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Isaiah the Prophet

What do we know about the prophet Isaiah?

Although technically a prophet of Judah, Isaiah was really an international messenger, as he spoke God’s judgment on entire peoples across a vast region. His name means “Yahweh is Salvation” [1] and was first called by God to be a prophet “In the year that King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1). In fact, his forty-year career spanned the reign of four kings—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (740-701 BC).

“Isaiah contains so many Messianic prophecies that his book has been nicknamed “the Fifth Gospel”. In fact, NT writers quote Isaiah more than any other book.”

Isaiah’s call commenced with a dramatic vision in which the Lord revealed to him the grueling nature of his mission (Isaiah 6). Though God really put him to task, Isaiah was steadfastly obedient to God, even to the point of prophesying naked for three years. However, his “prophecies were not all doom and gloom and judgment. He is a good-news prophet with a message of hope and salvation who foretells a glorious Messianic age when God’s kingdom will rule upon the earth.”[2] This didn’t go unnoticed; Isaiah contains so many Messianic prophecies that his book has been nicknamed “the Fifth Gospel”. In fact, New Testament writers quote Isaiah about 50 times, more than any other book. He has also been called the “evangelical” prophet because although the book was inked seven hundred years before Jesus was born, he “wrote like he knew Jesus as well as any disciple ever would.”[3]

While we know much about Isaiah’s career, the prophet says little of himself. We do know that he was the son of Amoz (Isaiah 1:1), was married to a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3), and that they had at least two sons (Isaiah 8:3,18; 7:3). His eloquence of speech and easy access to the kings may also suggest that he was an educated noble; in fact, Jewish tradition even claims Isaiah was a member of the royal family, first cousin to King Uzziah. Although the Bible does not reveal how he died, the pseudepigraphal Jewish text called the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah claims that he was arrested and sawed in half by Manasseh (cf. Hebrews 11:37). Apparently, “Absorbed in a vision, Isaiah’s eyes stayed open and he didn’t cry out in pain. But his lips moved as though he was talking with God.”[4]

 

Ryan Hembree | July 21, 2020 – 9:10 AM EST


[1] Yesha’-Yahū in Hebrew
[2] Tucker, Ruth A. The Biographical Bible: Exploring the Biblical Narrative from Adam and Eve to John of Patmos. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[3] Stephen M. Miller, Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible, P.167.
[4] Stephen M. Miller, 170.

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