Isaiah's life was spent under the cloud of rising Assyrian world domination. He lived in Jerusalem and was the counselor of kings. He prophesied during the reigns of the four kings mentioned in Isaiah 1:1. God’s call came the year King Uzziah died (740 B.C.).
Kings put their trust in political alliances, military strength and even in pagan religions rather than in God, and the people followed them. Many people were tempted by the materialistic cultures of the powerful nations that surrounded Judah.
Isaiah proclaimed the sovereignty of God who is the ruler of all nations. He called God's people to put their trust in God and to obey him. He warned that failure to obey God would bring down God's wrath and national destruction. Judah’s greatest enemy was her own moral corruption. Salvation could not be found in foreign alliances, but in the Sovereign God.
Isaiah prophesied about events that happened long after his death. He spoke about the Babylonian exile and he wrote words of comfort and hope to the exiles. Isaiah also looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, a descendant of David who would usher in a kingdom of peace and justice and righteousness. Isaiah described the Suffering Servant and looked forward to his coming.
The Book of Isaiah may be divided into 3 parts:
Chapters 1-39: God's judgment on Judah and the nations
Chapters 40-55: God's Servant
Chapters 56-66: Repentance and restoration.
COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER
Key Verse: 1:18
1. My people have rebelled (1-17)
In the face of growing threats from powerful neighbors, fear filled the hearts of the people. Many sought help in the immoral and idolatrous religions of foreign nations. But they needed to fear God, not men, and repent. God was the one who could help them. Because they rebelled against God, violence, injustice and moral corruption were rampant. Israel was more stupid than a dumb animal: Oxen and donkeys know their masters, but Israel rebelled against her Maker. God hates meaningless religious ceremonies; he wants his people to love him and to practice justice and mercy. In any age a godless society becomes violent, corrupt and
full of injustice.
2. Come now, let us reason together (18-31)
God invites rebellious people to a personal relationship. He invites us to talk with him and he offers to cleanse our sins. Obedience leads to life, rebellion, to death. Read verses 21-31 and find God's warning and promise.
Prayer: Lord, take away my rebel heart and give me a heart that loves and obeys you.
One Word: Come, let us reason together
THE LAW WILL GO OUT FROM ZION
Key Verse: 2:3
1. All nations will stream to it (1-5)
God's great purpose and vision for his people is that they be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests--a nation of Bible teachers and shepherds for the world. He wants his word to go out from his holy hill to the ends of the earth, so that all people might repent and walk in his ways. Then they will beat their swords into plowshares and there will be peace on earth.
2. The Lord alone will be exalted (6-22)
When God's people turn from God's ways to follow other gods or when they depend on man rather than on God (6-9,22), they cannot teach God's ways to anyone. Proud people who depend on themselves cannot serve God. When the day of the Lord dawns, proud people will be humbled and the Lord alone will be exalted. Spiritual order will be restored and God will rule in peace.
Prayer: Lord, you established this country to be a city on a hill, a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. Fulfill your purpose for us. Let the word of the Lord again go out from this land.
One Word: A kingdom of priests and a holy nation
SIGNS OF NATIONAL CORRUPTION
Isaiah 3:1-4:1 (Key Verse: 3:14
1. A nation without shepherds (3:1-12)
When there are no heroes, no great men to be role models for the young, no responsible leaders who are concerned about the nation, moral and spiritual chaos results. People oppress each other; no one wants to be a leader; blatant immorality like that of Sodom becomes commonplace. God will rise to judge his people. How can a once godly nation become like this? If they abandon God, this is the inevitable result.
2. God's judgment (3:13-4:1)
When the Lord rises up to judge his people, he accuses the leaders and the women of ruining the vineyard of Israel. The leaders have abused their trust and exploited the people. They have become rich by grinding the faces of the poor in the dirt. The women became proud and unspiritual. They were only interested in clothes and men. God would take away both. Defeat and captivity was coming.
Prayer: Lord, raise up leaders who care about justice and about people. Help the women of our land to repent and turn to you in prayer.
One Word: Repent or face God's judgment
THE BRANCH OF THE LORD
Key Verse: 4:2
1. The Branch of the Lord (2)
Prophecy in the Bible is God's promise. God keeps his promises. The Branch of the Lord is the Messiah. God began the fulfillment of this prophecy when he sent Christ to live as his servant and to give his life as a ransom for sinners to save God's remnant. When Jesus comes again in glory to usher in his Messianic kingdom, the fruit of this beautiful Branch will be glorious indeed. God's promises are the real hope of all people.
