Introducing the vision
In this short overview of Isaiah 6 and the vision of the Seraphim שרפים (the burning ones), we look at: the context the vision was given, the meaning for the people of the time, and the message for us today! Starting with the context then… so why was the book of Isaiah written?
Isa 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amotz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for Yahweh hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
Yahweh is pleading with his people, his “children”, as their Father; By this revelation given to Isaiah–just as John received the revelation about his generation, and beyond–open the eyes of the faithful of the inhabitance of Judah an Jerusalem, a message to his servants, to show them things which must shortly come to pass.
One of several phases of the locust
There were to be four successive invasions by the Assyrians, which Joel sees as waves of locusts; a wave in each of the reigns of the kings mentioned here. They came from the north, eating the goodness of the land as they came. By the end, all of the northern tribes of Israel were taken from the land, and only a small remnant of the tribe of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem remained.
Now when we come to Isaiah 6, we find our vision is given around the time of the death of Uzziah king in Judah. In verse one we read:
Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also Adonay(my lord) sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
How is this vision related to the death of Uzziah?
Uzziah עֻזִּיָּהוּ means “Yahweh is my strength”, and this describes the earlier part of his reign; he grew strong and powerful under the wings of the father. 2 Kings 15 seems to suggest that he changed his name towards the end of his reign. When coronated he was called Uzziah, but by the time of Menachem–the king of Israel and the first Assyrian invasion–he was referred to as Azariah עֲזַרְיָהוּ (which means “Yahweh has helped”). By adding another letter to his name, he now shared the same name as the high priest of the time!
Now why would he do this? Perhaps there is a clue in the first time the word “help”, ezer עזר is used in the psalms,
Ps 20:1 Yahweh hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the Elohim of Jacob defend thee;
2 Send thee help, ezer עזר, from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion
There are several prophecies of the saving of Jerusalem from there enemies by the “help” of Israel; Christ and the saints (Deut 33:7,26, Psa 121). At the time of the barbaric Assyrian invasion, the “day of trouble”, it would seem that Uzziah–now Azeriah–was associating himself with the prophetic Melchizedek, the king priest of Jerusalem, the seed of David. Through him he assumed that the people would be saved, and his “heart was lifted up to destruction” (2 chr 26:16). Taking upon himself the role of the high priest, he tried to offer incense in the temple to Yahweh! lifting himself up beyond that which was given to him, he was smitten with leprosy for the rest of his life, reminding him that all flesh is grass–Yahweh indeed was his strength!
This is a great lesson for us, where is our aim in life? do we strive to set ourselves up, is it our desire to be in the kingdom for Yahweh’s glory, or our own? The saints, symbolised in apocalypse by the 24 elders will “cast their crowns before the throne, saying… thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Apoc 4:10)
Nadab and Abihu: the cleansing work of the Seraphim
Uzziah represents the apostasy of the nation and it’s rulers at the time… flesh is no better now than it was then; our generation is also coming to a time of purging.
Alter of Incense (Timna Park tabernacle reconstruction: Israel)
Uzziah made the same mistake as Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, when they offered strange fire; incense that Yahweh had not asked for. According to Luke 1:9,10, “the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense”. And “the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before” Yahweh (Apoc 8:4).
Both the prayers of Azeriah and the people were rejected, Isaiah 1 says, “bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me … I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. … And when ye spread forth your hands (in prayer), I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isa 1:13, 15).
Fire, coming forth from the faces of the Cherubim burnt up Nadab and Abihu. Yahweh forbade Aaron–their father–to morn … but “let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning, saraph שרף, which Yahweh hath kindled, saraph שרף” (Lev 10:6). Why did Yahweh do this? We are told in verse 3, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified”.
Whirlwind from the north, the vision of the Cherubim (Ezk 1)
Because of the wickedness of the people in turning their back on him and serving Baal, and offering their children to Molech burning them on the hands of the statue outside the gates of Jerusalem (city of peace), the people were to be purged with the burning fire of the Seraphim. In the words of Yahweh through Ezekiel when he, in prophecy, was to cut hairs from his head as a symbol of the people of Israel, “cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn saraph שרף them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (Ezek 5:4). And it did, Ezekiel 1 is the vision of Babylonians consuming Jerusalem as a fiery whirlwind (Ezk 43:3).
Choosing to take upon ourselves the name of Yahweh in baptism, to be son’s and daughters of the most high, is a great responsibility. Bringing into disrepute the name of our Father is a very serious thing. Yahweh’s name must be seen as holy at all times!
Next we will look at the vision on the throne, the true king priest–Mel’chizedek