King Uzziah’s Great Sin
Isaiah chapter 6 tells us that during Uzziah’s reign, something happens that threatens to rock the national boat. Everybody’s scared. Uncertainty and fear creep into every conversation. I suspect that young Isaiah is nervous too, but why? Well, the people of Judah have good reason to be jittery.
King Uzziah makes a big mistake. Second Chronicles 26 tells of his mighty exploits early on in his reign and how God helps him, but then after a while, how he becomes really puffed-up. He’s famous (verse 15). Pride ruins even the good man, and it changes Uzziah. He thinks he can do anything. He’s immune from all regulations that apply to everyone else.
For some reason, maybe just pride, Uzziah enters the holy Temple and burns incense personally on the altar, an act of worship forbidden by God to all except the descendants of Aaron, the Levite priests (2 Chronicles 26:18). The priests try to stop him, but Uzziah loses his temper and goes right ahead.
God may be patient about some sins, but profaning his Temple, His Ark, or His altar gets a quick response. Remember a man named “Uzzah” in David’s time who died for just touching the Ark when he wasn’t supposed to? Interesting similarity in names, isn’t it?
Uzziah is punished immediately for irreverence. God strikes Uzziah instantly with leprosy right there in the Temple, on his temple (okay, his forehead). He never recovers. He has to be isolated, cut off from everyone else, and this may mean more than just separate living quarters.
Second Chronicles 26:21 says Uzziah is “cut off from the house of the Lord.” That’s scary. I sure wouldn’t want to be cut off from “The Lord’s Household.” Whatever the full consequences are beyond having the horrible disease, Uzziah can no longer conduct government business. Jotham, his son, takes over as Co-Regent.
The Reason for Fear
This is very unsettling to the people. It’s one thing for a king to die. That’s the natural order of things. It’s far more troubling to see the wrath of God fall in a supernatural manner on Uzziah. If God punishes a leader so directly, He may punish the people in a severe manner also.
Recall the incident when David decided to number his fighting men (1 Chronicles 21). It was sinful, because he doesn’t need to know the size of the army. God fights for Israel. Defeat or
God gave David a choice of punishments, and he picked one involving the shortest time victory doesn’t depend on numbers. frame. It still resulted in a plague that killed 70,000 (1 Chronicles 21:14). The people were punished for David’s sin.
“Hey,” the people here in Uzziah’s day reason, “That could happen again. We’ve been ignoring Jehovah for a long time. What if He sends a seven-year drought? What if some foreign power like Assyria senses our leadership void, and invades before young Jotham learns how to act like a king? If Jehovah cuts off our king for one act of irreverence, what might He do to us?” People are scared.
God Calls Isaiah to Warn His People
God doesn’t drop the hammer on them quickly as they fear, but He does act. He calls someone to warn the Judeans. Lets read 6:1-10:
“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. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
We’re not told how long it takes Uzziah to die, but in the final year, Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord Jesus on His throne. John 12:41 confirms the amazing fact that it was Jesus he saw.
These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.
Note that anytime a flesh and blood man encounters the unveiled Christ, it’s devastating. That person … Isaiah here, Daniel in 10:7-10, Paul in Acts 9:3-8, John in Revelation 1:17 … is immediately aware of his sinful condition in the presence of a holy God. If something isn’t done quickly about that sin … “Woe is me for I am ruined!”
Just think what this will mean to the billions of unsaved people who one day encounter the Living God on His throne in the awesome judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15. They will say exactly what Isaiah does here, but for them there will be no remedy.
After cleansing Isaiah of sin, the Lord appeals for a messenger to the people of Judah. Isaiah doesn’t hesitate: “Here am I. Send me! (6:8).”
Wow! That explains a lot as to why Jehovah speaks to this particular young man. Even mighty Moses doesn’t respond like that on Mount Sinai. He tries to get out of the job. Gideon asks for a couple of signs. Jeremiah says that he’s too young (1:6-7). Mary asks a few questions for clarification when Gabriel appears to her. Isaiah doesn’t hesitate. He volunteers.
It’s a strange commission. God instructs Isaiah to warn the Judeans of how they’ve sinned, but also tells him that they won’t listen. God will harden their hearts and stop their ears.
Jesus later quotes Isaiah as He explains to His disciples why He teaches in parables, rather than just saying plainly what He means (Luke 8:10). There are people in every generation, it seems, that are so wicked that God allows a veil to remain in place over their minds and hearts. They’re given the truth, but they refuse to buy it.
So what’s Isaiah to say? What great truths are the Judeans destined to ignore?
The Major Theme of Isaiah’s Message: God Alone Saves!!
Isaiah’s name means: “The Salvation of Jehovah,” or “Jehovah Saves,” and that’s the central message Isaiah tries to get across over and over to the Jews of his day. Anytime you face a threat. Anytime you’re afraid of what the future holds. Anytime you appear to be up against overwhelming odds, don’t look for rescue or support anywhere else! Only God offers His people of every era any hope of deliverance from evil.
Listen up Judeans: Your salvation always has been, is now, and always will be found “in God alone.” You can count on it. The Lord made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and those promises will be kept. However, if you look elsewhere for your salvation in times of trouble, God will abandon most of you to your worst fears.
How Does This Apply to Us?
Is Jehovah our salvation, just as He was and is for the Hebrews? Certainly. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is one with Jehovah … one Being in some way we’ll never fully understand while we’re in the flesh. Jesus says so in John 10:30: “I and the Father are One.” One Unit. One Essence.
Jesus’ name is the Greek version of the Hebrew “Jeshua,” which means “Jehovah Saved.” That’s why so much of Isaiah refers to Jesus Christ. The salvation of Jehovah is my salvation. It’s yours also if you belong to the Lord. Isaiah’s message is for us too.
Turn only to the Lord. Appeal only to Him. Remember what He’s done for you in the past. Remember how He’s demonstrated through the centuries that He loves you and will care for you.