THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
This page represents the first
page of a lifelong dream to write a simple commentary on the great
book of Isaiah, a goal which I hope to achieve within the next 12
months (2008/2009), should the LORD tarry. Please pray with me and for
me that God's Word of Truth would be rightly divided for His glory,
through the ministry of His Spirit and His Son, our promised Messiah
and soon coming King of kings. Amen.
DISCLAIMER: I should
state at the outset that my approach to the interpretation of Isaiah
will be conservative, evangelical and literal, with a firm conviction
that the unfulfilled Old Testament prophetic promises to Israel
will one day be fulfilled to the letter (including those that describe
and that the New Testament church has not replaced Israel (see
discussion of the
Israel of God).
I will frequently quote from commentaries both old and new which
espouse a "replacement" view (the church replacing Israel) in order
that the reader might be aware of the prevalence of such an
interpretative view. As discussed below, the NT writings make it very
clear that the church was a mystery not revealed in the OT, and one
would think that such Scriptural evidence would be sufficient to
exclude serious consideration of the replacement view, but tragically
it is not! On the other hand, while Judah and Jerusalem are the main
"target" audience, Isaiah is replete with both pithy and comforting
applications for all NT saints.
E. M. Blaiklock wrote
that in this book...
We see Isaiah move with fearless
dignity through the chaos of his day, firm in his quiet faith, sure in
his God (Handbook of Bible People, Scripture Union).
Warren Wiersbe in his
preface to his commentary on Isaiah writes...
Isaiah is the prophet we need to
hear today as he cries out God’s message above the din of world
upheaval, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” (Isa 40:1, NKJV) The
English word “comfort” comes from two Latin words that together mean
“with strength.” When Isaiah says to us, “Be comforted!” it is not a
word of pity but of power. God’s comfort does not weaken us; it
strengthens us. God is not indulging us but empowering us. “In
quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Be
Comforted. Victor Books)
G Campbell Morgan wrote
The whole story of the prophet
Isaiah, as it is revealed to us in this one book, is that of a man who
spoke to an inattentive age or to an age which, if attentive, mocked
him and refused to obey his message, until, as the prophetic period
drew to a close, he inquired in anguish, ‘Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ (Isa 53:1) ”
(Westminster Pulpit, vol. 10, p. 10)
Ray Stedman a gifted expositor
presents an eloquent introduction to the book of Isaiah...
Isaiah was the greatest of the
prophets and a superb master of language. If you enjoy beautiful,
rolling cadences and marvelous literary passages, you will enjoy this
book for that reason alone.
Isaiah is the fullest revelation of Christ in the Old Testament -- so
much so, that it is often called "the gospel according to Isaiah." To
acquaint yourself with these magnificent, prophetic passages looking
forward to Christ is to experience much of the richness and depth of
Also, the prophetic nature of the book of Isaiah is one of the great
proofs that the Bible is the word of God, for Isaiah lived some 724
years before Christ. The many passages looking forward to the Messiah
point so clearly to Christ and are fulfilled in him, and thereby
constitute an unanswerable argument for the divine inspiration of the
Any time we approach a new book, we
always want to look for a key. I am afraid, however, that this is
sometimes a rather weak approach. Sometimes these Bible books seem
like locked houses, barred and shuttered, so that you can't get
anything out of them unless you find the key. And some people feel
that the only duly-licensed real estate agents are the Bible teachers,
who alone have the keys to the Scripture's "real estate."
But scriptural books are not like that. They are more like national
parks. They are open to everyone to roam in, and are a delight to
explore all by yourself. But each park has a characteristic peculiar
to itself that distinguishes it from the others; and you appreciate a
park better if you know what that characteristic is. I have learned to
appreciate some of the distinct characteristics of the great national
parks in the West. For instance, if you want to see nature's various
moods, go to Yellowstone Park. There she pulls all the tricks out of
her bag and throws everything together. If you want to see mountain
grandeur and cool lakes, Glacier Park in Montana is the place to go.
If you want to be awed and humbled and stirred, then go to the Grand
Canyon. If you are looking for a quiet valley in which to rest and
reflect, Yosemite fills the bill -- that is, any time other than
midsummer, when some twenty thousand people are in the valley with
Sometimes I think of these books of the Bible like this. The book of
Revelation is to me very much like Yellowstone National Park. It is
full of spouting geysers and all kinds of weird symbolism and a
variety of formations. The Gospel of John is more like Yosemite; quiet
and deep and reverent. But there is no question that the book of
Isaiah is the Grand Canyon of scripture. Geologists tell us that the
Grand Canyon is a miniature history of the earth -- a condensed
history, a pocket volume of the past -- just so, the book of Isaiah
has long been recognized as a miniature Bible...
Visitors to the Grand Canyon are
always astonished by one thing when they go there. They stand at the
rim and look out over the vast. jumbled, silent canyon -- down to the
Colorado River, which seems but a silver thread more than a mile below
them -- and sooner or later some tourist cries in amazement, "I don't
understand how a tiny thing like that river could have carved a canyon
like this!" They are amazed by that concept.
Now if you read the book of Isaiah thoughtfully and carefully, you
sense immediately the grandeur and the power of God. You hear the
powerful, rolling cadences of this book's language. You sense the
insignificance of man when compared with the might and the wisdom and
majesty of God. And if you ask yourself, "How could Isaiah, just a
human being like myself, write a book like this?" to answer seems
Now if any key is needed to this
book, this is it. Isaiah was a man who was searching for something.
Peter says he was searching after the salvation that was to come from
God. And the interesting thing is that the name "Isaiah" means "The
salvation of Jehovah."
Now what sets this man searching? Why does he pore over his writings,
puzzling over this matter? Well, when you read this book you can see
his problem. Isaiah lived in a time of national stress, when man's
true nature was visible and was exposing itself for what it was just
as in our day. (Reference)
To understand Isaiah or any
of the OT prophets one must have a grasp of the history of the nation
of Israel as summarized below. The reader is encouraged to read the
Scripture references that substantiate the historical events (words in
are also active links). After pondering and digesting the history of
Israel, the diligent student of God's Word would be well advised to
study the table (table) that depicts the OT prophets, their times and their
target audience (Israel or Judah). Finally, as an aid to understanding
prophetic passages, the astute reader would be prudent to study the
major prophetic points of history (chart).
A FEW SIMPLE GUIDELINES FOR
STUDY OF PROPHETIC BOOKS
In regard to Prophetic books
like Isaiah (the same caveat applies to Jeremiah, Daniel, and
the 12 "Minor" Prophets), remember that the most accurate
interpretation is derived by applying the following principles:
(1) Read the Scripture
unless the passage is clearly
figurative language, but even then keep in mind that the figurative
always points to a literal reality and does not give the interpreter
liberty to let the imagination "run wild" with specious speculations!
(2) Take time to observe the
(it does take time - reading and re-reading the surrounding
passages/paragraphs/chapters to accurately establish the context) for
context is "king" and rules over accurate
For example, don't take verses from Isaiah out of their Old Testament
context in which God is speaking to the saved and unsaved Jews in
Judah and Jerusalem.
Remember that Jehovah's promises to
the nation of Israel regarding the promised land remain valid, and it
is vital (for accurate interpretation) to not replace Israel with the
NT church (See Paul's declaration that the Gentiles were
to be fellow members of the body, the church, had heretofore been a
mystery, not revealed in the OT! Ep 3:3-note,
Ep 3:4, 5-note,
- It is a serious interpretative error to substitute the church
for Israel when reading the OT! See study
Israel of God).
A large percentage of commentaries on Isaiah (old and recent) have
abrogated this vital, irrefutable covenant principle (cp Ge 12:1, 2,
3). The church is not mentioned in the Old Testament but was a mystery
revealed only in the New Testament. This is not to say that Isaiah is
not applicable to NT believers, because to the contrary, Isaiah's
message to Israel is imminently applicable and is urgently needed that
it might be heeded by the New Testament church.
(3) Remember that Scripture
is always the best commentary on Scripture. As you read through the
comments on Isaiah, you will from time to time encounter examples of
spurious (in my opinion) interpretative comments. These comments will
be quoted not to denigrate the author of the comments (some of whom
are quite famous) but to convince you of the importance of doing your
own observations of the text before you are read and are potentially
biased by someone else's interpretation (including the one you are
currently reading!) It is always important to be a Berean (Acts
when studying the Scriptures, but this caution is especially necessary
when studying the Old Testament prophetic books.
