Handbook of Isaiah
The Messianic Prophet
Called the Messianic Prophet because he was so thoroughly imbued with the idea that his nation was to be a Messianic Nation to the world; that is, a nation through whom one day a great and wonderful blessing would come from God to all nations; and he was continually dreaming of the day when that great and wonderful work would be
The New Testament says that Isaiah "saw the glory of Christ, and spoke of him" (John 12:41).
The Man Isaiah
He was a prophet of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, at the time the Northern Kingdom, Israel, was destroyed by the Assyrians.
Isaiah lived in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His call was in the year of Uzziah's death, but some of his visions may have been earlier (see on 6:1). He was slain, according to Jewish tradition, by Manasseh. Tentatively we may place his active ministry at out 745-695 B.C
Rabbinic tradition has it that Isaiah's father, Amoz (not Amos the prophet), was a brother of king Amaziah. This would make Isaiah first cousin to king Uzziah, and grandson of king Joash, and thus of royal blood, a man of the palace.
His Literary Work. He wrote other books, which have not been preserved to us: a Life of Uzziah (II Chronicles 26:22); and a book of the Kings of Israel and Judah (II Chronicles 32:32). He is quoted in the New Testament more than any other prophet. What a mind he, had! In some of his rhapsodies he reaches heights unequaled even
by Shakespeare, Milton or Homer.
His Martyrdom. A tradition, in the Talmud, which was accepted as authentic by many early Church Fathers, states that Isaiah resisted Manasseh's idolatrous decrees, and was fastened between two planks, and "sawn asunder," thus suffering a most horrible death. This is thought to be referred to in Hebrews 11:17.
Assyrian Background of lsaiah's Ministry
For 150 years before the days of Isaiah the Assyrian Empire had been expanding. As early as 840 B.C. Israel, under Jehu, had begun to pay tribute to Assyria. While Isaiah v/as yet a young man (734 B.C.). Assyria carried away all of north Israel. 13 years later (721), Samaria fell, and the rest of Israel was carried away. Then, a few years later, the Assyrians came on into Judah, destroyed ,16 walled cities, and carried away 200,000 captives. Finally (701 B.C.), when Isaiah was an old man, the Assyrians were stopped before the walls of Jerusalem by an angel of God. Thus, Isaiah's whole life .was spent under the shadow of threatening Assyrian power, and he himself witnessed the
ruin of his entire nation at their hands, except only Jerusalem.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: The Isaiah Scroll
All original copies of Bible books, as far as is known, have been lost. Our Bible is made from copies of copies. Until the invention of Printing A.D. 1454, these copies were made by hand.
Old Testament books were written in Hebrew. New Testament books were written in Greek. The oldest known extant complete Bible manuscripts date from the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. They are in Greek, containing, for the Old Testament, the Septuagint, which was a Greek Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament made in 2nd
The oldest known existing Hebrew manuscripts of Old Testament books were made about A.D. 900. On these are based what is called the Massoretic Text of the Hebrew Old Testament, from which our English Translations of Old Testament books have been made. The Massoretic Text comes from a comparison of all available manuscripts, copied from previous copies by many different lines of scribes. In these manuscripts there is so little variation that Hebrew scholars are in general agreement that our present Bible text is essentially the same as that in the original books themselves.
And now, in 1947, at Ain Fashkha, about 7 miles south of Jericho, 1 mile west of the Dead Sea, some wandering Arab Bedouins! carrying goods from the Jordan Valley to Bethlehem, searching for a lost goat, in a wady that empties into the Dead Sea, came upon a partially collapsed cave, in which they found a number of crushed jars with
protruding ends of scrolls. The Bedouins pulled out the scrolls, took them along, and passed them on to St. Mark's Syrian Orthodox Convent in Jerusalem who turned them over to American Schools of Oriental Research.
One of these scrolls was identified as the BOOK OF ISAIAH, Written 2000 Years Ago, a 1000 Years Older than any known manuscript of any Hebrew Old Testament book. An AMAZING DISCOVERY!
It is a roll, written on parchment, about 24 feet long, made up of sheets about 10 by 15 inches, sewed together, in script of ancient Hebrew, with evidence that it was made in 2nd cenrury B.C.
This, and the other scrolls, had, originally, been carefully sealed in earthenware jars.
Evidently they were part of a Jewish library, which had been hidden in this isolated cave, in time of danger, perhaps in the Roman Conquest of Judea.
Essentially it is the same as the Book of Isaiah in our Bible, a voice from 2000 years ago, preserved in the wondrous Providence of God, confirming the integrity of our Bible. W. F. Albright calls it, "The greatest manuscript discovery of modern times." (See 1948 and 1949 issues of Bulletins of the American Schools of Oriental Research and The Biblical Archaeologist.)
The Grand Achievement of Isaiah's Life
Was the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians. It was through his prayer, and by his advice to king Hezekiah, and by the direct miraculous intervention of God, that the dread Assyrian army was discomfited before the walls of Jerusalem. (See chapters 36, 37.) Sennacherib, king of Assyria, though he lived 20 years after this, never again came against Jerusalem.
