Contributor: Alex Alajiki
We must remember to thank God for our past studies, acknowledge the help of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of truth and the hard work of our teachers.
We are studying the book of Isaiah until the end of 2023 and I believe that the lessons stored up for us by God will enrich our knowledge of the Bible and transform our lives.
The book of Isaiah was written between 739 and 681 B.C. during the time when Israel was a divided nation. After King Solomon’s death, the ten northern tribes formed Israel, with its capital city being Samaria. The two remaining tribes of Benjamin and Judah united to become the southern kingdom, Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. Isaiah spoke mainly to Judah (but sometimes also to Israel) “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isa.1:1)
His message was to a nation that had turned a deaf ear to the Lord. Instead of serving Him with humility and offering love to their neighbours, the nation of Judah offered meaningless sacrifices in God’s temple at Jerusalem and committed injustices throughout the nation. Prophet spoke mainly to the people of Judah and the message was mostly to ‘repent’ and turn from their wicked ways that the Lord might bless them yet again (Isaiah 1:2; 2:11-20; 5:30; 34:1-2; 42:25).
At the same time, Isaiah understands that God is a God of mercy, grace, and compassion (Isaiah 5:25; 11:16; 14:1-2; 32:2; 40:3; 41:14-16). The nation of Israel (both Judah and Israel) is blind and deaf to God’s commands (Isaiah 6:9-10; 42:7). Judah is compared to a vineyard that should be, and will be, trampled on (Isaiah 5:1-7). Only because of His mercy and His promises to Israel, will God not allow Israel or Judah to be completely destroyed. He will bring restoration, forgiveness, and healing (43:2; 43:16-19; 52:10-12).
More than any other book in the Old Testament, Isaiah focuses on the salvation that will come
through the Messiah. The Messiah will one day rule in justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7; 32:1).
The reign of the Messiah will bring peace and safety to Israel (Isaiah 11:6-9). Through the Messiah, Israel will be a light to all the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 55:4-5). The Messiah’s kingdom on earth (Isaiah chapters 65-66) is the goal toward which all of the book of Isaiah points. It is during the reign of the Messiah that God’s righteousness will be fully revealed to the world.
1. The Author (Isaiah 1:1)
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.
As is the case with nearly all the books of “the prophets,” the book of Isaiah takes its name from its writer. Isaiah was married to a prophetess who bore him at least two sons (Isaiah 7:3; 8:3). He prophesied under the reign of four Judean kings; Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1).
The name “Isaiah” means “Jehovah saves” or “Salvation of Jehovah.” It is believed that Isaiah
was from a prominent family, or perhaps even related to the royal family of Judah, because of his apparent influence among the rulers of Judah. Isaiah is sometimes called the “prince of prophets” for this reason. He made the most prophecies regarding the Jewish people and Christ. And he is the prophet who is most often quoted in the New Testament.
Isaiah is considered a “major” prophet of the Bible (along with Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) as opposed to the “minor” prophets (Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nahum,
Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). These prophets are not divided based
on significance of the messages, however, but rather simply by the length of their books.
Some scholars debate whether or not one man, Isaiah son of Amoz, actually wrote all sixty-six chapters of this book, dividing the book into three sections: 1–39(Punishment of Jerusalem),
40–55(Captivity in Babylon), and 56–66(Persian Era). These scholars insist multiple authors must have added to the scrolls to account for the fulfilment of the words in the book of Isaiah; in other words, someone snuck in and added prophecies after foretold events had already occurred. However, if you believe in the Holy Spirit and in God’s ability to speak to and through His prophets, you can set aside this reasoning.
2. Historical Perspective (Isaiah 1:2-3)
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; 3 The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.”
Isaiah lived in the eighth century BC, during the time when Israel was a divided nation. After King Solomon’s death, the ten northern tribes formed Israel, with its capital city being Samaria. The two remaining tribes of Benjamin and Judah united to become the southern kingdom, Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. Isaiah’s ministry as a prophet took place in the range of 740–680 BC, during some very turbulent times for the Jewish people. There were threats to their safety and culture on all sides, including between and among the tribes themselves.
The northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by Assyria in 721 BC. Then, the southern kingdom of Judah was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in 586 BC. At this time, the capital, Jerusalem, major buildings, and the beautiful temple Solomon had built were all destroyed. Thousands of Jewish people were taken to Babylon for seventy years, a key event in the history of the Jewish people, known as the Babylonian captivity or exile.
Isaiah predicted these and other events long before they occurred. These and many other prophecies spoken by Isaiah can be traced through secular, non-Christian sources.
3. The Message or Purpose (Isaiah 42:6-7)
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles 7, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
More than any other book in the Old Testament, Isaiah focuses on the salvation that will come through the Messiah. The Messiah will one day rule in justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7; 32:1). The reign of the Messiah will bring peace and safety to Israel (Isaiah 11:6-9). Through the Messiah, Israel will be a light to all the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 55:4-5). The Messiah’s kingdom on earth (Isaiah chapters 65-66) is the goal toward which all of the book of Isaiah points. It is during the reign of the Messiah that God’s righteousness will be fully revealed to the world.
Chapter 53 of Isaiah describes the coming Messiah and the suffering He would endure in order to pay for our sins. In His sovereignty, God orchestrated every detail of the crucifixion to fulfil every prophecy of this chapter. The imagery of chapter 53 is poignant and prophetic and contains a complete picture of the Gospel. Jesus was despised and rejected (v. 3; Luke 13:34; John 1:10-11), stricken by God (v.4; Matthew 27:46), and pierced for our transgressions (v. 5; John 19:34; 1 Peter 2:24). By His suffering, He paid the punishment we deserved and became for us the ultimate and perfect sacrifice (v. 5; Hebrews 10:10). Although He was sinless, God laid on Him our sin, and we became God’s righteousness in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Conclusion Isaiah (12:1-3)
Isaiah’s overall theme receives its clearest statement in chapter 12:1-3
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ 3 Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.