Posted in theology

Why did Isaiah say ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ and not ‘a man of unclean heart’?

By Elizabeth Prata

Isaiah was lifted up in a vision to see the throne room of God. He saw the I AM seated and being praised by Seraphim who shouted,

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies.
The whole earth is full of His glory.

(Isaiah 6:3)

Isaiah’s response was:

“Woe to me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies.”
(Isaiah 6:5).

The word ‘Woe’ here means in the Hebrew, to cease, to destroy, to be cut off. THAT is how powerful glimpsing God’s glory is. We know from the reactions of those who have seen the LORD’s glory that they marvel that they are still living. But why did Isaiah not say, “I am a man of unclean heart?” especially since from the heart flows all sin. Or why didn’t he say “I am a man of unclean soul (or spirit)?’ Why lips?

Matthew Henry wrote of the scene,

“[I]t may be taken more generally; I am a sinner; particularly, I have offended in word; and who is there that hath not? Jam. 3:2. We all have reason to bewail it before the Lord,

(1a.) That we are of unclean lips ourselves; our lips are not consecrated to God; he had not had the first-fruits of our lips (Heb. 13:15), and therefore they are counted common and unclean, uncircumcised lips, Ex. 6:30. Nay, they have been polluted with sin. We have spoken the language of an unclean heart, that evil communication which corrupts good manners, and whereby many have been defiled.”

(1b). “We are unworthy and unmeet to take God’s name into our lips. With what a pure lip did the angels praise God! “But,” says the prophet, “I cannot praise him so, for I am a man of unclean lips.” … The impurity of our lips ought to be the grief of our souls, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned.

(2.) That we dwell among those who are so too. We have reason to lament not only that we ourselves are polluted, but that the nature and race of mankind are so; the disease is hereditary and epidemic, which is so far from lessening our guilt that it should rather increase our grief, …” Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1089). Hendrickson.

Let’s look at that Hebrews verse Matthew Henry mentioned-

Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name.

Our lips are what form the words of praise or the words of sin. See also Isaiah 57:19; Hosea 14:2. We might be redeemed and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, but we still sin. We are justified, but not yet glorified. Our lips still sin, as we see from James 3:8-10 says,

But no one among mankind can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.

There is a little known prophecy in Zephaniah. One glorious day it will come to pass:

Zephaniah 3:9, For then I will restore to the peoples pure lips, So that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him shoulder to shoulder.

Our mouths will be glorified, pure and without sin. Our praises, which the Lord is due, will come from clean lips, praises gloriously melding together from all those redeemed who are also singing exaltations to the Lord. We will be standing shoulder to shoulder in our white robes of sinlessness, praising Him eternally…purely and cleanly.

Posted in prophecy, theology

Viper’s eggs and longing for the light

By Elizabeth Prata

They hatch adders’ eggs; they weave the spider’s web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched. (Isaiah 59:5)

Isaiah is a tough book to read. It’s especially hard, as in my Reading Plan, you’re supposed to read 4 or 5 chapters of Isaiah at once. You’re drinking doom from a fire hose. The relentless pronouncements of judgments against an idolatrous and sinful nation makes me mourn not only for Israel past and present, but my own sin and my own nation. Tough stuff. Continue reading “Viper’s eggs and longing for the light”

Posted in encouragement, theology

Whispers from the Dust: Isaiah and Necromancy

By Elizabeth Prata

I’ve been reading Isaiah through the Advent season. This time I’ve been appreciating the poetic language Isaiah uses. Isn’t it amazing how, each time you read through a book of the Bible, the Spirit orients our mind toward a different aspect? He can and does do this infinitely, eternally. The Word is living and active and eternal, so it’s a refreshing and lively journey through the scriptures every time, and every time is different.

The following verses stopped me in appreciation of how the language is used. These are in the NASB because that is the translation my study Bible is in- Continue reading “Whispers from the Dust: Isaiah and Necromancy”

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan: Isaiah’s seven time hotter sun*

In the Tribulation, agriculture will wither under a scorching sun.

