Language: It is sublime, exalted and majestic; and it befits the lofty subject of God’s salvation and the glorification of Zion. It is poetic, as can be seen from the rsv.

Most Quoted: With the exception of Psalms, it is the most quoted Old Testamant book in the New Testament. It is the basis of much of our Lord’s teaching, and underscores the most comprehensive statement on salvation in Christ in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

His Name and Family: He was commissioned to be a prophet (Isa 6:8). He was married to a prophetess (8:3) with one son, Shearjashub (7:3). A second son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz was born to him (8:3). Both sons were “for signs and wonders in Israel”; the names were significant and had a spiritual meaning (8:18).

  • Shearjashub means “the remnant shall return” (cp 10:20; 2 Chron 28:10–15)
  • Maher-shalal-hash-baz means “the spoil speedeth, the prey hasteneth”, that is, the spoil to be taken by the Assyrians (10:6).

Isaiah means “Yahweh’s salvation” (12:2). This is the theme of the book, and Paul makes a play upon his name after citing Isaiah 6:9–10 in Acts 28:28 (“the salvation of God”). It has the same components as Jesus, only “Yah” is a suffix instead of a prefix, as in the case of Jesus.

Background: He prophesied during the reign of four kings of Judah (1:1), over a period of sixty years. He outlived Hezekiah and wrote his acts (2 Chron 32:32), as he did also of Uzziah (2 Chron 26:22). It appears that his prophecy continued into the reign of the corrupt king, Manasseh, and this is reflected in his condemnation of idolatrous practices in his final chapters. Josephus records that he fled from Manasseh whose men discovered him hiding in the hollow of a tree, where he was “sawn asunder” at eighty years of age (2 Kings 21:3, 16; Heb 11:37).

The four kings of Isaiah 1:11

1. UZZIAH

  • He reigned 52 years and Isaiah commenced his prophecy at the end of his reign (6:1). He died a leper (2 Chron 26:17–19)
  • He strengthened the kingdom which became affluent and corrupt (2 Chron 26:15–16; Isa 2:11–12).
  1. JOTHAM
  • He reigned 16 years (2 Chron 27). He was a good king but the people generally were corrupt
  • No prophecy is specifically mentioned being given in his reign.
  1. AHAZ
  • He reigned 16 years (2 Chron 28; cp Isa 7:1; 14:28).
  • He was a wicked king, burning his sons in fire in the valley of Hinnom (to Molech), sacrificing to the gods of Syria because they helped the  Syrians! He closed the Temple doors and  decommissioned the Levitical priesthood.
  • He was afflicted by a confederacy, Syria and Israel. Captives taken were returned and Judah was “brought low”.
  • He refused a sign offered by Yahweh and the Immanuel Prophecy (Isa 7–12) was given during his reign.
  1. HEZEKIAH
  • He reigned 29 years (2 Chron 29–32; Isa 36–39)
  • He was a great reformer: he purged Judah of idols, recommissioned the priesthood and opened the Temple doors for worship
  • He held a notable Passover, even inviting the ten tribes of Israel to participate (2 Chron 30)
  • The invasion of Assyria took place during his reign (2 Chron 32)
  • At that time he was afflicted, probably with a form of leprosy from which he recovered (38:21)
  • He was married to Hephzibah (62:4), and his only son and heir was born in the third year of an extension of 15 years granted him when he prayed  to Yahweh (2 Chron 32:24–33; 2 Kings 20).

MANASSEH

  • He is not among the kings mentioned in 1:1, but Isaiah lived during the early years of his 55 year reign (2 Kings 21)
  • Was Judah’s ‘Ahab’, introducing Baal worship. He slaughtered and persecuted those who worshipped Yahweh, filling Jerusalem with  innocent blood (2 Kings 21:3,16).

MICAH

Micah was a contemporary prophet (Micah 1:1),  as were Hosea and Nahum, though he commenced  his prophecy after Isaiah and completed it before  he did. There are similarities in subject matter (cp  Isa 2 and Mic 4), and style.

Outline of Contents

1. Isaiah 1–12 Prophecies relating to the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel

Chapter 1 Introduction and condemnation of  formal worship

Chapter 2–4 Prophecies in Uzziah’s reign,  condemning idolatry, worldliness and the abuse  of affluence, but set against visions of glory

Chapter 5 Song of the Vineyard, Judah’s sins  and judgment

Chapter 6 Isaiah’s inaugural vision and  Commission

Chapters 7–12 The Book of Immanuel

2. Isaiah 13–23 Ten “Burdens” on the Nations in two groups of five

Chapters 13–19 The first five “burdens”

Chapter 20 An enacted parable: Isaiah walks naked  to dramatize the certainty of the fall of Egypt

Chapters 21–23 The last five “burdens” on the  Nations

3. Isaiah 24–27

Resolution of the Conflict between two cities,  Zion and the world; Zion’s ultimate triumph  and blessedness

4. Isaiah 28–33

The sins of Ephraim and Judah; the punishment of  Assyria and the folly of trusting in Egypt; the end  of oppression and the glory of Messiah’s reign

5. Isaiah 34,35

The Destruction of Edom (the nations, the  World) is contrasted with joy and salvation of  spiritual Israel and Zion

6. Isaiah 36–39

The historical section: Sennacherib’s invasion  (36–37); Hezekiah’s sickness (38); and the visit  of messengers from Merodach-baladin, king of  Babylon (39)

7. Isaiah 40–56

The book of consolation with intertwining  themes: the vanity of idol-gods, the typical work  of Cyrus in delivering Judah from captivity  and restoring the Temple; and in particular the  Servant Songs (Refer The Lampstand Vol 10,  p22–24)

8. Isaiah 57–66

Prophecies of Zion’s deliverance and glory are  cast against her apostasy and degeneration.

Themes and word pairing

  • We read of the “Holy One of Israel” 25 times in Isaiah
  • Righteousness and salvation are paired on many occasions; for example, 45:8; 46:13; 51:5,8; 56:1; 59:16,17; 61:10; 63:1; 64:5
  • Righteousness and peace 54:13,14; 57:11–12; 60:17
  • Righteousness and judgment 9:7; 32:1; 33:5; 56:1; 59:9. There are more occurrences of  “righteousness” (Heb tzedec) and justice than  in the rest of the prophets combined.
  • Blind and deaf
  • Zion and Jerusalem
  • Nations and peoples
  • Portion… lot
  • Wisdom and knowledge
  • Light and darkness
  • Heavens and earth
  • Bruised reed, grass withering, flowers fading etc.

These word pairings are found throughout the  prophecy as are other peculiarities. This fact defies  the “two Isaiahs” theory which attributes the first 40  chapters to one author and the last 26 to another.

Our readings in Isaiah cover two calendar  months. Hopefully these notes will help with  understanding.