Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Isaiah post 1 - The Word Within The Word (Intro)

I haven't really posted in the last few months because I have been busy teaching an overview of the book of Isaiah in my Sunday school class.  What I thought I could do in 12 weeks ended up taking 20, because there is just so much there!

And even in 20 weeks, it still remained an overview.  Much of the book of Isaiah remains below the surface for me, and I look forward to mining for more gold in the future.

Over the next few weeks, I would like to share that overview here, along with many insights that I gained while preparing the classes.  Today's post is an introduction to the book of Isaiah.

If you are stranded on the proverbial desert island and can only choose one book of the Bible to have with you, I highly recommend Isaiah.  The book is like a mini-Bible, an overview of God's plan for the world.  Just like the rest of the scriptures, this book is Yeshua-focused.  It all points to our Redeemer.

It is 66 chapters long (the Bible is 66 books long).  The tone of Isaiah changes significantly after the first 39 chapters.  (The Hebrew scriptures, aka the "old testament" have 39 books).  This change of tone has even led some scholars to surmise that the second part of Isaiah was written by someone else.

All through the book, we can see the recurring themes of sin, judgment, repentance, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.

There is judgment declared to Israel and to the nations.  The term "Holy One of Israel" is used 26 times in Isaiah, and only 6 more times in the rest of the Hebrew scriptures.  Just like today, judgment begins with the household of God.

Isaiah is the second-most quoted book in the New Covenant, behind the Psalms.

Isaiah is filled with near/far prophecy.  That is, prophecies that were about to be fulfilled in the near future, as well as prophecies that will be fulfilled thousands of years from the time of writing.  By the time we get to the end of Isaiah, we will clearly see that we are seeing those prophecies come to fulfillment in our day.

Who is Isaiah?

Isaiah was born at a Crossroads in human history, around 800 BC. The first Olympic games were being held in the Greek empire, which was flourishing.  The eventual empire of Rome was in its very beginning stages.

Isaiah was the son of an aristocrat, related to kings and brought up in the Royal Court. He was high society. He married later in life, and he labored for 60 years giving the word of God as it came to him.

During the 60 years, kings came and went. Four kings of the southern kingdom of Judah were on the throne during his life and he brought the word of the Lord to each one of them. These kings were Uzziah, Yotam, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

Isaiah died at the age of 120 not of old age or sickness. It is said that he was murdered, sawn in pieces during the days of wicked King Manasseh, son of Hezekiah. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11:37, when it says sawn asunder, it is probably a reference to the prophet Isaiah.

The meaning of Isaiah's name is God is Salvation.  His name comes from the same root word as Yeshua the Messiah, Whose name means Salvation.

Setting the Stage

The setting/context of Isaiah opens with the imminent judgment of the northern kingdom of Israel, who having fallen into deep idolatry, is about to be conquered by the evil Assyrians.  

The nation of Israel had split into two kingdoms under Solomon's son Rehoboam.

Isaiah's famous vision in chapter 6 happened in 740 BC, the year king Uzziah died.  Chapters 1-5 of Isaiah set the stage for this vision.  My next post will look more closely at these five chapters.  Stay tuned!

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