January 4, 2009 – January 10, 2009
“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.” Isaiah 6:5.
Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 303–310; Gospel Workers, 20–23.
“True holiness and humility are inseparable. The nearer the soul comes to God, the more completely is it humbled and subdued.” That I May Know Him, 175.
1 What characterized the early reign of Uzziah, king of Judah? II Kings 15:1–3; II Chronicles 26:1–5.
Note: “The long reign of Uzziah [also known as Azariah] in the land of Judah and Benjamin was characterized by a prosperity greater than that of any other ruler since the death of Solomon, nearly two centuries before. …
“This outward prosperity, however, was not accompanied by a corresponding revival of spiritual power. The temple services were continued as in former years, and multitudes assembled to worship the living God; but pride and formality gradually took the place of humility and sincerity.” Prophets and Kings, 303, 304.
2 What warning should we heed from the disastrous presumption of proud Uzziah? II Chronicles 26:16–21; Numbers 15:30.
Note: “Unto the day of his death, some years later, Uzziah remained a leper—a living example of the folly of departing from a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Neither his exalted position nor his long life of service could be pleaded as an excuse for the presumptuous sin by which he marred the closing years of his reign, and brought upon himself the judgment of Heaven.” Prophets and Kings, 304.
3 What conditions were prevalent in Israel even before Isaiah was called to be a prophet? Isaiah 1:2–9.
Note: “The times in which Isaiah was to labor were fraught with peculiar peril to the people of God. … Already grave perils were threatening the peace of the southern kingdom. The divine protection was being removed, and the Assyrian forces were about to overspread the land of Judah.” Prophets and Kings, 305.
4 What sins existed in the nation during the early days of Isaiah? Isaiah 3:12; 5:20–23.
Note: “By their specious reasoning, they [the class represented in Isaiah 5:20–23] confuse the distinction that God desires to have drawn between good and evil. The sacred is brought down on a level with common things. Avarice and selfishness are called by false names; they are called prudence. Their rising up in independence and rebellion, their revenge and stubbornness, in their eyes are proofs of dignity, evidences of a noble mind. They act as though ignorance of divine things were not dangerous and even fatal to the soul; and they prefer their own reasoning to divine revelation, their own plans and human wisdom to the admonitions and commands of God. The piety and conscientiousness of others are called fanaticism, and those who practise [sic] truth and holiness are watched and criticized. They deride those who teach and believe the mystery of godliness, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ [Colossians 1:27.] The principles underlying these things are not discerned by them; and they go on in wrong-doing, leaving the bars open for Satan to find ready access to the soul.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1138.
5 What would best summarize the condition of Judah at this time? Psalm 11:3; Isaiah 1:23.
Note: “With oppression and wealth came pride and love of display, gross drunkenness, and a spirit of revelry. … And in Isaiah’s day idolatry itself no longer provoked surprise. See Isaiah 2:8, 9. Iniquitous practices had become so prevalent among all classes that the few who remained true to God were often tempted to lose heart and to give way to discouragement and despair. It seemed as if God’s purpose for Israel were about to fail and that the rebellious nation was to suffer a fate similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah.” Prophets and Kings, 306.
6 What parallel did Isaiah draw between Sodom and Judah? Isaiah 3:8, 9.
Note: “By their apostasy and rebellion those who should have been standing as light bearers among the nations were inviting the judgments of God. Many of the evils which were hastening the swift destructions of the northern kingdom, and which had recently been denounced in unmistakable terms by Hosea and Amos, were fast corrupting the kingdom of Judah.” Prophets and Kings, 306.
7 During this religious crisis, what vision did Isaiah receive? Where and how? Isaiah 6:1–4.
Note: “The reign of Uzziah was drawing to a close, and Jotham was already bearing many of the burdens of state, when Isaiah, of the royal line, was called, while yet a young man, to the prophetic mission.” Prophets and Kings, 305.
“It is not surprising that when, during the last year of Uzziah’s reign, Isaiah was called to bear to Judah God’s messages of warning and reproof, he shrank from the responsibility. He well knew that he would encounter obstinate resistance. As he realized his own inability to meet the situation and thought of the stubbornness and unbelief of the people for whom he was to labor, his task seemed hopeless. …
“Such thoughts as these were crowding through Isaiah’s mind as he stood under the portico of the temple. Suddenly the gate and the inner veil of the temple seemed to be uplifted or withdrawn, and he was permitted to gaze within, upon the holy of holies, where even the prophet’s feet might not enter. There rose up before him a vision of Jehovah sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, while the train of His glory filled the temple. On each side of the throne hovered the seraphim, their faces veiled in adoration, as they ministered before their Maker and united in the solemn invocation, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory,’ until post and pillar and cedar gate seemed shaken with the sound, and the house was filled with their tribute of praise. Isaiah 6:3.” Ibid., 306, 307.