Dorothea Lange, Abandoned farm north of Dalhart, TX. 1938.

At the end of the end days, during the Tribulation where all men living on the earth will be judged in wrath, there will be three sets of successively worsening judgments (or four sets, if the Seven Thunders of Revelation 10:1-4 are judgments).

There will first be the 7 Seal Judgments of Revelation 6, they open the Tribulation. Then the wrath of God is demonstrated through 7 Trumpet Judgments of Revelation 8-9. These are terrible judgments, but by God’s grace, some repent through them. After that there are the 7 Bowl Judgments. Revelation 15 opens with the 7 Bowl Judgments.

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. (Revelation 15:1).

These are the most terrible of all. They are so bad that no one is even allowed in the heavenly throne room sanctuary until they are concluded.

And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. (Revelation 16:7-8)

One of the Bowl judgments God pours on the people of the earth the plague of a hot sun. By this point in the Tribulation, no one is repenting. They know that God is sending His wrath onto the world, but they shake their fist at Him and refuse to repent. By this time, battle lines have been set in eternal stone. In Revelation 13 people either took the mark of the beast and thereby signaling their worship of satan, sealing their doom, (Revelation 14:9-10), or they refused the mark, thereby signaling their worship of the Lamb who lives forever, sealing most to their martyrdom.

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:8-9).

God makes the sun hotter, so hot that men will be on fire if they are exposed to it. God is powerful and controls the sun!

Let us look to a happier time, the Millennial Kingdom. God’s Prophets had much to say about this period in earth’s history, also. The Kingdom will be set up on earth after the Tribulation is over, and the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints have been resurrected. Those who refused the mark of the beast and lived will populate this kingdom, too. Because they are mortal, they’ll re-populate the earth. It is at this time the resurrected Old Testament saints whom Jesus promised land and an earthly kingdom with Him (the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Messiah) on the throne, will have all their promises fulfilled. This is Israel’s gift.

In Isaiah 30:23-25 we read that during this time of the Millennium Kingdom,

And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

John MacArthur says of this time:

In the Messianic Kingdom of that future day, agriculture, cattle raising, food production, and water resources will prosper. The prophet predicted the redemption of nature. (cf. Rom 8:19-21)

In Isaiah 30:26 we read of further blessings:

Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

The light of the sun will be seven times hotter?

MacArthur again:

The benefits from the natural bodies of light will be much greater. Increase of the intensity of their light will work to people’s advantage, not to their detriment as in Revelation 16:8-9.

In the Millennial Kingdom, a gentle, bright sun seven times
warmer will flourish the earth’s crops

When we read that God is sovereign overall creation, He is sovereign. He created the sun. As the Potter, He can make it do what He wills. During the Tribulation, it will be a mechanism for judgment, scorching men, who curse it. In the Millennium, the sun will be a mechanism for prosperity, and men will bless their Creator for giving them plenteous sunshine, healthful, glowing, and beautiful.

We groan, and cannot wait for redemption of our mortal bodies into glorified vessels worthy of seeing our Holy God. The creation groans too. When the creation is redeemed, it will rejoice also.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21).

This is how the creation will be set free. The sun will shine upon peaceable kingdom, over a flourishing agriculture, making men and crops thrive. Our Creator is majestic in power and sovereign over creation. He is to be worshiped, loved, praised. Our Jesus who was with God at the creation and who sustains all creation and without whom nothing was made that was made, is our hope. He is the hope of all creation. Our eternal Hope, who reigns forever.

Further Reading

The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ, part 1

Devotion: Three reassuring Signs 

*This post first appeared on The End Time in June 2015

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

The pride of cities

In our Bible Reading Plan we’d read Isaiah 23. In it, was Isaiah’s prophecy against Tyre. Tyre was a major city on the coast, to which many ships from afar brought their goods to trade and sell. Tyre was held in high esteem by all around. (Isaiah 23:8). It had prestige and renown.