2. A remnant in Israel (3-6)
The day of the Lord is a day of destruction for the wicked, but a day of restoration and salvation for the remnant of God's people. After the time of destruction, a remnant preserved by God's grace will remain. The Lord himself will wash away the filth and the bloodstains and make a shelter, a place of rest and refuge for his people. Let's be a part of that remnant.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the glorious hope you have given us. Keep me as one of your remnant people.
One Word: Rejoice in the glorious Branch
THE SONG OF THE VINEYARD
Key Verse: 5:1
1. My loved one had a vineyard (1-2a)
God is the vinedresser. Israel was his lovely vineyard. God cared for his vineyard and worked hard to help his people bear good fruit. Like the vineyard owner who built a watchtower and dug a winepress, he expected a crop of good fruit. Today, the people of Jesus are the new Israel of God (Mk 12:1-12). God saved us and made us his people so that we might bear the good fruit of Christian character and good fruit of preaching the gospel to all people. His name is glorified by good fruit.
2. Bad fruit (2b-7)
The vines that had been so carefully nurtured and so lovingly cared for produced bad fruit. Israel became proud and selfish instead of loving, obedient and thankful. She served idols. She disappointed God. God punished her by removing his loving, protecting hand and withholding his blessings from her.
Prayer: Lord, let the fruit of my life be good fruit that pleases you.
One Word: My Loved One's vineyard
WHEN GOD'S WORD IS NEGLECTED
Key Verse: 5:24b
1. Those who ignore what God is doing (8-16)
God blessed his people. But the people of Israel only thought about building houses and having fun. They were not interested in what God was doing in his world. Isaiah said that they would go into exile because of their ignorance (13). They did. When people are selfish and only seek pleasure, they will perish in their ignorance. The arrogant will be humbled and the Lord will be exalted (15,16).
2. Those who call evil “good” and good, “evil” (17-30)
The sophisticated people of Jerusalem seemed to be very clever. They were wise in their own eyes and they made light of God's work. They did "their own thing" with no sense of right and wrong, taking no responsibility for their influence. Their heroes were heroes at drinking and champions at mixing drinks. Justice disappeared from the land. When God’s word is neglected, people call evil “good” and good, “evil.” Growing young people are ensnared in a morass of moral confusion. And God is angry.
Prayer: Lord, raise up people of God who obey your word and care about your work.
One Word: Don't neglect God's word
WHOM SHALL I SEND?
Key Verse: 6:8
1. A vision of the Holy, Almighty God (1-7)
During King Uzziah's 52-year reign there had been peace and prosperity. People became selfish and corrupt. In the year of Uzziah's death, Isaiah saw a vision of the Holy God whose glory fills the whole earth. Isaiah repented, for he had not used his mouth to praise God--he had only complained and spoken words of despair. He cried out, "Woe to me." God sent a seraph to touch his mouth with a burning coal and take away his sin.
2. Here am I. Send me! (8-13)
God wanted to send Isaiah to his people with a message of repentance. Isaiah accepted God's cleansing and answered God's call. But the people were hardened by sin and pleasure-seeking; God knew that they would close their ears to his message. How long must God's servant preach to them? He must declare God's word to the end. Then, God's precious remnant would be saved–the holy seed in the stump. God works through a remnant.
Prayer: Lord, I and my people have unclean lips; cleanse me and use me.
One Word: Here am I. Send me!
THE SIGN OF IMMANUEL
Key Verse: 7:14
1. Two smoldering stubs of firewood (1-11)
Aram made an alliance with Israel to attack Judah. King Ahaz and his people trembled in fear like leaves in the wind because he put his trust in men and materials instead of in God. Isaiah took his son and went to help Ahaz to see himself and his enemies from God's point of view. It was not the time to tremble in fear; it was the time to trust in God. The enemy who threatened him would soon be extinguished like two smoldering sticks of firewood.
2. Immanuel (12-25)
When Ahaz refused to ask God for a sign, God promised to give him a sign anyway--the sign of Immanuel--God with us. He promised that a virgin would give birth to a child, Immanuel. Even when Assyria overwhelmed the land, God would be with them, and his remnant would be left. Jesus came as Immanuel God to be with us (Mt 1:22,23).
Prayer: Lord, be with me and my people forever. Help us to trust you, not high tech.
One Word: Immanuel God is with us
DO NOT FEAR WHAT THEY FEAR
Key Verse: 8:12,13
1. Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (1-10)
Ahaz and the people of Judah feared an invasion by Aram (Syria) and Israel (Northern Israel). But the real threat was the one from whom they sought help--Assyria. The name of Isaiah's second son is God's message to Ahaz. God would use Assyria as his instrument of judgment to plunder and destroy Northern Israel and Aram. The floodwaters would come up to Judah's neck--Jerusalem would be besieged, but it would not fall because Immanuel God was with her.
