Symbolic Impressions of the Divine Holiness
Isaiah 6:1-4
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.…

This is the only vision recorded in Isaiah's prophecy. It did not come at the beginning of his labors, but as an inauguration to a higher degree of the prophetic office. From the tone of the latter part of the chapter, it is evident that he had found out the rebelliousness and obstinacy of the people, and perhaps had become, like Elijah, greatly distressed and discouraged; needing, therefore, such a reviving and encouragement as this vision was fitted to afford. It introduces the prophet as outside, near the altar in front of the temple. The doors are supposed to be open, and the veil hiding the holy of holies to be withdrawn, unfolding the sight of Jehovah as a Monarch sitting on his throne, and surrounded by his ministers of state. According to the tradition, Isaiah's assertion that he had seen God was the pretext for sawing him asunder, in the reign of Manasseh. In the record of the vision it should be noticed that Isaiah gives only surroundings of God, no description of the Divine Being himself. If this had been the only vision recorded as granted by God to his people, its explanation would have been difficult. It is, however, but one of a long series, and it appears to illustrate a recognized mode of Divine dealings. God takes opportunities of impressing the Divine holiness and claims by symbolic manifestations. We review the principal illustrations from Bible records.

I. The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great Reward." And Abram, by Divine direction, took a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon, killed them, divided them, and while a horror of great darkness fell upon him, "behold! a smoking furnace and a burning lamp" - symbols of Divine holiness - "passed between the pieces, and the Lord made a covenant with Abram."

II. A vision was granted to Jacob, from which the whole tone of his life was changed, and he began a covenanted, God-fearing career. As he lay wearily on his stone pillow, under the clear-shining stars of an Eastern sky, "behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father... the land whereon thou liest, to thee and thy seed will I give it."

III. Moses led the flock of Jethro, one memorable day, to the back side of the desert, and "came to the mount of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And God called unto him out of the midst of the bush" - symbol of the holiness that consumes and purifies - "and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I."

IV. When commencing his arduous life-work, a similar impression was wrought upon Joshua. One day he looked towards Jericho, and lo! "there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand." In answer to Joshua's question he said, "As Captain of the Lord's host have I come... Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy."

V. In the times of the judges Gideon and Manoah beheld angels who delivered messages, and ascended in the smoke of sacrificial fires. Samuel, when a little lad, heard the very voice of God speaking his own name, and entrusting him with prophetic messages. Solomon was honored by God's appearing to him in a night-dream, and offering the bestowment of the best blessings upon him. Elijah, after the lightning, and thunder, and earthquake, and wind had passed, heard God in the "still small voice." Job exclaims, as in the rapture of a vision, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself." Jeremiah was directly set apart for his prophetic work. "The Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth."

VI. In the New Testament records we find similar scenes. Manifestations of angels to shepherds. A wonderful scone of transfiguration for our Lord himself. The descending sheet, and its strange contents, for Peter. The overwhelming light and voice on the road to Damascus, and the elevation into the third heavens, to see the unspeakable, for St. Paul. And the apocalyptic vision for St. John. Isaiah's vision is in fullest sympathy with all these. For its explanation, see the exegetical portion of the Commentary. It bore upon the prophet, through its symbols, overwhelming impressions

(1) of the holiness,

(2) of the direct claims of God. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

WEB: In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.

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