ISAIAH

What Beethoven is in music, Shakespeare is in literature, Babe Ruth is in baseball, Isaiah is in prophecy.

What Romans is to the New Testament, Isaiah is to the Old Testament.

No prophet says so much about the coming of the Messiah as Isaiah. For this reason, his book has been called the fifth gospel. Indeed, the book of Isaiah has a curious likeness to the Bible in brief.

The Bible

Isaiah

Old Testament: New Testament:

39 books

27 books

Judgment:

Comfort:

39 chapters

27 chapters

Total books

66 books

Total chapters:

66 chapters

THE AUTHOR

Both the author and the date during which he wrote are identified in the very beginning of the book that bears his name.

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1).

  1. The name Isaiah means "salvation from Yahweh." These are the same two words that make up the name "Joshua" and "Jesus", but their order is reversed.
  2. The Authorship Question.

Over the last 150 years, liberal scholars have proclaimed that the book of Isaiah was the product of several different authors. There are several reasons that are given

The unity of the book of Isaiah was not brought into serious question until the rise of liberalism in the 19th century.

A full copy of the scroll of Isaiah was discovered among the initial Dead Sea Scrolls. The Isaiah scroll was intact and showed no distinction between the first half and the second half of the book.

Josephus speaks of how Cyrus the Great became aware of the prophecies about himself that were contained in the book of Isaiah (Antiquities 11:1:2). No matter whether or not Cyrus did indeed have interaction with the book of Isaiah, the statement of Josephus at least reflects the popular Jewish opinion that the latter half of Isaiah was written prior to the days of Cyrus.

It is noteworthy that Isaiahís special title for God is "the Holy One of Israel." He uses it 12 times in the first half of the book and another 13 times in the latter part of the book. Outside of Isaiah, this title is used only six other times in the entire Bible.

3. Isaiah the Man.

4. His Family.

Isaiah was married to a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3). We have Mr. Prophet marrying Mrs. Prophet. When two prophets have children, what do they name their kids? They name them after prophetic themes.

His name literally means "speedy is the prey." His name is prophetic. It is a promise. The promise is that there is coming a judgment against those who refuse to turn away from their idolatry and their sin.

The picture is of a wild animal that is about to pounce upon its prey. In just such an unexpected manner, the judgment of God would come.

This name means, "a remnant shall return." His name reflects the promise that, though the nations of Israel and Judah would be carried off into captivity, there would remain a remnant that would return.

OUTLINE OF ISAIAH

We said that the book of Isaiah has a curious and coincidental likeness to the Bible in that Isaiah has 66 chapters just as the Bible has 66 books. Furthermore, the main division of Isaiah takes place at the close of the first 39 chapters of Isaiah in the same way that the Old Testament ends after the 39th book of the Bible.

Chapters 1-35

Chapters 36-39

Chapters 40-66

Judgments in the Present

Historical Interlude

Glory in the Future

The Judgment of God

The Comfort of God

Messiah the Judge

Messiah the Servant

Groan

Glory

Godís Government

"A throne" (6:6)

Godís Grace

"A Lamb" (53:7)

If you happen to be asked on a test as to the two major parts of Isaiah, this is the answer. The first 39 chapters focus upon the judgment of God while the last 27 chapters focus upon the comfort of God.

 

THE WORLD OF ISAIAH'S DAY

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1).

This verse sets the date of Isaiahís ministry. It is a ministry that spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah since Isaiah later spoke during the reign of Manassah.

It was a time for the rise and the fall of kingdoms. It saw the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians and it saw the invasion of Jerusalem by those same Assyrians.

ISAIAH 1 - A MICROCOSM OF THE BOOK

The first chapter of Isaiah has been described as a microcosm of the entire book.

- It begins with judgment.
- It moves to salvation.
- It closes with a promise of the future.

The visionary message begins with words that are reminiscent of both the beginning and the end of the Pentateuch. Consider the following...

Isaiah 1:1

Genesis 1:1

Deuteronomy 32:1

Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth

2 Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the LORD speaks,
"Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.

3 An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master's manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand." (Isaiah 1:2-3)
.

Notice that verses 2-4 does not address the nation of Israel. Instead, it addresses the heavens and the earth. They are called as witnesses in a legal court. Serving as both Prosecutor and Judge is the Lord. And in the dock stands Israel.

Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity,
Offspring of evildoers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the Lord,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him. (Isaiah 1:4)
.

The phrase "offspring of evildoers" is translated from the Hebrew ZERA' MeRAYIM, literally "Seed of Evil Ones." The concept of an evil seed is an ancient one. It goes all the way back to Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15).

God initially created all life to reproduce after its find. But man rebelled and sinned against God. And so, a promise was given. It was a promise of TWO SEEDS.

The first seed was to be the seed of the serpent. It was the seed of rebellion. It was the seed of sin. It was made up of all who walked in the way of Adam in turning against God.

