Devotionals from Moody Bible Institute's Today in the Word - Isaiah 1 - 44
Devotionals from Moody Bible Institute's Today in the Word - Isaiah 45-66
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|INTRODUCTION: You are encouraged to read these devotionals on Isaiah, but please do not let them be a substitute for reading the actual words of the prophet Isaiah. Why not read through Isaiah slowly, taking time to write down your observations (especially answers to the who, what, where, when, why, how type of questions-see notes), summarizing the theme of the chapter (give each chapter a unique title that relates to and identifies the theme) and then read the respective devotional for additional insights. You may (will) not understand every aspect of Isaiah's profound prophecy, but you can rest assured that if you undertake this endeavor, you will come to know your God better and will find yourself growing in the "grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18-note). Enjoy!
Below is a brief overview chart to help guide you as you read through Isaiah.
I have been intimidated by the Book of Isaiah. I’ve read it before several times and I was still intimidated. So I decided to tackle it. Why? Well, actually the New Testament tells us why.
Luke 24:27 “…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”
Man, to be present to hear THAT sermon. Best one on the Old Testament every delivered! But of course the Holy Spirit is alive and powerful and is in the business of revealing the truth of Scriptures to us, so the process is well worth it!
Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
All of us can use a little more hope. This verse tells us it is available through the Old Testament. So, the process is well worth it!
1Corinthians 10:6, 11, “Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things…and they were written for our instruction…”
My cravings are not always in line with purity and I still need instruction. We’ll watch some examples not merely from a distance but up close and personal. So, again, the process will be worth it!
Heb 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Isaiah has a major emphasis on the Servant of the LORD to come. We can learn much about our Savior by absorbing the message of Isaiah.
1 Peter 1:10,12, “…the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you…It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you…”
These writers actually had US in mind. With Isaiah having so much prophecy and many promises it will certainly be a valuable exercise to dwell in the Word with the Holy One of Israel present guiding us along the way.
Let’s get started!
Howard Morrison, 2009
Isaiah 1 - A CHAPTER OF FIRSTS
The word “will” is the most often used word in Isaiah, as in “will”, “will be”, “will not”, or “will never”. Will is used over 1,200 times in Isaiah in the New International Version. It’s first uses are in Isaiah 1:15,
“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean…”
Obviously there are the more mundane uses of the word, but even if you remove those uses, you cannot read Isaiah without coming face to face with a promise making God, with a God who is not afraid to put His character on the line by making bold prophecies (hundreds of them), and with a covenant making God. (I have not done an exhaustive study on the prophecies/promises of God in the book of Isaiah. I’m sure someone else has done that and I can’t wait to see their results.)
“…For the LORD has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me.’”
Much is made within this book of “the day”, "that day”, “days”, or “last days” which add up to 161 times. It’s first use in Isaiah 1:26,
“I will restore your judges as in the days of old….”
This use is a bit more pedantic with many more of them involved with future events, as in Isa 2:2,
“In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established…”
“Come” is introduced in Isa 1:10 and again in Isa 1:18 (our key verse mentioned in my previous Reflection). It is used over 100 times in Isaiah.
Jerusalem and Zion are used 95 times with its first use in 1:1,
“The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw…”
Obviously some references are extremely significant even though their repetition is fewer than others. For example, “the Holy One of Israel” is mentioned 26 times in Isaiah but only six other times in the rest of Scripture (Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14, 15; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14).
This all begins in Isaiah 1:4…
“They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.”
The list goes on and on: nation or nations (87) in Isa 2:2, land (81) in Isa 1:19, call/calls/called (65) in Isa 1:26, king (61) in Isa 6:1, salvation (59) in Isa 12:2, I am (55), etc.
My desire is to discover God’s truth and the importance He places on certain things in this book. These repetitions most certainly are clues. Can this kind of study bog down into biblical trivia? Of course it can. Can it be infused with Spirit given power? I absolutely believe so. I pursue the latter!
Luke 24:27 “…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”
I’m told a portion of this verse is on the wall at the United Nations. Unfortunately, it stands as a monument to man’s effort to save man. The assumption is “Certainly we have evolved to the point where we can all get along. See, even the Bible says there will be a day when we can set aside our differences, live in harmony with each other, and settle things amicably.” It is the mantra of man’s opinion of the greatness of man.
Unfortunately, it also stands as a monument to terrible exegesis.
First, we will see in our study of the book that the term “last days” is applied to God’s future reign here on earth referred to as the millennium. It has nothing to do with the reign of man over mankind.
Second, the temple will be rebuilt, Israel will be the focus, and all the nations will be gathered in Israel. (I don’t think that is a part of the UN’s plan for the world. Too Semitic!) Isaiah 2:2 of course says that this gathering will come with worship and a bending of the knee to the LORD, to be taught by Him. That is far from what the UN had in mind when it placed part of verse 3 on its walls. They aren’t hoping for mass conversion to Yahweh worship.
