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Old Testament Survey

Isaiah




Key Verses

7:14
9:6, 7
53:4-7


Key Chapters

Chapter 53


Key Concepts

Salvation


Thoughts for Reading

How big is your God?


Title -- Author

Isaiah is the longest of the prophetic books. This causes him to be placed first among the writings of the prophets, although many might assume that his position is the result of his great predictions about Christ.

He is identified as Isaiah son of Amoz (1:1). He came from an important family and knew royalty, giving advice on foreign affairs (7:3,4; 8:2 30:1-7; 36:1--38:8, 21f cf. 2 Kings 18:3--20:19). He was even married to a prophetess (8:1), having at least two children: Shearjashub, "a remnant will return", and Mahershalalhashbaz, "hurry spoil, hasten booty." Most of the prophets worked from outside the system. Isaiah worked from within. His standing in life makes many think Isaiah was among the “rich and famous,” and that this standing created his calling. Could this be true? In fact, Isaiah knew his place in life. The prophet knew who he was compared to Whom God. Isaiah had a heart for God.

Isaiah 6:5-8
5Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

DATE

Isaiah lived most of his life in Judah. Tradition states that Isaiah was a cousin of Uzziah or a nephew of Amaziah. His ministry commences around the time the Northern kingdom is carried into captivity. About 150 years remain before the Southern kingdom follows in these footsteps. The prophets actual period of ministry covers about 40-60 years, ranging from around 740 B.C. to 680 B.C.

Sennacherib&s death (Isa. 37:38) occurs about 745 B.C. and 2 chronicles 26:22 hints that Isaiah may have been active in Uzziah’s court prior to the king’s death. Uzziah’s death comes in 740 B.C. and the passage above records the prophet’s vision and calling. Isaiah’s ministry would extend through the reigns of Jotham (750-731), Ahaz (735-715), and Hezekiah (716-687). It is probable that the prophet was active into the reign of Manasseh (696-642).

Tradition is that Manasseh had Isaiah put to death by sawing him in half inside of a hollow log. That someone died this way is found in Heb 11:37.

Isaiah lived through the reigns of four Assyrian kings as well:

Isaiah was a contemporary with Amos, Hosea and Micah for, at least, part of his ministry. A brief background of the history of this time is as follows:

It is against this background that one must read Isaiah as he came attacking social problems that show a break in the covenant relationship with God (1:3-9; 38:6-10). As with all of the prophets, the purpose of Isaiah’s message was that the Israelites should place their trust in the covenant God for deliverance. Isaiah’s message is full of foretelling since future judgment became the cornerstone of his message, a message of warning to the people. The Northern Kingdom becomes the symbol of this message for the people of Judah.

Facts and Fiction

Jewish historian Josephus (1st century) asserted that Cyrus was shown Isaiah’s prophecy and “an earnest desire and ambition seized upon [Cyrus] to fulfill what was written “ (Antiquities 11.1).

The great critical debate of the liberal side of religion attacks the authorship and date of Isaiah. These scholars find two or even three authors. This attack is based primarily upon the lack of faith in miracles. In the case of Isaiah, these miracles are the prophecies of the future, particularly the naming of Cyrus as the leader who will send the Jewish remnant home from the Babylonian exile (44:28; 45:1-4). This prophecy comes some 150 years before the event, well before the birth of Cyrus.

The liberal scholars assume that chapters 40- 66 were written by a Second Isaiah at the end of the exile. This broad generalization is not a necessary conclusion. If one accepts that God is in control and has the power of a true God, there is no reason to discount such prophecies. Earlier in 1 Kings 13, an unnamed man of God names the name of Josiah some 300 years before his birth. The nature of these prophecies is such that those who believe in the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have no difficulty accepting these as true – and that Isaiah wrote the entire book bearing his name.

Appropriately enough, Isaiah means “salvation is of God.”

The structure of Isaiah is part of the difficulty the liberal community finds with this book. It resembles the Bible in miniature format. Just as the Bible has 66 books, so Isaiah has 66 chapters. Just as the Bible has an Old Testament of 39 books and a New Testament of 27, Isaiah breaks down into two sections, the first being 39 chapters long and the other being 27 chapters. Where the Old Testament speaks to the foundation of the coming of Christ, Isaiah 1-39 speak’s of the need of mankind for salvation. The second part of Isaiah resembles the New Testament in that this section through prophecy reveals God’s provision of the offering of Salvation through the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom. So, the book of Isaiah is about Messiah and foreshadows both His first and second Advents.

