Isaiah

This study is being started at the request of our Bible Study group which meets weekly here at our home. As with the Genesis 1-11 study, we will try to get each week's worth up on the net within a day or two of the study

February 19 -- Prophets and Prophecy

February 26 -- Isaiah in history

March 4 -- Hezekiah (finishing history) and Isaiah overview

March 12 and 19 -- Isaiah 1

Isaiah 2, starting March 26 - April 16

 

Prophets and Prophecy

Many today feel Bible prophecy is too controversial, too difficult to understand, or is open to too many interpretations to be worth studying.

However, people all over the world are turning to occultism to try to find out the future.

This is human nature -- Historically all cultures have had some kind of prophets, be they soothsayers, fortune tellers, witches, oracles, etc

Biblical references:

  1. Babylonians had court astrologers, magicians and wise men (Daniel 1:20)
  2. Egyptian pharaohs had occult advisors and magicians (Exodus 7:11)
  3. Israelites turned to ‘whisperers’ and other occultists (Isaiah 8:19)

Others:

  1.  African witch doctors and voudoun priests are famous
  2. Rome had an official “Board of Augurs” (Cicero was a member in his day)
  3. Nostradamus
  4. Jean Dixon
  5. Edgar Cayce
  6. the list is almost endless

Did God leave no plan for us to know?  He is infinite, with infinite knowledge and foreknowledge.  If He spoke out on any future events, He would be 100% correct.

At least 1/3 of the Bible was prophecy at the time of writing (for any individual part)

Prophecies scheduled for fulfillment between the time of utterance and now have been completely fulfilled. 

  • Prophecies about the Messiah in Isaiah, Daniel, Amos, Genesis, Micah, etc. have all been shown to be 100% correct in the person of Jesus Christ
  • Israel has become a nation again, as prophesied by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.
  • The New Testament talks about the breakdown of society and morals in the last days, and we are seeing this happen now.

How did God speak to people before Jesus?  In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Scripture recognizes two groups of prophets:  major and minor.  This has nothing to do with their status, but simply how much of a written record they left behind.

  • Major:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel (Jeremiah wrote two books:  Jeremiah and Lamentations)
  • All the others are ‘minor’ prophets.

Were there any prophets before these? 

  1. Genesis 20:7 – “Now therefore restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet and he shall pray for you and you shall live.” Referring to Abraham
  2. In Genesis 40 Joseph interprets the dreams of the cup-bearer and the baker of Pharaoh and prophesies their futures as interpreted from the dreams.  He later interprets Pharaoh’s dream
  3. Exodus 7:1-2 – So the Lord said to Moses: See, I have made you as god to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.  And you shall speak all that I command you.  And Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh… 
  4. Jesus said “If you don’t believe Moses’ writings, how will you believe my words, for Moses wrote of Me.” John 5:46-47

The widest definition of Prophet, as used in the Bible, is simply someone who speaks the truth.  This can involve the future, but that is not necessary.

The Bible records God speaking with men of His choosing:

THE SUCCESSION OF HEBREW PROPHETS

2245 BC - Abraham in the land of Canaan as a Prophet
2045 BC - Joseph interprets dreams in Egypt
1602 BC - Moses and Aaron prophets before Pharaoh Dedumose II.
1562 BC - Joshua enters the Promised Land

1550 - 1096 BC - TIMES OF THE JUDGES  INCLUDING JOSHUA & SAMUEL.

1096 - 1016 BC - Samuel, Nathan, Gad - reigns of King Saul & David
1016 - 976 BC - Ahijah - reign of King Solomon (1 Kings 11 & 14)
976 BC - Shemiah -  reign of Rehoboam & Abijam (2Chron. 12)
956 BC - Azariah - Reign of King Asa (2 Chron. 15)
900 BC - Jehu - Kings Baasha, Ela, Zimri, Omri (1 Kings 16 & 2 Chron. 19)
916 - 891 BC - Hanani - King Jehosaphat (2 Chron. 16)
886 - 885 BC - Obadiah (?) - King Ahaziah
870 BC -  Elijah & Micaiah - Kings Ahab, Ahazaiah & Jehoram (1 Kings 14:22).
862 BC - Jonah, Elisha 
840 BC - Joel - King Joash
787 BC - Amos
785 - 725 BC - Hosea - Kings Jeroboam II, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, etc.
760 - 698 BC - Isaiah - Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah
750 - 710 BC - Micah - Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah

721 BC - NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL GOES INTO CAPTIVITY

697 - 642 BC - Nahum - King Manasseh
640 BC - Zephaniah - King Amon
627 - 586 BC - Jeremiah-  begins his ministry with King Josiah
622 BC - Huldah (prophetess) - King Josiah's reform - Book of the Law found
609 BC - Habukkuk - King Josiah dies - Daniel 12 years old.

608 - 606 BC ASSYRIAN EMPIRE ENDS - BABYLONIAN EMPIRE GAINS CONTROL; JUDAH GOES INTO CAPTIVITY WITH NEBUCHADNEZZAR OF BABYLON

606  - 534 BC - Daniel starts ministry in Babylon at age 15.
595 - 574 BC - Ezekiel

536 BC REMNANT RETURNS TO JUDEA AND JERUSALEM

520 BC - Haggai
520 - 518 BC - Zechariah
397 BC - Malachi

400 YEARS OF SILENCE - NO PROPHETIC VOICE - INTER-TESTAMENT PERIOD
30 AD - John the Baptist - Coming of Messiah announced.

 

When is a Prophet a Prophet?

The word comes from the Latin propheta, which is from the Greek prophetes , who was an interpreter or spokesman for someone else, usually a 'god' or other supernatural being. The word itself is from pro, meaning "before" and phanai, mening "to speak."

  • a prophet speaks for someone else – historically usually a supernatural being
  • Biblical prophets speak for the God of the Bible – Jehovah
  • Occult prophets are used by demons/Satan  -- Satan has no more foreknowledge than what is in Scripture, but he does have a lot more knowledge than any one man, so it can seem as if God is talking.  Men who do not know Scripture are easily deceived.

Prophets did two things:

  1. FOREtelling – telling the future
  2. FORTHtelling – exhortation  (in this sense any Christian can be a prophet to another Christian)

What about false prophets?

  •  No Israelite was to practice witchcraft, sorcery (this includes using hallucinogenic drugs, as per Revelation), interpret omens, become a medium, spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. (Deut. 18:9-14) -- Instead, God promised to raise up prophets in their midst (Deut. 18:15-19)
  • If a prophet spoke in the name of other gods, the prophet was to be killed (Deut. 18:20)

How would they know if a prophet was false?