Contemporary Kings of Judah
Contemporary Kings of Israel
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Sargon. In Isaiah 20:1 it is said: "Sargon king of Assyria sent Tartan and fought against Ashdod and took it."
This is the only known mention of Sargon's name in extant ancient literature, Thus mentioning the name of a king, never known to have existed, the critics said, was one of the Bible's blunders.
But, amazing to be told, in 1842, Botta discovered the ruins of the Sargon's palace, in Khorsabad, on the north edge of Nineveh, with treasures and inscriptions showing him to have been one of Assyria's greatest kings. Yer his name had disappeared from history, save this lone mention in Isaiah, till Botta's discovery.
In recent years the ruins of Sargon's palace have been excavated by the Oriental Institute. The photographs of the ruins of Sargon's throne room, his throne, and the
great stone bull which guarded his doorway.
From inscriptions it is learned that Shalmaneser died while besieging Samaria, and that he was succeeded by Sargon, who completed the capture. Furthermore, verifying the statement above quoted from Isaiah 20:1, an inscription of Sargon says: "Azuri, king of Ashdod, planned in his heart not to pay tribute. In my anger I marched against
Ashdod with my usual bodyguard. I conquered Ashdod, and Gath. I took their treasures and their people. I settled in them people from the lands of the east. I took tribute from Philistia, Judah, Edom and Moab."
This frightful indictment seems to belong to the middle period of Hezekiah's reign, after the Fall of the Northern Kingdom, when the Assyrians had invaded Judah and had carried away a large part of its population, Jerusalem alone being left (7-9). Hezekiah's reforms had barely scratched the surface of the rotten life of the people. The dread Assyrian tornado was drawing ever closer and closer. But it made no difference. On with the dance. The diseased nation, instead of cleansing itself, only gave more meticulous attention to the camouflage of devotion to religious services. Isaiah's scathing denunciation of their hypocritical religiosity (10-17), reminds us of Jesus'
merciless condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23). The point is that it is of no avail for "Sodom" (10), to make a show of religion. Only genuine repentance and obedience would save them (16-23). Then Isaiah turns from the sickening picture to the day of Zion's purification and redemption, the wicked to be left to their own eternal burnings Q4-31).
These three chapters seem to be an expansion of the closing thought of chapter 1: the Future Glory of Zion, in contrast with Judgment on the Wicked. The allusion (2:6-9), to idols and foreign customs may locate this vision in the reign of Ahaz.
Zion to be the Center of World Civilization; in an era of Universal and Endless Peace (2:2-4). This passage of magnificent optimism was uttered at a time when Jerusalem was a veritable cesspool of filth. Whatever, whenever, wherever that happy age is to be, it will be the inheritance of God's people, with the wicked left out. (See further
Coming Judgment for Idol Worshippers (2:5-22). Suffering and Captivity ahead for Judah (l:1-15); including the fashionable ladies of Jerusalem (3:16-26), like the ladies of luxury in Samaria (Amos 4:1-3). "Seven women to one man" (4:1), because the men will have been killed in war.
The Coming "Branch" (4:2-6). This is Isaiah's first mention of the Future Messiah. "THE BRANCH" reviving out of the stump of David's fallen family tree (11:1, 53:2, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15, Zechariah 3:8, 6:12). HE would be the one to purge away the filth of Zion, and make her a blessing to the world.
A sort of funeral dirge. After centuries of most extraordinary care, God's vineyard, his nation, fruitless and disappointing, is now to be abandoned. Jesus' parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-45), seems to be an echo of this parable. The sins here specially denounced are Greed, Injustice, Drunkenness. The vast estates of the rich, accumulated by robbery of the poor, soon were to become waste land. "Gone into captivity" (13); like chapter 53, the future is so certain that it is spoken of as already past. Then, too, at that time, a large part of the nation already had gone into captivity. "Sin with a cart rope" (18); that is, excuse their depravity by scoffing at the idea that God would punish them. Invading Nations from far (25-30); Assyrians, in Isaiah's own time; Babylonians, who, a hundred years later, destroyed Jerusalem; Romans, who, A.D. 70, struck the death-blow to Jewish national existence.
"Bath" (10): that is, 9 gallons: "Homer," 11 bushels.
"Ephah" (10): t bushel: that is, the Harvest shall be much smaller than the Planting.
As to whether this vision antecedes the visions of the first five chapters there is difference of opinion. Dates mentioned in the book are in chronological sequence: 6:1 7:l 14:28 20:1 36:1. This indicates that the book follows a general chronological order, but not necessarily in all particulars. Isaiah, in later life, probably rearranged visions which he had written in various periods of his long ministry, being guided in part by sequence of thought, so that some chapters may antedate preceding chapters.
