Destination: Isaiah 1-39
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Our thirty-second flight over the Bible from 30,000 feet will take us soaring over the entire book of Isaiah. Thought to be the greatest of all the Prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah's ministry lasted around fifty years, and his prophecies are quoted in the New Testament more often than any other Prophet. This book shows us a mix of both prophecies of condemnation (chapters 1-39), as well as prophecies of comfort (chapters 40-66). The key chapters to review are Isaiah 1-2, 6, 40, 52-53, and 55.
DESTINATION: Isaiah 1-66
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
Northern and Southern Kingdoms divide
Uzziah becomes king in Judah
Isaiah begins to prophesy in Judah
Jotham's reign begins in Judah
Ahaz begins his reign in Judah
Israel and Syria make war against Judah
Damascus falls to the Assyrians
Hezekiah becomes King in Judah
The Northern Kingdom is taken captive by the Assyrians
Of all the Prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah is thought by many to be the greatest of all. His ministry lasted for around fifty years, and his prophecies are quoted in the New Testament more often than any other prophet. It was early in his ministry that Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up upon His throne and was called into ministry. Isaiah can be divided into two sections:
PLACES OF INTEREST
- Prophecies of Condemnation Ch. 1-39
- Prophecies of Comfort Ch. 40-66
- The City of God and center of the southern Kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem was the pulse of religious Judaism and the home of the Temple of God. It was from Jerusalem that the kings of Judah reigned. In Isaiah's prophecy, he voices the Lord's displeasure with this city and pronounces judgment upon it.
- When the kingdom divided in 930 B.C., the Southern Kingdom took the name of Judah. Judah was inhabited by two of the twelve tribes, Benjamin and Judah. In his prophecy, Isaiah foretells of the destruction of Judah for their disobedience to God. Judah would fall to the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the year 586 B.C.
- Israel was the new name of the Patriarch Jacob and is representative of all the twelve tribes of Jacob. However, when the kingdom split the northern ten tribes took the name of Israel. Israel is mentioned 93 times within the prophecies of Isaiah, sometimes referring to the Northern Kingdom and other times referring to all of Israel. The Northern Kingdom was defeated in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians and taken captive.
- The great empire of the east. It was Babylon, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, that defeated the Assyrian Empire in 609 B.C. and ruled the earth for 70 years until they were defeated by the Medo-Persian Empire in 539 B.C. Babylon attacked and defeated Judah, destroying their temple and carrying their people away captive, in the year 586 B.C. Isaiah speaks of their rise and fall in his prophecy.
- Damascus is mentioned seven times in the book of Isaiah. Damascus was and is the capital city of Syria. This great city has the unique distinction of being the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. Isaiah speaks of its utter destruction in his book.
- The Assyrian Empire's supremacy lasted from 1365-609 B.C. This great empire is spoken of 38 times by name in Isaiah. It was Assyria that attacked the Northern Kingdom of Israel and defeated them in 722 B.C., taking their men, women and children captive back to Assyria. Their judgment is also spoken of in Isaiah.
PEOPLE OF INTEREST
- Isaiah is the human author of the book that bears his name. Isaiah was the son of Amoz and has been called the "Saint Paul of the Old Testament." Isaiah was apparently an educated man, as seen in his style of writing. His ministry spanned the reigns of four kings in Judah, and he was very influential in the reforms of King Hezekiah. Tradition records that Isaiah's life was ended as he was sawn in two.
- King Uzziah began to rule in Judah at the age of sixteen and reigned as king for 52 years. He was a good king, bringing many reforms, but in his old age he began to steal the spotlight from God, entering the Temple to burn incense, and was confronted by 81 priests. It was then that Uzziah was struck with leprosy, from which he never recovered, living out the rest of his days in solitude. It was in the year that he died that Isaiah saw the Lord upon His throne.
- Ahaz was a wicked king who squandered all that had been left by his father Jotham and grandfather Uzziah and offered his son as a burnt offering for Molech (a Canaanite god). Ahaz worshipped idols, turned to other gods, and turned the Southern Kingdom to Assyria for a time. Isaiah came to him with a word, assuring him that Syria and Israel would not defeat Judah, but he refused to trust God and bought the help of the Assyrians, which made Judah their servants.
- Hezekiah was a great and good king who introduced reforms throughout Judah. He cleansed the land of idol worship and removed the brazen serpent from Jerusalem. It was Hezekiah who rebelled against Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. In chapters 36-39, Isaiah records part of the story of Hezekiah's life. As Hezekiah was about to die, he asked God for longer life, which God granted him, and he lived for 15 years longer. In that time Manasseh was born to him, and became one of the most wicked kings to reign in Judah.
- Sennacherib was the son of Sargon, King of Assyria. Isaiah speaks of Sennacherib in reference to the rebellion led by King Hezekiah of Judah. The biblical account tells us that as Sennacherib came to sack Jerusalem, as they were camped, the angel of the Lord went forth into their camp and killed 185,000 Assyrians. Sennacherib returned to Nineveh and as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch, his god, he was struck dead by his two sons.
- In chapter 14 of Isaiah, he makes reference to the fall of Satan from heaven. Isaiah speaks of the ultimate destruction of Lucifer and his dwelling in Sheol. The fall of Satan was due to pride; he wanted to exalt his throne above God. The details are found in chapter 14:12-21.
- These angelic creatures are above the throne of God in chapter six of Isaiah. They had six wings. With two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew, and they sang to each other these lyrics: "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts."
- It is the prophet Isaiah who speaks of the virgin birth of the Messiah. This well-known prophecy is found in chapter 7:14. His name was to be called Immanuel - which literally means "God is with us."
Contribution to Scripture
- Isaiah is quoted far more in the New Testament than any other prophet. Isaiah is mentioned by name 21 times, and chapter 53 alone is quoted or eluded to some 85 times.