Third, Isaiah 2:3 says this is God Himself who will settle disputes between nations. There won’t be any multi-nation tribunal to settle matters. God Himself will reign.
Finally, the laying down of weapons will be accomplished because this will be a day that the LORD has established (not by the use of a UN peace keeping force). There will be a genuine uniting of nations, but not because of the efforts of man. God is indeed the only One big enough to accomplish it.
This will be a work of God, not man. God will receive the glory, not man.
God is described in many fascinating ways in the book of Isaiah. On of my favorites shows up early in the book.
And as if we really needed to catch what He is saying it is repeated in Isa 2:19 and Isa 2:21! The splendor of His majesty. What a great book title that would be. But what does it mean? We don't say splendid that often and when we do it sounds a bit old fashioned or formal. And splendor is just plain missing in our everyday language.
In Isaiah 2:10 the wicked find themselves running in fear from God. For those of us who find ourselves having received His righteousness and therefore able to be in His presence (and have His presence with us) we find the splendor of the King a glorious thought. Glorious. That is a great reaction because it is one of the basic meanings of the word splendor, along with honor, beauty, and excellency and magnificence. The breadth of terms to describe the meaning of splendor gives us a hint that it is a hard job to describe the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. (Isa 35:2c).
A common biblical approach to describing God is to string characteristics together. It is as if the author is trying to describe a multi-faceted diamond and can only begin by mentioning the fullness of all he sees, as in, I am bringing My righteousness near, it is not far away; and My salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, My splendor to Israel (Isa 46:13). Righteousness and salvation.
What a wonderful thought that God would share some of this splendor with His people.
And in one of the most beautiful descriptions of Israel…
In GREAT CONTRAST we find an amazing description of the Suffering Servant. He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him (53:20). The suffering servant didn't display this splendor in His earthly body during His first visit. Certainly this is a part of what Paul meant when he said,
Splendor was one of the divine characteristic that Jesus left behind, only to regain it at His resurrection, and will one day again be displayed in Himself and in His people.
The Splendor of the King, Clothed in Majesty,
let all the earth rejoice, let all the earth rejoice.
How great is our God.
A core message of the book of Isaiah is one of judgment. That makes the book hard to read. But in the words of Henri Nouwen, we must also let the book read us!
God doesn’t mince words in including His own people in His divine judgment. Israel stood against God in word and deed (Isa 3:8). (Do I?)
The very look on their faces (Isa 3:9) gave away the condition of their heart. I know that my face often expresses the reality of my heart and it isn’t pretty. (My wife has had to live with this for 25 years! Talk about longsuffering…) My face often expresses displeasure, disappointment, impatience, discouragement. It is amazing to think that Christ’s face NEVER expressed any sin (not that it didn’t express genuine disappointment, hurt, righteous anger, etc.). (Please, God, make my face more like Yours!)
There is grace for the righteous (those found in Christ) and there is all the fullness of blessing to enjoy (Isa 3:10). Even though I have complete confidence that I am in Christ and will be found in Him because of His sustaining power, I nevertheless must call my sin what it is and live in daily gratitude for forgiveness and the ongoing sanctifying work that is being orchestrated by His powerful Holy Spirit.
Why had Israel (and other nations) gone astray in the period of Israel’s history leading up to the writing of Isaiah?
These are harsh words of condemnation, both for their offences and their omissions.
How bad did it get?
Some models of obedience, huh? In some cases the leaders were just plain drunkards.
Their leaders turned them away from the Law and obedience. In some cases those not intended to bear the responsibility of such leadership had been forced into service (children and women, see Isa 3:4 also).
God’s judgment of this situation is crystal clear. God’s main concern is for the abuse of leadership. They had become corrupt and led the people poorly. His main accusation is their lack of attention to the poor and the oppressed among them. In fact the leaders themselves had instead become the oppressors.
(It is a whole study in itself, but please note those who were listed as being trampled upon: fatherless (orphan), widow, young, women, and poor. These are the ones most needful of righteous protection and least able to provide it for themselves. It ought to break our hearts. I have friends and relatives working among the orphans around the world and among those forced into human trafficking. May God bless and multiply their efforts.)
So, what will God do about these wicked leaders?
God is certainly disappointed in this kind of leadership and judges it severely.
I believe there are many lessons to be learned from this by spiritual leaders today.
“As the leadership goes so goes the people.”
So, I have to ask myself, “How am I doing? Do I lead people astray? Am I in fact in rebellion against the very One I claim to love and serve? Am I neglecting care for those in most need?”
Fortunately, we have an ultimate Ruler, a King, to whom we bend the knee.
And one day all this will change and our spiritual leadership will be pure.
The weight of leading others spiritually is heavy. It brings extra responsibility and scrutiny. Beware. God will not be mocked by those who claim to lead others yet live a life which betrays those they lead and the One who they are to be following.
