Bible Book Number 23—Isaiah
Place Written: Jerusalem
Writing Completed: After 732 B.C.E.
Time Covered: c. 778–after 732 B.C.E.
1. What was the situation in the Middle East, and particularly in Israel and Judah, in the eighth century B.C.E.?
THE menacing shadow of the cruel Assyrian monarch hung heavy over the other empires and lesser kingdoms of the Middle East. The whole area was alive with talk of conspiracy and confederation. (Isa. 8:9-13) Apostate Israel to the north would soon fall victim to this international intrigue, while Judah’s kings to the south were reigning precariously. (2 Ki., chaps. 15-21) New weapons of war were being developed and put into action, adding to the terror of the times. (2 Chron. 26:14, 15) Where could anyone look for protection and salvation? Although the name of Jehovah was on the lips of the people and the priests in the little kingdom of Judah, their hearts turned far off in other directions, first to Assyria and then down to Egypt. (2 Ki. 16:7; 18:21) Faith in Jehovah’s power waned. Where it was not outright idolatry, there prevailed a hypocritical way of worship, based on formalism and not the true fear of God.
2. (a) Who answered the call to speak for Jehovah, and when? (b) What is significant about this prophet’s name?
2 Who, then, would speak for Jehovah? Who would declare his saving power? “Here I am! Send me,” came the ready response. The speaker was Isaiah, who had already been prophesying before this. It was the year that leprous King Uzziah died, about 778 B.C.E. (Isa. 6:1, 8) The name Isaiah means “Salvation of Jehovah,” which is the same meaning, though written in the reverse order, of the name Jesus (“Jehovah Is Salvation”). From start to finish, Isaiah’s prophecy highlights this fact, that Jehovah is salvation.
3. (a) What is known concerning Isaiah? (b) Throughout what period did he prophesy, and who were other prophets of his day?
3 Isaiah was the son of Amoz (not to be confused with Amos, another prophet from Judah). (1:1) The Scriptures are silent as to his birth and death, though Jewish tradition has him sawn asunder by wicked King Manasseh. (Compare Hebrews 11:37.) His writings show him stationed in Jerusalem with his prophetess wife and at least two sons with prophetic names. (Isa. 7:3; 8:1, 3) He served during the time of at least four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; evidently beginning about 778 B.C.E. (when Uzziah died, or possibly earlier) and continuing at least till after 732 B.C.E. (Hezekiah’s 14th year), or no less than 46 years. No doubt he had also committed his prophecy to writing by this latter date. (1:1; 6:1; 36:1) Other prophets of his day were Micah in Judah and, to the north, Hosea and Oded.—Mic. 1:1; Hos. 1:1; 2 Chron. 28:6-9.
4. What indicates that Isaiah was the writer of the book?
4 That Jehovah commanded Isaiah to write down prophetic judgments is established by Isaiah 30:8: “Now come, write it upon a tablet with them, and inscribe it even in a book, that it may serve for a future day, for a witness to time indefinite.” The ancient Jewish rabbis recognized Isaiah as the writer and included the book as the first book of the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel).
5. What testifies to the unity of the book of Isaiah?
5 Though some have pointed to the book’s change of style from chapter 40 onward as indicating a different writer, or “Second Isaiah,” the change in subject matter should be sufficient to explain this. There is much evidence that Isaiah wrote the entire book that bears his name. For example, the oneness of the book is indicated by the expression, “the Holy One of Israel,” which appears 12 times in chapters 1 to 39, and 13 times in chapters 40 to 66, a total of 25 times; whereas it appears only 6 times throughout the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. The apostle Paul also testifies to the unity of the book by quoting from all parts of the prophecy and crediting the whole work to one writer, Isaiah.—Compare Romans 10:16, 20; 15:12 with Isaiah 53:1; 65:1; 11:1.
6. How does the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah give convincing proof (a) that our Bibles today represent the original inspired writing and (b) that the entire book was written by the one Isaiah?