  • Deut. 18:22 – When the prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and the word does not come to pass or come true, the LORD has not spoken.
  • Deut. 18:20 – That prophet shall be killed by stoning (Deut. 13:1-11)

Conclusion:  The only grade allowed was 100% -- anything less resulted in death by stoning.

Israel’s prophets often pointed out to the people the causes of their current problems (for example: Isaiah 3:8)  This did not make them popular and often resulted in imprisonment (1 Kings 22:28, Jeremiah 38:6)

Did a prophet speak only to his own day and age?

1 Peter 1:10-12 – Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Even angels long to look into these things.

There is quite a bit in Isaiah which is clearly future; however it was the short range predictions that came true which established the reputations of Isaiah and the other prophets as true and reliable prophets of God.

Isaiah’s many prophecies had to do with his own time, the short range future, our time, and the long range future, even beyond us. 

The way people look at biblical prophecies is very different. Some consider them all to be literally fulfilled, some claim that any prophetic utterances which have yet to be fulfilled are simply allegorical, and some claim all biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled. One example of these three different approaches concerns prophecies about the Millennium. In the Bible, we read in Revelation 20:1-7 that Jesus will reign on earth for 1000 years after the close of the Tribulation.

  • Strong evidence indicates the Apostles and those they taught accepted the literal approach to prophetic utterances.
  • Scholars agree that Papias and Polycarp, both disciples of the Apostle John, who wrote Revelation, accepted that Christ was going to literally reign on earth over all nations for a period of 1000 years before the creation of the new heaven and earth.
  • Second century Christians accepted that view.

Trouble started in the third century.  The Alexandrian School of Greek Philosophy in Egypt gained power.  Scholars such as Clement, Origen and Dionysius (around 250 A.D.) applied the Greek allegorical method to Scripture.  Nothing in the Old or New Testaments was then safe.

Around 400, Augustine attempted to overcome the problem by accepting past events as being literally fulfilled, but spiritualized unfulfilled prophetic Scripture.

  • The Roman Catholic Church accepted Augustine’s views; the Reformers went to Augustine for doctrine as well.  Why?  Because Augustine was a man of stature (a ‘giant’ of a man….).  So he was accepted rather than people re-examining Scripture for themselves. 
  • This is the danger of following man rather than Scripture.  The problems caused by the Greek Philosophical movement and continued by Augustine have resulted in 3 main approaches to biblical prophecy of the future:
    1. A-Millennial – (without a Millennium) – this includes those who consider Revelation and related prophecies as simply allegorical as well as the historical R.C. and Reformed churches who have followed Augustine
    2. Post-Millennial – the Millennium is finished and we are now living in Satan’s “Little Season” Rev. 20:3)
    3. Pre-Millennial – the Millennium is still in the future.  Christ has not yet personally reigned on earth.

A closer look:

A-Millennial

Those holding this view generally spiritualize the Abrahamic and Davidic prophecies and apply the promises given to Israel instead as applying to the Church.  They deny that Israel as a nation has any prophesied future and deny there will be a Millennium or 1000 year reign of Christ on earth with the nation of Israel as the center of His world rule.

  1. The view may be summarized as follows:
  2. There is no Millennium at the end of the present age before the final judgment of the human race.
  3. Revelation 20, which speaks of Christ’s reign on earth for 1000 years is figurative and refers to the Gospel Era – this present age.
  4. The nation of Israel has no prophesied future as God’s covenants with her are no longer valid.
  5. All Old Testament Promises and Prophecies to Israel as a NATION have been fulfilled.
  6. All the promises and prophecies of future blessing which have not been fulfilled for the nation of Israel are to be interpreted spiritually:  they refer to the Christian Church, the Gospel Age.
  7. The will be no “Great Tribulation” in any distinctive sense at the end of the present age nor is there any “Rapture” of the Church, but rather, a general resurrection.

It is clear that points 4,5, and 6 will affect one’s whole idea of the Bible

This approach is not in keeping with the way that the other Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled.

World events are beginning to catch up with prophecy in our day and what has already happened suggests that the Amillennial position may soon be negated.

Two other points are worth mentioning:

  1. some amillennialists see the “Great Tribulation” of which Christ spoke, and which is the subject of Revelation 6-19, as being fulfilled in contemporary events, despite the fact that Jesus said that it would be “such as has not been since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be."  (Matthew 24:21), and “Unless those days be shortened, no flesh will survive.”  TheAmillennial position, then, denies the reality of Christ’s own words.  There have been trouble in the last 2000 years, but nothing to approach the conditions spoken of by Christ.
  2. Some amillennialists see the Church Age as the Millenium (quite a contrast!).  Yet Satan is meant to be bound in the bottomless pit during this time, yet we still see him active and we do not have the world peace as the Scriptures promise for the Millennial time.  In addition, as we will see from studying Isaiah, our lifespans are much too short for this to be the Millennium.

There are several other problems, including

  1. There has been no general agreement about the historical events that are meant to be referred to in Revelation. 
  2. The ‘beast’ described in Revelation who rules for 42 months (Rev. 13), or 1260 days, over the whole world is an individual.  Jesus said, "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him."
    (John 5:43)  This cannot be a succession of Popes, as the historicist amillennial position requires; and no Pope has reigned over the whole world for any amount of time, let alone 3.5 years, and called down fire from heaven!

Post-Millennial

This position says the book of Revelation applies primarily to the early church, being a record of the Neronian and subsequent persecutions, and the conflicts of the Church with Judaism and paganism.  The closing chapters (20-22) constitute a picture of the contemporary triumph of the Church.

Thus, Revelaiton is symbolic, not prophetic. The plain words of Scripture are not taken at face value.

A major problem this approach must deal with is how to explain some things which never happened, if all was fulfilled at teh beginning of the Church Age.

  1. The Antichrist has not set himself up as God or killed the two witnesses
  2. No mountain (large asteroid) has fallen into the sea, killing a third of everything.
  3. Christianity has definitely not triumphed!  The whole world has not become united under Christ.
  4. The Bible says the return of Christ is not after the Millennium, but before
  5. Christ comes to earth and ‘smites the nations’ (Rev. 19:15)
  6. The armies of earth gather to make war on Christ (Rev. 19:19)
  7. Satan is then bound for 1000 years so he cannot deceive the nations (Rev. 20:3)
  8. Martyred saints live and reign with Christ for that thousand years, having taken part in the first resurrection (20:4-6). 
  9. Christ reigns ON EARTH for the thousand years
  10. This is a physically tangible reign from Jerusalem

Pre-Millennial

This is our position, in line with a straightforward reading of Scripture, the events as outlined above. 

