The six-winged seraphim described in this passage are otherwise unknown in the Scriptures, this being the only reference. These attendants to the heavenly throne display the appropriate response to the presence of Yahweh: With two wings they covered their faces so as not to be blinded by the holiness of God; with two wings they covered their feet; and with two wings they hastened to their appointed tasks.
In the Hebrew language, one of the ways to express emphasis is through repetition, and thus Isaiah hears the thrice spoken “Holy” as a way of indication the surpassing holiness of Yahweh. This acute awareness of Yahweh’s holiness led Isaiah to recognize the comparative unrighteousness of both himself and his people as revealed in verse 5. Yet, in spite of that unrighteousness Yahweh chose to reveal himself to Isaiah. In that revelation there is both unimaginable grace (“your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out” v.7) and an unavoidable mission (“Whom shall i send, and who will go for us?” v.8)
Isaiah’s call introduces a new element to prophetic ministry, namely the need for the spokesman to experience purification for himself before he can undertake the mission to which he has been called. Thus cleansed (forgiven), Isaiah can do nothing less than show his gratitude by committing himself to the purposes of Yahweh, He responds by saying, “Here am i, send me.” (v.8b)
It is important to note that God’s question, “whom shall i send, and who will go for us?” was not specifically directed to Isaiah individually, but rather to all those present. Isaiah simply heard the question and immediately stepped forward. Why did he do so? Why did Isaiah respond?
Gratitude! Gratitude for God’s grace. Gratitude for God’s forgiveness of sim. Gratitude for the experience of God’s presence unlike anything he had known before. Gratitude that issues forth in positive action is the appropriate response to God’s actions in the lives of His people, and in that expression of gratitude, worship happens.
When we are confronted by the presence of a Holy God let us not miss the opportunity to recognize His holiness, see our need for cleansing, and respond in worship of Him.