From the revolt of Satan to the rule of the Savior-all is told by Scripture’s most eloquent prophet Isaiah He was the Shakespeare of the prophets and the Paul of the Old Testament. Isaiah has more to say about the greatness of God (40,43), the horrors of the Tribulation (24), the wonders of the Millennium (35), and the ministry of Christ (53) than any other book in the Bible. Isaiah 53 is probably the most important and far-reaching chapter in the Old Testament, as it is quoted from or alluded to 85 times in the New Testament. Jesus said that Isaiah saw His glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41). This book is an extended commentary on Jonah 2:9, when that prophet exclaimed from the fish’s belly, “Salvation is of the Lord” The word salvation appears 33 times in the writing of the prophets, and of these, 26 instances occur in Isaiah.
The Book of Isaiah is easily compared to the Bible. The Bible has 66 books; Isaiah has 66 chapters. The Old Testament has 39 books; the first section of Isaiah has 39 chapters. The New Testament has 27 books; the last section of Isaiah has 27 chapters. The Old Testament covers the history and sin of Israel, as does Isaiah 1-39. The New Testament describes the person and ministry of Christ, as does Isaiah 40-66.
The New Testament begins with the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-3); the second section in Isaiah begins by predicting this ministry (Isaiah. 40:3-5). The New Testament ends by referring to the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1-3); Isaiah ends his book by describing the same things (Isaiah. 66:22). Isaiah is the only book in the Bible to mention and describe a company of angels known as the seraphim (6:1-8).
This remarkable section not only provides us with a glimpse into heaven but also illustrates an aspect of the ministry angels perform for believers (cf. Isaiah. 6:6-7 with Heb. 1:14). Finally, upon viewing the holiness of God in this heavenly vision, Isaiah is made aware of his own uncleanness (6:5), and upon being cleansed, dedicates himself anew to God’s work (6:8). Isaiah is one of the two Old Testament books describing the pre-Fall existence of Satan (cf. Isaiah. 14:12-17 with Ezekiel. 28:11-19).
Isaiah is the fifth longest book in the Bible, with 66 chapters, 1,292 verses, and 37,044 words. It is quoted from or alluded to 472 times by 23 New Testament books. It contains the only Old Testament prophecy concerning the Virgin Birth of Christ (cf. Isaiah. 7:14 withMatthew. 1:21-23).
Isaiah provides a review of one of history’s most ancient events, the fall of Satan (14:12-17) and a preview of the future’s most far-reaching event, the creation of the new heavens and earth (66:22). It also contains one of the Old Testament’s clearest statements on the Trinity (48-16), and one of the Old Testament’s most remarkable and precise prophecies about an individual. The Persian King Cyrus and his decree are both mentioned by Isaiah 150 years before Cyrus was even born! (See Isaiah. 44:28; 45:1.)
This marvelous manuscript has been almost universally regarded as the greatest and grandest treatise on the greatest subject in the history of writing-Christ and His salvation. Its importance and sheer eloquence simply cannot be overstated
An Outline of ISAIAH
I. JUDGMENT BY THE LORD 1:1 – 39:8 [with 39 chapters, this first section of Isaiah is like the O.T. declaring the holiness, righteousness and justice of God]
A. Rebuke and promise to Judah 1-6
B. Immanuel 7-12
C. Burdens upon the nations 13-23
D. Little apocalypse 24-27
E. Woes against Judah 28-35
F. Historical section 36-39
II. COMFORT IN REDEMPTION AND RESTORATION 40:1 – 66:24 [with 27 chapters this concluding section of Isaiah is like the like N.T. declaring the grace, compassion and glory of God]
A. Salvation Promised of restoration: The One True God vs. idols 40-48
B. Salvation Provided: The Messiah as “Suffering Servant” 49-57
C. Salvation Realized: The God of the Millennial kingdom 58-66
The Book of Isaiah has three major themes. These may be summarized as:
1. CONVICTION: The overwhelming sense of sin and the wrath of God against sin. This is clearest in the 21x Isaiah uses the word “woe”. In God’s sight our good deeds are “filthy rags” [64:6-7];
2. CONFESSION: The all pervading awareness of the Power, Majesty and Holiness of God. And 23x he uses the Divine Name of “THE HOLY ONE OF GOD”, a name nearly unique to Isaiah except for 5 other passages.
