Many years ago, I led a weekly midweek Bible study in the home of one of our church members. When we were coming to the end of a series of Bible studies, I asked the group if anyone had any ideas about what we should study next. The lady, whose house we were in, suggested Isaiah. Knowing that Isaiah has sixty-six chapters, I asked if we should look at selected chapters. She asked for Bible studies on the whole book! We had a long series of studies. Sometimes, we looked at two or three chapters at one meeting. A few years later, I started writing Bible reading notes. This ended up being a three-year set of notes covering the whole Bible. Here are the notes on Isaiah. I hope that they will help us to listen to and learn from all that Isaiah has to say to us, not only a few favourite chapters.
1:1-31 – God invites us to ‘come’ to Him and receive salvation – ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’. He also warns us – there will be judgment ‘if you refuse and rebel’ (18-20). God speaks to us of His great purpose of salvation: ‘God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’. He tells us that we can be saved through faith in Christ: ‘Whoever believes in Him is not condemned’. He calls us back from the way of unbelief and judgment: ‘Whoever does not believe is condemned already because he does not believe in the Name of the only Son of God’ (John 3:17-18). In Jesus Christ, there is ‘great salvation’. Make sure that you receive God’s salvation. ‘How shall we escape if we neglect or ignore such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3).
2:1-22 – God calls us to worship Him – ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord… ’ – and walk in His ways – ‘Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord’ (3,5). We are moving towards the Day when ‘the pride of men shall be humbled and brought low’, the Day when ‘the Lord alone will be exalted’ (11,12,17). How are we to get ready for the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ? God calls us to keep on worshipping Him. We are to encourage one another to keep on walking with God. ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25). Let our pride be humbled and let the Lord be exalted as we await Christ’s Return in ‘faith’, looking to Him alone for our ‘salvation’ (1 Peter 1:7-9).
3:1-26 – God’s Word calls us to make our choice. We must choose between the way of ‘the righteous’ and the way of ‘the wicked’. There is a great difference between the two ways – ‘Tell the righteous it will be well with them… Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them!…’ (10-11). We still need to hear the words of Jesus: ‘Enter by the narrow gate… only a few find the narrow gate, the hard way that leads to life’. His words are not popular. Many people dismiss His words as old-fashioned. They don’t like this kind of talk: ‘the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it’ (Matthew 7:13-14). They say, ‘ Jesus said such ‘nice’ things about love. Why does He spoil it all by saying things like this?’ When will we start listening to all that Jesus says – and not only the ‘nice’ things we like to hear?
4:1-5:17 – ‘Those who are left… will be called holy’ (4:3). The world speaks of God’s people with contempt – ‘the holy people who need to learn to live in the real world’. When God calls His people ‘holy’, He speaks in a very different way. He speaks with affection. He looks upon us with love. We are special to Him. We are precious in His eyes. God loves us and He calls us to be holy. We are to live as those who have been set apart for God. We are not to live for this world only. There is something else, something greater than this so-called ‘real world’. There is a world that is unseen and eternal, heavenly and glorious. This is our higher calling, our call to holiness. Let us ‘look to the things that are unseen and eternal’. Let us ‘press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 4:18; Philippians 3:14).
5:18-6:13 – God reveals His holiness: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts’ (3). In His holiness, we see our own sinfulness: ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ (5). God is perfectly holy: ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). When we look at ourselves in the light of God’s perfect holiness, we see the truth concerning ourselves: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). There is no room for excuses. We must confess our sin. We must pray for God’s forgiveness: ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). To those who come to Him with a true confession of sin, God speaks His Word of forgiveness: ‘your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven’ (7). The Lord has saved us. Let us serve Him. Let us pray, ‘Here am I! Send me’ (8). Let us share the Good News of His forgiveness.
