Isaiah

Isaiah’s name means “Yahweh is salvation.”  He has often been referred to as the “Messianic prophet” because of the wealth of messianic material in his book.  His name is remarkably similar to his message—The Holy One of Israel is your Savior.  This unique title of God is used by Isaiah at least 30 times in the book, 12 of them coming after chapter 40.  Jeremiah is the only other place this title for God is used, and he only uses it twice.  This title further highlights the great chasm between the holiness of God and the depravity of His people.  Unless one recognizes his own sin, he will not see the need for a savior.  But from the invitation to cleansing in 1:18 to the promise of the sin-bearing Suffering Servant, Isaiah proclaims the promise of salvation.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that Isaiah is quoted or referenced 411 times in the New Testament.

Isaiah is the greatest of the writing prophets.  His writing clearly shows that he was a well-educated man, a bold preacher and deeply passionate for the LORD.  While most of his book is prophetic, he was also an excellent historian (2 Ch. 26:22, 32:32; Isa. 36-39).  Six times Isaiah records God’s ability to predict the future (42:8-9, 44:7-8, 45:1, 4, 45:21, 46:10, 48:3-6) so that when the events took place, all might know He alone is God and should be obeyed.  Predictive prophecy authenticates the whole message of God and reminds believers and unbelievers alike that His words will all come to pass.  A believer should respond by faith and an unbeliever should not be surprised by the judgment of God.

This era in the history of Israel and Judah was still marked by material prosperity and a feeling of overall military security.  It was during Isaiah’s ministry in Jerusalem that the northern tribes were taken captive to Assyria and served as an example to Judah.  Judah’s arrogance was not curbed as they continued to show an outward compliance to the Law but an inward apostasy.  Their spiritual condition was atrocious.  They continued to practice the rituals of the temple but their genuine faith and reverence for God was absent.  Judah continued to reject the prophet’s warnings of judgment.  Their religious ailment necessarily resulted in social chaos.  Injustice was rampant because the prominent leaders perpetrated crimes against the weak and marginalized.  Their hands were covered with blood even as they prayed (1:15).

This great nation, chosen by grace, had a history with very few righteous moments.  From the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, the nation continued to draw further and further away from the LORD.  Not even Joshua nor David was godly enough men to keep the nation righteous for an extended period of time.  Israel’s history shows that sin is always man’s default mode.  If this chosen nation who had the revelation of God could not live righteously, what hope would there be to turn anybody else to the only true God?  Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord promised a Holy One who would bear the sins of the world.  Isaiah 53 is probably the best known of Isaiah’s Messianic material.  However, by comparing his words to their NT fulfillment texts, you will see for yourself that the salvation of God was always in view.  That redemptive thread—that Upper Story—will not be broken.  The cross was no catastrophe.  The atonement was no accident.  The purposeful plan of God prevailed. God alone saves…and it was his plan all along.

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