Many interpreters look at this verse as one of the first references to be found in the book of Isaiah to the coming Messiah. “Branch of the LORD” could be referring to the Messiah and Jeremiah (Jer 23:5; 33:15) and Zechariah (Zech 3:8; 6:12) certainly add biblically to this argument. These later prophets are a bit more clear that they are referring to an individual. Isaiah is more vague than we would like as to whom or what he is referring.
(It is interesting to me coming from an agricultural background that in this very same verse is found a reference to restored agricultural prosperity to the nation of Israel.)
One of my Hebrew professors in graduate school lists twenty two specific prophecies of the coming Messiah in the book of Isaiah. Many of them are familiar (born of a virgin and called Immanuel, Is 7:14; descendant of Jesse and the Davidic line, Is 11:1,10; voluntarily submits to suffering, Is 50:6; Is 53:7, 8; takes on Himself the sins of the world, Is 53:4, 5, 6; 10, 11, 12). Others are not so familiar but are all the same very important (has a divine nature, Is 9:6; called by God before His birth, Is 49:1; empowered by the Holy Spirit, Is 11:2; Is 42:1; will be gentle toward the weak, Is 42:3; will bring joy to Israel, Is 9:2; will be a light to the Gentles, Is 42:6; Is 49:6; will judge in righteousness, justice, and faithfulness, Is 11:3, 4, 5; Is 42;1,4).
We will see some of these characteristics as we travel through the book. I love the simplicity of this first reference in the book to the Messiah: “…the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious…” And, yes, He is! Beautiful in Who He is and what He does. Glorious in Who He is and What He does.
I’m wondering. Do you (and I) spend time basking in His beauty and glory? Do we enjoy His beauty and glory? Do we call upon Him to act consistent with His beauty and glory?
Isaiah chapter 5 begins with a song of the vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). The vineyard is one of God’s favorite word pictures for Israel. He clearly states this in Isaiah 5:7,
God established this vineyard for Himself (Isaiah 5:1-4, 7). We are going to look at it more closely in a moment. But, God also talks about the systematic dismantling of this vineyard as well, due to their disobedience (Isaiah 5:5-6, 8-30). God is both One before whom we should be in awe for His goodness and also One to be feared.
In establishing His vineyard God says He: owned it (Is 5:1), placed it on a fertile hillside (Is 5:1), dug it up (Is 5:2), cleared it (Is 5:2), planted choicest vines (Is 5:2), built a watchtower (Is 5:2), and then looked for fruitfulness (Is 5:2). Nothing more could have been done (Is 5:4).
Clearly these verses are directed at Israel, His people. Nevertheless, in application, is it going too far to say that God owns me, made me a soil that would respond, took the time to make my soul ripe to respond, planted the seed of His Word, has been watching over me so Satan wouldn’t claim me, and now wants my obedience?
These things are certainly taught in the New Testament. It may be a bit too much to read all of this back into God’s previous covenant of relating to His people. But, it seems apparent that this work of God in our lives is at least consistent with His character and is either a foreshadowing of His new covenant or a direct reflection of how God has always viewed the relationship with His people.
No wonder Isaiah says He loves God?
“I will sing to the one I love a song about His vineyard:…” (Isa 5:1)
God does the work. He does the preparing. He plants. He grows. He protects. He brings fruitfulness. Then He looks for obedience that reflects itself in justice and righteousness. “…And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (Isaiah 5:7b). The judgment Israel experienced was due to their lack of response to the God who owned them.
What does God see in me in response to His work in my life?
This is one of the most recognizable chapters in the book of Isaiah. My intent is not to make commentary of it as a whole. Many others are more qualified than I to do so. But I do have one primary thought.
Either the Lord is present with Isaiah or Isaiah is brought into the presence of God but either way it is into an environment of holiness.
The Lord is seated on a throne. He is the only one worthy to be so seated.
Either He or the throne is properly high and exalted. It is the only place appropriate for One who is holy.
The extent of His robe fills the temple. I believe this reflects the overflow of His character. His robe, symbol of His rank, has no end. Nothing can contain Him or accurately reflect all that He is.
Seraphs accompany Him. He is truly worth as the holy One to be worshipped by all creation. Their posture depicts His worthiness and their unworthiness, but nevertheless they can’t help but be close and worship.
They called out “holy, holy, holy”. It is interesting to me that this theme may have come out of Psalm 99:3,5,9 and it also reflects itself on into eternity as revealed in Revelation 4:8. God’s creation when put in God’s presence can’t help but verbally reflect the character they see in the Lord and it is holiness.
Bob Lepine (FamilyLife Ministries) is the only person I know who has taught through Isaiah chapter by chapter (of course there are many fine written commentaries on the book) and I’m indebted to him for the following insights:
And finally, Isaiah’s response is to proclaim “woe” on himself. There is much woe pronounced in the book of Isaiah. Here Isaiah says it of himself. “Woe is me. I’m undone. I can’t stand in the presence of such a Holy One. I shouldn’t be able to remain here. This is a Holy place and I’m anything but holy.”
