Reading the Bible Together – Isaiah

December 2018

– The book we are reading this month is the Book of Isaiah which is the 23rd book of the Old Testament.

This will be the 49th book of the Bible we will have read, since commencing this initiative over three years ago in October 2015. (We have actually read Matthew and Joshua twice!) . There are a total of 66 books in the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

We will review this month’s book at  our Bible Study and Prayer Meeting on Thursday 3rd January 2019.

The Book of Isaiah

Summary

Hebrew Name – Yeshayahu “Yah is salvation”
Greek Name – Esaias (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Author – Isaiah (According to Tradition)
Date – 760 BC Approximately
Theme – The kingdom of the Messiah
Types and Shadows – In Isaiah Jesus is the suffering servant

  • Chapters 1 to12 – Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Judah and Jerusalem
  • Chapters 13 to 23 – Isaiah’s prophecies against the enemies of Judah
  • Chapters 24 to 27 – Isaiah’s prophecies concerning establishing the kingdom
  • Chapters 28 to 35 – Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Judah and Assyria
  • Chapters 36 to 39 – historical appendix
  • Chapters 40 – Isaiah’s prophecies concerning God’s redemption
  • Chapters 41 – Isaiah’s prophecies concerning God’s vindication
  • Chapters 42 – Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the servant of the Lord
  • Chapters 43 to 45 – Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the restoration of Judah
  • Chapters 46 to 48 – Isaiah’s prophecies concerning idolatry
  • Chapters 49 to 57 – Isaiah’s prophecies the Messiah
  • Chapters 58 to 66 – Isaiah’s prophecies about the future glory of Israel.
Outline of the Book of Isaiah

Section 1: Isaiah 1 to 39

  1. Prophecies centered around Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:1-12:6). Included in this section are a description of the glories of the Messianic Age (Isaiah 2-4 ) and the account of the call of Isaiah (Isaiah 6 ). In Isaiah 7-12, although Isaiah is dealing primarily with various invasions which threaten Judah, reference is made to the wonderful child “Immanuel” and to the glorious age when a king of the Davidic line would institute a benevolent rule over a world without discord and wars.
  2. Prophecies of judgment on the foreign and hostile nations of Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Dumah, Arabia and Tyre (Isaiah 3-23 ).
  3. The Apocalypse of Isaiah: the judgment of God against the world’s sin and the ultimate destruction of the earth (Isaiah 24-27). Despite the dreadful nature of the punishment which was to come, this section is marked by a note of triumph and trust (see Isaiah 26).
  4. Prophecies concerning the relations of Judah and Jerusalem to Egypt and Assyria (Isaiah 28-33). In this section is contained a series of six messages of woe, directed first against one and then another of the weaknesses of Judah’s national life (Isaiah 28:1-29; 29:1-14; 29:15-24; 30:1-17; 31:1- 32 : 20; 33 : 1-24). The character of the Messianic Age is also further described (Isaiah 32:1-18).
  5. The doom of Edom and the redemption of Israel (Isaiah 34-35). Isaiah 35 is a beautiful picture of the ultimate triumph of the spiritual Zion.
  6. The reign of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-39 ). This section is in the nature of an historical appendix recording the overthrow of the Assyrian army (Isaiah 36- 37), Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery (Isaiah 38), and containing a prophecy of the Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 39 )

Section II: Isaiah 40 to 66

  1. God’s sovereign and providential control over history, which will be manifest in his ultimate overthrow of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus (Isaiah 40:18). Two passages of especial interest in this section are the first “suffering servant” passage, apparently alluding to the office of the Messiah (Isaiah 42:1-9), and Isaiah’s sarcastic appraisal of the folly of idol worship (Isaiah 44:6-23).
  2. The redemption which is possible through suffering and sacrifice (Isaiah 49-55).. This division centers mainly around the three “suffering servant” passages which it contains The first is concerned with the difficulty of his task and his rejection by those to whom he is sent (Isaiah 44:1-13). The second (Isaiah 50:4-9) speaks of the obedience and trust of the “servant” and the blessings which are to follow his work. The third is the classic passage from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, which describes the life, suffering and ultimate triumph of the servant.
  3. The triumph of the kingdom of God and God’s universal reign (Isaiah 56-66). The sins which are prevalent in Isaiah’s day are discussed in chs. 56-59. A glorious song of the Messianic Age fills Isaiah 60-62. The book closes, with a prayer for mercy and pardon (Isaiah 63-64) and God’s answer to this prayer in the form of the promise of a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65-66).

