"The Gospel in the Old
Isaiah is the most quoted
Old Testament prophet in the New Testament, and
usually regarded as the greatest of the writing
prophets. It is filled with unparalleled literary
beauty and a variety of riche symbols.
"The last forty years of
the eighth century B.C. produced great men, but the
greatest of these was the prophet Isaiah" (Kyle M.
Yates, Preaching from the Prophets, p. 83).
George L. Robinson says,
". . . of all Israel’ celebrated prophets, Isaiah is
the king. The writing, which bears his name, is
among the profoundest in all literature. . .
Isaiah is the (St.) Paul of the Old Testament" (ISBE,
"Isaiah"). Herbert Wolf notes, "Isaiah is to the
Old Testament as the Book of Romans is to the New
Testament, a book filled with rich theological
"He was unquestionably
the most imposing figure of his age" (Robinson,
The Book of Isaiah, p. 22).
"The book of Isaiah is
generally acknowledged to be the greatest of the
prophetic books of the Old Testament" (Elmer A.
Leslie, Isaiah, p.15).
"Isaiah seems to me not
to have composed a prophecy, but a gospel," wrote
Isaiah son of Amoz of Jerusalem wrote all 66
chapters (1:1). It would be most unusual that the
Jewish people would not know who wrote the
magnificent prophecy in chapters 40-66.
REASONS FOR REJECTING
1. If Isaiah was a true
prophet of God and inspired by Him, it was possible
for him to predict coming events, and even call the
name before he was born. They deny the power of God
to foretell the future through His messenger.
2. The claim of a difference
in style of Isaiah in the two parts of the prophecy
does not prove that there were two authors, or three
or four. Isaiah was a cultured man of great ability
and he ministered 40-60 years. The style of
condemnation would be different from comfort and
3. Passages from the second
section of Isaiah are attributed to Isaiah by John
the Baptist, Matthew and Paul. We do not think these
men to have been mistaken. Inspired of the Holy
Spirit, they should know more about the author than
the critics who lived 2,500 years later.
4. Both Jewish and Christian
tradition supports the view that Isaiah wrote the
5. Isaiah Scroll, discovered
in 1947, copied 2,000 years ago, gives no break
between chapters 39-40.
6. Words and phrases common
to both parts of the prophecy indicate one author.
Cf. "the Holy One of Israel," also 40:5 with 1:20;
43:13 with 14:27; 65:12 with 11:9 etc. (R. B. Jones,
Survey of the Old and New Testaments, pp.
7. Nowhere in the Book of
Isaiah, or in the Bible, is there mention or even a
hint of two authors.
8. The Book of Isaiah has
always been one book.
9. Isaiah is characterized
by unity of thought in the most beautiful language.
10. It demonstrates the
closest continuity in the teaching from beginning to
11. Climatic development
builds steadily upon messianic revelation unlike any
12. Jesus quotes from Isaiah
53:1 in John 12:37-41. He was speaking of the
prophet Isaiah and was claiming that these were the
words Isaiah wrote.
13. Testimony of the New
Testament attributes the book to one Isaiah of
Jerusalem. Matthew 13:14; 15:7; Mark 7:6; John
12:38, 39, 41; Acts 20:25; Romans 9:27, 29.
Most of the chapters were probably written by c. 700
B.C., and chapters 40-66 probably later perhaps in
Isaiah’s "retirement." Time would account for the
change in subject matter and style. In these
chapters Isaiah writes about events that will take
place 150 years later.
The message of the book is symbolized in the name of
Isaiah, "The salvation of Jehovah," or "Jehovah is
salvation." He portrays the remnant and its
Dr. J. W. Watts says Isaiah has three main purposes:
"(1) maintenance of faith in JHWH's final success in
blessing Judah and Jerusalem; (2) revelation of
Messiah as JHWH’s supreme means of accomplishing all
his work; (3) construction of a philosophy of world
history with the universal, spiritual kingdom of God
as its goal" (A Survey of O.T. Teaching, Vol.
II, p. 155).
Valeton says of Isaiah:
"Never perhaps has there been another prophet like
Isaiah, who stood with his head in the clouds and
his feet on the solid earth, with his heart in the
things of eternity and with mouth and hand in the
things of time, with his spirit in the eternal
counsel of God and his body in a very definite
moment of history."
Isaiah writes in superbly varied style and
vocabulary with brilliant poetic passages in chapter
40, 53, 55 and 60. He uses prose, poetry, dialogue,
story, antitheses, song, oratory, homily,
interrogatory, alliteration, irony, sarcasm, satire,
epigram, metaphor, hyperbole, play on words, etc.
