Today is Day 56 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
We’re well into Old Testament prophecy now, which makes for a pretty heavy and challenging read at times…as you’re now discovering as you make your way through Jeremiah.
Isaiah is the first of 4 “major” prophets. That doesn’t mean the “minor” prophets are any less important – they just say less. In other words, the major prophets gave the major proportion of prophecy in the Old Testament – they talked a lot.
Prophecy was a unique calling in the Old Testament days. God singled out certain people that He gave specific words to. These people were then to speak those words to the others and obey them with unflinching loyalty. The challenge was that much of what they had to talk about was God’s wrath…which didn’t make them too popular. In fact, many people identify the man mentioned at the end of Hebrews 11 who got sawn in two, as the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 1:1 tells the time period and basic length of Isaiah’s career as a prophet…
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. – Isaiah 1:1
4 kings, 1 nation: fascinating, I know.
What is interesting are some of the events that were transpiring during his career as prophet.
He grew up under King Uzziah in a day where the nation was prosperous and everybody did as they pleased…which is never good. Hence the harsh words of the opening chapters of the book. He prophesied toward the end of the nation of Judah – just a few hundred years before they’d be taken into captivity.
You can read all about what was happening during Isaiah’s career in 2 Chronicles 26-31. There were some major spirituals ups and downs from idolatry to purging the whole country of idolatry and reinstating real worship. As with any human called to a spiritual leadership role, Isaiah certainly would have gone through his fair share of ups and downs as well. However, throughout the book, he maintains a strong message of loyalty to the ONE GOD. Isaiah 8:13 sums up his message well…
But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. – Isaiah 8:13
Peppered throughout his words of condemnation and judgment are glimmers of hope, forgiveness, and the mercy that God wanted so badly to pour out on His people…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. – Isaiah 30:18
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1
I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25
I could go on and on, but the message is clear: although God does not approve of much that is happening within the lives of His people, He still loves them and longs for a deeper relationship with them. He has something much greater planned if they would just repent and turn to Him.
That’s the story with us as well. It’s so easy to settle for what the world offers – it looks good, it feels good, everyone is doing it. However, the right thing is rarely the popular thing. God’s plan is far better, and although it will cost you more up front, it will be worth the investment.
Another interesting thing about Isaiah is that it is considered to be somewhat of a mini-Bible because of the many similarities between the book and the Book. Here’s a run-down of some of the similarities between the 2…
The Bible: 66 books
Isaiah: 66 chapters
The Bible: 2 divisions – Old Testament (39 books), New Testament (27 books)
Isaiah: 2 divisions – the first 39 chapters, the last 27 chapters
The Bible: Old Testament focused on the law, New Testament focused on grace
Isaiah: chapters 1-39 focused on the law, chapters 40-66 focused on grace
The Bible: one of the first New Testament characters is John the Baptist, introducing the way of Christ by quoting Isaiah 40:3.
Isaiah 66 is all about the end of the world. In fact, he even speaks of the new heaven and new earth, which sounds very familiar if you’ve read Revelation (which we’ll read in just a few weeks).
I could go on and on about the many parallels between the two, but you get the point. It’s a subtle reminder that God, in His infinite wisdom, before the Bible was ever canonized, was able to give us a preview of coming attractions. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being omniscient!
Although Isaiah can be a bit of a challenging read (as many prophetical books often are), know that God has a plan for you and an undying, eternal love for you. He wants you to be fully committed to Him and completely faithful, but when you’re not, you have Isaiah 53 to cover for you!