From 2 Peter 3:3-14 -- First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly live as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

 

Isaiah in History

Regnal Dates for the Kings of Judah

Kings of Judah Years of Reign Dates B.C. Reference
* Rehoboam
17
976 - 959 1 Kings 15:1
Abijam
3
959 - 956 I Kings 15:2
*Asa
40
956 - 916 1 Kings 15:10; 2 Chronicles 16:13
Jehoshaphat
25
916 - 891 1 Kings 22:42
Jehoram (+3 as co-regent)
5 (+3)
891 - 886 2 Kings 8:16-17; cf 2 Kings 3:1
Ahazaiah
1
886 - 885 2 Kings 8:26
Athaliah
6
885 - 879 2 Kings 11:3
Joash (Jehoash)
40
879 - 839 2 Kings 12:1
Amaziah
29
839 - 810 2 Kings 14:2
Azariah (Uzziah)
52
810 - 758 2 Kings 15:2
Jotham
16
758 - 742 2 Kings 15:33
Ahaz
16
742 - 726 2 Kings 16:2
Hezekiah
29
726 - 697 2 Kings 18:2
Manasseh
55
697 - 642 2 Kings 21:1
Amon
2
642 - 640 2 Kings 21:19
Josiah
31
640 - 609 2 Kings 22:1
*Jehoahaz
3 months
609 - 608 2 Kings 23:31
Jehoiakim
11
608 - 597 2 Kings 23:36
*Jehoiachin
3 months
597 2 Kings 24:18
Zedekiah
11
597 - 586 2 Kings 24:18

* Rehoboam died in the 18th year of reign, and so reigned 17 years. asa died in the 41 year of his reign, and so reigned 40 years. Adding these to the total of 6 months for Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin make a total of about 1 extra year.

Total time: 390 years

Withe Jerusalem's destruction in 586 B.C., an additional 390 years gives us the kingdom division that then occurred in 976 B.C. +/- 1 year.

Isaiah 1:1 -- The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isaiah prophesied in three distinct periods in Judah's history::

1. During the reigns of King Uzziah and King Jotham (810 - 842 B.C.)

Judah flourished during this time.

1) Had victories over surrounding areas (nations): Edom (built Elath), Philistines, Arabians, etc.
2) Buildings: Built towers and fortifications; towers in desert; vines in mountains; Elath a seaport.
3) Troops: well organized - 307,500 men, well cared for, slinging machine.

Once Assyria's Tiglath-pileser came to the throne around 745 BC, the freedom of this area gradually became threatened by Assyria.

Azariah/Uzziah

2 Kings 15:1-7 -- In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother's name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

  The LORD afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house. Jotham the king's son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.

As for the other events of Azariah's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Azariah rested with his fathers and was buried near them in the City of David. And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.

Notes: "leprosy" was a term used for a number of chronic skin outbreaks. However, since he was isolated from that time (see quote below from 2 Chronicles) until his death, it may very well have been leprosy. An alternative to "a separate house" is a house where he was relieved of responsibility. This would make his young son, Jotham, a 'co-regent.'

2 Chronicles 26:1-23 -- Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his fathers.

 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother's name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.

 He went to war against the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites. The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful.

 Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate and at the angle of the wall, and he fortified them. He also built towers in the desert and dug many cisterns, because he had much livestock in the foothills and in the plain. He had people working his fields and vineyards in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil.

 Uzziah had a well-trained army, ready to go out by divisions according to their numbers as mustered by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer under the direction of Hananiah, one of the royal officials. The total number of family leaders over the fighting men was 2,600. Under their command was an army of 307,500 men trained for war, a powerful force to support the king against his enemies. Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and slingstones for the entire army. In Jerusalem he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses to shoot arrows and hurl large stones. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.

 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God."

Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him.

 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house —leprous, and excluded from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.

The other events of Uzziah's reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. Uzziah rested with his fathers and was buried near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for people said, "He had leprosy." And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.

Jotham

2 Kings 15:32-38 -- In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah king of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother's name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD.

 As for the other events of Jotham's reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? (In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah.) Jotham rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David, the city of his father. And Ahaz his son succeeded him as king.

2 Chronicles 27:1-9 -- Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother's name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD. The people, however, continued their corrupt practices. Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel. He built towns in the Judean hills and forts and towers in the wooded areas.

 Jotham made war on the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand cors of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years.

 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.

 The other events in Jotham's reign, including all his wars and the other things he did, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Jotham rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David. And Ahaz his son succeeded him as king.

Note: a hundred talents of silver is about 3.75 tons, and ten thousand cors of wheat is probably about 62,000 bushels.

History notes:

"The fact that Assyria had, after Shalmaneser III, a succession of weak kings, allowed both kingdoms, Israel and Judah, another respite, which, however, only meant a postponement. Since Assyria was occupied with unrest in its own territory, Israel and Judah were able to enjoy a spell of peace from 825 - 745 B.C.

For forty years Uzziah, the leper, reigned as king of Judah. Israel was governed by Jeroboam II. Under his long rule, Israel flourished again, became rich, wallowed in luxury, and the aristocracy lived for themselves and for the moment, effete, corrupt and viscious. The prophet Amos raised his voice in warning. He lashed out at their unbridled love of pleasure. Archaeological reports and dry accounts of expeditions shed a powerful light on these prophetic warnings. In Israel, in and around the old mound of ruins that represented ancient Samaria, evidence was lying dormant which would indicate this materialism and luxury in the soil strata from the decades following 800 B.C."

The Bible as History, Dr. Werner Keller, Hoddar and Stoughton, 1969, p. 237

Thus, the Assyrian problem did not start until the last few years of Jotham's reign.

2. The Reign of King Ahaz (742 - 726 B.C.)

This was a time of decay, open idolatry, hostilities by Syria and Israel, and a pro-Assyria foreign policy.

2 Kings 16: 1-20 -- In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father [ancestor], he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.

Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him. At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the men of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day.

Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, "I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me." And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.

Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his fellowship offerings on the altar. The bronze altar that stood before the LORD he brought from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the LORD -and put it on the north side of the new altar.