But there is also a second seed promised. It is the seed of the woman. This second seed is set over against the first seed.

The two seeds are at war with one another. And God has decreed that the second seed shall ultimately win.

From our vantage point, we know that this second seed is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ - the One who was bruised for our iniquities as He crushed underfoot the Serpent's Head.

As Isaiah begins his prophecy, he charges the people of Judah with having become the "Seed of Evil Ones." This is not a reflection upon their earthly parents. It is a reflection of their spiritual parentage.

Hear the word of the LORD,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
"What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?"
Says the LORD.
"I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams,
And the fat of fed cattle.
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. (Isaiah 1:10-11).

Notice that Isaiah says that Judah would be like Sodom and Gomorrah but for the grace of God. He then goes on to address the people of Israel as:

Revelation 11:8 uses this same sort of symbol when it speaks of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

How the faithful city has become a harlot,
She who was full of justice!
Righteousness once lodged in her,
But now murderers. (Isaiah 1:21)
.

God has become angry with His wife over her unfaithfulness. His wife has turned away. His bride has committed spiritual adultery. He has every right to divorce this unfaithful wife.

The Faithful City

A Harlot

Was once a lodging place for righteousness.

Is now a lodging place for murderers.

These same two pictures of Godís city and its people is seen in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 12 we see the picture of a woman giving birth to a child. We recognize the child as Israel and the woman as Israel. Later in the book we see another vision. Again it is a woman, but this time we see her as a prostitute. She is become drunk with the blood of the saints and she has prostituted herself with the dragon that manifests itself in the Roman Empire.

The same picture is seen here in Isaiah. The once-faithful city has become a prostitute. But the good news is that He is a forgiving husband. The city that was once called "faithful" shall again be made into a "city of righteousness" and a "faithful city" (1:26).

Then I will restore your judges as at the first,
And your counselors as at the beginning;
After that you will be called the city of righteousness, A faithful city."

27 Zion will be redeemed with justice


And her repentant ones with righteousness. (Isaiah 1:26-27)
.

The prophecy closes with a promise of future restoration. The city that has been called a harlot and a lodging place for murderers will again be called "the city of righteousness" and "a faithful city."

How can such a thing be? It takes place when Zion is "redeemed with justice." This is a picture of the imputation of Christ's righteousness that was credited to guilty sinners. He has redeemed us with His own justice and righteousness that were credited to us.

We can further subdivide the first 35 chapters of Isaiah into a type of Hebrew parallelism known as a chiasm.

In a chiasm, the first section begins and the last section ends the same way. In this case, it begins with the woe of judgment and it ends with the woes of judgment. Sandwiched between these sections is a long list of woes.

Woes of Judgment against Judah (1-5)

A Son and A Song of Salvation (6-12)

Woes to the Nations.
Babylon (13:1 - 14:23).
Assyria (14:24-27).
Philistia (14:28-32).
Moab (15-16).
Damascus (17).
Cush (18).
Egypt and Cush (19-20).
Babylon (21:1-10).
Edom (21:11-12).
Arabia (21:13-17).
Jerusalem (22).
Tyre (23).
A warning (24).

A Song of Salvation (25-27)

Woes of Judgment (28-35)

The first five chapters of Isaiah are filled with woes of coming judgment. But as we come to chapter 6, there is a refreshing change.

 

ISAIAHíS INAUGURAL VISION: ISAIAH 6

In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. (Isaiah 6:1).

Isaiahís ministry began in the year of King Uzziahís death (Isaiah 6:1). Uzziah was one of the good kings of Israel (he is also called Azariah). He reigned for a very long time. But Uzziah became proud. And in his pride, he took it upon himself to enter into the Temple and to offer incense upon the altar of incense. This was something that only a priest was permitted to do. As a result, God struck him with leprosy.

And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king's house judging the people of the land. 22 Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first to last, the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, has written. (2 Chronicles 26:21-22).

Notice that the official royal historian for the reign of King Uzziah was none other than Isaiah the son of Amoz. The same year that King Uzziah died marked the beginning of Isaiah's ministry. It began with a heavenly vision.

In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. (Isaiah 6:1).

Isaiah sees a tremendous vision. It takes place within the setting of the Temple. It is a holy vision of the presence of God. Isaiah says, "I saw the Lord." The first thing that Isaiah saw in his vision was THE LORD.

Those things were all overshadowed. They were all like fireflies before the blazing sun. They were overshadowed by the glory of the Lord.

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John has a similar experience. He is caught up in a vision to heaven. And he spends two chapters describing all that he saw. But the first thing that he describes is the throne of God and the One who is seated upon it.

Now let me ask you a question. When you go to church, what is the first thing that YOU see?

Do you see all of your Christian friends?

Do you listen to the choir and enjoy the music?

Do you see the pastor and listen to his sermon?

There is nothing wrong with any of these. We ought to do all of these things when we go to church. But FIRST, we ought to see the LORD.

Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. (Isaiah 6:2-4).

The NIV correctly refers to these creatures as "Seraphs" -- the "im" ending is merely the Hebrew plural. The Hebrew word saraph means, "to burn." Thus these Seraphim are literally "burning ones."

The idea of winged supernatural beings was not unknown in the ancient world. Statues of four-footed winged beasts can be found throughout ancient Mesopotamia and Persia (note that the passage does not say that they were human in appearance, but only that they had six wings and the power of speech).

This vision is set in symbols that would convey an understanding from someone living in Isaiah's day. What is conveyed is a grand picture of God's majesty.

God is not seen here as "the man upstairs." He is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe. The awesomeness of God is seen in Isaiahís response to this vision.

Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5).

A proper view of God will result in a proper view of yourself. Isaiah does not look at God and say, "Iím okay, youíre okay." He says, "I am undone!" The man who thinks it is easy to stand before a holy and righteous God has never stood before THE Holy and Righteous God.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 And he touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven." (Isaiah 6:6-7).

Isaiah had a problem. It is called sin. It was a problem that disqualified him from the ministry. Indeed, it was a problem that disqualified him from heaven.

But now his sin is removed. Notice what it was that took away the sin of Isaiah. It was something from the altar. It is that which represents the sacrifice. When Isaiah can do nothing to save himself, something is done on his behalf that brings salvation to him.

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

God saved us, not merely as an end unto itself, but for a reason. God saved us that we might serve Him. Isaiah is called to service. His service will be such that he will represent the Lord.

 

AHAZ AND THE SIGN FROM GOD: !SAIAH 7

Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it.

When it was reported to the house of David, saying, "The Arameans have camped in Ephraim," his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind. (Isaiah 7:1-2).

Approximately 20 years had passed since the close of chapter 6 to the beginning of chapter 7. In that time had been the reign of King Jotham, but Isaiah makes no mention of him.

Now Ahaz was on the throne. Ahaz was not a particularly good king. Bad times came upon the land. On the political scene, Ahaz found his tiny kingdom threatened with enemies from the north, especially the kingdoms of Israel and Aram. The Assyrian Empire was at its zenith and the fierce Assyrian warriors had spread their reign of terror throughout most of the known world, plundering and burning wherever they went. The small kingdoms that lay along the shores of the Mediterranean were no match for these hoards and they decided that the only way they could resist the onslaught was to band together into a single alliance. Accordingly, Egypt, Aram (Syria) and the Northern Kingdom of Israel formed an alliance and asked Judah to join with them. Ahaz, the king of Judah, refused.

Tensions mounted as the confederation threatened to invade Judah and install a puppet king of their own choosing. Ahaz found himself surrounded by enemies on all sides. It was into this scene that Isaiah came with a message from the Lord. The message was one of hope in the midst of what had all the appearances of an eventual collision of forces.

Isaiah tells Ahaz that he can trust in the Lord because the leaders of both Israel and Aram will soon come to naught. God even offers to put His signature to this promise in the form of a sign.

Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven." 12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!" (Isaiah 7:10-12).

At first glance, Ahaz seems to be doing a very noble and pious thing. He gives the excuse that he does not want to test the Lord. But that is not a correct response. It is like the man who says, "I do not pray because I do not want to bother God with my problems." Such a stance is the result of a heart of unbelief.

Before you judge Ahaz, ask yourself when was the last time that you ignored the power of prayer?

The good news is that the story does not end here. God turns from this unbelieving king and gives a promise to those who will believe. Here is the sign. A virgin will conceive and shall be with child. She will have a son. He will be called Immanuel. It is a name that means "God is with us."

Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Isaiah 7:13-16).

There is a "child motif" that runs through this section of Israel from chapter 7 to chapter 9 and include the mention of five different children.

This motif serves as an organizing principle within these chapters. The chapters can be taken and understood as a single unit:

1. The first two stanzas in this unit begin with a historical prologue. The first of these is seen in the beginning of chapter 7; the second is seen in the beginning of chapter 8.

2. The flow of movement takes us on a cycle that begins with a historical prologue and ends in the shadow of the Lord and/or His judgment upon men.

3. The connecting links between the historical sections and the promise of judgments are a series of "child signs." Each child that is mentioned has a special meaning attached to his name that forms a part of the prophecy.

This is a symphony in three parts. The person of Immanu-el dominates the first two parts, leading to the climactic conclusion that introduces the Royal Son.

Historical prologue (7:1-2)

In the presence of Shear-jashub (7:3)

Judgment on Aram and Israel (7:4-9)

The sign of Immanu-el (7:10-16).

In the shadow of Assyria (7:20-25)

Historical prologue (8:1-2)

The sign of Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3-4)

Judgment on Judah (8:5-8)

Lament of Immanu-el (8:8-10)

In the shadow of Yahweh (8:11-15)

A call to repentance (8:16-17)

The sign of Isaiahís children (8:18).

