Isaiah

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


Isaiah 4:2 – “In that day the BRANCH of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.”
I continue to be amazed at the consistency of the Bible. Here we read that a “branch” will remain, and it’s clearly talking about a remnant of Israelites: “the survivors of Israel”.
But later in Isaiah 11, it will talk about the righteous “branch” that is none other than Jesus Himself.
This is very consistent with a theme in Isaiah of first talking about Israel is a nation (the “branch” of 4:2), then later seeing Israel as completely absorbed by 1 Person (namely, Jesus). For instance, in the early chapters of Isaiah it talks of Israel as a “servant”, but later, in the famous chapter of Isaiah 53, it refers to Jesus as “the servant”. That is, Israel transfers to 1 individual. It goes WAY deeper than that. Here’s a blog post I wrote years ago that addresses this phenomenon: https://fmi360.live/2015/07/21/who-is-isaiahs-servant/

Again, think about how unlikely it is that any man could invent this kind of consistency. It involves multiple people writing about multiple subjects and is very subtle. But when you see it you are in shock of the design God had in writing his word all along.

another one: Isaiah 8:8, God speaks a bit sarcastically (it seems) about Israel as being “O Immanuel”. In other words, as I take it, they prided themselves by saying, “God is with us” (Immanuel) so we don’t need to fear judgment. But He says, “Oh really, I’m with you when you act like this?”

Anyway…as we know, Jesus is the great Immanuel. Again: goes from Israel to Jesus

I’ve also been really amazed by how much this book points to Jesus as messiah. Seems like a really good tool in ministering to Jewish friends who are not believers.

As I have started reading through Isaiah I have been trying to relate to God’s heart through the message. As a side note I have been reading The Message translation because I often struggle to understand a lot of the prophetic writing.
    What I have noticed in the first few chapters is that God deeply desires a relationship with us, his people, and he wants that relationship to be genuine.

Chapter 1: God does not care one bit about sacrifices or religious acts if they are not coming from a place of true worship.
v. 13-14
“I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
    while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
    I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
    I’ll not be listening.”

This reminds me so much of Jesus’ ministry and Paul’s letters. Right now at my church we are going through Philippians, and Paul’s intense anger at the circumcision group in chapter 3 is reminiscent of God’s heart in Isaiah 1. God wants relationship, not religion.

Chapters 2-8: I see the heart of God here as equal parts loving and just.
Ch.2- The Day of the LORD will be both wonderful (swords into plowshares and peace between nations) and horrifying “hide in the caves
From the terror of God” (v.10)
Ch. 3 & 4: God will bring judgement on his people, and he will care for his people (the branch).
Ch. 5: If the vineyard produces bad fruit it will be destroyed.

God loves his people so much, and God hates sin so much. This makes me so grateful for chapter 7 and the fact that Jesus, Emmanuel, came to save us.

well said. Reminds me of one of the last things John Newton said (writer of “Amazing Grace”):

I don’t remember a lot of things, but these 2 I remember: I’m a great sinner, and God is a great savior.

(my paraphrase)

I hope to write more on this later but your reflections have been similar to mine in that I think this book so clearly shows the character of God. Yes, we see His wrath and judgment but also see His deep love for his people.

“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'” Is. 7:9 – drop the mic right there

Something else that has helped me think about Isaiah is that it mirrors the whole Bible in some remarkable ways:

  • 66 chapters of Isaiah // 66 books in the Bible
  • 39 chapters focused on their judgment and need for a savior // 39 books of the Old Testament focused on need for a savior
  • Last 27 chapters focus on the new beginning that comes through Jesus // last 27 books of the Bible = N.T. In fact, Mark’s gospel begins with the words from Isaiah 40:3…a break of grace has come

In awe of Isaiah 13 — how God predicted Babylon conquering Israel, and THEN Media conquering Babylon…hundreds of years before it came to pass!

been thinking about 1 Pet 4:17 – “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”. In other words, judgment begins with God’s house first, then goes to the nations.
This matches well Isaiah speaking first of judgment toward Israel (for the first dozen or so chapters), then extending it to surrounding nations, then the world.
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Revelation also follow this same pattern: judgment of God’s people first, then the world.

This also reminds me of Romans 2:9-10:
“There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate. Seek and read from the book of the Lord: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate. For the mouth of the Lord has commanded, and his Spirit has gathered them.
Isaiah 34:15-16 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2034:15-16&version=ESV

I think this could give a clue on how the animals would’ve been gathered in the ark. That is, God’s Spirit drew them to the ark as He commanded. In fact, taking it even deeper, this shows the pattern for all obedience to God: He speaks, then His Spirit works it out (see Ezekiel 2:1-2 for a great example of this).

