In the aftermath of our study on the biblical doctrine of holiness, the LORD laid on my heart the idea of profiling the Old Testament Prophet most association with holiness in general, and the holiness of God in particular. That prophet would be Isaiah.
What is known about this prophet and his prophecy which dominates the Old and New Testament Scriptures? For the next several days, we are going on a journey to not only discover who Isaiah was but also to examine the days in which he lived and served the LORD.
Isaiah means “The Lord is salvation,” and is similar to the names Joshua, Elisha, and Jesus. Isaiah is quoted directly in the New Testament over 65 times and is mentioned by name over 20 times.
Isaiah, who was the son of Amoz, ministered in and around Jerusalem as a prophet to the Nation of Judah during the reigns of four kings: Uzziah (called “Azariah” in 2 Kings), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Isa. 1:1), from c. 739–686 B.C. He evidently came from a family of some rank, because he had easy access to the king (7:3).
Growing up in Jerusalem, Isaiah received the best education the capital city could supply. He was also deeply knowledgeable about people, and he became the political and religious counselor of the nation. He appears to have had easy access to the monarchs and to have been the historiographer at the Judean court for several reigns (2 Chronicles 26:22; 32:32).
Isaiah’s wife is referred to as a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3) and they had at least two sons, Shear-jashub (7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3). Isaiah’s customary clothing was sandals and a garment of goat’s hair or sackcloth. At one point during his ministry, the Lord commanded Isaiah to go naked and barefoot for a period of three years (20:2–6). This would have been humiliating in a culture then that evaluated an individual’s status by meticulous dress codes.
One author describes the prophet this way: “Isaiah was a contemporary of (the prophets) Hosea and Micah. His writing style has no rival in its versatility of expression, brilliance of imagery, and richness of vocabulary. The early church father Jerome likened him to Demosthenes, the legendary Greek orator. His writing features a range of 2,186 different words, compared to 1,535 in Ezekiel, 1,653 in Jeremiah, and 2,170 in the Psalms. Second Chronicles 32:32 records that he also wrote a biography of King Hezekiah.”
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary states that, “Isaiah worked to reform social and political wrongs. Even the highest members of society did not escape his censure. He berated soothsayers and denounced wealthy, influential people who ignored the responsibilities of their position. He exhorted the masses to be obedient rather than indifferent to God’s covenant. He rebuked kings for their willfulness and lack of concern.”
Isaiah lived until at least 681 B.C. when he wrote an account of Assyrian King Sennacherib’s death (cf. 37:38). Tradition has it that Isiah died under Judah’s King Manasseh (c. 695–642 B.C.) by being cut in two with a wooden saw (cf. Heb. 11:37).
More about the Prophet Isaiah, and his writings, when next we meet. Until then, Soli deo Gloria!