The prophet Isaiah, whose name means "The Lord (Yahweh) is salvation," was born in the middle of the eighth century B.C. A member of the aristocracy of the Kingdom of Judah, he exercised his prophetic ministry in that kingdom for almost fifty years. In oracles of striking beauty, he fortells the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the coming of Christ, the sufferings of Christ, and the establishment of the Church of Christ. According to Jewish tradition Isaiah ended his days by a glorious martyrdom, being sawn in two by the wicked King Manasseh, for reproving his evil ways.
1. Isaiah exhorts Judah to conversion. Although Jerusalem was not
finally destroyed until 586 B.C., by Isaiahs time the nation had virtually reached
the point of no return. They have rejected God and God is sickened by their moral
degradation, social injustice and religious hypocrisy. Isaiah 1:1-31.
2. Isaiah looks far ahead to the time when Jerusalem will become the city of God for people of all nations. But before that God will execute fierce judgement on all wickedness and pride. Isaiah 2:1-22; 3:1-26; & 4:1-6.
3. The parable of the vineyard. The Jewish nation is the vineyard of God. He has done everything necessary to ensure a heavy yield. But the vintage is bitter: so God will abandon the vineyard. Isaiah denounces pride, luxury, drunkeness and injustice. Isaiah 5:1-30.
4. Isaiahs vision of God and call to service. Isaiah had many visions but none to equal this. The knowledge that he had seen God with his own eyes, experienced his forgiveness and been sent out in Gods service would sustain him all his life. Isaiah 6:1-13.
1. The new king, Ahaz, defies God and in consequence his kingdom
came under attack from all quarters. Isaiah goes to him with Gods message but Ahaz
does not accept Gods help. Instead he turns to Assyria who soon becomes the thorn in
the side of Ahaz. Isaiah 7:1-25.
2. Isaiahs own family becomes a sign. Isaiahs wife (the prophetess) has a son and is named Maher-salal-hasbaz which means Quick loot fast plunder which foretells the Assyrians attack on Judah. Isaiah 8:1-22. B.C.
3. Isaiah takes his prophecies far into the future. "For unto us a child is born." Isaiah 9:1-7.
4. Isaiah switches to the present. The Lords anger against Israel. Isaiah 9:8-21 & 10-1-4.
5. But God never loses sight of his purpose; a remnant - pathetically few - of his people will survive to trust and serve him. Isaiah 10:5-34.
6. Prophecies of the future. A rod will come forth out of the root of Jesse. (Jesse was King Davids father.) Isaiah 11:1-16 & 12:1-6.
1. Isaiah looks ahead one hundred years and prophecies Babylon at
the height of its fame and its fall in 539 B.C. Isaiah 13:1-22 & 14:1-23.
2. Assyrias fate is sealed. Isaiah 14:24-27.
3. Isaiah prophecies the destruction of the Philistines. Isaiah 14:28-32.
4. A prophecy of the destruction of the Moabites. This prophecy is only three years away from happening. Isaiah 15:1-9 & 16:1-14.
5. Isaiah prophecies against Damascus; "see Damascus will no longer be a city". He also berates Israel for siding with Syria against their own brother-nation, Judah .Isaiah 17:1-14.
6. A prophecy against Ethiopia/Cush. Isaiah 18:1-7.
7. Isaiah foretells the disintegration of Egypt. But Gods eventual plan is the conversion of Egypt. Isaiah 19:1-25.
8. Continued prophecy against Egypt/Cush. Isaiah 20:1-6.
9. Isaiah is appalled by what he sees in his prophecy about Babylon, Edom and Arabia. Isaiah 21:1-17.
10. A prophecy about Jerusalem. Isaiah foresees the future destruction of Jerusalem. The peoples reaction in the face of disaster is expressed in the phrase "Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die". Isaiah 22:1-14.
11. Isaiah relates to matters in his own time. Eliakim is to be promoted. But he will find himself unable to cope and his authority will be short-lived. Isaiah 22:15-25.
12. Tyre was a city corrupted by wealth. Isaiah prophecies its approaching end. Isaiah 23:1-18.
13. The next chapter concerns the whole world rather than specific
nations. Life will not go on for ever as it is. There will come a time when God will step
in and end the world as we know it; when the earth will rock on its foundations. Isaiah
14. The next three chapters are a song of praise and joy. The day will come when Gods purpose for his people will be fulfilled. Isaiah 25:1-12 & 26:1-21 & 27:1-13.
1. Once again Isaiah prophecies about his own day and aimed at
Israel. The pleasure-loving, luxury-loving people are to be taken by Assyria.
Isaiahs words are sneered at. Isaiah picks out the religious leaders and rulers for
special admonishment. They are cocksure, they think they can dictate terms to death
itself. They will discover how wrong they are. Isaiah 28:1-29.
2. Prophecy about Jerusalem. Gods word to his people has become a closed book. But the day is coming when those who are dead and blind to his message will see; when Gods people will once again fear and obey him. Isaiah 9:1-24.
3. Woe to the rebels who rely on Egypt. Despite all Isaiahs warnings Judah is in league with Egypt against Assyria. When the crunch comes Egypt will sit tight while the Assyrians attack Judah. Isaiah, yet again, calls on the people to turn to God. Isaiah 30:1-33 & 31:1-9.
1. Isaiah sees far into the future to a time of lasting peace. But
before this happens the present evil must be swept away. The people will lose all that
they now enjoy. Isaiah 32:1-20.
