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Isaiah 6:3

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And one cried to another - Hebrew ‹This cried to this.‘ That is, they cried to each other in alternate responses. One cried ‹holy;‘ the second repeated it; then the third; and then they probably united in the grand chorus, ‹Full is all the earth of his glory.‘ This was an ancient mode of singing or recitative among the Hebrews; see Exodus 15:20-21, where Miriam is represented as going before in the dance with a timbrel, and the other females as following her, and “answering,” or responding to her, Psalm 136:1; compare Lowth, “on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews,” Lect. xix.

Holy, holy, holy - The “repetition” of a name, or of an expression, three times, was quite common among the Jews. Thus, in Jeremiah 7:4, the Jews are represented by the prophet as saying, ‹the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these. Thus, Jeremiah 22:29: ‹O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord;‘ Ezekiel 21:27: ‹I will overturn, overturn, overturn;‘ see also 1 Samuel 18:23: ‹O my son Absalom! my son, my son;‘ see also the repetition of the form of benediction among the Jews, Numbers 6:24-26:

Jehovah bless thee and keep thee;

Jehovah make his face to shine upon thee,

And be gracious unto thee;

Jehovah lift up his countenance upon thee,

And give thee peace.

In like manner, the number “seven” is used by the Hebrews to denote a great, indefinite number; then a full or complete number; and then perfectness, completion. Thus, in Revelation 1:4; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 4:5, the phrase, ‹the seven spirits of God,‘ occurs as applicable to the Holy Spirit, denoting his fullness, completeness, perfection. The Hebrews usually expressed the superlative degree by the repetition of a word. Thus, Genesis 14:10: ‹The vale of Siddim, pits, pits of of clay,‘ that is, was full of pits; see Nordheimer‘s “Heb. Gram.” Section 822-824. The form was used, therefore, among the Jews, to denote “emphasis;” and the expression means in itself no more than ‹thrice holy;‘ that is, supremely holy. Most commentators, however, have supposed that there is here a reference to the doctrine of the Trinity. It is not probable that the Jews so understood it; but applying to the expressions the fuller revelations of the New Testament, it cannot be doubted that the words will express that. Assuming that that doctrine is true, it cannot be doubted, think, that the seraphs laid the foundation of their praise in that doctrine. That there was a distinct reference to the second person of the Trinity, is clear from what John says, John 12:41. No “argument” can be drawn directly from this in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity, for the repetition of such phrases thrice in other places, is merely “emphatic,” denoting the superlative degree. But when the doctrine is “proved” from other places, it may be presumed that the heavenly beings were apprized of it, and that the foundation of their ascriptions of praise was laid in that. The Chaldee has rendered this, ‹Holy in the highest heavens, the house of his majesty; holy upon the earth, the work of his power; holy forever, and ever, and ever, is the Lord of hosts.‘ The whole expression is a most sublime ascription of praise to the living God, and should teach us in what manner to approach him.

The Lord of hosts - see the note at Isaiah 1:9.

The whole earth - Margin, ‹The earth is the fulness of his glory.‘ All things which he has made on the earth express his glory. His wisdom and goodness, his power and holiness, are seen every where. The whole earth, with all its mountains, seas, streams, trees, animals, and people, lay the foundation of his praise. In accordance with this, the Psalmist, in a most beautiful composition, calls upon all things to praise him; see Psalm 148:1-14.

Praise the Lord from the earth,

Ye dragons, and all deeps:

Fire and hail; snow and vapors;

Stormy wind fulfilling his word:

Mountains, and all hills;

Fruitful trees, and all cedars;

Beasts, and all cattle;

Creeping things, and flying fowl.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
In this figurative vision, the temple is thrown open to view, even to the most holy place. The prophet, standing outside the temple, sees the Divine Presence seated on the mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. See God upon his throne. This vision is explained, Joh 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory, and spake of Him, which is a full proof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. See God's temple, his church on earth, filled with his glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God's temple. And yet he dwells in every contrite heart. See the blessed attendants by whom his government is served. Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means "burners;" they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God's commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory. This awful vision of the Divine Majesty overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own vileness. We are undone if there is not a Mediator between us and this holy God. A glimpse of heavenly glory is enough to convince us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Nor is there a man that would dare to speak to the Lord, if he saw the justice, holiness, and majesty of God, without discerning his glorious mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. The live coal may denote the assurance given to the prophet, of pardon, and acceptance in his work, through the atonement of Christ. Nothing is powerful to cleanse and comfort the soul, but what is taken from Christ's satisfaction and intercession. The taking away sin is necessary to our speaking with confidence and comfort, either to God in prayer, or from God in preaching; and those shall have their sin taken away who complain of it as a burden, and see themselves in danger of being undone by it. It is great comfort to those whom God sends, that they go for God, and may therefore speak in his name, assured that he will bear them out.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Holy, holy, holy - This hymn performed by the seraphim, divided into two choirs, the one singing responsively to the other, which Gregory Nazian., Carm. 18, very elegantly calls Συμφωνον, αντιφωνον, αγγελων στασιν, is formed upon the practice of alternate singing, which prevailed in the Jewish Church from the time of Moses, whose ode at the Red Sea was thus performed, (see Exodus 15:20, Exodus 15:21;), to that of Ezra, under whom the priests and Levites sung alternately,

"O praise Jehovah, for he is gracious;

For his mercy endureth for ever;"

Ezra 3:11. See De Sac. Poes. Hebr. Prael. xix., at the beginning.

Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 371

Had Israel been true to her trust, all the nations of earth would have shared in her blessings. But the hearts of those to whom had been entrusted a knowledge of saving truth, were untouched by the needs of those around them. As God's purpose was lost sight of, the heathen came to be looked upon as beyond the pale of His mercy. The light of truth was withheld, and darkness prevailed. The nations were overspread with a veil of ignorance; the love of God was little known; error and superstition flourished. PK 371.1

Such was the prospect that greeted Isaiah when he was called to the prophetic mission; yet he was not discouraged, for ringing in his ears was the triumphal chorus of the angels surrounding the throne of God, “The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3. And his faith was strengthened by visions of glorious conquests by the church of God, when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:9. “The face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations,” was finally to be destroyed. Isaiah 25:7. The Spirit of God was to be poured out upon all flesh. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness were to be numbered among the Israel of God. “They shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses,” said the prophet. “One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” Isaiah 44:4, 5. PK 371.2

To the prophet was given a revelation of the beneficent design of God in scattering impenitent Judah among the nations of earth. “My people shall know My name,” the Lord declared; “they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak.” Isaiah 52:6. And not only were they themselves to learn the lesson of obedience and trust; in their places of exile they were also to impart to others a knowledge of the living God. Many from among the sons of the strangers were to learn to love Him as their Creator and their Redeemer; they were to begin the observance of His holy Sabbath day as a memorial of His creative power; and when He should make “bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations,” to deliver His people from captivity, “all the ends of the earth” should see of the salvation of God. Verse 10. Many of these converts from heathenism would wish to unite themselves fully with the Israelites and accompany them on the return journey to Judea. None of these were to say, “The Lord hath utterly separated me from His people” (Isaiah 56:3), for the word of God through His prophet to those who should yield themselves to Him and observe His law was that they should thenceforth be numbered among spiritual Israel—His church on earth. PK 371.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 313

Graciously the Lord responded, “I have pardoned according to thy word.” And then He imparted to Moses, in the form of a prophecy, a knowledge of His purpose concerning the final triumph of Israel. “As truly as I live,” He declared, “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Verses 20, 21. God's glory, His character, His merciful kindness and tender love—that which Moses had pleaded in behalf of Israel—were to be revealed to all mankind. And this promise of Jehovah was made doubly sure; it was confirmed by an oath. As surely as God lives and reigns, His glory should be declared “among the heathen, His wonders among all people.” Psalm 96:3. PK 313.1

It was concerning the future fulfillment of this prophecy that Isaiah had heard the shining seraphim singing before the throne, “The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3. The prophet, confident of the certainty of these words, himself afterward boldly declared of those who were bowing down to the images of wood and stone, “They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” Isaiah 35:2. PK 313.2

Today this prophecy is meeting rapid fulfillment. The missionary activities of the church of God on earth are bearing rich fruitage, and soon the gospel message will have been proclaimed to all nations. “To the praise of the glory of His grace,” men and women from every kindred, tongue, and people are being made “accepted in the Beloved,” “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 1:6; 2:7. “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name forever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory.” Psalm 72:18, 19. PK 313.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 753

These lessons are for our benefit. We need to stay our faith upon God, for there is just before us a time that will try men's souls. Christ, upon the Mount of Olives, rehearsed the fearful judgments that were to precede His second coming: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.” “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” While these prophecies received a partial fulfillment at the destruction of Jerusalem, they have a more direct application to the last days. 5T 753.1

We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The Lord is at the door. There is soon to open before us a period of overwhelming interest to all living. The controversies of the past are to be revived; new controversies will arise. The scenes to be enacted in our world are not yet even dreamed of. Satan is at work through human agencies. Those who are making an effort to change the Constitution and secure a law enforcing Sunday observance little realize what will be the result. A crisis is just upon us. 5T 753.2

But God's servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency. In the visions given to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to John we see how closely heaven is connected with the events taking place upon the earth and how great is the care of God for those who are loyal to Him. The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of His church, in His own charge. 5T 753.3

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 471

When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6. It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” Isaiah 6:3, 5. Paul, after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the least of all saints.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, margin; Ephesians 3:8. It was the beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory, that fell as one dead before the feet of the angel. Revelation 1:17. GC 471.1

There can be no self-exaltation, no boastful claim to freedom from sin, on the part of those who walk in the shadow of Calvary's cross. They feel that it was their sin which caused the agony that broke the heart of the Son of God, and this thought will lead them to self-abasement. Those who live nearest to Jesus discern most clearly the frailty and sinfulness of humanity, and their only hope is in the merit of a crucified and risen Saviour. GC 471.2

The sanctification now gaining prominence in the religious world carries with it a spirit of self-exaltation and a disregard for the law of God that mark it as foreign to the religion of the Bible. Its advocates teach that sanctification is an instantaneous work, by which, through faith alone, they attain to perfect holiness. “Only believe,” say they, “and the blessing is yours.” No further effort on the part of the receiver is supposed to be required. At the same time they deny the authority of the law of God, urging that they are released from obligation to keep the commandments. But is it possible for men to be holy, in accord with the will and character of God, without coming into harmony with the principles which are an expression of His nature and will, and which show what is well pleasing to Him? GC 471.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 153-4

The words of Moses possess deep meaning. “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” Leviticus 10:1-3. This has a lesson for all who are handling the matter that goes forth from our publishing institutions. Sacred things are not to be mingled with the common. The papers that have so wide a circulation should contain more precious instruction than appears in the ordinary publications of the day. “What is the chaff to the wheat?” Jeremiah 23:28. We want pure wheat, thoroughly winnowed. 7T 153.1

“The Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.... Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples.... To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:11-20. 7T 153.2

I call the attention of all our workers to the sixth chapter of Isaiah. Read the experience of God's prophet when he saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.... 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.” Isaiah 6:1-8. 7T 153.3

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