These six verses are drenched in the holiness of God. No wonder Isaiah’s favorite description (as opposed to a name or title) of God is the Holy One of Israel. He uses it 30 times in this book. (It is used only 6 times outside of Isaiah. - Lev 16:17; 2 Kgs 19:22; Ps 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11f, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14f; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14; Jer 50:29; 51:5; Ezek 39:7; Hos 11:12)
Isaiah was clearly marked by this experience. He was brought face to face (to the degree that anyone can be) with the HOLY One of Israel… the LORD our God.
My response should be similar to Isaiah’s (humility, bowed, awed, “woed” (as in woe is me), and eventually ‘here am I, send me.) But my focus should not be on me but on the Holy One.
As previously mentioned, Isaiah was somehow brought into the presence of God and responded in amazing fashion. Isaiah never recovered from having been called by the Holy One of Israel. Holiness is Isaiah’s indelible impression of God. Holiness forever flavors Isaiah’s view of the Creator. It wouldn’t surprise us then to see holiness reflected in the rest of the book.
In what I believe is a reference to all of God’s works or at least His ability to work His will, God’s arm is holy.
Why is it that everything directly connected to God becomes holy? I believe this has to do with two things. First of all, God can’t act any other way. All His actions are holy.
This is a virtual double-whammy. His name is holy because He is filled with holiness. And yes, our appropriate response is to stand (or bow) in awe of Him.
Second, I believe all God touches is holy because of His presence. Because of His character, He CANNOT be in the presence of un-holiness. Heaven itself is called holy (Is 63:15) because God’s presence is there. Therefore, wherever God is, is holy. This is most directly reflected in Isaiah by his single most common reference to something that is holy and that is His holy mountain (or Jerusalem).
This is merely the first of a total of ten references to His holy mountain ( see also Is 27:13; 38:2; 52:1; 56:7; 57:13; 63:18; 65:11, 25; 66:20). Why is Jerusalem the location of His holy mountain? Because of His presence. That is where He chose to have the temple built to house His presence among Israel, or at least His demonstrated presence. And what is the specific place in the temple called which houses His presence?… the holy of holies or the Most Holy place (Exodus 26:33,34)!
Isaiah records that God never intended for this to be the ONLY place of His presence. He also abides … well, frankly, wherever He chooses to abide.
God’s presence touches and makes things holy. We know this is through His Spirit and it would only be consistent that in the one direct reference to the Spirit (other than the description of ‘My Spirit’) the book of Isaiah He is referred to as the Holy Spirit (Is 63:10,11).
Thus, Isaiah has recorded God’s word faithfully which directs us to the very character of God. This should elicit a certain reverence, rest, or fear of Him who has come close to save us. “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy , He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread,…” (Is 8:13).
So, we do that very thing and join in with all creation saying,
"Holy , holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa 6:3).
Related Resource: Holiness of God
Isaiah chapter seven has a couple pieces of interesting biblical trivia. Of course I only use that phrase from a human perspective. Nothing in Scripture is unimportant or included merely for our fascination. There may be things for which we don’t know its full significance, but God has gone to a whole lot of trouble to preserve Scripture exactly as it is, for very good reasons, even if we don’t know those reasons.
God whistles? Who knew? This is clearly an anthropomorphism (attributing human attributes to God). It is sort of embarrassing to even read. But, God was not embarrassed to have this recorded this way. Why? I don’t have a clue. He could clearly have used other words to describe calling “flies” and “bees” to come to Israel.
Another case in point. Did you know that Isaiah was a father? Yes. He had at least one son. His name was Shear-Jashub. Part of the significant of this is seen in the meaning of his son’s name. It means “a remnant shall return”. What a wonderful reminder to Isaiah and his family that God would hold onto Israel so closely that there would always remain a faithful remnant who would one day return to Israel in the midst of or following mass disobedience and exiles to other countries.
But I see in the chapter yet another significance to God recording that Isaiah had a son. Isaiah is a father in part to be able to relate to God the Father and to God the Son. Embedded in this chapter is the famous, almost iconoclastic verse,
And while there certainly was an immediate context in Isaiah’s day for the plain fulfillment of this verse, Matthew 1:22, 23 makes it clear that this was also intended to reflect a divine reality and plan that would ultimately be fulfilled through a human agent, Mary, a divine agent, the Holy Spirit, resulting in the arrival of the Incarnate One, God’s very own son, the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus.
Any father is amazed at the birth of his child. He marvels at the wonder of nine months of gestation. He is appreciate of the amazing efforts of the mother. He is in awe of the process and adores the product. I’m glad Isaiah was a father. I’m thankful I am a father.
I’m all the more amazed and in awe of the process and product of God choosing to send His Son as fully God and fully man. The incarnation! Oh, the wonder of it all.
Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)… God with us! This is most frequently referred to during the Christmas season, celebrating the triune God’s decision for the second person of the Trinity to take on human flesh in its fullness without losing His deity. The incarnation had many, many purposes, but one of the most important is found embodied in one of the names given the Messiah, that of Immanuel. God intended to show us exactly what it would be like for the transcendent God Creator to become like us in all ways except without sin. We LONG for Him to be present. He was. He is. He will always be.