8 How did Isaiah feel in the presence of the great vision? Isaiah 6:5.
Note: “As Isaiah beheld this revelation of the glory and majesty of his Lord [See Isaiah 6:3, 4], he was overwhelmed with a sense of the purity and holiness of God. How sharp the contrast between the matchless perfection of his Creator, and the sinful course of those who, with himself, had long been numbered among the chosen people of Israel and Judah!” Prophets and Kings, 307.
“Isaiah had denounced the sin of others; but now he sees himself exposed to the same condemnation he had pronounced upon them. He had been satisfied with a cold, lifeless ceremony in his worship of God. He had not known this until the vision was given him of the Lord. How little now appeared his wisdom and talents as he looked upon the sacredness and majesty of the sanctuary. How unworthy he was! how unfitted for sacred service! His view of himself might be expressed in the language of the apostle Paul, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ [Romans 7:24.]” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1139.
9 How did God relieve Isaiah’s distress at his own unworthiness? Isaiah 6:6, 7. What lesson can we draw from this experience?
Note: “Standing, as it were, in the full light of the divine presence within the inner sanctuary, he [Isaiah] realized that if left to his own imperfection and inefficiency, he would be utterly unable to accomplish the mission to which he had been called. But a seraph was sent to relieve him of his distress and to fit him for his great mission.” Prophets and Kings, 308.
“The live coal is symbolical of purification. If it touches the lips, no impure word will fall from them. The live coal also symbolizes the potency of the efforts of the servants of the Lord. God hates all coldness, all commonness, all cheap efforts. Those who labor acceptably in his cause, must be men who pray fervently, and whose works are wrought in God; and they will never have cause to be ashamed of their record.” The Review and Herald, October 16, 1888.
“The vision given to Isaiah represents the condition of God’s people in the last days. They are privileged to see by faith the work that is going forward in the heavenly sanctuary. ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.’ [Revelation 11:19.]” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1139.
10 In vision, what did Isaiah see as the final result of his work? Isaiah 6:8–13.
Note: “This assurance of the final fulfillment of God’s purpose brought courage to the heart of Isaiah. What though earthly powers array themselves against Judah? What though the Lord’s messenger meet with opposition and resistance? Isaiah had seen the King, the Lord of hosts; he had heard the song of the seraphim, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory’ [Isaiah 6:3]; he had the promise that the messages of Jehovah to backsliding Judah would be accompanied by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit; and the prophet was nerved for the work before him. … Throughout his long and arduous mission he carried with him the memory of this vision. For sixty years or more he stood before the children of Judah as a prophet of hope, waxing bolder and still bolder in his predictions of the future triumph of the church.” Prophets and Kings, 310.
“Into the experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement—days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children; days when troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then that many lose their hold on God and are brought into the slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with spiritual insight the meaning of God’s providences we should see angels seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills, and new faith, new life, would spring into being.” Prophets and Kings, 162.
“Hope and courage are essential to perfect service for God. These are the fruit of faith. Despondency is sinful and unreasonable. God is able and willing ‘more abundantly’ (Hebrews 6:17) to bestow upon His servants the strength they need for test and trial. The plans of the enemies of His work may seem to be well laid and firmly established, but God can overthrow the strongest of these. And this He does in His own time and way, when He sees that the faith of His servants has been sufficiently tested.” Ibid., 164.
“For the disheartened there is a sure remedy—faith, prayer, work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day. Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change the covenant He has made with those who love Him. And He will bestow upon His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands. The apostle Paul has testified: ‘He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. … Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’ II Corinthians 12:9, 10.” Ibid., 164, 165.
“The joy set before Christ, the joy that sustained Him through sacrifice and suffering, was the joy of seeing sinners saved. This should be the joy of every follower of His, the spur to his ambition. Those who realize, even in a limited degree, what redemption means to them and to their fellow men, will comprehend in some measure the vast needs of humanity. Their hearts will be moved to compassion as they see the moral and spiritual destitution of thousands who are under the shadow of a terrible doom, in comparison with which physical suffering fades into nothingness.” Ibid., 172.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.