Isaiah’s writings express a deep awareness of God’s majesty and holiness. The prophet denounced not only Canaanite idolatry but also the religious worship of his own people that were only external ceremonies which lacked sincerity (1:10–17; 29:13). He preached impending judgment on the idolatrous Judeans, declaring that only a righteous remnant would survive (6:13).
As previously stated, Isaiah was the son of Amoz (Isaiah 1:1; 2:1; 20:2; 21; 2 Kings 19:2, 20:1; 2 Chronicles 26:22; 32:20). Although little is known of Amoz, he may be the person mentioned in 2 Chronicles 25:7–8. Isaiah married “the prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3) and they had two sons:
- Shear-jashub (יָשׁ֣וּב שְׁאָ֖ר, yashuv she’ar; “a remnant shall return”; Isaiah 7:3). When Shear-jashub accompanied Isaiah to visit Ahaz, his name suggested that the invaders of Judah would be defeated and only a remnant of the enemy forces would return.
- Maher-shalal-hash-baz (“quickly the plunder; it hurries, the loot”; Isaiah 8:1, 3). Isaiah interpreted this as a prediction of the demise of Syria and Israel by an Assyrian invasion (Isaiah 8:4).
The prophet foretold the coming of the Messiah, the “peaceful prince,” “the Servant of Yahweh,” and the ruler of God’s kingdom (Isaiah 11:1–11; cf. 9:6–7; 52:13-53:12). Isaiah was preeminent among the prophets for the variety and grandeur of his imagery. His imagination produced forceful, brilliant figures of speech.
Isaiah prophesied during the last three decades of the northern kingdom of Israel (752-722 B.C.), but because he lived in Jerusalem of Judah, he made little direct reference to Israel. However, when that kingdom fell, Judah lay open to conquest by Assyria. Isaiah advised King Ahaz to avoid foreign entanglements and depend on God alone to protect his people. Ignoring that advice, Ahaz made an alliance with Assyria (Isaiah 7).
It was Hezekiah, Ahaz’s righteous son, who sought to remove Judah from this dangerous situation. When the Assyrians under Sennacherib approached Jerusalem, Isaiah inspired Hezekiah and the Judeans to rely on the Lord for the city’s defense, and “the angel of the Lord” destroyed Sennacherib’s army (37:36–38), securing a short period of peace for Hezekiah and the Judeans.
In the Old Testament, the name “Isaiah” occurs 35 times in four Old Testament books, including 16 times alone in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1; 2:1; 7:3; 13:1; 20:2–3; 37:2, 5–6, 21; 38:1, 4, 21; 39:3, 5, 8). Three other Old Testament books also mention Isaiah. These include 13 times in 2 Kings (2 Kings 19:1–20:19), three times in 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 25:1–15; 26:25) and three times in 2 Chronicles (2 Chronicles 26:22; 32:20–32).
In the New Testament, Isaiah is directly quoted 66 times, second only to the Psalms (quoted 79 times). Allusions to the prophet, or his writings, in the New Testament are numbered at 348 times, more than any other Old Testament book, including Psalms (alluded to 333 times).
Isaiah gives two major contributions to Christian theology. First, his presentation of the young woman who will give birth to Emmanuel in Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6. This is later interpreted by Matthew to refer to Jesus Christ and the virgin conception (Matthew 1:18-25). Second, the Suffering Servant as a vicarious and substitutionary atonement for his people and the only means of accomplishing this ultimate salvation (Isaiah 52:13–53:12).
John Calvin writes, “It is evident at the very least that he (Isaiah) prophesied for sixty-four years; for Jotham reigned sixteen years (2 Kings 15:33), Ahaz as many (2 Kings 16:2), and Hezekiah twenty-nine (2 Kings 18:2). Add the years that he prophesied during the reign of Uzziah, and afterwards during the reign of Manasseh, by whom he was put to death and there will be, at least, sixty-four years during which Isaiah continued, without interruption, to discharge the office of a Prophet.”
Having briefly examined the life of the Prophet Isaiah, it seems appropriate to now examine some of the most stirring chapters contained in his prophetical book, aside from Isaiah 6:1-7 which we have already studied. More to follow.
Ask God today to prepare your heart to receive His truth from the Book of Isaiah.
Soli deo Gloria!