Isaiah, Book of
Nothing more is known of the ancestors of Isaiah than that he was the son of Amoz. He prophesied in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. From the closing years of Uzziah to the death of Hezekiah would be from about B.C. 765 to 700, embracing a period of 65 years. The first verse says that the vision was concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Had due attention been paid to this, it would have prevented many things being ascribed in the headings of the chapters to the Church, and the Prophecy would have been the better understood. In few words the Prophecy may be said to treat of the failures of the nation of Judah and the judgements upon it. Assyria is used as God's rod to punish them, and is then destroyed. Judgements are pronounced against the nations around the promised land that had been enemies to God's people. The Messiah is prophesied of and His rejection, and universal Blessing is spoken of.
The following seven divisions are distinctly marked:
Isa. 1 -- Isa. 4. are introductory. The 'sinful nation' was completely corrupt, and had been sorely chastised; there was no soundness from head to foot; though chastened, there was no contrition, and God's judgements must still follow. There is also grace in store for the latter days: Zion will be a centre of Blessing, and a Remnant will be saved.
Isa. 8 -- Isa. 9: 7. The Assyrians overrun the land, and the confederacy of nations is to be brought to nought. A Remnant, 'my Brethren,' is attached to Immanuel, who is a stone of Stumbling to the unbelieving nation, but a light amid the Darkness until He is received in power and glory.
Isa. 9: 8 -- Isa 10. The national history is resumed from the end of Isa. 5. Various judgements from the Lord are detailed until the last Judgement by means of the Assyrian, who is used as a rod by God, and then is punished for his pride in the last days.
Isa. 12. Israel's song of triumph in that day: compare with Ex. 15.
Isa. 13 -- Isa. 24. 'Burdens' are pronounced. They are judgements on Babylon and the nations, especially on those who were in relationship with Israel. Moab, Damascus, "the land shadowing with wings which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia," Egypt, "the Desert of the sea," Dumah, Arabia, "the Valley of vision" (Jerusalem), Tyre, "the earth [or land] made empty and waste, and turned upside down;" and finally the hosts on high and kings on the earth punished.
Isa. 25, Isa. 26. A song in which God's intervention is celebrated, even to the swallowing up of death in victory.
Isa. 28 -- Isa. 35. give details of all that will happen to the Jews in the last days. They make a Covenant with death and with hell, but their Covenant will be disannulled. Security is in the Stone laid in Zion, all else will perish.
Isa. 29. Judgements are pronounced against Jerusalem under the name of Ariel, 'lion of God'; Deliverance comes when at the last extremity, but a far worse Judgement, a Spirit of Blindness, rests on the people. In the day of Deliverance the Remnant will come to understanding, the scorner being consumed.
Isa. 30, Isa. 31. They seek counsel of and trust in Egypt instead of in God.
Isa. 36 -- Isa. 39. treat of Hezekiah and Sennacherib. Waiting upon the Lord is enforced. The Deliverance wrought is figurative of the outward Deliverance there will be from the Assyrian for Jerusalem and the house of David in the last days. Hezekiah's personal history is appended to this, as figurative of the nation's sense of the Judgement of God upon them, leading to Repentance and recovery, and inward or moral Deliverance.
Isa. 40 - 43. begin another part of the book. The Messiah is but little introduced: it is rather a question of God and idols. There is comfort for those who have an opened ear. The Lord Jesus, Jehovah's Servant and His elect, shall bring forth Judgement to the Gentiles.
Isa. 45 - 47. Cyrus is God's Servant, and He would subdue nations before him. God would keep open the twoleaved gates (of Babylon, which were left open in their festivity). The idols of Babylon could not save her: she should be brought to shame for her pride.
Isa. 48. God pleads with Israel.
Isa. 49 -- Isa. 57. introduce Christ, and show the people's guilt in respect to Him.
Isa. 50: 10 -- Isa. 51. The character of the Remnant: they are owned as 'my people' by the Lord God, and He will comfort and redeem them.
Isa. 52: 1-12. Zion is called to awake and put on her strength, the feet of messengers with glad tidings were Beautiful.
Isa. 54, Isa. 55. Jerusalem is called upon to sing: through the sure mercies of David there are blessings in store for her, and full free grace to every one that thirsts.
Isa. 65. God's answer to those pleadings.
Isa. 66. Judgements introducing the Millennium, ending with these solemn words: "They shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." This Prophecy embraces a very large field. The condition of the people was sinful when the Prophecy was written, and though God had long patience with it, yet the condition was such that Judgement must be executed upon it unless there was true Repentance. Judgement did follow, but the consummation of evil was not reached until their Messiah had come, and had been rejected; indeed Antichrist will yet be received. Judgement followed the rejection of their Messiah, but the great Tribulation is yet to come. Quotations from Isaiah in the N.T. (nearly forty in number) show that his words applied to the times that then were; such as the condition of the people; the unprofitableness of the rites and ceremonies; and that grace to the Gentiles had been foretold. The climax of Israel's sin, and of their Judgement, and of God's Blessing are still future. Christ coming in humiliation is revealed in the Prophet as well as His glory; indeed, all the ways of God in dealing with His people Israel, on to the end -- though some subjects are expanded elsewhere -- are to be found in this comprehensive Prophecy: clearly it could only have been written under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit.