I know I say it each term, but I am so looking forward to exploring another one of God’s great books of the bible.
As we saw last year, the book of Isaiah is both intimidating and majestic. Apart from Psalms, it’s the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament (NT). There are some 66 quotes from Isaiah found in the NT, which is ironic because there are 66 chapters in the book.
The first half (1-39) is marked by judgment and the threat of the Assyrian Empire. The second half (40-66) is marked by salvation and the domination of the Babylonian Empire. The future was uncertain for God’s people. Into that confusion, we hear the word of God which cannot be revoked and which will accomplish his purposes.
Some highlights for me include:
• The way in which Isaiah prophesies 150 years ahead of time when we turn from chapter 39 to 40. He even predicts by name that King Cyrus of Persia will permit Israel to return from exile, one and a half centuries before Cyrus is born.
• The way in which God comforts his people who were tempted to feel that God has forgotten them when they were disciplined in Exile.
• The way God throws out his chest and reminds us all, loud and clear, that he is beyond compare. He is God and there is no other.
• The way the predicted Servant mentioned at least 4 times, possibly 5, spells out Jesus ministry’ in detail.
• The way God uses sarcasm to expose the temptation to worship an idol. It is very funny!
• The way in which Isaiah 53 gives us a detailed description of Jesus’ ministry at the cross.
• The way God’s Word will not return empty. His Word will always accomplish the purposes for which God intended.
• The way Isaiah ends with not just a vision of a new creation but the mission to announce the glory of the Lord to the nations.
I do believe that Isaiah 40-66 is easier than the first half. I do hope and pray that you will mediate on this rich word on your own, together in our small groups and on Sunday as we seek to be transformed through Jesus Christ to the glory of God.