7:1-25 – Isaiah looked ahead to the coming of ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us’ (14; Matthew 1:23). We look forward to the Second Coming of Immanuel: ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ presents us with a challenge: ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8). He calls us to ‘stand firm in our faith’. We must not ‘shrink back ‘ from Him. We must ‘believe and be saved’ (9; Hebrews 10:37-39). Jesus says, ‘I am coming soon’. Let us pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’. Let us pray that our ‘love’ for Him will not ‘grow cold’. Let us pray for strength to ‘stand firm to the end and be saved’ (Revelation 22:7,12,20; Matthew 24:12-13).
8:1-22 – ‘Immanuel… God is with us’ (8,10). Jesus Christ has come to be with us so that we might go to be with Him. He has come from heaven to earth so that we might go from earth to heaven. He died for us that we might live with Him. He does not return to heaven alone. He ‘brings many sons to glory’: ‘Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me’ (18; Hebrews 2:9-10,13). Jesus speaks to us of the glory of the Father’s House’. He shares this glory with us: ‘I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’. He invites us to enter this heavenly glory. He is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’. Without Him, we cannot enter heaven: ‘No one comes to the Father except through Me’. Through faith in Him, we receive ‘eternal life’ (John 14:1-3,6; 6:40).
9:1-10:4 – The prophecy has been spoken – ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given…’. The prophecy has been fulfilled – ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ – for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did – ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour… for the Mighty One has done great things for me…’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest…’ (Luke 2:10; 1:46-50; 2:14).
10:5-34 – ‘A few, the remaining few of Jacob, will return to the Mighty God…’ (21). So few people take time to worship the Lord. Are we to become discouraged? No! We must take encouragement from God’s Word: ‘The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame’(17). We must continue to pray for God’s blessing. ‘Let the flame burn brighter in the heart of the darkness, turning night to glorious day. Let the song grow louder as our love grows stronger; let it shine! let it shine!’. ‘Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory; blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy; send forth Your Word, Lord, and let there be light!’ (Mission Praise, 743,445). May God give us grace to ‘truly rely on’ Him, ‘the Lord, the Holy One of Israel’ (20).
11:1-12:6 – The family tree of ‘Jesse, the father of King David’ has a very special ‘Branch’ – Jesus Christ (11:1; Matthew 1:1,6,16). Jesus Christ has raised ‘a banner for the nations’. He is ‘the Saviour of the world’. He has died ‘for the sins of the whole world’. The ‘Good News’ is to be preached to ‘all the world’. Christ calls ‘all nations’ to ‘turn to Him’. He calls ‘all nations’ to receive the ‘forgiveness of sins’. He calls ‘all nations’ to become His ‘disciples’ (12; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Matthew 28:19). May our personal faith – ‘I will praise You, O Lord… God is my Salvation… The Lord is my Strength and my Song…’ – become our public testimony – making Christ ‘known among the nations’, telling ‘all the world’ what the Lord has done for us (12:1-2,4-5).
13:1-22 – ‘The Day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty… The Day of the Lord is coming – a cruel Day with wrath and fierce anger…’ (6,9). Christ’s Return will be a Day of salvation – ‘the Day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed’. It will also be a Day of judgment – ‘When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven… He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord…’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Don’t let the Day of the Lord ‘surprise you like a thief’. It can be a Day of ‘salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’. Trust ‘Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath’ (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4,9; 1:9-10).
14:1-23 – We look beyond ‘the king of Babylon’ (4). We see Satan, full of pride – ‘I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High’ – , fallen – ‘How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer…’ – , and brought to nothing – ‘you will be brought down to the pit of hell…’ (12-15). We look also at ‘the king of Tyre’. Again, we see Satan – ‘you were on the holy mountain of God… you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God… your heart was proud… you have come to a dreadful end…’ (Ezekiel 28:12-19). Satan (the devil) wages war against the Lord and His people. The final outcome of this war is certain – defeat for Satan. Christ has won the victory: By ‘the authority of Christ’, Satan ‘has been thrown down’. In Christ, we have the victory: ‘they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb …’ (Revelation 12:7-12).
