Reading Isaiah

A message from the God of Israel, given during the period of the Exile, through the prophet Isaiah. The Exile is a specific period in the History of Israel. That history is marked out in Matthew 1:17 like this:
"Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the exile to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the exile to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations (Matt. 1:17)."


What kind of issues are broached as we discover God's Word given at the time of Israel's Exile? Why did the Exile occur?

In Isaiah, God reveals His purpose to be both severe and merciful. The God of Abraham is the Lord over all and His glorious aim will be brought to fruition through the coming servant.

Understanding the exile is understanding God's purpose to have a people who are faithful by and through the generous blessing of God's faithfulness.

Jewish concepts of "salvation" and "gospel" take a more distinct form during this period of the exile. Isaiah is a chief source of God's Word from this period.
And our concepts of "salvation" and "gospel" will be enriched and "trued up" as we ingest this book.

Hopefully, we can join the New Testament witnesses in their perspective, from which they continually look back at the gospel in Isaiah as a bud, and chronicle with awe, its flowering forth into the full announcement and demonstration of God's sovereign grace.

We will be frustrated and confused if we try to read Isaiah like a scientific journal. The truth communicated here is rich with figurative expression. This book engages our heart in a way that a more sterile word could never achieve. To write in clearly defined technical terms, each with a hard and fast or static range of meaning would not move the reader with force found in this book. And so, the book requires us to be comfortable with a sort of mobility of meaning. To consider the practice of borrowed and extended nomenclature consult a bible dictionary on the use of words such as Zion or hades.
In the 1st chapter, after describing how Israel has forsaken their maker, the prophet says in verse 9,

"Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a few survivors,
We would be like Sodom,
We would be like Gomorrah."

We have noted that Sodom and Gomorrah were cities that were contemporary with Abraham 28 generations prior to this exile period, yet their story would have been well known among the jews of Isaiah's day through the book of Genesis.

Before we reached verse 9, Israelites have already been referred to as "Judah and Jerusalem," "Israel," "My people," "Sons," and "the daughter of Zion."

In verse 9 the book moves from similie to metaphor in associating the people of Israel with the name "Sodom and Gomorrah." The impetus for the application of this name to Israel is itemized in verses 11 through 15.

What a people are called in Isaiah is not only an issue of the external and physical qulaification, but is concerned with their exhibited nature.

Jesus will reinforce this idea in the New Testament.
"If you are Abraham's children do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father...the devil,..." (John 8:39,44).