Before you consult commentaries,
sermons or other resources, first consult the Word of God, studying
the Scriptures diligently and
Bible study) in
dependence on your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, Who Jesus promised would
guide us into all truth (John 16:13).
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF
The history of Israel begins
with Jehovah's call to and covenant with
(Acts 7:2, 3, 4,
Ge 12:1, 2, 3, 17:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), with these covenant
promises passing down through
Jacob (Ge 32:28,
35:10, 11, 12) from whom came the 12 tribes of Israel. The 12 tribes
under the leadership of
were delivered by Jehovah (Acts 7:30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36) from the death angel by the
blood of the
lamb (Ex 12:11, 21, 27, 50, 51) and from Egyptian bondage and
Pharaoh's pursuit - Ex 14:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31).
Jehovah then entered into a conditional covenant with Israel at Mt
Sinai (Ex 19:5, 24:3, 7, 8). After 40 years of wilderness wandering
the first generation of Israelites (those who had been freed from
Egypt) died off (Nu 14:32, 33, 34, 35) with the exception of
14:36, 37, 38).
The second generation of Israelites crossed the Jordan
into the promised land to capture and occupy their specific tribal
territory under the leadership of Joshua (Josh 21:43, 44, 45,
Ne 9:23, 24). After Joshua's death, the dark days of the period of the
judges followed, lasting some 300 plus years, during which every man
did what was right in his own eyes because there was no king in Israel
(Jdg 21:25-notes, Neh 9:26, 27, 28, 29). During this dark time
Boaz, the kinsmen-redeemer (Ru 3:9, 12,
13, 4:4, 5, 6 - see verse by verse commentary on
and gave birth to
the father of
the father of David (Ruth 4:21, 22).
Toward the end of the period of
(see commentary on
Judges - Verse by Verse) the
prophet Samuel was raised up (1Sa 1:20, 21, 22, 28; 3:8, 9, 10, 19,
20, 21) to call Israel back to her King (cp 1Sa 7:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11, 12, 13). However, when the prophet (EBD
grown old, his sons did not walk in his ways (1Sa 8:2, 3) with the
result that Israel began to cry out for a king like the other nations
(1Sa 8:4, 5, 6, 19, 20). And so God gave them a king and allowed the
12 tribes (the United Kingdom) to be ruled for
and 40 years
931BC, God declared to
King Solomon that He would tear the kingdom from him because of
idolatry, but would leave the tribe of
Judah and the tribe of Benjamin under his son
(1Ki 11:10, 11, 12, 13). And just as Jehovah had prophesied, the 12 tribes
were divided at the end
of Solomon's reign,
(followed by 18 evil kings) being the first king of the north ruling
over 10 tribes in the capital city of
Samaria (1Ki 11:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,
37, 38, 39, 40).
(followed by 11 evil and 8 godly kings) (1Ki 11:42, 43) became the first king
of the south and he ruled in the capital city of
over two tribes,
The Northern Kingdom stood for
until it was captured by Assyria and taken into
exile in 722
(2Ki 17:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Why? 2Ki
17:7,8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19).
Kingdom failed to learn from Israel's punishment by Jehovah after
taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar in
last king - 2Chr 36:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, Why 70
years of exile in Babylon? 2Chr 36:21, Lv 25:4, 26:33, 34, 35). Note
that there were 3 sieges of Jerusalem by Babylon -
(Daniel and his friends taken,
king of Judah), 597BC
(Ezekiel and 10,000 taken captive,
king of Judah) and 586BC
(Jerusalem and the Holy Temple destroyed,
king of Judah).
THE OLD TESTAMENT
The chart below summarizes the
the periods of ministry of all 17 Old Testament prophets, often
divided (primarily on the basis of their length) into major
prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel) and minor
prophets (see names in chart below). The chart depicts the time of
the prophet's ministry - Exilic, Pre- or Post-exilic - and the primary
recipient of their prophetic message (eg,
Hosea to the 10
Northern tribes referred to as Israel - whenever you observe the term
"Israel" in Scripture check the
because in other uses it can
refer to the 12 tribes representing undivided Israel). As described
Northern 10 Tribes were taken into exile by Assyria in 722
BC. Isaiah began his prophetic ministry which was directed
primarily to the Southern Kingdom of Judah about 739BC or
approximately 17 years prior to the fall of the Northern Kingdom of
Israel. Isaiah's ministry to Judah ceased about 681BC, almost 100
years prior to the Babylonian exile in 586BC. Note also
contemporary prophets of Isaiah.
Timeline for Isaiah in Pdf
As you study Isaiah
(and any prophecy for that matter) keep in mind that the prophets
words speak to one or more of the major prophetic points in
history: The prophet's own day, Judah's 70 years captivity (exile) in Babylon,
Judah's post-exilic return to Jerusalem (and "the land" - see
following note), Messiah's first coming, Messiah's second coming to reign
one thousand years (The
Millennium), and the
inception of the New Heaven and New Earth.
Keep in mind that many times in
the OT, the seemingly general phrase "the land" is a specific
designation of the promised land (determined by the
the land of "milk and honey" which Jehovah unconditionally promised to
Abraham and his offspring forever (eg, observe the phrase "the land"
in Ge 12:1, 7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:7, 8, 24:7, 28:4, 13, 14, 15, 35:9,
10, 11, 12, 48:4, Ex 20:12, 33:1, Dt 34:4, 2Chr 20:7, Neh 9:7,
Judah's 70 Yrs in
Babylonian Captivity (Exile)
Judah's Return to
Jerusalem & Restoration of Temple
God is "Silent"
Coming as a Man to be Crucified for our sins
Coming to reign as King over His Millennial Kingdom
New Heaven and New
in which righteousness dwells
Prophetic Points in Book of Daniel
Isaiah has been referred
to as the Bible in miniature, having 66 chapters even as the
Bible has 66 books. And just as the Bible is divided into two parts of
39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books, Isaiah is divided
into two parts, the first 39 chapters (Isa 1-39) having to do
largely with Israel's past and the promise of Messiah's coming, and
the last 27 chapters (Isa 40-66) dealing especially with Israel's
future and her deliverance. Obviously, the "division" of Isaiah into
39 and 27 chapters is coincidental because the original manuscript of
Isaiah had no chapter divisions but the chapters were established by
human editors, not the Holy Spirit. J Vernon McGee illustrates the
comparison of Isaiah and the Bible in the following table...
39 Chapters on LAW,
the Government of God
in Old Testament
27 Chapters on GRACE,
Salvation of God
in New Testament
has been called the "fifth evangelist" because of his
portrayal f the nature of God and His purpose in salvation. Others
have referred to the book of Isaiah as
"the fifth Gospel," because the prophet so clearly
predicts the Lord Jesus Christ's Christ’s virgin
birth, character, life, death, resurrection, and second coming.
The importance of Isaiah to the
argument of the NT cannot be underestimated for the NT writers have some 66 direct
quotations. In addition if one also includes NT passages that have "allusions" to Isaiah the
number of references is approximately 85. Twenty of the twenty-seven New
Testament books refer in some way to Isaiah with 12 of those books
Unger in his Bible
handbook writes that
Isaiah...is the great messianic
prophet and prince of OT seers. For splendor of diction, brilliance of
imagery, versatility and beauty of style, profundity and breadth of
prophetic vision, he is without peer.
Henry Morris writes that
is considered the greatest of Old
Testament prophets. His book contains the most significant and
greatest number of Messianic prophecies. It falls naturally into two
divisions, chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66. Liberals have long argued
that the two divisions were written by two different authors (Ed note:
This refers to the rise of so called "higher criticism" [see
note on the approach one takes to interpretation]
in the late 1800's spurred the debate about who wrote Isaiah.). The only
real evidence for this idea is the fact that certain explicit
prophecies in the second division (Isaiah 45:1, 2, 3, 4), were
fulfilled long after the "first" Isaiah died. Liberals do not believe
in predictive prophecy. The New Testament, however, including Christ
Himself, quotes from both divisions, attributing all such quotes to "Isaiah
the prophet" (Mt 3:3; 12:17,18; Luke 3:4; Jn 12:38, 39, 40, 41;
Acts 8:28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34; Ro 10:16,20). Jesus says that
Isaiah wrote the prophecy in both Isaiah 6:9,10 (quoted in Mt
13:14,15) and Isaiah 53:4 (quoted in Mt 8:17), as well as other quotes
from both divisions...