 King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: "On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king's burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Sprinkle on the altar all the blood of the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance." And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.

King Ahaz took away the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria.

As for the other events of the reign of Ahaz, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Ahaz rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.

2 Chronicles 28:1-27 -- Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father [ancestor], he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.

Therefore the LORD his God handed him over to the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him. In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah—because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers. Zicri, an Ephraimite warrior, killed Maaseiah the king's son, Azrikam the officer in charge of the palace, and Elkanah, second to the king. The Israelites took captive from their kinsmen two hundred thousand wives, sons and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder, which they carried back to Samaria.

 But a prophet of the LORD named Oded was there, and he went out to meet the army when it returned to Samaria. He said to them, "Because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand. But you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven. And now you intend to make the men and women of Judah and Jerusalem your slaves. But aren't you also guilty of sins against the LORD your God? Now listen to me! Send back your fellow countrymen you have taken as prisoners, for the LORD's fierce anger rests on you."

 Then some of the leaders in Ephraim—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—confronted those who were arriving from the war. "You must not bring those prisoners here," they said, "or we will be guilty before the LORD. Do you intend to add to our sin and guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel."

 So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder in the presence of the officials and all the assembly. The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow countrymen at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria.

 At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. The Edomites had again come and attacked Judah and carried away prisoners, while the Philistines had raided towns in the foothills and in the Negev of Judah. They captured and occupied Beth Shemesh, Aijalon and Gederoth, as well as Soco, Timnah and Gimzo, with their surrounding villages. The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD. Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help. Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him.

In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, "Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me." But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.

 Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and took them away. He shut the doors of the LORD's temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger.

 The other events of his reign and all his ways, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. Ahaz rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of Jerusalem, but he was not placed in the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.

History notes:

"Menahem made himself king in Samaria. A former soldier by name Pulu had ascended the throne of Assyria, and from then on was known as Tiglath-Pilesar III. He was the first of a succession of brutal tyrants who conquered what was so far the greatest empire of the Ancient East. Their goal was Syria, Palestine, and the last cornerstone of the old world, Egypt. That meant that both Israel and Judah were caught between the pitiless millstones of a military state, for which the word peace had a contemptible sound, whose despots and cohorts had only three values: marching, conquering, oppressing. From North Syria, Tiglath-Pilesar III swept through the Mediterranean countries, and forced independent peoples to become provinces and tributaries of the Assyrian Empire. Israel at first submitted voluntarily: 'and Menahem gave Pul one thousand talents of silver that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand...so the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.' (2 Kings 15:19-20) 'I received tribute from Menahem of Samaria,' notes Tiglath-Pilesar III in his annals.

King Menahem entertained the illusion that a pact with the tyrant and voluntary tribute would be the lesser of two evils. But the result was bad blood among his own people. Anger at the Assyrian taxes found an outlet in conspiracy and murder. Pekah, an army officer, murdered Menahem's son and heir, and ascended the throne. From then on the anti-Assyrian party was the determining factor in the policy of the Northern Kingdom, Israel.

Rezin, king of Damascus, powerfully grasped the initiative. Under his leadership, the defensive league of the Aramaean states against Assyria came to life again. Phoenician and Arab states, Philistine cities and Edomites joined the alliance. Israel, too, took its place in the federation. Only King Ahaz of Judah remained obstinately outside. Rezin and Pekah tried to force Judah into the league violently. 'Then Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him.' (2 Kings 16:5)

In dire straits the king of Judah sent out an SOS. 'So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pilesar, king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant, and thy son: come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria.' (2 Kings 16:7-8)

'I received tribute from Jauhazi [Ahaz of Judah]' observes the Assyrian once more. Now events took their disastrous course." (Keller, pp 240-242)

This indicates Ahaz was playing a nasty game. He would rather have the king of Assyria help him knock out his enemies rather than be in league with their own people in Israel. The Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed, but amazingly the capital, Samaria was left along with a few square miles of hinterland which supplied it with corn and barley. King Hoshea ruled over this bit of land. "From this corner a gauntlet of defiance flew through the air to land at the Assyrians' feet. After the death of Tiglath-Pileser III, Hoshea conspired with Egypt. He refused to pay his annual tribute to Assyria. Shalmaneser V, the successor of Tiglath-Pileser III, at once struck back... For three years the little mountain fortress [Samaria] withstood the deadly pressure of superior forces with the courage of a lion (2 Kings 17:5). Cuneiform texts record that Shalmaneser V died unexpectedly during the seige of Samaria. His successor, Sargon II, nevertheless continued the attack. 'In the first year of my reign,' boasts Sargon in his annals, 'I beseiged and conquered Samaria...I led away into captivity 27,290 people who lived there.'

"And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria and dwelt in the cities thereof." (2 Kings 17:24)

..."Its motley collection of inhabitants became known as 'Samaritans.' Samaritans became a term of abuse, an expression of abhorence." (Keller, pp 249-250)

Hezekiah and Isaiah overview

3. King Hezekiah (726 - 697 B.C.)

2 Kings 18-20 devotes three chapters to this king. Here is the summary:

  •  Hezekiah came to the throne at 25 years old, and reigned for 29 years.
  • He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord
  • He tore down the places where idols were worshiped, including the bronze snake from Moses' time which the people had been making sacrifices to.
  • He invited the defeated northern kingdom to join with them to celebrate Passover.
    When the people returned from the Passover celebration, they broke idols in Israel.
  • He restored Scriptures. Proverbs 25:1 says "These also are Proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied."
  • vv 5-8 read: Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.
  • Samaria was conquered by Assyrians
  • Hezekiah conquers area as far as Gaza.
  • Judah's fortified cities captured by Assyria; Hezekiah offers and gives massive tribute to Assyria. This seems to contradict what was written that "He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him." Hezekiah was in a tricky position. The tribute was simply a stalling measure. That was not sufficient and Assyria brought an army against Jerusalem.
  • The Commander of the Assyrian army stands outside the walls of Jerusalem and shouts in Hebrew "Don't listen to Hezekiah, lest he pursuade you, saying 'The Lord will deliver us.' Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the King of Assyria? ...Indeed have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?"
  • Hezekiah tears his clothes and goes into the Temple. He contacts Isaiah.
  • Isaiah tells him not to be afraid; the Assyrians have blasphemed the Lord. God promises deliverance and says Sennacherib (who is with the army) will be assassinated.
  • Jerusalem is surrounded by Assyrians.
  • 2 Kings 19:35-37 records the massive death of the army around Jerusalem in one night (185,000 men) and the later murder of Sennacherib by his own sons.
  • During this time, Hezekiah is very ill (2 Kings chapter 20). Prayer to God results in Isaiah being told Hezekiah will have fifteen more years of life.
  • Isaiah asks what sign he wants, for the sun to go forward or backward. Hezekiah chooses backwards; the sun's shadow goes backwards ten degrees on the sundial of Ahaz.
  • Babylon is a rising power, and sends envoys to Judah.
  • Hezekiah shows them all the riches of the kingdom. Through Isaiah, the Lord chastizes Hezekiah for that and tells him that all those riches and his own children will end up in Babylon when Babylon comes against them, later.
  • Hezekiah's reaction? At least there will be peace in my lifetime....

