which veils His glory is no less splendid, than that portion of it which is revealed. And this was the truth embodied for Isaiah in the long robe and train. He saw the Lord, and what more he saw was the all-filling robe of the indescribable One. As far as the eye of the seer could look at first, the ground was covered by this splendid robe. There was consequently no room for any one to stand. And the vision of the seraphim is in accordance with this.

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