Also, opinion varies as to whether this was Isaiah's original call, or a summons to a special mission. The statement in 1:1 that some of his ministry was in the days of Uzziah, and that this call was in the year of Uzziah's death, may imply that he had already done some earlier preaching, and that this call was God's authorization for his
The particular task to which he was called seems, on its face, to have been to bring about the final hardening of the nation so as to insure its destruction (9-10). But, of course, God's purpose was not to harden the nation, but rather to bring it to repentance in order to save it from destruction. Isaiah's whole ministry, with its marvelous visions, climaxed with one of the most stupendous miracles of the ages, was, if we may so speak, as if God were frantically waving a red flag to halt the nation in its mad sweep toward the whirlpool. But when a nation sets itself against God even his wondrous mercies result only in further hardening.
"How long?" (11): that is, how long shall this hardening process go on? Answer: till the land be desolate, and the people gone (11-12). "Tenth" (13): a remnant shall be left, which, in its turn, shall be destroyed. This was uttered 715 B.C. Within a year North Israel was carried away by the Assyrians.Within 14 years all the rest of the Northern Kingdom had fallen (721 B.C.), and Judah (roughly, a "tenth," one tribe out of the twelve) alone was left. Another 100 years, and Judah was destroyed.
The occasion of this prophecy was the invasion of Judah by the kings of Syria and Israel. They attacked Judah separately (II Chronicles 28:5-6), then conjointly (II Kings l6:5). Their object was to displace Ahaz with another king (6). Ahaz appealed to the king of Assyria for help (II Kings 16:7). T'he king of Assyria responded with an invasion of Syria and North Israel, and carried their peoples away into captivity (II Kings 15:29 16:9). This was the Galilee Captivity (734 B.C.).
In the early part of this Syro-Israelite attack on Jerusalem Isaiah ventured to assure Ahaz that the attack would fail, Syria and Israel be destroyed, and Judah be saved. The 65 years (8), is thought to cover the period from the first deportation of Israel (734 B.C.), to the settlement of foreigners in the land by Esar-haddon about 670
B.C. (II Kings 17:24, Ezra 4:2 ).
The ''Virgin" and her son "Immanuel" (10-16). This is spoken of as a "sign" intended to give assurance to skeptical Ahaz of speedy deliverance. A "sign" is "a miracle, wrought for evidencial purpose. The "virgin'' is not named, but the reference is to something very unusual, and not further explained, that was to happen forthwith in
David's family (Ahaz'-own household). It is a case of blending pictures in the near and far horizons, as is so frequent in the prophets. The Kingly character of the child is indicated in 8:8, and the context identifies him with the Wonderful Child of 9:6-7 who can be no other than the Future Messiah. It is so quoted in Matthew 1:23. Thus, as Isaiah was talking to Ahaz of signs in his own family, the House of David., God projects before his mind an image of one of the grander signs yet to occur in David's Family: the Virgin Birth of the Greater Son of David Himself.
Judah to be Desolated by Assyria (17-25); this same Assyria who was now helping Judah against Israel and Syria. It came to pass within Isaiah's lifetime, Jerusalem alone remaining.
In connection with the Syro-Israel invasion of Judah, three children are mentioned:
one in the family of David"'Immanuel" (7:13-14);a two in Isaiah's own family, "Shear-jashub" (7:3), and "Mahershalal-hash-baz" (8: 1-4).
"Shear-jashub" means "A remnant shall return" Isaiah, assuming a hundred years before it came to pass, the Babylonian Captivity of Judah envisions a Rescued Remnant, and names his son for the idea. That Remnant, and its Glorious Future, is main theme of Isaiah's book.
"Maher-shalal-hash-baz" means "The spoil speeds, the prey hastens," that is, Syria and Israel shall speedily be despoiled. Thus naming his child for the idea of swift deliverance was Isaiah's way of emphasizing what he had already predicted in 7:4, 7, 16. .It promptly occurred. The victorious Assyrians swept on into Judah (8), and were stopped by direct intervention of God (37:36).
'Thus names of Isaiah's sons embodied ideas of his daily preaching: Present Deliverance, Coming Captivity, Future Glory.
The Distress and Gloom'of the Captivity (9-22). Isaiah is bidden to write his prophecy, and preserve it for reference in the day of its fulfillment (16).
The settings for this sublime vision was the Fall of Israel, which Isaiah had just predicted in chapters 7 and 8. Zebulun and Naphtali (l), the Galilee region, was the first section to fall before the Assyrians (II Kings 15:29). But that same region would one day have the proud honor of giving to the world the Redeemer of Mankind, the king of the Ages. In-2:2-4 Isaiah had cast a glance at Zion's Future Universal Reign 4:2-6, at the King Himself (John 12:41); in.7:14 his Virgin-Birth is predicted; and here, in 9:6-7, in measured, majestic words,'it is his Deity and Eternity of his Throne.
Samaria's Persistent Impenitence (9:8-10:4)' Following his habit, of sudden shiftings back and forth between his own times and the future. Isaiah abruptly turns his eyes toward Samaria. The most of Israel was carried away 734 B.C; but Samaria held out till 721 B.C. These lines seem to belong to the 13 years intervening, when the people who were left, still persevered in their defiance both of God and the Assyrians. It is a poem of four stanzas, warning Samaria whet is in store for them.