 During Isaiah's time, Assyria threatened Israel and Judah four different times:

Tiglath-Pileser III 754 - 737 B.C.

The new King Ahaz in 742 B.C. responded to the deepening hostility from the Northern Kingdom of Israel after King Uzziah’s death by sending a large tribute to Tiglath-pileser III.
He was willing to pay the price of vassaldom in order to bring vast destruction upon its sister kingdom of Israel.

Shalmaneser V 736-732 BC

King Hoshea, in Samaria the capital of Israel, resisted this vassaldom once Tiglath-pileser died.
But Assyria under Shalmaneser V commenced a siege of this city (2 Kings 17:1-6). The seige lasted 3 years during which Shalmaneser died (732 B.C.). His successor Sargon II captured it in his first year,731. B.C. As a result the Northern Kingdom no longer was a separate political entity and became an internal province of the Assyrian empire.

Sargon II 731-715 BC

Judah under Hezekiah was associated with a revolt led by the Philistine city of Ashdod in the years 723-721 B.C. (cf. Isaiah 14:28-31; 17:14; 20:1-6).
It was probably expected that Egypt would join in this alliance against Assyria. If so, Isaiah 18:1-5 and 19:1-15 belong to this time. It is uncertain how far the rebellion spread, but Sargon II quickly stomped it out. Fortunately, Judah escaped any harsh consequences.

Sennacherib 714-691 BC

Judah and Egypt formed another alliance with the purpose of overthrowing the Assyrians after the death of Sargon II.
Sennacherib, however, brought destruction to virtually every town and fortress and city in Judah before Hezekiah was miraculously delivered (2 Kings 18-19).
It was at this time (in 712 B.C.) that Hezekiah was also healed and given 15 more years to live. Three years later Manasseh born.

(with acknowledgement for some timeline material to http://www.foundationsforfreedom.net/References/OT/Prophets/Isaiah/Isaiah00Chronology.html)

Isaiah Overview

First, Isaiah himself as a person:

His name means "Jehovah has saved" or alternatively, "Jehovah is salvation."

Isaiah may have been a man of Royal blood. According to the Babylonian Talmud, his father Amoz was a younger son of Joash, King of Judah. This made Amoz the younger brother of King Amaziah. This means that Isaiah was born during the reign of Uzziah and started his ministry towards the close of Uzziah's kingship.  He was a statesman and wielded tremendous influence in Judah. He was married to a prophetess and had at least two sons (7:3; 8:3, 18). He ministered for at least 65 years from the last years of Uzziah to the early part of Manasseh's reign. He died a martyr in the reign of Manasseh. Tradition suggests he was "sawn asunder" (Hebrews  11:37 KJV). He would have been at least 85 or perhaps 90 years old.

In this book he comes across as speaking with boldness to king and people alike. He never tries to curry favor. He is ardently patriotic, and is the enemy of all that is against the best interests of his nation. At the same time, there is a tenderness and sympathy which reaches out to other nations in a way that is not restricted by any narrow nationalism. There is stormy indignation which sometimes comes out as sarcasm or satire; but this is offset by deep reverence and spirituality.

He has a sense of the Majesty of God - his customary title for God is the "Holy One."

He is against outward forms of religion without the inner reality. We need to examine our lives to see if they come close to this Godly example.

Second, Isaiah as a Prophet:

1. His short-range prediction.
About 711 BC the Assyrian army under Sennacherib beseiged Jerusalem (Is 36:1). At that time Isaiah prophesied
(a) The enemy would not come into Jerusalem or shoot arrows against it, nor make siege-mound against it (Is. 37:33-35).
(b) When Sennacherib returned home he would be assassinated.
It happened just as Isaiah prophesied (see Bible as History, pp.260-263).

2. Prophesied 100 years into the future.
At the time that Assyria was the world power, Isaiah stated that Babylon would completely destroy Judah, carry away its treasures, make survivors of the Royal Family eunuchs in the palace at Babylon. (Isaiah 39:5-7). It was fulfilled just over 100 years later in 586 BC. Daniel was probably one of the eunuchs in Babylon.

3. Prophesied 150 years into the future.
An incredible prediction was made that the Medes would destroy Babylon (Is.13:17-19). In Isaiah's time the Medes were a people hardly worth mentioning. The prediction came true on the night of Belshazzar's feast and Daniel announced the fall of the Babylonian Kingdom (Daniel 5:1-31).

4. Prophesied 200 years into the future.
Isaiah predicted that a king by the name of Cyrus would allow the foundation of the Temple to be laid in Jerusalem after the Captivity closed (Is. 44:28-45:4). Some 200 years later this occurred (see Ezra 1:1-11).
5. Prophesied 750 years into the future.

Isaiah 53 prophesied that Messiah would be a). Rejected. b). Sin-bearer c). With the wicked at His death d). That He would intercede for them. e). He would live again (53:10).


Third, the Book of Isaiah:
For Isaiah itself, we find Assyria is dominant in the first 39 chapters. In the second 27 chapters, Babylon is in view as the world power.

There is a historical transition from the first part of Isaiah to the second made up of 4 chapters, 36-39. In those chapters, the first two, 36 & 37, are about the invasion of Judah by Assyria (after which Assyria declines to its doom). The remaining two chapters, 38 & 39, are about Hezekiah's illness, recovery and contact with Babylon, the new world power coming on the scene. So these chapters are clearly a transition from the first part of the book to the second.

Chapters 1-39 are primarily oracles of Denunciation, Retribution and Restitution.

