Isaiah is a prophetic Book. It’s also poetic.
The purpose of the Book of Isaiah is to call the nation of Judah back to God and to prophecy about God’s salvation through the coming Messiah. It’s because of books like Isaiah (and other prophetic books) that Israel was familiar with the notion of waiting and anticipating redemption. It’s the foreshadowing of God’s promise that would be recognized in Christ.
From Chapter 11 – Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord… In that day the heir of David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The prophet Isaiah wrote the book that bears his name. However, the text probably wasn’t written in one sitting or even during one period of time. The events in chapters 1-39 occurred during Isaiah’s lifetime and ministry, while chapters 40-66 were likely written twenty year later at the end of his life around 680 BC.
Isaiah is broken up into two distinct parts:
Chapters 1-39 – The focus is on God’s judgment of Israel, Judah, and surrounding nations.
Chapters 40-66 – The focus is on God’s comfort through freedom from captivity, and the hope of the coming redeemer and new kingdom.
When you read Isaiah, meditate on these two trajectories. Don’t be afraid to spend time grieving over sin and God’s wrath. Israel was steeped in captivity and idolatry for many many years.
From Chapter 9 – For after all this punishment, the people will still not repent. They will not seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Therefore, in a single day the Lord will destroy both the head and the tail… for they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness.
Yikes! It’s easy to forget what we’ve been freed from. It’s easy to forget it’s our story too. We talk a lot about how our focus determines our reality. Let’s also let reality determine our focus: the same God who has the power and authority to punish, ultimately grants mercy and becomes our biggest advocate. It’s the divine paradox. And that is why his promise of a new life of freedom is so comforting and sweet.
From Chapter 54 – ‘Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken’, Says the Lord who has mercy on you.
I want to encourage you to refamiliarize yourself with the promises of the Lord. These are the things to commit to memory, to write on the tablets of our hearts. To focus on.
We can have joy: From Chapter 12 – … with joy you will drink deeply from my salvation!
We are transformed, and wrong will be made right: From Chapter 61 – To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory… you will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God… Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor… everlasting joy will be yours.
Everything will be recreated: From Chapter 65 – Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.
We belong to the Lord: From Chapter 66 – ‘As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with the name that will never disappear’, says the Lord.