LECTURES ON THE PROPHET ISAIAHINTRODUCTION
Isaiah: The Prince of the Prophets and the Glorious Throne of Yahweh!
BRI International Internet Yeshiva Forum Notes, October 2, 2004
Les Aron Gosling, Messianic Rebbe
CAUTION: These BRI Expositions are not available to the general public. They are not for distribution. They are not for reproduction. The notes may also bear little or no resemblance to the actual audio or video recorded BRI Yeshiva lecture.
Copyright © BRI/IMCF 2004, 2015 All Rights Reserved Worldwide by Les Aron Gosling, Messianic lecturer (BRI/IMCF)
With today's lecture we return to the prophets of God, and to some of the most neglected Scriptures of the entire biblical revelation. We live in a very insecure, unstable world.
It seems people everywhere want to know what the future holds (especially for themselves) but they often fail to enquire from the right Source. This is astonishing considering that almost every home in the western world possesses a holy Book that claims to have Divine Authorship, and which claims to predict the future, and yet it sits ornamentally on the bookcase just gathering dust. Of course, there is no point in reading it if you don't know how to read it and if it makes no sense to you.
This is where the “church” as the modern “Temple of Non-Think” has let its converts down. While they have largely inculcated mindless worship, traditional readings, somatised praise, short oft-repeated choruses, and Sunday “non-schools” where little children are taught to colour in nice pictures of “Jesus” and his disciples and sometimes Moses parting the Red Sea – they have 
forgotten the law of their God, claiming it is no longer relevant and 
they have forgotten to pursue a policy of authentic biblical education rooted in the mindset of the people who wrote the sacred Scripture in the first place.Listen!
I'm all for a good time. I like to party and enjoy myself. But I am also acutely aware of an innate sense of personal responsibility and accountability. My rule of thumb is this: If I am still enjoying the evening the next morning when I awake, then it was entirely acceptable behaviour in which I indulged. I have the approbation of God and the approbation of Torah (the same thing, really, when you understand it). If I feel rotten and lousy when I wake up and I have a recollection that I have hurt other people (as well as myself) then it was not
a “good” evening.
The “End of Days” is almost upon us. We are now living in the “End of the Age” – there is no doubt of that in my own mind, but we are not as yet in those final cataclysmic days prophesied in the Apocalypse
. The Scripture makes it quite clear that at that horrific time the vast overwhelming majority of people (then living) will be swept away in a gross super-technological deception, so cleverly masterminded and choreographed that they will believe that “contact” has finally been made in deep space and that as a result the Star-gods have returned to govern the Earth.
Religiously, countless hundreds of millions of the world's population will believe Krishna has manifested. Or, that Lord Maitreya has come. Billions will believe “Jesus Christ” has returned. Jews will acknowledge this event to be the long predicted, glorious prophetic fulfilment of the advent of the Messiah – come at last!
Isaiah has a great deal to say to us NOW.SPECIAL NOTE:
After Solomon's death (approximately a thousand years before the birth of the Messiah) there was a bloody civil war in Israel. Ten tribes seceded from the Theocratic Realm, in the region of Samaria and Galilee, under the rule of Jeroboam 1, the first king of the North (Northern Union). The ten tribes became known as the Kingdom of Israel.
The tribal nations of Judah, Benjamin and Levi stayed true to God and united as one geopolitical union with Jerusalem as its spiritual capitol under Rehoboam, the first king of the South (Southern Confederacy). This history is recorded in 1 Kings 12-16
. The southern tribes became known as the Kingdom of Judah.
In 721/718 BCE the might of Assyrian power crushed Israel, and the conquered nation was taken captive and deported to far-flung regions of the Assyrian Empire. They became lost to history.
It was during the last 17 years of Israel's existence as a Kingdom that Isaiah began his prophetic ministry.
The far northern tribes were already destroyed by Assyrian invasions while Isaiah was a very young man (734 BCE). Thirteen years later the Assyrians carried away the rest of Israel when Samaria finally capitulated (721 BCE). Then, Assyria made a number of successful invasions into Judah, at one time carrying off 200,000 captives of war. Be this as it may, surprisingly his messages were directed primarily to the southern Kingdom of Judah. The Jews were following in the steps of the spiritual and political decay of their sister kingdom and Isaiah was raised up by God to prophesy against their rebellion to His form of righteous Government. The historical setting of this period is located in 2 Kings 14-21
About a century and a half after Isaiah gave his prophecies, the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the dwarf Nebuchadnezzar and absorbed into the neo-Babylonian Empire (585/586 BCE). Jewish survivors were taken to Babylon and there languished for seventy years. After those 70 years were fulfilled, only a remnant returned to the Holy Land.
