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Lowell Brueckner

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Introduction to Isaiah


Introduction to the Prophecies of the Book of Isaiah

Chapter 1

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

After having finished reading through the Old Testament in October, 2014, I began an intensive study of the book of Zechariah. I benefitted immensely, poring verse by verse over this book, rich in prophecy, concerning the first and second coming of the Messiah. I have an obligation to share what I learn with the lambs and sheep of God’s flock and, for that reason, I wrote commentaries in expository form on the whole book. In the same way, I gave expository messages, wherever I travelled. I hope that the listeners and readers have profited, as much as I have, from those extraordinary prophecies.

A few days ago, I finished reading the Old Testament for 2015 and I feel drawn towards the book of Isaiah. Although I feel incapable before such a great work, the desire to explore its immensity has won over the conviction of my weakness. It is a formidable task to do a serious study of the book, in the first place, because it contains 66 chapters. However, far beyond the challenge of tackling the volume of the book is the perception needed to discover the depth and the holy unction that rested upon the prophet as he wrote. The experts in classical Hebrew say that Isaiah used an unusually extensive vocabulary, even greater than that of the Psalmists. He is cited in the New Testament much more than any other author of the Old. His name is mentioned more than 20 times and his texts more than 65 times in the New Testament.

The Dead Sea Parchment

The scroll of Isaiah lit up in its place in Jerusalem
The Sanctuary of the Book in the Museum of Israel
One of the greatest fascinations that I have with the book of Isaiah is its dominant role over the thousands of papyrus and parchment scrolls and fragments that were discovered in their hiding places above the ruins of Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea. Qumran was the town of the Essene sect, who dedicated themselves to copying from manuscripts of the Old Testament. Thousands of fragments from all the Old Testament books, except for Esther, were taken from eleven caves high above the Sea. They were found to be the oldest texts by far of the Old Testament Scriptures, some dating from before 250 B.C. The parchment of Isaiah was the only scroll that was entirely intact. I cannot escape the conviction that this ancient copy has something to do with the events, related to the times that are unfolding before the Second Coming of Christ. That scroll lies totally unrolled for all visitors to the Sanctuary of the Book in the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem to see… and if they have a knowledge of classical Hebrew, they can read it with their own eyes.

The Essenes existed at the time of Christ and we can know much of their culture, because it is well documented in the great library that they left behind, in which they wrote of their practices, customs and beliefs. Their scrolls were also found alongside the manuscripts of the Bible. When the Roman army invaded Jerusalem in 70 A.D under General Titus, the future emperor of Rome, the Essenes hid their scrolls above the Dead Sea and fled from Israel along with the rest of the Jewish population. They thought to return for them later, but never were able to do so. These written testimonies, that gave powerful evidence to the faithfulness and authority of the Scriptures, lay in silence, from 70 A.D. until 1947. They are a thousand years older than any previous manuscript. They were not discovered by modern technology, but by a simple Bedouin shepherd boy caring for his flock on the cliffs above the Dead Sea. I see the hand of God clearly in all that concerns these scrolls, especially when I consider that Israel was declared a sovereign nation only one year later in May of 1948. When God returned to them their homeland, he also gave them this great ancient treasury of copies of the Scriptures penned by their prophets.

Experts have dated the manuscript of Isaiah, which is now displayed in the museum in Jerusalem, to be from 50 B.C. to 300 B.C. That assures us that the prophecies concerning the Messiah were written before his birth in Bethlehem. Of course, the Christian has always believed that the original manuscript, authored by Isaiah, was written around 700 B.C.

God has not abandoned ethnic Israel

May 14, 1948  David Ben-Gurion declares Israel a nation
Paul said that the Jews were “entrusted with the oracles of God” (Ro.3:2), as maximum proof that God had not abandoned them. To the contrary, Paul is speaking of the advantage of being a Jew and of their superior part in the plan of God. Isaiah indicates in his prophecies that God never rejected ethnic Israel, strongly refuting the argument of the amillennialists and the post-millennialists, who assert that the church has replaced and taken the position previously held by ancient Israel. Many of the prophecies of Isaiah have already seen literal fulfillment, therefore it is illogical to think that those which must still see completion will do so in a spiritual and not a literal fashion. Isaiah, along with Zechariah, taught that Jerusalem will be exalted on the earth, not in heaven, and that Christ will reign on the earth from Jerusalem, among an Israel that is Christian and saved by the redeeming blood of Jesus of Nazareth.