In the shadow of judgment (8:19-22)

Out of the shadow and into the light (9:1-5)

The Royal Son (9:6-7)

Immanu-el stands out in contrast to the other children in that there is no father mentioned. Even the mother is not named except to refer to her as "the virgin." In this regard, Immanu-el and the Royal Child of chapter 9 are seen to be similar. This same "child motif" is seen in the book of Hosea. This is notable because Hosea is commonly thought to have been a contemporary of Isaiah.

The sign is that a young maiden shall be with child. She shall have a son. He will be called Immanuel. But the prophecy does not end here. It goes on to tell what the sign will signify. The sign has been given for a specific localized reason.

He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Isaiah 7:15-16).

The sign was not to end with the birth of Immanuel. It was only to begin there. The rest of the sign was that the child would grow and develop into a young boy. Before that boy had reached the age of being able to tell the difference between right and wrong, the kings of both Aram and Israel would die.

It would have been a happy story if it could have ended on this note. But that is not the case. Isaiah goes on to give Ahaz a glimpse of things to come.

The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria. 18 And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 And they will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes, and on all the watering places. (Isaiah 7:17-19).

Because of the sin of Ahaz, both in worshiping the false gods of the Canaanites as well as in demonstrating his unbelief of Yahweh, he is told that the Lord will bring enemies from both Egypt and Assyria who will come and make life miserable for the kingdom of Judah.

I believe that the sign of Immanuel was given as a partial fulfillment in the days of Ahaz. This is seen in the following chapter where Immanuel himself is addressed (Isaiah 8:8). But that is not the end of the story. Even though his name was Immanuel and expressed the truth that God was working in the lives of His people, there remained a further and more complete fulfillment.

That fulfillment is seen in the person of Jesus. Matthew 1:22-23 presents to us the truth that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Immanuel. He is God with us.

It is no mistake that Isaiah used the specific word that he did. The Hebrew word Almah (translated "virgin") technically means a "young maiden." Every time it is used in the Old Testament, it describes a young unmarried damsel.

What is it about the virgin birth of Christ that is so important?

No! It is because this was the promised sign. This sign points to the fulfillment of the promise that God would be with us.

What kind of problems are you facing today? You might feel as though all of the kingdoms of the world had ganged up against you. No matter who bad it feels, there is a message of comfort. God is with us. You need not wait until the Christmas season to learn this important truth. You can practice the presence of God today.

Having examined the Scriptures with regard to Immanuel, we must now ask the question of how this will change the way in which we live.

1. Jesus the Messiah.

The first and, from a New Testament perspective, most obvious application of this passage is that Jesus is the virgin-born Son who is "God with us." We partake in the presence of God when we receive Him in faith, trusting Him as our Lord and Savior. We apply the message of this passage when we apply the Gospel to our hearts.

2. God with Us.

The fact that God has become flesh and has made Himself known to us makes all the difference in how we now determine to live. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, our faith is not in vain and our preaching is not vain and we are not still in our sins and we are not of al men the most miserable.

3. The Continuing Presence of God.

The message of Immanuel teaches us that God is still with us. It is a message that is just as true in this age as it was in the previous age, for at His ascension, Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." God is still with us. He is with the church collectively when we come together to worship Him and He is also with us individually, no matter what the situation.

4. A Sign for a Secular Situation.

It is significant that the sign of the virgin birth was given as a sign of comfort to those who were facing what seemed like overwhelming troubles in a secular situation. This is not merely some mystical unseen struggle. It was given in a real situation taking place in space and time and history. The implications of this is that the Lord is able to work today in space and in time and in my modern everyday problems.

 

THE PROMISE OF A SAVING SON: ISAIAH 9

1 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

2 The people who walk in darkness

Will see a great light;

Those who live in a dark land,

The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:1-2).

Isaiah did not have a popular message. It was a message of gloom and doom. The previous verses at the end of chapter 8 reflect this. But in the midst of this gloom and doom, there breaks through those dark clouds a shining ray of hope.

In anguish

Contempt

Walk in Darkness

Live in a Dark Land

è No more gloom

è Glorious

è See a great Light

è The Light will Shine on them

This passage can be viewed in two different ways. Both are legitimate.

1. Past Interpretation.

Israel was at war and facing the onslaught of the full weight of the Assyrian military machine. Within a short time Israel would fall and the Southern Kingdom of Judah would also be besieged. In the midst of this sober threat, God promises peace.

Zebulun and Naphtali were beautiful lands with a major problem. The problem is that they were the buffer zone between Israel and the hostile forces to the north. Every time the Assyrians came down, the first place through which they would come were Zebulun and Naphtali.

By the days of Jesus, this region had come to have a high Gentile population. It would be known as "Galilee of the Gentiles." This would give rise to a proverb: "Can anything good come out of Galilee?"

This is the place where God chose to send His Son.

The people who walk in darkness

Will see a great light;

Those who live in a dark land,

The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2).

