When Uzziah died, the LORD gave the prophet Isaiah a transforming vision of Himself. He saw the LORD high and lifted up, and His glory filled the Temple (Isaiah 6:1).
It was the great privilege of Isaiah to tell the people of Judah that, while judgment would come to the nation, God would have mercy, for a child would be born of a virgin, and His name would be called Immanuel.
“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. 2 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. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4).
The year King Uzziah died was c. 715 BC. It was in that year that Isaiah had a vision of God sitting on a throne, highly exalted, and the train of His garment filled the Temple.
It is possible that the veil of eternity opened and the prophet looked into the inner sanctum of the dwelling place of the LORD, YAHWEH, the name God revealed to Moses in the Midianite wilderness as the eternal one, the great, I AM. That is the holy name, the sacred name of God – Yahweh.
When the word Lord appears in lower case letters in the Authorized Version, it reflects the translation of the Hebrew word Adonai (the plural of Adon), which means “ruler, the sovereign one, master, or owner.” Adonai is an exalted title for God as the Psalmist makes clear.
“O LORD [YAHWEH] our Lord [Adonai], how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:9).
“The LORD [YAHWEH] said unto my Lord [Adonai], Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).
In the New Testament, Psalm 110 is quoted to teach the Church that Jesus, the Messiah, is given the name that is above every name. Jesus is given the title Lord, Adonai, the name that belongs to God. For, “to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Heb. 1:13).
I tell you the message of Isaiah to Judah after the death of Uzziah was profound. The prophet does not see the dead king, Uzziah. The prophet does not see the great king, David. The prophet does see Adonai, the Supreme Ruler, and Master of the Universe enthroned in heaven.
Here is a wonderful glimpse of the coming Messiah in His glory and fulness. The train of his robe filled the Temple.
In many cultures in the ancient world the clothing of a monarch reflected their status. If a king wore ermine (the fur of a weasel), the exotic sable cloth, or mink, that was impressive. When Queen Elizabeth II was coronated on June 2, 1953, the world marveled at the glory of her gown that required several pages to lift the train in order for her to make her entrance into Westminster Abby.
Isaiah saw the garments of the Majesty on High spilling over the throne and billowing up and out and spilling over throughout the Temple area.
This was a visual experience on majesty focus on the garments.
Over the throne and above were the seraphims (Heb. fiery ones). This is the only reference to the seraphim in Scripture. They are distinct from the cherubim. They are part of the heavenly host created to serve the Lord.
They appear as creatures with wings, as was befitting a creature designed for a special task. When God creates something, He adapts it to be suitable for its environment. The fish have gills and fins for the water. The birds have wings and feathers for the air. The insects and beasts for land. Man, to have dominion over the earth.
The seraphim were created and designed to minister to the Lord in His immediate presence by crying with a loud voice to one another, “Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
So bright was the glory of God, so piercing was His effulgence, the angels were given extra wings to cover their eyes lest they be blinded in the light of His glory.
When Moses went to receive the Law of God, he had one request. He wanted to see the face of God.
The Lord had to remind Moses that no man could see His glory and live. But, in condescending grace, God did put Moses in the cleft of a rock, and caused His glory to pass by. The story is recorded in Exodus 33.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 20And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:17-23).
Moses got a backward glance of the reflected glory of God. Later, when Moses came down from the mountain, the people could not look upon Moses. Why? Because his own face was shining with such radiance it was blinding the people. And the seraphim covered their faces. The seraphim also covered their feet, perhaps as a sign of respect.
As the angels covered themselves, they called to one another saying, ““Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” What the angels sing, the Church must sing.
“Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!”
Reginald Heber, 1826
There is only one attribute of God raised to a third repetition, and that is His holiness. The Bible does not say that God is “Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!” or, “Love! Love! Love!”, or “Wrath! Wrath! Wrath!” But it does say, God is “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Here is the Divine emphasis.
When the angels shout an affirmation of God’s holiness, the inanimate Temple began to shake to its core. “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
How can we, who are made in the image of God, be indifferent to this Divine attribute?