Is this your exultant city whose origin is from days of old, whose feet carried her to settle far away? 8Who has purposed this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants were princes, whose traders were the honored of the earth? 9The LORD of hosts has purposed it, to defile the pompous pride of all glory,c to dishonor all the honored of the earth
. (Isaiah 23:7-9)

When a city becomes so vaunted, the leaders of the city become proud. Hence the reason for Isaiah’s oracle against Tyre. (Isaiah 23:9). They attributed their success and fame to themselves, and not to God.

This situation reminded me of the scene in Daniel 4. King Nebuchadnezzar displayed the same problem.

and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).

He attributed the city of Babylon’s success and fame to himself, and not to God. For his selfish boastfulness and pride, God determined to remove the kingdom from Nebuchadnezzar for 7 years, wherein he would live among beasts as a mad person and eat the grass of the field. When 7 years was over, God restored reason to the king and also the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar praised God for all His glory.

When we see the glittering towers of the city, its cathedrals, towers, strongholds, and castles, we tend to become proud of our accomplishment in building them. We admire the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Sears Tower, the Windsor Castle, the Taj Mahal… We enlarge our sea ports and construct airports and enjoy the trade and commerce merchants willingly bring to the city.

We applaud man’s ingenuity in building these majestic buildings, we love the fame and renown these landmarks bring to the city and we become boastful inhabitants. But we forget that we have no strength of our own, and no intellect, or ability unless God grants it.

Tyre was razed in 332 BC when Alexander the Great conquered it. And Babylon, we know was felled in one night as described in Jeremiah 51:8 and Daniel 5:30.

If a prophet were to prophesy today, what oracle might be spoken about New York City? Los Angeles? Paris? London? Ezekiel 38:20 prophesies a future day when all walls will crumble to the ground. This page shows how many times God said He will destroy a city for its pride and rebellion. We know He destroyed four Cities of the Plain in one night, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim.

The end result of pride, is destruction. This is reiterated in the New Testament, in today’s reading of Matthew 11. There is a section between verses 20-24 called “Woe to Unrepentant Cities” such as Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, Sidon, and Capernaum.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18). The verse applies to cities as well. The Isaiah verse we’d read yesterday is warning about this.

milan duomo
EPrata photo

Posted in bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: The Howl in Isaiah

Our Bible Reading Plan for today is Isaiah 12-17. The cycle in the Prophets is one of promise of judgment, judgment, repentance, and restoration. Repeat. The judgment parts are rough. In the passage from chapter 13, in the KJV we read,

Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. (Isaiah 13:6)

The promised judgment was coming soon, and it did. This chapter also looks ahead to the final judgment of Babylon in the Day of the LORD as seen in Revelation 18:2. Isaiah 12 was a comforting passage, a song of praise. Then we get to the promise of destruction against that most unholy of cities: Babylon. I read once someone termed the Bible as a tale of Two Cities: Babylon and Jerusalem. They weren’t far off.

Of course, what the cities represent is what it’s all about. Unholiness of Babylon, the world and its systems, and the holiness of Jerusalem, where God has set His name and soon will dwell personally.

Having come to the Lord later in life, I vividly remember being inside the unholy world system and wondering why I felt uncertainty, restlessness, and fear at different times. The specter of death with the unknown beyond will definitely do that to you.

In the KJV the word ‘howl’ made me think of Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem called Howl. Its imagery burns into one’s mind with a sulfur strike white hotness emblazoned like a photo negative. It’s an angry poem, raging against the darkness and essentially crying out “Why is it like this? Why?” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 2:1, Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? and Howl (as are so many poems) is just the pagan version of that scripture.

Ginsberg said some of the imagery in the poem came from a bad peyote trip he’d taken where he saw the apartment building he was staying in morphed into the face of a child-eating demon he later called Moloch.

In the Bible, there really is a child-eating demon-god named Moloch to whom the people sacrificed their children.

