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Recap for Chapter 16-

For 209 years, the northern kingdom of Israel had endured one evil king after another.  Their failure to keep God’s covenant meant they would be expelled from the covenant.  They had been chosen to be a blessing to all other nations, but now they would be delivered over to those very nations.

Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, set up a puppet government for the northern tribes of Israel and appointed Hoshea as king. Hoshea was as defiant of Shalmaneser as he was of God, the true King of Israel.  He stopped paying tribute and as a result, the Assyrian army destroyed the capital city of Samaria and captured Hoshea.  The king, along with many of his fellow Israelites, was deported by Shalmeneser’s successor, Sargon II.   By resettling them throughout Assyria, God was settling His own accounts.  Idolatry, disobedience and stubbornness provoked God’s anger, and led him to expel the northern kingdom from His land.

Meanwhile, just to the south in the kingdom of Judah, godly King Hezekiah was nervously watching these world-shaking events on his northern border.  Hezekiah stands out from all of the other kings of Judah for his efforts to remove every vestige of idolatry in the land.  He rebelled against the new Assyrian king Sennacherib.  The Assyrians sent envoys, claiming that they wanted to negotiate a peaceful surrender with Hezekiah in Jerusalem.  Their reasoning was faultless: What other nation had been able to stand against the Assyrian might?  Had not God Himself commissioned them for this task?  Sennacherib’s commander appealed directly to the populace of Jerusalem, speaking to them in Hebrew.

King Hezekiah trusted in the LORD and prayed for deliverance.  The prophet Isaiah promised that God would deliver them.  What faith it must have taken to trust the prophet’s prediction!  The angel of the LORD swept through the Assyrians army as they slept.  The next morning Sennacherib’s camp was littered with 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers.  The army retreated, and Judah was saved.

Isaiah had been called to be a prophet during the last year of King Uzziah’s life.  In a majestic vision of the LORD, he was commissioned to speak for God to turn the people of Judah away from sin and toward their God.  He warned that Judah was walking in her sister Israel’s footsteps, and therefore would reap similar judgment.  Unfortunately, he seldom found a listening audience.

The threat of foreign exile failed to curb the widespread social injustice, moral decay and religious apostasy.  Judah’s pride would be her downfall; God loved His people too much to allow their sin to go unchecked.  And although He warned of judgment, He also promised a future restoration.  When Israel perceived herself as forsaken and forgotten, her compassionate God would fully restore her.  The whole world would know that the LORD is their Savior and Redeemer.

What a comfort Isaiah’s prophecies must have been to the faithful remnant of Judah:  God’s Upper Story of redemption would triumph over the sin of His people.  Even the godliest of kings could not overcome the sin nature of mankind.  In his most memorable passage, Isaiah described a Suffering Servant, who took on was “pierced for our transgressions.”  Looking down from the Upper Story, we can see that this was a description of the true King, who would suffer for all mankind.

The Suffering Servant:  The Salvation of the LORD

When you were a kid, did you ever do a paint-by-number kit?  I discovered that now you can even do paint-by-number art online!  Why would anyone want to do a paint-by-number?  Perhaps it is because it is fail-proof.  Everything that you need to be a successful artist is provided for you—paints, brushes and a number-coded canvas to guide you.  All that is required is the time to fill in the outline so that, with time, the painting comes to life.  It is foolproof.  But it is also limited.  The paint-by-number kit has a single outcome.  Your creativity is replaced by a predetermined plan that guarantees that, when your work is finished, all who see it will know what it is and understand what it communicates.

God did a similar thing through the Scriptures.  He did not want anyone—even those with an “untrained eye”—to miss the picture He was painting of the coming Messiah, the Savior.  In every book of the Bible, Jesus is present.  In the Old Testament, He is there, but often somewhat concealed.  The Old Testament Scriptures form the outline of God’s paint-by-number portrait of the Messiah.  But when Isaiah comes on the scene, this prophet began to bring that faint framework to life.  He began to fill in the colors on the portrait of the Messiah so that no one could mistake Him.  All we have to do is catch a glimpse of the Texas bluebonnets, see the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains or look into the face of child to see that God is an artist.  He clearly loves joyful creativity—the duck-billed platypus is proof of that!  But He was not an abstract artist when it came to painting a picture of His Son.  He was very specific when He put the brush into the hands of Isaiah.

