October 9, 2022
The book of Isaiah tells of the heartbreaking ways in which Israel had consistently forgotten the Lord through their sin and rebellion. Isaiah warns Israel that their rebellion will come at a cost and that judgement awaits. This judgement reaches its climax with the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of God’s people. However, Isaiah also proclaims a message of hope, that God would indeed fulfil his covenant promises through the coming of God’s ultimate King – the Messiah – and God’s Kingdom in the new Jerusalem. In this series, we’ll consider the first half of Isaiah (chapters 1-40) and the promise of God’s rescuing King.
Author: Isaiah lived in Jerusalem speaking on God’s behalf to the religious leaders of Jerusalem and Judah. Whilst some think the book is the work of one person (i.e., Isaiah) in its entirety, it’s generally accepted that Isaiah is the work of more than one voice (i.e., a collection from the ‘disciples’ of Isaiah; cf. Isaiah 8:16-17) declaring God’s message of both judgement and hope.
Date: Beginning around 740 BC, at the time of King Uzziah’s death (cf. Isaiah 6:4).
Genre: Isaiah takes the form of prophecy. Whilst a prophet – along with the function of prophecy – is often considered to be about predicting or foretelling the future, this is a misunderstanding of their primary task. Prophets were tasked to speak for God to the people of their age, which often included warnings about their immediate future. Prophecy is typically characterised by the calling of God’s people back into faithfulness.
Structure: Chapters 1 to 39 focus on the time of Israel leading up to the exile (i.e., at the fall of Jerusalem). In this section, Isaiah warns the people of God that a time of judgement is coming through which Israel will be purified. From Chapter 40 (to 66), Isaiah focuses on the message of hope of God’s coming Messiah through whom the Lord’s covenant promises would be fulfilled with justice and peace established. These chapters describe a new era when God’s people will be rescued from exile and restored back into relationship with God.