2. A chapter with many changes of mood. Only those who live by their faith in God remain unshaken. Isaiah 33:1-24.
3. Judgement on nations. God will one day avenge the wrong done to his people. Isaiah 34:1-17.
4. A contrast to the last chapter destruction gives way to re-creation. God is coming to bring his people home by a safe highway. Isaiah 35:1-10.
1. King Hezekiah asks Isaiahs advice. His prophecy comes true
and Jerusalem is not attacked. Hezekiah becomes ill and Isaiah predicts that he will not
recover. Hezekiah prays and Isaiah returns to tell him that his prayer has been heard and
he will recover. Isaiah 36:1-22; 37:1-38 & 38:1-22
2. Envoys come from Babylon to enquire about King Hezekiahs illness. While there they are shown the treasury and storehouses filled with gold and silver. Isaiah prophecies that this will lead to the defeat of Judah. King Hezekiah replies "There will be peace and security in my lifetime". Isaiah 39:1-8.
1. There is comfort for Gods people: he is coming as he
promised. Israels God is God the creator: incomparable, eternal. He never stops
caring for his people. Isaiah 40:1-31.
2. "Fear notI will help you." Gods tone is stern as he brings the nations to book. But with his own people he is infinitely loving and tender. He is at hand to help. They have nothing to fear. Isaiah 41:1-29.
3. A new theme begins to unfold. Gods plan to open the eyes of the whole world and bring salvation to all mankind. This was, from the very beginning, the intended role of Israel. But Israel failed to be Gods true servant. In the series of portraits which follow the realization gradually dawns that Gods purpose will ultimately be fulfilled not through the nation but through one who will be his true servant. (Jesus is that servant and predicts so himself Luke 4:16-21). Isaiah 42:1-25.
4. By their constant disobedience, Gods people have forfeited all right to his care yet he forgives. In all their sufferings he is beside them. He will set them free again, because he loves them. Isaiah 43:1-28.
5. Chapters 44 & 45 continue the theme that runs through the whole section: Israel as Gods servant, the object of his love. God as Lord of history, the only person able to draw back the veil on the future. Gods promise that he will set his people free. Isaiah 44:1-28 & 45:1-25.
6. The indictment of pagan gods reaches its climax in the passive submission of the Babylonian gods Bel and Nebo. These dumb idols burden the backs of their worshippers. The real God is the one who has power not only to speak but to act. Isaiah 46:1-13 & 47:1-15.
7. The history of Israel is a long story of hypocrisy, rebellion, scepticism and idolatry. She has fully deserved all she suffered. Isaiah 48:1-22.
1. Isaiah, Gods servant, has a mission to Israel - and beyond
Israel to the world. Comfort, Compassion and Restoration are the keynotes. Isaiah 49:1-26.
2. We glimpse Isaiahs suffering and rejection. But nothing can deflect him from his purpose. Isaiah 50:1-11.
3. God urges his people to draw comfort from past history, and to look forward to a greater exodus yet. It is time to shake off grief and lethargy. There is good news. God is about to escort his people home. Isaiah 51:1-23 & 52:1-12.
4. The scene shifts from the joyous home coming to the person who paid the price for it. Jesus bore the whole burden of sin which estranged humanity from God, and it cost him his life. Isaiah, eight centuries before Christ, clearly foresaw him. He knew why he must come and what he would do. Isaiah 52:13-15 & 53:1-12.
5. God pledges himself in tender, unswerving, enduring love to his people. In peace and security the foundations of a new and dazzling city are laid. The gates stand wide in welcome to men of every nation who respond to Gods invitation. (The vision in the later chapters of Isaiah goes far beyond the events of the actual return. The restoration of Israel which took place then, merges into a vision of the final glorious day when sin and sorrow will be no more.) Isaiah 54:1-17 & 55:1-13.
1. Welcome to the outcasts. There is nothing exclusive about the
love of God. There is a place among his people for all who will follow and obey him, even
the most despised. Isaiah 56:1-8.
2. Gods accusations againts Israel. Sin cuts off men from God. Israel has been guilty of many sins - the charges are quite specific. Spiritual and secular leaders have gone soft and failed in their jobs. The nation has gone running after pagan gods, joining in sexual rites and child-sacrifice. All this is in stark contrast to all that God, in his amazing love, wants for his people. Isaiah 56:9-12 & 57:1-21 & 58:1-14 & 59:1-21.
3. In the unbridgeable gap between the shame of Israel and her glory stands the figure of God the Avenger and the Redeemer. Isaiah sees the return to Gods favour in very earthly terms: fabulous wealth, power, influence. But it is very different from the earth we know. Gods people become the nation of priests he always intended them to be. Isaiah 6O:1-22; 61:1-11 & 62:1-12.
4. Christs victory over his enemies. It is a terrifying picture but until the enemy is defeated, Gods people cannot be set free. Isaiah 63:1-6.
5. Prayer for Gods people. The recollection of Gods past goodness and faithfulness leads into an impassioned appeal for his response to the crying need of his people. Isaiah 63:7-19 & 64:1-12.
6. Gods answer: new heavens and a new earth. God will answer the prayer for his people in a way which exceeds their wildest dreams. But the answer will be two edged. For those who align themselves against him, total destruction, the sweeping away of every vestige of evil: for his faithful ones, life, joy, peace beyond imagining in a heaven and earth made new. So the final prophecies of Isaiah highlight the contrasting destinies of men. God cannot overlook evil. Those who go their sinful way, who refuse to listen to God will be punished. But God has a place reserved, in his new world, for men of humble faith: not only for faithful Israel, but for people of all nations. Isaiah 65:1-25 & 66:1-24.