INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH
The Book of Isaiah is one of the most intriguing Books of the Entire Bible. There are either some very strange “coincidences” found in this Book, or some very incredible things God reveals to us through it!
Is it mere coincidence that the Bible is comprised of 66 Books and that the Book of Isaiah is comprised of 66 chapters?
Is it mere coincidence that chapter one of Isaiah begins, as does Genesis, talking about the “heavens” and the “earth” (Gen. 1:1 c.f. Isa. 1:2).
Is it mere coincidence that chapter 40 of Isaiah, corresponding to the 40th Book of the Bible, or the first book of the New Testament, talks about, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God,” just as does the Book of Matthew (Isa. 40:3 c.f. Matt 3:1-3)?
Is it mere coincidence that Isaiah 66 (corresponding, of course, to the last Book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation) talks about the new heaven and the new earth, just as the Bible does in Revelation 21 (Isaiah 66:22 c.c. Rev. 21:17)?
Is it mere coincidence that the first 39 chapters of Isaiah (i.e. representative of the Old Testament) is so different in content from the last 27 chapters (i.e. representative of the New Testament), that many have insisted that there are actually two Isaiah’s that authored this Book? The first 39 chapters, coincidently enough, point to man’s tremendous need for salvation, and the last 27 chapters point to God’s gracious provision of it!
Obviously, we’re not dealing here with mere coincidences! The Book of Isaiah is actually a microcosm of the Bible. If you are unfamiliar with the term “microcosm,” it is a miniature, a representation of the whole. We could say that New York City is a microcosm of the world, or the capstone of a pyramid is a microcosm of the pyramid itself.
The Book of Isaiah begins the Books of the Bible referred to as “the Prophets.” Of course, the Prophets are divided into two main categories or headings, the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. What determines the distinction is not the significance of their content, but very simply the amount (or length) of their content.
The theme of Isaiah is the same as in all of the Prophetic Books, “the day of the Lord,” or the second coming of Christ. Regardless of the situations that Israel was facing, regardless of the sins that Israel was committing, regardless of the subject on which the prophet was preaching, the theme in the Prophetic Books always going to be the same. It always ends and/or is pointing to the Day of the Lord.
The time of Isaiah’s prophecy is approximately 814 to 769 B.C., and takes place during the last half of the Book of II Kings, chapters 16 through 25. Primarily, Isaiah writes to the two southern tribes.
TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 1-6
Israel’s backslidden condition; Isaiah’s exhortation for repentance; the coming of Christ’s kingdom; Jerusalem’s glorious future; God’s judgment upon sinners; Isaiah’s vision of God’s holiness.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Israel’s spiritual condition in chapter one is a familiar in Israel’s history. Once again, they have allowed themselves to spiral downward into apostasy. Isaiah uses seven different terms in verse 4 to describe their backslidden state: 1) sinful; 2) laden with iniquity; 3) evildoers; 4) corrupters; 5) forsaken the Lord; 6) provoked the Holy One; 7) gone away backward. The pitiful thing about it, is that though those terms were descriptive of their true spiritual condition, it did not stop them from going through the motions of all kinds of activity that made them think they were doing okay spiritually. They continued all of their religious observances – the feasts, sacrifices, new moons and sabbaths long after they had any meaning in their hearts or bearing on their lives. God says to Israel through Isaiah, “I’m sick of all of your religiousness! Don’t bring me any more of your vain oblations! I can’t stand it! You’re wearing me out will all of this stuff you’re doi!
ng! I’m going to close my eyes so I don’t have to see any more of your hypocrisies! When you lift up your hands in prayer, all I see is all of the sinful things you’ve been doing with them! Spare Me!”
It is quite interesting how much this passage in Isaiah 1 mirrors the letter our Lord wrote to the Laodiceans in Rev. 3:14-22, describing the spiritual condition of His church in our day. God’s people come to church in Laodicea looking the part, they participate faithfully in the offering, they stand and sing the songs, they take copious notes, they nod their head in all of the right places, and yet their heart is not in it, and somehow all of these things they do on Sundays has little, if any, bearing on what will take place in their lives Monday through Saturday!
God’s answer in Isaiah’s day, just as it is now, is “Get your heart right! And then, get your heart into it!” “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isa. 1:16-20). The parallel passages in the New Testament are numerous: II Cor. 6:14-18 ; II Cor. 7:1;
Notice a key phrase in Isaiah 1:19; “If ye be willing AND obedient.” Perhaps the key word in this phrase is the word “AND.” Laodicean churches are filled with “WILLING” people. They’re willing to serve in a children’s class; they’re WILLING to be involved as a cleaning servant of the facilities; they’re WILLING to offer the Lord a gift of love upon the first day of the week; they’re WILLING to do any number of things! The only problem is, they just seldom DO! Willing? Yes! Obedient? No!
On the other hand, Laodicea is filled with “OBEDIENT” people. They would never think about not obeying Hebrews 10:25 by missing a service; they would never not obey I Cor. 16:2 by not participating in the offering; they would never miss filling out a study sheet during the message on Sunday morning; they would never not DO a lot of things! The only problem is, their obedience is strictly a matter of duty. It is ritualistic, legalistic, hypocritical, and the result of self-disciplining and suppressing their real desires, and “cranking out” spiritual-looking activity, rather than the joyous, passionate, heart-felt, Spirit-led response of a WILLING heart. May we surrender ourselves to be “WILLING AND OBEDIENT”!
As we start down the path of the “Prophets,” I would challenge you to underline every specific reference to “the day of the Lord” (the Tribulation/Second Coming of Christ/the Millennium). I’ll list the ones I see each day, but it’ll be a whole lot more fun if you underline them as you find them yourself first. By doing this, you’ll understand in a whole new way why we say that “the day of the Lord” is the theme of the Bible!
SPECIFIC REFERENCES TO “THE DAY OF THE LORD”:
2:2 – “And it shall come to pass in the last days”
2:11 – “in that day”
2:12 –“For the day of the Lord”
2:17 – “in that day”
2:19 – “when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth”
2:20 – “in that day”
2:21 – “when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth”
3:7 – “in that day”
3:18 – “in that day”
4:1 –“in that day”
4:2 – “in that day”
5:30 –“in that day”
For practical reminders of how Isaiah 6 implies to us, go back and re-read the Memory Verse explanation for Week #23, on Day 152.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the ONE WHO WILL JUDGE THE NATIONS – Isa. 2:2-4 (The Lord Jesus Christ... shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing – II Tim. 4:1).
As the BRANCH OF THE LORD, BEAUTIFUL AND GLORIOUS – Isa. 4:2 (Zech. 3:8; 6:12; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Isa. 11:1).