6 Interestingly, starting in the year 1947, some ancient documents were brought out of the darkness of caves not far from Khirbet Qumran, near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. These were the Dead Sea Scrolls, which included the prophecy of Isaiah. This is beautifully written in well-preserved pre-Masoretic Hebrew and is some 2,000 years old, from the end of the second century B.C.E. Its text is thus about a thousand years older than the oldest existing manuscript of the Masoretic text, on which modern translations of the Hebrew Scriptures are based. There are some minor variations of spelling and some differences in grammatical construction, but it does not vary doctrinally from the Masoretic text. Here is convincing proof that our Bibles today contain the original inspired message of Isaiah. Moreover, these ancient scrolls refute the critics’ claims of two “Isaiahs,” since chapter 40 begins on the last line of the column of writing containing chapter 39, the opening sentence being completed in the next column. Thus, the copyist was obviously unaware of any supposed change in writer or of any division in the book at this point.a
7. What abundant proof is there concerning Isaiah’s authenticity?
7 There is abundant proof of the authenticity of Isaiah’s book. Aside from Moses, no other prophet is more often quoted by the Christian Bible writers. There is likewise a wealth of historical and archaeological evidence that proves it genuine, such as the historical records of the Assyrian monarchs, including Sennacherib’s hexagonal prism on which he gives his own account of the siege of Jerusalem.b (Isa., chaps. 36, 37) The heap of ruins that was once Babylon still bears witness to the fulfillment of Isaiah 13:17-22.c There was a living testimony in each one of the thousands of Jews that marched back from Babylon, freed by a king whose name, Cyrus, had been penned by Isaiah nearly 200 years earlier. It may well be that Cyrus was later shown this prophetic writing, for, on freeing the Jewish remnant, he spoke of being commissioned by Jehovah to do so.—Isa. 44:28; 45:1; Ezra 1:1-3.
8. How is inspiration proved by fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies?
8 Outstanding in the book of Isaiah are the Messianic prophecies. Isaiah has been called “the Evangelist prophet,” so numerous are the predictions fulfilled in the events of Jesus’ life. Chapter 53, for long a “mystery chapter,” not only to the Ethiopian eunuch referred to in Acts chapter 8 but to the Jewish people as a whole, foretells so vividly the treatment accorded Jesus that it is like an eyewitness account. The Christian Greek Scriptures record the prophetic fulfillments of this remarkable chapter of Isaiah, as the following comparisons show: 53 vs. 1—John 12:37, 38; 53 vs. 2—John 19:5-7; 53 vs. 3—Mark 9:12; 53 vs. 4—Matthew 8:16, 17; 53 vs. 5—1 Peter 2:24; 53 vs. 6—1 Peter 2:25; 53 vs. 7—Acts 8:32, 35; 53 vs. 8—Acts 8:33; 53 vs. 9—Matthew 27:57-60; 53 vs. 10—Hebrews 7:27; 53 vs. 11—Romans 5:18; 53 vs. 12—Luke 22:37. Who but God could be the source of such accurate forecasting?
CONTENTS OF ISAIAH
9. Into what divisions do the contents of Isaiah fall?
9 The first six chapters 1-6 give the setting in Judah and Jerusalem and relate Judah’s guilt before Jehovah and Isaiah’s commissioning. Chapters 7 to 12 deal with threatened enemy invasions and the promise of relief by the Prince of Peace commissioned by Jehovah. Chapters 13 to 35 contain a series of pronouncements against many nations and a forecast of salvation to be provided by Jehovah. Historic events of Hezekiah’s reign are described in chapters 36 to 39. The remaining chapters, Isa 40 to 66, have as their theme the release from Babylon, the return of the Jewish remnant, and the restoration of Zion.
10. (a) Why does Isaiah call on the nation to set matters straight? (b) What does he prophesy for the final part of the days?
10 Isaiah’s message “concerning Judah and Jerusalem” (1:1–6:13). See him there in sackcloth and sandals as he stands in Jerusalem and cries out: Dictators! People! Listen! Your nation is sick from head to toe, and you have wearied Jehovah with your bloodstained hands upraised in prayer. Come, set matters straight with him, that scarlet sins may be made white like snow. In the final part of the days, the mountain of Jehovah’s house will be lifted up, and all nations will stream to it for instruction. No more will they learn war. Jehovah will be raised on high and sanctified. But at present Israel and Judah, though planted a choice vine, produce grapes of lawlessness. They make good bad and bad good, for they are wise in their own eyes.