In these chapters, the LORD gives reasons for the impending judgment and captivity of the nation, but ends with the blessing and regathering of Israel and His intervention and deliverance of Judah. By chapter:

1 - 6: The Day of the LORD and Judah
7 - 12: The Day of the LORD and Israel
13-23: The ten burdens of the surrounding Nations
24-27: The Day of the LORD and the whole world.
28-33: The six "woes" on Jerusalem.
34-35: The final wrath: Zion Restored.
36-39: Historical transition from Part 1 to Part 2.

Chapters 40-66 oracles of Redemption, Consolation and Consummation.
This section begins and ends in a manner similar to the New Testament (John the Baptist - the voice in the wilderness; the New Heaven and New Earth in both). Interspersed with threats and announcements of judgment are bright promises of blessing and the assurance of a glorious restoration and consummation.

GROUP 1: The Supremacy of the LORD 40-48 (Theme of Comfort)
(a) The LORD supreme in attributes (40-41)
(b) The LORD supreme in redemption (42-45)
(c) The LORD supreme in punishment (46-48)

GROUP 2: The Servant of the LORD 49-57 (Theme of Suffering Servant).
(a) First Israel; Finally Christ (49-53)
(b) Israel restored; Christ reigns (54-55)
(c.) Resultant exhortation & promise (56-57)

GROUP 3: The Challenge of the LORD 58-66 (Theme of Future Glory).
(a) In view of the present wrong-doing (58-59)
(b) In view of the future great events (60-65)
(c) Final challenge, promise & warning (66)

SPECIAL FEATURES:

1. The phrase "The Holy One of Israel" occurs 33 times. In the rest of the Bible it only occurs 6 times (Psalms 71, 78, 79; Jeremiah 50, 51; and 2 Kings 19:22 where Isaiah is speaking). His vision in chapter 6 impressed him with the Holiness of the LORD.

2. Another prominent word is "salvation." No other book in the Bible except Psalms has this word used so frequently. The word Isaiah is the book's message "Salvation of the the LORD."

3. The style of writing is all magnificent poetry except for chapters 36-39. His writing has been called "the most beautiful and sublime of all the prophets." His writing abounds in metaphors such as found in 2:19 and 24:20

4. A topical study is fascinating.

-- There are seven everlasting things: salvation (45:17); light (60:19); Joy (35:10); strength (26:4); kindness (54:8); covenant (55:3); and judgment (33:14).

-- Teaching on Comfort (40:1; 51:3, 12; 61:2-3, 12; 63:9; 66:13 also 43:1-2; 50:10).

-- Teaching about the Holy Spirit (10:27; 11:2; 32:15; 40:7, 13; 42:1; 44:3; 59:19, 21; 61:1; 63:10).

-- Hints about the Trinity (the 'Us' in 6:8 ; Jehovah is the King of Israel, that is Messiah 6:5; 43:15; 44:6; and a strong statement in 48:12-13 & 16-17).

-- The Life of Messiah is traced: His Birth (7:14, 9:6); Family (11:1); Anointing (11:2);  Character (11:3,4); Plain diet and simplicity of life (7:15); Gentleness (42:1-4); Death (ch. 53); Resurrection (25:8); Glorious reign (11:3-16; ch. 33).

Isaiah 1

Isaiah 1:2-3
Isaiah 1:4
Isaiah 1:5-6
Isaiah 1:7-8
Isaiah 1:9
Isaiah 1:10-15
Isaiah 1:16-17
Isaiah 1:18-20
Isaiah 1:21-23
Isaiah 1:24-26
Isaiah 1:27
Isaiah 1:28-31

Isaiah starts off with a grim picture, but there are snapshots of the future that will be incredibly bright.  Jerusalem becomes a blessing to the people and the world  (John 12:41 – "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.")

  1.  The vision – he had a vision of what was happening.  Not just words from the Lord, but had a vision
  2. Is Isaiah's vision only the first one, or the complete book?   Go to Isaiah 6:1 -- “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up….”  it was a vision. Clearly there were more than one.
  3. A lot of his messages must have come in visions.  We see quotes God has given him.    Somehow we have God’s exact words to Isaiah.

The first two sessions dealt with Isaiah 1:1 and the history dealing with the four kings Isaiah dealt with, as well as the concept of the prophet and prophecy in general.

NOTE: Again, as in Genesis, we are presenting four different translations for each verse, the New International Version (NIV) , the King James Version (KJV), the Alexandrian Septuagint (LXX) and the transliteration from the Hebrew (Hebrew). It must be noted that all translations except the ancient Alexandrian Septuagint are taken from the Masoretic, which was produced about 100 A.D. For more information about this, please see the article regarding The Alexandrian Septuagint History.

Isaiah 1:2-3

NIV -- Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.  The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger,  but Israel does not know, my people do not understand."

KJV -- Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.  The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

LXX -- Hear, O heaven, and harken, O earth: for the Lord has spoken, I have begotten and reared up children, but they have set me at naught. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know me, and the people have not regarded me.

Hebrew -- Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For Jehovah has spoken: Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master and the ass manger his master's. But Israel not does know; my people not have understood.

Notes:

1. The first thing mentioned is the immense ingratitude of Israel

2. The entire nation is being referenced (both halves). God has done everything for them: delivery from Egypt and slavery, bringing them into the Promised Land, giving them conquests and safety, prophets to guide them, kings like David. But they rebel and reject God. By the time Isaiah begins his prophetic career, although both halves of Israel seem rich and safe, they are all involved in massive idolatry and immorality.

3. Note that in verse 2, the LXX does not say 'rebel,' but uses the much stronger "set me at naught." They scorned the Lord, laughing Him out of their lives.

Isaiah 1:4

NIV -- Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.

KJV -- Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

LXX -- Ah sinful nation, a people full of sins, an evil seed, lawless children: you have forsaken the Lord, and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

Hebrew -- Woe, nation sinful, a people heavy with iniquity; the seed of evildoers, sons who corrupt! They have forsaken Jehovah, they have spurned the Holy One of Israel, they turned away backward.

Note: We see this total rejection of God in our own day, in "Christian" nations as well as in Israel itself....again.

Isaiah 1:5-6

NIV -- Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.

KJV -- Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

LXX -- Why should you be smitten any more, transgressing more and more? The whole head is pained, and the whole heart sad. From the feet to the head, there is no soundness in them; neither wound, nor bruise, nor festering ulcer are healed: it is not possible to apply a plaster, nor oil, nor bandages.

