Isaiah is the first collection of prophecy of the four major Hebrew prophets. Judgement to come is fundamental to Isaiah’s teaching. Israel and Judah are to perish but a remnant will survive and a new Jerusalem will rise up as the city of the faithful. It is also in Isaiah that memorable prophecies of Christ’s coming are found.
Two passages to look at:
Isaiah 9:6-7 – “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the governmentwill be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Key chapter – Along with Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 lists the most remarkable and specific prophecies of the atonement of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Observations about Isaiah:
Isaiah is like a miniature Bible. The first thirty-nine chapters (like the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament) are filled with judgment upon immoral and idolatrous men. Judah has sinned, the surrounding nations have sinned, the whole earth has sinned. Judgment must come , for God cannot allow such blatant sin to go unpunished forever. The final twenty-seven chapters (like the twenty-seven books of the New Testament) declare a message of hope.
1. The Messiah is coming as a Savior (He will bear a cross) and a Sovereign (He will wear a crown).
2. Isaiah has been called the “Paul of the Old Testament. He was evidently from a distinguished Jewish family and his impressive vocabulary and style pointed to a good education. His work is comprehensive in scope and beautifully communicated.
3. Isaiah lived during a time of military threat to Judah and warned its kings against trusting in alliances with other countries rather than the power of Yahweh.
4. As a contemporary of Hosea and Micah, he prophesied during the last years of the northern kingdom but ministered to the southern kingdom of Judah who was following the sins of her sister, Israel.
5. After Israel’s demise in 722 B.C., Isaiah warned Judah of judgment, not by Assyria, but by Babylon, even though Babylon had not yet risen in power and would not do so for another 96 years.
6. When Isaiah speaks about Christ, he sounds more like a new Testament writer than an Old Testament prophet. It has been said that his messianic prophecies are clearer and more explicit than those in any other Old Testament book. They describe many aspects of the Person and work of Christ.
7. The basic theme of Isaiah is found in the meaning of his name, “Salvation is of the Lord.” The word “salvation” appears twenty-six times in Isaiah but only seven times in all the other prophets combined. Chapters 1-39 portray man’s great need for salvation.
There are three major divisions in the book:
Isaiah’s first message of condemnation is aimed at his own countrymen in Judah (1-12). Chapter one is a capsulized message of the entire book. Judah is riddled with moral and spiritual disease. The people are neglecting God as they bow to ritualism and selfishness. God invites them to repent and return to Him because this is their only hope of avoiding judgment.
Isaiah’s call to proclaim God’s message is found in chapter 6. Chapters 7-12 repeatedly refer to the Messiah. Isaiah moves from local to regional judgment as he proclaims a series of oracles against the surrounding nations (12-13). Chapters 28-33 pronounce six woes on Israel and Judah for specific sins.
This historical parenthesis looks back to the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 B.C., and anticipates the coming Babylonian invasion of Judah. Judah escapes captivity by Assyria (36-37; 2 Kings 18-19), but they will not escape from the hands of the Babylonians (38-39; II Kings 20). God answers Hezekiah’s prayers and delivers Judah from Assyrian destruction by Sennacherib. Hezekiah also turns to the Lord in his illness and is granted a fifteen-year extension of
his life. Hezekiah foolishly shows all his treasures to the Babyonian messengers, and Isaiah tells him that the Babylonians will one day carry his treasure and descendants to their land.
Having pronounced Judah’s divine condemnation, Isaiah comforts them with God’s promises of hope and restoration. The basis of this hope is the sovereignty and majesty of God (40-48). Of the 216 verses in these nine chapters, 115 speak of God’s goodness and power. The Creator is contrasted with idols — the creations of men. His sovereign character is Judah’s assurance of future restoration. Babylon will definitely carry them off, but Babylon will finally be judged and destroyed,
and God’s people will be released from captivity. Chapters 49-57 concentrate on the coming Messiah who will be their Savior and Suffering Servant.
This rejected but exalted One will do two major things:
a. He will pay for their iniquities.
b. He will usher in a kingdom of peace and righteousness throughout the earth. (Church)
Marvelous things would be provided by such a marvelous Messiah.