During this Advent sermon series, we are looking at different passages from the book of Isaiah to see the promises God gave to his people and how they were fulfilled in Jesus. Doing this reminds us that there are still promises of God yet to be fulfilled in Jesus. By seeing that God was faithful in the past, we can be confident that he will be faithful in the future. Here is what we’ll be covering in this series:
11/29 ISAIAH 7:14 “GOD WITH US”
12/4 ISAIAH 35:1-7 “GOD OUR HEALER”
12/11 ISAIAH 42:1-9 “GOD OUR LORD”
12/18 ISAIAH 53:1-12 “GOD OUR SUFFERING SERVANT”
12/24 MATTHEW 24:36-44 “GOD IS COMING AGAIN”
Breakdown of the book of Isaiah
Chapters 1-39 are addressed to the nation during the Assyrian invasions.
Chapters 40-55 are addressed to the exiles in Babylon.
Chapters 56-66 are addressed to the remnant after returning to the land.
Who was Isaiah?
Isaiah was of the upper class by birth and well-educated. He was a gifted preacher and poet. Many of his words and expressions are used nowhere else in the OT. He was called by God to be a prophet (chapter 6) in Jerusalem. He was married and had two children. According to tradition, he was martyred by being sawn in two.
What times did he live in?
Isaiah prophesied from 740 to 701 BC. At this time, Israel was divided into two nations, and he prophesied during the reigns of four different kings. It was a time of political turmoil because of the Assyrians looking to extend their empire through military force. Some of the these kings refused to trust God and sought their own political solutions to the turmoil (Ahaz), while others trusted God and Isaiah’s words (Hezekiah). During the latter part of Isaiah’s ministry, he spoke out strongly against Israel’s leaders for their hypocrisy (1:10-15), greed (5:8), self-indulgence (5:11), and cynicism (5:19) and the moral destruction they were bringing on the nation. He prophesied Israel’s exile in Babylon (6:11-13), which took place in 722 BC. Isaiah also predicted the fall of Babylon and the salvation of Israel's remnant, and he named Cyrus the Persian as the one who would restore the remnant. In addition to these words of prophecy about his own times, Isaiah prophesied about the Servant Savior who would come to establish a new covenant with Israel and be a light to the Gentiles.
What was the purpose of his book?
Isaiah served as a prosecutor and advocate. As a prosecutor, he brought charges, condemnation, and judgements to Israel and declared God’s curse on them. He exposed the folly of relying on human structures and not trusting God. As an advocate, he called on people to seek the Lord, hope for His Kingdom, and believe in the redemption that God would one day bring. Isaiah covers the history of redemption from his own day until the day the fullness of redemption is reached.
The gospel in Isaiah
There are many ways the gospel is present in Isaiah, but here are four to consider:
- First, we see the gospel in Isaiah’s theme of preserving a “remnant”. This remnant becomes the focal point of God’s promises, but eventually God’s remnant will be identified through Jesus.
- The gospel is most clearly seen in Isaiah’s Servant songs (42:1–9; 49:1–13; 50:4–11; and 52:13—53:12) where the prophet tells of the Suffering Servant who will die on behalf of his people, taking upon himself their transgressions.
- Another way we see the gospel is in Isaiah’s call for God’s people to reflect God’s heart. When we practice righteousness and mercy, we demonstrate that we are a forgiven people under God’s grace, and others see the heart of God.
- Fourth, Isaiah shows us that the One who is the redeemer of Israel also extends his hope to the nations. (19:16-25)
Here are two great videos that provide a more detailed overview of Isaiah from The Bible Project.