Bible Reading Notes—Step 6: Week 42

Introduction to Isaiah

Isaiah was called to be a prophet to the kingdom of Judah in the year that king Uzziah died, circa 740 BC (Isa. 6:1,8,9). He prophesied throughout the reigns of the next three kings, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His last mention is during the campaign of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, circa 690 BC. The kingdom of Judah was sandwiched between the two major powers of Egypt to the south and Assyria to the north, Assyria being in the ascendancy during this period. Corrupt idolatrous practices were rife in Judah (2 Chronicles 27:2) and the wicked king Ahaz supported these, contributing greatly to the moral decline of Judah (2 Chronicles 28:1-4). The Book of Isaiah is noted for its many wonderful divinely inspired prophecies concerning Jesus and the coming kingdom of God on earth.

Sunday – Isaiah 1

The people of Judah and their leaders had become corrupt and departed from the righteous laws of God set out for them in the Law of Moses (verses 2-4). They thought that keeping religious observances and offering sacrifices to God was sufficient to please Him (verses 11-15).  However, their hearts were ungodly and this resulted in evil behaviour such as murder (hands full of blood), injustice, oppression and lack of consideration for the vulnerable members of their society (verses 15-17). The sinful state of the nation is likened to the disease of leprosy spreading through the body (verses 5-6) making a person unclean in the sight of God (v16 compare Leviticus 13). They are in a bad spiritual state but God is very merciful and forgiving if there is repentance and obedience to his laws, so much so that their sins, though scarlet, could be washed white as snow (verses 18-19).

This chapter provides a good example of figurative language that occurs frequently in Scripture. God calls on the Israelitish ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’ to listen to his judgment concerning their dire spiritual condition (v2). The heavens represent the rulers and the earth represents the people over whom the heavens rule. More direct language is used in verse 10 with its reference to the rulers of (spiritual) Sodom and the people of the (spiritual) Gomorrah, Other examples of this figurative language occur elsewhere in Isaiah e.g. Isaiah 65:17 & 66:22 where the ‘new heavens and new earth’ refer to the kingdom of God established on earth (see notes on chapter 2).

Monday – Isaiah 2

This chapter commences with a description of the coming kingdom of God on earth (verses 1-4). Note that Jesus preached the gospel (good news) of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14). Jesus will be the great king sitting upon the throne of his father David ruling over the world from Jerusalem, the city of the great king (Luke 1:32-33; Matthew 5:35). People worldwide will want to walk in God’s laws (v3) and the world will be at peace with no more warring between nations. In fact, people will no longer be trained in warfare (v4).

The second part of the chapter warns us that before the kingdom of God can be established on the earth, all the haughty and prideful things of mankind will be humbled at the time when God ‘rises to terrify the earth’ (verses 10-22), so that God alone is exalted (v17).

Tuesday – Isaiah 9

The first part of chapter 9 is a Messianic prophecy concerning Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus spoke of himself as being the ‘light of the world’ (John 8:12; 9:5) because he brought spiritual light to enlighten people’s understanding (Ephesians 1:17-18). Verses 1-2 were fulfilled in the days of Christ’s ministry at his first coming (Matthew 4:13-16). Later verses refer to his second coming when he will sit on the throne of David at Jerusalem and bring worldwide justice and righteousness to this earth (verses 6-7). This is the determined purpose of God, which he will perform in His zeal (v7).

The description of Jesus being called ‘mighty God’ and ‘everlasting Father’ (v6) does not place the Son of God on equality with his Father. Jesus makes it clear that his Father is greater than he (John 14:28, compare John 5:30) and the apostle Paul informs us that at the consummation of all things the Son remains subject to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). Note that the passage in Isaiah says that he shall be called, i.e. given these titles in the kingdom age. Jesus Christ will be the ‘mighty God’ when he comes with the power and glory of his father (Matthew 16:27) having obtained a more excellent name than the angels (Hebrews 1:4) and is therefore worthy to bear the divine titles, just as in the past the angel of God’s presence had God’s name in him (Exodus 23:20-21).

With regard to the title ‘everlasting Father’, Jesus will be a father to the mortal nations in the kingdom age (Isaiah 22:21-24) by caring for them and guiding them in ways of righteousness, just as a father cares for his son. In addition to this, believers are also called Christ’s children because he is the means by which they are born anew (John 3:3,7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 2:13-1).

