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Isaiah 6:1-5 • tv114b
A television broadcast sermon delivered
Sunday, March 30th, 1980
Henry T. Mahan
Transcribed, edited and published
December 24th, 2015
Henry T. Mahan Tape Library
Zebulon Baptist Church
6088 Zebulon Highway
Pikeville, KY 41501
“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. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
I hope this message this morning is instructive. I do know that it will be interesting. I would like for you to open your Bible with me to the book of Isaiah chapter 6.
Now, I am going to be speaking to you on the subject: “WHAT ISAIAH SAW” and incidentally it’s what I need to see and what you need to see, some things that God revealed to the prophet Isaiah.
Now, reading verse 1 of Isaiah 6; let’s just take this for a text. He said: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and his train, (His glory) filled the temple.”
Now, I don’t know a great deal about this man Isaiah. There are a few things I know about him and I will pass them along to you.
First of all: He was a prophet. He was a prophet of God. He was a prophet of God who prophesied in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Most of those names I’m sure mean nothing to you, but they were kings of Judah. And he prophesied, (he spoke for the Lord) in the days of the reign of those gentlemen.
Secondly: He lived about a 120 years and he prophesied or (preached the Word of God) for 85 years.
And another thing that is interesting; this man Isaiah lived about 700 years before Christ. And someone has pointed out that his writings, the Book of Isaiah is quoted more; (this is interesting) his writings are quoted more in the New Testament than any other book except the book of Psalms.
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, when he began to preach, he selected a passage of Scripture from the book of Isaiah to begin his ministry.
When our Lord Jesus Christ went down to Nazareth where He was brought up, and as His custom was, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and He stood up to read the Scriptures, what Scripture did He read that morning when He was going to reveal His mercy, His sovereign mercy, to that crowd of people at Nazareth?
He chose Isaiah 61: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me.” He said, “This day, this scripture is fulfilled.” This Scripture was written 700 years ago by Isaiah, this is the first time it has been fulfilled for the purpose for which it was written; it was written about Christ.
I talked about that last week. Do you remember how the Old Testament is Christ in promise, picture, prophecy, and type? The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. It is revealing what Christ fulfilled.
And then, when Phillip was lead out into the wilderness to preach to the Ethiopian Eunuch, what Scripture was that man reading when he was riding along in the chariot? He was reading Isaiah, Isaiah 53: “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for iniquities.”
I think Isaiah was fitly called by one of the old-timers, “The Gospel of the Old Testament.” Well, that’s Isaiah; that’s the man. Now what did Isaiah see? Well, the Lord God revealed Himself to this man Isaiah. God revealed Himself to Isaiah. Isaiah said: “I saw the Lord (the Lord!).”
Now, God reveals Himself to every person whom He saves. Men aren’t born knowing God. Our Lord Jesus Christ said to the religious people in his day, “Ye neither know me nor my Father.” He said, “Eternal life is to know God.” He said, “No man knoweth the Father save the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” So, men by nature do not know God!
But every man whom God is pleased to save; He’s pleased to reveal Himself to that person. Salvation is not only regeneration, but salvation is revelation. Let me show you that in the Scriptures.
One day our Lord was talking to his disciples and he said, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” And they said, “Well, some say you are John the Baptist and some say you are Elijah, some say you are one of the prophets.” He said, “But whom do you say that I am?” And Peter immediately replied, “We know who you are. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; you are the Christ, (the Messiah).”
Our Lord said, “Blessed art thou Peter; flesh and blood didn’t reveal that to you but my Father which is in heaven.” Do you see that? “A man can receive nothing except it were given him from above.”
Then the apostle Paul said, “God who separated me from my mother’s womb was pleased to reveal his Son in me.”
And one day our Lord lifted His eyes to heaven and He said: “Father I thank you, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hid these things from the wise and the prudent and you’ve revealed them unto babes, even so Father, it seemed good in your sight.”
Then, in 1 Corinthians 2:8, 9, and 10, it says: “As it is written: eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered the heart of man, the things God’s prepared for them that love him. But he hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
So God reveals Himself to sinners. God revealed Himself to Isaiah. I want us to find out what Isaiah saw and my friend it’s what I need to see and you need to see. “He that seeth the Son and believeth on him hath everlasting life.” And we need to see some things.
First of all: The first thing that Isaiah saw, he said: “When king Uzziah died, in that same year, I saw the Lord, I saw the Lord”
Now, the old-timers use to say this; they use to say: “Isaiah did not see God essentially considered for God is Spirit whose essence is not to be seen.” And we have that verified throughout the Word. “No man hath seen God at any time. No man hath seen the Father. No man can see me and live” God said. Well, who did Isaiah see? Isaiah said, “I saw the Lord.”
He saw Christ. He saw the Lord. He did see the Lord; he saw the Lord Jesus Christ. He had a pre-incarnation glimpse of Jesus Christ. He saw the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s who he saw.
