Sabbath School lesson for January 2-8, 2021

For daily videos about the lesson, see

Lesson 2 Overview (Isaiah 6)

  • Sunday: Setting the stage for understanding the beginning of Isaiah’s ministry–2 Chronicles 26
  • Monday: Meaning of God’s holiness–Isaiah 6:1-4
  • Tuesday: Isaiah’s feeling of unworthiness before God–Isaiah 6:5-7
  • Wednesday: Isaiah’s acceptance of his commission from God–Isaiah 6:8
  • Thursday: The difficult message of warning that Isaiah was to share–Isaiah 6:9-13

A country functions best with strong, trustworthy leaders. Both Israel, and later Judah, often experienced a lack of such leaders, and the people suffered immensely because of it.

King Uzziah had done much to defend and expand the country militarily. But, in the end, his willful pride caused God and the people to lose faith in his ability to rule. There was definitely a crisis in leadership when Isaiah was called to proclaim God’s message of hope and their only salvation.

Memory Text: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1 NKJV

It’s well known that a country is most vulnerable during a transition of leadership. The vacuum of leadership during the year of the king’s death must have been troubling to the young prophet Isaiah. King Uzziah had died, after his tragic struggle with leprosy, a result of his prideful, arrogant behavior in the temple.

We, too, need to be reminded that, despite bad leadership in the world, God continues to sit securely on His throne as King of the universe, just as Isaiah saw in vision.

Sunday: The King Is Dead. Long Live the King!–2 Chronicles 26

In order to get the most from the first verse in chapter six of Isaiah, we must get some historical understanding from 2 Chronicles 26. This chapter records the fifty-two year reign of Uzziah over Judah.

God brought Uzziah many victories over their foreign adversaries. Starting at the young age of sixteen, he turned out to be a great military strategist, who built up and led a well-equipped army, which led to some notable material gains for Judah.

However, his heart became more and more prideful. One day, he entered the temple and proceeded to burn incense on the altar of incense–a duty of the Levitical priesthood only. When the temple priests called him out on the blasphemous act, he angrily lashed out at them, right there in the temple. Suddenly he broke out with leprosy, for all present to witness. The rest of Uzziah’s reign was spent in isolation, demanded of lepers.

This absence of leadership must have caused great anxiety for Isaiah and the people of Judah. Isaiah is then privileged to see the Lord God, the ultimate leader of us all, receiving the splendid honor due Him.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

2 Chronicles 26:3-5

  • What did God require of Uzziah to secure his success as king?

2 Chronicles 26:14, 15

  • What kind of successes did Judah experience under Uzziah’s leadership?

2 Chronicles 26:16-18 

  • What motivated Uzziah to do what he did in the temple?
  • Why was it wrong for Uzziah to do what he did?

2 Chronicles 26:19-21

  • How does this story reveal the wisdom of letting God handle the misdeeds of others?
  • How confident can we be that He will prevail in the end?

Monday: “Holy, Holy, Holy”–Isaiah 6:1-4

There was turmoil over leadership in Judah in the aftermath of Uzziah’s death. This was magnified by anxiety over a possible attack from Assyria to the north, which had been threatening them for some time. It was during this troubling crisis in leadership that Isaiah was carried in vision to the throne room in heaven, where he witnessed God receiving praise and adoration from all the angels.

The angels Isaiah saw were referred to as seraphim. The description of their many wings is similar to those written by Ezekiel and other prophets (Ezekiel 1:11). Seraphim are thought to be high-ranking angels, since they are so near God’s throne, supposedly as guardians there. Perhaps their continual praise to God contributes to the protection of God’s holy character.

The cry of “Holy, holy, holy” was heard by Isaiah. John the Revelator also recorded the same refrain in Revelation 4:8. Bible scholars believe the three-fold declaration mostly likely refers to the triune God. Jesus mentioning the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 28:19 makes this a real possibility.

Psalm 99:9 suggests that holiness is a term given to one who is exalted or worthy of our complete devotion. The perfect goodness and righteousness of God qualifies Him to be the center of our worship.

Any holiness of our own is but a reflection of God’s holy character. Hebrews 12:10 says we are partakers of His holiness. In other words, He shares His holiness with us. Isaiah later discovered that he was to share the hope that God’s people can once again tap into God’s holiness and remain His children.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 6:1 and 2 Chronicles 26:21

  • Why is it important to know when Isaiah received this vision?
  • How does Uzziah’s death indicate a crisis in Judah’s leadership?