The real reason...for the "two
Isaiahs" ("Deutero-Isaiah") notion is that the second division
contains many remarkable prophecies that were later fulfilled--for
example, the naming of the Persian emperor Cyrus a century and a half
in advance (Isaiah 45:1, 2, 3, 4). Skeptical theologians are unwilling
to believe that God can supernaturally reveal the future to His
divinely called and prepared prophets, and so most assume that the
last part of Isaiah was written by an unknown writer living among the
exiles in Babylon after Cyrus had conquered the city.
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Deuteronomy 18:18 gives us an excellent Biblical definition of a
'I will raise up a prophet from
among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his
mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
Easton's writes that the
word prophet is the Hebrew word nabi which is
from a root
meaning "to bubble forth, as from a fountain," hence "to utter", (cp.
Ps 45:1). This Hebrew word is the first and the most generally used
for a prophet. In the time of Samuel another word, ro'eh, "seer",
began to be used (1Sa 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to
Samuel. Afterwards another word, hozeh, "seer" (2Sa 24:11), was
employed. In 1Chr 29:29 all these three words are used: "Samuel the
seer (ro'eh), Nathan the prophet (nabi'), Gad the seer" (hozeh). In
Josh 13:22 Balaam is called (Heb.) a kosem "diviner," a word used only
of a false prophet.
So important is prophecy in
God's Word that it occupies about one third of the whole Bible.
Prophecy is God's revelation of His Plans to His children.
Sir Winston Churchill was asked
to give the qualifications a person needed to succeed in politics to
which he replied
It is the
ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next
month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain
why it didn’t happen.
God’s genuine prophets unlike
politicians were always correct and did not have to explain away their
Moses records that...
prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come
about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken.
The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of
him. (Dt 18:22)
Isaiah alludes to the
test of authenticity writing...
To the law
and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it
is because they have no dawn. (Is 8:20)
Wil Pounds in his summary
The Prophets: Holy Men of God writes that...
is a man who speaks to men on behalf of God the message he has
received from God. Prophecy is the declaration and illustration of the
principles of the divine government, whether in the past, present, or
the future. Prophets were God’s specially called and inspired
messengers. They were "holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by
the Holy Spirit" (2Peter 1:21-note).
The prophets are called by various names including: "Man of God,"
"Servant of Jehovah (LORD)," "Messenger of Jehovah," "Interpreter,"
"Sentinel," "The Man of the Spirit." The Holy Spirit breathing
into the mind of the prophet so illumined his spirit and pervaded his
thoughts, that while nothing as a person was taken away, yet
everything that was necessary to enable him to declare divine truth in
all its fullness was bestowed on him. Their inspiration consisted in
the fullness of the influence of the Holy Spirit enabling them to
accomplish their work.
His job was
to call the people back to God and to the truth of God. It involved
warning them of the consequences of their actions and a call to
repentance. At times it was a message of God's plan for the future of
His Kingdom. They were men through whom God spoke His message of love
for sinners, and warned them of the consequences of their sins. The
heart of their message was God's promise of eternal redemption through
the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
The test of
the prophet was practical and simple. "When the word of the prophet
shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord has
truly sent him" (Jeremiah 28:9). The term does not occur in the Old
Testament. It is found on the lips of Jesus (Mt 7:15-23; Mk.13:21, 22,
23; Jer 14:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; 28; 1Ki 22:5-28). Things that are
most highly valued are most subject to counterfeiting. True prophecy
has in it no contradictions. It must always agree in genuine way with
what is already known about Yahweh. Satan is the counterfeiter.
Characteristics of the
were sent from God. These men claimed to be speaking from God and for
God. "Thus says the Lord" was a clear emphasis of their preaching. The
content of their message is proof that they were inspired of the Lord.
2. Their message was related to history. It grew out of some historic
situation in which they lived. The prophets were messengers of their
times. The message can only be understood by seeing it in its original
setting. You have to become a student of history to understand Old
3. God's revelation is progressive. Each message builds upon other
revealed truth from God.
4. Prophecy is not always predictive. It is a mistake to think that
Old Testament prophecy was always predictive or foretelling of the
future. There were times when the prophet spoke only to his own
generation without any special reference to the future. He called his
generation to repentance or to a social change within the nation or
political changes. They warned the nation and its leaders of wrongs
that needed to be corrected. They were primarily messengers of God,
whether they spoke of the past, the present, or the future.
5. There were absolute predictions of the future. These predictions
reveal God's purposes of grace to men. They are dependent upon the
sovereign purpose of God, and they are certain of fulfillment. A good
example is Genesis 3:15, which is not dependent upon, man, but solely
upon God. Galatians 4:4, 5 shows its fulfillment.
6. There were conditional predictions, which directly bear upon men’s
responsibility for a proper human response to secure fulfillment. A
good example is Jonah's prediction that Nineveh would be destroyed in
7. Correct interpretation of prophecy includes the recognition of both
literal and figurative language freely intermingled. Genesis 3:15 is a
figurative way of picturing the conflict between Christ and Satan.
8. All prophecy is centered in Christ. It is a testimony of Jesus
Christ. He is at the center of prophecy because He is the central
theme of all the Scriptures. No one, or anything can share that center
stage with Him. Bring every prophecy to Christ in order to see it in
its true light.
9. Interpret Old Testament prophecy in the light of the New Testament.
We find the key to the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy by
examining how New Testament writers interpreted the prophets. The
explanation of the Old Testament in the New Testament is the very
point from which alone all explanation that listens to the voice of
the divine wisdom must set out. This way we understand the sense of
the Holy Scriptures as understood by inspired men themselves, and are
furnished with the true key to knowledge. We discover from the New
Testament writers the correct principles of interpreting the Old
Testament prophecies. Probably we should see much more in the
prophetic messages than we at first observed.
10. The interpretation of prophecy should generally be in the literal
and natural meaning of the words. Seek the plain teaching of the
passage. The fulfillment of predictions made by the prophets is to be
thought of as literal and not allegorical. Many predictions may be
given to us in figurative language, and we may or may not understand
them, but when the day comes for fulfillment it is to be thought of as
Harry Ironside has some
interesting introductory thoughts on the book of Isaiah...
ISAIAH'S "wild measure" has ever
been a portion of GOD's Holy Word in which spiritually minded
believers have found much to exercise their hearts and lead out their
souls in glad anticipation of the coming day when Immanuel (God with
us), of whom this prophet speaks, will take His great power and reign.
Longer than any other prophetic book, it contains the fullest
Messianic predictions to be found in the Old Testament, testifying in
no uncertain way to "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that
should follow." Of late, like all other books of the Bible, it has
suffered much at the hands of unbelieving and haughty critics, who
have done their best to undermine the faith of the simple in the
integrity and unity of the Bible, but all that is settled for those
who have faith by the Lord Jesus. When here on earth He placed the
seal or His divine approval upon it in its entirety. And from this
book the apostles drew again and again in their ministry after the
ascension of the Saviour, all by the direct guidance of the Holy
Spirit, giving it a place of unquestionable authority as the very word
of the Lord.
Isaiah himself was a man of wealth, rank, and learning, if we may give
any credence to Jewish tradition respecting him. He is supposed to be
the one referred to in Hebrews 11:37, who was "sawn asunder" by the
enraged rejecters of his prophetic ministry. If this be so, it
occurred at the close of a long and honored life, for his public
service extended over at least half a century. As he tells us in the
opening verse, he prophesied "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and
In all likelihood he did not appear in the prophetic office until the
last year of Uzziah's long reign (Isaiah 6:1). Chapter six records his
divine commission, and it is questionable if he had uttered the
burdens of the previous chapters ere the vision there portrayed, which
took place "in the year that King Uzziah died": that is, not
necessarily after he died but in the same year as that solemn event.