Well, how did he see Him? Now, this ought to be interesting. Isaiah saw the Lord 700 years before the Lord Jesus came to the earth, 700 years before Peter, James, and John saw him, 730 years before Paul saw him on the road to Damascus, 700 and some odd years before John saw him on the Isle of Patmos. Isaiah saw the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, I’ll tell you how he saw Him. He saw Him like you are going to have to see Him and I’m going to have to see Him if we are saved, if we come to appreciate His glory, like Isaiah did.
Second: Isaiah said: “I saw him on a throne.”
Our Lord is enthroned. The Scripture says that having finished the work that He came to do, having offered a perfect sacrifice and redeemed His people, He ascended back to the Father where He’s seated on the right hand of God, seated on the right hand of the majesty on high.
Jesus Christ is Lord. He is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” He’s Lord by the Father’s decree: “Him hath God exalted to be both Lord and Christ.” He’s Lord by purchase, “He died and rose again that he might be Lord of the dead and of the living.”
Isaiah saw Him high and lifted up on a throne. My friend, Isaiah didn’t see His throne high, he saw the Lord high. The power and glory is not the throne; it’s the person on the throne. I wish we could see that. He said: “I saw Christ high and lifted up.”
Well, we go back to Calvary: “The Son of man must be lifted up to save his people.” The Son of man is lifted up to reign and to give to His people eternal life and the Son of God does reign in His church. He’s the head of the church and His glory fills the church.
Third: Then he saw Christ; he said: “I saw the Lord on a throne high and lifted up” and he saw the holiness and righteousness of Christ.
He said, “Above the throne are the seraphims and each one had six wings.” And he said: “With two they covered their faces,” (ashamed to look upon his glory and his holiness). “And with two they covered their feet,” (ashamed of their walk and their conduct and conversation). “And with two they did fly” (to preach his Gospel, to carry out his ministry).
Nearly all of the old writers agree that these seraphims are pictures of the prophets, the ministers of the Gospel. As they stand before the awesome, holy presence, of the Lord of glory; they cover their faces because they are not worthy to look upon his glory.
They cover their feet because they are ashamed of their walk and conduct and conversation. But with two wings they fly forth in haste to carry out His will and to preach His glorious Gospel.
But the thing he is talking about here, those seraphims cry: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.” Our Christ is holy. He has a perfect holiness and a perfect righteousness which He gives to us, which He imputes unto us, who believe on His name.
Fourth: “He saw the Lord on a throne high and lifted up. His glory filled the temple.” His glory filled the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He saw His holiness, His righteousness, and He saw the earth full of His glory; Isaiah saw the Lord.
Now my friend; “The heavens declare the glory of God.” And every believer in his heart knows something of the glory of God. And the church is filled with the glory of God. But our Lord said to the people of his day; “You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait till you see the Son of man ascend up where he was before.” Wait till you see the new heaven and the new earth. Wait till you see His righteousness covering the land as the water covers the sea. Oh wait till you see the glory of the Lord!
We are going to see it someday. One of these days we are going to see His eternal, infinite, everlasting, unchangeable glory, the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
His glory filled the temple. His glory filled the heavens and my friends, one of these days His glory will fill the earth, “when the last enemy of death shall be (ultimately) put under his feet and destroyed forever. I saw the Lord, I saw the Lord.”
Now Secondly, Isaiah said, “In the year that king Uzziah died; I saw the Lord.” And then what did he say? He saw himself and he cried: “Woe is me I’m undone. I’m a man of unclean lips”
My friend, a look at other men may lead us to say: “I thank you God I’m not like other men.” If you are restricted comparing yourself with other people, you may come up looking pretty good.
You may be like the old Pharisee in the temple who looked at the Publican down there praying you know, and he said; “God; I sure am thankful I’m not like that fellow.” He was telling the truth; he was glad he wasn’t like that fellow.
Then, if we compare ourselves with others we get to look at other people’s sins and their words and their deeds and we say: “Well, we are glad we are not like them” and we go off in our self-righteous, holier than thou attitude and spirit.
A look at the law, may lead us to say like Saul of Tarsus: “I’m blameless; I never killed anybody, I never killed anybody, I never stole anything. I never have taken God’s name in vain.”
And a look at the Ten Commandments may lead us to say like the rich, young, ruler: “I’ve kept these from my youth up. What do I lack?”
But I’m telling you; Isaiah on this eventful day, he didn’t see some other fellow and start talking about how good he was. He didn’t see the law, the rules, the ceremonies, the statutes, and standards of the churches; he saw the Lord and he cried: “Woe is me. I’m a man of unclean lips.”
When a man gets a glimpse of the holiness of God; I will tell you what it does, it reveals his corruption and his vileness and his sins. Oh his love reveals our hate doesn’t it?