The declaration of Paul, which we have quoted, also emphasizes the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures, determining that they are authoritative also for the church. It disarms the claims of certain sects, which teach that the Old Testament is no longer relevant in the church dispensation. In truth, the Jews were entrusted with the Scriptures so that they would be preserved for the church. I ask many times, if the canon of these Scriptures was not meant for us, then who were they for? They were not for Abraham, David, Isaiah, or Ezekiel, because the canon was not established until after Malachi’s day. But when Jesus said to Satan, “It is written”, Satan fled because he recognized the authority of these verses, quoted from the Old Testament. Taking from the book of Genesis, Jesus said to the Sadducees, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?”

The Old Testament Canon

The book of Isaiah is as legitimately the Word of God as any book out of the New Testament. The Jews had established a canon of Scripture before the first coming of Christ and Christ and His disciples recognized and received it. When referring to the Scriptures, Jesus had in mind a collection of established books, as writings inspired by God. There were 22 books, divided in three parts in those days: The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Later, these 22 books were divided into 39 parts, but they are exactly the same; nothing has been left out, nor has anything been added. Paul was referring to them, when he said to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 T.3:16), and Peter affirms, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure… but know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 P.1:19-21).

Some have called the book of Isaiah, The Gospel of Isaiah, since it has a lot to do with, not only the salvation of Israel, but also that of the whole world. It contains prophecy of the birth, ministry, and death of Christ; it even goes beyond that, prophesying about the Second Coming and the reign of Christ upon the earth, giving more details about it than any other part of the Bible… including the New Testament! He speaks of the ultimate result of our salvation. The name Isaiah (Jeshiahu in Hebrew) means the salvation of the Lord or the Lord is salvation, a very appropriate name for the ministry that he had to carry out.

He was the son of Amoz, but we know nothing about his father. As a prophet, he did not need to come from any particular line or background, as is necessary in the case of priests. A prophet was called by a sovereign God, with no account taken of his previous office or work. We also know that Isaiah was a married man, who had two sons with symbolic names, given by God: Sher-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz. He basically prophesied to Judah and Jerusalem, but sometimes to Babylon, Egypt, Tyre and other nearby nations. He was the counsellor of kings during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah for a period of around 53 years, beginning at the death of Uzziah. He was a contemporary of Hosea and Micah. Jewish tradition supposes that he was sawn in two by Manasseh (He.11:37).  

The ministry of Isaiah

An old title for a prophet was a seer, because they were able to see things that a common person could not see. In verse one, he speaks of the visions that he saw. Isaiah did not prophesy chronologically, nor did he intend to order the prophecies according to theme. This is because biblical prophecy is progressive and men of God are expected to clarify things in the future more and more as the events near completion.

Judah’s spiritual condition was deteriorating in the time of Isaiah, beginning with Uzziah’s attempt to function as a priest. Uzziah’s reign lasted 52 years (790-739 B.C.). Northern Israel united with Syria to oppose the southern kingdom. Assyria became an international power under the reign of Tiglath-pileser (745-727 B.C.) and carried the most distinguished people of the northern kingdom into captivity. Jotham was king during 750-739 B.C., taking control of Judah after his father was smitten with leprosy. The good kingdom of Hezekiah came between 715-686 B.C. and suffered during his reign from severe opposition on the part of Assyria. By God’s intervention, Assyria failed in its attempt to take Jerusalem and never again threatened Judah.

Now, I have finished with this résumé of the situation that Isaiah faced during his ministry. From this point on, we will observe His astounding words, anointed by the Spirit of God. In this introduction, the only thing more that I would like to present is the dominating revelation of God that Isaiah so powerfully gave, first to Israel, and now to us in this 21st Century. According to Isaiah, God was the Holy One of Israel. That is what he proclaimed Him to be in the following verses: 1:4; 5:19, 20; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15,29; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14,16,20; 43:3,14,15; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9,14.


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