Jesus was not sent to those who already had the light. He was sent to those in darkness. He came to heal the sick, not the healthy.

We live in a world that is in darkness. There are bad times ahead. But there is good news. A light has come. The light has come.

2. Present Application.

We live in a world at war. I am not merely speaking of military battles, though those also take place in this day and age. We face a spiritual battle.

The King has come. He has conquered. We are now in the mopping up phase of the campaign. We have a place of peace.

6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

On the throne of David and over his kingdom,

To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness

From then on and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7).

For the past three chapter we have seen a "son motif" running through the pages of Isaiah. It began in Isaiah 7 with the virgin-born son named Immanuel. Throughout chapter 8 we read of Isaiah giving names to his children that had prophetic significance. Now we come the final promise of a Son.

The Hebrew of Isaiah 9:6 speaks of the Messiah being the "eternal Father." What does this mean? Some of taught this this is an indication of Modalism - that Jesus IS the Father and that they are both one person in the same way that I am a son and I am also a father.

The Hebrew phrase is a compound word. This seems to be a Hebraism. There are a number of examples of this:

If this is the same sort of Hebraism, then the term "Father of eternity" in Isaiah 9:6 means simply that the promised Son would be eternal.

 

THE HISTORICAL INTERLUDE: ISAIAH 36-39

For the first 35 chapters of Isaiah, we see a long succession of prophecies and oracles. But now there is a change. The genre of this literature changes from prophecy to history.

The story which is told here is also found in...

Indeed, 2 Chronicles 32:32 says that Isaiah was the prophet who wrote the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.

This section forms the pivot between the two parts of the book.

Isaiah 1 - 35

Isaiah 36 - 37

Isaiah 38 - 39

Isaiah 40 - 66

Series of messages under the Assyrian struggle

Invasion of Sennacherib of Assyria

Hezekiah without an heir interacts with Babylon

Series of messages looking ahead to the Babylon & Persia

Prophetic Messages

Historical Section

Prophetic Visions

Messages of Judgment

Messages of Comfort

Notice that the chronology of the Historical Section is reversed. The events of chapter 38-39 took place BEFORE the events of chapter 36-37. Why did Isaiah do this? It was because he wanted to link the historical sections to the two corresponding messages of judgment and of comfort.

Now it came about in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. (Isaiah 36:1).

Hezekiah was the king of Judah. A few years prior to his coming to the throne, the Assyrians had invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel and had taken the ten tribes away into captivity. Israel ceased to exist as a nation. Meanwhile, Judah had dutifully continued to pay tribute to Assyria.

Now Hezekiah was the king. He had instituted a revival in Judah, harkening to the preaching of Isaiah and the other prophets of the day to return to the Lord.

Hezekiah was persuaded to join in with some of the surrounding kingdoms in a revolt against the Assyrians. Retaliation was swift in coming.

In 701 B.C. Sennacherib conducted a massive campaign against this western alliance. The Phoenician cities each submitted or were destroyed. The Egyptians were routed and Judah was left to face Sennacherib alone.

Hezekiah offered to pay any tribute in return for peace. Sennacherib set the price at 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (in that day even a single talent was considered to be a fortune).

And Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the kingís house.

At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. (2 Kings 18:15-16).

Instead of keeping his agreement, Sennacherib changed his mind and decided to try to take Jerusalem. He invaded Judah like a plague of locusts sweeping over the land. Within a short time, most of the cities of Judah had fallen to his armies.

Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh contains vivid frescos of the siege of Lachish, located a mere 20 miles from Jerusalem.

As Isaiah 36 opens, Sennacharib's forces now control most of Judah. Only Jerusalem and Lachish continue to hold out and Lachish will soon fall.

And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to King Hezekiah with a large army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway of the fuller's field. 3 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to him. (Isaiah 36:2-3).

What follows is a propaganda campaign as the Rabshakeh attempts to undermine the authority of Hezekiah by wearing away at the resolve of the Jews to withstand the Assyrian onslaught.

This time, Hezekiah turned to the Lord for help and was promised deliverance. In a single night, the Assyrian army was overthrown.

Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.

So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. (2 Kings 19:35-36).

The palace of Sennacherib was discovered in 1847 by the English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard. Among the finds was the Taylor Prism, a clay octagonal cylinder which today resides in the British Museum (an even better copy is on a prism at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago). It contains the following account of the campaign against Judah:

"As for Hezekiah, the Jew, who did not submit to my yoke, 46 of his strong walled cities, as well as the small cities in their neighborhood, which were without number, by escalade and bringing up siege engines, by attacking and storming on foot, by mines, tunnels and breaches, I besieged and took 200,150 people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, cattle and sheep without number, I brought away from them and counted as spoil. Himself, like a caged bird, I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city."

It is interesting to note Sennacheribís description of this campaign. He brags about how he had besieged the city of Jerusalem, closing up Hezekiah as a bird in a cage, but makes no mention of the outcome of the battle.