A Brief Overview

The book of Isaiah contains the prophecies of Isaiah who was the son of Amoz (Isaiah 1:1). The word prophet in the Hebrew means a “mouthpiece”, and Isaiah was truly the mouthpiece of God. He was entirely dedicated to this cause even in the midst of rejection (Isaiah 6:9-13). As his ministry developed, he warned the people about various problems within the kingdom. Judah had gone through many reforms but had become corrupt along the way forgetting about the great privilege of being chosen by God, and their religious ceremonies became vain rituals. Uzziah’s son Jotham succeeded his father on the throne and try to encourage the people to worship Yahweh but failed to break down the high places of idolatrous worship. After him Ahaz followed on the throne of Judah and he was determined to bring about the heathen idolatrous practices of the nations around him. He was rebuked by Isaiah and chose to lead the people further into idolatry which ultimately would bring about their ruin. Then Hezekiah came to the throne and he was the greatest king to ever reign in the southern kingdom of Judah. He began ruling by “removing the high places and breaking down the pillars and cutting down the Asherah (2 Kings 18:4, 22). Hezekiah restored faith in Judah and the people celebrated in Jerusalem a Passover that would be remembered forever in history. Isaiah was respected as a prophet of the Lord and King Hezekiah made Isaiah famous in the land and his prophecies were encouraged. But the kingdom of Judah had not fully recovered from their past ways. It was during the time of Hezekiah that the northern kingdom of Israel, Judah’s brothers, were carried away into captivity in 722 BC. Judah had barely escaped destruction by paying heavy tribute to the Assyrian king. Later Sennacherib of Assyria sent his armies to destroy many nations and their lands and he came to the land of Judah to reproach the living God (2 Kings 19:16). When Hezekiah heard the words of the king of Assyria, he sought the Lord and prayed. That night the angel of the Lord (God himself) came into the camp of the Assyrians and slew 185,000 soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). King Sennacherib returned back to his palace at Nineveh without his mighty army and while he was worshiping his gods, two of his sons slew him with the sword. Many of the details surrounding this event have been verified historically with the discovery of Sennacherib’s Hexagonal Prism discovered among the ruins of ancient Nineveh. It contains the war campaigns of this king and this time period and can be seen today on display in the British Museum in London. The Southern Kingdom of Judah had their moments of glory during certain times after this, but it was just a matter of time until the seeds that had been sown would reap a harvest of destruction. Judah would come to an end and Jerusalem and her Temple would be destroyed, which took place in 586 BC under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Isaiah had prophesied throughout this whole time period and even spoke of the coming kingdom of the Messiah.

There is little information about the personal life of the Prophet Isaiah. He was married to a woman called the “prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3), she bore him two sons (Isaiah 7:3 and Isaiah 8:3). According to Jewish tradition Isaiah was martyred by the wicked King Manasseh who placed him in the hollow trunk of a carob tree and was sawn in two. many believe also that it was Isaiah who was referred to in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament regarding a hero of faith “sawn asunder” (Hebrews 11:37).

Background

Isaiah prophesied during one of the worst times in the history of Israel. The Israelites had become so corrupt God was going to remove them out of His sight. He raised up the Assyrian army to be an unmerciful, barbaric, ruthless, an unstoppable war machine. Their military tactics are still applauded today by those who understand the art of war. God called them from their distant land to come and destroy the Jews living in the north and take them away from their homeland. Isaiah was living in Judah, in the city of Jerusalem during a time when King Uzziah had died. Isaiah prophesied during the reign of King Uzziah, King Jotham, King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, and probably King Manasseh of Judah. His prophetic ministry lasted from about 760 BC until about 720 BC. Isaiah chapter 6 records a powerful vision that Isaiah received of God the King on his throne, and the king called Isaiah to prophesy to His people. This was Isaiah’s call to ministry as a prophet of God and it is interesting that it was at a time when king Uzziah had just died. King Uzziah was faithful servant of the Lord and people felt secure under his leadership, but when he died there was almost a panic. This is when the Lord showed Isaiah who was really on the throne. Isaiah was terrified at the sight of God’s holiness (Isaiah 6) and when the Lord called him and asked him who will go with this message and Isaiah said, “here am I, send me.” Isaiah warned Jerusalem about her idolatry, and her foreign alliances, but they scorned him. They did not listen to his warnings and quickly destroy their instruments of idolatry. He prophesied about the Assyrians who would destroy the northern kingdom, they were also good to come to Jerusalem, but God would deliver them. But he also told them that eventually the city will be destroyed and captured by the Babylonians, and that a Persian ruler named Cyrus would release the Jews from captivity. Isaiah prophesied more about the Messiah than any other book in the Old Testament. He also described in great detail the blessings of the future kingdom of the Messiah. His coming would be as a lion bringing the day of God’s wrath, but he would also first come as a saviour who would die for the sins of the people. This was Isaiah’s message, the humility and beauty of the Saviour.

“Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6

More information on the above can be found HERE


ADDITIONAL HELPS TO THE STUDY OF ISAIAH

Other helpful written material from Charles Swindoll can be found HERE

If you want to listen to something in a bit more depth there’s this in two parts:

PART 1       PART 2


THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS PROVIDE A SHORT OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

Note: The opinions expressed in Part 2 regarding the authorship of chapters 40-66 are not necessarily endorsed by to KEC.

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