His presence is glorious (Isa 3:8).
His presence reveals His holiness (Isa 6:1-6).
And in what is possibly my favorite verse in all the Scriptures (at least in my top two or three),
(In just a few words God presents two commands, two reasons, and three promises.)
God promises His presence is with us when we face difficult situations.
In fact He commands us to move beyond our fear in the midst of these situations. His reason? Because He is present.
There is a principle found in other places in Scripture that is also repeated here in Isaiah and that is the idea that God promises to go before us and He also follows us, using His presence as protection and guidance (fore and aft).
And in a reference that I believe is picked up by John in his gospel (no one can take them out of My hand),
You can’t get any closer to God than that!
When asking questions about God’s presence it would be logical to start with, “Where is God?” God specifically answers that. He is exalted, reigning on high as well as presence with us, both at the same time!
I have studied the Holy Spirit’s presence and concluded that God has specifically described it in a variety of ways on purpose. One of those descriptions is that He is present through the Holy Spirit being upon us.
“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth…” (Isa 59:21).
He also reveals that the Spirit would be upon the Messiah Isaiah 61:1 (quoted in Lk 4:17, 18, 19).
And in a corporate sense, He is among us.
So Isaiah describes God’s presence with us, on us, among us. (Later in Scripture we learn the Holy Spirit is also within us.)
That’s a lot to learn about God’s presence from just one book of the Bible…and there are 55 more books to go!
Immanuel – God with us! This is God’s choice. He has chosen to move toward us. It is His very nature to be close. He has even chosen it as one of His names. Therefore we need not fear.
Isaiah didn’t have a clue he would become so popular. No, he never was embraced by his immediate audience. He preached the same message for 60 years with little response.
And, Paul gets his imagery of Jesus as the cornerstone from Isaiah 28:16,
Paul just puts the two ideas into one proximity, into one person.
We see two reactions to this stone/Person. To mix my metaphors a bit here, some ‘kick against the goad’ and find themselves stumbling, falling. For them “…He will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured” (8:14b-15). These are sobering consequences. We know man is responsible for his own sin. He deserves to experience the full weight of his sin.
Amazingly, though, this very same stone can be our “sure foundation” and for the one who trusts in Him he “will never be dismayed” (Is 28:16). Chapter eight certainly doesn’t reveal all there is to know about this Cornerstone aspect, but it provides glimpses of hope…
Praise God that Another has taken the weight and consequences of our sin away and put it on Himself.
Stumbling or standing. Falling under the weight of sin or falling upon the sure foundation. Snared or snatched up. Broken body or broken spirit (contrite heart). Spurring God’s provision or stirred to respond in faith. Dismayed or never dismayed. Stumbling block or cornerstone.
By God’s grace I choose to trust…
It doesn’t take long studying Isaiah before you see the sovereignty of God pop up everywhere. There are direct references and there are indirect references. I’ll focus here primarily on the direct references. But let me point out that every time God says “I will” or “I will not” do such-and-such is an expression of His sovereignty. That is a total of at least 191 times! In addition, every time He has a command for His people, it is a reflection of His sovereignty over them/us. (Somebody else will have to read through the book and give me a count of all the commands. Any takers?)
In what is the most concentrated repetition of the use of this title we find
The word “sovereign” or “sovereignty” isn’t used outside of this title, but the concept is throughout the book. For example, if you have been following along and read chapter eight you would have come across Isa 8:10 which says,
We can make our plans and strategies, but they only stand by the sovereign will of God.
The flip flop is true, as well. No matter what God plans, it will absolutely, positively come to pass. No exceptions, no surprises.
That pretty much covers it all.
Nine different times there is a reference to God’s plan/promise which He revealed LONG AGO. There is something about the durability of God’s promises that demonstrate His control over all things. A quick example is God having predicted Sennacherib’s fall in Isa 37:26.
Planned, ordained, brought to pass. (This reminds me of “Signed Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours”).
This provides us such confidence when we read the dozens and dozens of promises regarding future events.
All of these are just as assured for us looking forward as His hundreds of past promises which have already come to pass.
How far does His sovereignty extend? God demonstrates that with a mere rebuke He can and does control the seas (Is 50:2b). By mere act of His will He clothes the sky with darkness (Is 50:3) and He can open ears to hear (Is 50:5). And in reference to His control over nations He says, “ …so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations” (Is 61:11). (You would have to be sovereign to pull that off.)
Many of God’s characteristics are intertwined. It would not be surprising to find God’s power and His strength tied to His sovereignty. “…’Here is your God!’ See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him….” (Is 40:9NIV, Is 40:10NIV).
What should our response be to learning at a deeper level that God is indeed sovereign? This characteristic of God is not merely to be relied upon but it elicits our praise.
“O LORD, You are My God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago” (Is 25:1).