This was written after the Fall of Samaria (11), flinging defiance to the boastful Assyrians, as they marched on into Judah, up to the very gates of Jerusalem. The cities named in 28-32 were just north of Jerusalem. God had used the Assyrians to punish Israel, but here cautions them against over-estimating their power (15), and promises
them a humiliating defeat (26), like that of the Midianites by Gideon (Judges 7:19-25), and that of the Egyptians in the Red Sea (Exodus 14). Sargon, one year after he had destroyed Samaria, turned southward, invaded Judah (720 B.C.), took certain Philistine cities, and defeated the Egyptian army. Again (713 B.C.), Sargon's army invaded Judah, Philistia, Edom and Moab. And again (701 B.C.), a vast army of Assyrians came into the land; at which time God made good his promise, and dealt the Assyrians such a sudden and violent blow that they came no more against Jerusalem (37:36).
An expansion of 2:2-4, 4:2-6, 7:14, 9:1-7. Here, from predicting the overthrow of the Assyrian army, Isaiah again suddenly turns his eyes to the future, and gives us one of the most glorious pictures of the Coming World to be found in all Scripture. A Warless World, under the reign of a righteous and benevolent King of Davidic descent, formed of the redeemed of all nations together with the restored remnant of Judah. Whether this will ever be in our world of flesh and blood, or in an era beyond the veil, we do not know. But that it is to be is as sure as the morning. The subject is continued in 25:6. Chapter 12 is a song of praise for the day of glad triumph, which God put in Isaiah's mouth, one of the songs in the hymnbook of heaven, which we will all sing when we get there, where all discordant elements shall have disappeared.
In Isaiah's time Assyria was the dominant power of the world. Babylon was a dependency of Assyria. Babylon rose to World-Power 606 B.C., and fell 536 B.C. Thus Isaiah sang of the Fall of Babylon a hundred years before its rise. Modern critics, therefore, opine that these cannot be the words of Isaiah, but of some later prophet. However, it is specifically stated that they are Isaiah's words (13:1)
The splendor to which Babylon rose a hundred years after lsaiah's day, as the Queen City of the Pre-Christian world, "the glory of kingdoms" (13:19), "the city of gold" (14:4), is here as clearly envisioned as if Isaiah had been right there. Ir is an astounding illumination of God's Spirit in Isaiah's mind. But the burden of the prophecy is the Fall of Babylon, pictured in detail that awes us into profound wonderment. Medes, who in Isaiah's, day were an almost unknown people, are named as destroyers of Babylon (11:17-19).
The gist of the prophecy: Babylon shall supercede Assyria (14:25); Media shall supercede Babylon (13:17); arid Babylon shall pass away forever (13:19-22, 14:22-23). For fulfillment of this astonishing prediction see under II Kings 25.
The point of special interest was that the Fall of Babylon would mean the release of the Captives (14:1-4). Within one year after Babylon fall, Cyrus, the Medo-Persian king, issued a decree for the Return of the Jews to their home-land (Ezra 1:1).
A hundred years after Isaiah, when Babylon had risen to Power, and was demolishing Jerusalem, Jeremiah takes up Isaiah's cry for vengeance (see Jeremiah 50, 51).
Babylon, oppressor of the Jews, was counterpart and pattern of a New Testament Power which would enslave the Church (Revelation 17 to 19).
"Palestina" A.V., but in R.V. "Philistia" (from which the name "Palestine" is derived). The "serpent" (29), probably means Tiglathpileser, who had taken certain Philistine cities, and who had died just a year ahead of Ahaz (28). The more poisonous serpent and his issue probably were Sargon and Sennacherib, who completed the desolation of Philistia. "Messengers" (32), probably were Philistine ambassadors asking Jerusalem for help against the Assyrians. Other denunciations of the Philistines are found in Jeremiah 47, Amos l:6-8, Zephaniah 2:4-7, Zechariah 9:5-7.
Moab was a rolling plateau of rich pasture lands lying east of the Dead Sea. Moabites were descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:37), and thus a kindred nation to the Jews. This was one of Isaiah's earlier predictions, now reiterated with a time limit of 3 years (16:14). The cities named were pillaged by Tiglath-pileser (734 B.C.); by Sargon (713 B.C.); and by Sennacherib (701 B.C.). It is not indicated to which of these Isaiah refers. However, Isaiah advises them that it would be to their advantage to renew their allegiance to the House of David (16:1-5), in the mention of which there comes into his vision an image of the Future Messiah (5). The Moabites had had a hand in the founding of the House of David in the person of Ruth. (For other prophecies about Moab see Jeremiah 48, Amos 2:1-3, Zephaniah 2:8-11.)
A continuation of the thought of chapter 7, probably written about the same time, during the Syro-Israelite attack on Judah (714 B.C.), and fulfilled shortly,thereafter in the invasions of Tiglath-pileser and Sargon,. It.is directed against Israel also (3-4), because the were in alliance with Damascus. "Look to their Maker" (7): that the remnant left in the Northern Kingdom returned to Jehovah is indicated in II Chronicles 34:9. Closes with a vision of the overthrow of the Assyrians, following their victory over Syria and Israel (12-14), specially 14, which seems like a definite reference to 37:36.