We have so far, in this series of lectures on the prophets of God, covered Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel and we have referred to other prophets as well in the course of our delivery: Zephaniah, Malachi, Zechariah, Haggai, Hosea, etc. Each of these latter prophets (called “minor prophets” not because they are minor in importance but because of the short length of their scrolls) will be given separate investigation of their content matter when we complete this present study on Isaiah. Then we will look at the Apocalypse
The reason the Apocalypse
is being left to last is because unless we first get an appreciation of the general content matter of the Hebrew prophets we won't properly understand John's visions. The truth of this assessment is easily established by calling into the local Christian book store and browsing through conflicting books on the subject, or by visiting any number of millions of websites dealing with Revelation – each one replete with a unique way of looking at John's visions and claiming it has a special corner on the market of understanding. According to GOOGLE
there are 1,230,000 major sites alone centring on “The book of Revelation
.” And there are over a million search engines available to find all these major sites (and probably another million lesser sites on the subject as well)... if you have the time, or possess the inclination. I don't.
So, now we come to Isaiah, the son of Amoz. Incidentally, his father was not the prophet Amoz, its another Amoz entirely. Certainly, his father had a principal prominence in Israelite society because on thirteen occasions in the Hebrew Scriptures Isaiah is referred to as “the son of Amoz.” So this “Amoz” must have been important in his time.
The name Isaiah is in two forms in Hebrew: a short form (Yeshaiah
) and a longer form (Yesha'yahu
). It means, “Yah saves” or, “Yah is salvation” (literally, in Jewish thinking, “in God is salvation”).
Indeed, there is no doubt that this prophet was given this name by Divine design – his entire ministry (and his book) had an emphasis on the salvation of God.
The name of the prophet permeates his message to Israel. The prophet lived around the time of the first recorded Olympic games of the Greeks (776 BCE) and when the building of Rome as a city was initiated (753 BCE).
We know that Isaiah had a very lengthy ministry lasting throughout the reigns of four sovereigns – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah (Isa 1.1
). Manasseh followed Hezekiah, of course, but Isaiah does appear to have been silent during this particularly dark period and although it was this evil tyrant who had him executed, there is no extant evidence that the prophet was given to any prophetic ministry during his reign. When the prophet was in his elderly twilight years, Manasseh had Isaiah bound between two planks of wood and sawed in two.
There is a Jewish tradition (Meg. 10b
) that declares that Isaiah was of royal lineage. His father Amoz was a younger brother of King Amaziah, and therefore Isaiah would be cousin to his contemporary King Uzziah. So, in fact, God raised up Isaiah as a prophet very well-equipped for reaching the highest portals of royal power and prestige with the message of God relating to Israel and Judah's need for repentance and God's requirement for political change within the nation. Isaiah's two sons were appropriately named Maher-shalal-hash-baz
(“hasten-spoil, speed-prey” - Isa 8.3
) and Shear-jashub
(“a remnant shall return” - Isa 7.3
). These very peculiar names clearly illustrated the gist of the message from the prophet of God toward Samaria, capitol of Israel and also Damascus, capitol of the nation of Syria (Isa 8.1-4
Assyria had risen in the East as a powerful military and political force with which to be reckoned. Ancient Assyria posed a serious threat to the ten-tribed Northern Kingdom of Israel's continued existence as a nation and God declared that if Israel did not repent of her idolatry and transgression then he would unleash the armed might of this pagan Kingdom against the Chosen People. God would direct Israel into dire captivity, and they would be taken as abject slaves to Assyria. Hence the name of one of his sons, Maher-shalal-hash-baz. The idea is that of a wolf leaping unexpectedly upon a lamb and taking it away utterly helpless, kicking and screaming in terror, to be consumed in its den.
Still, another son Shear-jashub symbolically prophesied that God would permit Israel, after being subject to punishment, to return to the Land. But while the offer would be made to the survivors of the invasion and captivity only a small remnant would actually return.
Isaiah the prophet is THE major prophet of the sacred Scripture in the sense that his scroll happens to be the longest. Hence, Isaiah is labelled the first among the major prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel – not major in relation to importance, but major in the sense of longest scroll). Until recently, the oldest copy of the Isaiah scroll in our possession dated to the 10th century CE but the complete volume of Isaiah obtained from among the Dead Sea Scrolls shows very little alteration of the text. This is a testament to the scribal integrity (by and large) of Jewish methodology.
We know very little about this man except that he lived through the savage civil war between Israel and Judah (734-732 BCE), and that he was married to a prophetess (Isa 8.3
) and had sired two children. We also know he was called by God in the year King Uzziah died, 740 BCE. We students at BRI/IMCF, along with a very few enlightened scholars of the biblical revelation, recognise that Isaiah was a very refined, educated man – a poet, statesman and orator – responsible for writing down his visions in the scroll that carries his name, but that he also penned another volume of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Book of Kingdoms
(which we today in our “wisdom” have divided up into 1 & 2 Samuel
and 1 & 2 Kings
). In fact, in 2 Chronicles 32.32
“Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amos, in the book of the kings [kingdoms] of Judah and Israel” (2 Chron 32.32
The Authorised Version has led many astray in numerous passages in God's revelation, and this is just another one to add to the rather lengthy list! In the AV (or, KJV, if you prefer) the translators confused the issue by adding an uninspired “and
” (in italics
, mind you – knowing full well it wasn't in the original) directly after “Amos” and before “in the book of kings [kingdoms].”