We know he continued to give forth the word of the Lord later than the
fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, for it was then that he was
commissioned to make known to the stricken monarch that fifteen years
were to be added to his life. He was, therefore, contemporary with
Hosea throughout, and possibly with
Amos for a very brief
season, though it is more likely the herdsman-prophet had passed off
the scene before Isaiah began to make known the mind of GOD.
also held the prophetic office during the reigns of the last three
kings mentioned. So Isaiah would be the chief among a goodly little
company, who had the secret of the Lord (Ps 25:14-note) in a day when
formalism and hypocrisy largely prevailed.
That there was but one Isaiah, not two, is evident from the testimony
given by the inspired writer of the Gospel of Luke. He tells us that
on the occasion of the Lord's first public visit to the synagogue at
Nazareth, "there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias,"
(not of "the great unknown"), and from it He preached His gospel of
deliverance to the captives and the acceptable year of the Lord. The
glorious predictions of Isaiah 61:1,2 the Lord cited as inspired
Scripture and written by Isaiah, not as the writing of an unknown poet
of the Maccabean or a later period.
The book as it stands bears every evidence of being preserved in its
divinely arranged order. It is only unbelieving ignorance coupled with
amazing egotism, that could lead any to think to rearrange and dissect
it in the manner of modern critics, of which George Adam Smith's
"Isaiah" in the Expositor's Bible series is the most commonly known
specimen. It is a virtual denial of inspiration and a biased attempt
to destroy the true prophetic character of the Messianic portions of
this magnificent "golden prophecy."
where faith bows with adoring reverence.
As I write not for skeptics, but
for those who truly know Christ Whose sufferings and glories Isaiah
foretold, I shall pay but slight attention to the objections of those
unbelieving, natural men, albeit distinguished in the world of letters
and in the Christless religious circles of the day.
Many professing Christians pay little or no attention to the prophetic
word, but in neglecting that which formed so large a part of the Holy
Scriptures, they wrong their own souls and dishonor Him who gave His
Word for our edification and comfort.
The real value of prophecy
is that it occupies us with a Person,
not merely with events.
That Person is our Lord Jesus
Christ Who came once to suffer and is coming again to reign. Of both
these advents Isaiah treats, and that In a way more plain and full
than do any of the other Old Testament seers.
Foretelling of future events
Forth-telling of the mind of God for the moment
It should be borne in mind,
however, that prophecy is not simply the foretelling of future events,
but is rather the forth-telling of the mind of GOD for the moment.
When both the priesthood and the monarchy had failed completely in
Israel and Judah, God continued to minister to His people through the
prophets. These were men to whom special insight was given into holy
things, and who were sent of GOD to call an erring people to
repentance. It was their responsibility to put before the people not
only the coming glories into which they were to enter in Messiah's
day, but also to impress upon them the necessity of preparing the way
of the Lord by turning from sin to righteousness, and from their
idolatrous vanities to the living GOD who had so wonderfully
manifested His power on their behalf throughout Israel's history. (Ironside,
Harry A: Expository Notes on the Prophet Isaiah)
A SIMPLE OUTLINE
(I) Isaiah 1-35
Prophetic: Israel and Gentile
nations, especially Assyria
(II) Isaiah 36-39
Historic: Reign of Hezekiah
(III) Isaiah 40-66
Messianic: Especially re deliverance of a remnant in Israel
Warren Wiersbe (Be
Comforted. Victor Books)
offers the following simple
1. Sermons against Judah and
2. Burdens of Judgment against the Gentiles—(13-23)
3. Songs about Future Glory—(24-27)
4. Woes of Coming Judgment from Assyria—(28-35)
5. Historical Interlude—(36-39)
a. Hezekiah delivered from
b. Hezekiah deceived by Babylon—(37-38)
1. God’s Greatness—(40-48) (The
Father vs. idols)
2. God’s Grace—(49-57) (The Son, God’s Servant)
3. God’s Glory—(58-66) (The Spirit and the kingdom)
Charles H Spurgeon
This is a chapter which teaches an
important lesson to those of us who desire the salvation of men, for
it shows us how God sets about that work. He begins by exhibiting the
sinner’s sin to him before he proclaims mercy to him; and if we want
to be the means of doing good to men, it will not be by merely crying
to them, “Believe, believe, believe;” but there must be a laying of
the axe at the root of the tree of self-righteousness, and a cutting
away of all trust in self. A man must realize his danger before he
will desire to escape from it, and it is a mistaken kindness which
refuses to set before him the peril in which he is. God, who is
infinitely tender and inconceivably merciful, shows us, in this
chapter, how to go to work with sinners. (Exposition of Isaiah 1:1-31)
The vision of Isaiah the
son of Amoz: (Isa 21:2; Nu 12:6; 24:4,16; 2Chr
32:32; Ps 89:19; Jer 23:16; Nah 1:1; Hab 2:2; Mt
17:9; Acts 10:17; 26:19; 2Co 12:1) (Isa 2:1; 13:1; 2Pe
Vision (02377) (chazown/chazon)
as used in Scripture describes a divine revelation conveyed
by something seen ("seer"). In this sense vision is somewhat similar to
a dream, but as
used in Scripture however, a vision is not a typical "dream"
but represents an actual experience in which the individual is given superhuman insight or
awareness. Dreams (not "day dreams"!) occur only when one is
asleep whereas visions can occur while one is
awake (cp Da 10:7).
Spurgeon notes that...
Prophets were called seers, they
saw what they were called to say; and every true preacher of Christ
must first be a seer of Christ. He must see that is, realize for
himself; and then he must tell to others what he has seen. This Book
is about “the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw”
During the time in which Isaiah
prophesied, the worship of God was, upon the whole, maintained in
Judah; yet, prosperous as the times appeared to be, there was visible
to the eye of the Lord much iniquity. He who seeth not as man seeth,
but who looks beneath the surface, and into the hearts of men (1Sa
16:7), saw that the condition of the people was exceedingly
unsatisfactory. Do not forget that these upbraiding words were spoken
during the reigns of comparatively good kings, and try to imagine how
the Lord must have felt towards the people who lived in the reigns of
bad kings. (Exposition of Isaiah 1)
Note what happens when there is
no "chazown", no vision in Pr 29:18 where same word is used for
vision. (cp similar spiritual "dynamic" in 1Sa 3:1, Amos
8:11,12 Hosea 4:6)
Where there is no vision,
the people are unrestrained ("run wild"), but happy (blessed) is he
who keeps the law.
Comment: The Septuagint
chooses the interesting Greek word exegetes to translate
the Hebrew word for vision (chazon). Exegetes in Greek
literally means one who leads out, and so unfolds, declares or tells.
Exegetes of course gives us our English “exegesis” which
describes the unfolding interpretation brought about by teaching the
Scripture. An exegetes in secular Greek described an expounder,
interpreter, as of oracles dreams, omens, or sacred customs.
Exegetes is not used in the NT but the verbal root exegeomai
is used 6 times (Lk 24:35, Jn 1:18, Acts 10:8, 15:12, 14, 21:19)
and means to provide detailed information in a systematic manner.
God's people are best fed (and spiritually healthiest) when they are
fed with the pure milk of the Word (1Pe 2:2-note),
expounded by the Spirit endued and empowered exegete!
For practical purposes when any
people, individually or corporately, fails to have a Word from God, by
default the only source for a "word" is the fallen world, flesh or
devil! And the result is always chaos not kosmos (order)!
He said, "Hear now My words: If
there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to
him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. (Nu
Ryrie Comments: God spoke to prophets
through visions and dreams; but He spoke to Moses
directly, openly (Nu 11:17, 25, Ex 34:5, cp Ps 103:7), and not in dark
Webster's 1828 dictionary
says that a vision...
In Scripture is a revelation from
God; an appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented
to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future
events. Such were the visions of Isaiah, of
Amos, of Ezekiel, etc.
Morris notes that...
In the Old Testament, vision is
often synonymous with "divine revelation," amounting to a claim by the
prophet that the account that follows is supernaturally inspired.
