prophet-isaiah“The vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah (the southern kingdom) and Jerusalem (its capital) in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah”. – Isaiah 1:1

Today, we enter the section of Scripture known as The Nebiim (The Prophets).  More specifically, we start the Major Prophets.  Isaiah is the first of these – and they are the Prophets who wrote longer oracles.  In essence, they are “major” because they were long winded!

What is a Prophet?

nabi – not just one who foretells future events, but mainly a preacher of righteousness for his day.  His job was to warn  people to live the way God had instructed them according to The Law.  Many times these warnings were coupled with visions of future events which would come upon the people if they refused to heed the warning.

seer – A seeing person; one who perceives mentally the purpose of God.  The root of this word in Hebrew is “charah” and it means “to glow warm; blaze up in anger or zeal; burn; wax hot; be incensed; be wroth.”

chozeh – A beholder; one who has visions or supernatural revelations.

So, as you can see, a Prophet had several definitions and several functions.  A basic way to understand the Prophet was that they were people who saw visions of future events that would make them angry, and in the heat of that holy anger they were moved by the Holy Spirit to declare to Israel their sins and urge them to repent.

There were many Prophets throughout the Bible, Isaiah being one of them.  Not only is it important to hear what he says, but it is also vital to understand to whom he is saying these things.  What was going on historically when he was prophesying?

We learn much from the very first verse of Isaiah’s book.  We are told that he is giving his oracles of doom during the reign of 4 kings of Judah.  If you remember our reading through the history books – after Solomon dies the kingdom of Israel divides north to south.  Judah is the smaller southern portion – with Jerusalem as its capital.  So Isaiah is speaking mainly to those people.  The whole time of these 4 kings reigns covered 113 years.  Since Isaiah started his ministry in the same year King Uzziah dies – it is assumed he spends around 70 years warning the people of Judah about future events.

The kingdom of Israel had been strong under David/Solomon – but for the past 250 years it was weakened by internal conflicts and war.  While Isaiah is speaking mainly to the southern portion  (Judah), we know from history that the northern kingdom (Israel) would be overrun by Tiglath-pilesar III of Assyria in the year 720 BC.  This was while Hezekiah was king of Judah – and Isaiah is in full warning mode.  One would think that this glaring example to their north, along with Isaiah’s message, would prompt them back to God in repentance… but that is not the case.  Only 150 years later Judah is eventually invaded by Babylon and Jerusalem is destroyed.  (You can re-fresh your memory of these events in 2 Kings 15-20; 2 Chr. 26-32).

As we read through the prophetic words of Isaiah, place yourself in the shoes of the average Judahite.  How would you have reacted to Isaiah’s rants? Would you have listened or ignored him as a crazy old man?  Is it possible we are missing the same type of warnings today?

Be fruitful & multiply,