Monday, November 12, 2018
For many people, the Westminster Confession of Faith provides a systematic and concise understanding of the Holy Scriptures, God, and His creation. The Westminster Confession of Faith is organized into thirty-five chapters to systemize the entire Bible into topics such as the Holy Scriptures, God and of the Holy Trinity, God's Eternal Decree, Creation, and Providence. Amazingly, the Old Testament book of Isaiah produces a very different picture of God and theology.
The book of Isaiah could be called the Holy Bible in miniature. Numerous theology themes fill the pages of the prophet Isaiah’s sixty-six chapters. Many biblical scholars believe that the Old Testament book of Isaiah is a theological masterpiece filled with insights into the glory and nature of the living holy God. Because of the book of Isaiah’s length, some people find Isaiah’s book hard to grasp.
Of all the books of the Holy Scriptures, the book of Isaiah provides a complete picture of the true and living God. Isaiah describes the living and true God as unique and transcendent (beyond our experience). Yet, Isaiah reveals the holy and exalted God as our Immanuel, “God is with us” (see Isaiah 7:14). The true and living God is close and near to the humble of heart who seek and love Him (Isaiah 57:15; see also Psalm 145:18). Therefore, the living God’s nearness prepares Isaiah’s readers to receive the living God incarnate (in human flesh) as Immanuel, Christ Jesus our Savior (see Matthew 1:23).
Isaiah’s name means, “Yahweh is salvation” or the “the LORD saves.” The book of Isaiah calls on all people to turn away from their many false saviors and gods to the only true and living God, Yahweh, for our salvation (e.g., see Isaiah 45:21). Isaiah proclaims the only way to receive the God’s salvation and blessings is through our wholehearted surrender and trust in Him and not any other false gods, foreign nation, nor military alliance (e.g., see Isaiah 7:1-25).
Moreover, the book of Isaiah also tells the story of God’s righteous judgment on His sinful and rebellious people through the great Exile (see Isaiah 5:7, 24-30). However, Isaiah also declares God’s redemption and restoration (see Isaiah 40:1-2). The living God promises to cleanse and preserve a faithful remnant that will glorify Him among the nations and demonstrate that He alone is the true and living God (see Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 53:6, 10). Isaiah promises the holy God will set aside a faithful remnant for Himself (Isaiah 4:2-3; Isaiah 6:13).
Furthermore, the book of Isaiah promises the coming Kingdom of God, and God’s Kingdom will be centered in Zion (new Eden or the new Jerusalem) (e.g., see Isaiah 59:20). In the book of Isaiah, the Holy One of Israel identifies Himself with holy Zion, His symbolic dwelling place (see Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 27:13; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 60:1-22). Isaiah promises Zion will be populated by God’s faithful, merciful, and obedient people, and ruled by God’s Righteous Servant, the Messiah (Christ) (e.g., see Isaiah 1:27-28; Isaiah 33:5). God’s Righteous Servant will build Zion on the power of mercy, holiness, and goodness rather than oppression and injustice (see Isaiah 62:11).
The Holy One of Israel is a key phrase in Isaiah. The Holy One is the King (see Isaiah 6:5), the righteous and just One (see Isaiah 26:7), the incomparable God (see Isaiah 40:25), and the Redeemer of His faithful people (see Isaiah 41:14). Even more, the Holy One of Israel is filled with power and strength (see Isaiah 52:10). Isaiah describes the true and living God as holy and morally perfect (see Isaiah 6:3, 5). God’s holiness requires our purity, holiness, and goodness (see Isaiah 1:15-20; Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 6:3-5; Isaiah 33:14-15). Anyone coming to the Holy One must worship Him in wholehearted reverence, obedience, and awe (see Isaiah 66:1-3).
Moreover, the Creator and Holy One of Israel is just, and His justice (mishpat) is part of His divine order (e.g., see Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 56:1-2). The theme of God’s justice and righteousness runs throughout all of Isaiah e.g., Isaiah 1:17, 21-23; Isaiah 5:7-23; Isaiah 32:6-7; Isaiah 58:2). The living God rules and governs His world with justice (e.g., see Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 30:18). For the LORD God loves justice, and He hates evil, robbery, and wrongdoing (e.g., see Isaiah 5:16; Isaiah 61:8). The Holy One of Israel also looks for justice from His people toward all people, especially the poor, widows, and the oppressed (e.g., see Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 10:1-2). The living God blesses and rewards those who also seek justice, good deeds, and righteousness (Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 56:1-2; see also e.g., Psalm 11:7; Matthew 5:10).
God’s nature as justice explains the prophecies of judgment, which condemn the leaders and wealthy for their injustice. God’s vengeance is just, because people get no worse than they deserve (e.g., see Isaiah 3:9-11; Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 59:18). Moreover, God’s justice explains the prophecies against the Gentile nations because of their oppressive, proud, and unjust ways. Justice is central to God, and humans are condemned for failing to uphold God’s justice in His world (see Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 29:21). Justice demands relating rightly to God and dealing fairly and mercifully with our fellow human (Isaiah 1:21; see also Micah 6:6-8; Zechariah 7:9; Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-37).
The Good News is that the Holy One of Israel is also our Redeemer that seeks, rescues, and saves all who seek Him and turn from sin and wickedness (see Isaiah 49:7). In the book of Isaiah, the living God promises to send His Righteous Servant to cleanse and atone for our sins and rebellion (Isaiah 53:4-10; see also John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13-14). The Holy One promises to wash away one’s filth and promises to be present with His faithful and obedient people (e.g., see Isaiah 12:6; Isaiah 35:8-9; Isaiah 62:12).
Even more, Isaiah declares the living God’s Righteous Servant, Jesus the Messiah, will usher in a just and merciful world (e.g., see Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:2-5; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 32:1-2), and His Spirit will transform the world into a place of justice, righteousness, and peace (Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 32:15-17; Isaiah 61:1-2; see also Luke 4:16-20). God’s Righteous Servant will proclaim the new order of justice and righteousness to the world (see Isaiah 42:3-4). When God’s Kingdom is fully established, the world (Eden or new Zion) will too be just and righteous (Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 28:6; see also 2 Peter 3:13).
Finally, Isaiah proclaims Good News for all people, not just Israel (see Isaiah 52:7). Particularly, Isaiah proclaims Good News to the poor, oppressed, the blind, the prisoner, and needy, whose rights have been denied by the rich and powerful of society (see Isaiah 61:1-4). Even more, Jesus as God’s Righteous Servant receives His Father’s just judgment on as a willing substitute (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; see also e.g., Romans 6:22-23; 1 Peter 3:18). As God’s Righteous Servant, Isaiah promises He will bring God’s glorious light to all nations and all people (Isaiah 9:1-2; Isaiah 42:7; see also Matthew 4:15-16).
