Introduction of the Book
The writer and the time it was written:
- The book is written by Isaiah, and the meaning of the name ‘Isaiah’ is ‘Jehovah is Salvation’. He was the son of Amos. According to the old Jewish tradition, Amos was the brother of King Amaziah. It is clear in the book that Isaiah was of royal heritage and had a relationship with the palace [7:3; 38:1; 39:3]. He was also married with two sons – Shear Jashub, the meaning of the name being ‘the Remnant Returns’, and Maher-Shalal- Hash-Baz, meaning ‘Hasten the Spoil’.
- Isaiah’s service began in 767 BC until 697 BC – approximately 70 years. According to tradition, he was persecuted by King Manasseh, and was sawed with a sword – as it is inferred in Hebrews 11:37.
- Contemporary scholarship says that there were multiple authors of the book, but the Early Church always held that he was the only author. This kind of liberal criticism became more active around the Enlightenment era in the 18th-19th
- One main cause was because there is much conceptual variety or varied thinking in the
- Another cause was because of the anachronistic prophecy about King Cyrus in the book, 200 years before it happened. Of course, the simple answer to this is that it is common for prophecy to be made many years before it occurs.
- Conceptual variety is also something that is common to the prophetic books. These are all answers to these criticisms.
- Additionally, there is an expression repeated throughout the book, which is unique to the book, that shows that Isaiah is the only author: the ‘Holy one of Israel’.
- Another point: The book is quoted about 60 times in the New Testament. 28 of those 60 references are from the second half of the book, which is chapters of 40-66. Isaiah’s name itself is mentioned 11 times in the New Testament.
- Another important point. There is a reference that is mentioned by John the Apostle [Jn 12:38-41]. He makes two quotations, one from ch.6 and one from ch.53. Because John the Apostle quoted from both halves of Isaiah, attributing both to Isaiah, it suggests that both halves are written by Isaiah
- Also, the full book of Isaiah was discovered in 1947 together with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it was dated 2nd BC
- Another point: Isaiah was ministering in very difficult circumstances. The kings that reigned at the time of his ministry are mentioned in 1:1. The first was King Uzziah. Although he was initially pious, his heart became prideful and he rebelled against God. This delayed the ministry of the prophet. Jotham the second king feared God, but his son King Ahaz openly worshipped idols. The fourth king Hezekiah was pious, and he made a revival in the nation.
- Another point. During Isaiah’s time, many were against the southern kingdom of Judah, such as Syria, Israel, Edom and the Philistines. The kingdoms of the North united with Syria to fight against the southern kingdom of Judah. Unfortunately, the southern kingdom, instead of putting their trust in God, united with the Assyrians [2 Kgs 16:6-7]. However, Judah was not able to obtain any aid from the Assyrians [2 Chron 28:28, 32:1].
- Isaiah saw that the Northern Kingdom had made a covenant with Egypt. This unfortunately resulted in them being taken captive in Assyria. King Hezekiah wanted Judah to be released from oppression, and God aided him [2 Kgs 18:7]. After a while, Isaiah had to rebuke Hezekiah’s relationship with Babylon. He prophesied about the captivity of Babylon [2 Kgs 20:12-9].
The purpose of writing the book:
- It is the first prophetic book in our modern books (our Bibles).But in the Jewish books, Isaiah is the first book of the late prophets.
- Another point. Isaiah wrote abundantly about the Messiah like no other prophetic book, except the Psalms. He was therefore called the ‘evangelist among the prophets’.
- Also, the book is comprised of two main parts: chs.1-35 and 40-66. Chs36-39 is a historical piece
- The first part clarifies the state of Israel externally, and the second part clarifies their internal
- From chs.1-35 are prophecies relating to the End Times
- It also details the ways of God with Judah and Israel (in 1-12).
- 13-27 speak of the surrounding nations that have a relationship with Israel
- 28-35 contain the six ‘woes’, followed by a description of the millennium (the Second Coming of Christ)
- The historical piece (chs.36-39) describes the attacks coming upon Israel from their enemies, as well as God’s great salvation for them. There is also a mention of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery
- 40-66 prophesy of the relationship of the people of God with the Messiah. The book is ended with a description of the reign of the Messiah in the Second Coming
- 40-48 – States that Jehovah hears His people, and details the salvation from Babylon and the condemnation of the worship of idols
- 49-57 describes the passion and the glory of the Messiah
- 58-66 are a summary of the thoughts and ways of God towards the children of Israel and the restoration of Israel’s glory
Peculiarities of the book:
a) The Holy One of Israel
This expression has a very special place because it is written 28 times. In the entire Old Testament, this expression is not used except 7 other times (written in 2 Kgs, the Psalms, Jeremiah and Ezekiel). This is notable because it is mentioned in both halves of the book, each 14 times, therefore it confirms the unity of the book. This expression refers to the absolute holiness of God. Also, it is the praises of the seraphim to God: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Sabaoth’.
This word is repeated many times in the book; it is therefore a key word [12:2 and 3 – ‘wells of salvation’; 17:10 – ‘God of thy salvation’; 25:9 – ‘Joy in His salvation’; 26:1 – ‘Salvation for walls and bulwarks’; 26:18, 32:26, 45:8 and 17, 46:13 – ‘Salvation’ or ‘eternal salvation’; 49:6-8 – ‘the day of salvation’; 51:5,6 and 8, 52:7
– ‘Evangelising of salvation’; 52:10 and 56:1, 59:11 and 17 – ‘the helmet of salvation’; 60:18, 61:10 – ‘salvation’].
c) The Messianic prophecies
There are many prophecies of the Messiah, as though Isaiah saw Him continuously before his eyes [47:4, 48:17 – the promised redeemer is Jehovah Himself; 7:14, 9:2 and 6, 11:1-2, 48:16 – incarnation of the Son of God; 4:2, 42:1, 50:4 and 5, 53:1 and 2 – the humiliation of the Messiah; 8:14, 49:4, 53:3 – the rejection of the Messiah; 50:6, 52:14, 53:3-7 and 10-12, 63:9 – the suffering of the Messiah; 9:7, 11:3-10, 25:8, 28:16, 32:1, 49:6, 52:15, 53:9-12, and chs.58-66 – the glory of the Messiah].
The contents of the book:
- 1-12 speak of Judah and Jerusalem
- 13-27 are on the surrounding nations
- 28-35 are the six ‘woes’
- 36:39 remain to be the historical piece.
- 40-66 have 3 parts: 40-48 = Jehovah listens to His people; 47-57 = the rejection and the suffering of the Messiah; 58-66 = the restoration of Israel’s glory