Hebrew -- Why will you be beaten any more? Will you continue the revolt? all the head is sick, and the heart is faint. From sole of the foot to the head not is in it soundness; only a wound and a stripe and a fresh blow; not they have been closed, nor bound up, nor was it softened with oil.

Notes:

  1. Isaiah is giving the message during the middle years of the reign of Uzziah; nothing but prosperity.  Amos warning in the north, Isaiah warning in the south.  People could not see any problems in near future. 
  2. Whole head is sick, whole body full of sores.  King Uzziah picture of that – leprosy.  King actually in that state physically
  3. Incorrigible sinning; why keep correcting you?  You have not learned…
  4. Whole head is sick, whole body full of sores.  King Uzziah picture of that – leprosy.  King actually in that state physically.
  5. A normal interpretation, as well, in prophecy, is that the head represents the king and ruling authorities and the body then is the multitude of people. So Isaiah is stating both the head and the body are a mess.
  6. We often think of 'biblical oil' as simply for anointing, but both at the time of the ancient Israelites as well as in the time of the Romans, oil was used as medicine, and various medicinal herbs were infused into oil to aid in healing.

Isaiah 1:7-8

NIV -- Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. The Daughter of Zion is left  like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege.

KJV -- Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.  And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

LXX -- Your land is desolate, your cities burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is made desolate, overthrown by strange nations. The daughter of Zion shall be deserted as a tent in a vineyard, and as a storehouse of fruits in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

Hebrew -- Your land is a desolation; your cities burned with fire; your land before you foreigners devour it, and it is desolation as overthrown by foreigners. And left is the daughter of Zion like a booth in a vineyard, like a hut in a garden, like a city besieged.

Notes:

  1. Country wasn’t yet overrun or desolate; this is Isaiah’s vision. He is saying, "This is what is going to happen to you.
  2. Jerusalem will become the focus of attention; like hut in field. 
  3. The sinning was present at that time; here is the result
  4. Isaiah was warning them, but evidently there was still a choice (see verses 18-20)

Isaiah 1:9

NIV -- Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.

KJV -- Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

LXX -- And if the Lord of Sabaoth had not left us a seed, we should have been as Sodom and we would have been made like to Gomorrah.

Hebrew -- Except Jehovah of hosts had left for us a survivor; a few, as Sodom we would be; as Gormorrah we would become.

Notes:

  1. God is promising that even though these problems will occur and desolation will take place, there will still be left a remnant.  This idea of the remnant comes up time and again in Scripture. Sometimes the remnant seems to refers to the return "from Babylon, and other times to the Millennium.
  • Isaiah 4:3 – "Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.
  • Isaiah 10:20-22 -- "In that day the remnant of isrel, the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer rely on him who struck them down, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return."
  • Isaiah 11:10-11 -- "In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea."
  • Jeremiah 29:11 -- this verse is often misused. It is referring to the remnant returning from Babylon. Start with verse 10 -- 'This is what the LROD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope."'

2. It is only by the LORD's grace that any survivors are left.

This is the close of the first section of Chapter 1; the second section includes verses 10-17 

Prophecy continues, but the train of thought switches.

Isaiah 1:10-15

NIV --Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah! "The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are full of blood;

KJV -- Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

LXX – Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; attend to the law of God, thou people of Gomorrah. Of what value to me is the abundance of your sacrifices? says the Lord:  I am full of whole-burnt-offerings of rams; and I delight not in the fat of lambs, and the blood of bulls and goats: Neither shall you come with these to appear before me; for who has required these things at your hands?  You shall no more tread my court. though you bring fine flour, it is vain; incense is an abomination to me; I cannot bear your new moons, and your Sabbaths, and the great day; Your fasting, and rest from work, your new moons also and your feasts my soul hates: you have become loathsome to me; I will no more pardon your sins. When you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you: and though you make many supplications, I will not hearken to you; for your hands are full of blood.

Hebrew – Hear the word of Jehovah, O rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, O people of Gomorrah! What use to me your many sacrifices? says Jehovah, I am full of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fattened cattle, and the blood of bulls; and lambs and he-goats not do I delight in. When you come to see my face, who has required this from your hand to trample my courts?  Not do add to bringing sacrifice vain; incense abomination it is to me; the new moon and sabbath the going to meeting; not I can endure evil, and the assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts hates my soul.  They are upon me a burden; I am tired of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands I will hide my eyes from you:  also when you multiply prayer, I not will hear.  Your palms blood are full of.

Notes:

1. "O rulers...O people..." -- both the head and the body are corrupt.

2. Your hands are full of blood – you have committed murder.  Society gone corrupt.  But they are prosperous.  God is warning of trouble ahead.

3. Modern translation: “I hate your Sunday services; I despise your Wednesday night Bible studies.  You don’t love me with all your heart.”  God is getting back to heart condition of the people; Jesus repeats this in Sermon on the Mount.

4. Isaiah repeats this theme in chapter 59: 1-9

5. Note the difference in the ancient LXX. In verse 12 it says, “neither shall you come to appear before me for who has required this of your hand; you shall no more tread my court.”   -- the Temple is going to be destroyed and you will not be able to go in to offer vain sacrifices. This line appears to have been changed later.

6. Psalm 51:17 states "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

7. What was Isaiah's personal response? Chapter 8, verse 17 says, "I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him." This echos Job's response: "Though he kill me, yet will I trust him." (Job 13:15)

8. Micah was prophesying about the same time as Isaiah, and issuing the same warnings: Micah 3:4 -- "Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them beccause of the evil they have done."

Isaiah 1:16-17

 NIV -- “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.

KJV -- “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good;  Seek justice,  Rebuke the oppressor;  Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.

LXX – Wash you, be clean; Remove your iniquities from your souls before mine eyes; cease from your iniquities; learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, deliver him that is suffering wrong, plead for the orphan, and obtain justice for the widow.

Hebrew – Wash yourselves, purify yourselves; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease doing evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the oppressor; judge the orphan, contend for the widow. 

Notes:

1. Reference verse 23

2. James 1:27 -- "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

3. Isaiah 10:1-4

4. Jeremiah 22:3-5 is the same picture. Because people are not doing the right thing by the poor and oppressed, this is what the Lord is going to do...

5. Psalm 113:7-9 -- "He [the LORD] raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from teh ash heap; he seats them with the princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a hapy mother of children."  

This closes section 2. Section 3 is verses 18-20

Isaiah 1:18-20

NIV --"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

KJV -- Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

LXX – Come, let us reason together, says the Lord: And though your sins be as purple, I will make them white as snow; and though they be as scarlet, I will make them white as wool. And if you be willing, and hearken to me, you shall eat the good of the land: but if you be not willing, nor hearken to me, a sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken this.