His submission to God reveals our disobedience. And His holiness and righteousness reveals our sin and depravity. And His truth reveals our lies. Isaiah said and he cried: “When I saw the Lord, woe is me.”
Listen to what these words mean: “I am undone, I am undone.” The amplified version says: “I’m ruined, I’m ruined.” He saw the Lord, the holiness of Christ. He saw the triumphant majesty of Christ. He saw the glory of Christ and the righteousness of Christ. He said: “I’m ruined.”
Then another translation says: “I’ve sinned.” And another one says: “I’m reduced to silence; my mouth is stopped.” That’s what Paul says in Romans 3: “Let every mouth be stopped and all the world become guilty before God.”
He says: “I’m forced to be silent because of my vileness, my corruption, my sin. I cannot even speak the name of God. I’m a man of unclean lips.”
You know that Isaiah didn’t say anything here about his heart. He was talking about his lips: “I’m a man of unclean lips.” But you know his lips are the outlet of his heart. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
So, he just said: “I’m a man of unclean lips. I speak what’s in my heart and it’s unclean.” And he said: “I dwell in a midst of a people of unclean lips. Our whole race is a fallen race. “All have sinned and come short of God’s glory.
“All we like sheep have gone astray. We’ve turned everyone to his own way. There is none that doeth good, no not one.” All of this: “Woe is me; I’m undone. I’m a man of unclean lips.” “I was put to silence because of my vileness and my corruption and my sin.”
This is one of the most righteous men of his day. It wasn’t the town drunk talking; this was the town prophet. “I’m undone,” and all of this as a consequence of seeing the Lord. He says, “Woe is me; I’m undone. I’m a man of unclean lips (I’m ruined). “For mine eyes have seen the Lord of hosts.”
Now, you want to convict men of sin; quit talking about the products of sin, the results of sin, and all that, and start talking about the Lord of glory. Let your congregation get a glimpse of the glory of Christ and they will see their sins. It’ll shut their mouths; it will whittle them down.
It will knock their foundations of flesh out from under them. It will strip their self-righteous rags off of them. It will throw them down into the depths of the deepest pit of repentance crying: “God help me, I’m ruined; I’m ruined.” Isaiah said: “When I saw the Lord I saw myself, I saw myself.”
We are too busy following preachers. We are too busy following church leaders. We are too busy upholding the church’s standards. We are too busy doing all of that and claiming how good we are and how holy we are and how righteous we are and how worthy of heaven we are and we’ve never seen the Lord.
It may be he’ll pass this generation by, I don’t know, but it may be. He may be pleased to let us see what Isaiah saw. Isaiah was in religion a long time before he saw the Lord. But when he saw the Lord, he saw himself.
Thirdly: Here’s good news; he saw something else, he saw pardon and mercy!
Read verses 6 and 7. He said: “Then flew one of the seraphims.” Remember, we said that they represent prophets of God, the preachers of the Gospel: “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me. Having a live coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar and he laid it on my mouth and he said, Lo, this has touched your lips and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged.”
Now, here Isaiah said, “I saw the Lord. I saw Him in his holiness and majesty and awesome righteousness. When I saw the Lord of hosts I saw myself in my corruption, depravity, and flesh.”
But good news! “One of the seraphims came from God, from the throne of God, and he came to me and he had in his hand a live coal that he had taken from the altar and he laid it on my mouth and he said: your iniquity is taken away and your sins are purged.”
I said a while ago the seraphim’s may be a picture of a prophet of God, a minister of the Gospel. What does he bring? He brings a live coal; that’s the Gospel of Christ. That’s the living truth. That’s the living Word of God.
He brings a live coal; that’s the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is good news of how Christ died for sinners. And he brings that live coal from the altar itself from the cross of Calvary. That’s where it comes from. That’s where the good news comes from, from Calvary.
Good news doesn’t come from Sinai. The good news doesn’t come from Sinai; it comes from Calvary. The good news doesn’t come from the temple in Jerusalem; it comes from Calvary, the good news that there’s a Redeemer, that God will show mercy, that God will put away our sin.
And the prophet of God brings the living message. It’s not a dead orthodoxy or a dry, dead, letter; its living truth right from the cross of Calvary itself.
And he touches our mouths; that’s the sins we confess. He says: “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us.” And when he touches our lips; you know, Paul said in Romans 10: “The gospel is not do this and live, the gospel, the Word of faith is in your mouth.” Christ died for our sins.
“If you will confess Jesus Christ to be Lord and believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That message is right there in your mouth and God’s prophet put it there, right from the cross, if you will confess Christ. That’s good news!
And then he saw something else and this is one of the most interesting things in the world to me, Isaiah said: “When king Uzziah died”
Now, I don’t know the significance of that. I could put some significance on it. I don’t want to stretch the point but there’s some folks that are not going to see the Lord till their “Uzziah’s die.”