I.       Israel’s and Judah’s Problem

A. Isaiah began his ministry in the year the King Uzziah died (739 BC) and it extended through Hezekiah’s reign, which would make it at least 53 years.  Though never mentioned in Scripture, Jewish history records that Isaiah was sawn in half by King Manasseh (son of Hezekiah) which is alluded to in Heb. 11:37.

B. Isaiah was probably a cousin to King Uzziah which would help explain why he was so familiar with the royal court in Jerusalem and had so much influence on the various kings.

C. Isaiah 1 graphically describes the state of Judah that compelled God to speak through this prophet.

  1. Isa. 1:2 -9  Rebellion against YHWH, the Holy One of Israel.  “Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly!  They have abandoned the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him.”  (Isa. 1:4)

  2. Isa. 1:10-20 Empty religion.  “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, …I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.”  (Isa. 1:13)

  3. Isa. 1:21-31  Social injustice.  “Your rulers are rebels, and companions of thieves; everyone loves a bribe and chases after rewards.  They do not defend the orphan, nor does the widow’s plea come before them.”  (Isa. 1:23)

    1. Notice the natural progression.  Rebellion against God will inevitably lead to empty worship.  One cannot fool God.  It is an abomination to Him to worship with insincerity, to go through the motions with one’s heart filled with rebellion.

    2. Naturally, the social structure disintegrates into chaos.  Self-centered people will oppress and mistreat others; only God-centered people will seek true justice.

     

II.       Isaiah’s Point

A. God intended Israel to be a blessing to all nations (Gen. 12:1-3).  They were to be His “servant” on earth, a people through whom He would work to redeem all nations.  But they never met His expectations.

B. You need a Savior!  You, Judah, are sick with sin and desperate for cleansing.  Isaiah began to paint a picture of the “ideal servant” that soon narrowed it down to a single individual who would die on behalf of all others.  If the nation would not serve the LORD, then this Servant would.

III.       Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Suffering Servant, the Messiah (Isa. 52:13-53:12)

A. Isaiah has sometimes been called the “5th Gospel” or the “Gospel of the Old Testament” because he has so much to say about the Messiah.

B. This is the pinnacle of Messianic passages in Isaiah.  Some have attributed the Servant to Israel herself (she was to be a servant of God), but the contrast in 52:14 between you (Israel) and Him makes it clear that they cannot be one and the same.  The Him must be the Messiah.

C. Due to the length of this passage, it is probably best to cover each prophecy with its fulfillment.

Prophecy

Isa. 52:13

Isa. 52:15

Isa. 53:1

Isa. 53:3

Isa. 53:4

Isa. 53:4-5

Isa. 53:6

Isa. 53:7-8

Isa. 53:9

Isa. 53:10a

Isa. 53:11

Isa. 53:12b

Isa. 53:12c

Fulfillment

Acts 3:13

Rom. 15:20-21

Jn. 12:37-38, Rom. 10:16

Mark 9:12

Matt. 8:16-17

Matt. 26:67, 1 Pet. 2:24, Jn. 1:29

1 Pet. 2:25

Acts 8:32-33, Matt. 26:63, Matt. 27:12-14

1 Pet. 2:22-23

Jn. 18:11

Rom. 5:19

Lu. 22:37, 23:33

Lu. 23:34,  Heb. 9:28

IV.       Applications and Implications

A. The predictive prophecies of Isaiah strengthen my faith in an all-knowing God.

B. Isaiah described the Messiah so clearly that the people of Israel and the whole world could recognize Jesus as the One.  The prophecies fulfilled by Jesus remind me that no one else could be the Messiah.  Therefore, I should learn to trust Him more.

C. The accuracy of Isa. 53 is another excellent proof that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

D. These Messianic prophecies, written 700+ years before Christ, could be used to show others that the Bible is true and that Jesus alone saves.

E. Christ who was sinless paid a horrific price for my sin.

F. The saving work of Messiah was God’s plan all along to reconcile helpless, rebellious sinners to Himself.

G. He alone is worthy of appropriate honor, worship and praise.

H. Because of the work of the Messiah, believers do not need to fear condemnation before God.

I. I will not be like Judah.  I will not be rebellious; I will not worship insincerely, praying to God with sin-stained hands; I will seek and uphold justice for the poor, oppressed and weak among us.

map_captivity_routes

A map indicating the places of the exile for the Northern and Southern Kingdoms

Behind the Mask

This is the portion of the study that you will need to open up your Bible and even have a notepad near by to write down some answers or thoughts. Today, a portion of this study will focus on the women of Israel. Often times we focus on the kings or false prophets, but this section of scripture also talks about the women.