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Nelson's Bible Dictionary
In the Bible, people who had
visions were filled with a special consciousness of God. The most
noteworthy examples in the Old Testament of recipients of visions are
Ezekiel (cp Ezek 1:1-25; 26, 27, 28) and Daniel (Da 7:15, 28,
8:15, 17, 19). Visions in the New Testament are most prominent in the
Gospel of Luke (Lk 1:22, 24, 22, 23), the Book of Acts (Acts 7:31,
Paul - Acts 26:19 compare with Acts 9:3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,
15; Cornelius - Acts 10:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Peter - Acts 10:10, 11,
12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 11:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; Paul - Acts 16:9, 10, 11, 12
18:8, 9, 10, 11), and the Book of Revelation. The purpose of visions
was to give guidance and direction to God’s servants and to foretell
the future. Daniel’s vision, for example, told of the coming of the
Messiah (Da 8:1, 17).
R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Vine says that...
Chazon almost always
signifies a means of divine revelation.
First, it refers to the means
itself, to a prophetic “vision” by which divine messages are
“The days are prolonged, and every vision
faileth” (Ezek 12:22).
Second, this word represents the message
received by prophetic “vision”:
“Where there is no vision, the
people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Pr 29:18).
Finally, chazon can represent the entirety of a prophetic or
prophet’s message as it is written down:
“The vision of Isaiah
the son of Amoz …” (Isa 1:1).
Thus the word inseparably related to the
content of a divine communication focuses on the means by which that
message is received:
“And the word of the Lord was precious in those
days; there was no open vision” (1Sa 3:1 the first occurrence
of the word).
In Isa 29:7 chazon signifies a non-prophetic
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words. 1996. Nelson)
Chazon - 34 uses in
the OT - 1Sa 3:1; 1Chr. 17:15; 2Chr. 32:32; Ps 89:19; Pr. 29:18; Isa.
1:1; 29:7; Jer 14:14; 23:16; Lam 2:9; Ezek. 7:13, 26; 12:22, 23, 24,
27; 13:16; Dan. 1:17; 8:1, 2, 13, 15, 17, 26; 9:21, 24; 10:14; 11:14;
Hos. 12:10; Ob 1:1; Mic. 3:6; Nah 1:1; Hab 2:2, 3. Notice that there
are no uses of chazon prior to first Samuel and not
surprisingly most of the uses are in the prophetic books.
The word prophet in its
various forms, appears over 600 times in the Scriptures, with
two-thirds of the uses being in the OT. This prevalence gives some
sense of the importance of study of the prophetic books like Isaiah .
There are 17 books of prophecy in the OT written by 16 different
prophets (assuming that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations). As alluded to
earlier, contrary to the common assumption by many saints, the primary
task of the OT prophet was not to foretell events but to
forthtell the will of God as He revealed it to them (cp 2Ki 17:13,
14, 2Chr 24:18, 19, 20, 21, 36:15, 16). In Exodus Jehovah
specifies that Aaron would serve as Moses' prophet
and thus would be his
mouthpiece or authorized spokesman...
Then the LORD said to Moses, "See,
I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your
- see all OT uses by book).
The writer of Hebrews
although not using the actual word vision nevertheless does
allude to this divine means of communication in his introductory
God, after He spoke long ago to the
fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways (Ed
Note: Including visions), in these last days has spoken to us in His
Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made
the world. (He 1:1, 2-note)
A prophet is one who speaks
to men for God; a priest is one who speaks to God for men. The
priest takes man’s problems to God; the prophet takes
God’s message to men. Both, if they are true, are commissioned by God,
but their ministries are quite different. The book of Hebrews has a
great deal to say about priests, but its opening verse speaks
of prophets. The Holy Spirit establishes the divine authorship
of the Old Testament, its accuracy and its authority, through the fact
that it was given to and delivered by God’s prophets." For
example the "LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh,
and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet." (Ex 7:1) (MacArthur,
John: Hebrews. Moody Press
The OT prophets
like Isaiah were the mouthpieces of God and their words were not the
production of their own spirit, but came from the Holy Spirit as
emphasized by Peter who wrote that
no prophecy was ever made by an act
of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2Pe
The prophet John
the Baptist quoting the prophet Isaiah explained that he was
a voice of One who is crying
out in the wilderness (Jn
giving the message was God, John being His voice,
a vessel for honor, sanctified,
useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. (2Ti 2:21-note)
The OT prophets were known by a
several synonyms including
Man of God
Servant of Jehovah (esp used
of Moses and David Dt 34:5, Josh 1:1, 13, 15, 8:31, 33, 11:12, 12:6,
13:8, 14:7, 18:7, 22:2, 4, 5, 24:29, Jdg 2:8, 2Ki 18:12, 2Chr 1:3,
24:6, Ps 18:1, 36:1, Isa 42:19)
Messenger of Jehovah (Hag
The prophets received
their call or appointment directly from God, and some like Jeremiah
(Jer 1:5) or John the Baptist (Jn 1:13, 14, 15), were called before
birth. Although not all that God had spoken through the prophets was
predictive prophecy, this aspect of God's revelation is one of the
strongest evidences that the Bible is divinely inspired. The prophets
were generally divided into those with an oral ministry only () and
others who had both an oral and written ministry.
J Vernon McGee adds
Although the predictive element
bulks large in this section, the prophets were more than
fortune-tellers. Actually, they were men raised up of God in a
decadent day when both priest and king were no longer worthy channels
through whom the expressions of God might flow.
These men not only spoke of events
in the far-off future but also spoke of local events in the immediate
future. They had to speak in this manner in order to qualify for this
office under God, according to the Mosaic code:
'But the prophet who shall
speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him
to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that
prophet shall die.' "And you may say in your heart, 'How shall we
know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' "When a prophet
speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or
come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The
prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of
him. (Deuteronomy 18:20, 21, 22)
If the local event did not
transpire just as the prophet predicted, he was labeled a false
prophet and was so treated. You may be sure that the message of the
false prophet is not in the library of inspired Scripture. The
prophetic books are filled with events that are local and fulfilled.
A sharp distinction needs to be drawn between this portion and that
which is yet to be fulfilled. One of the greatest evidences of the
fact that these men were speaking the words of God is revealed in the
hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled literally. Man
cannot guess the future. Even the meteorologists have difficulty in
prognosticating the weather twenty-four hours in advance, although
they have the advantage of all sorts of scientific and mechanical
devices to assist them. No modern weather forecaster could have been
an accepted prophet in Israel! The law of compound probability forbids
man from consistently foretelling the future. Each uncertain element
added decreases the chance of accuracy by fifty percent. The example
of hundreds of prophecies literally fulfilled has a genuine appeal to
the honest mind and sincere seeker after the truth. Fulfilled prophecy
is one of the infallible proofs of plenary, verbal inspiration of
The predictive element is the
peculiar and particular contribution of these men of God. This does
not mean there was not this element before them or after them. The
last book of the Bible closes the message of God for the future.
The prophets were extremely
nationalistic. They rebuked sin in high as well as low places. They
warned the nation. They pleaded with a proud people to humble
themselves and return to God. Fire and tears were mingled in their
message, which was not one of doom and gloom alone, for they saw the
Day of the Lord and the glory to follow. All of them looked through
the darkness to the dawn of a new day. In the night of sin they saw
the light of a coming Savior and Sovereign; they saw the millennial
kingdom coming in all its fullness. Their message must be interpreted
before an appreciation of the kingdom in the New Testament can be
attained. The correct perspective of the kingdom must be gained
through the eye of the Old Testament prophets. (McGee,
J Vernon: Isaiah Introduction - Pdf)
Isaiah - His name means "the LORD
saves" or "Yahweh has saved" certainly an apropos name
for a prophet through whom God gives knowledge of His salvation
through the Messiah of whom he prophesies extensively.
Bultema wrote that
has the courage of a Daniel, the
sensitivity of a Jeremiah, the pathos of a Hosea, and the raging anger
of an Amos; and moreover he leaves all of them far behind the in the
unique art of holy mockery. His courage is of such a nature that he
never, not even for a moment, shows himself to be weak or timid.
Isaiah is often referred to as the "prince
of prophets" prince of prophets," because of the length of his
prophecy (although the prophecy of Jeremiah is slightly longer in the
number of words/verses) and because of the majesty and beauty of his
themes and the many prophetic pictures of the two comings of the
Messiah and His glorious
Isaiah 53 contains one of most complete expositions of the
substitutionary sacrifice of Christ in Scripture. Isaiah as you will
observe begins with a sad depiction of the sinful, condition of the
majority of the people, but ends with a glorious description of the
new heavens and new earth, proving that God's ultimate desire for His
people is good, not judgment.
