The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Part 5

Section Review of Isaiah 1- 39

Having accused Israel of immorality, injustice, and idolatry in chapters 1 – 39, Isaiah predicted the nation would be assaulted by Assyria and then by Babylon. God does not hesitate to use an evil empire to discipline His people, and then judgment falls on that empire for its own transgressions.

History records that what Isaiah predicted came to pass, which is one good reason to believe the Bible is the Word of God, and is not a book of human origin like other books in the world. Jerusalem did fall to Babylon, and many people were sent into exile for seventy years.

Isaiah’s Greater Hope: Isaiah 40 – 66

Despite the severity of God in administering discipline to Israel, the prophet gave people hope of a better future. The Messiah would come. Jerusalem would be cleansed. The nations of the earth would worship in the Holy City. Comfort would yet come to God’s people. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Isaiah 40:1).

God delights in comforting His people. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

Individuals need God’s comfort because there is so much fear and anxiety in life. The origin of fear is sin. The enhancement of fear is promoted by evil individuals in religion, in government, and in society, who wish to control, or extort others for selfish reasons. People are afraid of the present and terrified of the future. There are wars and rumors of war. There is the threat of a nuclear holocaust if war breaks out between countries armed with weapons of mass destruction. There is the fear of the dreadful virus COVID, and its ability to mutate.  There is concern about excessive national debt. Individuals need comfort as they face their personal problems with health issues, relationships, marriage, and work. Let the Church take the message of hope and comfort to others. Christian’s need to find a way to comfort God’s people.

Comfort for the People of God: Isaiah 40

Being transported two hundred years into the future by the Spirit of God, Isaiah anticipated the time would come when God’s judgment against Israel would be completed. A new era would begin with the restoration of the people to the Land of Promise. God was going to bring His kingdom to earth in the person and work of Jesus Christ, this happened. At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus preached and said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Later, Jesus would teach, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

Consider

Since Isaiah made his prediction c. 720 BC, but saw events occurring c. 530 BC, this is a remarkable prophetic chapter.

There are Bible teachers who recognize the language of Isaiah 40, and following, as the voice of someone who seemed to be alive after the Babylonian Exile, and have concluded there are two authors of this book, or two Isaiahs.  Liberal theologians have made this idea popular, and acceptable in the Church, because of a fundamental disbelief in the gift of prophecy.

Conservative Bible teachers reject the presuppositional position of Liberal Theology, and note that Jesus quoted from both sections (Section I, Isaiah 1-39; Section II, Isaiah 40-66) of the book as the writing of “the prophet Isaiah”. Matthew 12:17-18 quotes Isaiah 42:1, while Matthew 3:3 deals with Isaiah 40:3 and Luke 3:4 quotes Isaiah 40:3-5.

In an effort to reconcile the extreme position of disbelief held by Liberal Theologians, some well-meaning Bible students have postulated that the prophetic voice of impending judgment Isaiah spoke about in chapter 1 – 39 came to pass, and then his words were sealed up (Isaiah 8:16; 29:10-12, 30:8-9). Later, his “prophetic disciples” took his writings and applied them to his day in their own words.

As charitable as the heart might want to be towards sincere religious conservative compromisers, it is not necessary to create new language, such as “prophetic disciples”, to explain the book of Isaiah.

The Church always diminishes her moral, theological, and Biblical authority once she begins to compromise with Liberal Theology, reflected in Dispensational theology embracing the GAP Theory, and Liberal Theologians accepting the idea of theistic evolution, or embracing the authorship of more than one person for the book of Isaiah. Let God be true and every man a liar on these matters.

Of the eighty-five quotes, or references to Isaiah in the New Testament, not one word is mentioned about a dual authorship or “prophetic disciples.”

The Main Message: Isaiah 40 – 48

The primary teaching of the prophet Isaiah is that Israel shall be God’s servant, and shall be a blessing to the nations of the world as established in the original covenant with Abraham. “Abraham,” said the Lord, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3).

Abraham believed God, and left Ur of Chaldees. Because of his faith, the Abrahamic Covenant was established in Genesis 15:18-21, and affirmed in Genesis 17:1-21. Then, it was renewed with Isaac, in Genesis 26:2-5, and Jacob in Genesis 28:10-17.

Isaiah reminded Israel that God would have them bless all the nations of the earth as God’s servant by teaching others the Law of Moses, recording the words of the prophets, and producing the Messiah.

However, time and again Israel questioned the love of God (Isaiah 40:27). Israel complained and turned to idols, such as Baal and Ashtaroth. “And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth” (Judges 2:13).

The Trial: Isaiah 41 – 47

Though the Lord does not have to explain, or defend His actions, sometimes He does. Using a courtroom setting, through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord explained to His people that He had not neglected them, but ordained all things for their good, and His glory. Even the Babylonian Exile was rooted in God’s great love, not His total abandonment. Cursing would be turned into blesseding. For this reason, the Lord could say to His people, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). Indeed, God did raise up the Persians to conquer Babylon so that the people could return home from exile. Therefore, let the people know that God is the God of history. He raises up nations, and tears them down, according to His own sovereign purposes.

The Sovereign God: Isaiah 48

Because of the hardness of the human heart, by the end of the formal arraignment in chapter 48, nothing changed. Nevertheless, the Lord had His say. He knew the people were obstinate (Isaiah 48:4), but he declared the future before it came to pass, in order to show the people that it was He, not their graven images, who commands the universe, and their fate (Isaiah 48:5).

There is a Redeemer: Isaiah 49 – 55

In these chapters a Servant is presented, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who takes the place of Israel, the true Israel of God. Jesus takes the place of the nation, to become a blessing to all nations. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Though the Messiah is gracious, and His invitation is universal, Israel predicted the Messiah would be rejected and killed (50:4-9; 52:13-53:12).

The idea of a wounded and suffering Messiah would blind many Jews from seeing Jesus as their King at His first advent, because according to tradition, and Scripture, the Messiah is glorious, majestic, and sovereign. Christian theology sees all of that in Jesus, but Judaism does not. By God’s grace, the time might yet come when Jews look afresh on Jesus, and confess Him as Lord and say with the Church, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).

Until there is a time of national conversion for natural Israel, the gospel must be proclaimed to the Jews, and to all nations. The Church must tell everyone that the coming King Jesus is the Servant of whom Isaiah spoke, whose death was a sacrifice, and a substitute for sinners. Those whose eyes are illuminated by the Holy Spirit know that “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Confirmation that the sacrificial life of Jesus was not in vain, is confirmed in the fact that God raised Him from the dead, so that it can be said, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:10-12). Let the Church sing a song of faith, triumph, and victory.

“Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

—Robert Lowry

Responding to God’s Servant: Isaiah 54 – 55

When the gospel of Christ is preached, some will bow before the Lord’s Servant in humility, and receive God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord (Rom. 6:23).

Others will reject God’s way of salvation, and demand to be judged according to their own works, which the Lord will do. However, let those who do not call Jesus, Lord, let them be warned. Your good works will damn you.

In the Revelation, John said, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12-15).

Three Poems of Promise: Isaiah 56 – 66

The final chapters of Isaiah bring together the prayers of those who repent (Isaiah 59; 63, 64), all the great promises associated with the kingdom of God (Isaiah 60 – 62), and the fate of the wicked (Isaiah 56-58; 65, 66).

The best news is that God will one day judge the wicked, and remove them from His presence, and from His people, forever.

What a day that will be!

“There is coming a day,
When no heart aches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky,
No more tears to dim the eye,
All is peace forever more,
On that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

There’ll be no sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain,
No more parting over there;
And forever I will be,
With the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.”

—Jim Hill

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