The question should no longer be “Is God sovereign?” He has declared Himself and demonstrated Himself to indeed be in control. The remaining question is do I trust Him and believe that what pleases Him will be for my good? That is the nature of faith in and trust in our Sovereign LORD.
It is almost impossible for us today to hear these words without thinking of Christmas. (There is nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if we would learn still more if we could somehow think of theses words for a while separate from Christmas hymns, narrations, and Christmas pageants.)
Beautiful words. Wonderful words. Familiar words. Words of hope. Words of anticipation. Words of promise.
Curious words (a child shouldering a government? Increasing with no end?)
“Too good to be true” words (justice and righteousness forever).
Nouns: Counselor, God, Father, Prince
Adjectives: Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting, Peaceful
Words that raise all kinds of questions. (Is the “us” everyone? When will this child take on the responsibilities of governing? How is a son also the Everlasting Father? When will all this “peace with no end” take place? How will this be accomplished? Who will call him these things?) (I believe I told you before that good Bible study often leaves us with more questions than it does answers.)
I love the phrase “the zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” It denotes His strength, His passion, His love for His Son, and His purpose.
“Father, thank you for sending Your Son. Thank you for Your promises of His kingdom that will one day reflect all You intend for Your children ‘from that time on and forever’. Thank You for being a zealous God for all that You intend to accomplish both in the life and work of Your Son and in my life, as well.”
Isaiah is seen almost universally as a book of judgment and understandable so. But don’t think the book is absent of joy. Chapter nine begins the first of thirty two references to “joy” and twenty two more to the word “rejoice”.
That’s a lot of joy and rejoicing for one verse, don’t you think?
I’ll try to, first, summarize Isaiah’s teaching on joy and rejoicing and, second, include some of the verses from which these principles come.
A. Who rejoices?
B. How does joy happen?
C. Even though God causes joy, joy is nevertheless commanded
D. Why do we rejoice?
E. Not surprisingly, joy is tied closely to singing
F. There’s a whole lot of shoutin’ goin’ on
G. What happens when we rejoice?
H. God rejoices, too
Here is my attempt to summarize Isaiah’s teaching on joy… “God commands us to do that which He actually creates within us, that is the ability to shout and sing for joy along with all of creation (and God Himself!) because of His glory as reflected in His wonderful character and His work in our salvation.”
These would be the key verses (to me) in Isaiah 10. I’ve commented on them before under the subject of “the remnant" (See related resource on remnant) I’ve repeated just a portion of that reflection here for your convenience.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of the remnant of Israel. Much in prophetic study talks about a remnant. Chapter 4 of Isaiah contains an amazing statement.
In some places like these verses it appears this remnant will be “those who have remained faithful” while the others have turned away. In other verse we’ll see these individuals appear to have come out of a reliance on the enemy and turned their allegiance/dependence back to the One true God.
In virtually all cases there is an emphasis on their presence in or returning to the land of Israel and Jerusalem in particular. I assume the returning to the land is a result of their first having turned their hearts back to Him. One reflects the other.
Isaiah 4:2-3 don’t actually say “remnant”, but other verses make the connection clear.
These verses were important to Paul since he quoted them in Ro 9:27, 28. In the future kingdom there will be those recognized out of Israel that are survivors, those who are left, those remaining. Their home will be Jerusalem. They will be lucky to be alive. And they are marked by holiness (faithful/righteous).”
God is VERY committed to this detail of Israel’s future.
We previously discussed Isaiah’s look at the Messiah back in Is 4:2, 7:14, and Is 9:6, 7. This, then in chapter 11, would be the fourth major section focusing on the Messiah. There are at least twenty five references to the Messiah in this chapter alone. (I encourage you to read all of the chapter to gain a fuller picture.)
Looking at the passages I’ve copied above, the two major emphases here are His origin (from the tribe of Jesse…emphasizing his humanity) and His nature (having the Spirit of the Lord rest on Him…emphasizing His divinity).
Although not much is said here regarding the importance or implications of His coming from the line of Jesse, the line of David, it is full of meaning to the Old Testament reader, and should be to us as well. This is God’s fulfillment of His promise, His covenant. This is God’s plan of salvation. This wasn’t overlooked by the New Testament writers as they relied on it in Luke 3:22,23,32 and Acts 13:22, 23.
This Spirit is “of the LORD”, clearly indicating the Father’s full intention to endow the Messiah with power and authority. The Old Testament’s primary view of the Spirit (but not the only view –see my previous thoughts on the presence of God) was that He came upon those God used. We see this fulfilled in part at Jesus’ baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus as if in the form of a dove.
This Spirit has certain characteristics: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and fear of the LORD. I know of no fuller description of the Holy Spirit’s character in all of the Old Testament. But as is typical of the biblical record, these characteristics aren’t included to draw undue attention to the Spirit but are meant to help us see more clearly who the Messiah would be, how He would be.
I love the description in Isaiah 11:10. The Messiah would be a banner for the people. Their covering, their protector. The nations will rally to Him. This has yet happen in all its fullness, but we see the spread of Christianity to thousands of people groups around the globe and its ever spreading nature as partial fulfillment of this promise.