Romans 1:18 says that the unrighteous suppress the truth. They are aware of the truth, and despite pressing it down away from consciousness, at some level they connect with it. They detect its convicting tendrils creeping upward from the polluted recesses of their heart, only to be smashed down in howling rage. We see that in Ginsberg’s Howl, and we see it in Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, where Yeats used religious imagery to make his point.

Yeats hadn’t taken a peyote button, but he was heavily involved in occult practices such as calling up demons and channeling and seances and the like. He sought visions, and he got them. So, similar to Ginsberg, the imagery in Yeats’ vision tapped the well of dark truth suppressed deep within his soul. Not comprehending it, the pagans rage. Yeats’ soul seethed and stormed, you can feel that his poem is a bellow into the gaping maw of black eternity, only to be silently swallowed by a dark and depraved infinite, and in the end, pitiful howl making no more noise than an owl’s winged whisper.

In the Isaiah passage today, the LORD promises destruction upon Babylon. Their near future and their far future contain the coming of the LORD in wrath for their unrighteous deeds. He is telling them in advance, ‘Howl, for your destruction is sure!’ This is the end which the pagans rail against. It is the end that all the unrighteous suppress in wickedness, but still lay coiled nasty to spring up and swallow souls whole. Howl, you Babylonians. Wail, you pagans, because justice, knife sharp and cleanly pure, will separate you from this earth with a flick.

fri howl


Comparing the language and imagery used in various pagan poems.

poempoem 2

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Isaiah, Israel, and that Vision

Today’s reading is Isaiah 1-6. Reading the Prophets is tough on the heart. It’s true that there are interpretive difficulties with reading them, because of the history. Sorting out which king and which nation and to whom God is speaking given that the ancient names have gone by the wayside, can be demanding on the serious student.

Also, often in the Prophets there are interpretive difficulties given the nature of prophecy itself. There are different timings of the fulfillments of the prophecies. Some happened in the past. Some are dual-layer prophecies, like the Lord’s first and second comings, or prophecies that have happened in the past and will happen in the future also. Some are prophecies solely for the future.

The interpretive difficulties usually can be resolved with prayer, study, and the aid of the Holy Spirit. It’s a head thing. But the content of the prophecies, they are hard to read because of the mourning that goes along with them. Who can’t but mourn when they read this from Isaiah 1:7-8,

friday isaiah 1 verse

Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.

Don’t just let the word lie on the page and be head knowledge-history. Apply the words to our life. At the present time of this writing, North Korea is said to be close to creating a nuclear bomb. North Korea has sworn to use their bomb on America. So what if God allows North Korea to be successful? What if America lies desolate, when NK sends a nuke or a dirty bomb or an EMP over Miami, New York, and LA? When those cities or others are burned with fire? When we are overthrown by foreigners? It could happen. It could absolutely happen.

The reason the LORD promised those things to Israel is because of what is said in Isaiah 1:4,

Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.

So the mourning is over our personal sin and our national sin of rejecting God. It’s thinking of the terrified Israelites, living in a wasteland, carried off, or starving in a besieged city. It’s recognizing His just perfection when punishing nations for their rebellion, even us. It’s sad.

Then comes the magnificent vision in Chapter 6. What to make of the cherubim, the wings, the resounding praises of God’s holiness. We swing from desolation and sin, punishment and despair, to the temple ringing with majesty and power!

When Isaiah saw this he fell down and said in Is 6:5,

Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!

Job and Peter had the same reactions when they realized they were in the presence of the LORD. (Job 42:6, Luke 5:8). Other translations of the Isaiah verse say “I am undone”, “I am ruined” etc. The Hebrew word is “to be destroyed”. There really is no describing how vast the distance between sinful man and God in His glory. Matthew Henry says,

All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory. This awful vision of the Divine Majesty overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own vileness.