14:24-15:9 – ‘My heart cries out for Moab’ (5). Here, we see the loving heart of God. He takes ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked’. He does ‘not want anyone to perish’. He longs for ‘everyone to come to repentance’ (Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9). We see the loving heart of God in our Saviour, Jesus Christ: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!’. We see the loving heart of God in Paul. He sees the nation of Israel turning away from Israel. He is filled with compassion: ‘I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart’ (Matthew 23:37; Romans 9:2). May God help us to feel for the lost, to look upon them with His love, to long for them to be saved.
16:1-17:3 – ‘In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a Man will sit on it – One from the house of David…’ (5). This Man is more than ‘a descendant of David’. He is Jesus Christ, ‘the Son of God’ (Romans 1:4). ‘Jesus, the Saviour reigns’. Jesus is ‘the King of Love’. He is ‘our great Redeemer… our God and King’. Let us worship ‘our glorious King’. Let us sing to Him, ‘Alleluia! What a Saviour!’. Let us, with heart and voice, ‘confess Him King of glory now’. He is ‘our King’. Let us ‘bring Him hearts that love Him’. Let us ‘bring Him thankful praise’. He puts His question to us: ‘Who will serve the King?’. Let us give our answer: We will ‘rise up’. We will ‘have done with lesser things’. We will ‘give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings’ (Church Hymnary, 296,388,371,380,300,464,479,477).
17:4-18:7 – ‘You have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge’ (10). How easy it is to forget! The Lord has loved us so much. We should remember to say, ‘Thank You’. Very often, we forget. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only ‘one of them came back’ to say ‘Thank You’. Far too often, we are like ‘the other nine’ (Luke 17:11-19). We forget to thank Him for His love. We take His love for granted. We should be celebrating. We should be letting Him know how much we love Him. Don’t forget ‘your first love’ (Revelation 2:4). Let Jesus be your first love. Let Him be your only love – for the whole of your life. ‘High heaven, that heard the solemn vow, that vow renewed shall daily hear; till in life’s latest hour I bow, and bless in death a bond so dear’ (Mission Praise, 499).
19:1-20:6 – ‘The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel my heritage”’ (19:25). ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek… you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). How can people who seem to be opposites be brought together? Jesus Christ brings them together. He breaks down ‘the barrier’. He removes ‘the dividing wall of hostility’. We are brought ‘near’ to one another through ‘the blood of Christ’. We must come to ‘the Cross’ of Christ. There, at ‘the Cross’, we will find each other. We will discover what it means to be ‘one body’ in Christ (Ephesians 2:13-16). When Satan comes, creating misunderstanding, filling our minds with suspicion and undermining our hopes of peace, let’s remind him of God’s Word, ‘You are all one in Christ Jesus’.
21:1-17 – We live in a situation of conflict. We are at war with the enemy. Satan is God’s enemy. Satan is our enemy. Satan is a very determined enemy. Satan is a defeated enemy. The words of verse 9 – ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon…’ – , repeated again in Revelation 14:8; 18:2, assure us that Satan will not prevail over the Lord and His people. The victory is the Lord’s. He gives His victory to us. When the going gets tough, when Satan seems to have the upper hand, let’s remember this: ‘Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe, but the King’s own army none can overthrow. Round His standard ranging, victory is secure, for His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure’. Let us not hesitate to commit ourselves to Christ: ‘Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine, we are on the Lord’s side; Saviour, we are Thine’ (Church Hymnary, 479).
22:1-25 – Here, we read about ‘the Valley of Vision’ (1,5). The Lord Himself is to be our Vision: ‘Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art, Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping Thy presence my light’ (Church Hymnary, 87). Down in the valley, the mountain-top experience seems a long way off. What are we to do when everything seems to be hard-going? When there seems to be no way out of the valley, no way back to the mountain-top, we must keep on ‘looking to Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). In the ‘valley’, we must learn to say, ‘My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God’. Let your ‘valley’ become your ‘valley of vision’, the place where you are learning to ‘turn your eyes upon Jesus’ (Mission Praise, 470,712).