The book of Isaiah starts around 740 BC, at the time of King Uzziah’s death (see Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 2:1; Isaiah 6:1). King Uzziah, also known as Azariah in some biblical translations, ruled in Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, from 792 to 740 BC (e.g., see 2 Kings 14:21-22; 2 Kings 15:1-7, 13, 30, 32, 34; Chronicles 26:1-23). Isaiah lived at a crucial time, midway between the founding of the kingdom under Saul and David, and its eventual destruction. Sadly, a civil war split and divided the Israelites into the North (Israel) and the South (Judah) after King Solomon’s death (see 1 Kings 11:9-13; 1 Kings 12:16-20). The prophet Isaiah lived in the more religious southern kingdom of Judah where Jerusalem and the Temple were located (see Isaiah 1:1). The prophet Isaiah ministered and served as an advisor for four kings of Judah – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (e.g., see Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 7:1; Isaiah 37:2-39:8).
When Isaiah began his prophetic ministry, Judah and Israel seemed strong and wealthy. However, the prophet Isaiah saw people using their power and wealth to harass and oppress the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien (e.g., see Isaiah 1:16-20, 23; James 1:27). Men went around drunk, and women cared more about their clothes than their neighbor’s hunger and the oppressed (e.g., see Isaiah 3:16-24; Isaiah 5:7-12). People gave “lip service” to God with their outward religious ceremonies, rituals and fasts, and they kept up an appearance as righteous and good, but inwardly they neglected mercy, truth, justice, and goodness (e.g., see Isaiah 1:10-15).
Also, during this time, Judah faced a major crisis from the Assyrian empire. The Assyrian conquest reached southwestward from its homeland in what is now northern Iraq toward its ultimate destination, Egypt. The small nations of the Mediterranean coast, including Israel and Judah, stood in Assyria’s path. Assyria took Galilee and much of Israel’s territory east of the Jordan River. However Assyria would be satisfied only with total control of Israel, Judah, and all the other smaller nations in the area.
During King Uzziah’s reign as king of Judah, Judah has a strong army (see 2 Chronicles 26:11-15). After Uzziah’s death, ungodly King Jotham and King Ahaz began to reign as king of Judah. Then, God gave Isaiah a vision to reveal that He is the true King and Lord not only of Judah but the ENTIRE world (see Isaiah 6:1-8). After seeing the living and glorious God, Isaiah gave a message to King Ahaz to trust in the living God because God is dependable (see Isaiah 7:1-25). However, King Ahaz ignored Isaiah’s message to trust the living God, and he foolishly placed his trust in human efforts and human alliance (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 28:16-21; Isaiah 7:1-12). After King Ahaz’s death, eventually good King Hezekiah ruled Judah. This time King Hezekiah heeded Isaiah’s warning and trusted in the ling God to protect Judah. King Hezekiah and the people of Judah relied on God’s faithfulness, and as promised, God rescued the nation from the Assyrians (see Isaiah 37:21-36). Regrettably, the people of Judah did not remain faithful to God after King Hezekiah’s death. As a result, God eventually allowed Judah to be defeated by the evil Babylonians in 586 BC (see 2 Kings 25:1-21; Jeremiah 52:12-27).
However, the prophet Isaiah assured both Israel and Judah that the living God is still faithful to His those who are continually faithful and obedient to Him (see Isaiah 6:13). The living God promised comfort, restoration, and salvation to God’s faithful people (Isaiah 40:1-2; see also Ezra 1:1-4).
II. Doctrine of Isaiah
A. True Religion
The beginning chapters of Isaiah gives the prophet’s definition of “true religion.” In Isaiah 1:10-27, living LORD Almighty censored the leadership of Israel and Judah because of their multiple sins and rebellion against their fellow brothers and sisters. The LORD Almighty was sick of the people’s many outward religious sacrifices, ceremonies, offerings, prayers, and rituals as they continued in sin and wickedness (see Isaiah 1:11-15). The leaders, wealthy, and influential members of Israel and Judah were filled with murder, injustice, brides, thief, and oppression (Isaiah 1:15-16, 23; see also Isaiah 5:7-24). The people of Israel and Judah, particularly the rulers and elders, defrauded the poor, lied and cheated, and they stole and mistreated the fatherless, widows and the oppressed (e.g., see Isaiah 3:13-24; Isaiah 59:1-15).
The prophet Isaiah encouraged the people to stop their sin and wickedness and do good, be fair and help the poor, the fatherless, and widows (Isaiah 1:16-17; see also James 1:27). If they would seek and do goodness, righteousness, and mercy for the poor, fatherless, and widows, the LORD Almighty promised to remove their sins, make the people as white and pure as snow, and pour out His abundant grace from heaven (Isaiah 1:18-19; see also Matthew 23:23). However, the LORD warned Israel and Judah if they continued their path of wickedness and sins against the poor, the fatherless, and widow, it will lead to His wrath and destruction (see Isaiah 1:20-25, 28-31).
The Holy God reveals Himself Holy and Righteous as practiced by the community of faith. Thus, God's people who use His name in worship gives God a bad name with their bad acts. If they claimed alliance to a Holy God, Israel and Judah were expected to embody the LORD’s character. The LORD's righteousness as seen in the righteousness of His people. Thus, according to Isaiah theology, the LORD calls upon His creation to do good and not evil, do justice to the disadvantage, stop hypocritical religious, and feed the poor. Justice, mercy, and faithfulness are more important to the LORD than our religious rituals, ceremonies, and fasting (e.g., see Isaiah 58:3-6; Isaiah 59:14-15). Orthodoxy is not an excuse for callous orthopraxy.
In the book of Isaiah, the LORD promises a coming Ruler that will eliminate oppression and injustice and bring the LORD’s justice and mercy for all nations and all people (Isaiah 30:18; see also e.g., Hosea 2:19; Matthew 23:23). The LORD’s Righteous Servant will be filled with the LORD’s Spirit and bring forth justice to throughout the nations, and not just for Israel and Judah (see Isaiah 42:1-4). The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophet Isaiah’s predictions as during His public ministry, the Lord Jesus went around doing good, performing acts of compassion, and mercy for all (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 9:35-36; Acts 10:36).