11. Along with what vision does Isaiah receive his commission?
11 “I, however, got to see Jehovah, sitting on a throne lofty and lifted up,” says Isaiah. Along with the vision comes Jehovah’s commission: “Go, and you must say to this people, ‘Hear again and again.’” For how long? “Until the cities actually crash in ruins.”—6:1, 9, 11.
12. (a) How are Isaiah and his sons used as prophetic signs? (b) What outstanding promise is given in Isaiah chapter 9?
12 Threatened enemy invasions and promise of relief (7:1–12:6). Jehovah uses Isaiah and his sons as prophetic ‘signs and miracles’ to show that first the combine of Syria and Israel against Judah will fail but in time Judah will go into captivity with only a remnant returning. A maiden will become pregnant and bear a son. His name? Immanuel (meaning, “With Us Is God”). Let the combined enemies against Judah take note! “Gird yourselves, and be shattered to pieces!” There will be hard times, but then a great light will shine upon God’s people. For a child has been born to us, “and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”—7:14; 8:9, 18; 9:6.
13. (a) What outcome awaits the insolent Assyrian? (b) What will result from the rule of the “twig” from Jesse?
13 “Aha, the Assyrian,” Jehovah cries, “the rod for my anger.” After using that rod against “an apostate nation,” God will cut down the insolent Assyrian himself. Later, “a mere remnant will return.” (10:5, 6, 21) See now a sprout, a twig from the stump of Jesse (David’s father)! This “twig” will rule in righteousness, and by him there will be enjoyment for all creation, with no harm or ruin, “because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (11:1, 9) With this one as signal for the nations, a highway goes out from Assyria for the returning remnant. There will be exultation in drawing water from the springs of salvation and making melody to Jehovah.
14. What comedown is foretold for Babylon?
14 Pronouncing Babylon’s doom (13:1–14:27). Isaiah now looks past the Assyrian’s day into the time of Babylon’s zenith. Listen! The sound of numerous people, the uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! Jehovah is mustering the army of war! It is a dark day for Babylon. Amazed faces flame, and hearts melt. The pitiless Medes will tumble Babylon, “the decoration of kingdoms.” She is to become an uninhabited desolation and a haunt of wild creatures “for generation after generation.” (13:19, 20) The dead in Sheol are stirred to receive the king of Babylon. Maggots become his couch and worms his covering. What a comedown for this ‘shining one, the son of the dawn’! (14:12) He aspired to elevate his throne but has become a carcass thrown out, as Jehovah sweeps Babylon with the broom of annihilation. No name, no remnant, no progeny, no posterity, are to remain!
15. Concerning what international desolations does Isaiah prophesy?
15 International desolations (14:28–23:18). Isaiah now points back to Philistia along the Mediterranean Sea and then to Moab, southeast of the Dead Sea. He directs his prophecy up beyond Israel’s northern boundary to Syrian Damascus, dips deep south into Ethiopia, and moves up the Nile into Egypt, with God’s judgments producing desolation all along the way. He tells of the Assyrian king Sargon, the predecessor of Sennacherib, sending commander Tartan against the Philistine city of Ashdod, west of Jerusalem. At this time Isaiah is told to strip and go naked and barefoot for three years. Thus he vividly portrays the futility of trusting in Egypt and Ethiopia, who, with “buttocks stripped,” will be led captive by the Assyrian.—20:4.
16. What calamities are seen for Babylon, Edom, and Jerusalem’s boisterous ones, as well as for Sidon and Tyre?
16 A lookout upon his watchtower sees the fall of Babylon and her gods, and he sees adversities for Edom. Jehovah himself addresses Jerusalem’s boisterous people who are saying, “Let there be eating and drinking, for tomorrow we shall die.” ‘Die you shall,’ says Jehovah. (22:13, 14) The ships of Tarshish too are to howl, and Sidon is to be ashamed, for Jehovah has given counsel against Tyre, to “treat with contempt all the honorable ones of the earth.”—23:9.