I’m intrigued by the last phrase, “and His place of rest will be glorious.” My wife, Jana, and I have just had a wonderful couple of weeks in some great places to rest. When I think of rest I think of peaceful, quiet, serene. I don’t often think of “glorious”. But of course, Jesus’ place of rest would have to be glorious since He is glorious. You might be able to find some rest in a dark room, or a spot on your back porch, or in an office without interruption. I’m sure heaven will be glorious in all that we’ll be able to enjoy with our new, resurrected bodies, but I sense that it will be truly glorious, not merely because of the yet to be created new heaven and earth, but primarily because of God’s presence there.
When I first read this latter phrase I could only see that Jesus’ place of rest would be glorious for Him, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it will be glorious for all of those He calls to join Him…to be with Him…Oh, what a glorious day.
What? The Holy Spirit shows up in the Old Testament? You bet. And, in spades throughout the book of Isaiah. The clearest descriptions come with explicit references to the “Holy Spirit” as in Is 63:10, 11, but also in references to the “Spirit of the Lord” (Is 11:2; 63:14) and to “My Spirit” (Is 26:8 and five others). A study of these correspond to the previous work done on the “presence of God”.
Other passages are more clear show God sending a spirit for a specific purpose (Is 19:14; 37:7).
There is no doubting God has a Spirit and this Spirit is divine and He has a ministry of facilitating God’s work among us. The character of the Holy Spirit is defined in Isaiah 11:2
In addition 63:10 clearly states that this Spirit can be grieved, another aspect of His character. Other aspects include His being a Spirit of justice (Is 28:6) and one who provides rest (Is 63:14).
One of the more consistent descriptions of the Spirit’s actions is represented by Is 32:15,
This “pouring out upon” God’s people is found elsewhere both in the book of Isaiah (44:3) and elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is the same description of God pouring His Spirit on His Servant/the Messiah. Isaiah 42:1 says,
Another common description of the Spirit’s work is being upon someone for the ability to speak for God. Isa 59:21,
Isaiah is one of the clearest writers in the Old Testament in providing us direct evidence of the Holy Spirit, His divine work, and His presence upon us.
One of the roles of the Messiah is to judge righteously.
Note some of the characteristics of His judgment. First, His isn’t like man’s. He does not merely see with His eyes and hear with His ears. Instead, He will add into the mix righteousness and faithfulness.
But don’t miss that His judgment, even though laced with righteousness and faithfulness, indeed is severe. “He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”
Isaiah certainly is a book regarding judgment of the nations and of God’s people. But, it is FILLED with the greater, overarching subject of God’s justice. (Hang on, this is longer than most.)
The Character of God
God demonstrates that He is a God of justice.
The Work of God
And out of His character He is committed to works of justice.
Expectation of Leaders
He also expects those who represent Him (leaders) to lead/rule with justice.
Some of God’s harshest words are reserved for those who are in a position to help and either turn away, or incredibly, make matters worse,
So for us to claim that we follow God and not follow in His steps of justice, we face God’s frustration, particularly when we call ourselves leaders.
The single longest discussion of this topic in Isaiah is found in Isaiah 59:4, 8, 11, 14, 15. The chapter is a discussion of sin that is ever present before us. Among these offenses or iniquities is a lack of practicing justice.
God says that the practice of justice among the poor and oppressed is an indicator of our genuine spirituality. After chastising His people for going through the motions of fasting He says,
Rewards of obedience
And then to make His point crystal clear, God says that the joy of walking with God and answers to prayer are tied directly to our practice of justice.
So, what should we do about it?
Let me be blunt: Followers of Christ should be at the forefront of community activities/ministries that focus on: the unborn, foster care, adoptions, single parenting, care of widows, genuine cases of amnesty, the persecuted Church, those false accused (particularly for their faith), homeless, the hungry, clean water, the basic needs of the poor. Not to be involved is a reflection of the shallowness of our understanding of who God is, who Jesus is, what He came to do, and what He wants to do in and through us.
ACT NOW. Not to is be foolish. How is that?
Isaiah is very clear in providing us a very practical definition of a fool: the hungry and thirsty are left that way and the poor are exploited.
If this stirs something in you, I encourage you to respond in some way immediately. First, consider a financial donation to a ministry that is already involved. Second, do some research of groups that are involved in some of these issues within ten miles of your home. Volunteer some time. Third, educate yourself in an even fuller biblical view of these issues.
Chapter 12 of Isaiah is powerful even though it only has six verses…the shortest chapter of Isaiah.
That’s it. That is all there is to chapter 12. I view it a bit like Psalm 23: short, but it packs a wallop. I couldn’t pick a favorite verse or two, so you get the whole thing this time.
There are at least three “firsts” in this chapter. Verse 1 is the first use of “praise” in the book of Isaiah. Is 12:2 is the first use of “comfort”. (We won’t hear it again until chapter 40.) Isaiah 12:2 is the first use of “salvation”. Once he has used it, though, he can’t get it off his mind, using it three times in two verses.
