Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
V. Christ in the Prophets
2. Isaiah --
There is something in the prophecy of Isaiah which makes it stand out from all the other books of the Old Testament. We are awe-stricken at the power and majesty of Jehovah, and yet our hearts sink into rest at the almightiness of a God who, in the same breath, says that He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and yet hath measured the oceans in the hollow of His hand. Nowhere do the judgments of the Most High peal forth with a louder thunder. Nowhere do His consolations breathe more tenderly than when He bends down to say: ''As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.'' Nowhere is His glorious salvation more fully set forth than through him whom Jerome has well named the Evangelical Prophet.
The Vision of Glory. [Isaiah 6]
The secret of this unique power in the book lies in Isaiah's vision in the Temple. ''I saw the Lord,'' he says. It was this sight of the Lord that changed everything for the prophet. Henceforth, he saw everything in the light of that glory. ''Have not I seen the Lord?'' Paul cried; and the sight of that Just One made him a minister and a witness, both to the Jews and Gentiles, of what he had seen and heard [1Cor 9:1]. From the Gospel of John, it is manifest that it was the Eternal Son of God whom Isaiah saw, for he connects the hardness of heart of the Jews in not believing on Christ with the word of the Lord to Isaiah in the closing verses of this sixth chapter, and adds: ''These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him'' (John 12:37-41).
Isaiah saw the Lord as King of Glory, he heard the seraphim calling one to another, ''Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.'' We can trace the effect of what he then saw and heard throughout his entire prophecy--
  1. An overwhelming sense of sin and God's judgment.
  2. An all-pervading sense of God's power and holiness.
  3. A clear vision of Christ and His salvation, and of His ultimate universal dominion.
Let us briefly trace these three thoughts through the book --
1. An overwhelming sense of sin and God's judgment.
This should be the history of every messenger of the Lord: A personal sight of the Saviour, a personal interview with the Lord of Glory, contrition, brokenness of heart, cleansed lips, consecration, and a definite personal commission. The lips that are filled with the Lord's messages should be jealously guarded from evil speaking by the Lord's own garrison (Psa 141:3). They should be burnt lips; not filled with excellency of speech in any thought of pleasing man with their eloquence, but declaring the testimony of God; determined not to know anything save Jesus Christ and Him crucified [1Cor 2:1-5]. The scorners of Isaiah's day complained of the simplicity of his reiterated message, precept upon precept, line upon line, as if they were little children, and the Lord's message came to them as through stammering lips [Isa 28:9-13].
a. Sin and Judgment.
The date of Isaiah's vision was ''the year that King Uzziah died.'' Uzziah had been one of the best kings Jerusalem had ever seen. For fifty years, he had reigned with justice and judgment. But his heart seems to have been lifted up with pride, and, for daring to usurp the priestly office, he was smitten with leprosy, and dwelt [as] an outcast in a separate house [2Chr 26:1-23]. The sense of this sin and of the defilement of leprosy seems to have been weighing heavily on Isaiah's heart, from the way he connects his vision with the year of Uzziah's death. ''I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.'' It is not only his own sin, of which he gets a sight as he sees the Lord's glory, but the sin of his king, of his people, of his nation.

Possibly, this vision was the commencement of Isaiah's work as a prophet, and it may be that in this sixth chapter he goes back in thought to his first call. Henceforth, he denounces sin with unflinching boldness. It is a message of judgment to his own people that the Lord entrusts to him in his first commission. ''The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.'' Thus commences the first chapter, and he proceeds to lay bare the natural corruption and depravity of the human heart in its rebellion and revolt against God. ''The whole head is sick,'' the center of all power of thought; ''the whole heart is faint,'' the center of all the power of will and affection; ''no soundness from sole of foot to crown of head,'' corruption showing in the outward life. He dwells on the sin of hypocrisy-- on drawing near to God with the lips while the heart is far from Him-- and the life full of cruelty to others, and then he makes his earnest appeal for repentance: ''Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow'' (Isa 1:16,17).

He, who learned in the presence of God, to cry ''Woe is me'', is now sent to proclaim Woe to others.
  • ''Woe to their soul: for they have rewarded evil unto themselves'' (3:9);
  • ''Woe to the wicked'' (3:11);
  • ''Woe to the covetous'' (5:8);
  • ''Woe to the drunkards'' (5:11,22; 28:1);
  • ''Woe to the self-righteous'' (5:20,21);
  • ''Woe to those that oppress the poor'' (10:1,2);
  • ''Woe to Jerusalem'' (29:1);
  • ''Woe to the rebellious children'' (30:1);
  • ''Woe to him that striveth with his Maker'' (45:9).

