Isaiah the prophet wrote during a violent period in Middle Eastern history. Populations were on the move, cities were destroyed and leaders brutally executed by the superpower Assyria. But at the start of his work as God’s prophet, Isaiah saw who was truly the King, the Lord Almighty. Isaiah delivered God’s message to his nation and its kings for more than 40 troubled years. He gave urgent warnings, calls to depend on God when all seemed lost, comfort in disaster, encouragement and clear predictions of events fulfilled during and after Isaiah’s lifetime. Most significantly for Christian believers, Isaiah prophesied the coming, about 700 years later, of Jesus the Messiah, the servant King, who would suffer, save, judge and rule for ever.
You can use these studies individually or as a small group. Each study should take about an hour. In the 10 studies we will read right through Isaiah. Isaiah is a long book, much of it written in poetry. Poetry is more difficult to read than prose, but it involves our emotions and touches our hearts. These studies help you see Isaiah’s book as a whole, putting well-known passages in their context. There are notes on the historical background, on related passages in the Old Testament and on quotations from Isaiah in the New Testament. You may know that some academics cannot accept the specificity of Isaiah’s prophecy about king Cyrus and attribute the later part of Isaiah to other, later, authors. Reasons are given here for assuming that the whole book was written by Isaiah son of Amoz.
God promised Isaiah “my word … will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”. God’s word had a great effect on Isaiah’s family life, and on his nation’s life in a time of crisis. God’s word through Isaiah would give comfort to future generations of the people of Judah who read Isaiah’s book during their exile in Babylon or as they returned to rebuild Jerusalem. Isaiah’s writings came alive to people in New Testament times as they saw God’s word fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. We will see how Jesus himself, his apostles and the gospel writers understood and used Isaiah’s writings. As we read Isaiah’s book, God’s word through Isaiah will still achieve the purpose for which he sent it. We can find words from God to challenge us personally, to give us warnings and also hope for the future of our world, to comfort us and to cause us to worship our unique and holy God. Isaiah was writing God’s message for us.