17. What judgment and what restoration are foretold for Judah?
17 Jehovah’s judgment and salvation (24:1–27:13). But look now at Judah! Jehovah is emptying the land. People and priest, servant and master, buyer and seller—all must go, for they have bypassed God’s laws and broken the indefinitely lasting covenant. But in time he will turn his attention to the prisoners and gather them. He is a stronghold and refuge. He will set a banquet in his mountain and swallow up death forever, wiping tears from off all faces. “This is our God” will be said. “This is Jehovah.” (25:9) Judah has a city with salvation for walls. Continuous peace is for those trusting in Jehovah, “for in Jah Jehovah is the Rock of times indefinite.” But the wicked “simply will not learn righteousness.” (26:4, 10) Jehovah will slay his adversaries, but he will restore Jacob.
18, 19. (a) What contrasting woes and joys are proclaimed for Ephraim and Zion? (b) In what capacities is Jehovah to save and govern his people?
18 God’s indignation and blessings (28:1–35:10). Woe to Ephraim’s drunkards, whose “decoration of beauty” must fade! But Jehovah is to “become as a crown of decoration and as a garland of beauty” to the remnant of his people. (28:1, 5) However, the braggarts of Jerusalem look to a lie for refuge, rather than to the tried and precious foundation stone in Zion. A flash flood will wash them all away. Jerusalem’s prophets are asleep, and God’s book is sealed to them. Lips draw close, but hearts are far away. Yet the day will come when the deaf will hear the words of the book. The blind will see and the meek rejoice.
19 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for refuge! This stubborn people want smooth, deceptive visions. They will be cut off, but Jehovah will restore a remnant. These will see their Grand Instructor, and they will scatter their images, calling them “mere dirt!” (30:22) Jehovah is Jerusalem’s true Defender. A king will rule in righteousness, together with his princes. He will bring in peace, quietness, and security to time indefinite. Treachery will cause the messengers of peace to weep bitterly, but to his own people the Majestic One, Jehovah, is Judge, Statute-Giver, and King, and he himself will save them. No resident will then say: “I am sick.”—33:24.
20. What indignation is to break out against the nations, but what blessing awaits the restored remnant?
20 Jehovah’s indignation must break out against the nations. Carcasses will stink, and mountains will melt with blood. Edom must be desolated. But for Jehovah’s repurchased ones, the desert plain will blossom, and “the glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God,” will appear. (35:2) The blind, the deaf, and the speechless will be healed, and the Way of Holiness will be opened for the redeemed of Jehovah as they return to Zion with rejoicing.
21. The Assyrian hurls what taunts at Jerusalem?
21 Jehovah turns back Assyria in Hezekiah’s day (36:1–39:8). Is Isaiah’s exhortation to rely on Jehovah practical? Can it stand the test? In the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib of Assyria makes a scythelike sweep through Palestine and diverts some of his troops to try to intimidate Jerusalem. His Hebrew-speaking spokesman, Rabshakeh, hurls taunting questions at the people lining the city’s walls: ‘What is your confidence? Egypt? A crushed reed! Jehovah? There is no god that can deliver from the king of Assyria!’ (36:4, 6, 18, 20) In obedience to the king, the people give no answer.
22. How does Jehovah answer Hezekiah’s prayer, and how does He fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy?
22 Hezekiah prays to Jehovah for salvation for His name’s sake, and through Isaiah, Jehovah answers that He will put his hook in the Assyrian’s nose and lead him back the way he has come. An angel strikes 185,000 Assyrians dead, and Sennacherib scurries back home, where his own sons later murder him in his pagan temple.
23. (a) What occasions Hezekiah’s composing a psalm to Jehovah? (b) What indiscretion does he commit, resulting in what prophecy by Isaiah?