Isaiah shows God's people how their sins have hidden His face from them, and how they have rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit (59:2-15; 63:10). He tells them that their very righteousnesses are as filthy rags (64:6,7). He proclaims the plumb-line of God's righteousness, and that His hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies (28:17). With scathing words, he rebukes the vain and careless women for their haughtiness of mien and the excesses of their attire (3:16; 32:9). He speaks in clear terms about the sin of spiritualism (8:19,20), and the blessing on those who keep the Sabbath from polluting it; not doing their own way, nor finding their own pleasure, nor speaking their own words on the Lord's holy day (56:2; 58:13,14). In how many of these things God's warning is just as applicable to this twentieth century, as it was when Isaiah first uttered it.

b. Idolatry.
The crowning sin, against which Isaiah denounces God's judgment, is the sin of Idolatry. The book is full of this subject from beginning to end. In the second chapter, the land is pictured as full of idols, rich and poor uniting together in their worship (2:18-20). But God's promise follows that He will utterly abolish the idols, and that men shall cast them to the moles and to the bats. This promise is repeated in other words again and again (see 10:11; 17:7,8; 27:9; 31:7). Chapters 40; 41; 44; and 46 contain the most vivid descriptions of the making of idols. The rich man is described as lavishing gold out of the bag and weighing silver in the balance, and hiring a goldsmith to make him a god. The goldsmith is pictured at work: melting the gold in the fire, holding it with his tongs, fashioning it with his hammer on the anvil, smoothing it, graving it with a tool, casting silver chains for it, fixing it in its place so that it cannot be moved.

Then the poor man's action is described. He cannot afford to pay a goldsmith to make him an idol of gold, so he chooses a good sound tree-- anything from the stately cedar to the common ash-- and sets a carpenter to work to carve him an image of wood. The carpenter takes his rule, he marks out the form with red ochre, and works it with a sharp tool, and carves it according to the beauty of the human form, and then it is set up in the home to be worshipped. The chips that are left over are gathered to make a fire to cook food by, or for warmth-- so commonplace is the origin of this god!

The sin of idolatry is charged home to God's own people. ''A people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face; that sacrificeth in gardens... which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed Me upon the hills'' (65:3-7). ''Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks. Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion'' (57:5,6). Idolatry was Israel's besetting sin before the Captivity-- a sin from which they have been completely delivered, as a nation, ever since that time.

In denouncing the whole system of idolatry, Jehovah draws the contrast with Himself, and this brings us to the second part of the effect of the vision upon Isaiah. It produced in him...

2. An all-pervading sense of God's power and holiness.
Nowhere does this come out more forcibly than in the contrast God puts in his mouth between Himself and the idols. With the opening promise, that the idols shall be utterly abolished, is the corresponding promise that the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Again comes the contrast that, instead of a man looking to the images which his fingers have made, he shall look to the One who made him. The account of the making of idols, in the fortieth chapter, is set off against the glorious description of God as the Creator of all things. The Creator of the ends of the earth, of the mountains and the seas; the Creator and sustainer of the heavenly host, before whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers, and all flesh as grass. The description of the Lord's power in creation in these chapters is not surpassed in any other part of the Bible.

The scientific accuracy of chapter 40 is marvellous. Verse 12: ''Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?'' The figure is that God held the water in the hollow of His hand, and saw to it that the exact quantity was there, and then placed it in its earthly bed. Science tells us the same thing. We have the exact quantity we require to produce the right amount of rain to make the earth fruitful. ''And meted out heaven with the span?'' The extent of the atmosphere was fixed by the Creator, and is exactly proportioned for us to breathe without difficulty. ''And comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure?'' The soil on the earth's surface has been measured and spread out to prepare the world for the abode of man. ''And weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?'' The height of the mountains on every coast is in direct proportion to the depth of the sea which beats upon the shore. ''It is He who sitteth upon the circle of the earth.'' That word khug, translated ''circle,'' does not mean a circle drawn upon a plane surface. It means an arch or sphere. It occurs in two other places, where it refers to the vault of heaven, and here it teaches us the true form of the earth. ''That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain.'' The word dok, here translated ''curtain,'' does not mean curtain at all; it means ''thinness''; and no better word could be used to describe the ether which modern science assures us is the element in which all the heavenly bodies move. It is matter in its most attenuated form, it has never been seen or weighed, yet scientists are assured of its existence. ''God stretched out the heaven as thinness.'' [Abridged from Roger's Reasons, by Rev. John Urquhart]

The forty-first chapter contains a solemn challenge from God, to the false gods to declare future events, as a proof of their right to be worshipped. This Divine challenge is renewed again and again (see 42:9; 44:7,8; 43:9,10; 48:3-5).

The forty-sixth chapter contains the striking contrast between the idols of Babylon that have to be borne upon men's shoulders, and the Almighty God carrying His children, not only as lambs, but to their old age and hoar hairs, in His fatherly arms.