Ethiopia was South Egypt, whose powerful king at that time had sway over all Egypt. This is not a prophecy of doom; but seems rather to refer to the excitement and call to arms among the Ethiopians at the advance of Sennacherib's army into Judah, whose fall would leave open the gateway for the Assyrian march on into Egypt (1-3); the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem (4-6, 37:36); and Ethiopia's message- of gratitude for the destruction of the Assyrian army (7, 11, II Chronicles 32:23).
A Period of Anarchy and Internal Strife (1-4). This actually began about the time of Isaiah's death. "Cruel lord" (4) ; Esar-haddon, shortly after Isaiah's death, subdued Egypt, and split it into a number of petty governments, whose main duty was to "slay, plunder and spoil" their subjects.
Decline and Disintegration of Egypt Predicted (5-17). This all came to pass. (See Jeremiah 46, Ezekiel 29.)
Permeation of Egypt and Assyria with the Religion of Judah (18-25). After the Captivity, many Jews remained in-the Euphrates valley, and great numbers of them settled in Egypt. Alexandria. second city of the world in Jesus'day, was predominantly a Jewish city. There the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was made. At Heliopolis, city of "the sun," a temple, modeled after that in Jerusalem, was erected (149 B.C.), as a center of worship for Egyptian Jews. At the time of Christ's appearance the Hebrew nation was composed of three main sections, with connecting highways (23): Palestinian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian: making Israel to be a sort of three-fold nation (24). These regions were among the first to accept Christianity. Thus this chapters a very accurate pre-charting of one phase of Israel's history for the following six hundred years.
Isaiah's warning of their defeat and captivity., intended to discourage Judah from looking to Egypt for aid against Assyria. This was 713 B.C. The prediction was fulfilled 12 years later. Sennacherib's annals for 701 B.C. says: "I fought with the kings of Egypt' accomplished their overthrow, and captured alive charioteers and sons of the king." Esar-haddon further desolated Egypt (see under 19:1-4). "Sargon" (1): this is the only known mention of Sargon's name, till archaeological excavations of the past century revealed him as one of the greatest of Assyrian monarchs . "Tartan" (1:) this
was not the same of a person, but an official title, equivalent to "commander-in-chief ."
Babylon (1-10), surrounded by e vast system of dykes and canals, was like a city in the sea. This is a graphic announcement of its fall. The mention of Elam and Media (2), point to its capture by Cyrus (536 B.C. See further under chapters 13, 14).
Dumah (11-12), was the name of a district south of Edom, and is here used for Edom, of which Seir was the central district.
Arabia (13-17), was the desert between Edom and Babylon. Dedan, Tema, and Kedar were leading Arabian tribes. This is a prediction that they will experience a terrific blow within a year. Sargon invaded Arabia 716 B.C.
Called "Valley of Vision," because the hill on which it was situated was surrounded by valleys. with higher hills beyond' and was the place where God revealed Himself. It is rebuked for giving itself to reckless indulgence while besieged by the Assyrian army. Their defense (9-11, II Chronicles 32:3) included everything except turning to God.
Demotion of Shebna (15-25). He, as officer of the House of David, may have been leader in the city's frivolous conduct in face of grave danger. In the elevation of Eliakim to the office there may be hints of Messianic implication (22-25).
Tyre had been for centuries the maritime center of the world's commerce. It had planted colonies all around the Mediterranean. The grain of Egypt'was one of the principal commodities in which it traded. It suffered terribly at the hinds of the Assyrians, who had recently extended their sway over Babylon (13). Its overthrow, depression for 70 years, and restoration, are here predicted (14-18). This is thought to refer to its subjugation by Nebuchadnezzar. (See further under Ezekiel 16 to 28).
This vision seems to relate to the same period that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. It delineates the fearful calamities under which the earth, with all its castes, occupations, and social distinctions, shall pass away. As Jeremiah said of Babylon that it would "sink and not rise" (Jeremiah 51:64), so here says Isaiah of the earth (20). Later he looks beyond to a "new heavens and new earth" (65:17-66:24.)
Here Isaiah has transported himself beyond the crash of worlds, into the age of the new heavens and new earth, and put into the mouth of the redeemed a song of praise to God for his wonderful works. Most wonderful of all is the Destruction of Death (8), "in this mountain" (6), of Jerusalem. This cannot refer to anything else than the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead, the one and only thing that has nullified death end brought to mankind the guarantee of Eternal Life; the "feast of rich wines for all peoples" (6); the joy-shout of the ages; the event that "wipes away tears from off all faces." The mention of Moab in this connection (10), illustrates Isaiah's mental habit of abrupt transition back and forth between future glory and present local circumstance. The fate of Moab, constant rival and recurrent enemy of Judah, may be used here as typical of the fate of Zion's enemies generally.
