The Evangelical Prophet, Isaiah

OVERALL:

  • His Book is known as The Book of Salvation, which is great, because there are so many references to Jesus and His Ministry, death and resurrection, etc.
  • He was known as The Evangelical Prophet.
  • He covered around 62 years, which was very significant.
  • The period covered was during the Reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
  • Other than Ahaz, there were some good rulers in that period, which made it easier for Isaiah to proclaim his message.
  • This Book of Isaiah pictures Man needing salvation (and what will occur as Man obtains it). Christ is pictured in this Book as the suffering redeemer, the King of Glory, and the real ruler.

Isaiah’s background

In the last 40 years of the 8th century BC, many great men spoke the words of God – as Amos and Hosea were preaching in the Northern Kingdom with Isaiah. Politically, world forces were battling for power (not much has ever changed, has it?). Uzziah and Jeroboam II were closing their prosperous reigns, which brought peace, plenty, and extravagance to the leading citizens. Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah followed Uzziah on the throne of Judah. Through these years, the statesman Prophet preached in Jerusalem.

Then, in 745 BC, Assyria came to life vigorously under the dynamic leadership of Tiglath Pileser. Damascus had fallen in 732 BC, to which, Israel was destroyed with the exception of the City of Samaria – which defied capture until 722 BC. Ahaz, the puppet king, became subject to Assyria with little real independence left. Sennacherib proved the painful thorn in the side of Judah. The government always fostered prosperity, which had a rich class and poor class with a normal chasm between the two. There were many problems, including corrupt government and laziness – as well as suffering of many people.

Isaiah was the son of Amoz, born in Jerusalem about 760 BC. He began ministry around 740 BC, to which, was the same year King Uzziah died. He preached for 40 years in his own city. He was married around 734 BC and fathered at least two sons. The greatest influence he had in his life was the Hand of God guiding him in preaching and prophesying. He had many educational advantages and was destined for greatness at a young age. He was a very well aware man of the region around him, and was influence by Amos, Hosea, and Micah. He died a martyr’s death during the reign of Manasseh around age 120.

Isaiah was called just after the death of King Uzziah, as he was in prayer and meditation. He had a vision of God on His Throne, robed in splendor and glory – to which, changed his life. It was as if, the text explains, that The Robe of the Lord filled the temple where he was meditating. He immediately saw himself as unclean, unworthy, desperately in need, and undone (of course, comparing such splendor and glory of God to yourself will lead you to such negative thoughts). The cry of repentance from this man brought healing and his eyes had beheld a dying, sinful, and needy world, to which he called for help.

He was transformed as the Seraphim came unto him with a live coal in hand, to which, he had taken off the altar of God, and laid it upon Isaiah’s mouth. Upon this, he said, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine integrity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” With this, Isaiah was forever transformed, and said, “Here am I; send me!”

In his ministry, he was called by God to be a prophet, and he preached. He even counseled Kings. He was magnetic and/or charismatic, because of being with God, having clear faith, genuine love, and lips that felt the fire of God. He was a statesman Prophet, as a part of the administration of the nation. His wisdom and courage came from a faith in God. When the princes of Judah determined to break the alliance with Assyria to cast their lot with Egypt, it was him that cautioned against this suicidal policy. He counseled faith in God in the midst of troubles with the rulers, and hoped to help them rule well. He even prophesied the overthrow of the Assyrians. A neutral man, he would rebuke foolishness and predict things that would scare even the good rulers, because he was working for God, not Man. He had incredible spiritual depth that brought him to be adept in all sorts of ways that helped improve the life of His People!

Three divisions of the Book of Isaiah

There are three divisions in this Book, which are 1-39; 40-55; and 56-66. There could have been a couple of other people helping Isaiah on this Book. It is probably that Isaiah penned the first 39 himself, and his disciples did the remainder. I have heard of the possibility, although this is just probably an opinion, that there may have been more than one Isaiah – however, it seems that the scope of prophecy was directly related to Isaiah himself and there were just writing changes in the different divisions. There could be many theories, and we don’t need to be “lost in translation” about it. What’s important is how these divisions are markedly Isaiah and what he has to say in each.

The first section, 1-39, breathes the Spirit of judgment and warning characterizing the 39 books of the Old Testament; the second section, 40-55, breathes the Spirit of Grace and Peace characterizing the 27 books of the New Testament; and the third section, 56-66, proclaims the Messiah much more clearly than anywhere outside of the NT. The 53rd chapter has obtained the pseudonym, “The gospel according to Isaiah.” This is where Isaiah pictures the Suffering Savior.

The Ethiopian

We see in Acts 8:35 (and verses just prior), Philip had seen the Ethiopian reading the Book of Isaiah, and then he “began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” This is similar to us, because we are seen reading the Scripture, but we cannot fully understand it sometimes, so it helps to have a teacher/preacher to help us understand. Philip had an open door of opportunity to minister to the Ethiopian, and he took it and ministered well. This Ethiopian’s life was forever changed when Philip ministered to him – and that’s the way it is for us, whether we want to be taught or that we want to teach…God opens doors and we take those open doors and help people!

Jesus Christ in fulfillment of prophecy (from Isaiah)

We see Isaiah and John the Baptist on a similar note – where John the Baptist is fulfilling the prophecy that Isaiah told (Matthew 3:3), “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

  • Many places, Jesus spoke that He was fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah:
    • Matthew 4:14 (people that were in darkness would come to see great light);
    • 8:17 (Him bearing our sicknesses/infirmities);
    • 12:17 (He charged those whom he had cured that they should not talk about it);
    • (“by hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive…”);
    • (people doubted the Lord, and therefore, the Jews are declared generally blind spiritually).
  • Jesus had also preached what Isaiah had said,
    • Matthew 15:7-8 (people come and honor with their lips, but their heart is far from Him);
    • Luke 4:17-19 (“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…”).

Isaiah 59 was a defining chapter for the generation of Jews

Isaiah 59 was important to note, because the society that the Jews were living in became rather ungodly of sorts. Unfortunately, the society that the people dwelt was headed for disaster, because people’s sins have cut them off with God, and He is the only one who can save them. They filled the land with treachery, lies, violence, etc. Because of the corruption of the courts, where is the justice? Nowhere! Wickedness grows and good people are punished – and bad people are rewarded. As people embrace evil, the good suffer. Sin is covered, and the society deteriorates.

The Prophet joins with the people in their confession of sin, to which, the people want to see the end of the oppression and injustice. However, moral darkness prevailed, and therefore, they eventually began turning away from God even more and developed a false way of life (dishonest and humiliatingly prideful). God sees this and wants to intervene, and therefore, in His purity and justice, He acts against such sinners, and people worldwide begin to acknowledge Him. Those who repented began a new relationship with the Father, and become His true people to enjoy such spiritual blessings of His covenant.

This is very important as this compares very similarly to our world over time, even today, is that people have gone from loving God and celebrating Him everywhere to fully sinful, lustful, and prideful people. God tries His best to rescue them back, and is successful some or most of the time. He continues to draw people back to His good Will, and yet, more and more stray. It’s sad but true!