Isaiah: Chapter 6 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome, Family! We're spending 2024 with the prophet Isaiah. While we claim no expertise, we're excited to sit with you as we both learn at the feet of Jesus. Each month, we offer a calendar that outlines daily exercises (adapted from Jenn Wilkin's Women of the Word Bible study process) to progress through Isaiah. Download February's calendar to begin with us and witness what we uncovered in our weekly "Wolfe Note" postings.

Isaiah 6:8 quoted atop orange smoke.


Contents:

  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between CJB & CEB.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research About why God told Isaiah to "make the minds of these people dull."
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I chose to memorize Isaiah 6:8.
  6. Cross Reference Studying cross references of Isaiah 6:8
  7. Respond Based on reflections on God's character and myself.

Different Versions

I read Chapter Six in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) and the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). The CSB is a thought-for-thought translation and the CJB is a paraphrase.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • The Lord (CSB) v. Adonai (CJB) Used throughout. Adonay is Hebrew for Lord.
  • "Make the minds of these people dull;" (CSB) v. "Make the heart of this people [sluggish with] fat" (CJB). Verse 10. Hebrew leb: inner man, mind, will, heart. Hebrew shamen: to grow fat or insensitive. And "make" is just added in both translations. *The Hebrew translation could be the hearts of this people are insensitive. If that's the case, God simply describes the current condition of the Israelites to warn Isaiah of the task before him. Either translation relates the same meaning.
  • Terebinth tree (CSB) v. pistachio tree (CJB) Hebrew, terebinth - often translated as oak - which produces pistachios.

Annotation

Notes on my process*Denotes my thoughts alone. ! Denotes a connection. Researched quick answers are in italics. *Indicates a topic with more extensive notes under the research heading.
  1. God's Presence (v1-4)
    1. When did this calling take place? Was it before Chapter 1? This Bible Hub timeline puts it at about the same time, *but it makes sense that his calling would happen before he preaches. (v1)
    2. Seraphim here described remind me of the ones that guard the ark: God's dwelling on earth (Exodus 25:20). (v2)
    3. *The angel's song is filled with awe and the physical response of the house shows God's power. (v3&4)
    4. Was the smoke that filled the house the Holy Spirit? (v4) Benson suggests it's a token of God's anger or the darkness and blindness of that, and the next, generation of Jews. But Cambridge suggests it's a reaction of His holy nature against sin.
  2. Isaiah's Atonement (v5-7)
    1. *Immediately, Isaiah professes his unworthiness and fears what may happen due to his uncleanliness in the presence of the Lord. Read about the Holy of Holies. (v5)
    2. What does Isaiah mean when he says he has unclean lips? Has he been saying unholy things? (v5) Simultaneously parallels and contrasts Moses' words in Exodus 4:10. Here, Isaiah realizes he cannot join in the praises of the seraphim with lips that have uttered "bitter and hasty words, formal and ceremonial prayers." James 3:2 - Ellicot
    3. When the Seraphim handled the coal with tongs, was it protecting itself from the heat or keeping the coal holy? (v6) Keil & Delitzsch suggest that tongs were needed because even angels could not touch items consecrated to God.
    4. ! Isaiah was purified by fire and touch was required to heal, as we are refined by fire - I Peter 1:7 - and many touched by Jesus were healed. (v7) 
    5. Why is fire and touch required? (v7) The mouth was touched by fire because it was the part to be used by the prophet when inaugurated. So "tongues of fire" rested on disciples when they were set apart to speak in various languages. - Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
    6. ! Interesting that atonement happens in verse 7, when 7 commonly symbolizes completeness, or perfection.
  3. The Call (v8) 
    1. ! Before God would talk to Isaiah he first had to be clean, like the temple priests. (v8)
    2. Why did God ask who will I send? Wasn't that why He was there, to call Isaiah? Yet He asks, knowing how Isaiah would answer. (v8) So that Isaiah might voluntarily offer his service. - Benson; Also to indicate how difficult Isaiah's task will be. - Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
    3. Wasn't Isaiah curious about why he was being sent or to whom? (v8) Gill suggests he's reacting from a place of his recent pardon, giving him boldness and freedom in the presence of God.
  4. The Mission (v9-10)
    1. ! Like Pharoah and Saul, God wanted His own people's hearts hardened. (v10) *R
    2. Why wouldn't God want His people to see, hear, understand, repent, and be healed? (v10) *R
    3. Why didn't Isaiah fight for his people like Abraham fought for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah or Moses for the Israelites in the wilderness? Was it because he knew how horrible his people had become and knew they deserved God's justice? (v10) 
  5. The Goal (v11-13)
    1. Reflects back to Isaiah Chapter 5:
      1. Become uninhabited ruins, Isaiah 5:17 & 30. (v11)
      2. Houses without human presence, Isaiah 5:9 (v11)
      3. The land utterly wasted, Isaiah 5:10 (v11)
      4. Until Adonai drives the people far away, Isaiah 5:26
      5. 1/10 people like 1/10 of the starting weight, Isaiah 5:10
    2. *Describes the purification process God uses, like in the garden, the flood, the wilderness, the judges, and even in us.

Research

*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
Why did God tell Isaiah to "make the minds of these people dull, deafen their ears, and blind their eyes"? Wouldn't He have wanted them to see, hear, understand, turn back, and repent?

