Isaiah, the first book of the prophets is known for its future predictions. It also condemns the Israelites for their waywardness before offering hope for a brighter future. This [Isaiah] is one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. His name means “the Lord is salvation.” This book was written between 740 BC and 680 BC. Isaiah is credited with prophesying beyond his own life span. He foretold the future destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and the release of the Jewish people from exile. Christians, as a result of Isaiah’s prediction of the coming of a king with bloodlines to David, consider this extremely important book valuable because it is quoted widely by our New Testament writers.
How did Isaiah react to being called a prophet? How did Isaiah advise King Ahaz? Isaiah’s prophecies were directed mainly at those living in Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. He warned his peers that their lack of faith would result in punishment from God. During this time, God was greatly dissatisfied with his people in Jerusalem. They enjoyed many luxuries while religion only received token support! For the poor, the courts offered no justice and perhaps no one was looking out for those in lower positions in life.
When we say I heard the Lord calling him to be a prophet, in the last year of King Uzziah’s reign, he readily accepted. From that moment he became God’s messenger who issued warnings that were barely obeyed. When King Ahaz wanted those worldly means to protect his people from the alliance of Syria and Israel, Isaiah advised him to turn wholeheartedly to God for protection. King Hezekiah also agreed to follow Isaiah’s advice while seeing Assyrian forces gather at the gates of Jerusalem. How did Isaiah respond? Isaiah questioned Hezekiah and he especially wanted to know what was shown to the Babylonians when they toured his Palace? Hezekiah bravely spoke up and admitted that he showed them everything! Later Isaiah made the prediction about heirlooms and treasures in the temple and in the palace of Jerusalem being carried off to Babylon. Of course many of the king’s descendants were also carried off as soon as possible.
Throughout the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, much attention is devoted to immediate repentance. The remaining 27 chapters of this book predict the future to comfort God’s people and to reassure them of the Lord’s help at the hands of Cyrus the Great. Gradually they returned to Jerusalem which is the world’s holy city! What does Isaiah say about Christ as the suffering servant? And in Isaiah 53:5-6, Christians learn of Christ the Messiah who was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities with the chastisement of our peace upon Him and with His stripes we are healed! Because of our being like stray sheep going our own way, the Lord laid on Christ the iniquity of all of us!
Isaiah’s visions and predictions occurred during the reigns of four kings – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. He was related to one of the kings of Judah which allowed him to enjoy a royal position in society. Later in life, and in chapter 6, Isaiah said he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then he said, “Here am I; send me.”
Isaiah does not say much about himself. His call to Ministry came in the year King Uzziah died, around 740 BC. The book of Isaiah teaches us that God is the glory of his people, presents the good news of salvation, the difference between idols and our true God and our Redeemer from Everlasting is His name. Let us continue to seek God’s help and seeing the folly of not trusting God as Isaiah has so faithfully demonstrated!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.