Isaiah is the first of the four major prophets in the Bible. The timeframe for Isaiah is given in 1:1, “…in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” He wrote and prophesied from 740-681 BC. The northern tribes were destroyed by Assyria about half way into Isaiah’s tenure.
Isaiah was the son of Amoz (1:1, 2:1; 13:1; 20:2; 37:2, 21; 38:1). Tradition says he was of the tribe of Judah, though Scripture is silent on his tribe. He was married. We do not know his wife’s name, but she is identified as a prophetess (8:3). He had two sons: Shear-Jashub (7:3), meaning “a remnant shall return,” and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:1), meaning “swift is the booty, speedy is the prey.”
Despite a lot of warnings and talk of condemnation and judgment for sin in Isaiah’s writing, he spends a considerable amount of time focused on salvation which is to come. In fact, the word “salvation” appears 26x in Isaiah, whereas other prophets only use the word 6x. Perhaps appropriately, Isaiah’s name means “salvation is of the Lord.” Another major theme of Isaiah is the holiness of God. The phrase “Holy One of Israel” appears 26x in Isaiah, but just 6x in the rest of the Bible. Isaiah also spoke more of the Messiah than any other prophet, revealing Him as God’s faithful servant.
The book of Isaiah has sometimes been called “The Little Bible.” It has 66 chapters which divide into 39 (1-39) focused generically on judgment and 27 chapters (40-66) focused generically on redemption. The Bible has 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament.
Here is a very basic outline of the book:
– Judgment of Judah (1-12)
– Judgement of Nations (13-23)
– The Lord brings both judgment and salvation (24-27)
– Woes (28-35)
– Historical interlude (36-39)
– Deliverance from Captivity (40-48)
– The Suffering Servant (49-57)
– The Coming Messiah (58-66)
Isaiah is an important book to the Christian faith. Content from 47 of the 66 chapters is either directly quoted or alluded to in the New Testament. Only the Psalms are referenced more. There are many prophecies about the coming Messiah in Isaiah’s writing: 2:1-4; 4:2-6; 7:15-16; 11:1-12:6; 24:21-23; 25:6-8; 26:1-2; 27:12-13; 30:18-26; 32:1-7, 16-20; 33:17-24; 35:1-10; 42:1-9; 49:1-55:13; 60:1-62:12; 66:18-24.
Among the specific events or doctrines associated with the Christ and the Christian faith foretold in Isaiah are:
- Jerusalem being the place where the New Testament church would begin (2:2-4);
- The virgin birth of Immanuel, meaning God with us (7:13-14);
- The Child (Messiah) being given authority to rule (9:6-7);
- The lineage of Christ coming through the stem of Jesse, from whom David came (11:1-10);
- The gospel being for all, Jew and Gentile alike (19:18-25);
- The Messiah referred to as a light to Gentiles (49:1-13);
- The redemption from sin available in Christ (52:13-53:12);
- The coming of the New Jerusalem, the spiritual city of God’s people (54:9-13; 60:19-22).
Next week we continue with Jeremiah & Lamentations…