Introduction to Isaiah

In my previous post “Introduction to the Prophets as Masterpieces of Literature,” I explained the three parts of the Book of Isaiah with the first part being a drama, with the theme being Judgement, which all occurs within the first 35 chapters. In the dramatic framework it is similar to a play, but more in the realm of a dramatic dinner theatre production which setting is a courtroom.

Chapter 1 is Act I, Scene 1 which opens with God as Judge; the heavens and the earth as witnesses; and Israel as the defendant. We can reference this to Deuteronomy 4:26 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land you are crossing Jordon to possess.”

It begins with someone (a herald perhaps) announcing God in verse 2. Then God speaks in the second line of verse 2 through verse 4. Next, in verse 5, the earth speaks through verse 8. Israel speaks in verse 9. The heavens and the earth in chorus speak in verse 10 and then the Lord speaks in verse 11 all the way through to verse 21 where the heaven speaks and in verse 22 the earth speaks again. God picks up again at verse 24 through 28. The earth again at verse 29 and the heavens at verse 30 and 31. Chapter 2 starts Act 1, Scene 2.  This is how the dramatic Part I is written by Isaiah throughout except for Chapter 5 which is a song about God’s vineyard. Here God compares Judah to that vineyard. It is quite compelling to read. We are given all the challenges God has with His people and at the same time given glimpses of how he will redeem His people.

The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible describes chapters 1-12 as “Messages of Judgement and Hope.” This is all concerning Israel. The encyclopedia breaks down the theme of judgement further with “Oracles Against the Nations” in chapters 13-23; “Final Judgement and Blessing” chapters 24-27; “A Series of Woes” in chapters 28-33; and “More Judgement and Blessing” in chapters 34 and 35.

All of Isaiah’s prophecies are related to the time in which he lived with advanced Messianic messages intertwined. To understand the man it is important to understand who he was as a person.

Isaiah was a prophet who lived in Jerusalem and his writings are dated from 740-686 BC. His name literally means “The Lord Saves.” We learn in chapter 1 verse 1 he is the son of Amoz and that his visions were during the reigns of  Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah (southern Israel). Chapter 6 tells the story of how Isaiah answers God’s call when he receives a vision in a temple (which is the vision of his calling and a parallel of John’s vision in Revelation chapter 4).  In chapter 7 we learn his wife is called the prophetess and his son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz is revealed to us in chapter 8. He refers to a vision from God which tells of the coming Messiah born of a virgin mother (chapter 7)who has a son she will call Immanuel. It is referenced by events that both his child and Jesus, both at the age of 13 herald in certain events. [These two revelations were told to King Ahaz who had become corrupt and no longer depended on his faith in God. Isaiah was warning Ahaz his downfall would come by God using Assyria and the northern kingdom of Israel to destroy him.] Although Ahaz was a stubborn king, Hezekiah was one who called on Isaiah readily in times of distress.

His writing style is considered to be the greatest among the prophets due to his use of  intense vivid imagery, his poetry and his use of symbolism. The Book of Isaiah also is compiled identically in numbers to the bible itself. There are 66 chapters in Isaiah and 66 books in the bible. Likewise there are 39 books (judgement) in the Old Testament and 39 chapters (judgement) in Isaiah. Finally there are 27 chapters (Grace) in Isaiah and 27 books in the New Testament.

Next time we’ll put everything into historical perspective taking on Chapters 36-39. Please give feed back. I’d love to hear from anyone who would like to add to this discussion or a simply critique

References:

Baker’s Encyclopedia of the bible: Isaiah.
The NIV study guide: Isaiah.
The teachings of Dr. Bill Creasey’s complete course on Isaiah on Audibles.

©Phyllis Weeks Rogers 3/2/2018

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