Isaiah 6:2, Ezekiel 1:11, and Revelation 4:8

  • How significant is it that these prophets saw similar images in their visions, with slight variations?

Revelation 14:6 and Psalm 91:4

  • What might the wings of angels be symbolic of?

Tuesday: New Personality–Isaiah 6:5-7

The smoke from burning incense in the temple of God represented our prayers ascending up to heaven (Psalm 141:2). But, it also provided a hazy cover to shield the priests from the brilliance of God’s holy presence. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest only could enter the Most Holy Place with a smokescreen of incense.

Isaiah was transported in vision to the Most Holy Place of God’s sanctuary in heaven, where God sits on His throne. Without the protective cover of incense, he is overwhelmed with a sense of his unworthiness to be there.

One of the angels hastened to remedy the situation though by taking a coal from the altar, usually done to light incense, and touching Isaiah’s mouth with it. The angel explained that the purpose was to purge Isaiah from his sins. This would make the young prophet a fit vessel to see and represent God.

Instead of lighting incense, he had lit up Isaiah for the holy work before him. See 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 6:5 and Exodus 33:20

  • Why did Isaiah feel so completely “undone” or “destroyed” when he saw God in heaven?

Isaiah 6:6, 7 and Psalm 51:15

  • How does having our sins removed affect our ability to praise God?

2 Corinthians 2:14, 15

  • What makes us like incense when we come before God?

Wednesday: Royal Commission (Isaiah 6:8)

It seems Isaiah had been a prophet for some time, before this unusual assignment was given him. The nature of this new task was to send him out with a message–similar to the work of New Testament apostles, who were sent out to preach the gospel after Jesus’ resurrection.

The exchange Isaiah had with God about this arrangement is a bit different because of Isaiah’s quick response to volunteer for the job. God asks, “Whom shall I send?” and Isaiah promptly replies, “Here am I! Send me.” See Isaiah 6:8.

At other times, God had simply told people they were to be a prophet; but in this case, God asked for a volunteer, knowing that Isaiah’s answer would be quick and positive. This serves as an example to all of us who might be tempted to overlook a difficult work that has been given us. God looks for people, like Isaiah, who are ready and willing to sacrifice everything for His cause.

The temple of God was the perfect backdrop for the receiving of this commission. Even God’s sanctuary on earth was a place where understanding, mercy, grace, and cleansing were distributed to God’s people. God hears our prayers and praise, wherever they are given, but His presence was especially felt in the tabernacle, patterned after the one in heaven.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 6:8, Genesis 1:26, and Matthew 28:19

  • Who are represented by the word “Us” in these verses?
  • Although difficult to understand, how do these verses support a triune God–three in one?

Psalm 73:17, Hebrews 4:16, 10:22, 23, and Revelation 5:6, 8

  • What blessings do we find in God’s presence?

Thursday: Appalling Appeal (Isaiah 6:9-13)

Isaiah was disturbed by the message God then gave him. He knew it would not be received well. God even told him that the people would hear, but not understand. They would see, but not take it to heart and do anything to remedy their situation (Isaiah 6:9, 10).

Jesus quoted this passage from Isaiah when explaining to His disciples why He used parables in His sermons (Matthew 13:13-15). He realized that most of those who heard the parables would not fully grasp their meaning. But there would be a targeted few, like His close disciples, who would be blessed and benefit from the fuller meanings of these stories.

Isaiah wondered how long he would be required to preach such a depressing message, with little results (Isaiah 6:11). God indicated that the task would continue until their exile, and destruction came upon the land (Isaiah 6:12, 13).

God also keeps on appealing to us until all hope is gone that we will change. He will keep the invitation open as long as there is a glimmer of hope that our choices will improve.  2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 6:9, 10, Exodus 4:21, 8:15, and 2 Peter 3:9

  • What was really being said in these verses? How does one’s heart become hardened?

Friday: Final Thoughts

No matter how untrustworthy our leadership becomes where we live on this planet, we can always look to God as the ultimate Leader of the Universe. His holiness surpasses any we will find here.

God welcomes all of us to come to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We don’t have to be a prophet like Isaiah to receive God’s blessings. We can be “in His presence” anywhere. Joshua 1:9 says, “do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Scriptures are full of words of comfort and courage like this. Words of warning found in its pages are always given from a heart of God’s love. The more you love someone, the stronger your words of warning will be. God is not willing that any of us should perish, and He never ceases to let us know that He cares about our final destination (2 Peter 3:9).

Next Week: Sabbath: When Your World Is Falling Apart (Isaiah 7)

To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to