Isaiah 6:6-7 Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness, the Old Testament

Isaiah 6:6-7 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 

The events above are taking place in the presence of God in the throne room of Heaven. The concept of burning coal from the altar in front of God in Heaven is consistent with the Aaronic ordinances given in Leviticus 16:12 “He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. What is done on earth is a picture of Heaven. This brings meaning to the phrase, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.

your iniquity is taken away… The Hebrew word for iniquity is ‘avon. As defined by Strong’s Concordance it means: perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment/consequence of iniquity.

Burning coal is a symbol of cleansing. Fire purifies. Sin is taken away and removed in the presence of God. This is the Old Testament. Critics have often stated that removal and forgiveness of sin are New Testament ideas. Critics will say the God of the Old Testament is a mean ogre who is cruel and punishing, ready to crush with His thumb. There are many examples of mercy, grace, and forgiveness of sin in the Old Testament. These are Biblical concepts from beginning to end.

Psalm 32:1-2 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! These verses were written by David. He is clearly a man who had committed a transgression or two (murder, lust, adultery) in the events surrounding Bathsheba. He understood that God was merciful and gracious when it came to sin. In Psalm 32:5, David confessed his sins, and then You forgave my sins.

Psalm 51 is written with David’s adultery being at the forefront and focus of the Psalm. David knows he is guilty and he has sinned against God. David is in despair and desperate. Verse 1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  He also knows God can take care of his short comings. Verse 7,9 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. There is plea bargaining and begging. David is playing “Let’s Make a Deal”. Verse 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation…

Critics will argue Isaiah was written after Jesus’ death and resurrection to fit and fulfill prophecy and doctrine. Unfortunately for the critic, Isaiah was copied in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, approximately 330 years before the birth of Christ (Israel My Glory, November/December 2012, p. 8). Isaiah 53 foreshadows Jesus’ work on the cross. Verse 5-6, 11b, 12b But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

God has always been and will always be merciful, gracious, and forgiving.

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