A continuation of the song of the preceding chapter. "Strong city" (1), central rendezvous of God's people. "Lofty city" (5), idealized stronghold of the wicked. Verse 3 is a grand verse. The grandest verse in the chapter is 19: the Resurrection. In 25:8 it was the Resurrection of Christ. Here it is the General Resurrection of God's People. "Disclose her blood" (21): in Day of Judgment, when man's long reign of wickedness shall be ended.
In 5:1-7 Isaiah sang the funeral dirge of God's Vineyard. Here it is a joy-song of the Vineyard coming to life again. What a beautiful figure of Christianity blossoming out of the remnant of desolated Judah and spreading its benign influences over the whole earth! "Leviathan," "serpent," "dragon" ( 1) : possibly meaning Assyria, Babylon, Egypt: or names of powers of evil. Corrective Judgments on Judah (7-11). Final Gathering of Israel into the Church Triumphant (12-13).
"In That Day" (1, 2, 12, 13). Notice how often the phrase is used in Isaiah: 4:2; 7:20, 23; 11:10, 11; 12:1; 14:3; 17:4, 7, 9; 19:16, l8, 19, 23, 24; 22:12; 26:1; 28:5; 29: 18; 30:23 etc. We might almost call "That Day" the subject of the book; all mixed up with references to lsaiah's own day.
Back from visions of "that day," Isaiah sternly warns his own people, who were given over to sensual indulgence, of impending calamity, as in chapter 22. This evidently was before the Fall of Samaria 721 B.C. "Glorious beauty" (1): Samaria, capital of the North
Kingdom, was situated on a well-rounded hill, in a rich and beautiful valley, crowned with luxurious palaces and gardens. "Strong one" (2): the Assyrian power, which, after a 3-year siege, took Samaria, but which was turned back "at the gate" of Jerusalem (6). The scoffing revelers called Isaiah's warnings childish (9-t0). Isaiah's reply (11-
13): they will find Assyrian bondage as monotonous as his warnings, Sneering rulers of Jerusalem (14-22); Hezekiah was a good king, but many of the powerful nobles in his government, scorning both Isaiah and Jehovah, were relying on their own power and Egypt. "Covenant with death" (15): their scornful boast of security. "Corner-stone" (16): God's promise to David, on which they should have relied. "strange Act" (21): God's punishment of His own people by the sword of foreigners. Comfort to the Faithful (23-19): the import of these words seems to be that God's people need varied and seasonable treatment adapted to their condition.
"Ariel" (1): a name for Jerusalem, meaning "The Lion of God," defiantly holding the Assyrian army at bay. The besieging army, composed of soldiers of many nations, to be suddenly overwhelmed (5-8), which shortly came to pass (37:36). Zion's blindness to her God, even though rendering lip service (9-16), while substituting commandments of men for the Word of God. Jesus quoted this as applicable to the Pharisees of his day. "Marvelous work" (14), the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem (37:36). Field and Forest to Change Places (17-24); this difficult language may be a hint of the day when Gentiles would be grafted in with the people of God (Romans 11).
Caravans laden with rich presents from Jerusalem make their way through the beast-infested desert of the south, to seek the aid of Egypt (6-7). Captivity of Judah (8-17). Egypt would be of no avail. Judah shall be broken. Write it down in a book, so that future generations may see that it was foretold. It came to pass 100 years later, at the hands of Babylon. Very shortly the Assyrian army, was routed (37:36); and within 100 years the Assyrian Empire destroyed.
Isaiah asserts his confidence in the triumphant outcome of Zion,s Assyrian crisis (37:36), which coming event seems to be the background of almost every verse in this chapter.
As Isaiah is thinking of the joyous aftermath of Zion's deliverance from the Assyrian army, and the consequent vastly increased prestige of Hezekiah's kingdom, there comes in the distant line of hid vision a picture of David's Future King, to whom all Old Testament prophecy pointed, and toward whom all Old Testament history moved, under whose righteous and blessed Reign persons and things will stand in their true light and be called by right names. Ir is difficult to see the connection in the digressive address to "careless women" (9-15). There must have been a group of influential godless women in the court who had set themselves against everything that Isaiah stood for (3:12, 16-26). His meaning here seems to be that a period of trouble is to intervene between the defeat of the Assyrian army and the Reign of the Messiah. The "forest" ( 19): Assyrian army. The "city" (19): Nineveh; or, the centralized forces of evil in the latter days. "Sow beside all waters" (20) :patient continuance in paths of daily duty, as an expression of Trust in God, while waiting for the happy era of restored prosperity.
Chapters 28 to 33 belong to the terrifying days of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, as told in 36 and 37. Sennacherib,s army was pillaging cities and ravaging the countryside (8 9). The people were panic-stricken (13-14). Through it all Isaiah goes about calmly assuring the people that God will smite the enemy with terror, and they
shall flee leaving vast loot (3-4); God himself protecting Jerusalem like an encircling stream on which the enemy,s disintegrating ships go down (21-23. See chapters 36, 37.)
Like chapter 24, this chapter seems to be vision of the End-Time. Edom is used as a typical specimen of God's wrath. Once populous and fertile, it is now one of the most desolate lands on earth, inhabited mainly by noxious beasts, birds and reptiles (10-15. See under Obadiah,16,17): Isaiah's challenge to future ages to note his words about Edom.
One of the choicest chapters in the Bible. A poem of rare and superb beauty. A picture of the Last Times, when the Church, after long affliction, finally shines forth in all the radiance of its heavenly glory. Returning captives journeying along the highway (8-10). is a most exquisite representation of the redeemed traveling home to God.
This is recorded three times: (here, II Kings 18, 19, and II Chronicles 32): one of the most astounding miracles of the Old Testament; in one night the Assyrian army is destroyed by a direct stroke from heaven (37:36). The grand climax of which Isaiah had given repeated assurance: (10:24-34; 17:12-14; 29:5-8, 14; 30:27-33;
31:4-9; 33:3-4, 21-23; 38:6). These passages seem to be a blended account of two invasions. Sennacherib, as leader of his father Sargon's armies, invaded Judah (713 B.C.), and took many cities. Hezekiah bought him off (II Kings 18:14-16). He came again (701 B.C.); at which time the Angel smote him. (See under II Kings 17.)
Hezekiah's sickness was 15 years before his death (38:5), that is, 712 B.C. Deliverance from Assyria was still future (38:6). Hezekiah's miraculous recovery had excited interest in Babylon (II Chronicles 32:31; Isaiah 38:7-8). Babylon's embassy to Jerusalem, no doubt, looked suspicious to Sennacherib, and have hastened his second invasion.
Isaiah spent his life under menace of the dread Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians had destroyed North Israel (734 B.C.); the rest of the Northern Kingdom (721 B.C.); had invaded Judah (713 B.C.); and by 701 B.C. had taken all Judah except Jerusalem. Through these years Isaiah had steadfastly predicted that Jerusalem would stand. It
did stand, This was the grand achievement of Isaiah's life. He had saved his city when doom seemed certain. But now, the Assyrian crisis past, Isaiah, having prophesied that Jerusalem would later fill to Babylon (39:6-7), assumes the Babylon Captivity as an accomplished fact, and his mind's eye, takes his stand with the captives. So clear were some of his visions that in them he speaks of the future as already past.
Nowhere in the book itself, or in the Bible, or in Jewish or Christian tradition, is there mention, or even a hint, of two authors. A "second Isaiah" is a figment of modern criticism. The book of Isaiah, in our Bible, and in Jesus' day, was ONE book, not Two. It is not a patchwork, but, from beginning to end, it is characterized by a UNITY of thought, set forth in the sublimest of language, that makes is one of the grandest things ever written. There was just one Isaiah, and this is his book, the critics to the contrary notwithstanding.
Some of the sentences seem to be utterances of angels, crying to Isaiah, or to each other, in exultation over the wondrous things in store for God's people when the long night of of affliction is past. The Advent of Christ is the subject of 1-11. Verses 3-5 are quoted in all for Gospels as referring to His arrival in the earth (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23). Mention, in this connection, of God's Word as eternally impregnable (6-8), means that God's prophetic promises cannot fail; Christ and Heaven are SURE. The Infinite Power of God, and the Eternal Youth of those who trust him, form the subject matter of 12-31. It is a grand chapter.
Cyrus is not here named, but is named in 44:28 and 45:1, and unmistakably is the "one from the east" (2), and the "one from the north" (25), (armies from the east always entered Palestine from the north). Isaiah died 150 years before the: days of Cyrus; yet here is given a vision of his rapid conquest of the world, which is ascribed
to the Providence of God (4). God promises protection for Israel (8-20); and then challenges the gods of the nations to show their ability to predict the future (21-29. See further under chapter 44).
Another vision of the Coming Messiah and his work (1-17). It is so quoted in Matthew 12:17-21. But in verses 18-25 the Lord's servant is Israel the nation, who had to be chastised over and over for their perverseness.
God had formed the nation for Himself. The nation had been unceasingly disobedient. Still they were God's nation, and through all their sins and sufferings God would work to demonstrate to all the world that He, and He alone, is God.
These two chapters are a forecast of Israel's Return from the Captivity under Cyrus, with special emphasis on God's unique power to PREDICT the future. Cyrus, king of Persia, reigned 538-529 B.C. He permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and issued a decree authorizing the rebuilding of the Temple (II Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra, 1:1-4). Isaiah prophesied 745-695 B.C., over 150 years before the days of Cyrus. Yet he calls him by name, and predicts that he would rebuild the Temple, which in Isaiah's day had not yet fallen.
The main point of these two chapters is that God's superiority over idols is proved by his ability to Foretell the Future, an idea that recurs all through chapters 40 to 48 (41:21-24; 42:8-9; 43:9-13; 44:6-8; 45:20-21; 46:9-11; 48:3-7). The calling of Cyrus by name long before he was born is given as an example of God's power to "declare things yet to come" (45:4-6). If this is not a PREDICTION it does not even make sense in the connection in which it is used. Critics who assign these chapters to post-exilic authorship have strange ideas of contextual unity.
