Meet Divine Expectations
Explore the Bible Series
March 1, 2009
Lesson Passage: Isaiah
Introduction to the Prophecy of Isaiah:
Author: The opening verse of this prophecy identifies
Isaiah, son of Amoz, as the author of this book.† The prophetís name means ďJehovah
Saves.Ē† Rabbinic tradition indicates
that Isaiah lived a very long time, perhaps ninety years, and he preached
during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and
Hezekiah. The Bible reveals that Isaiah was married and fathered two sons.†
Historic Setting: Isaiah ministered to Judah
from about 739 to 681 B.C.†
King Uzziah:† Uzziah
(also known as Azariah) was the son of King Amaziah, and he ascended to the
throne of Judah when men of Jerusalem assassinated Amaziah at Lachish (See II Kings 15:1-7 and II
Chronicles 25:25-28). The young king was only sixteen when these conspirators
murdered his father, but he demonstrated great wisdom and godliness during his
lengthy public life (reigned for fifty-two years). Generally, Uzziah walked
with the Lord.† Unfortunately, he did not
remove the high places (sites of pagan worship), and he died of leprosy after
he intruded into the Temple
to burn incense (See II Chronicles 26:16-23).
Jotham: This man ruled Judah during the years of his
fatherís illness and assumed the throne, in his own right, at age
twenty-five.† He governed wisely in Jerusalem for sixteen
years (See II Chronicles 27:1-9).
Ahaz: Jothamís son did not follow in his fatherís path.† His sixteen-year rule of Judah marked a dismal return to idolatry;
indeed, the king himself commissioned the worship of the Baals, sacrificed to
the pagan gods, defaced the Temple,
and offered his children as burnt sacrifices.†
His miserable leadership of Judah is described in Ii Kings
16:1-20 and II Chronicles 28:1-4.
Hezekiah: Thankfully, Hezekiah, during a twenty-nine year
reign, broke the sinful patterns of his father Ahaz. He cleansed and restored
the Temple from
the abominations of Ahaz, and he tore down the high places of pagan devotion.† Despite sad moments of weakness, Hezekiah
served God faithfully throughout a long and prosperous reign.
Purpose: Isaiah addressed a prosperous and confident
nation.† Judah experienced a kind of ďIndian
SummerĒ of generally good leadership and political security.† The nation prospered economically during the
eighth-century, but the people fell into extended periods of spiritual and
moral compromise and complacency. God sent occasional warnings to his people,
but they refused to read the signs of the times very well.† Above all, the citizens of Judah failed to recognize the
danger posed by the resurgence of the Egyptians and the meteoric rise of the
Assyrians.† Isaiah confronted Judahís
General Organization of the Prophecy:
The Book of Isaiah divides clearly into two major
sections.† Chapters 1-39 address the
spiritual malaise of Isaiahís contemporaries.†
Glorious promises of mercy punctuate thirty-nine chapters of scathing
rebukes of the peopleís moral torpor.† In
contrast, Chapters 40-66 take a prophetic posture and describe conditions that
will exist many years after Judah
feel to Babylon
and, of course, after the death of Isaiah.†
The accuracy of these prophecies has persuaded many scholars that Isaiah
could not have written this section of the book.† However, New Testament figures, including the
Lord Jesus, clearly regarded these chapters as the work of Isaiah. Those who
want a more thorough treatment of these issues regarding authorship should see
E.J. Youngís An Introduction to the Old Testament.† Finally, we should note that the last
twenty-nine chapters contain the most glorious Messianic prophecies in the Old
Outline of the Lesson Passage:
General Indictments Against Judah (1:1-31)
of Isaiah (1:1)
summons to a court of law (vv. 2-3)
jury summoned (vv. 2a):† God called upon
the heavens and the earth to hear his prosecution of Judah.
indictment read (vv2b-3): The Prosecutor compared Judah to defiant children.† God had blessed and nourished them; yet, they
rebelled against their loving Father.†
Even the ox and the donkey have greater insight than the children of Judah.
all-pervading sin of Judah
(vv. 4-6): Isaiah compared Judahís
spiritual condition to an illness that pervades the entire body, ďfrom the sole
of the foot even to the head.Ē In particular, this illness has affected the
head and the heart of the people.†
Furthermore, no one has come to Judahís aid.† Her wounds have gone unattended.
consequences of Judahís
sin (vv. 7-9):† God chastened his
children, but they refused to discern his displeasure. Though the land has
become a moral and spiritual wasteland, the people refused to heed Godís
displeasure with the worship of Judah
(vv. 10-15): The Jews continued the outward observance of the worship of
Jehovah, but God testified that he no longer delighted in this perfunctory
worship.† Their sacrifices, burning of
incense, and adherence to the Jewish calendar only trouble God.† He pledged to turn a deaf ear and blind eye
to their empty observances.
