We finished last week at Chapter 5 verse 24 by saying that the root cause of both the sin and God's judgment is made plain:
"because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel".
"Lord of Hosts" and "Holy One of Israel" are not pagan idols but descriptive names of the Living God who brought up the people of Israel out of Egypt. Isaiah Chapter 6 therefore commences with a description of God. This Chapter describes both Isaiah's vision of God and his calling to be a prophet. Seeing God on the throne brought Isaiah to an awareness of his own sinfulness and upon confession of it he was cleansed of his sin by the actions of one of the Seraphim. Hearing God wonder out aloud who will be his servant, Isaiah responds by volunteering at which point he receives his commission. That commission however is to preach to a people who will not hear and must not understand lest they repent and God must refrain from punishing the nation.
Isaiah Chapter 6
The Vision of the Almighty
- Verse 1-4 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isaiah's recognition of his own sinfulness
- Verse 5-7 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
Isaiah's calling and commission
- Verse 8-10 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
- Verse 11-13 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
Isaiah Chapter 7
This chapter commences with a chronological reference that indicates that at least 16 years has passed since chapter 6. King Jotham succeeded King Uzziah and King Ahaz succeeded King Jotham.
7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
Verse 2 tells us that the King of Syria (Rezin of Damascus) and the King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (under King Pekah) had become confederates and in verse 3 Isaiah is commanded by God to go meet with King Ahaz and tell him not to worry, that the league between these two kings will be broken. According to Verse 8 however, within 65 years Israel will be broken. This is a little problematical because the Northern Kingdom of Israel ceased in 722 BC during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, who was King Ahaz' son. It would appear that the figure of 65 years is a transcription error.
The prophecy however is extremely important because as it continues we enter into a prophecy concerning the Birth of Christ (or perhaps just King Hezekiah).
Verse 10 has God telling King Ahaz that he can ask for a sign as to the truth of the statement that Israel will be removed. King Ahaz is reluctant to ask for any sign and so God himself gives the sign:
Verse 14 Behold, a virgin (literally 'A young woman of marriageable age') shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (meaning = God with Us)
This verse was used by the Apostles to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah. (Matthew 1:23)
As the verses continue to the end of the chapter, the purpose is to describe how before this child is very old, the Kingdom of Israel will have been vanquished.
Isaiah Chapter 8
While Chapter 7 was a word to be delivered to King Ahaz of Judah about the coming demise of the Kingdom of Israel, Chapter 8 commences with a command for Isaiah (v 1-4) to either marry or get his wife pregnant and have a child and the Word of God is that before the child can say mother or Father, King Rezin of Damascus would be taken away by the King of Assyria. One assumes that this prophecy was given a year or so before the event.
- The historical date for the Death of King Rezin is 732 BC. King Tiglath-Pileser III went to war against Damascus and Killed Rezin and in defeating his ally King Pekah of Israel, he either had King Pekah killed or he was shortly thereafter killed in an internal insurrection that saw King Hoshea come to the throne.
In Verse 7 God says plainly that he is bringing the King of Assyria up to Israel and down to Judah right down to the borders of Egypt. Through to verse 13 is a warning for the nations not to strive to alter what God himself has planned.
Verses 14 and 15 which following verse 13 as they do, refers to God, (and let him be your dread) and are also considered prophetic in relation to the ministry of Christ. (1 Peter 2:8 / Romans 9:33)
And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. (Verses 16-18)
Verses 19-22 relate to those who refuse to walk in the light of God
Isaiah Chapter 9
Chapter 9 verse 1 carries on from verse 22 of Chapter 8 and relates how at first God lightly afflicted the land and later afflicted it worse. The verse finishes with a reference to Galilee of the nations. Verse 2 then carries on with what is also used today in reference to Christ. (Matthew 1:23 / Luke 1:31)
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. (verses 2 and 4)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Verses 6 and 7)
Verse 8 to 14 discuss the coming judgment "The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel (v.8) - Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day (v.14).
Verses 15 and 16 once again identify the primary source of evil and target of judgment.
The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
Therefore the LORD shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (v.17)
It is worth reminding readers that the word of God given through the prophets in their day, had a primary focus and meaning, but as was taught to us by the Apostles, included in those words were prophetic messages for the distant future; to the time of the Messiah and beyond.
With that in mind, it is also worth noting that just as the primary or immediate focus of judgment was on the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Ancient Israel, the prophecies carry within them prophetic warning for us today.
When our nation's leaders do not harken to the Word of God, the priests and ministers have a duty to do right, and should they not, then the people must still do right and reprove the religious and secular leaders. But when the leadership leads the people away from the Lord, all manner of evil will arise in the land and that evil has natural consequences.
God himself may not specifically 'Speak Judgment' against any particular nation in existence today, but every nation that does not have leadership that leads with righteousness is at risk of the natural consequences that befall a society that cares for nobody.
When we return to look at Chapter 10 we will see what can befall a nation.
M. Wallace Johnson
Articles by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Holy, Wholly or Holey SERIES
Idols in Ministry SERIES
No 1: The Prophet Amos
Full list of M Wallace Johnson articles in his Column at the Writers Journal