Intro to Isaiah

Isaiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:05:57
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Isaiah = the salvation of Yahweh or Yahweh is salvation
He is the son of Amoz not to be confused with Amos the prophet.
The salvation of Yahweh is the theme of the book. the word salvation appears 26 times in the book of Isaiah while only appearing 7 times in all the other prophets combined. Chapters 1-39 reveal man’s great need for salvation while chapters 40-66 reveal that God is the provider of salvation.
One author said that the theme verses of Isaiah are
Isaiah 9:6–7 NKJV
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 53:6 NKJV
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
In chapter 6 we will read of Isaiah’s call to ministry around 739 BC the year that King Uzziah died. Uzziah was a good king who ruled for about 55 years.
In chapter 8 we will learn that Isaiah is married to the prophetess (whether that be because she was a prophetess or whether she is called one because Isaiah is her husband is not completely clear from the Hebrew). Together they have 2 sons....
Shear-jashub = a remnant shall return
Maher-shalal-hashbaz = quickly take the plunder
Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah aka Azariah (around 787-736 BC), Jotham (around 756-741 BC ) who co reigned with his father son Ahaz after Jotham was struck with leprosy for trying to offer incense on the altar in the temple (2 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 26). Isaiah continued to prophesy during the sole reign Ahaz from around 736-725 BC, and through the reign of king Hezekiah who reigned from about 725-697 BC.
Time wise, we pick up the book of Isaiah just before the Assyrians took Israel in the north captive just as the close of the book of Hosea. Isaiah is a contemporary of Hosea and Micah.
Isaiah’s favorite way to speak about God is to call Him the Holy One of Israel, which we will see at least 25 times in this book. That term is only used 6 other times in the Bible outside of Isaiah.
Isaiah is probably the most well known and well admired prophet within Judaism and Christianity. He is by far the most well written of the prophets using a larger vocabulary than any other prophet, even using more words than the entire book of Psalms, Jeremiah, and I think Ezekiel combined. Scholars are divided as to exactly how long Isaiah prophesied for. The estimates vary from just over 40 years to almost 60 years. So we can estimate that his ministry lasted around 50 years or so.
In 2 Chronicles we are told that Isaiah wrote all the things about Uzziah’s life prompting many to believe that before his prophetic ministry Isaiah may have been a scribe.
Unlike Amos who was a country boy who tended to the flocks, Isaiah was a big city boy who grew up in Jerusalem the capital city of Judah having access to the temple and the king’s court.
Isaiah records the longest prophecy in the Bible. Some have called the book of Isaiah the Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, and Romans of the OT because of the incredible details about the coming Messiah Jesus Christ and the sheer amount of theology present in this book.
Isaiah is like a miniature Bible. The first 39 chapters (like the 39 chapters of the OT) deal with judgement on the wicked idolatrous people in Israel, Judah and the nations surrounding them. Then the next 27 chapters (like the 27 chapters of the NT) deal with the hope of Israel through a coming Messiah that would come to save mankind from their sin. In fact the book of Isaiah speaks more about the Messiah than any other book in the OT.
Tradition tells us that Isaiah was killed by being sawn in half during the days of Hezekiah’s son Manasseh most likely at the order of Manasseh.
The church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, the Jewish historian Josephus, the Babylonian Talmud as well as the Jerusalem Talmud all tell us that Isaiah was sawn in half by Manasseh. Those are of course all extra Biblical sources, but their seems to be a clear consensus that Manasseh killed Isaiah by sawing him into 2 pieces.
Hebrews 11 does have a possible mention of this as well.
Hebrews 11:37 NKJV
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
One thing seems clear that is that Isaiah lived into the days of Manasseh even if he ceased to prophecy into his reign, or perhaps was simply martyred immediately into his reign.
Speaking of sawing in half, the so called higher critics have tried to saw the book of Isaiah in half because like any book of the Bible there are critics of the book of Isaiah. Most of the arguments from the so called higher critics are about who wrote the book of Isaiah or rather how many people wrote it.
The more recognized theory is that Isaiah had 2 authors with other critics trying to say that there were 3-4 authors of Isaiah. So lets look at that and get it out of the way before we break into chapter 1.
The 2 author theory states that one man wrote chapters 1-39, while another man wrote chapters 40-66. They try to say that the 2 different sections are so vastly different from each other that it is impossible for one man to have written both sections.
The argument says that chapters 1-39 use a different form of language and have an Assyrian background while chapters 40-66 have a Babylonian background even though Babylon is mentioned more than double the amount of times in chapters 1-39 than in chapters 40-66. As to the difference in language that is simply one of a shift of tenses from present to future because the last 27 chapters deal primarily with the Messiah who is to come in a future tense.
Another really poor argument even made by so called Christians is that it would have been impossible for Isaiah to prophecy the time and name of King Cyrus and his command that would be given some 150 years after the time Isaiah wrote free God’s people from captivity and to send them back to Jerusalem.
The problem with such an argument is that it takes divine inspiration out of Isaiah’s prophecies. Not to mention the absolute clarity that Isaiah writes about the Messiah in regard to His coming, His life, His very detailed account of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross in chapters 52-53.
So you should know all that so that when I tell you that Jewish tradition, Church tradition, the Bible and Jesus Himself all say that one man named Isaiah son of Amoz wrote the entire book of Isaiah and not multiple men.
For instance when the scroll of Isaiah was found in caves of Qumran in the amazing collection of scrolls known as the Dead Sea Scrolls it was one single scroll and not 2 separate scrolls split between chapters 39 and 40. There were no markings anywhere to indicate that there were 2 different sections, but rather where what we would call the end of chapter 39 and the beginning of chapter 40 are it was just one continuous writing.
In fact not very long ago a data analyst ran the entire book of Isaiah through a computer program to see if there was any evidence to suggest that chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66 had any significant differences and the program showed no significant differences with the only major difference between the 2 sections was that the first 39 chapters spoke more about war in general which would make sense given the context of what Isaiah prophesied about in those chapters vs the emphases that is placed on the coming Messiah in the last 27 chapters.
There are a number of other places where Isaiah is quoted from by Jesus or by the author of the gospels or in Acts from either section of the book of Isaiah and never once is there a question or mention that someone besides Isaiah the son of Amoz wrote it all. (Mat 3:3, 12:17-21, Luke 3:4-6, Acts 8:28.
In Romans 9:27 and 10:16-21 Paul quotes from Isaiah 10, 53, and 65 and in each place attributes the quotes to be from the same man Isaiah.
In fact there are more than 20 quotes from Isaiah in the NT more than any other prophet and not one place where there is a question about more than one author of the book.
But most importantly Jesus who knows all and has all authority, and always speaks what is true, tells us that Isaiah wrote both sections of the book of Isaiah...
John 12:37–41 NKJV
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
The reason this is significant is because Jesus is quoting from both Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 53 at the same time which tells us that Jesus knew and believed that one man Isaiah the son of Amoz wrote both sections (1-39 & 40-66) of Isaiah. Notice that Jesus said “the things Isaiah said”
There’s even a funny story about Pastor Chuck Smith and Greg Laurie who were doing a phone interview with a professor of religion at some liberal college in California who said that Isaiah was written by 2 different authors at 2 vary different times. Pastor Chuck read from that passage in John 12 and said that Jesus clearly attributed both halves of Isaiah to one author so the professor bragged a bit about his credentials and said that he knew what he was talking about since he was a professor and well studied on the subject. He then told Chuck that Jesus didn’t have all the academic writings and archeological discoveries that we have today to which Chuck said “are you telling me that you know more than Jesus about who wrote Isaiah? To which he professor restated that Jesus couldn’t possibly know what we know today with all the various discoveries because we have more data today than Jesus had. So Chuck said “You’ll have to excuse me, I can’t talk to anyone who knows more than Jesus” and he hung up the phone and left Greg Laurie on the phone with the professor on his own.