Chapters 28 and 29 really stood out to me.

28:16-17 “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line”

   The imagery of God building something new, and building it on a guaranteed foundation with the tools of justice and righteousness is an awesome picture.

 29:13 “The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
    and honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

    For me this is one of the most challenging scriptures in the Bible. I have grown up in the faith my whole life, and I have been a part of a Christian community at church or school my whole life as well. However, over the last few years of following Jesus I have been confronted with just how easy it is to compartmentalize my spirituality and separate it from my home/work/social life.
     Lists and rules are simple, and it is easy to see how well we measure up to a certain standard. Jesus, however, reserved his harshest criticisms for church people like myself. In Matthew 15:8 he quotes this very passage from Isaiah 29, and he goes on to explain that the motivations of our heart are much more important than the ritualistic things we say and do.
    I love how the book of Isaiah frequently points to Jesus, and then how Jesus quotes Isaiah during his ministry. I’m so grateful that Jesus came to deliver us and offer us true freedom!

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria,
Isaiah 37:21 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2037:21&version=ESV

Think of those 4 words: “because you have prayed”…

How much happens because we have prayed? And how much doesn’t because we have not prayed!

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2040:30-31&version=ESV

Very familiar, but speaks to me afresh of operating out of Gods power not ours.

Consider Isaiah 44 with me:

I’m impressed in Is 44 that:

  • they are blinded who make idols – of course there is self-induced blindness here, but I see also God-induced blindness (like is talked about in Isaiah 6) because the people are so stubborn
  • they make idols out of things that give them warmth and food…I was thinking about this as a comfort…how we worship things that make us comfortable, even today
  • yet these idols aren’t alive — I know this is a “duh!” statement…but consider how much comfort there is in worshipping something/someone who is dead. They don’t speak back to you, they don’t challenge you, they don’t convict you, they don’t tell you uncomfortable things, etc.

In all this I’m convicted about where I/we have been blinded (even by the Lord) because we choose comfort over Christ. Where have we not wanted a God who speaks and acts. Even if we say we do–do we truly? He might speak some really hard things. It seems much easier to have a silent god who we think agrees with everything we say and do. God forgive us and give us repentance!

I’m up to Isaiah 53 right now, and I’m struck by how “God-centric” the redemption of Israel was. You have chapter after chapter of them being judged for their sins. God calls them his “servant” who is blind, incompetent, unrighteous, etc. Then, without them doing anything different, God says they will have a new beginning. How? Through His “Servant” (= Jesus) who is righteous and able to save. And He took on all their sins so that they could have new life. Truly–I’m speechless. This is a God-centered story!

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:11 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2053:11&version=ESV

I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between Isaiah 40-45 and the book of Job we read a few weeks ago. Like in the book of Job, God reveals his power and reminds us that he is the one in control.

40:12-14 “Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger, Who has put all the earth’s dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill? Who could ever have told God what to do or taught him his business?”
44:24 “I am God. I made all that is. With no help from you I spread out the skies and laid out the earth.”
45:6-7 “I am God, the only God there is. I form light and create darkness”
45:9 “But doom to you who fight your Maker- you’re a pot at odds with the potter!”
45:11-12 “Israel’s Maker, says: “Do you question who or what I’m making? Are you telling me what I can or cannot do? I made earth,  and I created man and woman to live on it. I handcrafted the skies and direct all the constellations in their turnings.”

God-centric indeed!! This is such a humbling reminder that there is absolutely nothing that we can do to earn our salvation. We (the clay) cannot teach the Potter anything.

“This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:9-10 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2054:9-10&version=ESV

Wow!! What a word to wake up to!! All because of the vicarious death of Christ in Is 53

no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
Isaiah 54:17 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2054:17&version=ESV

Before this “servant” was in the singular, referring to the nation of Israel and then Jesus. Now it’s in the plural and it’s the last time it’s used in Isaiah. Everything changed because of Isaiah 53. Now, Jews and Gentiles can access God. See Gal 4 where Is 54 is quoted as part of the Gentiles being drawn into grace.

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Isaiah 66:2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2066:2&version=ESV

Don’t forget the “and trembles at my word” part!

2 final observations from me:

  1. The word “servants” does come in later in Isaiah, but seems to holds consistent to what I said above. Namely, it expands to include Gentiles. And now shows that it was all through Christ’s mercy and sacrifice that we become redeemed servants of God.
  2. Is 63 – “I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled

, but there was no one to uphold; SO MY OWN ARM BROUGHT ME SALVATION” (v. 5). Context is a little different but theme is consistent: God alone does the saving. In fact, later we read our righteousness is like filthy rags (literally a menstrual cloth). Christ alone, through and through.

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