“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn” Isaiah 60 1-2 and Luke 4:17-19
What’s Going On?
Last week we saw several references to Babylon, even though at the time it was only a small part of the Assyrian empire. We start off this week with the prophecy about the fall of Babylon, who will eventually conquer both Assyria and the nation of Judah. Remember the story of the Tower of Babel back in Genesis? This area has been a part of Mesopotamia since then and has been in and out of times of great power. We also saw last week that Isaiah named Cyrus, king of Persia, specifically as God’s instrument in releasing the captive Jews from Babylonian captivity and allowing them to return to Jerusalem. We’ll continue to see references of this future time for the nation of Israel. Keep in mind, however, that during the time of the writing, this would not make any sense to the people of Judah and it would be over a hundred years before some of the prophecies would come to pass.
I have to point out that as we finish reading the book of Isaiah, we can’t help but wonder if all of this was actually written by the man Isaiah during the time it is said to have been written. Is it not possible that someone edited or added to what Isaiah had written after the time when these events actually took place making Isaiah look like he knew things he couldn’t have possibly known? This has been a hot topic of debate for centuries. If you spend any time researching this idea you will find many different explanations and theologies. The thing I think we must do as we read this, is to take to heart the focus of the message which seems to me to be summed up in this: “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9b-10.
The book of Isaiah, when taken all together, has one very strong message: The things you thought you could count on – your religion, your nation, your leaders – are all going to fail you. But God is not just a god, like the gods of the nations around you that seem to be very powerful indeed. He is not just a god of your generation and your family and your homeland. He promised to one day bless all the world through you, and you, His Chosen Ones, have failed to keep your faith in Him. Now you are going to be put in your place. But watch and see what the Lord will do! He will bring a new heaven and a new earth and Zion will not be just the restored version of the Jerusalem you once knew, but it will be God’s Light and Power and Salvation for all who accept Him as King, and Lord, and Savior.
When you get to chapter 53, you are going hear familiar words that are used throughout the Gospels as reference to Jesus. The book of Isaiah is one of the most quoted Old Testament books in the New Testament, along with the Psalms. You will also be reminded of several places in the book of Revelation that will also use the book of Isaiah as one of its greatest sources of prophecy.
When and Where Are We?
Isaiah’s life was spent close to Jerusalem after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. But his prophecies concern places and times that are far from his own. He talks of the Babylonian captivity, and then the return of the Jews back to Jerusalem under Cyrus king of Persia. He also speaks of the future when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
The Servant – There are four places where we read the Song of the Servant (42, 49, 50, 52-3). Some believe it is Israel, or the Jews. Some believe it is Jesus. Apparently, the Servant had one goal: to proclaim salvation after the time of judgment. (See Matt 12:18-21)
Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. Isaiah 55:6
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: Isaiah 47-50
- Tuesday: Isaiah 51-54
- Wednesday: Isaiah 55-57
- Thursday: Isaiah 58-60
- Friday: Isaiah 61-64
- Saturday: Isaiah 65-66