B. God is the Holy One of Israel
Throughout the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the living God is called the Holy One of Israel. The theme of God as the Holy One of Israel unites all sixty-six chapters of the entire book of Isaiah (e.g., see Isaiah 1:2-4; Isaiah 31:1). God as the Holy One of Israel means that God demands our wholehearted love, honor and honor (e.g., see Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 66:1-2). Even more, the Holy One of Israel also commands His people to be holy and reflect His holiness in His creation (see Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 20:26; Psalm 34:9). All that God does is motivated by His holiness. In fact, the entire goal of redemptive history is to acknowledge God as holy (see also Revelation 4:8), and God’s people are to imitate God’s holiness (see Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 10:20, Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 60:9).
C. No god Compares with Yahweh
Next, the prophet Isaiah proclaims that the Holy One of Israel (Yahweh) is unlike any other god or religion. The book of Isaiah declares that Yahweh is incomparable, and He is sovereign over all the nations (see Isaiah 40:15-18). Isaiah ridicules all manmade objects of worship as meaningless (see Isaiah 40:19-20; Isaiah 44:14-20). In fact, the entire polytheistic religious system is like a block of stone or of wood overlaid with precious metal with no real divinity (see also Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 44:9-20). Thus, Isaiah teaches only Yahweh is the only true and living God of the world (see Isaiah 66:1-2). Yahweh is too big to be represented by an image as NOTHING compares to the holiness, perfection, and glory of Him. Only Yahweh knows the future, the beginning from the end, and the entire sweep of history (see Isaiah 41:21-29; Isaiah 46:8-11).
D. Trust Yahweh vs. Fear of Humans
Because there is only one true and living God (Yahweh), Isaiah repeatedly declares throughout the book of Isaiah that the LORD God (Yahweh) is the One to wholeheartedly trust and not to fear humans (e.g., see Isaiah 31:1). In fact, trusting God first and foremost for all our needs and protections and not fearing humans is an important theme of Isaiah as well as the entire Holy Scriptures (Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 17:7-8; Isaiah 22:11; see also e.g., see 2 Chronicles 32:8; Psalm 146:3; Jeremiah 17:5-9). The prophet Isaiah repeatedly encourages Israel and Judah to trust in God and not trust in humans (e.g., see Isaiah 7:1-17; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 51:12-15).
Notably, the prophet Isaiah declares to King Ahaz at Isaiah 7:9: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” This same verse can be translated, “if you will not be Amen, then you will not be Amen” This is a wordplay. Sadly, King Ahaz failed to trust in God even when the prophet Isaiah gave Ahaz a salvation oracle, Immanuel (see Isaiah 7:14). However, Ahaz’s son King Hezekiah was given a second chance, and Hezekiah trusted in God and defeated the mighty Assyrian army with the help of Almighty God (see Isaiah 36:1-37:38).
E. The Watchmen
Finally, Isaiah declares that God's holy prophets and leadership are God’s watchmen (Isaiah 56:10-11; see also Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 33:7). As God’s watchmen, God’s holy prophets and leaders are to warn others of sin, wickedness, and other spiritual dangers in the world (Isaiah 58:1; see also Jeremiah 25:4-6). Moreover, God’s calls His holy prophets and leaders to encourage the people to wholeheartedly love, honor, and obey God and His Word (e.g., see Jeremiah 31:6; Ezekiel 3:17-21). If God’s holy prophets and leaders will not lead the people in God’s righteous ways, God will punish these prophets and leaders for the people’s sins, rebellion, and wickedness (e.g., see Ezekiel 3:17-21; Ezekiel 33:7-9).
III. Eschatological Themes of Isaiah
The book of Isaiah has numerous eschatological themes linked to the future hope for Zion and a Righteous Servant that will reign in Zion with the King of glory. These themes are part of the future picture of the book of Isaiah.
A. Eden and Zion Theology
The theology of Isaiah envisions a new Eden in the future, and this Eden is a future image of Zion. In the future Zion, the sin and rebellion of Genesis 3 that corrupted all aspects of life – spiritual, psychological, social, and physical – will be reversed and all creation will be restored (see Isaiah 11:1-16; Isaiah 35:1-10). Isaiah draws on motifs from Genesis and creation such as Abraham and the patriarchs (see Isaiah 51:1-3). In the future, there will be a restoration with a new heaven and earth and a new Jerusalem like the book of Revelation (see Isaiah 65:17-25). Thus, the spiritual corruption and sin of Israel and Judah in Isaiah chapters 1 through 5 will be transformed in Isaiah chapters 60 through 66 into a holy and beautiful worship community that reflects God’s holiness originally planned in Eden. Moreover, the glory of future Zion will be for all people – the nations, and the nations will bring their wealth to Zion (e.g., see Isaiah 60:1-5). Yahweh will be established as the King of Zion and the whole world be remade with the recreation of Zion (see Isaiah 66).
B. David Theology
Importantly, the prophet Isaiah along with the other Old Testament prophets predict a coming King from the line of David (Isaiah 11:1; see also e.g., 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 1:1). This coming King from David's family line will rule and reign as the Spirit-Anointed King of all the world – the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 59:20-21; Isaiah 61:1-2; see also Matthew 2:2; Revelation 22:16). This Anointed King sitting on David’s throne will establish justice, mercy, and peace (Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 32:1, 16; Isaiah 33:5; Isaiah 42:1; see also Matthew 12:18-21). This King will rule over the whole world, and the Spirit will rest on Him (see Isaiah 11:1-10). The Messiah will the righteous Judge, and He will delight and smell out the truth in the fear of Yahweh (God) to reveal one’s true motives and heart intentions (Isaiah 11:3-5; see also 2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Furthermore, Isaiah predicted the Anointed King will have a nose for justice and righteousness (see Isaiah 11:4-5).
Moreover, the nations that will seek the Anointed King from David’s family line as their King (see Hosea 3:4-5; Amos 9:11; Zechariah 12:7-8; Zechariah 13:1; Ezekiel 37:21). Most important, Isaiah predicts a victorious and Anointed King and Messiah that will complete the conquest where the nations will fall at His feet as He rules and reigns as King (see Isaiah 9:6-7).
