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Isaiah ben Amoz was his full name, a prophet of God. There is extensive evidence that much of the book of Isaiah was composed of two prophets separated by more than a hundred years. The book of Isaiah talks about a day of judgment when all nations will come to the city of Zion (Jerusalem) for sanctuary, as well as the need for the city to be purged of all evil. The prophet Isaiah was referring to the Assyrian expansion, which he said was a warning from God. His warnings can appropriately be applied to the nations of the world today. Will nations be judged by God? Will the sinful greed of one country administer God’s punishment to another nation?

We will look at the Book of Isaiah in three sections:

  • Isaiah 1–39: Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of the original Isaiah (pre-exile days around 740-700 BC);
  • Isaiah 40–55: Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous author living during the Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile; and
  • Isaiah 56–66: Trito-Isaiah, an anthology or collection of about a dozen passages (post-exile days around 515-480 BC).

His name “Isaiah” means “Yahweh is salvation.” Along with his contemporary, the prophet Micah, Isaiah served the southern kingdom of Judah under the reign of four kings. At the time of Isaiah’s ministry, Judah was a sinful and unjust nation. We know that Isaiah was the son of Amoz, was married, and had sons (Isaiah 1:1; 7:3; 8:3). Isaiah’s ministry is recognized in the books of the Kings and Chronicles. He was probably a priest (Isaiah 6:4). A prophet’s life was never easy. There were many highs and lows in Isaiah’s life. Because of his faithfulness to God, Isaiah was rewarded with some amazing miracles. For example, God responded to Isaiah’s prayer for King Hezekiah, moving the sun back ten steps as a sign to King that God would add a further 15 years to his life (2 Kings 20:8-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24). Yet, on the other hand, Isaiah spent three years stripped naked and barefoot, in obedience to God, as a “sign and wonder” against the Egyptians (Isaiah 20:2-4). Micah did the same (Micah 1:8) but the length of time is unknown.

Isaiah’s ministry best is known for pointing people to God, not to themselves. Despite being reserved, Isaiah’s notoriety is about how his ministry affected the people of Judah. It would be Isaiah’s lifestyle that taught them, God accomplishes a part of His plan through us when we assure that all the glory goes to Him, not us. Isaiah also remained close to other godly men, like Micah and King Hezekiah. His accountable relationships were based on prayers and reliance on the Holy Spirit. He may be best known for his call by God:

(Isaiah 6:8)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

In Isaiah’s writings, he predicted that after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish people exiled, a foreign king named Cyrus would rise to restore the scattered nation and authorize the rebuilding of the Temple. He gave the people the straight facts, there would be a punishment but then left them with the understanding that they should keep their hope in their God. His greatest prophecy came in the foretelling of the coming of the Messiah.

(Isaiah 7:14) – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”

(Isaiah 9:6) – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

(Isaiah 11:2-4) – “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness, he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”

The story behind the second part of Isaiah (Chapters 40-55) is that it was written during the Babylonian exile. This began in 586 BC. At the start of this section, chapter 40, the unknown Isaiah was to bring people comfort before their return to their homeland. They had been in exile for almost fifty years. Not much is known about the author of the second part of Isaiah. He wrote chapters 40-55 of Isaiah, most likely male, and wrote at the end of exile after the Persian Emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. Cyrus passed a decree that allowed exiles to return to their homeland in 538 BC. We do know what the other Isaiah believed in. In Isaiah part two, God is the King of all creation, who controls the fates of all nations, even the enemies of Israel and Judah. One major theme is God’s complete control over the earth as the Creator of the universe.

It was during the time of exile that the second Isaiah told the story of the suffering servant. This story is a metaphor for the larger suffering done by those who were exiled. The suffering servant’s message is that they all had to go through this for the greater good that was to come. It was one of Isaiah’s most memorable monologues, as he highlighted that the Israelites were not suffering in vain. During the exile, the second Isaiah prophesized a servant of the people would come. These prophetic messages brought hope to God’s people.

(Isaiah 42:1) – “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

In the second passage (Isaiah 49: 1-7), the Servant is called by God, to restore Israel, and make them a “light to the nations”. The third reference to the Servant (Isaiah 50: 1-11) has the Servant calling out the people who mocked God. Finally, the last Servant passage (Isaiah 52:13-15, 53: 1-12) describes the Servant’s suffering as the process of receiving redemption. “The Servant” parallels our Savior, Jesus Christ. As the exile ended and the opportunity to return to their homeland began to unfold. The people were reminded to reject useless idols for God who is all-powerful. God was very clear that He cannot be considered an equal to the powerless works of artists (Isaiah 40:18-20). God tells the Israelites that He alone is God and cannot be compared to the blind, mute, deaf, and helpless idols of Babylon (Isaiah 46:1-9).

The messages in the Book of Isaiah made it clear that the people would first suffer and then be free, and the realization of salvation would be in (539 BC) when Babylon fell to the Persians. King Cyrus came into power in (539 BC) and decreed that the Israelites were free, and the Temple was to be rebuilt. It had been 70 years since the Temple’s destruction, and in (516 BC) the exile officially ended when the Temple finally stood again, marking the beginning of the second Temple period, which would stand for hundreds of years.

It would be difficult for people to go back to Jerusalem. They had been living their lives in exile for a long time. The exiled have been forced to live by other values and worship other gods. Children and young adults knew no other life. Many married, made money and even rose to positions of prominence in Babylonian society. The role of the prophets was to help the exiled Jews to understand the importance of going back to Jerusalem. Even in exile, the people were in denial that it was their sinfulness that caused their plight. Most chose to stay at first, but as the situation in Judah continued to improve, eventually, the people began to flow back into their homeland. As they returned, however, they found themselves in conflict with those who had remained in the country and now owned their land. There were further conflicts over what sort of government would be formed and what kind of nation Jerusalem would become.

Chapters 56 to 66 are believed to be written by the same author as the second part of the Book of Isaiah. However, the author was no longer in Babylon but back in Jerusalem. These last chapters are a mixture of prose and poetry, of hope and despair at the same time. The major portion of this section is about the hardships of rebuilding the Temple by Sheshbazzar and the later completion by Zerubbabel. Haggai and Zechariah were now prophets of this period. These chapters are about the exiles who returned to a devastated homeland and undertook the immense task of rebuilding the Temple.

The New Testament Gospels quote more from Isaiah’s writings than any other Old Testament prophets. Both Micah and King Hezekiah, worked together with Isaiah and his protégés to bring a revival to the nation of Judah (2 Kings 19:32-36; 2 Chronicles 32:20-23). It is from Isaiah’s writings that we learn of his faithfulness and his complete humility before God. He also had great respect from King Hezekiah’s court and his peers, which became evident during times of crisis. His grasp of the Hebrew language has been compared to that of Shakespeare’s English. As we read Isaiah, we find some of the most beautiful writings in the Bible. Although the book of Isaiah was written over 2,500 years ago, it is worth reading in its entirety because we see much wisdom that still can be applied to our Christian lives today. The last verse of the Book of Isaiah ends in a chilling reality about the power of our God:

(Isaiah 66:22-24) – “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”


  • The people in the southern kingdom, of Judah, were conquered, exiled, and enslaved for almost two generations. When the time came to go back to their God, they were not sure they wanted to. What does this tell you about the character of humanity?
    • Ideas to Explore: Can people recognize their sins? Is humanity always looking for the easy path? Will people give up God for the “good life?” Did they forget their faith and fail to pass it on to their children?
  • God used exile to teach His children a lesson. Why was this the only way to get their attention?
    • Ideas to Explore: Sin must have been fun. Losing freedom is an effective way to get someone’s attention.
  • Do you think that God could take away our freedom today to get our attention to sin?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are we a sinful nation? What does it take to get our attention and focus on God?
  • How do you respond to prophetic statements about our Savior, Jesus?
    • Ideas to Explore: We have the advantage to see the value of the prophets. Do people just exclude the idea of prophecies today?
  • In Isaiah’s final words, we are told emphatically that God WINS! With all the other prophecies proven to be true by history, why should we not believe that God will win in the end?
    • Ideas to Explore: What is it about the character of humanity that it cannot see the power of its Creator? What do you see that convinces you, God wins in the end.
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    NIV New International Version Translations