Bible History: Epic Hero, Isaiah

Dinner Topics for Friday

A Moment on the Life and Times of the Epic Hero, Isaiah

When you understand a few things about this towering prophet and epic hero—Isaiah—it is easier than you think to liken his writings to your own life and times.

isaiah3When Lehi and his family departed for the New World in about 600 B.C., Jerusalem was ripe for destruction.  Isaiah’s fifty-year ministry came to a close almost one hundred years before that, but his far-reaching influence had barely begun. Not only was Isaiah a mighty prophet, but he was also a statesman, who served as adviser to four kings of Judah.

1. Under Uzziah, Judah was a strong military power.

2. Then King Jotham further fortified the nation.

3. King Ahaz was idolatrous; he engaged in human sacrifice of his own children.  In the political realm, he tried to appease the Assyrian terrorists by offering them tribute money from the treasures of the temple.

4. Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, tried to cleanse the land of his father’s idolatry.[1]

Meanwhile the powerful and brutal Assyrians had conquered the kingdom of Israel in the north, and moved upon Judah, putting Jerusalem under siege.  To safeguard the city’s water supply, Hezekiah constructed a conduit which still exists today.

As the Assyrians were themselves threatened by Egypt, Hezekiah sought an alliance with Egypt.  But Isaiah warned that Egypt could not be trusted, and prophesied of the Assyrian destruction and Judah’s future peace and prosperity.  Hezekiah remained steadfast and trusted in the Lord by following Isaiah’s counsel.  The prophecy was fulfilled, once. It will be fulfilled again, for Isaiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Assyria was a prefiguring, or type, of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming of Christ.

Thus were the times of Isaiah fraught with wars and contention, as were the times in ancient America, and as are events of our day.  The names of the main actors are different, but the scenes and drama are repeated throughout history.  Much of what Isaiah saw in his day is not unlike what we see in modern times.  These repeated patterns, or type-scenes, are the key to understanding Isaiah’s vast prophetic world view— a window to the future.

Isaiah Spoke of Five Eras

1. His own day. 

Consider his perspective.  Unlike many self-absorbed persons of our day, Isaiah knew that his grand and sweeping visions were “not about him.”  He did not get caught up in the tumultuous moment of his day, but was able to see the total picture.

isaiahlds2. Birth and ministry of Christ in the meridian of time.

Right in the middle of an interview with the wicked Ahaz, Isaiah by command of the Lord, gave the glorious prophecy of the birth of Christ that is famous throughout all Christendom.

3. The Last Days (our times.) 

Isaiah describes why we are losing our liberty, due to uninformed citizens. (Isaiah 5:13)  He vividly describes the corruption, evil, and immorality of our day …even Political Correctness. (Isaiah 5:20) In Isaiah 29, (2 Nephi27), the prophet saw ahead nearly 3,000 years and described in detail  the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the nineteenth century.

resurrected Christmed

4. The Second Coming.

Isaiah’s writings are fraught with prophecy regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to usher in the Millennium.

5. The Millenium.

Lamb and Lion resizeWMIsaiah saw world events as God sees them; he described them, in some ways like a journalist, but more as a poet, using breathtaking imagery.  Isaiah’s superb literary skills are worthy of his subject.  Isaiah’s work is the finest epic literature ever written.  But there is much more to it than that.

His writings are not a mere history, nor will casual perusal unlock the treasures therein.  To limit oneself to a hasty scan would be to walk thirsty past the wells of salvation.

The Savior regarded Isaiah so highly that He gave a commandment, to “search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”(3 Ne. 23:1)

So how does one read Isaiah?

— Pray for the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Christ.

— Keep in mind that the overarching theme of Isaiah is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

— Remember Isaiah’s broad world view, which encompasses at least five different eras in the scriptural spectrum.  Look for the big picture, rather than dwelling on fragments that you may not fully understand.

— Search for themes. Do not try to read Isaiah chronologically.  Let each chapter stand alone, and find its theme.  Chapter headings give helpful clues.

— Research the footnotes.

isaiah4bibletext— Look for parallels, like reading today’s newspaper.

— Remember types and symbols. For example, Babylon means “the world.” The vineyard of the Lord means “Israel.”

— Savor the exquisite imagery. Ponder the themes and the layers of profound meaning.

— Liken the scriptures to yourself.  And liken them to the nations and the global scene.

— Be Patient. To plumb the depths of Isaiah’s inspired writing is a lifelong quest.

The Savior desires us to search the words of Isaiah (whose very name means “Jehovah saves”), for they expound the power of His Atonement and our rescue from the fallen state. Furthermore, Jesus knows there are blessings and treasures that await us if we but seek them. 

Isaiah knew this, too, when he said,

Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

(Isaiah 12:3)

Copyright 2010 by C.A. Davidson


       [1]CES, 1981:Old Testament Student Manual, Religion 302, pp.131-135

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One comment on “Bible History: Epic Hero, Isaiah

  1. FACT OR FICTION? BY STEVE FINNELL

    Is everything you have been taught about Christianity fact or has there been a lot of fiction presented as Biblical truth?

    Here are some doctrinal positions, are they fact or fiction?

    1. The New Covenant was in force during the three year ministry of Jesus. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction.

    Hebrews 9:16-17 where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

    The New Covenant was not in force while Jesus was alive.

    2. The apostle Peter used the keys to the kingdom heaven (the keys to enter the church of Christ) before the Day of Pentecost. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction.

    Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven….

    Luke 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.

    The apostle Peter first used the keys to enter the Lord’s church, at Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost. Three thousand entered the kingdom of God on earth. The kingdom of God on earth is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The three thousand who were saved and added to the church of Christ on the Day of Pentecost believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and that Jesus was was both Lord and Christ. They repented and were immersed in water so they could have their sins forgiven and then they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:22-41) They were saved under the New Covenant terms of pardon.

    3. The thief on the cross was saved from the punishment of his sins. Fact or Fiction? That would be a fact.

    4. Men today can be saved just like the thief on the cross. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. The thief was not saved under the New Testament terms of pardon.

    The thief did not believe in his heart that Jesus had been resurrected from the grave. (Romans 10:9 that is you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.)

    The thief was not immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins. (Acts 2:38 …be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…)

    5. Moses, Elijah, Job, Enoch, Abraham and Noah were all men of faith and saved . Fact or Fiction? That would be a fact.

    6. Men living today can be saved just like Moses, Elijah, Job, Abraham, and Noah. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. These men lived and died before the New covenant was in effect.
    Men, today, can only be saved by believing in Jesus. (Acts 4:10-12, John 14:6)

    7. Jesus did not say baptism was essential in order to be saved. Fact or Fiction? That would fiction.

    Jesus said “and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16)

    8. Peter and the apostles never taught water baptism was for the forgiveness of sins. Fact or Fiction. That would be fiction. (Acts 2:37-38)

    9. Men are added to the body of Christ before they are baptized in water. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. (Acts 2:41)

    10. Saul was saved on the road to Damascus before his sins were forgiven. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. Men cannot be saved without having their sins forgiven. Saul had had his sins forgiven three days later, when he was in Damascus, not on the road to Damascus. (Acts 22:16)(Acts 9:9)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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