The book is logical, homiletical, messianic,
philosophical as well as literary. It is the
beautiful and meaningful literary masterpiece of all
THE MAN ISAIAH
Isaiah means "Yahweh is
Salvation," "Salvation of Jehovah," or "Jehovah
Isaiah (740-681 B.C. or
slightly longer) was born c. 760 B.C., and his
ministry covered a period of forty to sixty years.
He was born into an influential, upper class family
and knew royalty. He influenced the foreign policy
of the nation (7:3, 4; 8:2; 30:1-7; 36:1-38:8, 21; 2
Kings 18:3-20:19). The Talmud says that Isaiah was a
cousin of Uzziah or a nephew of Amaziah. Historical
background for his prophecy is found in II Kings
14-20. He was the son of Amoz, whom
Jewish tradition says was the brother of King
Amaziah, and a cousin of King Uzziah. He lived
in Jerusalem, seems to have had easy access to the
king (7:3), and was intimate with the high priest
(8:2). Isaiah received his call in the year of
Uzziah's death (6), and prophesied during the reigns
of Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and possibly Manasseh.
During his ministry Isaiah saw the fall of the
Northern Kingdom of Israel (722 B.C.). His wife was
a "prophetess" (8:1). Their son’s names were
prophetic messages. His oldest son is Shear-jashub,
meaning, "a remnant shall return" (7:3), and
Maher-shalal-hasbaz, meaning, "swift is the booty,
speedy is the prey" (8:3). He is a sign of the
fast approaching threat of Assyria and the captivity
of the Northern Kingdom. Isaiah was the most
extraordinary of the Hebrew prophets. As
preacher and statesman he has no equal among the
prophets. His written prophecy is one of the
finest specimens of Hebrew literature. Isaiah
was probably a scribe or keeper of the official
chronicle of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:22).
Isaiah was called to be a
prophet in the last year of the reign of king Uzziah
(6:1). He could never get away from the thrice
holiness of God which he saw in the Temple. "Holy
One of Israel" occurs 25 times in Isaiah and only
six times in the rest of the Old Testament. He
probably spent his entire life in Jerusalem.
There is no indication that he ever traveled to any
other place. He is seen as the "court
preacher" or "royal chaplain." Delitzsch calls
him "the universal prophet of Israel." He
preaches redemption by faith.
Benjamin Herring lists
eleven characteristics of the king of the prophets.
He is worshipful and reverent, a man great in
prayer, with a intimate personal touch with God, of
unquestioning obedience to Yahweh, courageous and
bold, well educated, versatile and brilliant, with a
vivid imagination, unbounding in his convictions,
consistent logical and clear. In deed he is a world
citizen, spiritually and politically (Herring, pp.
There are many traditions
concerning Isaiah's death, however nothing definite
is said in the Scriptures. The Jewish Mishna says
that the wicked king Manasseh slew him, and a
tradition in the second century A. D. says that he
took refuge in a hollow tree, and Manasseh had the
tree, prophet and all, sawed in two. It is probable,
but no means certain, that he is referred to in
Hebrews 11:37, "They were stoned, they were sawn
asunder." Isaiah outlived king Hezekiah and lived to
record his life history. "Now the rest of the acts
of Hezekiah, and his good deeds, behold, they are
written in vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of
Amoz, in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel"
(2 Chronicles 32:32).
THE TIMES IN WHICH
The Northern Kingdom of
Israel would go in Assyrian captivity, and there are
150 years left in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
Herbert Wolf observes, "Not only did Isaiah predict
the Babylonian captivity of 586-39 B.C. (cf. 6:11,
12), but he also foretold that Israel would be
released from Babylon (48:20). The Chaldean kingdom
led by Nebuchadnezzar would be God’s instrument of
judgment upon Judah, but they too would suffer
defeat. One of Isaiah’s most remarkable prophecies
was the naming of Cyrus, king of Persia, the ruler
who would conquer the Babylonians in 539 B.C., and
release Israel from exile (cf. 44:28; 45:1" (Baker
Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. I, p. 1047-48).
The Southern Kingdom with
Jerusalem as its capital had a long and prosperous
king just before Isaiah received his call to be a
prophet. Uzziah (770-740 B.C.) promoted many
national and economic measures (II Chron. 26:1-23),
conquered the Philistine and Arabians, built
fortified cities, received tribute from Ammonites,
fortified Jerusalem and Judah. Uzziah promoted
husbandry, organized and equipped a great army,
became famous abroad, committed sacrilege and became
Jotham’s reign was mostly
co-regent with Uzziah during his last years and
fortified Judah and Jerusalem and kept the Ammonites
in subjection. Jotham and Uzziah were good
Ahaz, a faithless, wicked
king (735-727 B.C.) was wholly given over to
idolatry. Cf. II Kings 16; II Chron. 28). The
Syro-Ephramitic War involved Ahaz in a war with
Syria and Ephraim (Northern Kingdom of Israel).
