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Isaiah Introduction

"THE BOOK OF ISAIAH"

                    The Man, The Times, And The Book

Isaiah is often referred to as "The Messianic Prophet", because of his
many prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus.  The New Testament quotes
and applies more scriptures from the book of Isaiah than any other Old
Testament prophet.

Yet Isaiah's work was not solely foretelling the future.  A prophet of
God was not primarily a future teller, but one who spoke God's word to
the people of his own day.  The word "prophet" literally means "to boil
up like a fountain."  Therefore a prophet was a spokesman for God; not
so much a "foreteller" as a "forth teller"!

Isaiah was God's spokesman to Judah and Jerusalem at time when the
nation was immersed in sin.  He spoke God's indictment against their
sins, urging them to repent.  He then foretold destruction upon them if
they did not return to God.

In the midst of these dire warnings, Isaiah also foretold of a bright
future with the coming Messiah.  God would not forget His covenant made
to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.  He would spare a remnant of the
nation of Israel out of which would come the Messiah and His new
kingdom.

ISAIAH, THE MAN

His name (Isaiah) means "salvation of the Lord" or "the Lord is
salvation", and is certainly symbolic of his message.  He is described
as "the son of Amoz" (Isa 1:1; 2:1; 13:1), of whom the Bible reveals
nothing.  He was married and had two sons, Shear-Jashub ("the remnant
shall return", Isa 7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz ("in-speed-spoil-booty-
hastens", Isa 8:3), whose names also symbolized his message.

Tradition says that Amoz was a brother of Amaziah, the son of Joash,
king of Judah (2Ki 14:1).  This would make Isaiah a close relative to
those who were kings during his lifetime, and would explain his close
association with kings and priests and involvement with world affairs.

Isaiah received his visions in the days of "Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and
Hezekiah, kings of Judah" (Isa 1:1).  It is generally thought the vision
of the throne scene which occurred "in the year Uzziah died" (Isa 6:1)
was the beginning point of his ministry as a prophet (ca. 739 B.C.).
According to Jewish tradition, Isaiah was executed by Manasseh only a
few years after he ascended the throne.  One source describes Isaiah as
having been sawn asunder with a wooden saw (cf. He 11:37).  This would
mean Isaiah prophesied during a period of approximately fifty years (ca.
739-690 B.C.).

ISAIAH, THE TIMES

It was a time of great political turmoil for the nation of Judah.
Assyria was expanding its empire, attacking Israel and Syria to the
north.  When Judah refused to joined a coalition with Israel and Syria
to resist Assyria, Judah was attacked by Israel and Syria in
retaliation.  As Judah seriously considered inviting Assyria to help,
Isaiah sought to encourage the king and the people to trust only in
Jehovah.  King Ahaz of Judah rejected Isaiah's advice and asked Assyria
to come to his aid.  Assyria accepted, and the capital of Israel
(Samaria) fell in 722 B.C. (Hendriksen)

It soon became apparent that Judah was next on Assyria's hit list.
Judah began looking to Egypt in the south for help.  Once again, Isaiah
counseled the nation to make no alliances but trust only in the Lord.
King Hezekiah heeded Isaiah and God rewarded his faith by destroying the
Assyrian host (Isa 36-37).  But in a moment of weakness Hezekiah showed
the ambassadors from Babylon (Assyria's enemy) the house of his
treasures (Isa 39:1-2).  This prompted Isaiah to foretell that the
king's treasures and his descendants would be taken away to Babylon (Isa
39:5-7).  With this prophecy as an introduction, in chapters 40-66
Isaiah speaks from the viewpoint of Babylonian exile and foretells of
coming pardon, deliverance, and restoration. (ibid.)

During this time God sent several prophets to Israel and Judah.  Hosea
(750-725 B.C.) prophesied mainly to Israel, the northern ten tribes.
Micah (735-700 B.C.) together with Isaiah spoke primarily to Judah in
the south.

ISAIAH, THE BOOK

Two major themes run throughout the book.  There is the exhortation to
"Trust in the Holy One of Israel".  Faith in the Lord would assure
forgiveness for their transgressions and deliverance from their enemies.
Eight times the people are urged to "wait upon the Lord" (cf. Isa
40:28-31).  "The Messiah to come and the glory of His age" is another
dominate message.  Isaiah spoke frequently of the events to come,
foretelling the fall of heathen nations and the establishment of the
kingdom of the Messiah who would rule in justice and righteousness (cf.
Isa 2:1-5).

Isaiah's favorite designation for Jehovah (Yahweh) is "The Lord of
Hosts", used 62 times in the book.

"The name designates the Lord as omnipotent, and...is used by all the
writing prophets except Ezekiel, Joel, Obadiah, and Jonah.  The term
'hosts' designated the armies of Israel.  It could also refer to the
angels, the heavenly messengers of the Lord, and to the stars as God's
hosts.  When, as here, it appears without further qualification, it
designates the Lord as the God of all hosts, and is thus an equivalent
expression for the 'all-powerful God'." - Edward J. Young

Another designation for the Lord used by Isaiah is "The Holy One Of
Israel".  In his book it is used 25 times, while found only six times in
all the rest of the Bible.