But Isaiah WAS the author. There is no doubt of this fact. For one thing, check out the similarity of language used in Isaiah 36-39
with that of 2 Kings 18-20
. The 19th century American biblical scholar Moses Stuart also recognised the common authorship of Isaiah and the Book of Kingdoms
(Critical History and Defence of the Old Testament Canon
, 1849, 170). Ezra the scribe (Malachi) mentions that Isaiah had authored “the rest of the acts of Uzziah” (2 Chron 26.22
) which he canonised after a remnant of the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity – and the only other place “apart from Chronicles, in which the events of Uzziah's life are recorded is in the Book of Kingdoms” (Dr Ernest L. Martin, Restoring the Original Bible
, n.d. 171). The Rabbis may find this a somewhat contentious issue, for they claim the Talmud asserts sole authorship of the Book of Kingdoms
to Jeremiah the prophet (and he came on the scene long after Isaiah). I would not agree. Consider this:
The Talmud is not necessarily in contention with these findings concerning Isaiah. While it mentions Jeremiah as the author of the Book of Kingdoms
(Talmud, Baba Bathra
15a) it is more than likely that Jeremiah completed the final editing of Isaiah's work.
Certainly, as we have already seen, Isaiah was finally murdered by being sawn in two (The Ascension of Isaiah
1.9; 5.2; 5.14) a gruesome and cruel procedure that took quite some time.
Isaiah's torturous death is hinted at in Hebrews 11.37
. (We ought to be well aware that even a “man after God's own heart” was entirely capable of some drastic and awful acts that inspired terror in the hearts of those nations surrounding Israel who opposed his presence in the Land. David is recorded to have introduced torture into interrogation of his enemies. “He also brought out the people who were in it [the city of Rabbah], and set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, and iron axes, and made them pass through the brick-kiln. And thus he did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem” (2 Sam 12.31
The very idea espoused by “goody-two-shoe” pious commentators (and others) that David was simply employing some extra needed manual-labour (really, slave labour) “in making them labour in brick kilns, and putting them to work with saws, making harrows of iron, and iron axes” (Finis Jennings Dake, Dake's Annotated Reference Bible
1963, notation “j” 342 “OT”) with three square meals a day thrown in, is fallacious in the extreme. These were violent times, and these were violent measures initiated and employed by David to exact the greatest impact value on surrounding nations hostile to Israel.
The great difficulty we face in Isaiah's writings is sifting through the prophetic discourses and differentiating contemporary events of the 8th century BCE from far-flung future prophetic utterances. Its no mean feat.
We also know some other things about Isaiah, or at least about his prophecies. A sizeable proportion of the Jewish people between the Fifth and the Eleventh Procuratorships of Judea saw in Isaiah Messianic fulfilment in the person of Yeshua the Nazarene. As a result of this specific identification, Isaiah more than any other book in the Hebrew Scriptures (except for the prophetic Psalms
) is liberally quoted throughout the Messianic Scriptures. Moreover, Isaiah is quoted more often than all the other books of the Bible combined (again, with the exception of David's Psalms
As prime examples of this fact, consider that John the Immerser launched his ministry by applying Isaiah's prophecy about a forerunner of Messiah to himself (Mt 3.3; Mk 1.3; Lk 3.4; Jn 1.23
The Lord Yeshua preached his first official sermon among the Nazarenes entirely from the Scroll of Isaiah
). This incident occurred during a Sabbatical Year, and the short sermon ended with Yeshua proclaiming “This day is the Scripture [of Isaiah] fulfilled in your hearing.”
The deacon Philip dared to preach about the Messiah to the Ethiopian proselyte to Judaism (he is thought to have been a eunuch) from Isaiah 53
Paul's last message in a public appearance before the Sanhedrin before he turned to the Gentiles was based squarely on Isaiah's condemnation of religious authority (Isa 6.9,10; 10.22,23
) vested in the rulers of Israel (Ac 28.25-27
The apostle Paul's justification for turning to the Gentiles was based, again, on Isaiah's prophetic insight concerning the universal love of God for humanity (Rom 9.27-29; 10.16-20; 15.12 cf Isa 1.9; 53.1; 65.1; 11.10
Because BRI/IMCF is primarily interested in giving Messianic believers a sound biblical education, it is most important that we attend these lectures on Isaiah.
This is because we will be discussing the prophets and where they fitted into the scheme of the ancient Israeli economy, that is, who was contemporary with whom, etc.
We'll be looking at what exactly constituted a “prophet,” and examining such relevant issues as the oral prophets and the writing prophets of the Pre-exilic, Exilic and Post-exilic periods of Israel and Judah's history. We will also be considering unfulfilled prophecies made by Isaiah including a mysterious 65-year period pertaining (it seems) to the EndTime, and the controversial doctrine of the cyclical nature of prophecy which we have lectured on since the mid-70s.
We will also be looking finally at the doctrines of the BRI/IMCF – all of them clearly taught by Isaiah almost 3000 years ago.
Get prepared for some surprises!
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