The latter part of the chapter concerns the sins of Judah and Israel, and the means by which God would punish them. He would use the surrounding nations, Syrians to the east and Philistines to the west (v12), and the kingdom of Israel (Ephraim and Manasseh) to the north, against the land of Judah (v21 compare Isaiah 7:3-9). The previous chapter (Isa. 8:4) mentioned the coming destruction of the kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians in the days of Ahaz king of Judah (722 BC).

Wednesday – Isaiah 11

The whole of this chapter concerns the Lord Jesus Christ (verses1-10) and events relating to his second coming (verses11-16). Jesus descended from king David who was the eighth son of Jesse (v1) and he is given the title ‘the Branch’ and ‘the Branch of righteousness’ (see v1) in a number of passages of Scripture (Jeremiah 23:5 & 33:15; Zechariah 3:8 & 6:12). It is likely that the prophecy that ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’ (Matthew 2:23) relates to these prophecies since the name ‘Nazareth’, the hometown of Jesus, means ‘the place of the branch’.

The Holy Spirit from God rested on Jesus at his baptism (v2 compare Matthew 3:16). The wonderful character and qualities of the Lord Jesus, both in his preaching ministry as the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world and also as the great king at his second coming, are set out in verses 2-5.

Verse 4 reminds us that Christ’s righteous reign in peace cannot be possible for this earth while wicked people remain unchecked, so it will be necessary for those who refuse to walk in ways of righteousness to be slain following righteous judgment (v3 compare Isaiah 66:24). If people are inclined to be disobedient they will be given positive instruction to walk in right ways (Isaiah 30:20). Peace is not possible for this earth until righteousness prevails (Isaiah 32:17).

God’s purpose for mankind on this earth is encapsulated in verse 9, compare Numbers 14:21 and Habakkuk 2:14.

The blessings of God’s kingdom on earth come to both Jews and Gentiles (v10) for all nations will be blessed in Jesus, Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). All the Israelites (Jews) dispersed throughout the world will be regathered to the Promised Land when Jesus returns to this earth (verses11-12 compare Jeremiah 31:10; 33:37-41). So far the regathering of the Jews is only partial. In that day the opposition of the Arab nations including the Palestinians will be removed.

Thursday – Isaiah 25

This mountain (v6) refers to Mount Zion where the city of Jerusalem is situated. When the law goes out from Jerusalem, people from all over the world will go up to Jerusalem to worship God and to learn his laws (Isaiah 2:1-3). In this way the covering or veil of ignorance will be taken away from all nations.

Death will be swallowed up in victory for those in Christ, when Jesus bestows everlasting life on the faithful at his coming. For them there will be no more sorrow leading to tears (v8). For the mortal population who live during the kingdom age, death and the grave will come to a final end at the conclusion of the millennial reign of Christ  (1 Corinthians 15:22-26 & 53-55, see also Revelation 7:17 & 21:4).

Friday – Isaiah 26

Jesus is the gate in the wall of salvation by which we may enter the strong city (v1-2). There is perfect peace for those that keep the truth (NKJV, marg. remain faithful) and trust in God (verses 2-3,12). To keep the truth implies having a true knowledge of the word of God and living it faithfully in our lives. It is important to obtain truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding from the word of God (Proverbs 23:23) for the Holy Scriptures can make us wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

As was noted for Isaiah 11, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness (v9) but those that deliberately choose wickedness will not see the majesty of God manifested in mercy and kindness (Exodus 34:6-7) for they will be destroyed by the fire of His wrath (verses10-11,21).

Godless people that have never known God’s laws will not be resurrected from the dead to live in God’s kingdom on earth. They will suffer eternal destruction (v14). However, those constituting the righteous nation that keeps the truth will be raised from the dead and be given everlasting life when Jesus returns to this earth. They will sing for joy in the kingdom of God (v19, compare Daniel 12:2-3 & John 5:28-29).

Saturday – Isaiah 32

Jesus is both Prince of Peace and King of Righteousness. He will rule this earth with justice and righteousness, helped by his immortal followers (v1, compare Revelation 2:26-27). Peace on earth is not possible until righteousness and justice prevail (v17). This righteousness will not be only that of Jesus Christ and his helpers, but will also become the dominant behaviour of a population walking willingly in God’s laws (Isaiah 2:3). What a wonderful picture of peace for a world that has suffered thousands of years of war and strife, when ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore’ (Isaiah 2:4). Then will be finally and completely fulfilled the words sung by the angels at the birth of Jesus ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men (Luke 2:14).