Not much is known about Isaiah's
personal life, but we do know that Isaiah was married and was the
father of at least two sons (Isaiah 7:3,8:3) and lived in Jerusalem
(Isa 7:3, 22:1, 37:2, 38:5, 39:3). Some resources state that Isaiah
belonged to the royal family of David but this cannot be affirmed from
Scripture. (2Ki 19:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7-37, and 2Ki 20:1-3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) 2Kings
describes Isaiah's interactions with King Hezekiah.
Isaiah is mentioned by
name in the ESV 54 times (22 of which are in the NT) - 2Ki. 19:2, 5,
6, 20; 20:1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 16, 19; 2Chr 26:22; 32:20, 32; Isa
1:1; 2:1; 7:3; 13:1; 20:2, 3; 37:2, 5, 6, 21; 38:1, 4, 21; 39:3, 5, 8;
Mt 3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14; 15:7; Mk. 1:2; 7:6; Lk. 3:4; 4:17;
Jn 1:23; 12:38, 39, 41; Acts 8:28, 30; 28:25; Ro 9:27, 29; 10:16, 20;
C I Scofield writes...
According to an ancient Jewish
tradition the Prophet Isaiah was sawn asunder by the servants of King
Other writers agree with
Scofield that Isaiah was the man sawn in half in Hebrews 11...
They were stoned, they were sawn
in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword;
they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute,
afflicted, ill-treated (Heb 11:37)
This passage in Hebrews could
possibly refer to Isaiah but we will have to wait until we meet him
face to face to confirm this supposition (either way he will be back
in one piece in glory! Hallelujah!). J Vernon McGee adds a
pithy comment that...
This (Isaiah's being sawn in two)
may or may not be true. The liberal critic has sawn him asunder in
forging the fake fabric of the Deutero-Isaiah hypothesis. Some have
gone so far as to fabricate a Trito-Isaiah. There is not a scrap of
documentary evidence beyond the skepticism of the destructive critic.
They have cut Isaiah up like a railroad restaurant pie. History
presents only one Isaiah, not two or three. This method of the
destructive critic could be applied one thousand years hence to prove
just as easily that there were three Dwight Eisenhowers:
1st — General Eisenhower, the
military leader of the victorious forces of World War II — European
2nd —President Eisenhower of the
United States, elected in 1952 and 1956.
3rd — Dwight D. Eisenhower, the
invalid man and victim of a heart attack and a serious operation for
We know that only one man by the
name of Eisenhower fulfilled all those requirements. Likewise, only
one man by the name of Isaiah can easily fulfill all the requirements
as the sole author of the Book of Isaiah. (McGee,
J Vernon: Isaiah Introduction - Pdf)
As noted above, the prophet's
words sometimes spoke to his own time and in fact the fulfillment of
some of Isaiah's prophesies served to authenticate him as a true
prophet of God. For example,
Sennacherib failed to take
Jerusalem as Isaiah had prophesied (Isa 37:6,7, see Isa 36-38). In
another fulfillment, Jehovah healed Hezekiah just as Isaiah had
predicted (Isa 38:5; 2Ki 20:7).
Isaiah also prophesied of events
that occurred after his lifetime, one of the most famous being his
prophecy that a man named Cyrus would become king of Persia and
deliver Judah from the Babylonian captivity (Isa 44:28; 45:1). Isaiah
prophesied of another King who would come and be rejected, the
fulfillment of his prophecies of Messiah's first coming serving to
validate his prophecies of Messiah's yet to come future return to rule
and reign in Jerusalem, a prophecy many commentators still refuse to
acknowledge as yet to be literally fulfilled. Isaiah presented more
prophetic details on the the
Day of the Lord
and Messiah’s future
on earth than
any other OT prophet.
John MacArthur adds
Through a literary device called “prophetic
foreshortening,” Isaiah predicted future events without
delineating exact sequences of the events or time intervals separating
them. For example, nothing in Isaiah reveals the extended period
separating the two comings of the Messiah. Also, he does not provide
as clear a distinction between the future temporal kingdom and the
eternal kingdom as John does in Revelation 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 10- see esp notes on
Re 21:1-22:5. In God’s program of progressive revelation, details of
these relationships awaited a prophetic spokesman of a later time.
Interpretive challenges in a long
and significant book such as Isaiah are numerous. The most critical of
them focuses on whether Isaiah’s prophecies will receive literal
fulfillment or not.
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
MacArthur also argues
against the frequently espoused interpretation that God has abandoned
national Israel and permanently replaced them with the church,
defending his position by noting that there are
numerous portions of Isaiah support
the position that God has not replaced ethnic Israel with an alleged
“new Israel.” (see
Israel of God)
Isaiah has too much to say about God’s faithfulness to Israel, that He
would not reject the people whom He has created and chosen (Isa 43:1).
The nation is on the palms of His hands, and Jerusalem’s walls are
ever before His eyes (Isa 49:16). He is bound by His own Word to
fulfill the promises He has made to bring them back to Himself and
bless them in that future day (Isa 55:10, 11, 12)....The kingdom
promised to David belongs to Israel, not the church. The future
exaltation of Jerusalem will be on earth, not in heaven. Christ will
reign personally on this earth as we know it, as well as in the new
heavens and new earth (Re 22:1,3).
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
SON OF AMOZ
The son of Amoz - Amoz
means "strong". See the 13 occurrences of Amoz in the OT - 2Ki.
19:2, 20; 20:1; 2Chr. 26:22; 32:20, 32; "son of Amoz" recurs in Isa. 1:1; 2:1; 13:1; 20:2;
37:2, 21; 38:1
Guzik notes that "There
are at least seven men by the name of Isaiah in the Bible, but only
one is Isaiah, the son of Amoz."
Easton's Bible Dictionary
says that in regard to Isaiah's
personal history little is
positively known. He is supposed by some to have been the "man of God"
spoken of in 2Chr 25:7, 8.
Rich Cathers in his
introductory comments notes that...
The book of Isaiah is the first
book in the section of the Old Testament that we call the "prophets".
It is the Old Testament book that has the clearest picture of the
coming Messiah. John, the forerunner of Christ, began his ministry
with a quote from Isaiah (Mat. 3:3). Jesus preached His first sermon
in Nazareth from Isaiah (Luke 4:17, 18, 19, 20, 21). The New Testament
quotes from Isaiah more than from any other prophet.
This is not a book that was written all at once, in a single sitting.
There are various sections of the book, and it is the compiling of the
writings of a man over sixty years. There will be times that the
prophetic message is aimed at Isaiah’s time. There will be times when
the prophetic message is aimed far in the future. There will be times
when the message has a double effect with both a near and far
prophecy. (Isaiah 1:1-20)
Concerning Judah and Jerusalem :
This verse clearly states to
whom this prophecy is directly addressed - the southern kingdom of
Judah and its capital city, the Holy City of Jerusalem. Keep in mind
that for the first portion of Isaiah's ministry (739-722BC), the
Northern Kingdom was still in existence. As an aside note that the
prophecy is not directed to the church, contrary to what some of the
McGee as usual offers a
I am sure that we will not make the
mistake of locating either one anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.
There is, however, a marvelous application for America today—one that
we need to hear and heed.
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
Judah and Jerusalem -
This combination occurs throughout both the first (1-39) and second
(40-66) sections of Isaiah - See the 11 occurrences - Isa 1:1, 2:1,3:1, 3:8, 5:3, 7:1, 22:21, 36:7, 37:10, 40:9, 44:26.
Vine adds that...
The subject is Judah and Jerusalem
and it is to be noticed that this twofold theme is prominent in
chapters 40-66 as much as in 1-39, and that it involves a constant
reference throughout the book to the whole nation of Israel.
Jamieson comments that...
Other nations also are the subjects
of his prophecies; but only in their relation to the Jews (Isa
13:1-23:18 - In the time of Isaiah, Israel was a little nation often
caught in the middle of the wars between three superpowers: Egypt,
Assyria, and Babylon); so also the ten tribes of Israel are introduced
only in the same relation (Isa 7:1-9:21). Jerusalem is particularly
specified, being the site of the temple, and the center of the
theocracy, and the future throne of Messiah (Ps 48:2, 3, 9; Jer 3:17).
