© Rosemary Bardsley 2017

What do you think of when you hear reference to Isaiah?

Is it Isaiah’s predictions of the birth of Christ – the virgin birth mentioned in 7:14? ... the child born to us, the son given to us, the ‘wonderful counsellor’, the ‘mighty God’, the ‘everlasting Father’, the ‘prince of peace’ of Isaiah 9:6?

Is it Isaiah’s anticipation of John the Baptist, crying out in the desert, preparing the way for the Lord?

Is it Isaiah’s predictive descriptions of the sufferings of God’s servant in 53:5 – pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, punished so we could have peace?

Is it that passage from Isaiah 61 that Jesus read in the synagogue in Nazareth, and astounded everyone present by applying it to himself?

Is it the overwhelming vision of the LORD recorded by Isaiah in chapter 6?

Is it that powerful, provocative challenge in Isaiah 40 that defies anyone to find an equal to God?

Is it the pathos of God’s grief in the ‘song of the vineyard’ and his intense longing for human repentance?

Is it Isaiah’s expectation of a restored and perfect world?

There is so much in Isaiah! The book is immense. To condense its message into a manageable series of studies is a challenge.

On the other hand, Isaiah’s message could be condensed very simply:

God is both sovereign and holy.
Human sinfulness is extreme.
Judgement is inevitable.
But mercy is available.

But within each of these four truths are multiple secondary or explanatory truths. And regarding each of these four truths there is an immediate application for nation of Judah in the historic situation, and a long-term Christocentric application that is relevant for us today. Thus we find truths within truths and layers upon layers.

The first truth – that God is both sovereign and holy – is the key truth. It is the foundation of all other truths. It exposes and defines human sin. It necessitates and affirms the judgement. It is the source of the mercy.

You may have read or heard that there are Christians who believe there were two writers, or even three writers, writing at different times. But such a division of the book is not demanded by the book itself. If we believe in God’s omniscience and in God moving/inspiring the prophet to write what he wrote, there is no problem in understanding Isaiah to be the work of the one prophet, living in Jerusalem during the reigns of the kings named in chapter one. But, regardless of whether you believe in one, two or three ‘Isaiahs’, this book, which is included in the written Word as a united whole, brings to us a powerful revelation of God – his holiness, his power, his judgement and his mercy. It contains so much powerful truth that we could spend our whole lives considering that truth and its implications for our faith and our lives.