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Book of Isaiah

Introduction to the Book of Isaiah

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Isaiah Scroll

Israel Museum in Jerusalem displays part of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Book of Isaiah:

Isaiah is called "The Book of Salvation." The name Isaiah means "the salvation of the Lord" or "the Lord is salvation." Isaiah is the first book containing the writings of the prophets of the Bible. And the author, Isaiah, who is called the Prince of Prophets, shines above all the other writers and prophets of Scripture. His mastery of the language, his rich and vast vocabulary, and his poetic skill have earned him the title, "Shakespeare of the Bible." He was educated, distinguished, and privileged, yet remained a deeply spiritual man. He was committed to obedience over the long haul of his 55-60 year ministry as a prophet of God. He was a true patriot who loved his country and his people. Strong tradition suggests that he died a martyrs death under the reign of King Manasseh by being placed within the hallow of a tree trunk and sawed in two.

Isaiah's calling as a prophet was primarily to the nation of Judah (the southern kingdom) and to Jerusalem, urging the people to repent from their sins and return to God. He also foretold the coming of the Messiah and the salvation of the Lord. Many of his prophesies predicted events that occurred in Isaiah's near future, yet at the same time they foretold the events of the distant future (such as the coming of the Messiah), and even some events still to come in the last days (such as the second coming of Christ).

In summary, the message of Isaiah is that salvation comes from God—not man. God alone is Savior, Ruler and King.

Author of the Book of Isaiah:

Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz.

Date Written:

Written between (circa) 740-680 B.C., toward the end of the reign of King Uzziah and throughout the reigns of King Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.

Written To:

Isaiah's words were primarily directed to the nation of Judah and the people of Jerusalem.

Landscape of the Book of Isaiah:

Throughout most of his long ministry, Isaiah lived in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. During this time there was great political turmoil in Judah, and the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms. Isaiah's prophetic calling was to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. He was a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah.

Themes in the Book of Isaiah:

As might be expected, salvation is the overarching theme in the book of Isaiah. Other themes include judgment, holiness, punishment, captivity, the fall of the nation, comfort, hope and salvation through the coming Messiah.

The first 39 books of Isaiah contain very strong messages of judgment against Judah and a call to repentance and holiness. The people exhibited an outward form of godliness, but their hearts had become corrupted. God warned them through Isaiah, to come clean and purify themselves, but they ignored his message. Isaiah predicted the demise and captivity of Judah, yet comforted them with this hope: God has promised to provide a Redeemer.

The last 27 chapters contain God's message of forgiveness, consolation and hope, as God speaks through Isaiah, revealing his plan of blessing and salvation through the coming Messiah.

Thought for Reflection:

It took great courage to accept the call of prophet. As the spokesperson for God, a prophet had to confront the people and the leaders of the land. Isaiah's message was scathing and direct, and although at first he was well-respected, he eventually became very unpopular because his words were so harsh and unpleasant for the people to hear. As is typical for a prophet, Isaiah's life was one of great personal sacrifice. Yet the prophet's reward was unparalleled. He experienced the tremendous privilege of communicating face to face with God—of walking so closely with the Lord that God would share with him his heart and speak through his mouth.

Points of Interest:

  • Isaiah incorporates both prose and poetry into his gifted writings, which contain sarcasm, metaphor, personification, and many other skillful literary forms.
  • Isaiah is divided into 66 chapters, paralleling the division of the entire Bible into 66 books. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah contain strong themes of God's judgment, resembling the 39 Old Testament books. While the last 27 chapters of Isaiah focus on comfort and the coming of the Messiah, bearing a likeness to the themes of the 27 New Testament books.
  • The New Testament quotes Isaiah 66 times, surpassed only by the Psalms.
  • Isaiah's wife is referred to as a prophetess.

Key Characters in the Book of Isaiah:

Isaiah and his two sons, Shear-Jashub and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.

Like his own name, which symbolized his message of salvation, Isaiah's son's names represented a part of his prophetic message as well. Shear-Jashub means "a remnant will return" and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz means "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil."

Key Verses:

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (NIV)

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Isaiah:

Judgment - Isaiah 1:1-39:8
  • The transgressions of Judah and Israel.
  • Judgment against the surrounding nations.
  • The purpose in God's judgment.
  • Jerusalem's true and false hope.
  • Hezekiah's reign.
Comfort - Isaiah 40:1-66:24
  • Israel's release from captivity.
  • The future Messiah.
  • The future kingdom.

 

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