C. The Destiny of the Nations
Throughout the book of Isaiah, a constant theme is the destiny of the nations as originally planned by God through His servant, Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 26:4; see also Galatians 3:8). Yet, Isaiah’s predictions for the nations are paradoxical. Isaiah envisions the destructions of the nations (e.g., see Isaiah 35:4; Isaiah 41:11; Isaiah 49:25-26; Isaiah 54:15). Even more, Isaiah envisions Israel’s victory over the nations and the nations coming to Israel (e.g., see Isaiah 10:26; Isaiah 19:1-4; Isaiah 31:8; Isaiah 49:26). Significantly, Isaiah predicts the nations of the world will become subservient to Israel (e.g., see Isaiah 19:21-25; Isaiah 49:22-23; Isaiah 45:14).
Nevertheless, Isaiah envisions the nations will participate in God’s salvation. To bring salvation to the world, Isaiah predicts God will send His Righteous Servant as a Light to the nations and the nations will stream to Zion (e.g., see Isaiah 2:2-4). Isaiah’s future prediction is the opposite of Exodus theology because it will be an eisodus of the redeemed remnant of Israel and the Gentiles will come to God.
D. The Servant of the Lord
Importantly, Isaiah envisions the coming Righteous Servant of the Lord throughout all sixty-six chapters of the book of Isaiah. In fact, the word “servant” occurs exactly 40 times in Isaiah. However, who is the Lord’s servant? The prophet Isaiah is named as God’s servant (see Isaiah 20:3). At Isaiah 22:20, God calls Eliakim the son of Hilkiah His servant. Moreover, Isaiah identifies David as a servant of the Lord (see Isaiah 37:35) and Moses as God’s servant (see Isaiah 63:11).
Furthermore, Isaiah identifies Israel or Jacob as God’s servant that He has formed (see Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 44:1-2, 21; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 49:3). The living God redeemed His servant Israel to obey His righteousness commands and serve Him as God’s witness and light to the nations (see Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 48:17-20). However, Isaiah called Israel blind and deaf messengers of God that have not faithfully obeyed God (see Isaiah 42:18-19), and Israel needed God’s forgiveness (see Isaiah 44:21-22).
Nevertheless, Isaiah envisions the perfect Israel and perfect Vine in God’s Righteous Servant that will establish justice, light, and righteousness to the nations (Isaiah 42:1-4; see also John 15:1, 5). Isaiah predicts a coming Righteous Servant of the Lord that will suffer and atone for Israel’s sins (see Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Moreover, God’s Righteous Servant witnesses and proclaims redemption to all people (see Isaiah 61:1-4; Isaiah 62:1-5). This Righteous Servant of God is obedient and represents the godly in Israel. Jesus Christ fulfilled the role of the Righteous Servant envisioned by Isaiah (e.g., see Matthew 12:18-20; Luke 4:16-20).
IV. Raw Theology: Isaiah Theology in Metaphor
Many terms can be used to describe the living God. God is described as omnipotent, infinite, invisible, impassible, unchangeable, immutable, and transcendent. However, the theology of Isaiah gives many metaphors or comparison to describe the living and true God. The book of Isaiah paints a beautiful and colorful picture of God. No one can match Isaiah’s imagery.
A. God is the Vinedresser
In the book of Isaiah, the prophet describes God as the Farmer and Cultivator that tends and cares for His vine, Israel and Judah (e.g., see Isaiah 5:1-7; Isaiah 27:2-6). As the Farmer and Cultivator of the vineyard, God expected good fruit from His vineyard (e.g., see Isaiah 5:7). Sadly, God’s vineyard – Israel and Judah – were unfaithful and produced bad and inedible fruit (Isaiah 5:7-24; see also Ezekiel 15:1-8).
B. God is the Rock
Also, Isaiah describes the living God as our refuge, fortress, and protection (Isaiah 17:10; see also Psalm 46:1, 7, 11). The living and true God is our everlasting Rock we can depend upon for our all our needs and shelter (e.g., see Isaiah 26:3-4; Isaiah 31:8-9, Isaiah 32:8, Isaiah 44:8). Therefore, Isaiah declares to God’s people not to be afraid or discouraged for the LORD God is our strength, victory, and protector (Isaiah 41:10, 13-14; Isaiah 43:2, 5; Isaiah 44:2; see also Romans 8:31).
C. God is the Potter
Throughout the entire book of Isaiah, the living and true God is described a Potter (e.g., see Isaiah 29:15-16). The living God as the Potter formed and created all life (e.g., see; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8). As the Potter, Isaiah teaches it is folly to question or criticize God's ways as the Potter (see Isaiah 45:9). Instead, Isaiah teaches that all humans must love, honor, and submit to the living God as our Potter and Creator (e.g., Isaiah 29:16).
Remarkedly, Isaiah’s theology connects the living God as the Great Potter to Genesis 2. In Genesis 2, God is described as forming man or Adam from the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7). In the book of Isaiah, God is forming the nation of Israel as He originally formed man (see Isaiah 43:1, 21; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 45:18). Thus, Isaiah describes the living God creating all things not by fiat or speaking as in Genesis 1 but as a Potter (yatzar).
D. God is Father
Moreover, the book of Isaiah describes the living God as our loving and loyal Father (e.g., see Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 63:7-64:11). Isaiah teaches that even if others forsake us the true and living God would always be your loyal Father (e.g., see Isaiah 63:15-16; Isaiah 64:8). Moreover, Isaiah describes the living God as our Ancestor, Father and Potter, that created all humankind, particularly Israel (e.g., see Isaiah 45:10-11).
E. God is our Husband and Lover
Moreover, the book of Isaiah teaches that the true and living God of all the earth is our faithful Husband and Lover (e.g., see Isaiah 54:5-10). God is jealous and passionate for His creation as Husband. The living God longs to live inside and delight in His creation (e.g., see Isaiah 62:4-5). In Isaiah 62:4-5, the phrase “My delight is in her" is a translation of “Hephzibah” and this is a sexual image that God loves Israel intimately and passionately as a faithful Husband and Lover (Isaiah 65:19; see also Psalm 45; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:7, 19).
F. God Is Mother
Furthermore, Isaiah describes God as our loving and tender Mother (see Isaiah 46:3-5). The living God carries Israel as in His womb – rehem as a pregnant mother, and He tenderly nourishes and feeds His people (see Isaiah 46:3-4; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 49:1, 14-16). Because God is our Mother, we have no reason to accuse nor fault Him (see Isaiah 45:9-11). God is our comforting, caring, and nurturing Mother that gave birth to His people (see Isaiah 66:8-14).
G. God is the Owner and Master
In the opening verses of Isaiah, God is declared the Owner and Master (see Isaiah 1:3). The living God is our Master who lovingly redeems His people as His servants (see Isaiah 44:21-22).
