Confessing God as God

Six Observations in Isaiah 6:1–3

One of the tasks of Christians is to take what is given in divine revelation and simply attest to its truth. Another way of saying this is that we are to confess God as God and not otherwise. This little article will take Isaiah 6:1–3—one of the famous divine revelations—and simply see what Scripture says about God.

1. God Lives

Isaiah 6:1a: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord. . . .” Though the King Uzziah really died, God lives. God simply just is (Exod 3:14), and so he lives. In fact, God is said to be the living God (Deut 5:26Josh 3:10Ps 42:2Jer 10:10Dan 6:20Hos 1:10; Matt 16:16; Acts 14:152 Cor. 3:31 Tim. 4:10) who has life in himself (John 1:4; 5:26), and is life itself (14:6). God lives and is life.

2. God Reigns

Isaiah 6:1b: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up. . . .” The mention of the throne, here, is telling. God lives and reigns. He rules as an everlasting King (Jer 10:10). This is confirmed in just a few later verses in Isaiah’s vision: “my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa 6:5). 

God’s reign doesn’t trouble him. Unlike men, God has no angst, anxiety, or passibility. God reigns restfully and without competition, that he reigns while sitting. Everything is under his control and he controls it with ease.

The note that God is “high and lifted up” ought not be restricted to simply location, but it should help us see that God’s dominion is an omnipotent rule. God is above all and over all. Nothing escapes his will and purpose (Isa 46:10).

3. God Is Splendorous and Magnificient

Isaiah 6:1c: “And the train of his robe filled the temple.” God isn’t just some God, he is the God who dwells in his splendor. His beauty matches his being. Isaiah sees the “train” of God’s robe and it filled the whole temple. This comment helps us see God’s magnitude, importance, and wonder. He is incomparably wondrous.

4. God Is to Be Honored and Revered as One Who Is Great

Isaiah 6:2: “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” We could talk much about the seraphim, but they are subservient to seeing God’s grandeur. So we’ll only focus on them minutely.

The seraphim are said to have six wings (Isa 6:2). They are in God’s presence (6:2). When they speak, the threshold shakes (6:4). These beings are great. However, even they honor God and cover themselves. Even they do not bare themselves before nor let their faces look upon the Lord. Without sin and as pure angelic beings, even they cannot fully contain or outdo God, but honor and revere him as one who is incomparably great.

5. God Is Holy

Isaiah 6:3a–b: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. . . .’” God is holy. Divine holiness is difficult to describe, but we can at least say it is God’s sheer difference and uniqueness and his God-ness. “Holiness” only gets us so far, and when we confess God as holy, we simply confess God as God. And so, holiness has to do with God being himself—it has to do with not only the identity of God, but God himself, namely, the divine essence. Hence, we follow the divine repetition—“I AM WHO I AM” (Exod 3:14)—and confess: God is God. 

As this one who is himself holy, he is certainly different than his creation—incomparably other than everything else that is (1 Sam 2:2)he is the holy one in the presence of Isaiah, and additionally, “the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:9). As this one, he is holy in himself, and holy in our midst.

It is no wonder why the seraphim act the way they do, and we should act likewise. Habakkuk adds: “the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Hab 2:20).

6. God Is Glorious

Isaiah 6:3c: “The whole earth is full of his glory!” We might be apt to focus on the earth, which wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but it’s subservient to the final words: “his glory.” God is glorious, and his glory is manifest in his creation.

Conclusion: John 12:36–41 and Isaiah 6

This is our God and we confess him as such. And of this vision and with reference to Jesus, John writes, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him”; in the NIV’s translation: “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (John 12:41). In Isaiah 6:1–3, we see the one who becomes flesh before he becomes flesh. Certainly God is holy, and the Holy One in our midst.