call to repentance (vv. 16-20): These troubling circumstances, however, did not
preclude a restoration of the spiritual vitality of Judah.† God called the people to repentance,
cleansing, and reform.† The Jews, by Godís
gracious invitation, had to listen to the Lordís reasonable plea (v. 18).† Jehovah offered cleansing from the stain and
defilement of their sins and a restoration of goodwill and blessing (vv.
mournful description of Jerusalem
1. Jerusalem like a harlot
will take vengeance on his enemies (vv. 24-26)
plead to redeem the penitent and judge those who strongly (firmly) remain in
their pattern of sin (vv. 27-31)
The Problem with Judah: What She Is and What She
Will Be (2:1-4:6): The contrast between the end of Chapter One and the
beginning of Chapter Two is striking.†
The dismal circumstances described in the opening chapter of Isaiah will
give way to a glorious period of blessing that will see the nations of the
earth looking to Jerusalem
as the ďmountain of the Lord.Ē
future period of blessing (2:1-4): John Oswalt, in his excellent commentary on
Isaiah, observes that this passage does not refer to a future millennial
kingdom; rather, he draws on other Old Testament texts to conclude that this
wonderful period of peace will occur ďin timeĒ and not at the end of time (He
cites Genesis 49:1; Number 24:14; Deuteronomy 31:29; and Jeremiah 23:20).† Oswalt takes a Messianic approach to these
verses and concludes that the prophecies recorded here will find fulfillment in
the redemptive work of Christ.
plea to walk in the light of the Lord (2:5-22)
land was filled with great prosperity and idolatry (vv. 5-9).† The Jews had compromised their moral
integrity by allowing the influence of godless men to draw them into
covetousness and the worship of false gods.†
As long as the people persisted in their disobedience, they had no
prospect of forgiveness (See v. 9b).
from the terror of the Lord (vv. 10-22): The day of the Lord will bring the
haughty man low.† He will find his
security compromised and all of his defenses will prove useless against the
judgment of the Lord. All of manís military prowess and vain idols will do no
good against the retributive work of Jehovah.
will remove the leadership of Judah
leaders whom God will remove: the military leaders, the judge, the prophet, the
diviner, the elder, the eminent men, the counselor, the skilled artisan, the
enchanter, and the princes (vv.1-5).†
Children will rule over the nation.
members will turn away from each other (vv. 6-12).† Circumstances will grow so dire that brothers
will refuse to help one another, even in nakedness and hunger.† Women will rule over households of rebellious
will bring the haughty oppressor to destruction (vv. 13-26):† Jehovah pleaded with the wealthy and powerful
to turn from their luxurious and oppressive lives.† They rich had amassed their fortunes by the
oppression of the poor (vv. 14-15).† The
spoiled women, with their opulent affluence, will be deprived of the trappings
of their wealth (vv. 17 and 24-26).
D. Godís promise of future good for the remnant of his people (4:1-6)
continuation of the plan of God to judge the women of Judah (v. 1).† In the day of the Lordís judgment, so many
men will die that women will desperately seek husbands to remove their
reproach.† They will live as shameful
Lord will renew Judah (vv.
2-6): Again, Isaiah did not indicate the precise date of this renewal;
nevertheless, he anticipated a day when God would make Jerusalem beautiful and holy (vv. 2-3).† When God cleanses the city, he will dwell
with his people as he did in the wilderness, by cloud and pillar of fire (vv.
4-5). Jehovah will tabernacle with his people (v. 6).
The Lordís Unprofitable Vineyard (5:1-30)
love for and disappointment in his vineyard (vv. 1-7):† God ďplantedĒ Judah like a man would establish a
vineyard.† He selected a fertile
location, dug and cleared the stones, planted choice vines, prepared a wine
vat, and provided for its protection by building a watchtower.† However, the vineyard, despite all of these
preparations, brought forth wild grapes, unfit and unprofitable for any use.† All of these analogies, of course, serve as
symbols of the Lordís love and provision for his people and their unfortunate
rejection of Godís blessings.
reasons for Godís displeasure with Judah
(vv. 8-30): Isaiah pronounced six ďwoesĒ on Judah,
and, in doing so, he condemned the particular sins that rendered Judah
(vv. 7-10): The citizens of Judah,
in many cases, lived in luxury and extravagance; yet, these greedy people still
(vv. 11-17): This generation pursued strong drink and worldly amusements, and
they could already see the consequences of their pleasure-seeking.
of the Lordís justice (vv. 18-19): These men sinned boldly and dared God to
judge them.† They ridiculed the Lordís
perversion (v. 20): Judah
had lost her oral compass and could no longer discern right from wrong.
and self-righteousness (v. 21): Spiritual pride convinced these people that
they possessed great wisdom; instead, they were merely shrewd.
and injustice (vv. 22-23): The drunken judges perverted justice for a
bribe.† Isaiah concluded this section
with a lengthy description of Godís displeasure with the moral decadence of Judah