Isaiah declares the living God is our Redeemer (see Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 44:6). As our Redeemer, the living God redeems and purchases His people back, and He pays our ransom. (e.g., see Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 41:14: Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 51:10-11). Israel is redeemed without money because Israel was sold without money (see Isaiah 52:3).
Importantly, the book of Isaiah describes the living LORD God as our reigning and sovereign King (e.g., see Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 43:15; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 52:7). There are many kings mentioned in the Isaiah including Uzziah, etc. (e.g., see Isaiah 36:13). Isaiah proclaims the LORD of Hosts as the only true King of all the earth (see Isaiah 6:5)! Yahweh is the King of kings, Defender of Justice, and the Divine Warrior (Isaiah 59:15-19; see also Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 51:57). The living God uses the nations as His weapons and tools in war to maintain His justice on His earth (see Isaiah 10:5-7; Isaiah 63:1-6). Yet, the living God is also our Shepherd-King that protects and tends His flock (Isaiah 40:10-11; Isaiah 49:8-13; see also Proverbs 27:23-27).
Finally, Isaiah describes the living God as glorious, and the whole earth is filled with His glory (Isaiah 6:3; see also Numbers 14:21; Psalm 72:19). Glory can mean the material well-being of the people or the visible condition of a nation. Glory can also speak to God's influence and powerful presence here on earth (e.g., see Exodus 16:7, 10; Exodus 24:16-17; Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:11; Ezekiel 1:28). Isaiah declares the whole world will acknowledge God’s glory (Isaiah 2:11, 17; Isaiah 66:1-2; see also Psalm 46:10).
Similarly, Jesus is the Vine, and His Father is the Vinedresser (Isaiah 5:1-7; see also Matthew 21:33; John 15:1, 5). Jesus is the rejected stone and rejected stone, but He is the Cornerstone (e.g., see Matthew 21:42; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11). Also, Jesus is our Maker and our Savior (e.g., see Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:10-11; John 1:1-5; Ephesians 3:9). Jesus reveals the Father to the world and His faithful disciples – the Church – is His bride (e.g., see Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 1:18). Moreover, Jesus is our Lord, Redeemer, and King that vanquishes Satan and his evil minions (e.g., see Matthew 2:2; Matthew 4:1-13; Matthew 12:29; Colossians 2:15). Yet, Jesus is also our Good Shephard, and He loves and cares for us (e.g., see John 10:11, 14-16). Jesus is also the glory of God, and He must also be worshipped (e.g., see Luke 9:32; John 1:14; Revelation 5:12). Even more, like His Father the living LORD God, Jesus is the Holy One of God (e.g., see Mark 1:24; Luke 4:1).
V. MYTHS AND MONSTERS
Finally, the theology of Isaiah includes many mythological monsters and creatures believing Christians would never imagine. Remarkedly, the book of Isaiah includes dragons and flying fiery serpents called ophidian and Nahas (e.g., see Isaiah 30:6; Isaiah 14:29). Also, “seraphim” seen at Isaiah 6:1-2, 6 and Isaiah 30:6 have been translated “fiery,” “burning” ones with wings. Some biblical scholars have referred to seraphim as possible cobras or dragons.
Moreover, the book of Isaiah mentions “leviathans” (see Isaiah 27:1). Many scholars believe these creatures are coiling serpent or dragons. Yet, the identification of Leviathans is disputed, ranging from an earthly creature to a mythical sea monster. The name Leviathan is found elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures (e.g., see Job 3:8; Job 41:1-32; Psalm 74:13-14; Psalm 104:26). Some biblical scholars believe Leviathan also refers to a sea creature parallel to Rahab (see Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9). The Israelites and the prophet Isaiah were aware of ancient mythological creatures that battled one another including Baal verses Mot and Marduk verses Tiamat.
Moreover, Isaiah 13:21-22 and Isaiah 18:6 outline seven mythological creatures, monsters, and other wild beasts. These creatures were used by Satan to deceive humans. First of these creatures is ziyim. The ziyim are knowns as desert ghouls or wild desert animals. Next, the book of Isaiah sairim, which are hairy ones like satyrs, which are half man and half goat. The Greek translates sairim as sauyivua or demoniac and monstrous in the deserts. Next, Isaiah includes ya'nah are mythical beings or “sirens” deserts demons also known as “oeipnves.” Then, Isaiah mentions ohim or shriekers which are perhaps some desert fiend. Moreover, Isaiah names “tannim” and iyim. “Iyim” are known as wild, weird crying of an animal or a donkey. Finally, Isaiah lists an “et,” which are perhaps like harpies or evil creature.
Furthermore, Isaiah mentions Lilith at Isaiah 34:14 that could be translated as a “night monster.” Some theologians refer to Lilith as Adam's first wife in Jewish lore or a demonic creature. Also, Isaiah discusses Sheol, which literally means “grave” and Bilal – Satan (see Isaiah 14:9-21). With all these various creatures and monsters listed, Isaiah examines humanities’ place in the cosmos and the mystery of the world. Yet, Isaiah calls upon all humankind to trust in and look to God to find our security and comfort (see Matthew 16:18; Romans 16:20).
In summary, the theology of Isaiah is very different from the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The book of Isaiah draws upon ancient myths and mythological creatures that are the corner of Isaiah's theology (e.g., see Isaiah 43:16-21). Yet, Isaiah paints a colorful and beautiful picture of the living God using metaphors and comparisons to describe an incomparable God. Nevertheless, Isaiah describes God as our Shepherd and Divine Warrior who holds His faithful people tenderly in His arm as a Mother and intimately as a loving Husband. No wonder many scholars have declared the book of Isaiah a masterpiece!
New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
NIV Essentials Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
Schwab, George, Senior Professor of Old Testament (Due West Campus, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2018).
 New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
 NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
 New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
 New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
 NIV Essentials Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).
 New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Prophet Isaiah: 1 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord (Christ Jesus our Lord and Master). He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending Him were mighty seraphim (fiery angels), each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” Isaiah 6:1-3, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
Isaiah 6 has been called by many scholars the most important chapter in the book of Isaiah. In this chapter, the prophet Isaiah receives his call as a prophet or messenger of the living LORD of Heaven’s Armies (see Isaiah 6:8). More importantly, this chapter reveals the glory of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies and Christ Jesus our Lord (Messiah) in the glorious Throne Room of Heaven (see Isaiah 6:1-8)!
