This week we read God’s promises to Abraham that he would bless the whole world through one of Abraham’s descendants. Throughout the Old Testament, God continued to speak his promises, often to prophets—people he chose to proclaim his message. One of these prophets was Isaiah, a well-educated Jewish man who may have been related to the royal family. He lived in Jerusalem and often met with the king and other leaders. Isaiah’s wife was a prophetess and they had at least two sons. Isaiah’s ministry began about 740 B.C., and he shared God’s message for almost sixty years before he was put to death by a wicked king.
God gave Isaiah many warnings to share with the Kingdom of Judah. (The nation of Israel had split into two countries about 200 years earlier, and Judah was the southern nation.) The people of Judah were still following the rituals of worshiping God in the temple regularly, but they were also involved in deeply disturbing idolatry. Child sacrifices and temple prostitutes were common. The people were also neglecting the poor and the suffering.
Isaiah’s prophecies foretold God’s judgment, but the message didn’t end there. God promised that the nation would be restored, the Messiah would come–once as a suffering savior but eventually as a conquering king.
Isaiah, living within a sinful environment, was conscious that he was a sinner too—especially when he had a vision of God’s holiness. Read Isaiah 6:1-8. (All the scriptures that aren’t spelled out in the blog this week are right here.)
This passage shows us God’s forgiveness and Isaiah’s faith. Isaiah believed that his sin was forgiven through a sacrifice on the altar, and he immediately wanted to serve God. He moved from “woe is me” to “send me” immediately.
Here is a sample of the prophecies of coming judgment that God told Isaiah to share. Read Isaiah 30:12-18. I found this to be particularly vivid in the New Living Translation.
God gave Isaiah a description of Jesus’ sacrifice. Read Isaiah 53:4-12.
God also gave Isaiah promises of his faithfulness.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:11)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
…“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
As I read today’s scriptures, I was still thinking about Abraham waiting for decades for God to fulfill his promises. One of the verses jumped out at me:
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help. (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)
Lord, sometimes I am waiting for you, but I am sure that you are often waiting for me
…to seek you
…to turn from repeated sin
…to seek godly counsel
…to take five minutes and sit in quietness and think of you
Note: for an excellent overview of Isaiah’s life and writings, check out Donna Partow’s book Extracting the Precious from Isaiah.