The Book Of Isaiah by Mark A. Copeland Part 1
The Book Of Isaiah
The Man, The Times, And The Book
Isaiah is often referred to as “The Messianic Prophet”, because of his many prophecies that were
fulfilled in Jesus. The New Testament quotes and applies more scriptures from the book of Isaiah than
any other Old Testament prophet.
Yet Isaiah’s work was not solely foretelling the future. A prophet of God was not primarily a future
teller, but one who spoke God’s word to the people of his own day. The word “prophet” literally
means “to boil up like a fountain.” Therefore a prophet was a spokesman for God; not so much a
“foreteller” as a “forth teller”!
Isaiah was God’s spokesman to Judah and Jerusalem at time when the nation was immersed in sin. He
spoke God’s indictment against their sins, urging them to repent. He then foretold destruction upon
them if they did not return to God.
In the midst of these dire warnings, Isaiah also foretold of a bright future with the coming Messiah. God
would not forget His covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. He would spare a remnant of
the nation of Israel out of which would come the Messiah and His new kingdom.
ISAIAH, THE MAN
His name (Isaiah) means “salvation of the Lord” or “the Lord is salvation”, and is certainly symbolic
of his message. He is described as “the son of Amoz” (Isa 1:1; 2:1; 13:1), of whom the Bible reveals
nothing. He was married and had two sons, Shear-Jashub (“the remnant shall return”, Isa 7:3) and
Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (“in-speed-spoil-booty-hastens”, Isa 8:3), whose names also symbolized his
Tradition says that Amoz was a brother of Amaziah, the son of Joash, king of Judah (2 Kin 14:1). This
would make Isaiah a close relative to those who were kings during his lifetime, and would explain his
close association with kings and priests and involvement with world affairs.
Isaiah received his visions in the days of “Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isa
1:1). It is generally thought the vision of the throne scene which occurred “in the year Uzziah died” (Isa
6:1) was the beginning point of his ministry as a prophet (ca. 739 B.C.). According to Jewish tradition,
Isaiah was executed by Manasseh only a few years after he ascended the throne. One source describes
Isaiah as having been sawn asunder with a wooden saw (cf. He 11:37). This would mean Isaiah
prophesied during a period of approximately fifty years (ca. 739-690 B.C.).
ISAIAH, THE TIMES
It was a time of great political turmoil for the nation of Judah. Assyria was expanding its empire,
attacking Israel and Syria to the north. When Judah refused to joined a coalition with Israel and Syria to
resist Assyria, Judah was attacked by Israel and Syria in retaliation. As Judah seriously considered
inviting Assyria to help, Isaiah sought to encourage the king and the people to trust only in Jehovah.
King Ahaz of Judah rejected Isaiah’s advice and asked Assyria to come to his aid. Assyria accepted,
and the capital of Israel (Samaria) fell in 722 B.C. (Hendriksen)
It soon became apparent that Judah was next on Assyria’s hit list. Judah began looking to Egypt in the
south for help. Once again, Isaiah counseled the nation to make no alliances but trust only in the Lord.
King Hezekiah heeded Isaiah and God rewarded his faith by destroying the Assyrian host (Isa 36-37).
But in a moment of weakness Hezekiah showed the ambassadors from Babylon (Assyria’s enemy) the
house of his treasures (Isa 39:1-2). This prompted Isaiah to foretell that the king’s treasures and his
descendants would be taken away to Babylon (Isa 39:5-7). With this prophecy as an introduction, in
chapters 40-66 Isaiah speaks from the viewpoint of Babylonian exile and foretells of coming pardon,
deliverance, and restoration. (ibid.)
During this time God sent several prophets to Israel and Judah. Hosea (750-725 B.C.) prophesied
mainly to Israel, the northern ten tribes. Micah (735-700 B.C.) together with Isaiah spoke primarily to
Judah in the south.
Two major themes run throughout the book. There is the exhortation to “Trust in the Holy One of
Israel”. Faith in the Lord would assure forgiveness for their transgressions and deliverance from their
enemies. Eight times the people are urged to “wait upon the Lord” (cf. Isa 40:28-31). “The Messiah to
come and the glory of His age” is another dominate message. Isaiah spoke frequently of the events to
come, foretelling the fall of heathen nations and the establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah who
would rule in justice and righteousness (cf. Isa 2:1-5).
Isaiah’s favorite designation for Jehovah (Yahweh) is “The Lord of Hosts”, used 62 times in the book.
“The name designates the Lord as omnipotent, and…is used by all the writing prophets
except Ezekiel, Joel, Obadiah, and Jonah. The term ‘hosts’ designated the armies of
Israel. It could also refer to the angels, the heavenly messengers of the Lord, and to the
stars as God’s hosts. When, as here, it appears without further qualification, it
designates the Lord as the God of all hosts, and is thus an equivalent expression for
the ‘all-powerful God’.” – Edward J. Young
Another designation for the Lord used by Isaiah is “The Holy One Of Israel”. In his book it is used 25
times, while found only six times in all the rest of the Bible.
The book of Isaiah can be divided into two major parts:
The Assyrian Period (chapters 1-39) – The prophet proclaims the Lord’s indictment against Judah and
Jerusalem, and the coming judgment against them. He portrays the sovereign rule of the Lord of Hosts
who judges not only Israel, but heathen nations as well. He prophesies that the Lord will use Assyria,
Babylon, and the Medes to execute His purposes, and afterward judge each of these along other nations,
bringing them to desolation because of their sins. (Harkrider)
The Babylonian Period (chapters 40-66) – Isaiah exhorts an afflicted people to have faith and patience.
He describes the salvation and future blessings to come upon the true Israel of God. Though Isaiah did
not live during the period of Babylonian captivity, through inspiration he was able to speak words of
comfort to those who would experience that difficult time of Israel’s history. (ibid.).