 

ISAIAH 40-66: THE PROMISE OF SALVATION

The latter portion of Isaiah can be divided into three parts. They can generally be categorized as follows:

Isaiah 40 - 48

Isaiah 49 - 59

Isaiah 60 - 66

Under the Shadow of Mesopotamia

The Servant of the Lord

Future Glory

Focus on Israel returning to the Land

Focus on Messiah as Suffering Servant

Focus on new Heaven and Earth

Redemption Promised

Redemption Provided

Redemption Realized

Chapter 39 ends with a prophecy of Jerusalemís destruction and the Babylonian Captivity. But now Isaiah offers comfort by looking beyond the captivity to the promises of the restoration that would come after.

"Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God. (Isaiah 40:1).

The word translated "comfort" is nocham:. It is the same word that we see back in Genesis 5:29 where Lamech named his son Noah, saying, "This one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." There is a rest and a comfort for the people of God. That is the message that Isaiah brings us in this book.

Why does Isaiah give us this very large section of comfort and restoration from captivity when Judah had not yet been taken into captivity? The answer is rather simple. The time to learn about the comfort of God is BEFORE you need the comfort of God. You donít wait until the ship is sinking to learn about lifeboats. You donít wait until times of distress to learn about the comfort of God.

There is a corollary to this principle: Never doubt in the darkness what you have learned in the light.

"Speak kindly to Jerusalem;

And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,

That her iniquity has been removed,

That she has received of the LORDís hand

Double for all her sins." (Isaiah 40:2).

This had not yet taken place as Isaiah penned these words. The Babylonian Captivity was still many years in the future. But afterward there would come a time of restoration and of rest and of comfort.

Throughout this chapter, we are going to see two applications of the words of Isaiah. The immediate application has reference to the Jews returning to their land. It is for this reason that these words of comfort are directed to Jerusalem. They could take comfort in the promise that there would come a day when the punishment for past sins would be accomplished and at an end.

But there is also a further application of this principle that goes far beyond the city of Jerusalem and the return of the Jews to their homeland. It is seen in Jesus. He is the personification of Israel. These words have their ultimate fulfillment in Him.

He paid the full price for the sins of men. The reference to a "double" payment points to the fact that it was paid in full. There remains nothing more to be done. His work on the cross paid it all.

Isaiah 41 takes us into an imaginary courtroom. It is not immediately apparent who it is that is on trial. The first to the witness stand is the coastlands.

Coastlands, listen to Me in silence,

And let the peoples gain new strength;

Let them come forward, then let them speak;

Let us come together for judgment. (Isaiah 41:1).

Even though the land of Palestine bordered upon the Mediterranean, it is not normally described in the Bible as a "coastland." The Jews were a race of landlubbers. They preferred dry land. They went so far as to call the 11-mile long lake in Galilee a "sea."

God calls upon the nations to "listen up." He ended the last chapter by promising that those who wait on the Lord would be renewed in strength. Now He lets it be know that this promise is also open to the nations.

2 Who has aroused one from the east

Whom He calls in righteousness to His feet?

He delivers up nations before him,

And subdues kings.

He makes them like dust with his sword,

As the wind-driven chaff with his bow.

3 He pursues them, passing on in safety,

By a way he had not been traversing with his feet. (Isaiah 41:2).

Now we are introduced to a new character. He is not called as a witness, but rather as a deliverer -- a divine policeman. This unnamed character...

And yet, this person is really doing the work of the Lord. This is seen in verse 4: Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? "I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He."

The reaction to this coming character is a mixture.

But for Israel, this is a time of salvation.

8 But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen,

Descendant of Abraham My friend,

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,

And called from its remotest parts,

And said to you, "You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you" (Isaiah 41:8-9).

Notice the terms in which this salvation is described. It is described in terms of restoration -- of being "taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts."

Isaiah 39 ended with a promise of banishment from the land. It was a promise that was not fulfilled in Isaiahís day. It was a promise that was not fulfilled until 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against the kingdom of Judah. Over a period of 20 years, Nebuchadnezzar carried out three separate deportations.

This prophecy in Isaiah 41 is not about the deportation. It looks beyond that. It looks to the restoration of Godís people to the land.

Just in case you forgot, this chapter started in a courtroom. Now the courtroom motif is brought back with full force:

21 "Present your case," the LORD says.

"Bring forward your strong arguments," The King of Jacob says.

22 Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place;

As for the former events, declare what they were,

That we may consider them, and know their outcome;

Or announce to us what is coming.

23 Declare the things that are going to come afterward,

That we may know that you are gods;

Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together. (Isaiah 41:21-23).

God calls upon the opposing attorney to set forth a legal case. The issue before the court is the question: Who is God? The Lord invites the evidence for the opposition. The evidence is that of fulfilled prophecy and of accurate history. The Scriptures do both.