“in that day”, Is 12:1, 4 – I praise God that I can say these words TODAY. I don’t have to wait for another day to come
“You have comforted me” – Yes, He has. Whether it is in my weakness, insecurity, fear, loss, confusion, or anger, I have received comfort from my Lord.
“I will trust and not be afraid” – (anticipate a Reflection to come that ties these two together)
“God is my salvation” “He has become my salvation” – There is NO other source
“give thanks, call, make known, proclaim, sing, let this be known, should, sing”, Isa 12:4-6 – These are all commands, with one primary purpose: we are to respond to God by telling others. And, this is to extend to “the nations”, “all the world”.
“the Holy One among you” – You know how I feel about the presence of God! (See former Reflection)
Full, rich verses, wouldn’t you say?
There are twelve key Passages in Isaiah on the topic of trust. Here they each are with some observations we can draw. Trust is a topic that only the Psalms and Jeremiah address with equal or more emphasis.
Waiting seems to be a key component of trusting.
Sometimes people (ironically) rely on those who abuse authority over them.
Trust chases away fear.
Trusting in other power leads to fear and shame. (Also, it is tempting to trust a big authority figure.)
Trusting is inexplicably tied to salvation.
God provides peace of mind to those who trust in Him. Interestingly, trust is something we are exhorted to do. Our trust is in the character of God (LORD, Rock eternal).
Relying on something other than God is the equivalent of rejecting what God has said about Himself. Relying on something else is a sin. Repentance, rest, salvation, quietness are tied together. Some choose to reject God’s offer (It is implied they are trusting in something else).
Some have trusted in other sources (Egypt) and on human sources of strength (horses, chariots, horsemen, cp Ps 20:7). Trusting God here is synonymous to looking to Him for help.
Some trust in idols. They will be found wanting.
Trust in self is at the end of the day trusting in our own wickedness. It is self deceiving. It will be found to lead to disaster (it doesn’t work).
We are exhorted to trust and rely on God. The other option is to rely on your own self efforts which will lead to destruction.
Isaiah 13 begins a long section of the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 13-23) that deals with judgments or prophecies against nine neighboring cities or countries. This section can be a bit tedious to read straight through and specific verses can be a challenge to interpret. The primary question for much this section is , “When will this take place?”
What does He mean by “near”? Was this something that Isaiah’s audience would live to see? Was it a warning for a future audience? Was it both? Is it an attitude all of should maintain no matter what its original intent may have been?
Following this verse is a series of proclamations/promises. There are 34 specific outcomes promised by the use of “will” or “will not” in this chapter alone!
My personal question is this: “What is it about the character and will of God that motivates Him to use language that states/implies nearness when from a human perspective it has turned out to be “so long”? He certainly knew it would create anticipation (a good thing) and at the same time create a disappointment (feels like a bad thing to us). I’m not merely referring to these prophecies in Isaiah, but also to several references Christ makes to His disciples and other New Testament writes use to the Church.
I have no answer today. But I have confidence when I’m in heaven that I’ll finally be able to say, “Now I understand.” It will all makes sense one day.
I have learned a few things about God’s compassion through a survey of Isaiah. Not surprisingly there are many positive synonyms or companion characteristics mentioned in many of the verses: things like kindness, comfort, love, favor, gracious, tenderness. But surprisingly, as we will see, anger is also a mentioned.
God’s compassion has action involved. It isn’t a passive emotion. For example, Isa 49:10b, Is 49:13, 14,
God in no way is embarrassed for maintaining this characteristic. In fact, He acts surprised when accused of NOT being compassionate. After being accused of lacking compassion (see also Is 63:15) God answers, defending Himself, using a comparison God assumes is self evident by saying,
And in an extended passage, God acknowledges that at times His compassion is absent or at least seems absent (see also Is 27:11)…but it is only for a moment. His love overcomes His anger.
A similar thought is mentioned in a much shorter version in Isa 60:10,
Compassion wrapped in kindness, comfort, love, favor, graciousness, and tenderness…that is the kind of God who sets aside His anger in order to have a relationship with us.
The key verses in Isaiah chapter 14 reveal much about the evil intent of the heart.
I, I, I. Me, me, me.
Pride, self-centeredness. Me first. Me only.
We are all afflicted with this particular disease.
In this passage, we have certainly one of the most extreme expression of pride. Whether it is specific to an enemy of Israel or a description of the ultimate enemy, Satan, either way we have pride on display.
But it is so similar to the pride that I find in my own heart.
As believers who have been delivered from our vain attempts at self righteousness,. Even after forgiveness, we are tempted in out flesh (“boasting pride of life” 1John 2:16) to continue down this path. And to whatever degree we allow ourselves to be “conformed to the image of this world” (Ro 12:2) we are squeezed into a mold of selfish pursuits. Nevertheless, even in our salvation, we are told EXACTLY what to do.