Saturday, July 6, 2013

Isaiah -- Introduction

Isaiah is unique in that it contains material from before the exile, during the exile and the post-exile eras of Israel’s history. Isaiah 1-39 was written before the fall of Jerusalem (742 through 687 BC.) Isaiah 4055 was written from Babylon toward the end of the exile (587-539 BC). Isaiah 56-66 reflects on the life of Israel following the return from exile (ca 525.) The first section was written by Isaiah of Jerusalem, from whom the book gets its name. Isaiah lived through the lives of four (4) kings and writes during a time of great national distress. During this era the Northern Kingdom (Samaria/Israel) falls to the Assyrians and Jerusalem is threatened on several occasions. Isaiah’s main theme is that these events are in accordance with God’s will and that the people should trust in the Lord and not in political alliances. The well known “call of Isaiah” (Isaiah 6:1-13) is included in this section.
The second section of Isaiah (40-55) is written by an unknown author, but it is important to note that this section has been attached to Isaiah 1-39 from earliest of times and, though the style of writing and language are different, the themes are fairly consistent. This section focuses primarily on the promises of restoration and return to Jerusalem. This section contains the “songs of the suffering servant” of which Isaiah 53 is the best known.  
The third section of Isaiah (56-66) was written as an encouragement for those who were struggling to reestablish their lives in the Promised Land following the return from exile in Babylon.

Isaiah can be outlined as follows:

·         Isaiah 1:1-31   A collection of Speeches from different eras of Isaiah’s life.
·         Isaiah 2:1-5     Announcement of eternal peace
·         Isaiah 2:6-22   The coming day of the Lord
·         Isaiah 3:1-12   A threat of anarchy
·         Isaiah 3:13-15             The Lord’s indictment of the leaders
·         Isaiah 3:16-4:1 Judgment against the women of Jerusalem
·         Isaiah 4:2-6     Promise of Jerusalem’s renewal
·         Isaiah 5:1-7     Parable of the vineyard
·         Isaiah 5:8-30   A series of woe indictments and judgment
·         Isaiah 6:1-13   Isaiah’s call
·         Isaiah 7:1-17   Assurance to Ahaz and the sign of Immanuel
·         Isaiah 7:18-25             Day of the Lord
·         Isaiah 8:1-10   Sign of Maher-shalal-hash-baz and judgments against enemies
·         Isaiah 8:11-22             Role of the prophet among people who will not hear
·         Isaiah 9:1-7     The great light and a new king
·         Isaiah 9:8-10:4            The Lord’s outstretched hand
·         Isaiah 10:5:19             Assyria, rod of God’s anger
·         Isaiah 10:20-27           Remnant shall return; deliverance from Assyria
·         Isaiah 10:28-34           Advance of the Assyrians
·         Isaiah 11:1-9               Appearance of the Davidic king
·         Isaiah 11:10-16           Return of the exiles
·         Isaiah 12:1-6               Two thanksgiving hymns
·         Isaiah 13:1-23:18        Prophecies against foreign nations
·         Isaiah 24:1-27:13        The new age
·         Isaiah 28:1-33:24        Indictments of Israel and Judah
·         Isaiah 34:1-35:10        Edom and Israel
·         Isaiah 36:1-39:8          Historical appendix
·         Isaiah 40:1-11                         The prophet’s commission
·         Isaiah 40:12-31           The majestic creator
·         Isaiah 41:1-29                         The LORD in court
·         Isaiah 42:1-43:7          Israel, the servant of God
·         Isaiah 43:8-44:8          Israel can witness that the LORD is God
·         Isaiah 44:9-20                         Idols and idolaters are ridiculous
·         Isaiah 44:21-45:17      The election of Cyrus
·         Isaiah 45:18-25           Lawsuit against idolaters
·         Isaiah 46:1-13                         The LORD and the gods of Babylon
·         Isaiah 47:1-15                         Funeral song for Babylon
·         Isaiah 48:1-22                         Hear what the LORD will do
·         Isaiah 49:1-6               Second servant song
·         Isaiah 49:7-26                         The glorious return
·         Isaiah 50:1-3               Separation, not divorce
·         Isaiah 50:4-11                         The third servant song
·         Isaiah 51:1-16                         Comfort to Zion
·         Isaiah 51:17-52:2        Awake, Jerusalem
·         Isaiah 52:3-6               Israel sold and ransomed without money
·         Isaiah 52:7-12                         A pilgrim victory hymn
·         Isaiah 52:13-53:12      Fourth servant song
·         Isaiah 54:1-17             Reassurance to Israel
·         Isaiah 55:1-13                         Admonitions and reassurance
·         Isaiah 56:1-66:24        A collection of postexilic poems

A Vital Lesson from Isaiah is that punishment is not abandonment. God sends his people into exile, not because he no longer loves them, but because his love for them is so great he cannot allow them to continue to live idolatrous and unfaithful lives.

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