2. Fear the Lord (11-22)
Fear makes people do strange things. The Lord warns us not to follow other people's ways, or fear what they fear. Some people consult spiritists; others seek help from psychiatrists, or from other people. But we should fear God and consult him. When we seek God's way in the word of God, we have the light of dawn. God is a stumbling stone for those who fear men, but a shelter for those who fear him.
Prayer. Lord, teach me to fear you and walk in your ways.
One Word: Don't fear what others fear
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
Key Verse: 9:6
1. A Child is born (1-7)
Isaiah saw that his nation was rushing headlong toward disaster. Because of their sins, the people sat in darkness, burdened by the yoke of guilt and fear. But God promised a Child who would break the yoke. His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is the Christ, the promised descendant of David and Son of God who breaks the yoke of sin and guilt.
2. The people have not returned (8-21)
When God disciplined Israel, she did not repent. She rebelled against God. The people were godless; they were proud and arrogant. When God punished them, they confidently said, "We'll build back better houses and plant better trees." They did not humble themselves and turn to God. God's punishment is meant to lead his people to repentance, but when people do not repent, his wrath burns hot, and his hand of judgment is upraised.
Prayer: Lord, give me a repentant heart and simple faith to welcome the Prince of Peace.
One Word: Jesus is the Prince of Peace
A REMNANT WILL RETURN
Key Verse: 10:20,21
1. The rod of God's anger (1-19)
God is concerned about human rights; he hates injustice. He warned the leaders of Israel that he would use Assyria as a rod to discipline them for making unjust laws, for depriving the poor of their rights, for oppressing God's people and making weak people their prey. These selfish leaders would fall with the slain or cringe among the captives. He wants his people to repent and turn to him for healing and victory.
2. A remnant will return (20-34)
Assyria would not dominate the world permanently. God's anger against his people would soon turn. He would punish the king of Assyria for his arrogance and wilful pride. A remnant of Israel would repent and turn to God. God always works through a holy remnant. Although the majority of those who taste his blessings turn from him; there is a holy remnant who will repent and become stewards of his history.
Prayer: Lord, help me to remain as one of your holy remnant. Give me a repentant heart each day as I come into your presence in prayer.
One Word: Be one of God's remnant people
THE ROOT OF JESSE
Key Verse: 11:1
1. A fruitful Branch (1-9)
Isaiah looked forward to Christ's coming. He would be a descendant of King David, son of Jesse. When Jesus walked the earth the Spirit of the Lord rested on him. He feared and loved his Father God with a holy love. He revealed God’s love and righteousness to sinsick and dying people. Jesus’ kingdom in our hearts brings forgiveness and peace. When he comes again to establish his Messianic kingdom, he will not judge by superficial appearances, but with righteousness. In his kingdom, natural enemies will all become friends. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
2. He will stand as a banner for the peoples (10-16)
The Lord knows his own people. On the day of judgment the Lord will gather his elect people to himself from the ends of the earth. He will give them victory, and they will reign with him.
Prayer: Lord, rule my heart with your righteousness and peace, for I am one of your own people. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
One Word: God's kingdom--our real hope.
DRAW WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION
Key Verse: 12:2,3
1. The source of joy (1-3)
The exiles in Babylon could find nothing in their circumstances to make them joyful. They knew that they deserved God's punishment. But they also knew that God is a God of mercy. They could say, "God is my salvation." They remembered God's grace in the Exodus from Egypt (Ex 15:2). They could trust God and not be afraid. When everything seems to go wrong, and sorrow overwhelms us, it is the time to draw water from the wells of salvation and be filled with joy in the Lord (1Th 5:16).
2. Make it known among the nations (4-6)
God saved his people from Egypt so that they could be for him a kingdom of priests --to bring the world to God (Ex 19:6). When God brings us out of bondage, we should thank him--and make known among the nations what he has done. God saved us so that we might be a channel of God’s blessing to the whole world. Great is the Holy One among us!
Prayer: Lord, help me to draw water from the wells of salvation and make your saving grace known to all the world.
One Word: Draw water from the wells of salvation
THE DAY OF THE LORD
(Judgment against the nations--13:1-23:18)
Key Verse: 13:9,11
1. I will punish the world for its evil (1-13)
This is a prophecy about Babylon, the proud and arrogant people who invaded the land, ravaged Jerusalem and took the people into captivity. God's judgment on Babylon would be a preview of the day of judgment, the day when the Lord would come to punish the world for its evil and put an end to the arrogance of proud people. When the Lord's army musters and his banner is raised on a bare hilltop, all those who love