04 January, 2017

Isaiah 6:9–13—“Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.”

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof (Isaiah 6:9-13 KJV).


Rev. Herman Hoeksema

[Source: A Power of God Unto Salvation, pp. 31–32]

We note:

1.  That this passage is a part of the scriptural account of the calling of Isaiah to be a prophet in Israel. As a prophet he must proclaim to the people the Word of the Lord. Naturally the intent of this passage is not that Isaiah shall literally say to the people: Hear ye indeed, but understand not; see ye indeed, but perceive not. On the contrary, as is evident from the entire prophecy, as a watchman on the walls of Zion, he must faithfully proclaim all that the Lord will say to him.  By means of that Word of God he preaches repentance towards the Lord and eternal mercy, yet also destruction and misery for the wicked. In no uncertain terms, readily understood by all who hear them, he proclaims God’s Word to Israel. This passage deals with the preaching of the prophet Isaiah.

2.  That also the divine purpose of this preaching is revealed to the prophet. On the one hand, those who hear this Word must, from a natural point of view, clearly understand its content. This is expressed most emphatically. Hear ye indeed: that is, they must emphatically and clearly hear. See ye indeed: that is, they must clearly see that which the prophet declares to them. That is what God wills. Afterward they must not be able to say that the prophet spoke so ambiguously to them, proclaimed such deep and mysterious words that they could not grasp anything of what he was saying and that it was beyond their comprehension. But on the other hand, God’s will and purpose with the preaching of Isaiah was that in the spiritual sense the people would not understand nor perceive. On the contrary, according to the purpose of God the word and preaching of Isaiah must serve to make the hearts of the people fat, their ears heavy, in order that they should not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and that they should not repent and the Lord should not heal them. That is God’s purpose with the preaching of Isaiah to this particular people spoken of here.

3.  That this must continue until God’s judgment is carried out in Israel. For upon the anxious question of the prophet, “Lord, how long?” he received the answer: “Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.” For the Lord will remove this people far away, and there will be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. Only a tenth shall remain, but that also shall be devastated. Yet this remnant will not be completely destroyed for the holy seed will be its real substance. The remnant according to election of grace shall be saved.

We conclude that this portion of Scripture plainly teaches that, according to the divine purpose, Isaiah’s preaching was no general, well-meant offer of grace and salvation. But even while it must serve to save the remnant, the Lord still mainly intended that the others should thereby be hardened. God willed that this preaching would be a savor of death unto death as well as a savor of life unto life, while the emphasis is laid on the former. He even uses the preaching of Isaiah to harden the wicked. Here Scripture most explicitly denies that the preaching is a general, well-meant offer of grace and salvation on the part of God. Here it teaches us that the very opposite is true.



Joshua Engelsma

[Source: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, vol. 45, no. 2 (April 2012),  pp. 88–89]

God is here commissioning the prophet Isaiah to speak to the nation of Judah, which had gone astray into the worship of other gods. God is telling Isaiah to preach to these people and to call them to repentance. The people are to understand clearly what God is commanding them to do. God says “hear ye indeed” and “see ye indeed.” God’s purpose is that they clearly understand but reject that which they are called to do. They are to hear the command to repent. But God’s purpose is that that preaching be a means to harden them in their sin. And this is to continue until God judges them: “Until the cities be wasted …” God’s intention in the preaching is not that the unbelieving people of Israel be saved, but His purpose is to harden them.



Rev. Herman Hoeksema

[Source: The Rock Whence We Are Hewn (RFPA, 2015), pp. 385–86

The first point [of 1924] teaches that the preaching of the gospel is always grace according to God’s intention. But this passage from Isaiah’s prophecy emphasizes that the gospel is preached unto a curse and a hardening of the heart of the reprobate according to God’s definitely expressed purpose. Isaiah was called to preach the word of God to the men of his generations so that their eyes would be blinded, their ears would be made heavy, their hearts would become fat, and they would not turn and be healed. In order to save the wheat the chaff must become fully ripe unto rejection through the preaching of the prophet. The captivity of the people and the destruction of the land and the city are the end of Isaiah’s preaching, so that he might proclaim salvation and restoration and glory to the remnant according to the election of grace.



More to come! (DV)

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