23:1-18 – ‘Look at the land of the Babylonians, this people that is now of no account!’ (13). To the nation which turns to Him, the Lord speaks His promise of blessing – ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord …’ (Psalm 33:12). To the nation which turns away from Him, God speaks His warning of judgment – ‘For lack of guidance a nation falls’ (Proverbs 11:14). We must choose. Will we choose to listen to the Lord, to submit our lives to Him, to follow the guidance He has given to us in His Word? Or, will we ignore Him and go our own way? The way of the Lord leads to blessing – ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’. The way of self leads to judgment – ‘sin is a disgrace to any people’ (Proverbs 14:34). What will it be? – ‘Look at the Babylonians…!’ or ‘They will see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).
24:1-23 – ‘They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord, exalt the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One”’ (14-16). What a beautiful picture of a land that is enjoying God’s blessing, praising Him and giving glory to Him! Looking around us, we see a very different picture – ‘The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws… therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt’ (5-6). Can the dark picture of sin and guilt be turned into the brighter picture of salvation and rejoicing? God ‘is able to do so much more than we can ask for, or even imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20). Be bold. Pray that God will send revival in our time.
25:1-26:9 – ‘O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name… You have done marvellous things’ (25:1). We remember what God has done for us. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour. We rejoice in Jesus Christ who died for us. We rejoice in Jesus Christ who rose again for us. We look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We look forward to the Day when ‘He will swallow up death for ever’. On that Day, ‘the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces’. On that Day, we will look back and say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us’. On that Day, we will ‘rejoice and be glad in His salvation’ (25:8-9). Here and now, let us learn to ‘trust in the Lord’. We can trust in Him ‘for ever’. He is ‘the everlasting Rock’ – ‘the Rock of our salvation’ (4; Psalm 95:1).
26:10-27:13 – Jesus is our Saviour – ‘Lord, You establish peace for us’; ‘We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’. We cannot save ourselves. We can only look away from ourselves to Jesus – and be saved by Him: ‘all that we have accomplished You have done for us’; ‘By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God’ (26:12; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8). Jesus is our Lord – ‘Lord, our God… You alone are our Lord’. How are we to live once we have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? – ‘Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him’. We are not to ‘keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness’. We are to live a life of ‘good works’ (26:13; Colossians 2:6; Romans 6:1; Ephesians 2:10).
28:1-22 – Jesus Christ is ‘the precious Cornerstone’. He is ‘the sure Foundation’ (16). Jesus is the Name of our salvation – ‘Salvation is found in no-one else… there is no other name… by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:10-12). There is only one ‘Foundation’ for our faith – ‘Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 3:11). He is the ‘chosen and precious Cornerstone’ – ‘to you who believe, this Stone is precious’ (1 Peter 2:6-7). Build your life on Christ, ‘the solid Rock’ – ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim, but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. When weary in this earthly race, I rest on His unchanging grace… When earthly hopes are swept away, He will uphold me on that Day. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand’ (Matthew 7:24-27; Mission Praise, 473).
28:23-29:16 – ‘The wisdom of the wise will perish’ (29:14). There is another ‘wisdom’, a ‘wisdom’ which shall not perish, a ‘wisdom’ which is ‘wiser than man’s wisdom’. Christ is ‘the Wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24-25). With Christ as our Saviour, we ‘shall not perish’. Through faith in Him, we receive the ‘wisdom’ which brings ‘salvation’ (John 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:15). Jesus Christ is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (John14:6). He is the Way to true wisdom. He is the Truth upon which true wisdom is based. He is the Life which is based on true wisdom. He is true Wisdom. We must not seek wisdom apart from faith in Jesus Christ – ‘the world did not know God through wisdom’. There is one true wisdom which does ‘not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ – faith in ‘Christ crucified’ (1 Corinthians 1:21-23; 2:1-5).
