DISCOVERY for TEACHERS: Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah

Isaiah

Prophecies Regarding Judah and Israel

source for questions

Isaiah 1:1 through 12:6

key verse for memorization

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

background

Isaiah, the son of Amoz, was reared in aristocratic surroundings in the land of Judah, and ministered during the reigns of: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Isaiah was called to be a prophet about 740 B.C., the year Uzziah died. His last dated ministry was in 701 B.C., although most of Isaiah 40-66 must have been written during the reign of Manasseh before Isaiah’s martyrdom around 680 B.C.

Isaiah is considered the most literary of the writing prophets, and he incorporated vivid word pictures in his prophecies. His writings contain both prose and poetry, and the beauty of his words has been an inspiration down through the ages. Isaiah’s primary message was to Judah, although he also wrote to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which was taken into captivity during his ministry. Isaiah also directed a portion of his prophecy to nations that surrounded Israel and Judah at the time.

The main point of Isaiah’s writing in chapters 1-12 was to warn of judgment and to call the people of Judah and Israel back to God. In chapter 6, he described his personal call. Then, in chapters 7-11, he foretold of the Messiah and entreated the people to return to salvation and holiness. Isaiah promised a time of restoration for the Jewish people and also a time of peace for the world in the distant future.

King Ahaz of Judah (7th chapter) was informed that Rezin, King of Syria had joined with Israel to attack Judah in about 734 B.C. Isaiah was instructed by God to go with Shearjashub (his son whose name meant “a remnant will return” — a reminder of God’s mercy) to meet with King Ahaz. They were to meet the King “at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.” The conduit of the upper pool refers to the Gihon Spring, which was east of Jerusalem and was the city’s main water source. The fuller’s field was used to lay fresh woven cloth or other clothing to dry and whiten in the sun.

When Isaiah and his son met with King Ahaz, the prophet told Ahaz that God would not allow Judah to be taken over at that time. Although Judah was at other times attacked during Isaiah’s ministry, the land did not fall into captivity during Isaiah’s lifetime.

As often happens, the people resented Isaiah’s message of admonition and judgment, and tradition tells us Isaiah suffered a martyr’s death at the hands of Manasseh, King of Judah around 680 B.C.

Suggested Responses to Questions
  1. Isaiah’s ministry was largely warning of judgment for the sins of Judah and Israel, and pleading for the people to repent. How does this setting parallel today?

    Our society is similar to the society in Isaiah’s time. God had given the nations of Judah and Israel prosperity, and the people had become complacent and had forgotten the source of their blessings. They had fallen into sin and were ignoring Isaiah’s plea to repent. Today, our world has largely forgotten God, sin is rampant, and there seems to be little concern for the warnings in the Bible.

    Discuss with your class ways we, as Christians, could let our material blessings come between us and God. Although we may not immediately fall into the gross sins and the heathen practices of Judah and 

    Israel at the time of Isaiah, we could let God’s love leak out by becoming comfortable, and neglecting things such as church attendance, daily devotions, and the Lord’s work. We could let pleasures, entertainment, or careers occupy too much of our time and attention. Follow up with ways we can guard against this happening.

     
  2. One of the sins in Judah which displeased God was the people’s lack of mercy toward the poor, fatherless, and widows (Isaiah 1:23; 10:2). In what ways can we show kindness to those in need?

    We should have a generous spirit. We should keep our eyes open for those who may be in need, especially of the body of Christ. Wisdom and prayer should accompany any monetary gift, but our generosity may not always include money. A bag of food, or clothes our children have outgrown, may be the appropriate thing. Also, a helping hand around the house or in the yard may answer the need for an older person or one who is sick. Your class may have some good suggestions on how to show kindness. Some may be able to relate an example from their own experience when someone’s generosity met a pressing need.
     
  3. God was angry over the sin of idolatry in both Israel and Judah, and he led Isaiah to expound about the King of Assyria who trusted in his own power (Isaiah 10:10-15). Why is God so displeased when people put anything in their lives ahead of Him?

    God wants to be first, and placing anything before Him is, in effect, having an idol in our lives. There is no difference between making an idol out of wood or metal, or trusting in one’s own abilities to be successful. We are all given form, life, and breath by the Lord, and any talent we have came from Him. To worship ourselves, which is the humanistic tendency in today’s world, is idolatry in God’s eyes. You may discuss with your class other forms of idolatry by which one could be tempted.
     
  4. The people of Judah made a show of religion, but their hearts were far from wanting to please and obey the Lord (Isaiah 1:11-18). God pled for them to come and repent. How could we get absorbed in activities and works for the Lord but lack the full blessing of God on our lives?

    We could be so busy, even in good works that we forget to take time to be holy. Neglect in reading God’s Word, spending less time in meaningful prayer, and failing to mind the checks of the Holy Spirit can result in our hearts growing cold, but people may feel justified by their good works. You may want the class to discuss how to avoid this.
     
  5. What joy rings in verses that speak of God being a God of salvation! How may we draw water out of the wells of salvation?

    When we are saved, we are given Living Water. We will never thirst again. That well is ever flowing; it is ever available, and the Source will never run dry. God provides strength and victory for each trial, and when we are feeling a little dry or sad, there is an abundant supply of refreshment from which we may draw. Discuss some of these sources of refreshment, such as promises in the Word, touching God in prayer, inspiration from a Gospel song, or encouragement from fellow Christians. 
     
  6. As a result of his vision of God’s glory, Isaiah was inspired to declare the holiness of the Most High (Isaiah 6:3-8). Because of God’s holiness, Isaiah felt awe, humility, and a need for deeper holiness himself. What did the seraphim do to Isaiah? What was the significance of this?

    The seraphim took a live coal from the altar and placed it on Isaiah’s lips, saying, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” This typified an experience of sanctification. It was an act of making completely holy. Isaiah was now ready to be sent out by the Lord. God asked, “Who will go. . . ?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I; send me.”

    It is good for us to search our hearts. Are we ready for service? Is there anything in our lives that is hindering us spiritually? Are we holy before the Lord? Isaiah saw his need and acted on it. Let us recognize and revere our holy God, and let us be partakers of that holiness.

     
  7. Among the writings of Isaiah are wonderful prophecies of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 7:14; 9:2; 9:6-7; 11:1-5). List four of these prophecies.

    •    “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

         Fulfilled: Matthew 1:23.

    •    “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2)

         Fulfilled: John 1:4-9.

    •    “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6, 7).

         Fulfilled: Luke 2:11, and other places.

    •    “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

         Fulfilled: Revelation 5:5 and other places.

     
  8. God promised restoration in Isaiah’s writings. There would be a return from bondage and restoration in the near future (Isaiah 1:26-27; 10:20-25, 27; 11:11-16). There was also a foretelling of the millennium of peace that will occur at the end times (Isaiah 11:6-10). Some of these verses undoubtedly refer to more than one time frame. God is a God of restoration. He promises to mend broken lives, broken spirits, broken hearts and broken families. What are some “broken” things in your life that the Lord has restored and made whole?

    This would be a good time for students to share examples of restoration in their own lives.
conclusion

God used Isaiah to expound upon judgment for sin; of salvation to the repentant; sanctification, a cleansing work; the promised Messiah; and restoration to the outcast.