The judgment of Israel is the theme of chapter 16 in THE STORY.  God had had his fill of their defiant disobedience, so much so that he advised “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils.  Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22).  The Israelite women could not escape the judgment either. God described their masquerade, from head to toe, in fearful detail; what He saw behind the mask was even more chilling.  The evil that controlled the hearts of individual men and women ultimately brought about their destruction as a nation.

I.  Israel’s weakness. 2 Kings 17—19

For approximately 200 years God’s people had been separated into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel, which included most of the tribes; and the southern kingdom of Judah, which consisted of the tribe of Judah, the Levites, and those who had originally wanted to observe God’s laws and worship in Jerusalem.  By the time Isaiah came on the scene Ahaz, King of Judah, and Hoshea, King of Israel, were weakened to the point that they had to placate a formidable enemy- Assyria.  Both were headed for destruction but Israel went down first.

1.  What kind of king was Hoshea? (17:2)

2.  What happened to him? (17:3-4)

3.  What happened to the people of Israel? (17:5-6, 23)

4.  Note some specific reasons why this came to pass from chapter 17:

v. 7

v. 12

v. 15

v. 18

5.    What was the status of The Kingdom of Judah at this point? (18b-19)

II. What Isaiah saw in Judah. Isaiah 3—4:1

1.  What is the Lord about to do to Judah? (3:1)

2.  Why is Judah falling? (3:8-9)

3.  What is the thing that has brought God to the point of judging Judah? (3:14-15)

4.  What is God’s ‘vineyard’? (3:14-15)

5. Isaiah puts a moving picture into our minds by way of four verbs that describe the haughty women of Zion.  List them from verse 16.

______________________________                                    ____________________________

______________________________                                    ____________________________

6.  What is the startling decree of verse 17?

7.  From 3:18-23, list the items that you have in your jewelry chest or closet at this moment.

8.  Note the predictions from verse 24:

Fragrance to_______________________.                            Sash to _________________________.

Well-dressed hair to_________________.                            Fine clothing to___________________.

Beauty to_______________________ .

9.  What would the prospects be for unmarried women from Isaiah 4:1?

10.  What is troubling about this picture of the destruction and destitution of women?

III.  Behind the masquerade.

Isaiah’s condemnation of the women of Zion has two aspects.  Women are used as a metaphor for Judah through this picture of pride, injustice toward the poor, and self-indulgence. Eventually “she” will be struck down to the ground (v.26).  But the aspect that must penetrate our hearts is a real-life depiction that mirrors what God may see in women today. Isaiah could be describing the women who walk the streets of our towns, and many who walk the corridors of our church buildings.  Isaiah laments that “there is no end to their treasures” (Isaiah 2:7).  We as well are all rich beyond imagination, but too often we lack things that delight God.

1.  What deadly beliefs are buried beneath hair-dos? What belief leads to life? (John 12:44-50)

2.  If our eyes recorded our thoughts, what would the world see?  What would Jesus like to see? (Philippians 4:8-9)

3.  What makes our hands dirty in God’s eyes?  What work of our hands would be a beautiful adornment in God’s eyes? (1 Corinthians 6:4—7)

4.  What steps lead us away from God?  When would our feet be beautiful to God?  (Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7)

IV.  A beautiful day.  Isaiah 4:2-6

1.  What will appear in “that day”?  (4:2)

2.  What is the branch metaphor used to describe? (4:2b-3) (cf. Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8)

3.  What will God do in that day?  (4:4)

4.  Fill in the blanks from verse 6.  The branch will be a _________________, a ____________________

and a ___________________   ______________.

The church of Jesus Christ is what God planned from the beginning.  The beautiful picture of the church from Isaiah 4:6 is just the opposite of what the Israelites turned out to be because their hearts were far from God.  In The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, Leslie Vernick explains that we cannot overcome pride, and a myriad of other destructive attitudes, until we change the “internal heart themes of entitlement and self-centeredness” (86).   But when His indwelling spirit controls our hearts, we can be Jesus’ eyes of love, hands of service, and feet that carry the good news to all people.

Key Question:  What are you doing to change the feelings of entitlement and self-centeredness that threaten to control your heart?

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