23 Hezekiah becomes deathly ill. However, Jehovah miraculously causes the shadow produced by the sun to retreat, as a sign that Hezekiah will be healed, and 15 years are added to Hezekiah’s life. In thankfulness he composes a beautiful psalm of praise to Jehovah. When the king of Babylon sends messengers, hypocritically congratulating him on his recovery, Hezekiah indiscreetly shows them the royal treasures. As a result, Isaiah prophesies that everything in Hezekiah’s house will one day be carried to Babylon.
24. (a) What news of comfort does Jehovah proclaim? (b) Can the gods of the nations compare with Jehovah for greatness, and what witness does he call for?
24 Jehovah comforts his witnesses (40:1–44:28). The opening word of chapter 40, “Comfort,” well describes the rest of Isaiah. A voice in the wilderness cries out: “Clear up the way of Jehovah, you people!” (40:1, 3) There is good news for Zion. Jehovah shepherds his flock, carrying young lambs in his bosom. From lofty heavens he looks down on earth’s circle. To what can he be compared for greatness? He gives full power and dynamic energy to the tired and weary ones who hope in him. He declares the molten images of the nations to be wind and unreality. His chosen one will be as a covenant for the peoples and a light of the nations to open blind eyes. Jehovah says to Jacob, “I myself have loved you,” and he calls to sunrising, sunset, north, and south: ‘Give up! Bring back my sons and my daughters.’ (43:4, 6) With court in session, he challenges the gods of the nations to produce witnesses to prove their godship. Israel’s people are Jehovah’s witnesses, his servant, testifying that he is God and Deliverer. To Jeshurun (“Upright One,” Israel) he promises his spirit and then casts shame on the makers of see-nothing, know-nothing images. Jehovah is the Repurchaser of his people; Jerusalem will again be inhabited and its temple rebuilt.
25. What are men to come to know by Jehovah’s judgments on Babylon and her false gods?
25 Vengeance upon Babylon (45:1–48:22). For the sake of Israel, Jehovah names Cyrus to vanquish Babylon. Men will be made to know that Jehovah alone is God, the Creator of the heavens, the earth, and man upon it. He mocks Babylon’s gods Bel and Nebo, for only He can tell the finale from the beginning. The virgin daughter of Babylon is to sit in the dust, dethroned and naked, and the multitude of her counselors will be burned up like stubble. Jehovah tells the ‘iron-necked, copper-headed’ Israelite idol worshipers that they could have peace, righteousness, and prosperity by listening to him, but ‘there is no peace for the wicked ones.’—48:4, 22.
26. How will Zion be comforted?
26 Zion comforted (49:1–59:21). Giving his servant as a light of the nations, Jehovah cries to those in darkness: “Come out!” (49:9) Zion will be comforted, and her wilderness will become like Eden, the garden of Jehovah, overflowing with exultation, rejoicing, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. Jehovah will make the heavens go up in smoke, the earth wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants die like a mere gnat. So why fear the reproach of mortal men? The bitter goblet that Jerusalem has drunk must now pass to the nations that have trampled on her.
27. What good news is proclaimed to Zion, and what is prophesied concerning ‘Jehovah’s servant’?
27 ‘Wake up, O Zion, and rise from the dust!’ See the messenger, bounding over the mountains with good news and calling to Zion, “Your God has become king!” (52:1, 2, 7) Get out of the unclean place and keep yourselves clean, you in Jehovah’s service. The prophet now describes ‘Jehovah’s servant.’ (53:11) He is a man despised, avoided, carrying our pains and yet accounted as stricken by God. He was pierced for our transgressions, but he healed us by his wounds. Like a sheep brought to the slaughter, he did no violence and he spoke no deception. He gave his soul as a guilt offering to bear the errors of many people.