The Holy One of Israel.
The Divine title, ''The Holy One of Israel,'' is almost peculiar to Isaiah, being used elsewhere only in three Psalms (71; 78; 89), twice in Jeremiah (50; 51), and in 2Kings 19:22, where Isaiah is the speaker. Twenty-three times he uses it in this book, as if it were the reflection on his inmost soul of the vision he saw when he heard the seraphim crying one to another, ''Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts''; the name is stamped upon the book throughout, from the first chapter to the sixtieth, as if it were Isaiah's peculiar prophetic signature.

There is an intimation of the revelation of the Trinity in the question, ''Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?''

The personality of God, the Holy Spirit, is clearly brought out in the Book of Isaiah (see 11:2; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1; 63:10,11,14). As we have already seen, John identifies the Jehovah, God of Hosts, of this vision with Christ Jesus the Lord. The Divinity of the Messiah is elsewhere manifest in the book. This brings us to the third effect of the vision upon Isaiah, and at the same time to the great central theme of the whole book.

3. A clear vision of Christ and His salvation and of His ultimate universal dominion.
The Key-note of the book is Salvation. Isaiah's own name means ''Salvation is of Jehovah''; and it forms the subject of the book from the blessed invitation in chapter 1: ''Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,'' to the similar promise in 43:25,26 and 44:22: ''I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins; return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee.''

Peace, the effect of righteousness, the result of salvation, in like manner runs as a silver thread throughout the chapters from the Prince of Peace in 9:6,7, to the proclamation of peace in 57:19, and peace as a river in 48:18 and 66:12.

The universal spread of Messiah's Kingdom was fore-shadowed in the vision in the words of the seraphim, ''The whole earth is full of His glory'' [Isa 6:3]. The truth finds expression throughout the book. In 2:2, all nations shall flow to the mountain of the house of the Lord, which is to be established in the top of the mountains; in 11:9, ''The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea''; and in the last chapter, we have the declaring of His glory among the Gentiles.

a. The Messiah.
The glorious salvation of this book centers round a Person, the Coming One, the promised Messiah. There is something very remarkable in the way in which He fills the vision of the prophet; a certain abruptness with which the prophecies about Him are introduced, as if to arrest attention. It is so in the sign which God promised to give, in the birth of a Divine Person from a human virgin [Isa 7:14]. The promise of chapter 7 is blended with the promise in chapter 9, and in the two prophecies, we get a picture of the Child which was to be. He is identified with our race, for He is ''a child born, a son given.'' He is to be of the family of David. But He is much more:
  • His birth is to be supernatural.
  • He is to be Divine, ''God with us''-- Immanuel;
  • ''Wonderful,'' the name by which God revealed Himself to Manoah and his wife [Judges 13:17,18, ''secret''];
  • ''Counsellor,'' corresponding with the Wisdom of Proverbs, He who of God is ''made unto us Wisdom'' [Prov 8:12-36; 1Cor 1:30];
  • ''The Mighty God,'' --the word for God, El, links this verse to the name Immanuel;
  • ''The Everlasting Father'' or ''Father of Eternity,'' which is equivalent to ''the author of everlasting salvation'' of Heb 5:9;
  • ''The Prince of Peace,'' the name fore-shadowed in the priestly King of Salem, and in Solomon, the Peaceful One.

All these predictions have met and been fulfilled only in one event, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, of whom the angel said to Mary, ''That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God'' [Luke 1:26-35]. ''Unto us a child is born'' were the words of Isaiah. ''To you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour,'' was the word of the angel to the shepherds. ''His name shall be called the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace,'' prophesied Isaiah. And the multitude of the heavenly host took up the refrain, ''Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'' [Luke 2:8-14]. ''The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined,'' ran the prophecy [Isa 9:2]. ''Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,'' said the aged Simeon; ''a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel'' [Luke 2:30-32].

Once more abruptly comes the prophecy: ''There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots'' (11:1). ''The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.'' This description of the Messiah in the eleventh chapter corresponds perfectly with the description in the sixty-first, which our Lord applied to Himself in His first sermon in the synagogue of Nazareth. ''The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me'' [Isa 61:1,2; Luke 4:17-21]. In both descriptions, the result of that anointing is the same, making Him the Friend of the poor and the meek and the oppressed. Our Lord stopped in His reading at the proclamation of mercy and applied it to Himself. He did not go on to read of judgment; for at His first coming He came not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). Both these passages in Isaiah speak as certainly of judgment as of blessing; for Christ is coming again to judge the world, and He said, His Father ''hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.'' ''Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation'' (John 5:27-29).