Jesus Christ is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Re 5:5).
he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings
of Judah: (Isa 6:1; 7:1, 3; 14:27; 20:1; 36:1; 38:1; 39:1; 2Chr 26:1-32; Ho 1:1; Amos
1:1; Mic 1:1)
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and
Hezekiah, kings of Judah - Three good, godly kings and one evil
Timeline of Isaiah**
Uzziah (790-739BC) becomes king
of Judah, reigns 52 years
Jotham becomes king of Judah
assuming reign when Uzziah becomes leprous
begins his prophetic
ministry (cp ministry to Hezekiah Jer 26:18, 19, Mic 3:12)
Isaiah begins prophetic ministry in year King Uzziah died
Ahaz becomes king of Judah (2Ki
15:38, 16:1, 2Chr 28:1)
Hezekiah becomes 12th king of
Judah (2Ki 16:20, 18:1,2) and one of 3 best (2Ki 18:5)
Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:3, 18:9) dies
while besieging Samaria, Sargon seizes crown
Sargon of Assyria
(Is 20:1) conquers Samaria (2Ki 17:6, 18:9, 10, 11, 12)
(son of Sargon) of Assyria lays siege to Jerusalem
becomes king of Judah (2Ki 21:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
begins prophetic ministry
of Babylon conquers Judah
The Ryrie Study Bible: New American
Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)
SUMMARY OF JUDAH'S KINGS
(See discussion of kings below)
- In some ways, the time of Isaiah was not the darkest in Judah
because three of the four kings, Uzziah, Jotham and Hezekiah were good
and godly rulers who sought to serve and glorify God. But these days
were extremely dark and ominous because of the menace of the
formidable kingdom of Assyria in the north. In fact, it was early in
the ministry of Isaiah (739-681BC) that the 10 tribes of the northern
kingdom of Israel were carried away into captivity in Assyria (722BC).
And as you will discover in especially the first 6 chapters of Isaiah,
these days were spiritually dark days, days in dire need of a
prophetic voice of warning and reason (cp Isa 1:18).
Ryrie describes the times
(Isaiah) warned vigorously
against foreign alliances and urged Judah to trust the Lord (Isa 7:4;
30:1-17). He also attacked the social ills of the day, not because he
was a social reformer, but because he saw those abuses as symptoms of
spiritual declension (Isa 1:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 58:6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
During the latter half of the
eighth century Judah seemingly was about to follow the example of
apostasy of the 10 northern tribes of Israel (who were captured by
Assyria in 722 B.C.). King Ahaz foolishly looked to Assyria for
protection, even though Isaiah told him the Northern Kingdom would
shortly fall at the hands of the Assyrians (Isa 8:3, 4). Hezekiah,
Ahaz's God-fearing son, instituted spiritual reforms but sought the
help of Egypt in foreign affairs. Egypt fell before
Assyria, and only through divine intervention was Judah saved from the
same fate (Isa 37:36, 37). During the reign of Manasseh, idolatrous
practices were reinstated, and Isaiah warned of the inevitability of
the Babylonian captivity. He also gave assurance of the preservation
of the people and restoration of the nation.
Ryrie Study Bible: 1995. Moody Publishers)
Take a moment to at least
briefly survey the lives of these four kings, to get a good sense of
the political and cultural climate in Judah during the days Isaiah.
Remember that as the rulers of the nation go, so go the people, and
you will see Isaiah's prophecy frequently addressing the conduct of
the rulers and laity in Judah. A sense of the "spiritual climate" will
help understand Isaiah's various prophecies.
understand the spiritual compromise and decline that occurred in Judah
it is helpful to understand the nature of the high places (Hebrew word
= bamah -
to study a few of the 100+ uses of Bamah and note especially the stark
contrast between the true and the counterfeit high
places in the 2 uses in
an eminence, natural or artificial, where worship by sacrifice or
offerings was made (1Ki 13:32; 2Ki 17:29). The first altar after the
Flood was built on a mountain (Ge 8:20). Abraham also built an altar
on a mountain (Ge 12:7, 8). It was on a mountain in Gilead that Laban
and Jacob offered sacrifices (Ge 31:54). After the Israelites entered
the Promised Land they were strictly enjoined to overthrow the high
places of the
(Ex 34:13; Dt 7:5; 12:2, 3), and they were forbidden to worship the
Lord on high places (Dt 12:11, 12, 13, 14), and were enjoined to use
but one altar for sacrifices (Lv 17:3, 4; Dt. 12; 16:21). The
was, however, very imperfectly obeyed, and we find again and again
mention made of them (2Ki 14:4; 15:4, 35:2Chr 15:17, etc.). (Click
for more in depth description of the High Places)
Isaiah began his prophetic ministry in the final year of King Uzziah’s
reign (740BC, Isa 6:1) and extended into the later years of Hezekiah’s
reign, which ended in 686BC.
Jamieson comments that...
The Old Testament prophecies
spiritually interpret the histories, as the New Testament Epistles
interpret the Gospels and Acts. Study them together, to see their
spiritual relations. Isaiah prophesied for only a few years before
Uzziah's death; but his prophecies of that period (Isa 1:1-6:13) apply
to Jotham's reign also, in which he probably wrote none; for Isa
7:1-25 enters immediately on Ahaz' reign, after Uzziah in Isa 6:1-13;
the prophecies under Hezekiah follow next.
(1) Uzziah (strength of Jehovah -
was Judah's 11th king and for the greater part of his 52 year reign he
lived in the fear of God, conducting himself as a wise and godly king.
He was sixteen years old when he
became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem; and his
mother's name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3 And he did right in the
sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.
4 Only the
high places were not taken away; the people still
sacrificed and burned incense on the
high places. (2Ki 15:2, 3, 4)
Unlike his contemporaries, the
kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Uzziah never deserted the
worship of the one true and living God, and was influenced by the
prophet Zechariah (2Chr 26:5). God blessed the southern kingdom of
Judah with a degree of material prosperity not known since seen the
reign of King Solomon. Sadly, Uzziah's end was less noble than his
when he became strong, his heart
was so proud that he acted corruptly (Pr 11:2, 16:18, 18:12, 29:23,
Isa 2:11, 12), and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he
entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of
incense. 17 Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him
eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men. 18 And they opposed Uzziah
the king and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense
to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are
consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have
been unfaithful, and will have no honor from the LORD God." 19 But
Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged;
and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on
his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the
altar of incense. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests
looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they
hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out
because the LORD had smitten him. 21 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. (2Chr 26:16-21)
Uzziah Nave's Topical
summary of Uzziah's life (the best description is 2Chr
Called Azariah. King of Judah, 2Ki
14:21; 15:1, 2; 2Chr 26:1, 2, 3.
Rebuilds Elath, 2Ki 14:22; 2Chr 26:2.
Reigns righteously, 2Ki 15:3; 2Chr 26:4, 5
Defeats the Philistines, 2Chr 26:6, 7.
Takes tribute from the Ammonites; strengthens the kingdom, 2Chr. 26:8.
Strengthens the fortifications of Jerusalem, 2Chr 26:9.
Promotes cattle raising and agriculture, 2Chr 26:10.
Military establishment of, 2Chr 26:11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
Burns incense; stricken with leprosy 2Chr 26:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21;
Jotham ruled 7 years as regent during Uzziah's quarantine of, 2Ki
15:5; 2Chr 26:21.
Death of, 2Ki 15:7; 2Chr 26:23.
History of Uzziah was written by Isaiah, 2Chr 26:22; Isa 1:1.
Great earthquake occurred during his reign, Amos 1:1; Zec 14:5.
John MacArthur writes that...
During Uzziah’s prosperous 52 year reign (ca. 790-739BC), Judah
developed into a strong commercial and military state with a port for
commerce on the Red Sea and the construction of walls, towers, and
fortifications (2Chr 26:3, 4, 5,8, 9, 10,13, 14, 15). Yet the period
witnessed a decline in Judah’s spiritual status.
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
Skinner writes that...