In this all-important chapter, the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah) in the year King Uzziah died (see Isaiah 6:1). King Uzziah, also known as Azariah in some biblical translations, ruled in Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, from 792 to 740 BC (e.g., see 2 Kings 14:21-22; 2 Kings 15:1-7, 13, 30, 32, 34; Chronicles 26:1-23). Sadly, a civil war split and divided the Israelites into the north (Israel), and the south (Judah) after King Solomon’s death, and the prophet Isaiah lived in the more pious southern kingdom of Judah where Jerusalem and the Temple was located (Isaiah 1:1; see also 1 Kings 11:9-13; 1 Kings 12:16-20). The prophet Isaiah ministered and served during four kings of Judah – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (e.g., see Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 7:1; Isaiah 37:2-39:8).
When Isaiah began his prophetic ministry, Judah and Israel seemed strong and wealthy. However, the prophet Isaiah saw people using their power and wealth to harass and oppress the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien (e.g., see Isaiah 1:16-20, 23; James 1:27). Men went around drunk, and women cared more about their clothes than their neighbor’s hunger and the oppressed (e.g., see Isaiah 3:16-24; Isaiah 5:7-12). People gave “lip service” to God with their outward religious ceremonies, rituals, and fasts, and they kept up an appearance as righteous and good, but inwardly they neglected mercy, truth, justice, and goodness (e.g., see Isaiah 1:10-15).
In the year King Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah saw in a vision the Lord Jesus (see Isaiah 6:1)! The New Testament confirms that the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him (see John 12:41). Moreover, the apostles Peter, James, and John also witnessed the Lord Jesus’ glory when He walked the earth (e.g., see Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:29, 32; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 3:18). The prophet Isaiah saw the LORD of Heaven’s Armies and His Son – the Righteous Servant Jesus – sitting upon the Throne high and exalted (Isaiah 6:1; see also Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:12; Isaiah 57:15; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 20:21; Matthew 25:31; Acts 2:33; Acts 3:13; Philippians 2:9). The Lord Jesus was so glorious and BIG that only His train (hem or seam) filled the Temple (Isaiah 6:1; see also Revelation 1:13).
Hovering above the Lord Jesus were mighty, six-winged angels of fire (Isaiah 6:2; see also Revelation 4:6, 8-9). Amazingly, the prophet Ezekiel and John, the author of the book of Revelation, saw similar vision of the Throne Room of Heaven, and the prophet Ezekiel and John saw around the Throne six-winged fiery heavenly beings (e.g., see Ezekiel 1:4-6, 11, 13-14, 26; Revelation 4:6-9; Revelation 5:6; Revelation 6:1). These angels of fire are also called seraphim in some biblical translations (e.g., see Isaiah 6:2, RSV). The Hebrew word seraphim mean “flames.”
Throughout the Holy Scriptures, fire is the symbol for the living LORD God. The prophet Daniel had similar vision of the living LORD God’s Throne surrounded by flaming and blazing fire (see Daniel 7:9-10). Moreover, when the living LORD God Almighty appeared to the ancient Israelites at Mount Sinai (Horeb), He descended on Mount Sinai with smoke and in fire (see Exodus 19:18). To the Israelites, the glory of the LORD God Almighty looked like a consuming fire on top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:2; Exodus 24:17-18; Deuteronomy 5:4-5, 23-26; Deuteronomy 9:3; see also Genesis 15:17; Hebrews 12:29). For the LORD God Almighty is a consuming and powerful fire (see Deuteronomy 4:11, 24, 33, 36; 1 Kings 18:24, 38-39).
With two of the fiery angels’ wings, they covered their faces with two others they covered their feet, and with two they flew (see Isaiah 6:2). In a great chorus, the winged angels of fire called to another and sang:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” Isaiah 6:3, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
The angels’ singing shook the Temple’s foundations, and suddenly the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke at the presence of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies (Isaiah 6:4 see also Exodus 19:17-18; Exodus 40:34-35; Ezekiel 43:4-5; Ezekiel 44:4). The winged angels of fire humbled themselves before the all-powerful and holy LORD of Heaven’s Armies!
The TRIPLE repetition of God’s holiness emphasizes God’s endless and infinite holiness. The prophet Isaiah saw the wonderful glory and complete holiness of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies (see Isaiah 6:3). As mentioned earlier, in some biblical translations the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is translated LORD of Hosts, the GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, and the LORD Almighty (see Isaiah 6:3). After seeing the LORD of Hosts, the prophet Isaiah acknowledged that the whole earth is full of the living LORD God’s glory (Isaiah 6:3; see also Exodus 15:11; Numbers 14:21-22; Psalm 72:18-19). Importantly, the Holy Scriptures repeatedly calls upon God’s creation – all humans – to be holy as the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is holy (e.g., see Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7, 26; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 John 3:3). One day in the future, the whole earth will be filled with God’s holy people and the LORD of Heaven’s Armies’ glory will be the light of the world (e.g., see Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 60:1-2; Revelation 21:1-22:21).
Wonderfully in the book of Revelation, John sees a similar vision of both Christ Jesus our Lord and His Father the living LORD God Almighty receiving a similar praise and worship in heaven (e.g., see Revelation 1:4-5, 8; Revelation 4:1-3, 8, 11; Revelation 5:13-14). The glory and holiness of the living LORD God Almighty is equally the glory and holiness of His Son, the Lord Jesus because the living LORD God and His Son are One (e.g., see John 1:18; John 10:30, 38; John 14:9-11, 20; John 17:11, 21-23).
Importantly, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed: “I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies” (see Isaiah 6:5, New Living Translation 2nd Edition). The prophet Isaiah saw with his own eyes the true and living King and Judge of all the earth! Truly, the living LORD God Almighty is the Sovereign and eternal King and Judge who rules the whole earth (see also Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 6:26; Hebrews 12:23). The living LORD God Almighty reigns over the nations, and the exalted King is seated on His Throne (e.g., see Psalm 47:6-9; Daniel 7:9). Moreover, the living LORD God Almighty is righteous, and He sees and rules EVERYONE on His earth (see Psalm 11:4-7; Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 66:1-3, 7; Daniel 4:17. Matthew 5:34; Matthew 23:22). The living LORD of Heaven’s Armies is not simply the greatest of many gods — He is the only true God and everlasting King and LORD of lords (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 10:16; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 10:6, 10; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). As the apostle Paul proclaimed: “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (see 1 Timothy 1:17, English Standard Version).