Chapter 28 gives us the precious Corner-Stone. Chapter 32 tells of a King reigning in righteousness; of a Man being as a hiding-place, as the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land-- the Rock of Ages of chapter 26:4 (margin).

b. The Servant of Jehovah.
From chapter 42 to 52, the Messiah is set before us as the Servant of Jehovah: ''Behold My Servant.'' Some of these verses have a preliminary reference to Cyrus, whom the Lord revealed to Isaiah as the future deliverer of His people. But many of the expressions look forward to a greater Deliverer who was to come, and to a greater deliverance than from Babylon. The words used to describe the glorious gathering to Jerusalem would be altogether out of place as a description of the return of the remnant under the decree of Cyrus. Many of the words, used of the Servant of the Lord in whom He could delight, can only describe the one great Deliverer. The blessings, which are to extend to all nations through God's chosen people Israel, point forward to ''the time of their receiving again,'' as Paul shows us in Romans 11, where he quotes from this book (Isa 66:22).

In chapter 49, we begin to see the suffering Messiah. The One whom man despiseth, whom the nation abhorreth, yet who shall be worshipped of kings, and given for a covenant to the people. The sufferings deepen in the next chapter. He who is given ''the tongue of him that is taught'' is not rebellious. He gives His back to the smiters, He hides not His face from shame and spitting. In chapter 52, we see again the Servant of the Lord, His visage marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. We see Him sprinkling many nations.

This brings us to the fifty-third chapter, the most perfect picture of our suffering Saviour in all the Old Testament Scriptures. Seven times, we are told He has borne our sins:
    1. Wounded for our transgressions;
    2. Bruised for our iniquities;
    3. The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all;
    4. For the transgression of My people was the stroke upon Him;
    5. Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin;
    6. He shall bear their iniquities;
    7. He bare the sin of many.
How marvellously this prophecy has been fulfilled, in all its details, will be seen by
a study of the corresponding verses from the New Testament.
Isaiah 53 as Fulfilled by Christ --
v.1. Who hath believed our report?John 12:37. Yet they believed not on Him.
...To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?Luke 10:21. Thou hast revealed them unto babes.
v.2. He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.John 15:1. I am the true vine.
...And as a root out of a dry ground.Isa 11:1. A rod out of the stem of Jesse, a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
...He hath no form nor comeliness.Isa 52:14. His visage was so marred more than any man.
...And when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.1Cor 2:14. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.
v.3. He is despised.Mat 27:29. They mocked Him.
...And rejected of men.John 18:40. Not this Man, but Barabbas.
...A Man of Sorrows.Mark 14:34. My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death.
...And acquainted with grief.John 11:35. Jesus wept.
...And we hid as it were our faces from Him.John 5:40. Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life.
...He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.1Cor 1:23. Unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.
v.4. Surely He hath borne our griefs.Heb 4:15. Touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
...And carried our sorrows.John 11:38. Jesus again groaning in Himself, cometh to the grave.
...Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.Luke 23:35. Let Him save Himself, if He be the Christ, the Chosen of God.
v.5. He was wounded for our transgressions.1Pet 3:18. Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.
...He was bruised for our iniquities.John 19:1. Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.
...The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.Col 1:20. Having made peace through the blood of His Cross.
...And with His stripes we are healed.Heb 10:10. Sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
v.6. All we like sheep, have gone astray.Rom 3:23. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
...We have turned every one to his own way.Php 2:21. All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
...And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.2Cor 5:21. He hath made Him to be sin for us.
v.7. He was oppressed.Luke 22:44. Being in an agony He prayed more earnestly.
...And He was afflicted.John 19:5. Wearing the crown of thorns.
...Yet He opened not His mouth.1Pet 2:23. When He suffered, He threatened not.
...He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.Mat 27:31. And led Him away to crucify Him.
...And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.Mat 27:14. He answered him to never a word.
v.8. He was taken from prison and from judgment.John 18:24. Now Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas.
...And His manner of life who shall declare?
[alternate translation]
John 18:20,21. I spake openly to the world...
...ask them that heard Me... behold they know what I said.
[It was a custom before the death of a condemned person for a proclamation to be made that others might bear witness to his innocency. That no such proclamation was made for our Lord was part of the injustice of His trial. See Lowth on Isaiah, p. 363.]
...For He was cut off out of the land of the living.Acts 2:23. By wicked hands crucified and slain.
...For the transgression of My people was He smitten.John 11:51,52. That Jesus should die for that nation.
v.9. His grave was appointed with the wicked,
but it was [ie., His grave was] with the rich in His death. [literal translation]
Mat 27:57-60. A rich man named Joseph...
...begged the body of Jesus, and laid it in his own new tomb.
[The intention was to give Him the burial of a criminal along with the two thieves. But Joseph of Arimathea, hitherto a secret disciple, came to Pilate and craved the body of Jesus, and with reverent hands it was laid by the rich man in his own new tomb. That is the Gospel record. It was written, seven hundred years before, on the prophetic page.]
...Because He had done no violence.1Pet 2:22. Who did no sin.
...Neither was any deceit in His mouth.1Pet 2:22. Neither was guile found in His mouth.
v.10. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He hath put Him to grief.Rom 8:32. He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.
...When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.John 3:16. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
...He shall see His seed.John 3:16. That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish.
...He shall prolong His days.John 3:16. But have everlasting life.
...The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.John 17:4. I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.
v.11. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.Heb 12:2. Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross.
...By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many.John 17:3. This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ.
...For He shall bear their iniquities.1Pet 2:24. His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.
v.12. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great.Php 2:9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him.
...And He shall divide the spoil with the strong.Col 2:15. Having spoiled principalities and powers.
Heb 1:2. Appointed heir of all things.
...Because He hath poured out His soul unto death.John 10:15. I lay down My life for the sheep.
...And He was numbered with the transgressors.Mark 15:27. And with Him they crucify two thieves.
...And He bare the sin of many.Heb 9:28. Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.
...And He made intercession for the transgressors.Luke 23:34. Father, forgive them.
Heb 7:25. Ever liveth to make intercession for us.
c. Atonement.
''In His death'' [v.9], in the Hebrew, is in the plural, ''in His deaths,'' possibly 'the plural of majesty,' signifying ''His great death,'' that great atoning death which was a sacrifice for sin. Or, it may shadow forth the truth that ''if one died for all, then all died'' [2Cor 5:14]. His death represented the great multitudes for whom He died. From that moment in the prophetic record, the song of triumph begins, as we traced it in the twenty-second Psalm, as we may trace it in Php 2, which descends step by step in humiliation till ''death, even the death of the Cross,'' is reached, and then bursts forth in an ever-ascending scale of triumph, till it reaches ''the glory of God the Father.'' Thus it is in this chapter. The future triumph is revealed; the satisfaction of the soul of the Redeemer in the spoil that He has won; the great multitude who have been redeemed to everlasting life through His death.

