~by Randy Bushey
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1).
He’s one of the most prominent Old Testament prophets – His ministry covered a period of 4 decades in the 8th century BC – and yet we know very little about him personally.
Isaiah’s ministry spanned 4 consecutive kings of Judah. He was of sufficient status to have access to the royal court of the monarch.
He is quoted by name 21 times in the New Testament, more than all of the other written prophets combined (excluding Moses).
And he’s one of the few individuals in Scripture granted a vision of God when at his commissioning as a prophet he was permitted to gaze into the throne-room of heaven.
His response indicates a rare perception of the holiness of God:
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:5-7).
And, according to some Jewish traditions, Isaiah was forever after the prophet with visibly scarred lips.
Isaiah’s written prophecy covers 66 chapters. Many contemporary liberal critics have suggested that he didn’t write the entire book – that as many as a three authors in different eras contributed to the book that bears his name. Sometimes, their conjecture is driven by the unwillingness to acknowledge the power of Bible prophecy: because he got it so right they suggest, someone writing after the event must have recorded those sections. In other theories the vocabulary is sufficiently different to suggest other authors. “However, while there are some linguistic differences between the three sections, the linguistic unity between them is often downplayed.”1
The composition of Isaiah’s book is as follows with the overarching trajectory from judgment to salvation:
– chapters 1 to 35: threat and repeated warnings of judgement by Assyria.
– chapters 36 to 39: bridge transitioning focus from Assyria to Babylon.
– chapters 40-66: repentance, forgiveness, return from Babylon, ultimate deliverance.
Most importantly, Isaiah is the Prophet of the Redeemer because of his frequent predictions about Christ.
The final section (chapters 40-66) contain 5 “Servant Songs” – poems about the coming Servant of the Lord, the Messiah.
In fact, John the Apostle tells us that Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly throne was more specifically an image of the Lord Jesus:
Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him (John 12:41).
The prophet penned chapter 53 as the Old Testament’s premier predictive look at the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ – a poem of losing and prospering, dying & living, suffering and glory.
Bible teacher John MacArthur says of this passage that it’s a text “rising above everything else in the Old Testament.”
Takeaway: May our study of this book and this passage enlarge our capacity to treasure Christ, Isaiah’s exceptional Redeemer!
1 The Reformation Study Bible, R.C. Sproul, General Editor, Reformation Trust.