28. How is the coming blessedness of Zion described, and in connection with what covenant?
28 As husbandly owner, Jehovah tells Zion to cry out joyfully because of her coming fruitfulness. Though afflicted and tempest-tossed, she will become a city of sapphire foundations, ruby battlements, and gates of fiery glowing stones. Her sons, taught by Jehovah, will enjoy abundant peace, and no weapon formed against them will be successful. “Hey there, all you thirsty ones!” cries Jehovah. If they come, he will conclude with them his “covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David”; he will give a leader and commander as a witness to the national groups. (55:1-4) God’s thoughts are infinitely higher than man’s, and his word will have certain success. Eunuchs keeping his law, no matter of what nationality, will receive a name better than sons and daughters. Jehovah’s house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.
29. What does Jehovah tell the idolaters, but what assurance does he give his people?
29 As the High and Lofty One, whose name is holy, Jehovah tells the sex-crazy idolaters that he will not contend with Israel to time indefinite. Their pious fasts are cover-ups for wickedness. The hand of Jehovah is not too short to save, nor his ear too heavy to hear, but it is ‘the very errors of you people that have become the things causing division between you and your God,’ says Isaiah. (59:2) That is why they hope for light but grope in darkness. On the other hand, Jehovah’s spirit upon his faithful covenant people guarantees that his word will remain in their mouth to all future generations, irremovably.
30. How does Jehovah beautify Zion, as illustrated by what new names?
30 Jehovah beautifies Zion (60:1–64:12). “Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for . . . the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth.” In contrast, thick gloom envelops the earth. (60:1, 2) At that time Zion will lift her eyes and become radiant, and her heart will quiver as she sees the resources of the nations coming to her on a heaving mass of camels. Like clouds of flying doves, they will flock to her. Foreigners will build her walls, kings will minister to her, and her gates will never close. Her God must become her beauty, and he will swiftly multiply one into a thousand and a small one into a mighty nation. God’s servant exclaims that Jehovah’s spirit is upon him, anointing him to tell this good news. Zion gets a new name, My Delight Is in Her (Hephzibah), and her land is called Owned as a Wife (Beulah). (62:4, footnote) The order goes out to bank up the highway back from Babylon and to raise a signal in Zion.
31. Who comes from Edom, and what prayer do God’s people utter?
31 Out of Bozrah in Edom comes one in bloodred garments. In his anger he has stamped down people in a wine trough, causing them to spurt blood. Jehovah’s people feel keenly their unclean condition and offer a poignant prayer, saying, ‘O Jehovah, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are our Potter. Do not be indignant, O Jehovah, to the extreme. We are all your people.’—64:8, 9.
32. In contrast with those who abandon Jehovah, at what may Jehovah’s own people exult?
32 “New heavens and a new earth”! (65:1–66:24). The people who have abandoned Jehovah for gods of “Good Luck” and “Destiny” will starve and suffer shame. (65:11) God’s own servants will rejoice in abundance. Look! Jehovah is creating new heavens and a new earth. What joyfulness and exultation are to be found in Jerusalem and her people! Houses will be built and vineyards planted, while wolf and lamb feed as one. There will be no harm or ruin.
33. What rejoicing, glory, and permanence are foretold for lovers of Jerusalem?
33 The heavens are his throne and the earth is his footstool, so what house can men build for Jehovah? A nation is to be born in one day, and all lovers of Jerusalem are invited to rejoice as Jehovah extends to her peace just like a river. Against his enemies he will come as a very fire—storm-wind chariots paying back his anger against all disobedient flesh, with sheer rage and flames of fire. Messengers will go out among all nations and to faraway islands to tell of his glory. His new heavens and earth are to be permanent. Similarly, those serving him and their offspring will keep standing. It is either this or everlasting death.
34. What are some of the vivid illustrations that add power to Isaiah’s message?
34 Viewed from every angle, the prophetic book of Isaiah is a most beneficial gift from Jehovah God. It beams forth the lofty thoughts of God. (Isa. 55:8-11) Public speakers of Bible truths can draw on Isaiah as a treasure-house of vivid illustrations that strike home with forcefulness like that of Jesus’ parables. Isaiah powerfully impresses us with the foolishness of the man who uses the same tree both for fuel and for making an idol of worship. He makes us feel the discomfort of the man on a couch that is too short with a sheet that is too narrow, and he makes us hear the heavy slumbering of the prophets who are like dumb dogs, too lazy to bark. If we ourselves, as Isaiah exhorts, ‘search in the book of Jehovah and read out loud,’ we can appreciate the powerful message that Isaiah has for this day.—44:14-20; 28:20; 56:10-12; 34:16.