The next chapter breaks forth afresh into a description of the glorious future. Then follows the Gospel invitation in chapter 55-- ''Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters'' -- in which we can see our Saviour standing on the last great day of the feast, and saying, ''If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink'' [John 7:37].

d. Christ's Reign.
The closing chapters are full of the note of victory, but full also of the time of judgment by which Christ's glorious millennial reign is to be ushered in. Israel having been gathered to their own land in unbelief, must undergo a time of awful tribulation; but when they see Him whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10), returning in power and great glory, accompanied by His Church, to execute judgment upon the earth (Jude 1:14,15), the veil of unbelief shall be taken away (2Cor 3:15,16), and they shall receive Him as their Messiah, and He shall reign over them on the throne of His father David (Isa 9:7; 16:5), and Jerusalem shall become a praise in the midst of the earth (Isa 62:7). During this reign, Satan shall be bound (Isa 24:21,22; Rev 20:1-3); universal peace shall be established among the nations (Isa 2:4); the very fierceness of the animal creation shall be completely subdued (Isa 65:25; 11:6-9). Human life shall be prolonged, as in the days before the flood (Isa 65:20-22); water shall once more be plentiful in the land of Palestine (Isa 30:23,25; 41:18), and its deserts shall become fruitful as the garden of the Lord (51:3; 43:19,20; 41:18,19; 35:1,2,7). All Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation (45:17), and God's purpose of blessing to the whole world through His chosen people shall be fulfilled (Gen 12:2,3; Rom 11:15; Isa 2:2,3; 66:12,19; chapters 60; 61; and 62).
Fulfillment of Prophecy in the History of Babylon.
The predictions of the prophet Isaiah with regard to Babylon have been most remarkably fulfilled, both in its fall and subsequent desolation. The army which is to accomplish its fall is summoned from the mountains, from a distant land: Persia, no doubt, is meant (13:4). But Persia is not to act alone; Media is to join the mustering squadrons (13:17). The Lord of Hosts calls them to execute His judgments upon the guilty city (13:2,3,11,19), and the earth trembles beneath the tread of marching men in response. In chapter 21:2 [where 'Elam' is a old name for 'Persia'], we are told that it is the Medo-Persian army that is to capture the Chaldean capital [ie., Babylon]. The steady advance of the hostile army, with its battalions of horses and asses and camels, is seen by the watchman (21:7). Herodotus tells us the Persian army had just such adjuncts as are here mentioned.

The fall of the city is to take place at the time of a feast (21:5; Dan 5). It is declared that fear shall take possession (13:8). How exactly this was fulfilled, Daniel assures us. The consternation which seized the king on the night of Babylon's assault is read in the graphic language of Dan 5:6: ''His knees smote one against another.'' ''On that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain.'' The gates of Babylon were to be open for Cyrus's entrance (45:1). History relates that on the night of the capture this actually occurred. Marching into the heart of the city by the river channel, which he had drained, Cyrus found the gate within the city, leading from the streets to the river, providentially left open in the general disorder occasioned by the great feast. Otherwise, the army would have been shut up in the bed of the river, as in a trap, and destroyed. Finally, there is the sudden cry of the capture and overthrow: ''Babylon is fallen, is fallen!'' and her chief gods, Bel, Nebo, and Merodach, are for ever discredited (21:9; 46:1,2). The absolute accuracy of the prediction is fully attested by the history of Babylon's fall. It came about as here foretold.