After seeing the glory and holiness of the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies and His Righteous Servant, Christ Jesus our Lord, the prophet Isaiah confessed and acknowledged his sinfulness and guilt and the sinfulness and guilt of all races of people (Isaiah 6:5; see similar confessions in Judges 16:21-22; Job 42:6; Jeremiah 10:14-16; Luke 5:8). Next, one of the mighty angels flew over to the altar and with a pair of tongs picked out a burning coal (see Isaiah 6:6). Then, the mighty angel touched the prophet Isaiah’s lips with the burning coals and said,
See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven. Isaiah 6:7, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
Thus, the living LORD God Almighty cleansed, forgave, purged, and atoned for the prophet Isaiah’s sins and wickedness (Isaiah 6:7; see also 1 Timothy 1:12-17; 1 John 1:7-9). Similarly, the living LORD God reached out His hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth and placed His words in Jeremiah’s mouth to take His messages throughout the world (see Jeremiah 1:9-10; Jeremiah 26:12, 15). Moreover, the living LORD of Hosts placed His words and authority on the prophet Daniel’s lips (see Daniel 10:16-21).
Then, the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord Jesus asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (see Isaiah 6:8, New American Standard Bible). The prophet Isaiah offered his services to the Lord Jesus and said, “Here am I. Send me!” (see Isaiah 6:8, New American Standard Bible). The apostle Paul received a similar heavenly message from the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:4).
Significantly, the phrase Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? has been debated by scholars throughout the centuries. This plural pronoun for God – the word “Us” – has been seen in Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7 as well as here in Isaiah 6:8. Some scholars believe the “Us” refers to the heavenly council of God or the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Spirit.
The Holy Scriptures teach that surrounding the LORD God’s Throne are all the armies of heaven (hosts) on His right and His left (e.g., see Deuteronomy 33:2; 1 Kings 22:19; Job 2:1; Psalm 89:5-8; Hebrews 12:22). The Holy Scriptures also call the armies of heaven surrounding the LORD God the “heavenly council,” “heavenly court,” “hosts of heaven,” or the “Sabaoth” (e.g., see Job 1:6; Job 38:7; Jeremiah 23:18, 22; Luke 2:13; Romans 9:29; James 5:4). The Holy Scriptures speak of a “heavenly court” or “heavenly council” (e.g., see Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7; Job 15:8; Psalm 82:1; Isaiah 6:8). Revelation chapters 4 and 5 give a beautiful picture of the Throne Room of God with His heavenly council (see Revelation 4:1-5:14). Because of the LORD God’s mighty armies, the Holy Scriptures will sometimes translate the living God the “LORD of Hosts,” “the God of the armies of Israel,” “LORD of Heaven’s Armies,” or “LORD Almighty” (e.g., see 2 Samuel 5:10; 1 Samuel 17:36, 45; 1 Kings 18:15; Isaiah 6:3; Zechariah 4:6, 9).
The Lord Jesus Christ is Commander of God’s armies of heaven as the Firstborn Son of the living LORD God (e.g., see Joshua 5:13-15; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 16:16; John 20:30-31; Revelation 19:11-16, 19). Even more, the Lord Jesus Christ is One with His Father the LORD God (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30; John 14:9-10; John 17:11, 21-23). The New Testament rightly proclaims that Jesus is Lord and Christ (the Anointed One, Messiah) filled with the Spirit who currently sits in the throne room of heaven (e.g., see Acts 2:36; Revelation 5:6). The Lord Jesus Christ is seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” the place of honor beside His Father, the LORD God (Hebrews 1:3, 13; see also Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 22:43-44; Matthew 26:64; Mark 16:19; Luke 22:68-69; Acts 2:33-34; Acts 5:31; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the LORD God indicates that He is actively ruling and reigning with His Father as Lord of All (see Hebrews 1:2, 13). The hosts of heaven worship the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., see Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8, 11-14). One day coming soon, EVERYONE will worship in heaven and on earth and under the earth Christ Jesus as Lord, to the glory of God the Father (see Philippians 2:9-11). Moreover, one day Christ Jesus as the Great I AM will come on the clouds of heaven at His Second Coming with the heavenly hosts (e.g., see Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Revelation 1:7).
Many other faithful servants of God have had the privilege of seeing the LORD God Almighty with all His multitudes of heaven standing around Him on His right and on His left, including Jacob (later renew Israel) (see Genesis 32:30-32); Moses and the ancient Israelites (see Exodus 3:1-6; Exodus 24:9-10, 17); Joshua (see Joshua 5:13-15); the prophet Micaiah (see 1 Kings 22:19); Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 1:7-10); Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 1:26), Daniel (see Daniel 7:9-14); and John of Revelation (see Revelation 4:1-5:14). The prophet Isaiah, like many other faithful servants of God, saw the living LORD God’s Throne of heaven and His Son Jesus (Isaiah 6:1-4; see also e.g., see Exodus 24:10; Numbers 12:8; 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 123:1; Isaiah 52:12; John 12:41; Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 4:1-5:14).
A true prophet of the living LORD God has had the privilege of seeing the LORD God sitting on His throne with His heavenly council or court (e.g., see Exodus 24:9-10; 1 Kings 22:19-22; 2 Kings 2:11-12; Isaiah 6:1-7; Jeremiah 23:16-22; Ezekiel 1:26-28; Daniel 7:9-14; Amos 3:7). Long ago the LORD God, again and again, spoke through His faithful prophets (messengers) in many and various ways, including visions, dreams, and even face to face (Hebrews 1:1; see also see Numbers 12:6, 8; 2 Kings 17:13; 2 Chronicles 36:15; Jeremiah 7:3, 13; Jeremiah 25:4; Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 35:15; Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 18:30). The living LORD God gave the prophets His plans, warnings of repentance, divine will, and purposes for all people (Hebrews 1:1; see also 2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 35:15; Ezekiel 18:31; Amos 3:7).
The Lord Jesus declared to the prophet Isaiah,
“Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9-10, New International Version
The Lord Jesus commanded Isaiah to go and tell the people that they will listen and listen, but they will not understand, and they will look and look, but they will not learn (see Isaiah 6:9-10). Importantly, the Lord Jesus wanted the people to repent and turn to His Father, the LORD God so that they may find healing (salvation) (see Isaiah 6:10). In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 at Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10, and John 12:39-40. Also, the apostle Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 or versions of these verses at Acts 28:26-27 and Romans 11:7-10, 25. Sadly, during His public ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus experienced a similar rebellion and rejection by Israel to Him and His Father’s message despite many His heavenly signs and wonders (e.g., see John 12:37-50). Moreover, many people rebelled and rejected the apostle Paul’s message about the Lord Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Romans 10:16). The Lord Jesus warned Isaiah that the people would not pay attention, but he was to continue to proclaim God’s truths to the people (see Isaiah 6:9-10).
