Isaiah: The Messianic ProphetTitle
The Book of Isaiah is named after the author. “Isaiah” means “salvation is of Jehovah.”Background
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the seventeen Old Testament books of prophecy. The first five prophetic books are classified as “Major Prophets.” Isaiah had an illustrious mission of fifty or sixty years as prophet, poet, statesman, advisor, orator, and writer, starting in the days of King Uzziah (1:1) and closing after King Hezekiah’s death (2nd Chronicles 32:32).
During Isaiah’s lifetime, the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyria. Because of Isaiah’s influence, Jerusalem was spared at that time. Isaiah anticipated, however, that the period of reform would not last, so he looked ahead to the Babylonian captivity and the return from captivity. In his book, Isaiah does three things: (1) He warns the people of Judah about what will befall them; (2) he utters prophecies against other nations, proving that God knows what He is talking about; and (3) he looks ahead to brighter days, to the return after captivity, and to the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom.
Because Isaiah named the Persian king Cyrus almost two hundred years before Cyrus was born, those who deny the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures think that the Bible refers to two or more “Isaiah’s,” at least one of whom lived after Cyrus. Yet, the Bible knows of only one prophet named Isaiah. The prophecy about Cyrus (44:28; 45:1-14) is one of the most remarkable in the Bible.
Isaiah is especially known for his messianic prophecies (note Luke 4:17-21; John 12:41; Acts 8:26-35ff.). He is quoted more than forty times in the New Testament – more often than any other prophet. There are so many passages concerning the Messiah and His kingdom in Isaiah that the book has been referred to as “the fifth gospel” or “the gospel according to Isaiah.”Outline
Isaiah has been called “the Bible in miniature.” The Bible has sixty-six books, and Isaiah has sixty-six chapters. The first thirty-nine chapters have an Old Testament flavor, while the final twenty-seven chapters have a New Testament flavor.
I. WARNINGS (1-39)
A. Against the ungodly alliance of Judah with Assyria (1-12).
B. Against various nations, many of whom had been looked to by both Israel and Judah for assistance (13-27).
C. Against Judah’s futile alliance with Egypt made by Hezekiah (28-35).
D. Historical section, showing that many of the things prophesied earlier came to pass (36-39; 2nd Kings 18-20).II. CONSOLATION (40-66)
A. Deliverance from Babylonian captivity (40-48).
B. The Messiah revealed (49-57); the Suffering Servant (53).
C. The Messiah and His kingdom; references to the return from captivity (58-66).
Lessons from Isaiah
Here are a few of the passages from Isaiah about Christ and His kingdom: a root out of Jesse (11:1), the virgin birth (7:14), the work of John (40:3-4), His ministry (61:1,2), rejection by the Jews (8:14,15; 28:16), His trials and death (53), His resurrection (25:8), sitting on David’s throne in the heavens (9:6,7), establishment of the church or kingdom (2:2,3), a new name to be given (62:12).
Many of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah and His kingdom were misunderstood by the Jews of Jesus’ day – and are misunderstood by some today. The Jews looked for a physical fulfillment, while Jesus stressed that His kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36). As far as this life is concerned, the promise of peace in Isaiah finds fulfillment in the hearts of God’s people; the ultimate fulfillment of the promise will take place in heaven. Again, the “new heavens and a new earth” (65:17) referred to a restoration of an original relationship. To the Jews, this referred to the return from captivity; to us, it speaks of heaven where we will be with God.
Misunderstanding also surrounds “Lucifer” (14:12, KJV). The name “Lucifer” means “the shining one.” It does not refer to Satan, but to Babylon. This is the only place the name “Lucifer” is found in Scripture.
Like other prophets, Isaiah is an example of faithfulness. Many think Hebrews 11:37 refers to him. Tradition says that Isaiah, at age ninety, was sawn in two in the trunk of a carob tree, by order of King Manasseh.
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