Under Uzziah, Judah appears to have
been...prosperous. The conquest of Edom and the restoration of
the Red Sea port of Elath (2Ki 14:22) secured the control of the
caravan trade with Southern Arabia; and the revenue obtained from this
source seems to have been wisely applied to develop the
resources of the country and perfect its military efficiency (see 2Chr
26:1-15). The result was that when Isaiah began his public work Judah
had attained a degree of wealth, power and civilisation which must
have placed it, along with Israel (Ed: Despite having 18 evil
kings and no godly kings, God did allow the Northern Kingdom to prosper, but it was a
deceptive prosperity as shown by their fall to Assyria in 722BC), in
the front rank of the petty principalities that now separated Egypt
from Assyria. "The land was full of silver and gold and there was no
end of its treasures ; the land was full of horses and there was no
end of their chariots" (Isa 2:7).
Jotham (Jehovah is perfect or upright -
was the son of Uzziah (2Ki 15:32-38; 2Ch 27:1-9) and when he was 25
his father King Uzziah was struck with leprosy, at which time Jotham
assumed active rule (2Ki 15:5; 2Ch 26:21, 22, 23, 27:1). Jotham
administered over Judah for seven years in his father's stead. After
his father's death he became sole monarch, and reigned for sixteen
years (759-743BC) (2Ki 15:33; 2Ch 27:1). Jotham ruled in the fear of
God, and not surprisingly his reign was prosperous. He was
contemporary with the prophets Isaiah,
Micah, by whose
ministrations he profited. He was buried in the sepulchre of the kings
and greatly lamented by the people (2Ki 15:38; 2Chr. 27:7, 8, 9).
Jotham's name appears in the royal list of 1Chr 3:12, and in the
genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:9). It is notable that
began to emerge as a new
international power under
(745-727BC) while Jotham was king (2Ki 15:19).
MacArthur observes that...
Judah also began to incur
opposition from Israel and Syria to her north during his reign (2Ki
15:37). Jotham was a builder and a fighter like his father, but
spiritual corruption still existed in the Land (2Ki 15:34,35; 2Chr
the son of Jotham became king at age 25 and reigned 16 years (2Chr
28:1, 8), but did
not do what was right in the sight of Jehovah (2Ki 16:2) instead sadly
in the way (conduct) of the kings
of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to
the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out from
before the sons of Israel.4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on
high places and on the hills and under every green tree. (2Ki
MacArthur summarizes Ahaz's rule
Israel and Syria formed an alliance
to combat the rising Assyrian threat from the East, but Ahaz refused
to bring Judah into the alliance (2Ki 16:5; Isa 7:6). For this, the
northern neighbors threatened to dethrone him, and war resulted
(734BC). In panic, Ahaz sent to the Assyrian king for help (2Ki 16:7)
and the Assyrian king gladly responded, sacking Gaza, carrying all of
Galilee and Gilead into captivity, and finally capturing Damascus
(732BC). Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria led to his introduction of a
heathen altar, which he set up in Solomon’s temple (2Ki 16:10, 11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 16; 2Chr 28:3). During his reign (722bc), Assyria captured
Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom, and carried many of Israel’s
most capable people into captivity (2 Kin. 17:6,24). (Ibid)
Nave's Topical summary of
King of Judah, son and successor of
Jotham, 2Ki 15:38; 16:1; 2Chr 27:9; 28:1.
Idolatrous abominations of, 2Ki 16:3, 4; 2Chr 28:2, 3, 4, 22, 23, 24,
Kingdom of, invaded by the kings of Syria and Samaria, 2Ki 16:5, 6;
2Chr 28:5, 6, 7, 8.
Robs the temple to purchase aid from the king of Assyria, 2Ki 16:7, 8,
9, 17, 18; 2Chr 28:21.
Visits Damascus, obtains a novel pattern of an altar, substitutes for
altar in God's temple in Jerusalem and perverts the form of worship,
2Ki 16:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.
Sundial of Ahaz, 2Ki 20:11; Isa 38:8.
Prophets in the reign of, Isa 1:1; Ho 1:1; Mic 1:1
Prophecies concerning, Isa 7:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22,
23, 24, 25
Succeeded by Hezekiah, 2Ki 16:20.
(4) Hezekiah (the might of Jehovah or whom Jehovah has
the son of the evil king Ahaz (who sacrificed Hezekiah's brothers to
was one of the finest kings of the southern kingdom of Judah (see 2Chr
29:1) who made spiritual reformation a priority (cp see Passover -
2Chr 30:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,16, 17, 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, esp 2Chr 30:20). When Hezekiah...
was twenty-five years old when he
became king, and he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem; and his
mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did right in
the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done
(2Chr 29:27). 4 He removed the
high places and broke down the sacred
pillars and cut down the Asherah (cp 2Ki 8:22, 2Chr 29:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19). He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent
that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned
incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan (see
thing of brass) (cp with Nu 21:4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9 = "serpent of brass" [nachash = serpent; nechosheth =
became an idol). 5 He
trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there
was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who
were before him. 6 For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from
following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded
Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And
he rebelled against the king of
and did not serve him. 8 He defeated the
as far as
and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. (2Ki 18:2-8)
Isaiah's most influential ministry
was under King Hezekiah, who led the nation in its greatest spiritual
revival since the days of David and Solomon.
MacArthur adds that...
In 701BC Hezekiah became very ill
with a life-threatening disease, but he prayed and God graciously
extended his life for 15 years (2Ki 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11 ; Isa 38:1f) until 686 BC. The ruler of Babylon used the
opportunity of his illness and recovery to send congratulations to
him, probably seeking to form an alliance with Judah against Assyria
at the same time (2Ki 20:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; Isa
39:1f). When Assyria became weak through internal strife, Hezekiah
refused to pay any further tribute to that power (2Ki 18:7). So in 701
Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, invaded the coastal areas of
Israel, marching toward Egypt on Israel’s southern flank. In the
process he overran many Judean towns, looting and carrying many people
back to Assyria. While besieging Lachish, he sent a contingent of
forces to besiege Jerusalem (2Ki 18:17-19:8; Isa 36:2-37:8). The
side-expedition failed, however, so in a second attempt he sent
messengers to Jerusalem demanding an immediate surrender of the city
(2Ki 19:9f.; Isa 37:9f.). With Isaiah’s encouragement, Hezekiah
refused to surrender, and when
Sennacherib’s army fell prey to a
sudden disaster, he returned to Nineveh and never threatened Judah
Nave's Topical summary of
King of Judah, 2Ki 16:20; 18:1, 2;
1Chr. 3:13; 2Chr. 29:1; Mt 1:9.
Religious zeal of, 2 Chr. 29; 30; 31.
Purges the nation of idolatry, 2Ki 18:4; 2Chr 31:1; 33:3.
Restores the true forms of worship, 2 Chr. 31:2-21.
His piety, 2Ki 18:3, 5, 6; 2 Chr 29:2; 31:20, 21; 32:32; Je 26:19.
Military operations of, 2Ki 18:19; 1Chr. 4:39-43; 2Chr. 32; Isa.
Sickness and restoration of, 2Ki 20:1-11; 2Chr 32:24; Isa 38:1-8.
His psalm of thanksgiving, Isa 38:9-22.
His lack of wisdom in showing his resources to commissioners of
Babylon, 2 Kin. 20:12-19; 2 Chr. 32:25, 26, 31; Isa. 39.
Prospered of God, 2Ki 18:7; 2Chr 32:27, 28, 29, 30.
Conducts the brook Gihon into Jerusalem, 2Ki 18:17; 20:20; 2Chr. 32:4,
30; 33:14; Neh. 2:13-15; 3:13, 16; Isa 7:3; 22:9, 1011; 36:2.
Scribes of, Pr 25:1.
Death and burial of, 2Ki 20:21; 2Chr 32:33.
Prophecies concerning, 2Ki 19:20-34; 20:5, 6, 16, 17, 18; Isa. 38:5,
6, 7, 8; 39:5, 6, 7; Jer. 26:18, 19.
Message From God - Isaiah
REBELLION THAT WEAKENS THE NATION - Isa 1:1-8
REMNANT THAT PREVENTS DESTRUCTION - Isa 1:9
RELIGION THAT SICKENS GOD - Isa 1:10-15
REPENTANCE THAT PLEASES GOD - Isa 1:16-18