Then, the prophet Isaiah asked the Lord Jesus, “Lord, how long will it be before they are ready to listen?” (see Isaiah 6:11, Living Bible Translation). The Lord Jesus warned and replied to the prophet Isaiah’s questions, “Not until their cities are destroyed — without a person left — and the whole country is an utter wasteland, and they are all taken away as slaves to other countries far away, and all the land of Israel lies deserted!” (see Isaiah 6:11-12, Living Bible Translation). The people’s lack of hearing and repentance will lead to God’s wrath (Isaiah 6:11-12; see also e.g., Daniel 9:3-15). The Lord Jesus warned the prophet Isaiah, that Israel will be invaded and purged again and again and destroyed because of their unfaithfulness and rebellion against God and His righteous commands (e.g., see Leviticus 26:14-45; Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Throughout the centuries, the land of Israel has again and again been subject to chastisement (burning) but not complete destruction (e.g., see 2 Kings 17:7-23; see 2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:17-20). The Lord Jesus promised Isaiah that Israel will be like a tree cut down; however, a holy seed like a stump or offspring still lives to grow anew – the faithful remnant (see Isaiah 6:13). Significantly, the Lord Jesus informed the prophet Isaiah that God’s faithful and obedient people — a remnant — will survive (Isaiah 6:13; see also Nehemiah 1:5; Isaiah 10:22; Daniel 9:4).
In Isaiah 7, the prophet Isaiah sees the Lord Jesus’ predictions coming true during the reign of evil King Ahaz (see 2 Chronicles 28:1-4). During the reign of King Ahaz of Judah, Jerusalem in the southern kingdom of Israel was attacked by King Rezin of Syria (also known as Aram) and wicked King Pekah of Israel’s northern kingdom (also known as Ephraim) (Isaiah 7:1, 8; see also 2 Kings 15:25, 37-28; 2 Kings 16:5). King Pekah of Israel was the son of Remaliah, and Ahaz was the son of Jotham and grandson of king Uzziah of Judah (Isaiah 7:1, 5, 9; see also 2 Kings 16:1; 1 Chronicles 3:12-13; Isaiah 1:1). However, King Rezin and King Pekah of Israel were unable to carry out their devious plans against Jerusalem, and Jerusalem city stood (see Isaiah 7:1, 6-7).
The news had come to the royal court of Judah that Syria (Arameans) was allied with Israel against Judah (see Isaiah 7:1). In some biblical translation, Israel is referred to as “Ephraim” as Ephraim was Israel’s dominant tribe in northern kingdom (e.g., see Isaiah 7:2, KJV). Now, the hearts of the King Ahaz and the people of Jerusalem trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm (see Isaiah 7:2).
However, the LORD God said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz” (Isaiah 7:3; see also Isaiah 8:3, 18). The name Shear-jashub means “a remnant shall return” (Isaiah 7:3; see also Isaiah 10:20-22). The LORD God through His prophet Isaiah said to tell King Ahaz to calm down, quit worrying, and do not be afraid of the fierce anger of your enemies, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah because their kingdoms will be defeated (Isaiah 7:4; see also Isaiah 8:12-13; Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 35:4). The living LORD God declared through His prophet Isaiah that both the kings of Syria and Israel have created an evil plan against Judah to terrorize and throw the people into a panic (see Isaiah 7:5-6). King Rezin and Kings Pekah’s planned to fight their way into Judah and install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king and removed Ahaz (see Isaiah 7:6). However, the Sovereign LORD announced to His prophet Isaiah that Rezin and Pekah’s plans will not succeed because this invasion will never happen nor take place (see Isaiah 7:7). The living LORD God – Yahweh – was with Judah if Judah will wholeheartedly trust in Him (Isaiah 7:10-14; see also -Isaiah 8:10; Romans 8:31).
The LORD God announced through His prophet Isaiah that Syria (Aram) is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin (see Isaiah 7:1, 8). As for Israel (Ephraim), the LORD God announced that within sixty-five years, the northern kingdom of Israel would be crushed and destroyed because their continued disobedience and unfaithfulness to Him (Isaiah 7:8; see also 2 Kings 17:24; Isaiah 8:4). Samaria, who was at that time the capital of Israel (Ephraim) and King Pekah’s power did not increase (Isaiah 7:1, 9; see also 2 Kings 15:29). Samaria was overthrown by Assyria in 722 BC, ten years after the downfall of Damascus, fulfilling the prophecy.
Most important, the LORD God through His prophet Isaiah declared to Ahaz:
“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” (see Isaiah 7:9, English Standard Version). Another biblical translation reads, “If you don't take your stand in faith, you won't have a leg to stand on” (see Isaiah 7:9; The Message). In other words, King Ahaz had to BELIEVE and TRUST in the Sovereign LORD God Almighty and not his present circumstances. If King Ahaz wanted the LORD God’s blessings and success, he had to live by faith in the LORD God alone (Isaiah 7:9; see also 2 Corinthians 5:7). Humble trust and obedience to the LORD your God in EVERYTHING will lead to VICTORY because the living LORD God fights and protects His faithful people (e.g., see also Exodus 14:13-14; Joshua 10:8; 2 Chronicles 20:20; Proverbs 16:3). The living LORD God is good to those whose patiently and humbly hope is in Him, who honor Him, and to the one who wholeheartedly seeks Him (e.g., see Isaiah 8:12-14; Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 40:31; Lamentations 3:25-27). Even though the holy LORD God is high and exalted, He comes to EVERYONE – rich, poor, young, old, black, white – who humbly and wholeheartedly loves, trusts, and obeys Him with His blessings (e.g., see Deuteronomy 5:32-33; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 138:6; Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 61:1-3; Isaiah 66:1-2; Matthew 5:3-10).
Second Kings 16:5-18 and 2 Chronicles 28:1-21 record the historical background of Isaiah 7. Sadly, evil King Ahaz did not believe and trust in the LORD God and Judah was eventually defeated! Moreover, Aram (Syria) was crushed in 732 BC, and Israel lost her national existence in 722 BC because of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to the living LORD God.
Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Message Bible (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Schwab, George, Senior Professor of Old Testament (Due West Campus, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2018).