And yet, there is grace. He sent a Mediator to bridge that gap between us lowly sinful creatures and Him in His height and glory. The Prophetical Books follow the pattern of promise, sin, punishment, redemption. The books always end with hope. Indeed, as the Spurgeon devotional this morning is titled:

A Wonderful Guarantee
I will strengthen thee. (Isaiah 41:10)

The guarantee is that God will not leave or forsake us. If we mourn our personal and national sin, as Isaiah did, then we can turn and look upward through this glorious glimpse of chapter 6, of God on His throne, sovereignly ordaining all things coming together for the good of those who love him. In the beginning it was good. In the end it will be good.

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Mighty God

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).

Part 1 – For unto us a child is born
Part 2 – A Son is given
Part 3 – And the government shall be upon his shoulder
Part 4 – ‘and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor’
Part 5 – Mighty God
Part 6 – The Everlasting Father: the Father of eternity
Part 7 – Prince of Peace

This is a multi-part series looking at this wonderful verse of scripture from Isaiah and commentary from Barnes’ Notes. I’d said that for me, the text is rich and full of truth; complex with spiritual meaning, yet can be read and understood by children; is a great a promise, one even spoken as had already happened, yet would not occur for hundreds of years hence; a faithful promise, and a comforting thought.

Mighty God

The King is the Mighty God and His kingdom is free from all chaos. “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33), which means chaos is antithetical to who He is. Christ the King loves to step into a life of chaos and not only provide wonderful counsel, but also display His divine power by bringing order. He not only tells His subjects what to do as a wonderful Counselor, but He can energize them to do it—because He is the Mighty God. In Jesus we have a sovereign Master who can forgive sin, defeat Satan, liberate us from the power of evil, redeem us, answer our prayers, restore our broken souls, and reign over rebuilt lives, bringing order to chaos.

~John MacArthur


Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

“And the government shall be upon his shoulder”

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).

Part 1 – For unto us a child is born
Part 2 – A Son is given
Part 3 – And the government shall be upon his shoulder
Part 4 – ‘and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor’
Part 5 – Mighty God
Part 6 – The Everlasting Father: the Father of eternity
Part 7 – Prince of Peace


This is a multi-part series looking at this wonderful verse of scripture from Isaiah and commentary from Barnes’ Notes. I’d said that for me, the text is rich and full of truth; complex with spiritual meaning, yet can be read and understood by children; is a great a promise, one even spoken as had already happened, yet would not occur for hundreds of years hence; a faithful promise, and a comforting thought. We’d looked at the first part of the verse, ‘For unto us a child is born’, and part 2 ‘a son is given.’ Here’s more. Barnes’ Notes-

And the government shall be upon his shoulder – The sense of this passage is, that he shall rule, or that the government shall be vested in him. Various interpretations have, however, been given of the phrase ‘upon his shoulder.’ Some have supposed, that it means simply he shall sustain the government, as the shoulder is that by which we uphold any thing. Pliny and Cicero thus use the phrase; see Rosenmuller. Others, that it means that he should wear the royal purple from a child. – Grotius. Lowth supposes that it refers to the ensign of government – the scepter, the sword, the keys, or the like, that were borne upon the shoulder, or suspended from it; see the note at Isaiah 22:22. It is evident, from this latter place, that some ensign of office was usually borne upon the shoulder. The sense is, that he should be a king, and under this character the Messiah is often predicted.

An additional comment from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

 government … upon … shoulder—The ensign of office used to be worn on the shoulder, in token of sustaining the government (Isa 22:22). Here the government on Messiah’s shoulder is in marked antithesis to the “yoke and staff” of the oppressor on Israel’s “shoulder” (Isa 9:4). He shall receive the kingdom of the earth from the Father, to vindicate it from the misrule of those to whom it was entrusted to hold it for and under the Most High, but who sought to hold it in defiance of His right; the Father asserts His right by the Son, the “Heir of all things,” who will hold it for Him (Da 7:13, 14).

How beautiful Jesus has been given the government. He will rule perfectly. All decisions, actions, mercies, and justice will be meted out in perfect harmony with His character.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. (Matthew 28:18)

God has given us a glorious gift in Jesus Christ, Messiah and Ruler.

iStock picture, purchased by author