29:17-30:17 – ‘In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, “No!”’ (15-16). God wants to bless us. He wants to be our ‘salvation’. He wants to be our ‘strength’. How does God bless us? How does He become our ‘salvation’? How does He become our ‘strength’? We must want His blessing. We must want His ‘salvation’. We must want His ‘strength’. We must return to Him and rest in Him. We must quietly listen to His Word, putting our trust in Him. There is no ‘salvation’ without ‘returning and rest’. There is no ‘strength’ without ‘quietness and trust’. God does not force Himself upon us. We can say, ‘No! I will have none of it’. God wants to bless you. Will you say, ‘Yes, Lord! I want You to be my “salvation”. I want You to be my “strength”’?
30:18-31:19 – ‘Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!’ (1). It is so easy to forget the Lord. We try to go it alone, and we forget to look to Him for help. Even when we forget Him, He does not forget us. When we turn our backs on Him, He calls us to ‘return to Him’ (6). He reminds us that our true help is found in Him: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 124:8). We need not look around here, there and everywhere for an answer to the question, ‘Where does my help come from?’. There is only one true answer to this question: ‘My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (Psalm 121:1-2).
32:1-20 – ‘Abandoned… deserted… a wasteland…’ (14). Can such a desperate situation be turned around? Yes! When ‘the Spirit is poured upon us from on high… the wilderness becomes a fruitful field’ (15). We must not lose heart. We must keep on calling upon the Lord. We must believe that God is able to turn things around. When the situation seems hopeless, we must put our trust in ‘the God of hope’. We must pray that God will send His blessing: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ (Romans 15:13). ‘Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name! In works of sovereign power, come, shake the earth again… Restore, O Lord, in all the earth Your fame, and in our time revive the Church that bears Your Name’ (Mission Praise, 579).
33:1-24 – ‘O Lord…Be our strength every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble’ (2). We are not to pray to the Lord only ‘in the time of trouble’. We are to pray to Him ‘every morning’. We are not to keep God at a distance, calling on Him only when things are going badly. When we keep God at a distance, our life tells its own sad story – ‘O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer’. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and everything becomes very different – ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!’ (James 4:8; Mission Praise, 746). Let God’s ‘love’ come to you ‘new every morning’ – ‘fresh as the morning , as sure as the sunrise’ (Lamentations 3:22-23).
34:1-17 – God calls us to ‘draw near’ to Him. He wants us to ‘pay attention’ to Him. We must ‘listen’ to His Word (1). God’s Word is not always what we want to hear. It will always be what we need to hear. ‘The Lord is angry with all nations’ (2). We don’t like to hear about God’s anger. We prefer to be told ‘You’re doing fine’. We need to hear about God’s anger. We need to hear about how far we have wandered away from God – ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us turned to his own way’. We are sinners. We have turned away from the Lord. We have chosen our own way rather than His way. We must hear this ‘bad news’ before we can really appreciate the ‘Good News’ – ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Jesus’, ‘Christ died for us while we were still sinners’, ‘Christ died for our sins’ (53:6; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
35:1-10 – What blessings are given to those who draw near to God – ‘Your God… will come and save you’ (4). The Good News of Christ comes to us as a call to faith – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot remain the same. We are called to live a new life. We must travel on the Lord’s ‘highway’ – ‘the Way of Holiness’ (8). This is ‘the Way’ which leads to ‘everlasting joy’ (10). This ‘Way’ is so different from the world’s way. The world has no time for those who seek to live a holy life. This is what Jesus says about the world’s way of life: ‘the gate is wide and the way is wide that leads to destruction’ (Matthew 7:13). Whatever the world may say, we must never forget this: ‘Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14).