In verse 24 we see the ruling of the court: Behold, you are of no account, And your work amounts to nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.

Judgment is quickly passed.

I have aroused one from the north, and he has come;

From the rising of the sun he will call on My name;

And he will come upon rulers as upon mortar,

Even as the potter treads clay. (Isaiah 41:25).

Notice what we are told about the bringer of this judgment.

Who is this? Let me say at the outset that this is one of those trick questions. It is a trick question because there are really two different people in view. There is both an immediate fulfillment as well as a long-reaching fulfillment. Let me begin by telling you of the immediate fulfillment.

The final deportation of Israel into Babylon took place in the year 586 B.C. At that point, Babylon was the mightiest nation on the face of the earth. Nothing could withstand the might of her armies. The city of Babylon was at its pinnacle of greatness. The Greek Historian Herodotus described her massive walls as being so thick that chariots could race from point to point on top of the walls. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

But following the death of Nebuchadnezzar, there arose a new power from the lands to the east of Babylon. By a curious coincidence, there was a man whose father had been the king of the Persians and whose mother was the daughter of the king of the Medes. That made him both a Mede and a Persian.

We know him by his Greek name of Cyrus. History refers to him as "the Great."

Beginning a few years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus set out on a mission of conquest. He brought both the Medes and the Persians under his control and then set out on a mission of conquest.

Cyrus viewed himself as a liberator. His first legislative act was to issue an edict that permitted all displaced peoples to return to their homelands. This included the Jews.

It is for this reason that Isaiah refers to Cyrus as "the Servant of the Lord."

28 It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd!

And he will perform all My desire.'

And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,'

And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid.'"

Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,

Whom I have taken by the right hand,

To subdue nations before him,

And to loose the loins of kings;

To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut (Isaiah 44:28 - 45:1).

For the sake of Jacob My servant,

And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name;

I have given you a title of honor

Though you have not known Me. (Isaiah 45:4).

The astounding thing about this passage is that it was penned by Isaiah over a hundred years before Cyrus the Great was even born. It predicts the restoration and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple in a day when Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed.

History looks at Cyrus and calls him "the Great," but the point of this passage is that it is not Cyrus who was great but rather it is God who is great. God is the one who appointed and anointed Cyrus to accomplish the will of the Lord.

In view of this brief history lesson, we can see that Cyrus serves as an immediate fulfillment of our prophecy in Isaiah 41.

I have aroused one from the north, and he has come;

From the rising of the sun he will call on My name;

And he will come upon rulers as upon mortar,

Even as the potter treads clay. (Isaiah 41:25).

It can indeed be said of Cyrus that he was a servant of the Lord and that his conquests unwittingly served the Lord of the universe.

But as we turn to chapter 42, we see quite a different picture of the servant of the Lord.

1 Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;

My chosen one in whom My soul delights.

I have put My Spirit upon Him;

He will bring forth justice to the nations.

2 He will not cry out or raise His voice,

Nor make His voice heard in the street.

3 A bruised reed He will not break,

And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;

He will faithfully bring forth justice.

4 He will not be disheartened or crushed,

Until He has established justice in the earth;

And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law. (Isaiah 42:1-4).

This picture has changed. Instead of a conqueror from the north and a strong hand from the east, we see a picture of gentleness.

He still has a ministry to the nations -- but this time it is to bring justice.

And yet, He wins.

He brings justice in the earth.

We cannot help but to recognize Him -- it is Jesus.

It was at His baptism that the Father gave a graphic and audible sign of delight as is mentioned in verse 1.

You remember the incident.

John asks as to who should be baptizing whom.

Jesus replied that it was indeed appropriate for Him to be so identified with Johnís preaching.

And so, the baptism took place.

And then something else took place.

The heavens opened and the Spirit came.

A vision of gentleness.

And a voice from heaven: "This is My beoved Son in whom I am well pleased -- My chosen One in whom My soul delights."

There is a wonderful parallel in the two fulfillments of these prophecies of the servant of the Lord.

Cyrus

Jesus

Came from the east

Came from heaven

Overcame Babylon

Overcame sin and the works of the devil

Conquered by force of arms

Conquered by dying on the cross and rising from the dead

Brought restoration to the Jews

Brings restoration to the world

 

THE SUFFERING SERVANT

This entire chapter is set forth in the form of a chiasm. It is a parallel that begins and ends of the same note. The important point of this parallel is see in that which is at the pivotal point.

Exaltation; 52:13-15

Exaltation; 53:10-12

ê

é

Rejection; 53:1-3

Rejection; 53:7-9

ê

é

Suffering; 53:4-6

Notice that the aspect of suffering is the central and pivotal point of the passage. But before we read of the suffering of the Servant, we are first guaranteed of the exaltation of the Servant. He will prosper. This is the same message as is found in the book of Revelation. Jesus Wins!

What sort of image would come to mind if you suddenly heard one day that God was coming to town?

