Judgment and salvation
Isaiah discusses problems that are as troublesome today as they were in ancient Israel and Judah. With Israel (the northern kingdom) living in slavery and exile, the inhabitants of Judah (the southern kingdom) stand at a crossroads. Lacking a strong leader to point them back to God, the people slip into idolatry and indifference, extortion and excess, depravity and deceit. In the midst of this spiritual decline, Isaiah brings a message of confrontation to the people of Judah as well as a message of hope for the exiles of Israel.
Isaiah, a well-educated prophet, maintains direct access to the king and to the leaders of Judah. He speaks God’s words clearly, denouncing the idolatry and sinful practices of the people (Isa 1-5). He vividly recounts his vision of God, revealing God’s holiness (Isa 6). He demonstrated God’s awesome power over seemingly insurmountable obstacles when Sennacherib threatens Jerusalem (Isa 36-37). Using a compelling poetic style, Isaiah offers peace and strength to those who follow God (Isa 40).
The book of Isaiah also includes the most vivid portrayal of the Messiah found in the Old Testament. We learn of his birth (Isa 9) and his supremacy over everything ( Isa 41-48). We weep as Isaiah portrays the messiah as the suffering servant and unveils the horrors of his ultimate sacrifice (Isa 49-53). Yet Isaiah’s prophesy does not end with horror but with victory, with promises of hope and restoration in God’s future kingdom (Isa 60-61).