Text: Isaiah 6:1-8 Collateral Reading: Isaiah 1 - 12 Introduction Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament more than any other prophet. According to the Companion Bible 65 different verses are quoted or referred to some 85 times. There are more than 250 allusions to Isaiah's prophesies. The New Testament says that Isaiah "saw the glory of Christ and spoke of him" (John 12:41). Isaiah's name "Yesha-Yahu" (Salvation is of Yahweh) is almost identical in meaning with Joshua (Yahweh is Salvation). Q-1 What is the New Testament equivalent of "Joshua"? ISAIAH -- The Man Isaiah prophesied in Judah during the 8th century B.C. It was during his ministry that the northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians. It was a critical time for Judah for the Assyrians were threatening them also. Q-2. What prophets were contemporaries with Isaiah? Isaiah lived in Jerusalem with his wife and two children, to whom he gave significant names (7:3; 8:3). The prominence of his father is seen in that the prophet is often called "the son of Amoz" (13 times). The Rabbis taught that Isaiah's father was a brother of King Amaziah, and thus Isaiah would be a first cousin to king Uzziah and of royal blood. His life spanned the reigns of five kings (his ministry four) or about sixty years. The first date given is the year of Uzziah's death (6:1), which probably occurred about 740 B.C. Isaiah was well educated and aware of the international political scene. His wisdom from God was respected by Hezekiah and he served him as a kind of court prophet. A tradition in the Talmud states that Isaiah when an old man denounced Manasseh's idolatrous decrees and being put inside a hollow log was "sawn asunder" (2 Kings 21:16; Hebrews 11:37). Q-3. What five kings did Isaiah's life touch? ISAIAH -- The Author The fabulous book of Isaiah contain 66 chapters. Over the past 200 years there has been an attack upon the unity of Isaiah. Radical critics, unwilling to accept the concept of predictive prophecy, have contended that certain portions of the book ere not written by Isaiah. These critics have generally conceded that Isaiah may have written chapters 1 - 39, but argue that chapters 40 - 66 were added by others years later. A few critics rejecting some clear prophecies of Christ contended these were interjected by Christians after the first century A.D. This theory is a relatively modern notion. The ancient Jews knew absolutely nothing of it for the seven centuries preceding the coming of Christ. And for the first seventeen centuries of the Christian era Biblical scholars never even hinted of multiple authors for the book of Isaiah. There is no clearer evidence for the unity of Isaiah than of the testimony of Christ and the writers of the New Testament. They quote from all sections of Isaiah's book and simply attribute it to Isaiah. In John 12:37-41 Jesus quotes from Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6 in the same breath, crediting the prophet with both statements, even joining the two passages by saying, "Isaiah said AGAIN . . ." (vs 39). Q-4 Thought Question: Why do some critics insist on rejecting the predictive prophecy element in Isaiah? ISAIAH -- His Work There are 66 chapters (exactly the number of books in the Bible). A main theme running through the Book is that God is sending either judgments or comforts, depending on how people respond to Him. Section I contains the first 39 chapters (number of books in the Old Testament). Section II (chapters 40-66) contain 27 chapters, (the number of books in the New Testament). I. Visions of Judgment 1-39 A. The Denunciation of Judah and Jerusalem -- 1-12 B. The Denunciation of foreign nations -- 13-26 C. The Denunciation in "Woes" -- 28-35 D. The Denunciation of Sennacherib -- 36-39 II. Visions of Comfort 40-66 A. The Deliverance -- 40-48 From impending Babylonian Captivity B. The Deliverer -- 49-57 The Lord's suffering servant C. The Delivered -- 58-66 The coming glory [Chapters 36-39 is a historical narrative of some events in the reign of Hezekiah and the invasion of Sennacherib. Isaiah, the chronicler of Hezekiah.] ISAIAH -- His Message The northern kingdom of Israel became immersed in idolatry and carnality and falls to Assyria in 722 B.C. The threat of invasion from Assyria is real to Judah as well. Isaiah rebukes the nation's leadership for looking to political alliances with Egypt and others for security instead of trusting in the Lord. Isaiah charges the people of Jerusalem with sin and impiety as the cause of their troubles. Social injustice was rampant in the land, with rich landowners exploiting the poor (Isaiah 5:8). Spiritual life was at a low ebb, with both priests and prophets flattering the wealthy in hope of gain (Isaiah 56:10-12; cf. Micah 3:11). Jerusalem itself was a boiling pot of political factions, intrigue, and corruption. The prophet pleaded for repentance and genuine reformation of life (Isaiah 1:16-17). Q-5 Investigative Question: What did Isaiah warn would be the consequences of their choice? (Isaiah 1:19-20). He foretells the captivity in Babylon but prophecies of deliverance and a coming glory. He looks beyond all the events of his own troubled time to the coming, suffering, and reign of the Messiah. ISAIAH -- The Messianic Prophet Isaiah earns this title because he increased significantly the awareness of the coming Christ. Interlaced through his messages are glorious glimpses of one who will be the Redeemer of God's people. A few are: 1. There is the prophecy of Immanuel's birth to a virgin in Isaiah 7:14. The Apostle Matthew certifies this passage is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:22, 23). 2. The rejection of the Lord (Christ) as a "stone of stumbling:" and "rock of offense" is predicted in 8:13,14. See the Apostle Peter's reference in 1 Peter 2:8; 3:14. 3. The benevolence and universality of the Messiah's reign during the Christian age is vividly portrayed in Isaiah 11:1-10. Note how the Apostle Paul used this in Romans 15:12. 4. The precious, tried, sure foundation corner-stone to be laid in Zion is viewed in Isaiah 28:16, and referred to on several occasions in the New Testament (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6). 5. In Isaiah 40:3-5 we have a preview of John the Baptist and his preparatory work for the One who came to reveal the "glory of the Lord" to "all flesh" (Note Matthew 3:3). 6. The Lord's compassionate and just mission is stressed in Isaiah 42:1-4 (See Matthew 12:18-21). 7. Isaiah 53 is a veritable galaxy of prophecies pointing to the atoning work of the Savior and many details connected with it (Acts 8:32-35; John 12:38, etc.) SOME LESSONS: 1. If God is GOD then he is able to see the end from the beginning and declare it to his prophets (Isaiah 46:9, 10; 48:5). To reject predictive prophecy which has been fulfilled clearly and in detail years after the prediction (and said by inspiration to be the fulfillment) is to reject GOD, and vice versa. 2. Sin and wickedness always brings God's disfavor. 3. The Lord has always wanted his people to put their trust in Him and not in the forces of politics. 4. God's greatest plan has been to redeem man from sin. The promise was given to people long ago and we can enjoy that redemption which is in Christ Jesus. SUPPLEMENT QUESTIONS: 1. How many years before Christ did Isaiah live? 2. What was the big picture politically with Israel and Judah? 3. What may have helped Isaiah to have access to the ears of the royal court? 4. What was the picture socially of Isaiah's time? 5. The picture religiously?