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What is the significance of the seraphim bringing the burning coal from the altar to the writer in Isaiah 6:6?


Isaiah 6:6

ESV - 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

Clarify Share Report Asked December 25 2019 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Fire is used in some Scriptural passages as a means of destruction (as when God caused fire to rain down on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24)), but it is used in other contexts as a means or symbol of purification or refinement (as in Malachi 3:2-3, or 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Immediately prior to the verse from Isaiah cited in the question, Isaiah had had a vision of God's glory, which had caused him to realize and lament the sinfulness (or "uncleanness") of both himself and the nation of Israel -- and particularly the uncleanness of their speech (symbolized by their lips).

When a seraph (that is, an angel) from Isaiah's vision took a burning coal from the altar -- with the coal's holiness symbolized both by the fact that it was from the altar, and by the fact that it was burning (that is, being actively consumed in offering worship to God) -- and touched Isaiah's lips with it, it was a sign (as the seraph said) of Isaiah's forgiveness and purification as a response to the repentance that he had expressed.

It also symbolized Isaiah's empowerment (through being figuratively "set on fire") for the prophetic mission on which God was sending him (as indicated in Isaiah 6:8-13).

December 25 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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