Isaiah is clearly the most Christological book of the Old Testament. An outline of Isaiah is:

Prophecies of judgment against

  • Judah (1:1-12:6)
  • Babylon (12:1-14:23)
  • Assyria (14:24-27)
  • Philistia (14:28-32)
  • Moab (15:1-16:14)
  • Damascus and her ally, Israel (Chp 17)
  • Ethiopia (Chp 18)
  • Egypt (Chps 19, 20)
  • Babylon (21:1-10)
  • Edom (21:11-12)
  • Arabia (21:13-17)
  • Jerusalem (Chp 22)
  • Tyre (Chp 23)

Prophecies on the Day of the Lord (Chps 24-27)

Prophecies against Israel and Judah (Chps 28-35)

Prophecies against Sennacherib (Chps 36-39)

Prophecies of Delivery and God’s Greatness (Chps 40-48)

Prophecies of the Suffering Servant (Chps 49-57)

Prophecies of the Glorious Future (Chps 58-66

Jesus in Isaiah

No single Old Testament book sees Jesus as completely as does Isaiah. Features of the Christ in Isaiah include:

Isaiah’s ministry is one of the most exciting in the Old Testament. Yet, review his call in chapter 6. God told him to go forth and prophesy. At the same time, God told him no one would listen! His ministry would be a failure!

Would you serve God under these conditions?

Isaiah obeyed and through him, God issued many great prophecies. Isaiah not only sees the birth of the Christ (7:14; 9:6), he sees the Cross (Chp 53). He also sees the Second Coming (11:1, 6, 8; 59:20, 21). The great prophet may not have understood all of the ramifications of this message from God, but he was faithful to deliver it to the people.

Isaiah is quoted over 66 times in the New Testament. Many have called his book the fifth Gospel.

While the outline of this book suggests the enormous amount of prophecies in this book, it is important to remember the initial comments about all prophets. Review the verses from chapter 6 stated at the beginning of this chapter. Isaiah knew he was a sinner and could not stand before God. This is reflected in his reactions to the vision of the Lord on the throne of heaven. Then, God cleansed Isaiah, a picture of the cleansing all of us need in order to relate to God. Thanks to many of the prophecies of Isaiah, we can now understand this cleansing comes through the shed blood of God’s Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ. All of this shows Isaiah’s recognition of the place of sin in people’s lives.

The Suffering Servant is seen in no better detail than in Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah
Verse Servant’s Description Fulfillment
52:13 Raised, lifted up, exalted God has and will exalt Him fully (Phil 2:9-11)
52:14 Appearance disfigured Beating at His trial (Matt 26:67)
52:15 Sprinkled many nations Sprinkling of His blood brings forgiveness (1 Peter 2:9)
53:3 Despised and rejected Rejected (John 11:47-50)
53:4-6 Suffered for our sin; stricken by God Died for our sin according to God’s plan (1 Cor 15:3)
53:7 Silent before oppressors Silent before accusers at His trial (Mark 14:60, 61)
53:8 Killed for the people’s sin Died for our sin (2 Cor 5:14, 15)
53:9 Assigned a grave with the wicked and rich, but did no wrong Crucified between two robbers, buried in a rich man’s tomb (Mark 15:27, 28, 43-46)
53:10 Lord’s Will to crush him; he will see his offspring God prepared Him as our sin offering (Rom 5:9)
53:12 Receives great reward because he poured out his life Receives great reward because He poured out His life for us (Phil 2:9-11; Heb 1:3, 4)

Isaiah sees sin as the problem of mankind. Isaiah also recognized that sacrifices were of no power against sin.

Isaiah 1:1-16
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master&s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4A sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.5Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.10Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

Here is the message of the prophets and the hope of the future. Isaiah looked forward to a remnant of Israel being faithful and being saved. He also saw the need for the Messiah to come and save mankind through faith.

Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

How do you respond to such a message?

Have you found rest in Christ?

 

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