I have been pondering my next “project” to keep busy. I have wanted to do a deep study of Isaiah since I have nibbled at the edges of his prophecy and found his work a grammatical challenge. I, apparently, am not alone since modern scholarship doesn’t even believe he wrote all 66 chapters. (Oh, 66 is the number of books in our Bible; 39 in the Old and 27 in the New; Oh, and this is one of the dividing lines between 2 different styles suggesting separate authors.) If I were not a believer and if I were handed Isaiah’s work without knowing it was Isaiah’s, I might think it had been written much later in time—maybe even after Jesus came!
Isaiah told us that Jesus’ mother would be in her teen years when she gave birth to Him [Isaiah 7:14]. Isaiah told us God would come incarnate [Isaiah 9:6]. Isaiah spoke of Cyrus, the first king of the Persian empire, hundreds of years before he came! Cyrus was called “anointed” because God appointed him to free the exiles to return to Jerusalem [Isaiah 45:1].
There were Isaiah’s four oracles announcing the ministry of God’s “suffering servant” and His death while the chastisement of our peace was on Him. Isaiah, also, wrote of His resurrection [Isaiah 53:5, 8, 10-11]. And Isaiah even prophesied of May 14, 1948 [Isaiah 66:8].
I have come to believe, also, that Isaiah’s use of words bears a closer look, since, they seem to be raised to a loftier level of revelation. Not only did God “anoint” a heathen king, but God sought to “reason” with Israel [Isaiah 1:18] at a time when His authority was not to be questioned. This dynamic would not be available until the Cross. Job longed for it [Job 23:7]. In prayer now we can engage God in dialogue about our sinfulness [John 16:8].
Isaiah called the Passover a ransom [Isaiah 43:3]. The Greek translation called it, “an exchange,” Egypt for Israel [Matthew 20:28]. And what is “perfect peace” [Isaiah 26:3]. Compare John 14:27 & Philippians 4:7.
Harrison in his “Introduction to the Old Testament” told us that, “even a casual reading will be sufficient to convey the impression that Isaiah had a lofty conception of God. More than any other Old Testament work the book emphasizes the holiness of God and the fact that God has associated Himself in a special way with His people.”
I will not in this life finish my study of Isaiah. It is my last book—I think—left incomplete, as it should be! The message of Isaiah is the message of Calvary in the garb of an older language, perhaps, ill equipped (much like our language) to express the deeper things of God. Yet, I am most grateful to our loving Lord for sharing what He could, what He did, that gave His gift of faith to me the ministry it has.
I still think a lot and science has merit but I am excited about heaven where our Lord will complete this study! Isaiah included this in his description of Heaven [Isaiah 35:8]. It is also in the New Covenant:
No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – NIV Jeremiah 31:34