Summary: An overview of the book
Isaiah 1: 1
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
We are now beginning a new study. We are going to look at the Prophet Isaiah. We will have at least 67 studies since that are how many chapters are in his book. The other one is an overview, which we are going to do now, so that we can get a clearer picture of the issues during his ministry.
Isaiah was a prophet during the time when the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms – Israel to the North was comprised of 10 of the Tribes and the Judah to the South that had two Tribes, Benjamin and Judah. If you study I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles you find that there weren’t any good kings in the North which began with a guy by the name of Jeroboam. As a result of following their leaders’ sins, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom however remained by the Grace of God for many years. You would think that they would have observed and taken to heart learned the sins that caused the North to be destroyed, but after awhile they began to do the same things to anger our Holy Master. They perverted justice, oppressed the poor, turned from the True and Living God to embrace other religions, and made deals with other countries leaving God out of their plans and decisions.
The office of a prophet was instituted during the days of Samuel, who was the last ‘Judge’ of Israel, appointed by Jehovah Elyon – The Lord Most High. The first prophet picked was Amos in 760 BC. Our Holy Ruler added Hosea in 753 BC; Micah in 742 BC; then Isaiah in 740 BC.
Prophets were selected by God Himself to stand with priests as our Holy King’s representatives. Priests were God’s appointed servants that served and worshiped Him on behalf of the people. The prophets were God’s special servants that heard directly from Him with messages directed towards the people and their leaders. Sadly, as you study each prophet you find that their words from our Holy Father were either rejected or ignored. And amazingly, after the prophet died, the people gave attention, praise, and reverence to them. They made the prophets graves a special holy site and made pilgrimages to pray and worship at their graves.
I want you to keep an ear opened regarding the words – two and divided. I think you will be amazed at how our Precious Holy Spirit has done so many wonderful things.
Most bible scholars have divided this book into two parts. [Did you remember the words ‘two’ and ‘divided’?]. As I am sure that you are aware, there are 66 books in our bibles. In the past Christian leaders have divided the bible into an ‘Old Testament’ and a ‘New Testament’. If you count the number of books in the Old Testament you get 39 and in the New Testament you get 27. Guess how the book of Isaiah, which has 66 chapters, is divided? You are getting good. Yes, there are 39 chapters in the first half and 27 in the second.
This is all nice and all but remember that the books of the bible were not written with chapters and verses as we see today. So, why am I making such a big deal about this? Well, something quite startling occurred a few years back in the area of Qumran. Have you ever heard of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’? They discovered old scrolls that predated all others that they had previously. They found a complete book of Isaiah. If you want to see this scroll you can view this at a museum in Israel.
If you review this scroll you find an interesting situation – the scroll seems to be divided not at chapter 39 but at chapter 33. At the end of chapter 33 there is a deliberate short break of three lines, prior to starting up chapter 34. You still might be saying, ‘So, what is the big deal?’ Well, if you take a look at this new division you see a wonderful outline. There is an appeal by our Holy God in chapter 1 verse 2 states, “2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “ I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.”
Now, let us look at chapter 34, verse one and we see a similar appeal, “1 Come near, you nations, to hear; and heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it.”