The future condition of Babylon was also foretold. ''It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their flocks to lie down there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and ostriches shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wolves shall cry in their castles, and jackals in the pleasant palaces'' (13:19-22). This exactly describes the unutterable desolation of Babylon. Not one human dwelling rests on the site of the ancient city. The Bedaween [ie., Bedouin], though he pastures his flocks in the immediate neighborhood, regards the ruins themselves with superstitious awe. The tents of the Arabs are freely pitched in the Chaldean plains, but not one of them is pitched amid the ruins of Babylon. Other ancient cities seldom become complete solitudes; their sites are marked by some village or group of huts or fold for flocks, but Babylon has ever been an exception.

Maundeville, in the fourteenth century, wrote: ''It is alle deserte, and full of dragons and grete serpentes.'' It remains the same today. Owls start from the scanty thickets, lions make their dens in the buried dwelling-places, and the foul jackal skulks through the furrows. The surface is covered with shapeless heaps, and the foot sinks in loose dust and rubbish, exactly fulfilling the prediction: ''Babylon shall become heaps'' (Jer 51:37). ''Come and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon'' (Isa 47:1). The riches of the city seemed to bid defiance to the constant ravages of man, in fulfillment of the words, ''All that spoil her shall be satisfied'' (Jer 50:10). ''Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby'' (Jer 51:43). In the time of its glory, the country round the great city had been drained and irrigated at enormous cost, till it was unsurpassed for fertility. Now, through centuries of neglect, it has sunk back to its original state, ''a stinking morass and a barren steppe''; a vast waste wilderness, with nothing but an occasional black Bedaween [ie., Bedouin] tent or a wandering camel here and there to mark the existence of man.

[Editor's note: Although the destruction of the city of Babylon is now in the historic past, many of these prophetic passages also speak of the future destruction of the world system which dominates during the 'Times of the Gentiles.' This world system is symbolically called 'Babylon' (literally, 'Babel,' meaning 'confusion'), because it is in opposition to God's truth and order. ''The divine order is given in Isaiah 11: Israel in her own land, the center of the divine government of the world and channel of the divine blessing; and the Gentiles blessed in association with Israel. Anything else is pure 'Babel'.'' [ScofRB]. Such a system cannot endure. It will collapse under the future judgment of God. The fall of 'Babylon,' in all its aspects as a political, economic and religious system, is further described prophetically in the book of the Revelation. For more on this topic, see the Book Notes on Revelation (chapters 14 - 19).]


The Book of Isaiah may be divided into three parts. The first part and the third are composed of most magnificent poetry. The beauty of the style is well reproduced in Bishop Lowth's translation, which is worth careful study.

These two parts are, as it were, clasped together by the second portion, which is history, and mainly written in prose. Two chapters are connected with the first part of the book, and relate the story of the Assyrian invasion and its results; and two chapters are connected with the third part of the book, and tell of Hezekiah's sickness and recovery, and the incident of the Babylonian ambassadors.

Part I. Chapters 1 - 35.
  1. Ch. 1 - 12. Reproofs, mainly addressed to Judah and Jerusalem.
    The Coming Glory [occupies] ch. 11 and 12.
  2. Ch. 13 - 23. Judgments on nations hostile to Judah,
    e.g., Babylon, Syria, Egypt, Tyre.
  3. Ch. 24 - 35. Judgments on the world, on Samaria and Judah.
    Sins provoking judgment.
    [The invasion of ''the Assyrian.'' The destruction of Jerusalem.]
    [The future Deliverer and] the coming glory, ch. 35.
Part II. Chapters 36-39.
  1. Ch. 36, 37. Assyrian invasion and results.
    (Closely connected with Part I.)
  2. Ch. 38, 39. Hezekiah's sickness and recovery.
    Babylonian ambassadors. Babylonian captivity foretold.
    (Closely connected with Part III.)
Part III. Chapters 40 - 66.
  1. Ch. 40 - 48. Comfort.
    Antithesis of Jehovah and idols, Israel and the nations.
    The Section ends with the knell of judgment:
    ''There is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked.''
  2. Ch. 49 - 57. The Servant of Jehovah.
    Antithesis between suffering of the Servant and the glory that should follow.
    The Section ends with the knell of judgment:
    ''There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.''
  3. Ch. 58 - 66. Promised Glory.
    Antithesis between the hypocrites and the faithful;
    between present sin and sorrow, and future holiness and blessedness.
    The Section ends with a still heavier note of judgment (66:24).
The Cross the Center.
The twenty-seven chapters of Part III constitute one grand Messianic poem, subdivided into three books. Each book consists of three sections of three chapters each, nearly corresponding with the division of our English Bible. Chapter 53 (with the last three verses of ch. 52) is the middle chapter of the prophetic writings of the Old Testament. And the central verse of this central chapter enshrines the central truth of the Gospel --
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
And with His stripes we are healed.

