Isaiah is one the most influential prophets in the Old Testament. During Isaiah’s many years of prophetic ministry, Judah went from crisis to crisis. During the crisis posed by the Syro-Ephraimite war, Isaiah proclaimed a message of hope to King Ahaz and the leaders of Judah. He gave them the sign of Immanuel in which Isaiah assured the king that God would be with him to deliver the nation from its enemy.
During the crisis posed by the invasion of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, Isaiah proclaimed to Hezekiah that God would be with him and that the Assyrians would not enter Jerusalem. In the days of Manasseh, the evil king of Judah, Isaiah spoke against the deterioration of the worship of Yahweh in Judah because of the pagan practices promoted by Manasseh. Isaiah’s opposition to Manasseh was costly. According to Jewish tradition, Manasseh killed Isaiah because of his criticism of the king and his syncretistic practices.
The greatest legacy of Isaiah was the gathering of a group of disciples who continued his work. Isaiah’s disciples continued the work of their teacher and proclaimed a message of hope to hopeless people who languished in their exile in Babylon.
Isaiah’s message of hope finds fulfillment in the child of Bethlehem. The child born in Bethlehem was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s dream that a shoot from the stump of Jesse would reign in righteousness over God’s people.
It is my hope that these studies will inspire readers to dedicate time and effort to study the book of Isaiah in its entirety.
The genius of the book of Isaiah is found in the quality of his writing and in the beauty of the way his message was expressed. In the book of Isaiah we see a glimpse of the politically life and the religious situation in Judah in the eighth century BCE.
The book of Isaiah also reveals the life and the struggles of the people of God in their exile in Judah. The message of hope and comfort Israel needed to hear was proclaimed by a prophet who came preaching the end of exile and the redemption of Judah
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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