The book of Isaiah can be divided into two major parts:

The Assyrian Period (chapters 1-39) - The prophet proclaims the Lord's
indictment against Judah and Jerusalem, and the coming judgment against
them.  He portrays the sovereign rule of the Lord of Hosts who judges
not only Israel, but heathen nations as well.  He prophesies that the
Lord will use Assyria, Babylon, and the Medes to execute His purposes,
and afterward judge each of these along other nations, bringing them to
desolation because of their sins. (Harkrider)

The Babylonian Period (chapters 40-66) - Isaiah exhorts an afflicted
people to have faith and patience.  He describes the salvation and
future blessings to come upon the true Israel of God.  Though Isaiah did
not live during the period of Babylonian captivity, through inspiration
he was able to speak words of comfort to those who would experience that
difficult time of Israel's history. (ibid.)

GENERAL OUTLINE

I. THE ASSYRIAN PERIOD - CONFLICT AND VICTORY (1-39)

   A. PROPHECIES CONCERNING JUDAH AND JERUSALEM (1-12)

   B. PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE NATIONS (13-27)

   C. THE SOURCE OF TRUE DELIVERANCE (28-35)

   D. HISTORICAL INTERLUDE (36-39)

II. THE BABYLONIAN PERIOD - HOPE FOR TROUBLED TIMES (40-66)

   A. THE ONE TRUE GOD VERSUS IDOLS (40-48)

   B. SALVATION THROUGH THE SUFFERING SERVANT (49-53)

   C. THE FUTURE GLORY FOR GOD'S PEOPLE (54-66)

REASONS TO STUDY THE BOOK

There are many reasons why Christians should read and study the book of
Isaiah.  Among them:

It increases faith in Jesus as the Messiah, as one reads the messianic
prophecies that were fulfilled in Him.

It strengthens hope in God as the One who is ultimately in control of
all things, and will bring His purposes to pass.

It inspires love for God and His Messiah, as one reads of the blessings
to be found in obedience to God's Word.

It enlarges understanding as to how God ruled in the nations of men in
the past, and how Christ may exercise His rule in the nations today.

Give yourself the opportunity to be blessed by this wonderful book of
the Bible!

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION

1) What is Isaiah frequently called?  What does his name mean?
   - The Messianic prophet; "Salvation is of the Lord" or "The Lord is
     salvation"

2) Who did he primarily preach to?  During what kings of Judah did he
   prophesy?
   - Judah and Jerusalem; Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah

3) Approximately when did he serve as a prophet of God?  How many years?
   - During the years of 739-690 B.C.; 50 years

4) What other prophets were contemporary with Isaiah?  To Whom did they
   prophesy?
   - Hosea (750-725 B.C.) - Israel
   - Micah (735-700 B.C.) - Judah

5) What nation was threatening Israel and Judah from the north?  What
   coalition attacked Judah for not aligning with them against the
   northern invader?
   - Assyria; Israel and Syria

6) To whom did Judah turn for help in the days of King Ahaz?
   - Assyria

7) When did Samaria fall and Israel taken into captivity?
   - 722 B.C.

8) When Assyria threatened Judah, what country was Judah tempted to look
   to for help?
   - Egypt in the south

9) Who did Isaiah convince to place his trust in the Lord instead of
   political alliances?
   - King Hezekiah

10) How did God reward this king for his faith?
   - Destroyed the Assyrian host in one night

11) What mistake did the king make that prompted the prophesy of
    Judah's captivity?
   - He showed the treasuries of his house to the ambassadors from
     Babylon

12) What are the two major sections of the book?
   - The Assyrian Period, Conflict And Victory (1-39)
   - The Babylonian Period, Hope For Troubled Times (40-66)

13)  What are two major themes running through the book?
   - "Trust in the Holy One of Israel"
   - "The Messiah to come and the glory of His age"
ebb

[Isa 1:1-31 NKJV] 1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; 3 The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master's crib; [But] Israel does not know, My people do not consider." 4 Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward. 5 Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, [There is] no soundness in it, [But] wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment. 7 Your country [is] desolate, Your cities [are] burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And [it is] desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, As a hut in a garden of cucumbers, As a besieged city. 9 Unless the LORD of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: 11 "To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. 12 "When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies--I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing [them]. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. 16 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. 18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. 21 How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; Righteousness lodged in it, But now murderers. 22 Your silver has become dross, Your wine mixed with water. 23 Your princes [are] rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, And follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, Nor does the cause of the widow come before them. 24 Therefore the Lord says, The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, "Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, And take vengeance on My enemies. 25 I will turn My hand against you, And thoroughly purge away your dross, And take away all your alloy. 26 I will restore your judges as at the first, And your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city." 27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, And her penitents with righteousness. 28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners [shall be] together, And those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed. 29 For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees Which you have desired; And you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens Which you have chosen. 30 For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf fades, And as a garden that has no water. 31 The strong shall be as tinder, And the work of it as a spark; Both will burn together, And no one shall quench [them].

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