The Prophet Isaiah
- Isaiah means “salvation of the Lord”.
- He was married and his wife is called “the prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3).
- He had two sons: Shearjashub (a remnant shall return), and Maher-shalalhash-baz (quick to plunder, swift to the spoil).
- A prophet of the southern Kingdom, Judah, at the time the northern kingdom, Israel, had already been destroyed by the Assyrians
- Isaiah was a man who loved his nation. The phrase “my people” is used at least 26 times in his book. He fervently plead Judah to return to God and warned kings when their foreign policy was contrary to God’s will.
- Apostle John told us that Isaiah saw Jesus’s glory and spoke about Him (John 12:41)
- Isaiah lived during the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. God called him in the year of Uzziah’s death, but he may have received some of his visions earlier (6:1).
- Isaiah hated sin and sham religion. His favorite name for God is “the Holy One of Israel”, and he used it 25 times in his book. This name of God is only used 5 times elsewhere in the bible.
- Isaiah active ministry was at about 740-686BC, from the death of Uzziah to the death of Hezekiah.
- Although Isaiah prophesied the falled on Israel to Assyria in Chapter 28, however his focus was Judah and Jerusalem.
- Rabbinic tradition has it that Isaiah’s was the first cousin of King Uzziah. Isaiah was one of the grandsons of King Joash, the son of Amoz. Which means Isaiah was a man of the palace.
- Isaiah is the most quoted OT prophets in NT.
- Isaiah wrote two other books but were not preserved. “A Life of Uzziah” mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:22 and “Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah”.
- According to Jewish tradition, Isaiah was sawed in half by the order of King Manasseh of Judah. Hebrews 11:37 may refer to Isaiah’s death.
Assyrian Background of Isaiah’s Ministry
- Assyrian Empire has been expanding for 150 years before Isaiah.
- As early as 840 BC, Israel, under King Jehu, had begun to pay tribute to Assyria.
- When Isaiah was a young man (734 BC), Assyria took away the population of the northern part of Israel.
- 13 years later (721 BC), Samaria fell, and the rest of Israel was forced into exile.
- A few years later, Sennacherib of Assyria came into Judah, destroyed 46 walled cities, and took 200,000 captives with him.
- In 701 BC, Assyrians army that were invading Judah were annihilated by an angel of God, and Sennacherib withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons cut him down and the sword. (2 Chronicles 32:21).
- Isaiah’s whole life was spent under the shadow of the threat of Assyria, and he himself witnessed the ruin of his entire nation at their hands, except Jerusalem. Assyrian conquered the northern kingdom when Hezekiah was the King of southern kingdom.
The Kings of Judah
- Uzziah became king when he was 16 years old and he reigned for 52 years (2 Ch 26:3) (792-740 BC). He very capable King that brought Judah to its greatest days since David and Solomon. Uzziah was also called Azarish son of Amaziah. Uzziah did what was right in the eyes of God, just as his father Amaziah had done (2 Ch 26:4). [But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Ch 26:16). So God afflicted Uzziah with leprosy until the day he died. (2 Ch 26:19, 2 Kings 15:1-5)
- Jotham was co-regent after his father became a leper(2 Ch 26:21), and his record as king was a good one (2 Kings 15:32-38; 2 Chron 27:2). He was 25 years old when he became king, and reigned in Jerusalem 16 years. (2 Ch 27:1) He grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God (2 Ch 27:6). It was during his time that the Assyrian Empire began to emerge as a new and threatening power. During the last twelve years of Jotham’s reign, his son Ahaz served as co-regent, but Ahaz was not one of Judah’s good kings.
- Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem 16 years (2 Ch 28:1). [He did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites] ( 2 Ch 28:1-3). He sent asked Assyrians for protection against the Arameans of Damascus(2 Ch 28:5), the northern kingdom (2 Ch 28:5), the Edomites and Philistines in the south (2 Ch 28:17). Ahaz offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus (2 Ch 28:23). [In ever town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger (2 Ch 28:25). Isaiah warned Ahaz that his alliances with godless gentiles would not work, and he encouraged the king to put his trust in the Lord (Isaiah chapter 7).
- Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem 29 years (2 Ch 29:1). He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD (2 Ch 28:2). He was one of Judah’s greatest kings (2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chron 29-32). He not only strengthened the city of Jerusalem and Judah, but led the people back to the Lord. He built the famous water system that still exists in Jerusalem. Hezekiah has restore the Passover Feast, which was not celebrated by many Jews anymore. He even invited the northern kingdom to come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover to the LORD (2 Ch 30:1). Remember the northern and southern kingdoms were in wars in Ahaz time.