Isaiah’s Call and Commission
What event led to Isaiah’s call?
Isaiah’s call came in the year of King Uzziah’s death. Isaiah had grown up during the prosperous and secure years of Uzziah’s fifty-two year reign (2 Kings 15:2; 2 Chron. 26:3).
In the year of King Uzziah’s death Isaiah had a vision of the Lord seated upon His throne. Judah’s throne was empty but the God of the universe who reigns forever and ever occupied heaven’s throne. Isaiah saw seraphim, heavenly angelic beings, attending to and declaring the glory of God.
This marvelous vision of God’s holiness made Isaiah aware of his sin and that of the people of Judah. Isaiah was cleansed and forgiven of his sin by a seraph that touched his mouth with a burning coal.
After his sin had been dealt with, Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord inquiring who would deliver His message to the people of Judah. Isaiah quickly volunteered to be that messenger. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Before he announced any ‘woes’ on others, he first confessed his own sin and said, ‘Woe is me!'”
What was Isaiah commissioned to do?
After Isaiah said, “Here am I. Send me,” God said, “Go, and tell… .” Isaiah was commissioned to take God’s message of warning to the people.
Wiersbe notes, “Isaiah’s ministry would actually make some people’s eyes more blind, their ears more deaf, and their hearts more calloused.” They would resist God’s truth. Isaiah then asked regarding the length of his commission and learned that he was to serve until the land became desolate.
Isaiah 6:13, a reference to a remnant, contains a glimmer of hope. It offered the big-picture perspective that would keep Isaiah going.
Practical Consideration: We should be prepared to go wherever God sends.
When God asked for a volunteer to bear His message, Isaiah responded without hesitation, even before he knew the nature of the mission. Someone noted that our attitude regarding service should be, “The answer is ‘yes’ Lord … now, what’s the question?”
Verse by Verse (NIV)
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah [also known as Azariah; his 52-year reign was the longest reign of any of the kings in Southern Kingdom of Judah; cf. 2 Kings 15:2; 2 Chron. 26:3; brought peace, prosperity, and security to Judah] died [about 740 BC; Uzziah died after a long illness caused by his improper offering of incense in the temple (2 Chron. 26:16-23)], I saw the Lord seated on a throne [Judah’s throne was empty but the God of the universe who reigns forever and ever occupied heaven’s throne], high and exalted [higher and more exalted than any earthly monarch], and the train of his robe [majesty; length of robe signified the wealth and power of a king] filled the temple.
6:2 Above him were seraphs [from Heb. word “to burn” (may indicate they had a fiery appearance); one of the highest orders of angels; their purpose is to magnify the Lord], each with six wings: With two wings they covered [because of God’s holiness; this act signified humility before God] their faces [so as not to look on God’s unveiled glory], with two they covered their feet [perhaps indicates ancient display of modesty], and with two they were flying [suggests their readiness to carry of the Lord’s commands].
6:3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy [means “to separate;” primary meaning is “otherness” or “apartness”], holy [emphasizes that God does no wrong but always does right], holy [repetition of the word emphasized God’s holiness] is the LORD Almighty [or “Lord of Hosts”]; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
6:4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook [cf. Ex. 19:18] and the temple was filled with smoke [Moses’ tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38) and Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) were filled with smoke (represented God’s presence) upon their completion and dedication].
6:5 “Woe to me [Isaiah expressed personal feelings of distress and sorrow after seeing God’s holiness]!” I cried. “I am ruined [word literally means “cut off” or “separated”]! For [note reasons why Isaiah felt he was ruined…]  I am a man of unclean lips [Isaiah confessed his own sinfulness and acknowledged that he was unworthy of the God he served], and I live among a people of unclean lips [Isaiah was part of a larger sinful community], and  my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar [reference to the altar of incense that stood before the entrance to the holy of holies in the earthly tabernacle (Ex. 30:1-10)].
6:7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for [not because of anything Isaiah had done but because of God’s grace; God cleansed Isaiah of whatever made him unable or reluctant to serve].”
6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? [these questions remind us that God works through people]” And I said [Isaiah responded immediately and affirmatively to God’s call], “Here am I. Send me!”
6:9 He said [God commissioned Isaiah for service (a fruitless mission)…], “Go and tell this people: ” ‘Be ever hearing [they would hear Isaiah’s unpopular message], but never understanding [the people would continue in their rebellion]; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
6:10 [note description of how the people would respond to God’s message preached by Isaiah…] Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes [Isaiah’s message would crystallize the Israelite’s rebellion; all of their senses would be shut off to Isaiah’s message of warning and salvation]. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
6:11 Then I said, “For how long [Isaiah asked how long he must proclaim God’s message of judgment on sin], O Lord?” And he [God] answered [note that Isaiah was to continue preaching until God’s judgment had fallen on the nation…]: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged,
6:12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away [exile (Assyrians destroyed Northern Kingdom about 17 years after Isaiah’s visionary call; Southern Kingdom would fall to the Babylonians more than 150 years later); Isaiah was to continue preaching God’s message until there was no one left to hear it] and the land is utterly forsaken.
6:13 And though a tenth remains in the land [a remnant of people], it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps [signify the potential for new growth] when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”