The UNITY of the Book of ISAIAH

A summary of the Book of Isaiah would hardly be complete without allusion to the question that has been raised of late years to the duality or plurality of authorship. It is asked, ''What difference does it make whether the prophecy is the work of one man or of two or of twenty?'' On the surface, it makes no difference-- provided its inspiration is established. If we are sure the Spirit of God is speaking, the human channel matters little.
But it is just because we see that this question of inspiration is doubly involved that we feel it does matter.
  1. In the first place, the denial of the unity of Isaiah has its root in an unwillingness to admit the supernatural power of predicton in prophecy.
  2. In the second place, to maintain the denial of its unity sets aside the authority of the New Testament.
In considering this question, we will lay aside, for the time, the foregoing division of the book into three parts, and speak of Isaiah 1 (chapters 1-39) and Isaiah 2 (chapters 40-66); the former written by Isaiah, the son of Amos; the latter supposed to have been written by some great Unknown Prophet during the time of the Babylonian Captivity.
A. Language.
At first, the supposed difference in language was assigned as the reason for doubting the unity of the book. But on the authority of great Hebrew scholars, with scarcely an exception, it is proved that there is no linguistic necessity for the theory of a dual or plural authorship. Indeed, the resemblance in style between Isaiah 1 and Isaiah 2, we are told, is closer than that between either of them, and any other book of the Old Testament. The similarity between the two parts of the book is so striking that some who hold to the theory of two authors have come to the conclusion that the second Isaiah has imitated the style of the first!

When we consider the long period during which Isaiah himself tells us he used the prophetic gift-- from the days of Uzziah to Hezekiah, probably sixty years-- and the very varied matter of which he wrote, there is more than sufficient reason to account for any difference of style. ''The second Isaiah employs words only known otherwise to the first Isaiah, of which the meaning was lost by Jeremiah's time. The second Isaiah shows himself otherwise possessed of a scientific and technical vocabulary, which the first Isaiah only shares with him.'' [Lines of Defence of the Biblical Revelation, p. 139, Prof. Margoliouth.]

Professor Burks, in studying the words used in 1 and 2 Isaiah, and nowhere in the later prophets, finds the instances so numerous that he limits his examples to those beginning with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet-- the letter aleph-- of which he cites forty.

B. Prediction.
The reason for the denial of the unity of the authorship of Isaiah lies deeper than a question of language--
it originated in the denial of the supernatural in prophecy. ''Remove the great stumbling-block, the fact of prediction, and everything is in favour of its authenticity'' (Dr. Payne Smith).

That the prophet should predict the fall of Babylon when it had not yet risen to its supremacy as a great world-power, and when Assyria was still the dreaded foe of the Jewish nation; that he should predict the deliverance from captivity before the people were carried captive; that he should foretell that deliverance should come from Medo-Persia when these two nations were still separate and insignificant; that he should call the deliverer by name-- Cyrus-- more than a hundred years before his birth, -- these matters are stumbling blocks to those who see in prophecy only the human intuition of a good man who has understanding of the times. But to the devout believer, it is a confirmation of his faith in an almighty God who claims to inspire His prophets with the Holy Spirit.

In Isaiah 2, God Himself, through His prophet, appeals to the fulfillment of the earlier predictions as the ground for believing that the later predictions will be fulfilled (Isa 48:3-5). The appeal would have no meaning if there were no earlier predictions to refer to. Among the predictions of Isaiah 1 were the invasion and destruction of Samaria by Sennacherib, his threatened invasion and the final deliverance of Jerusalem, and the prolongation of Hezekiah's life.

And now God appeals to His people Israel to be His witnesses to the fulfillment of His predictions in chapters 40 - 66 (see 63:9,10). He challenges the idols, the gods of the nations to prove their right to be worshipped by foretelling future events (41:23; 42:7-9).

The mention of Cyrus by name is expressly declared to be a miracle, wrought in order that the whole world, from east to west, might know that Jehovah is the only God (45:4-6).

This is exactly the effect it had upon the great world-conqueror himself, and upon the people of Israel.

Josephus tells us that it was the reading of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning himself that led Cyrus to issue the decree: ''Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah'' (2Chr 36:23). If the prophecy had only been written a few years before in Babylon, when his name was well known, and by a contemporary, is it credible that it would have so impressed the great conqueror as to lead him to take this step?

We have already touched upon the effect of Isaiah's prophecy upon the Jews. They went down to Babylon with what seemed to be an ineradicable tendency to idolatry. They returned from it [as], what they have remained to the present day, the most monotheistic of nations. No nation can pass through such a change as that except under some overpowering conviction. Such a conviction would be produced as they gradually watched the prophecies of Isaiah fulfilled to the letter, and realized that God had foreseen these events and had ''declared this from ancient time'' (45:21), and the heart of the nation would be turned for ever from idols unto the Holy One of Israel.