36:1-37:20 – Hezekiah is facing a very powerful enemy – ‘Sennacherib, king of Assyria’ (36:1). Hezekiah prays for deliverance – ‘O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand’. He prays for salvation – ‘O Lord our God, save us…’ (37:20). We face an even more powerful enemy – Satan, ‘the ruler of this world’, ‘the god of this world’. We must pray for deliverance. We must look to the Lord for salvation. We must pray with faith in Jesus Christ. Satan ‘has no power over’ Jesus. When Jesus was ‘lifted up from the earth’ (crucified), He won a mighty victory over Satan. Jesus died for us so that Satan, ‘the ruler of this world’ might be ‘cast out’. Satan’s power is broken when ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ’ shines ‘in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (John 14:30;12:31-33; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
37:21-38:8 – Sennacherib has no power over God’s people. They are protected by a superior power, the power of God – ‘This is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here… By the way that he came he will return…”’. This is God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer for salvation – ‘I will defend this city to save it’ (33-35). What a great God we have! He is the God of our salvation. He will answer our prayer for salvation. God loves us: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’. Christ died for us: ‘God made Him who knew no sin (Christ) to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’. Christ promises to receive all who come to Him for salvation: ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’ (John 3:16; 6:37; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
38:9-39:8 – ‘The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our life in the House of the Lord’ (20). Some people say, ‘I can be a Christian without going to Church’. Here, we have something very different. Believing in the Lord leads to worshipping the Lord. It doesn’t make sense to say, ‘I believe in the Lord but I’m not interested in worshipping Him’. We believe in Christ. We are saved by Him. We receive a new Spirit of worship: ‘God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Father, my Father!”’ (Galatians 4:4). Let’s have none of this ‘believing without worshipping’ – ‘Abba Father, let me be Yours and Your alone. May my will for ever be evermore Your own. Never let my heart grow cold, never let me go. Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone’ (Mission Praise, 3).
40:1-31 – ‘The Lord is the everlasting God… He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…’ (28-31). Far too often, we say, ‘I can’t’ when we really mean ‘I won’t’. ‘I can’t’ – This is an insult to the power of God. The Lord calls us to do something special for Him. We say, ‘I can’t’. What are we really saying? This is what we are saying – ‘Lord, I don’t believe Your promise – “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”’. Don’t say, ‘I can’t’. Don’t get so busy with other things that you fail to wait upon the Lord and renew your strength. When the Lord calls you to serve Him, say, ‘Yes, Lord, I will wait upon You. I will renew my strength. I will do Your will’.
41:1-29 – ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you… I am the Lord your God who… says to you, Do not fear; I will help you… I Myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel’ (10-14). When we have something important to say, we repeat ourselves. We want to make sure that our message gets across. We say, ‘Do you get the point? Do you see what I mean?’. This is what God is doing here. Three times, He says, ‘I will help you’. He wants us to get the point. He wants to leave us in no doubt. He wants us to be sure of this: ‘I will help you’. He doesn’t want us to go around thinking, ‘I wonder if God will help me?’. He really does want to help us. He says it once. He says it twice. He says it three times: ‘I will help you’.
42:1-25 – ‘Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations’ (1). These words turn our thoughts towards the Lord Jesus Christ. At His baptism, we hear the voice of the Father – ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’. At His baptism, we see ‘the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on Him’. Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s Word of prophecy: ‘All mankind shall see the Saviour sent from God’. After His resurrection, we hear Jesus Himself speaking. He says, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…’ (Matthew 12:15-21; 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Luke 3:6). Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit.
43:1-28 – ‘I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour… I am the Lord, apart from Me there is no saviour’ (3,11). Isaiah’s words turn our thoughts towards Jesus our Saviour. The Name of Jesus is the Name of our salvation: ‘Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). ‘How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear’; ‘There is a Name I love to hear… It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free; it tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea. O how I love the Saviour’s Name, the sweetest Name on earth’; ‘Name of all majesty… See now what God has done, sending His only Son, Christ the beloved One, Jesus is Lord!’ (Church Hymnary, 376; Mission Praise, 672,481).
44:1-28 – ‘I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants’ (3). Here, Isaiah is looking forward to the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost – ‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit…’ (Acts 2:4). It is ‘the Spirit’ who brings ‘streams of living water’ into our lives. It is ‘the Spirit’ who sends ‘streams of living water’, flowing out from us to others (John 7:37-39). We are to ‘be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ – Let your life be full of praise to God: ