Survey of Isaiah

Book Type: The first book of the Major Prophets; the twenty-third book of the Old Testament; the twenty-third book of the Bible.

Author: The prophet Isaiah, specifically noted in the first verse.

Audience: Isaiah the prophet wrote to those in Judah and Jerusalem "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah" (Isaiah 1:1). His audience consisted of Jews who served under the reigns of these four kings. Uzziah reigned for 52 years and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:4), as did Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:2), as did Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:2). However, King Ahaz was an evil king who "walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree" (2 Kings 16:3–4).

Date: Jewish tradition states Isaiah died at the hands of King Manasseh by being cut in two with a saw. Since Manasseh reigned in approximately 695—642 BC, the book of Isaiah would have been completed absolutely no later than 642 BC. Alternatively, the last king mentioned by Isaiah ended his reign in 686 BC, and so Isaiah's writing may have been completed around this time.

Overview: Consisting of 66 chapters, Isaiah is one of the longest books in the Bible, second only to Psalms in number of chapters. However, it consists of three major parts. The first section focuses on God's judgments against the people of various locations (chapters 1—35).

The second section includes a brief segment consisting of chapters 36—39. In this section, Sennacherib attempts to defeat the city of Jerusalem, yet God rescues the city. Then King Hezekiah become sick and is told he will die. He cries out the Lord, who then agrees to extend his life. In chapter 39, visitors from Babylon arrive in Jerusalem, foreshadowing the future destruction of Jerusalem by this kingdom.

The third section focuses on God's future salvation for His people (Isaiah 40—66). They will be delivered from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48). The Messiah, the suffering servant of chapter 53, will come to redeem His people, resulting in many changes (Isaiah 49—57). Chapters 58—66 then focus on the future glory of God's people, including the destiny of Jerusalem and God's ultimate answer to Israel's prayers.

Key Verses (ESV):

Isaiah 6:5: "And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'"

Isaiah 6:8: "And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'"

Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

Isaiah 9:6: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 14:12–13: "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north.'"

Isaiah 53:5–6: "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."