C. History.
History, again, uniformly attributes the second part of the book to Isaiah. It is not known historically to have ever existed in a separate form. The conjunction of the two parts was certainly established as early as the days of Ezra. If the second part was written by a contemporary, or by a prophet of the immediately preceding age, Ezra must have known this. To ascribe either carelessness or deceit to Ezra would be contrary to all that is known of his character. The Septuagint translation, made in 280 BC, contains the whole book as the Book of Isaiah. The apocryphal Book of Ecclesiasticus, 200 BC, says: ''He (Esaias) saw by an excellent spirit what should come to pass at the last, and he comforted them that mourn in Zion; he showed what should come to pass for ever, and secret things or ever they came.''

In the face of the universal testimony of history, the burden of proof rests with those who deny [that Isaiah wrote] the second part. ''The rules of ordinary criticism require us to accept Isaiah as the author until it is shown that he cannot have been so'' (Sir Edward Strachey).

D. The New Testament.
The witness of the New Testament is explicit and abundant. Isaiah is mentioned by name as the writer of this prophecy no less than twenty-one times. Of these, ten are in connection with passages contained in the first part of the prophecy, and eleven with passages from the second part. According to Westcott and Hort, the whole Book of Isaiah is quoted or referred to more than 210 times; chapters 40 - 66 [are quoted or referred to] more than 100 times.
With the New Testament writers, the book is ''the words of the prophet Isaiah, who spake by the Holy Spirit'' [cp. Acts 28:25; 2Pet 1:21].
In every possible way, the New Testament writers attribute the entire book to Isaiah, distinguishing between the ''Book of Isaiah'' and the ''prophet Isaiah'' who wrote the book (see Luke 4:17 and 3:4, etc.).
E. Unity of Purpose.
The unity of thought and purpose throughout the book is a final testimony to the unity of authorship.

Professor Margoliouth, quoting Aristotle, tells us that a work of art should be so constructed that the removal of any part should cause the whole to fall to pieces, and says that if this rule be applied to Isaiah, we shall be disposed to find the unity of the works ascribed to that prophet brilliantly vindicated. It has been found impossible by those who would divide Isaiah to keep consistently to an early date for the whole of Isaiah 1 and to a late, or Babylonian, date for the whole of Isaiah 2.The fall of Babylon is predicted in Isaiah 13 and 14, to these and other portions of Isaiah 1 a late date has therefore been assigned [by these critics].

The form of idolatry of which the Jewish nation is accused in chapter 57, as also that described in the earlier part of the book, is peculiar to Israel in her own land before the Captivity. The surroundings of that chapter are likewise the surroundings of Palestine; the high mountains, the rocky torrent-beds, and the smooth stones of the stream are foreign to the great alluvial plain of Babylon, and an earlier date is therefore assigned [by the critics] to this and other passages in Isaiah 2. This reduces both parts of this magnificent prophecy to a mere literary patchwork.

It is held by some that the Book of Isaiah is a collection of various writers put together for the sake of convenience. But in the parallel case of the Minor Prophets, the name is carefully prefixed to each, even to those who only wrote one short chapter. The unity of thought and style is a strong argument against such a plurality of authorship, and the brilliance and power of the prophet make it most unlikely that he should be unknown, even by name. It was the custom of the Hebrew prophets to give their name at the commencement of their writings, and Isaiah is no exception to this (see Isa 1:1). That this verse is not the preface to the first chapter only, or to any small portion of the book, is evident from the enumeration of the four kings during whose reigns he prophesied. It is evidently intended as a seal to the whole volume.

In the lines of thought which we have traced in studying Isaiah, it will have been noticed that those lines were unbroken and that the references have been taken from each part of the book. Isaiah's vision in the Temple, when he received his call to the prophetic office [6:1-8], formed a fit introduction to the whole prophecy. We have seen how the influence of that vision may be traced throughout in the impression he received of the holiness and majesty of God, imprinting the name of the Holy One of Israel on all his prophecies, as if to anticipate the difficulty now before us. The influence of the vision may be traced again in the catholicity [ie., the universality, or, the ''all pervading'' nature] of the Divine purpose toward the whole world.

Most of all, the unity of the book may be seen in the central figure of the person of the Messiah, in His glorious work of redemption, and in His universal reign of righteousness.
-- these form the great themes of the prophet Isaiah, and are to be found flowing in unbroken connection throughout the entire volume of his writings.

For a verse by verse study of this Bible book, see the Book Notes on Isaiah.

Return to the Table of Contents for Christ in All the Scriptures.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in OT Reflections of Christ, by Paul Van Gorder.

Go to The Book opening page.