Why Their Hearts (Minds) were Made Fat (Dull)

  • So that God's judgment would stand as happened with Pharoah (Exodus 8:19, 9:34) and Sihon (Deuteronomy 2:30). God withdraws the light and help of His spirit, and gives them up to the power and arts of Satan. - EllicotPoole
  • As an effect of their sinfulness because hearing the truth irritates and drives wicked people to more wickedness (Barnes). They simply wouldn't see the truth, and Isaiah knew it. "Their incapacity of divine things," Cambridge adds, was intensified by further disclosure of God's truth. Keil and Delitzcsh suggests that their hearts were fattened by feasting on fleshly lusts to the point that they could no longer feel the operations of divine grace. (Psalm 119:70 - Their hearts are hard and insensitive, but I delight in your instruction.)
  • Lost meaning in translation. "Make" is added to most versions of this translation. If we remove it, the verse would read: "The hearts of this people are insensitive, their ears heavy, their eyes blind, otherwise they would see...hear...understand...turn and be healed." And, if this is the case, God simply describes the Israelites' current condition to warn Isaiah what he is facing. 
Why God's Message was Still Preached
  • Truth must be proclaimed. Always, even when we know it is falling on deaf ears (Barnes). Because "of the possibility of salvation for a few." Keil and Delitzcsh 
  • Isaiah agreed to do it. And, here, God gives Isaiah a warning of what will happen as he does: their hearts will harden. Pulpit
Notes on Structure
  • Process of corruption. The first part of the verse shows the way that corruption grows, from our heart outward to our eyes and ears (Mark 7:21 & 22 CSB: For from within, out of people's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.). Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
  • Process of healing. The second part of the verse is the opposite of the first part and shows how healing happens, from our eyes and ears inward to our hearts (Romans 10:17 CSB: So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.). Jamieson-Fausset-Brown

 *Conclusions: It's not that God hardened their hearts to deny them the opportunity for repentance, more that He knew how they would respond. OR, perhaps that their actions demanded a consequence, but not without hope that some would repent and be healed, else, why preach at all?


Summary

God calls Isaiah to speak to the hardened Israelites through their decimation when the holy seed will sprout anew.

Memorize

I chose to memorize Isaiah 6:8 CSB:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me.

To be this willing, this is our goal. No questions asked, but complete faith and trust in God. Like His disciples, we must put down our nets, leave our families, and follow Him. 


Cross References

On Isaiah 6:8.

God Speaks: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send?...
  1. In our shame. Genesis 3:8-10 CSB: Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. So the LORD God called out to the man and said to him, "Where are you? And he said, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid."
  2. As a still, small voice. I Kings 19:11-13 KJV: ...and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
  3. As thunder: Job 37:1-3 CSB: My heart pounds at this and leaps from my chest. Just listen to his thunderous voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He lets it loose beneath the entire sky; his lightning to the ends of the earth. 
  4. So we recognize it: John 10:27-28 CSB: My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 
The Trinity is Present: ...Who will go for us?...
*Some commentators believe "us" references the excellence of God instead of the trinity.
  1. To create. Genesis 1:26 CSB: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness..."
  2. After we fall. 
    1. Genesis 3:22 CSB: Then LORD God said, "Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever."
    2. Genesis 11:7 KJV: Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
    3. Job 35:10-11 CSB: But no one asks, "Where is God (plural form) my Maker (plural form), who provides us with songs in the night, who gives us more understanding than the animals of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the sky?"
  3. To redeem. Isaiah 54:5 CSB: Indeed, your husband (plural form) is your Maker (plural form) - his name is the LORD of Armies - and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the is called the God of the whole earth.
  4. To restore. Isaiah 61:1-2 CSB: The Spirit of the Lord God is on me (*Jesus), because the LORD has anointed (*Spirit) me, to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify him."
We Respond: ... I said: Here I am. Send me."
  1. Paul Acts 9:4 CSB: Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
  2. Samuel I Samuel 3:4 CSB: Then the LORD called Samuel, and he answered, "Here I am."
  3. Moses Exodus 4:10-13 CSB: But Moses replied to the Lord, "Please Lord, I have never been eloquent - either in the past or recently or since you have been speaking to your servant - because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish. The LORD said to him, "Who placed a mouth on humans? Who makes a person mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say." Moses said, "Please, Lord, send someone else."

Respond

  • God is holy. I am not. I must remember this. No matter how good, wise, or capable I think I am, I must remember that only God is perfectly holy and defer to his goodness, wisdom, and strength over my own.
  • God is speaking. I speak too much and listen not enough. It is too easy to miss God's voice in all the noise of the world or to convince ourselves he no longer truly speaks to us. Yet, my job is to listen and obey. To learn to recognize what His voice sounds like and obey willingly when I hear it.
  • God is the source of enduring hope. I put my hope in other places. I must look for the sprout springing anew even when destruction surrounds me and continuously remind myself that only His hope endures.

In Closing

Sometimes, Father, I forget that you are truly holy. I grow comfortable with you and lose sight of what that means. Today, I sit in awe of your majesty and wonder at your holiness. You sent your son to atone for my sins so that I may now boldly approach you. Thank you! Teach me to listen more than I speak. Train me to hear your voice and ready me to willingly respond when I do.


Learning with You,

Ready for Chapter 7?

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