3. CONFIDENCE: The crystal clear sight of the Salvation and Coming Victory of Christ.
These themes are spread throughout the book. However, never as clearly as in the sixth chapter where all three converge in 8 verses- Isaiah 6:1-8. Note them:
1. CONVICTION v. 5a “Then said I, Woe is me!”
2. CONFESSION v. 5b “! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
3. CLEANSING v. 6 “Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth., and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged”.
4. CONSECRATION v. 8a “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
5. COMMISSION v. 8b “Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
The purpose Isaiah wrote was to:
1. Warn of the Impending Judgment of God upon the sin’s of the people [1-39]
2. Describe the conquest and captivity by Babylon [39:6-7]
3. Predict the coming of Christ as Messiah [40-66] and the end of time [65:17]
Some of the key messages of this book are:
1. The Servant of the Lord. (40-66) and note every reference to ‘my servant’. Now divide these references into three groups: those which refer to ‘Jacob’ or ‘Israel’, those which refer to just a faithful part of Jacob or Israel, and those which are obviously references to an individual. The meaning of the servant teaching of Isaiah has been illustrated by means of a triangle with all Israel at the bottom, the faithful remnant in the middle, and the Messiah at the peak. How might this be applied to the church? Study the great New Testament ‘Servant’ passages such as John 13: 1-20; Mark 10:32-45 andMatthew 10:24-42.
2. The uniqueness of God. All through chapters 40-49 we find references to God’s uniqueness. He is unique:
- as creator of the universe [40:28];
- as life-giver to man [40:29];
- as the One who plans the future [41:21-23];
- the God of covenant and call [45:3];
- the only Savior and Redeemer [45:22].
3. The foolishness of idolatry. There are three main passages which deal with this theme:
- 40:18-24, the idol that cannot move. Chained down or weighed down, lacking the crudest indicator of life, which is movement.
- 44:9-20, the idol that cannot reward. Ironsmith and carpenter sweat at their task, but the idol they make cannot reward even them!
- 46:1 -7, the idol that is a burden. When an empire fell its idols were hauled off to captivity along with the people. A burden to be carried! Note God’s comment: but I have always carried you.
- These three are not the only passages which deal with idolatry. Find the others. What is Isaiah’s teaching about idols? How does this apply to other religions? See Acts 19:21-41 and Ephesians 2:11-16.
4. The sovereignty of God. It is easy to forget that God is Lord of a pagan king like Cyrus just as he is Lord of the church. Note the various references to Cyrus, (44:28; 45:1; 41:25; 46:1 1) and see the fulfillment of prophecy in 2 Chronicles 36and Ezra 1. But why bother to find God’s will for my life? See Romans 12:1,2.
- God is ‘The Holy One of Israel’. 1:4; 5:19; 5:24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19 Isaiah’s call comes from the God who is holy. 6:3
- God calls to Isaiah from the ‘Holy of holies’ or ‘the most holy place’, in theTemple. 6:1-4
- To be holy means to be different, to be set apart’, which is the translation of the Hebrew word for ‘holy’ in this verse. 23:18
- The way walked by God’s people is the way of holiness. One of the early labels given to Christianity was, ‘The Way’ Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:22). 35:8
- The Bible teaches that in the long run it is well with the righteous. 3:10- 26:2
- Righteousness is the characteristic of God’s judgment: God is not influenced by a man’s wealth or position. 11:3,4
- Righteousness cannot be ‘learned’ by people who are doing wrong. A man’s good environment will not make him a good man. 26:10
7. Judgment. Isaiah considers this in two ways:
- Human judgment. We ought to be fair, open, honest in every case where judgment is involved. 1: 1 7,21,26; 5:20-23; 10: 1 -4; 33:13-16
- God’s judgment. This we cannot escape. It is God’s way of setting the account straight, of making sense of life’s injustices. 1:24-28; 2:6-21; 3:13-15; 5:18-30; 11:1 -5; 28:16-29; 33:2-6
8. The Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is closely connected with the idea of judgment. But the Day is also the time when everything is put right: peace reigns. These two aspects of the Day are always in mind in Isaiah. 2:6-22; 13:9-22; 22:5-14; 24:1 -23; 2:1-5; 4:2-6; 11:1 -1 6; 12:1-6; 14:1-8; 25:1-9
 Adapted from Willmington’s Visualized Study Bible, 1984 Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton. Other sources used are: The Word of God; Baxter, Explore the Book; Scroggie, The Unfolding Drama; Christ in all the Scriptures; The Criswell Study Bible; Walk through the Bible; The Compact Guide to The Bible, Lehman Strauss, CHM.