Who Did Isaiah See?

We’re going to resume our study tonight of the Trinity and going through the gospel of John. I’m not going to cover the Triumphant Entry since we’ve already done that. I’d like us instead go to another part of John 12. Greeks have come to see Jesus. When that happens, Jesus says that the time has arrived and John gives a commentary on all that happens. I recommend you read the relevant portions prior to our text starting in verse 37.

37Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: 
   “Lord, who has believed our message 
      and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 
 40“He has blinded their eyes 
      and deadened their hearts, 
   so they can neither see with their eyes, 
      nor understand with their hearts, 
      nor turn—and I would heal them. 41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

Jesus has been doing miraculous signs for the people and now, even the voice of God has spoken, and the people refuse to believe. What is going on exactly? John’s commentary on what has happened comes straight out of Isaiah. Let’s look at the first passage. 

1 Who has believed our message 
       and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

This passage should sound familiar. It’s Isaiah 53 which is the noted servant song that speaks about Christ and how he would be rejected as Messiah. The second passage is also a passage of rejection, but it is one that comes much earlier. This comes from Isaiah 6. It’s in verse 10, but I will quote the first five verses.

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: 
       “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; 
       the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Can there be any doubt that Isaiah here saw YHWH? Verse 5 should dispel any hesitancy to say that. Notice how YHWH is described as high and exalted. Is that language used elsewhere in Isaiah. YES!

13 See, my servant will act wisely 
       he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

Where is this? Chapter 52. In fact, it’s the prelude to the servant song. 

The term used to describe YHWH is used to describe Christ but notice how John’s description continues. Let’s look at why he says Isaiah said these things in John 12:41.

41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

What glory did Isaiah see? He saw the glory of YHWH. That is who anyone would think of when he asked who Isaiah saw and that’s what John wishes us to see. John 12:41 is pointing back to say that the one on the throne is Jesus Christ. 

Which also makes Isaiah 6 fit in with John 1:18 as no one has seen God as he is, that is, the Father, but the Son has revealed him.


10 Responses to “Who Did Isaiah See?”

  1. Dan Says:

    I have always wondered how this passage is reconciled with the one that says that no man has ever seen God. Did Isaiah simply see an image of God but not God Himself?

  2. apologianick Says:

    When the text says that no one has seen God in John 1:18, I take it to mean the Father in all his glory. They see the image of God, the Son, who is also eternal and the exact representation of the Father.

  3. JB Says:

    This post would be even more awesome if it included some interaction with Charles T. Russell’s exegesis of the texts. Are you familiar with it?

  4. Nick Says:

    What book are you using? I could see if I can get a copy.

  5. JB Says:

    Check “The At-one-ment Between God and Men” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 5), esp. pp. 47-48. I could probably send you a PDF if that’d be easier, I think.

  6. Ronald Says:

    Isaiah saw the glory of the God of Jesus as well as the glory of Jesus who was sent by the only true God, Yahweh. (John 17:3) Isaiah prophesied of the glory of Messiah, and prophetically quoted the Messiah as saying “Yahweh … has sent me.” (Isaiah 61:1) This does not mean that the one sent by Yahweh is Yahweh who sent him. In sending Jesus, the God of Jesus prepared a body for Jesus that would not be under the condemnation of sin in Adam. (Romans 5:12-19; Hebrews 10:5) In the days of his flesh, Jesus had the terrestrial glory (1 Corinthians 15:40) of a sinless man, since having never sinned, he never fell short of the glory of his God. (Romans 3:23) Thus, he could give himself, his sinless flesh, to his God as an offering for sin. (John 6:51; Hebrews 10:10)

    Any idea of three persons in Yahweh has to imagined outside of what is written, then assumptions formulated outside of, although in relation to, what is written, and then those imagined assumptions have to be placed over and read into each an every scripture where such imagined assumptions are applied.

    I have a study on John 12:41 at:

  7. hemroids Says:

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  8. theivedition4 Says:

    Reblogged this on I.V.'s Blog of Yahweh's Perspective.

  9. John 12:41 – Isaiah Saw His Glory « Jesus and His God Says:

    […] Nevertheless, based on the assumption that John was speaking of Jesus’ glory,  many claim that there is “clear” proof that Jesus is Jehovah in John’s statements as recorded in John 12:37-41. One attacks what Charles Taze Russell’s stated on John 12:41, as though this should settle the matter. One states: “John is clearly speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ in this verse and is applying the glory which Isaiah saw, to the second person of the Trinity.” Another states “John says in John 12:41 that Isaiah saw Jesus on the throne (Isaiah 6)”. Similarly, one claims: “The Apostle John states that the glory seen by Isaiah was that of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 12:41)” Another claims: “John 12:41 is pointing back to say that the one on the throne is Jesus Christ.” […]

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