Verse 1

As we open up in verse 1 we see that this is a vision which Isaiah saw. If we look at verse 1 of chapter 2 we see that this is the word that Isaiah saw.
Now again it’s a bit of a funny thing chronologically since we know Isaiah records his calling in chapter 6 yet we begin with his ministry here in chapter 1.
So again Isaiah prophesied from around 740-680. In the first 20 or so years of his ministry he is speaking to both the northern tribes in Israel as well as the southern tribes in Judah until the Assyrians took Israel captive in 722 BC. Once that happened Isaiah spoke to Judah.
For a timeline reference Isaiah’s ministry takes place during what is recorded in 2 Kings 15-21 as well as 2 Chronicles 26-33.

Verses 2-4

We open with calls for heaven and earth to bear witness of God’s people, His children and their terrible rebellion and iniquity against Him.
Look at there terrible condition. They have become fools who are dumber than ox or donkeys.
Yet we see the heart of God calling out to His people His children like a parent calls out to their prodigal child/children.
If it’s any encouragement to you you have prodigal children, note that God Himself has wayward prodigal children. That’s how we know about prodigal children, is because of God.
backward - they are backslidden
This was the condition of God’s very own people, His children, and He says that ox and donkeys are better than them!

Verses 5-9

Look at God’s heart.
He doesn’t want His people to fall away from Him and find themselves in a worse condition and reap the consequences of their continual rebellion against Him.
God is seeking the repentance of the people, but they have refused to do so. God has before this point tried to get their attention by bringing about chastisement so that they would repent and return to Him so now God says “why should you be stricken again?”
All that follows here in the next 3 verses describes the consequences of their rebellion against God. It is what they have brought upon themselves.
Your country is desolate, burned with fire, strangers devour...
The account of this is found in 2 Chronicles 28 where we read that God brought Judah low and allowed those things to happen because of the continuous wickedness of King Ahaz and they way he encouraged the nation to rebel against God. in that chapter we read of how Israel, Syria, Edom, the Philistines ,and the Assyrians all fought against Judah and took their goods.
But even all the attacks from the enemies that the LORD allowed did not cause the heart of the king to repent. Instead we read...
2 Chronicles 28:22–25 NKJV
22 Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the Lord. This is that King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. 24 So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.
Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a very small remnant (survivors) we would have become like (totally destroyed) like Sodom and Gomorrah.
God had been gracious to keep Judah from total destruction. He had given them another chance to repent and be saved as a nation. Unfortunately as we know already Judah will continue to rebel in their hearts against the LORD and they will in fact be taken captive by the Babylonians as their neighbors Israel in the north were taken captive by the Assyrians.
But as we see the description of Judah given in just these first few verses one thing is clear.
This is what our nation looks like spiritually today.
Like Judah in those days so it is with us today. We are in need of a great spiritual revival amongst God’s people and a great spiritual awakening of the people in our nation who currently do not know God.
So let’s pray as we close tonight for both of those things to take place.
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