The people that they are putting before the Lord, the jobs they are putting before the Lord, their ambitions they are putting before the Lord, their blueprints for life they are putting before the Lord, all their fame and fortune, and honor and materialism; those things die and then you see the Lord. Those things move out of the way that have been your, “Lord’s and your God’s.”
And when king Uzziah died; I don’t know what Uzziah was to Isaiah, I just know when he died Isaiah was able to see the Lord. Maybe God will have to kill you before you will see Him. Maybe you will have to kill some precious something that is too dear to you before you will see the Lord.
But king Uzziah died and Isaiah saw the Lord. He saw Him in His true reigning Lordship and character. He didn’t see Him as an infant in Bethlehem’s manger. He didn’t see Him as a pitiful carpenter in Nazareth. He didn’t see Him as a healer on the Judean hillside. He didn’t see Him as a frustrated reformer by the Sea of Galilee.
He didn’t see Him hanging on a crucifix; he saw Him on a throne. That’s where he saw the Lord. When he did, he saw himself vile, sinful and corrupt and he cried for mercy. That’s when the Lord sent the good news right from the cross.
He said: “This is the way sin is purged.” Sin is not purged by you going to a place called Purgatory and spending a few years. Sin is purged at Calvary. There is no such thing in the Bible as Purgatory.
That was invented as a money making scheme, you know, by some fellow along time ago. The church kind of got in trouble back then, you know, and they had to get some funds to build a new educational building so somebody invented Purgatory. And they have been selling that idea ever since to people. But our sins are purged at the cross, it’s purged the iniquity is taken away.
Fourthly: He saw human nature as he had never seen it!
The Lord said to him in verses 8 and 9: “Now you go tell these people what you’ve seen and what you’ve heard. You go as my preacher Isaiah.” He said, “Whom shall I send and who will go for me?” Isaiah said, “Here am I; send me.”
The Lord said: “All right I will send you but I’ve got something to tell you before you go: They’ve got eyes but they are not going to see. They’ve got ears but they are not going to hear and they’ve got hearts but they are not going to understand.”
You know, Isaiah found that out. Our Lord Jesus said: “Let a man come in his own name and him you will receive. I come in my Father’s name and you receive me not.”
You can just about tell this religious world anything you want to and they will believe it and they will receive it and they will support it, except the truth. You tell them the truth, the truth about God and the truth about themselves and the truth about Christ and the truth about salvation and they grow angry with you.
Look at verse 9 and 10. He says: “I’m going to send you these people but these people have ears and they won’t hear you and eyes, they won’t see what you are saying. They won’t perceive at all; they won’t understand.”
And Isaiah wrote a little later in Isaiah 53, he said: “Who hath believed my report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Not many, not many.
But what did Isaiah do? Let me tell you something: “He saw the glory of the Lord and he went forth to speak of him.”
Turn to John chapter 12. Here’s a Scripture that I have underlined in my Bible several times. I think it is one of the most beautiful Scriptures in the entire Bible in reference to this man Isaiah. In John 12:41 it says this: “These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory; he spake of him.”
My friend, you can’t tell what you don’t know any more than you can come back from where you haven’t been.
And Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord. And after he saw the glory of the Lord; do you know what his message was, “the glory of the Lord.” He had never seen anything like it.
God revealed to Isaiah His Gospel and it was so magnificent and so wonderful that it met his need but that’s all he wanted to talk about. He preached the Gospel of Christ. He went forth to sing the praises of the Lord: “When he saw the glory of the Lord he spake of him.”
Do you know why so many preachers are talking about themselves? Well, they’ve never seen the glory of Christ. If they ever saw His glory, they would never talk about themselves again except to say: “Woe is me, I’m undone; I’m ruined, and I’m sinful.”
Do you know the reason so many preachers talk about their denomination? That’s all they have ever seen, the glory of their denomination. If they ever see the glory of Christ they will speak of Him.
Do you know the reason a lot of preachers speak of the glory of the American government and all of these different things, you know, and they declare war on this that and the other? It’s because they have never seen Christ’s glory.
“When Isaiah saw the Lord, he spake of him.” You couldn’t show him anything else more wonderful. You couldn’t give him a message more wonderful. You couldn’t give him a message more personally consuming. It met his every need! He was eaten up with the glory of the Lord. That’s all he wanted to talk about. He talked about it in the day time and dreamed about it at night, the glory of the Lord.
Listen to what he wrote in Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else. I’m a just God and a Saviour.”
My friend, that’s God’s order of grace. That’s God’s method of grace, first death and then life, first judgment and then grace, first stripping and then clothing.
That’s the way He did Isaiah. He brought him down. He saw the glory of the Lord and he was ready to preach. He went out to tell others about the glory of his Lord: “He spake of him!”