Ahaz called upon king Pul (Tiglath-pileser) of
Assyria for help. Ahaz introduced Syrian idolatry
into Judah after 732 B.C.
Hezekiah reigned as king
in Judah (727-698 B.C.). He was the best king. Cf.
II Kings 18:1-20:21; II Chron. 29:1-32:33; Isa.
36:1-39:8). Hezekiah introduced great reforms,
observed the Passover, restored temple services,
destroyed idols, his sickness brought thanksgivings.
Sennacherib invaded Judah during his reign, and God
delivered His people in 701 B.C. from Assyrians.
After Hezekiah, Manasseh
became king of Judah and he was the worst of the
kings. He reigned 55 years form 698-642 B. C.
It is possible that Isaiah was martyred during his
of the Northern Kingdom
conquered all of northern Syria by 740 B.C. (2 Kings
15:19f). The Northern Kingdom of Israel was
characterized by "outward prosperity, accompanied by
much inward corruption." Jeroboam II
(including regency 793-753 B. C.) was a long,
prosperous, idolatrous reign. Zechariah lasted
only six months and was assassinated by Shallum c.
752, and he made it only one month.
Isaiah will live to see the fall of the Northern
Kingdom (722 B.C.), and deportation to Assyria.
Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea are all bad.
Kings of Assyria:
(Pul) (745-727 B.C.)
Shalmaneser V (727-722
Sargon III (722-705 B.C.)
Amos was bringing his
ministry to a close in the Northern Kingdom of
Israel as Isaiah began to prophecy in Judah.
Hoshea, in the North, had already begun his
ministry. A young prophet, Micah, will begin
his during Isaiah's time. Zechariah is also a
contemporary in the South, and Jonah was probably
just before Isaiah’s time.
There was the usual chasm
between the rich class and the poor. The rich
got richer and the poor got poorer. Abuses,
resentment, unrest, class feelings, and profiteering
were evident. The gravest problem in
Isaiah's day was land grabbing. The city
government was corrupt. Bribed judges made
life miserable for the poor people.
Drunkenness, luxury, idleness, and indifference
added sorrow upon sorrow (Yates, p. 84).
The religious leaders
were too busy drinking corn mesh to listen to the
voice of God. It has been said that you can
tell how low a nation falls by how low the women of
the nation stoop. The women of Jerusalem
were coarse, sensual, drunken, thoughtless, given
over to wickedness. The people were ignorant
of their spiritual need. They falsely assumed:
(1) that the Mosaic covenant could not be broken.
(2) Israel could fulfill her obligations by
observing rituals and sacrifices. (3) The Day
of the Lord would be a day of triumph for Israel.
(4) God would never allow Jerusalem to be destroyed
(Page Kelley, Judgment and Redemption in Isaiah,
THE MESSIAH IN ISAIAH:
Isaiah contains the
largest number of Messianic prophecies.
The Holy City Isaiah 2:1
The Branch Isaiah 4:2
God with Us Isaiah 7:14
Rock of Salvation & Stone of Stumbling Isaiah
The Child with Many Names Isaiah 9:1-6
A Shoot from the Stem of Jesse Isaiah 11:1-5
Our Blessed Hope Isaiah 11:6-12:6
One Liners in Isaiah Isaiah 12-40
When God Wipes Away the Tears Isaiah 25:8;
A Kingdom of Righteousness Isaiah 32:1-20
The Vindication of God's Righteousness Romans
The Servant Songs of Isaiah Isaiah 42-53
The Divine Servant Isaiah 52:13-15
The Divine Sufferer Isaiah 53:1-3
The Divine Substitute Isaiah 53:4-6
The Divine Sacrifice Isaiah 53:7-9
The Divine Satisfaction Isaiah 53:10-12
The LORD God Reigns! Isaiah 54-66
Servant of Jehovah in
42:1-12; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12; 61:1-2;
52:13-53:12 is "the highest peak in the mountain
range of Messianic prophecy," says John R. Sampey.
Only the Messiah can
achieve these thing described in the glorious future
Messianic Kingdom (2:2-4; 4:2-6; 12:1-6; 19:18-25;
25:26; 28:16; 33:17-24; 35; 40:1-11; 49:14-26;
52:1-12; 54; 60; 62; 65; 66).
Series: Introduction Bible
Christ in the Old Testament