A conqueror?

A giant?

One with great glamour and appeal?

Every movie that Iíve ever seen depicting Jesus presents Him as a tall, good-looking man. Youíve known people like that. The movie star stereotype.

We have this idea that we want Jesus to be pretty. But this passage says that He wasnít that way. That says something comforting to us.

We tend to believe that if you are strong and good-looking and smart, then Jesus must love you more. We watch a Christian athlete wins a race and he crosses the finish line and says that they owe it all to Jesus and we think that Jesus must love him.

And then some little scrawny fellow who couldnít run around the block thinks, "Jesus must not love me very much."

Television and magazines always lift up the beautiful people. Jesus would have been overlooked by them. He had no form or beauty. You remember that the next time you pass by someone who is not pretty. If you take a second look, you might find that Jesus is there.

Verse 13 begins with a command. It is to BEHOLD! God is commanding us that we should come and look and examine the One whom He has chosen to become His Servant.

Jesus took for Himself the title of a Servant. We read in Philippians 2:6-7 that although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. The One who was from eternity took the form of a servant.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. Isaiah 53:4-6).

In these verses we go back and forth between the truth about the work of Jesus versus what people THOUGHT about Jesus. It is a contrast between reality versus delusion.

53:4

Reality

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Delusion

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

53:5

Reality

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

53:6

Delusion

All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

Reality

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

Unbelieving Israel looked at Jesus on the cross and said, "He got what He deserved." The truth is that He got what WE deserved. The death of Christ was substitutionary in nature. He died in our place.

This was graphically illustrated in the case of Barabbas. This man was a thief and a robber. He had been caught and tried for his crimes and sentenced to death. Seeking to pacify a hostile crowd, Pontius Pilate released Barabbas and crucified Jesus. The one who deserved to die was given life and the One who had done no wrong was sent to the cross. It was a cross that was meant for Barabbas.

Verse 6 widens the scope of the cross to show how it extends itself to all.

All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6).

This is the same concept that Paul presents in Romans 5:12-18. It is the concept that all were under sin and that all sins were subsequently atoned.

Sheep are not known for their organizational skills. Left to themselves, they will wander and they will keep on wandering. We are like that. Left to ourselves, our tendency is to wander away from God. This is why we need a Savior.

In verses 4-8 we see a contrast between our need over against the Servantís divine remedy for that need.

Israelís Need

The Serventís Remedy

Our griefs (53:4).

He Himself bore (53:4).

Our sorrows (53:4).

He carried (53:4).

For our transgressions (53:5).

He was pierced (53:5).

For our iniquities (53:5).

He was crushed (53:4).

For our well-being (53:5).

The chastening... fell upon Him (53:5)

In need of healing (53:5).

By His scourging (53:5).

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way (53:6).

The LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (53:6).

For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due (53:8).

He was cut off out of the land of the living (53:8).

The innocent was punished in place of the guilty. The guilty as permitted to go free.

 

THE LIFE OF CHRIST AS SEEN IN ISAIAH

Isaiah presents an extensive portrait of the Messiah. Only the book of Psalms gives us more in the way of prophecy and Isaiah is unsurpassed for its rich details.

There is also an interesting contrast to be seen in the King of Babylon in Isaiah 13-14 over against the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52-53.

King of Babylon

Suffering Servant

Contrasting Lives

Struck the peoples in fury with unceasing stroke (14:6)

We esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.(53:4)

You will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say, "How the oppressor has ceased, And how fury has ceased!" (14:4)

He was oppressed and He was afflicted (53:7).

By oppression and judgment He was taken away (53:8).

But you said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north" (14:13).

He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.

A bruised reed He will not break, And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. (42:2-3)

Your pomp and the music of your harps (14:11)

He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him (53:2).

The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, The scepter of rulers (14:5)

By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities (53:11)

Contrasting reversal of Fortunes

Exalts himself as the Day Star and the Son of the Dawn, but is brought down to the grave (14:15)

Begins like a root out of dry ground (53:2) but in the end is highly exalted by God (53:12)

Contrasting Deaths

You have been cast out of your tomb Like a rejected branch... You will not be united with them in burial (14:19-20)

His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death (53:9)

He will prolong His days (53:10)

"I will rise up against them," declares the LORD of hosts, "and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity," declares the LORD (14:22)

He will see His offspring (53:10)

By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities (53:11)

 

NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH

There are three passages that speak of the new heavens and new earth.

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;

And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17).

Peter describes how the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up in 2 Peter 3:10. In verse 13 he goes on to say that we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Finally there is Revelation 21:1 where John sees a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

Some problems arise when we attempt to make all three of these instances rigidly literal. In the case of the Isaiah passage, the context goes on to speak of a youth dying at the age of a hundred (65:20). If this is understood to take place after the new heavens and the new earth have been established, then one wonders whether we are to understand that death takes place, albeit belatedly, in this new heaven and new earth.


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