Isaiah (Isa)

Book 23 of the OT, containing 66 chapters. The author, Isaiah, wrote this major prophetic book during his ministry which spanned the years between 740 - 681 BC. Like numerous other genuine representatives for God he tries to call the people back to living righteously and speaks of the coming salvation through the Messiah. Hosea and Micah had prophetic ministries about this time too. Isaiah is the key person in this book which takes about 3 hrs 10 mins to read.

Outline. Isaiah the prophet was God’s spokesperson to Judah, Israel, and the surrounding heathen nations.  His message was of impending divine judgment because of sin from which the people wouldn’t turn. They had a lifeless and empty ritual of 'honouring' God with their lips yet their hearts were far from Him (Isa 29:13). However, after a period of captivity (as recorded in 2 Kings 17-25) God promised restoration.

Isaiah divides easily into 2 parts; chapters 1-39 speak about judgment and refer to events in Isaiah’s day as well as things which are yet to happen, while chapters 40-66 bring consolation and hope in God’s promise of future blessing through the Messiah (Jesus), who is portrayed both as a suffering servant and sovereign Lord. There are many prophecies concerning the coming Messiah in chapters 9, 11, 40-66. 

Main lesson. “In the last days...God will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths” (Isa 2:2,3).  As always, there is the responsibility for people to apply what has been taught, doing what we know we should do. Often there is a big gap between the teaching and our responding action – we amass the knowledge or theory but fail to put it into good use.

Key verses and thoughts: * “Come, let us reason. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” (Isa 1:18-20). The soiling and stain of sin can removed if we address our wrong, turn to Jesus and ask for His help. God has always been focused on dealing with this major issue of sin – the barrier that separates Him from us sinful humanity. He knows the seriousness of sin. Are we as desperate to deal with it?

* “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” (Isa 5:20). God sets the standards and we mess with them at our peril. Making excuses for our wrong behaviour breaks down the distinction between right and wrong so that soon all life’s moral choices appear fuzzy and we are lulled into a false security that sin is not really a major issue, and has no serious consequences.

* “How you have fallen from heaven, Lucifer [Satan]. You said in your heart, ‘I will…’” (Isa 14:12-15). At least five times in these few verses the expression, ‘I will’ is used. When self is the prime focus trouble is looming. Pride and arrogance are always destructive regardless of who we are or what we have done. While healthy ambition is good, all our desires and motives must be in submission to God.

* Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah (Jesus) would be pierced for our sins and by His wounds provide healing – God was giving a glimpse of the blessing that Christ would bring in the new covenant (Isa 53:5, 61:1-3). Am I appropriating all that He died to purchase for me?

* "Seek the Lord while He may be found" (Isa 55:6). No one is saved without the challenging and convicting power of the Holy Spirit so it is imperative to respond to His prompting as humans won’t always be in such a position to turn to Him (Gen 6:3). This not only applies to salvation but also obedience in other matters too.

* Those that faithfully follow God will be blessed even if they don’t meet the world’s status standards (Isa 56:3-7). God judges the heart condition and will reward those who meet His requirements – honouring Him, obeying His commands and walking uprightly, rather than those who try to impress by their external attributes and those set by society.

See also: Hosea, Isaiah, Messiah, prophet.