Hebrew – Come now, and let us be right, says Jehovah; Though are your sins as scarlet, as snow they will be white; though they are red as the crimson, like wool they shall be! If you are willing and hear, the good of the land shall you eat. But if you refuse and rebel, by the sword you shall be devoured, for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken.

Notes:

1. The purpose people are invited to reason with the Lord is not about creation, not about history, not about science, but the purpose is for personal relationship with the Lord, for redemption.

2. The word for ‘reason’ is Strongs 3198 – yakach – a primitive root meaning to be right, to argue, to cause to decide, to justify, or to convict, to appoint, to convince, to correct, to dispute, to plead, to reason together, to rebuke.

3. Psalm 51:6 -- "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place."

4. This is what Jesus has done for us – our sins are crimson.  His blood blots out that stain of blood on us from our own sins. 

5. Jesus takes it one step further, to a spiritual application. "If you love me, you will obey me." John 14:15.

6. The word "eat" in "you will eat from the best in the land" and the word "devour" in "you will be devoured by the sword" are the same word in the Hebrew.

This ends Section 3. Section 4 is verses 21-23

Isaiah 1:21-23

NIV -- See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her— but now murderers! Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts.  They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them.

KJV -- How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

LXX -- How has the faithful city Zion, once full of judgment, become a harlot!  Wherein righteousness lodged, but now murderers.Your silver is worthless, your wine merchants mix the wine with water. Thy princes are rebellious, companions of thieves, loving bribes, seeking after rewards; not pleading for orphans, and not heeding the cause of widows.

Hebrew -- How has become a harlot the city faithful!  She was full of justice; righteousness lodged in her – but now, murderers!  Your silver has become dross; your liquor is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebellious and companions of thieves; everyone loves a bribe and is seeking gifts; the orphan not do they judge and the cause of the widow not does come to them. 

Notes:

1. Israel had been faithful under David and Solomon. Now they are murderers, perhaps directly, but also, as implied, by not taking care of widows and orphans and others in need.

2. The silver -- what was happening was that the silver coinage was being adulterated with base metals (same as we have done with our currency).

3. Wine/liquor mixed with water is the same idea. The people are being cheated.

4. The widow's cause does not even make it to court. Orphans are not considered.

This ends section 4. Section 5 of Isaiah 1 is from verse 24 to the end of the chapter (verse 31)

Isaiah 1:24-26

NIV -- Therefore the Lord, the LORD Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: "Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City."

KJV -- Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

LXX -- Therefore thus says the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, Woe to the mighty men of Israel; for my wrath shall not cease against my adversaries, and I will execute judgment on my enemies. And I will bring my hand upon you, and purge you to pureness, and I will destroy the rebellious, and will take away from you all trangressors. And I will establish your judges as before, and your counselors as at the beginning: and afterwards you will be called the City of Righteousness,  the Faithful mother-city Zion.

Hebrew -- Therefore, states the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, Alas I will be eased of my foes, and avenge myself of my enemies. and I will return my hand upon you and refine as with lye your dross, and turn all your alloy.  I will return your judges, as at the first and your advisors as at the beginning, afterwards it shall be called to you a city of righteousness, a town of faithful. 

Notes:

1.  God is calling them his enemies, his adversaries.  But he will clean them out.  Dross, impurities must be melted out

2. Malachi 3:2-3 -- "But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness..."

3. In old days, refining silver involved a process of heating it over and over until all the impurities were out, and until the refiner could see himself reflected in the silver. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:29)

4. The word "restore" in the NIV and KJV is, as shown in the Hebrew, the same word as translated "return." There is a play on words here. One will be for evil and one for good.

5. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "When I bring them back from captivity, [or 'restore their fortunes'] the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: 'The LORD bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain.'" (Jeremiah 31:23) The condemnation from the Lord is tempered with a promise of the future.

6. When they came back from Babylonian captivity, this was true to an extent.  Jews went into Babylon as worshipers of foreign gods.  But in Babylonia, the heartland of false religions, their faith was purified and strengthened.  They came back strictly monotheistic, holy, and nothing to do with idols.  In that sense, yes, Jerusalem holy city then.  But the deeper, final, and more complete meaning is future.

7. Replacement theology, which claims the Christian church has co-opted all of the promises to Israel and God no longer cares for Israel, sees these verses as Christ comforting His church. However, we must allow Bible to interpret Bible and consider Jeremiah 31, Zechariah 8, Isaiah 49:14-21, etc.

8. Isaiah 65:8-16 repeats the promise of restoration.

Isaiah 1:27

NIV -- Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.

KJV -- Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

LXX – for her captives will be saved with judgment, and with mercy.

Hebrew – Zion with justice shall be redeemed and her returnees with righteousness. 

Notes:

1. Literally not ‘penitents’ but ‘returners.’  Hebrew

2. In the more ancient text, the LXX, we do not see the mention of those who are either penitent or 'returnees.' Instead, we see reference simply to the captives.

Isaiah 1:28-31

NIV -- But rebels and sinners will both be broken,  and those who forsake the LORD will perish. "You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen. You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water. The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire."

KJV -- And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

LXX -- And the transgressors and the sinners shall be crushed together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be utterly consumed. For they shall be ashamed of their idols, which they delighted in, and they are made ashamed of the gardens which they coveted. For they shall be as a turpentine tree that has cast its leaves, and as a garden that has no water. And their strength shall be as a thread of tow [a greased thread] and their works as sparks, and transgressors and the sinners shall be burnt up together and there shall be none to quench them.

Hebrew -- And the crushing of transgressors and sinners together, and those who forsake Jehovah shall be consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the trees which you desired and you shall be ashamed of the gardens that you have chosen. For you shall be like a tree fades whose leaf, and like a garden in which water is not for it. And will be the strong for tow, and his work for a spark; and they shall burn both together,  and none shall quench them.

Notes:

1. The reference to the sacred oaks is the same as the reference to idols. In Hebrew these words are the same. The reference to 'gardens' may be in direct contrast to God's original provision of Eden. People have preferred their own works to His. It should also be noted that there were some gorgeous gardens surrounding some of the pagan temples.

2. It is interesting that in all versions, the works of the unrighteous are the sparks and then the sinners themselves burn. It will be an everlasting fire, and so one that, clearly, does not completely consume at any time.