That Predictive Prophecy is an evidence of Deity was one of lsaiah's foremost theses. He was very fond of ridiculing idols and idol-worshipers, saying, These gods that the nations worship cannot even do what men can do, cannot see, nor speak, nor hear. But,
says Isaiah, Our God whom we worship in our Hebrew nation, not only can do what men can do, but He can do some things that men cannot do: He can Foretell things to come. Then Isaiah invites a conference of nations, for comparison of gods, and asks if any nation has in its literature predictions from of old of things that afterward came to pass. We have, says he, in our national annals, from of old, a continuous stream of predictions of things that were afterward continually coming to pass. The author of this Handbook would like to ask the same question now: Is there, anywhere, in the literature of the whole wide world, predictions from of old of the.whole unfolding story of man's religious history-anywhere except in the BIBLE?
A continuation of chapters 13, 14. Babylon's multitude of idols, sorcerers, and enchanters would be of no avail against the armies of Cyrus (47:12-15). Instead, the golden images of"her boasted god, helpless to save, not only their city, but even themselves, would be hauled away as loot on beast and in wagons (46:1-2). Reiteration of God's exclusive and unique power to predict and control the course of history. It is a solemn re-prediction of the Fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus, and the Jews' Deliverance. "He whom God loves" (48:14), that is, Cyrus, who was a singularly noble and just monarch.
In preceding chapters 40-48 a leading idea is: God's Predictions of
the Future as evidence of His Deity.
In chapters 49-55 the thoughts revolve around The Servant of God. In some passages the Servant seems to be Israel the Nation, and in other passages, the Messiah, the ONE in whom Israel would be Personified. And the passages are pretty well blended, the context itself indicating which is meant.
Ir is a resumption of thoughts that have been accumulating (41:8; 42:1, 19; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21; 49:3-6; 52:13; 53:11).
These chapters seem to be a sort of soliloquy of the Servant, with interspersed replies from God, having to do mainly with his work of bringing all nations to God.
Israel's release from sufferings of the Captivity is as certain as God's wondrous works of the past. It is a part of God's eternal plan, building from one pair (51:2), through the ages,, a redeemed world of endless glory (51:6), Chapter 52 is a song of the day of Zion's triumph.
One of the best loved chapters in all the Bible. A picture of the Suffering Savior. It begins at 52:13. So vivid in detail that one would almost think of Isaiah is standing at the foot of the cross. So clear in his mind that he speaks of it in the past tense, as if it had already come to pass. Yet it was written seven centuries before Calvary. It cannot possibly fit any person in history other than Christ.
The Servant of God by virtue of his Suffering, would rejuvenate Zion, and lead her onward and upward to heights of endless glory. Chapter 55 is the Servant invitation to all the world to enter his kingdom and share his blessings.
Profaning the Sabbath; Gluttony of Israel's leaders; prevalence of Idolatry, with its vile practices; punctilious in fasting, yet practicing flagrant injustice; all to be surely avenged.
A Song of the .Messianic Age, beginning at 59:20, picturing an era of World Evangelization, blending into the Eternal Glory of Heaven. Chapter 60 is one of the grandest chapters of the Bible. Jesus quoted 61:1-3 as referring to himself (Luke 4:18). Zion's "New Name" (62:2).: it is repeated in 65:15 that God's servants would be called by "Another Name." Up to the coming of Christ, God's people were known as "Jews," or "Hebrews." After that, they were called "Christians." "A Crown of Beauty" (62:3): that is what the Church is to God. Though the Visible Church has been corrupted at the hands of men, and has been anything but a "crown of beauty," yet it is true of the body of God's faithful saints. Throughout eternity they will be God's delight and joy (3-5).
It is a bit puzzling to see the reason for the mention of Edom at this place (63:1-6). These two chapters, except the first 6 verses, are of the nature of a prayer to God to liberate Captive Israel. Edomites, age-old enemies of Judah, had associated themselves with the Babylonians in destroying Jerusalem (see under Obadiah), and may here be meant to symbolize all the enemies of God's people. The bloodstained Warrior, "treading down" Edom in his wrath, "mighty to save" Zion, is identical with Zion's Redeemer of the preceding three chapters. The language seems to be the basis of the imagery of the Lord's Coming in Revelation 19:11-16.
These two chapters are God's answer to the Exiles' Prayer of the previous two chapters. The prayer shall be answered. The faithful remnant shall be restored (65:8-10). New nations shall be brought into the fold (65:1;66:8). All shall be called a New Name (65:15). They shall inherit a New Heavens and New Earth (65:17; 66:22) The faithful and the disobedient shall be forever separated, Eternal Blessedness for one, Eternal Punishment for the other (66:22-24). Jesus himself endorsed these words (Mark 9:48). Peter's closing message to Christians was to keep their eyes on the New Heavens and New Earth (II Peter 3:10-14). The Bible reaches its final climax in a magnificent vision of the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21,22); which vision is an expansion of Isaiah 66. No temple or sacrifice, it seems, will be needed in the new order (66:1-4; Revelation 21 :22 ).
Summary of lsaiah's Predictions
Fulfilled in His Own Lifetime
Fulfilled after Isaiah's Time
About the Messiah