35. How does Isaiah focus attention on the Kingdom by Messiah, and on the forerunner, John the Baptizer?
35 The prophecy focuses particularly on God’s Kingdom by Messiah. Jehovah himself is the supreme King, and he it is that saves us. (33:22) But what of Messiah himself? The angel’s announcement to Mary concerning the child that would be born showed that Isaiah 9:6, 7 was to be fulfilled in his receiving the throne of David; “and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) Matthew 1:22, 23 shows that Jesus’ birth by a virgin was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 and identifies him as “Immanuel.” Some 30 years later, John the Baptizer came preaching that “the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” All four Gospel writers quote Isaiah 40:3 to show that this John was the one ‘calling out in the wilderness.’ (Matt. 3:1-3; Mark 1:2-4; Luke 3:3-6; John 1:23) At his baptism Jesus became the Messiah—the Anointed of Jehovah, the twig or root of Jesse—to rule the nations. On him they must rest their hope, in fulfillment of Isaiah 11:1, 10.—Rom. 15:8, 12.
36. What rich prophetic fulfillments clearly identify Messiah the King?
36 See how Isaiah continues to identify Messiah the King! Jesus read his commission from an Isaiah scroll to show that he was Jehovah’s Anointed, and then he proceeded to “declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because,” as he said, “for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:17-19, 43; Isa. 61:1, 2) The four Gospel accounts are full of details as to Jesus’ earthly ministry and his manner of death as foretold in Isaiah chapter 53. Though they heard the good news of the Kingdom and saw Jesus’ marvelous works, the Jews did not get the meaning because of their unbelieving hearts, in fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9, 10; 29:13; and 53:1. (Matt. 13:14, 15; John 12:38-40; Acts 28:24-27; Rom. 10:16; Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:6, 7) Jesus was a stone of stumbling to them, but he became the foundation cornerstone that Jehovah laid in Zion and upon which He builds his spiritual house in fulfillment of Isaiah 8:14 and; 28:16.—Luke 20:17; Rom. 9:32, 33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:4-10.
37. How did Jesus’ apostles quote and apply Isaiah?
37 The apostles of Jesus Christ continued to make good use of Isaiah’s prophecy, applying it to the ministry. For example, in showing that preachers are needed in order to build faith, Paul quotes Isaiah in saying: “How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!” (Rom. 10:15; Isa. 52:7; see also Romans 10:11, 16, 20, 21.) Peter too quotes Isaiah in showing the permanence of the good news: “For ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like a blossom of grass; the grass becomes withered, and the flower falls off, but the saying of Jehovah endures forever.’ Well, this is the ‘saying,’ this which has been declared to you as good news.”—1 Pet. 1:24, 25; Isa. 40:6-8.
38. What glorious Kingdom theme is painted in Isaiah, to be taken up later by other Bible writers?
38 Gloriously does Isaiah paint the Kingdom hope for the future! Look! It is the “new heavens and a new earth,” wherein “a king will reign for righteousness itself” and princes will rule for justice. What cause for joyfulness and exultation! (65:17, 18; 32:1, 2) Again, Peter takes up the glad message of Isaiah: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to [God’s] promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) This wondrous Kingdom theme comes to full glory in the closing chapters of Revelation.—Isa. 66:22, 23; 25:8; Rev. 21:1-5.
39. To what magnificent hope does Isaiah point?
39 Thus, the book of Isaiah, while containing scathing denunciations of Jehovah’s enemies and of those hypocritically professing to be his servants, points in exalted tones to the magnificent hope of Messiah’s Kingdom whereby Jehovah’s great name will be sanctified. It does much to explain the wondrous truths of Jehovah’s Kingdom and to warm our hearts in joyful expectation of “salvation by him.”—Isa. 25:9; 40:28-31.
b Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, page 957; Vol. 2, pages 894-5.