The Book of Isaiah is named for a great prophet who lived in Jerusalem in the latter half of the eighth century b.c. This book may be divided into three principal parts:
1) Chapters 1–39 come from a time when Judah, the southern kingdom, was threatened by a powerful neighbor, Assyria. Isaiah saw that the real threat to the life of Judah was not simply the might of Assyria, but the nation's own sin and disobedience toward God, and their lack of trust in him. In vivid words and actions the prophet called the people and their leaders to a life of righteousness and justice, and warned that failure to listen to God would bring doom and destruction. Isaiah also foretold a time of world-wide peace and the coming of a descendant of David who would be the ideal king.
2) Chapters 40–55 speak to a time when many of the people of Judah were in exile in Babylon, crushed and without hope. The prophet proclaimed that God would set his people free and take them home to Jerusalem to begin a new life. A notable theme of these chapters is that God is the Lord of history, and his plan for his people includes their mission to all nations, who will be blessed through Israel. The passages about “the Servant of the Lord” are among the best known of the Old Testament.
3) Chapters 56–66 for the most part speak to a time when people were back in Jerusalem and needed reassurance that God was going to fulfill his promises to the nation. Concern is expressed for righteousness and justice, and also for Sabbath observance, sacrifice, and prayer. A notable passage is 61.1-2, words used by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry to express his calling.
Outline of Contents
Warnings and promises (1.1—12.6)
Punishment of the nations (13.1—23.18)
God's judgment of the world (24.1—27.13)
Further warnings and promises (28.1—35.10)
King Hezekiah of Judah and the Assyrians (36.1—39.8)
Messages of promise and hope (40.1—55.13)
Warnings and promises (56.1—66.24)
This book takes its name from the great prophet Isaiah who lived in Jerusalem in the latter half of the eighth century b.c. It contains warnings about God's judgment on the people of Judah because of their disobedience to God. But it also has messages of hope that point to a future king descended from King David who would bring a time of comfort and peace to all nations.
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