Vision of Isaiah


The 6th chapter of the Prophecy of Isaiah contains the remarkable account of the prophet’s vision of God’s throne and the heavenly court. While Isaiah was in the Temple, he saw the Lord in all His glory, “sitting upon a high and exalted throne,” surrounded by the six-winged seraphim who cried out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Falling to the ground, Isaiah confessed his unworthiness, saying, “Woe is me…for being a man, and having unclean lips … I saw the King, the Lord of Hosts, with my eyes” (Isaiah 6:5).

St John Chrysostom admires the humility of the Prophet, saying, “For such are all the saints: the greater honour they receive, the more they humble themselves.” One of the seraphim was then sent to Isaiah, having taken a live coal from the altar with tongs. It touched his lips with the coal, saying, “Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins” (Isaiah 6:7). These are the words spoken by the priest after receiving Holy Communion. St Gregory Palamas observes that this is also a prophecy of the Theotokos, who received the divine fire without being burnt, and like the tongs she is the means by which we receive God and are cleansed.

Like every divine revelation, this vision of Isaiah was not merely a figurative description or a projection of human imagination, but rather the self-expression of God. Although God transcends all things and cannot be contained by human expressions or images, He condescends to be seen by the prophets as a glorious King seated upon a lofty throne, surrounded by His heavenly hosts. At each Divine Liturgy we mystically stand before the heavenly throne of God together with the cherubim and the seraphim. The glory which Isaiah spoke of is the uncreated energies of God, which pour forth from the throne and flood the world, flowing even to us and filling our hearts. Through His Incarnation and His Church, God invites every human to make our hearts his throne, so that He can be with us always.


Source: Lychnos November/December 2018