I want to give you the historical context for Isaiah without boring you to tears.
To keep it brief, I’ll use bullet points:
- Isaiah’s book is an anthology (a collection of sermons, sayings, thoughts & writings compiled over the span of Isaiah’s ministry — estimated at 25-55 years).
- Chapters 1-39 primarily address the people living in Judah during the Assyrian Crisis (739-701 B.C.; the events of Isaiah’s lifetime).
- Chapters 40-55 primarily address the Jews exiled during the Babylonian Crisis (605-539 B.C.; approx. 150 years after Isaiah’s lifetime).
- Chapters 56-66 primarily address the Jews who would return from exile to rebuild Jerusalem (539-500 B.C.; approx. 200 years after Isaiah’s lifetime).
- The predictive nature of Isaiah’s prophecy is so accurate that liberal scholars claim Isaiah was written by at least three different people long after the prophesied events took place.
- There is nothing in Jewish antiquity or tradition to support anything other than a single writer for the book: Isaiah the son of Amoz.
The issue of authorship highlights a significant divide between liberal and conservative theology.
Liberal theologians reject a single author for Isaiah because they reject the possibility of predictive prophecy (the foretelling of future events).
They say it’s impossible for any man to know specific events that will take place hundreds of years after their lifetime.
They are correct.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matt 19:26b.
The accuracy of predictive prophecy is the signature of divine inspiration (see Deut 18:21-22). Since it’s impossible for a man to know the future, only God can provide such information.
What a comfort to know that we can trust the accuracy of the Scriptures!
We have thousands of examples of prophecies that have already been fulfilled exactly as predicted. Should we now doubt the few that remain? If previous prophecies were literally fulfilled, should we now allegorize those concerning our future?
God’s word is faithful and true.
He knows the end from the beginning.
Every promise will be fulfilled.
Not one thing will be left undone.
You can trust the One who holds eternity in the palm of His hand.
He knows you.
He loves you.
As you read Isaiah, try to identify prophecies that have already been fulfilled (or partially fulfilled) and those that are yet to come.
Imagine yourself as the recipient of those promises…
…because you are.