04 June 2016

Stone 22 - Isaiah

Now that we have went through the wisdom literature, we go back and meet up with some of the prophets. We will start with Isaiah.

As you may recall, we first met Isaiah back in 2 Kings and in particular his interaction with Hezekiah although he was around during the reign of multiple kings.

Let's remember what was going on at that time.
The nation of Israel had been divided into the tribe of Judah and the northern kingdoms each area having many kings. In fact, Isa 1:1 tells us that Isaiah received his visions over the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. During the reign of the kings, Israel was constantly in a cycle of rebellion and repentance. Prophets came and went with warnings of judgement or other events. Isaiah is often considered to be one of the greatest prophets. As with many other messages from notable people up to this point, Isaiah calls on people to repent and to follow God and his commands.

Right off the bat, we see the nation labeled as rebellious sinners (Isa 1:2-4). OK, nothing new here really - this is a constant theme throughout the Bible - we are sinful by nature and in need of a savior. Can you not hear the frustration that hovers...Verse 10 pleads "Listen to the instruction of our God,..." Instead, even to this day, thousands of years later, we still cling to autonomy and the destruction that it brings.

Again in verses 16 and 17 - a call to repent and to seek justice and what is good. I am brought back to a verse in Proverbs that says there is a way that seems right to a man but that its way leads to death (Prov 16:25). Ugh.

Isaiah 3:1 warns of the removal of security from the nation. They will be judged for their rebellion and sin. In chapter 6, Isaiah tells us of his call to go and share the message but embedded within this message is a message of hope in what is called the 'Holy Seed' (Isa 6:13). I think about how people will sometimes burn their field because it helps improve the fertility of the soil. Isaiah shares the impending burn of the land that will be a part of what ushers in a new and improved Jerusalem.

In fact, Isaiah prophesies some 700+ years prior to the the event, that a virgin would conceive and that his name would be Immanuel. We are told of the coming Assyrian invasion (Isa 8:7-8, 10:5-6). We are reminded of the coming Christ in Isa 9:6 although the people may not have understood this at the time. Assyria as well will fall - an evil nation used to fulfill God's great plan would see their own judgment (Isa 10:12) one day. None of us are immune...

We then read about many judgments against other places such as Babylon, Egypt, Moab, Cush, Damascus, Tyre, and others. However, these many chapters of seemingly morbid visions of destruction are not without hope. Chapter 35 gives us a glimpse of the hope to come. The return to Zion (Isa 35:9-10)!

Next we have a re-visitation of the interaction of Isaiah and King Hezekiah that we had in 2 Kings. King Hezekiah is threatened by Sennecherib of Assyria as he comes and captures several cities in Judah (Isa 36:1). Sennecherib mocks Hezekiah and God (Isa 36:18-20). So Hezekiah seeks out Isaiah and also prays to God (Isa 37:14-15). The Lord responds favorably for Hezekiah and the Assyrians are defeated. However, Hezekiah gets sick some time later and prays to God. God grants Hezekiah some relief from his sickness so that he does not die. but lives an other 15 years (Isa 38:5-6). Then we read about Hezekiah bringing in the Babylonians for a tour of the kingdom. Remember that this is seen as an attempt to make an alliance with Babylon and is therefore foolish for Hezekiah since he is not trusting in God alone for his issues.

Isaiah does a great deal of prophesying about the coming Christ. Remember that Israel has been often in rebellion and often told that they need to follow the commands of the Lord. We get to read about how more than 700 years prior, Isaiah foretold of a way for the entire world to obtain everlasting life.

Watch these two videos about Isaiah from Join the Bible Project and see about the work of Isaiah.

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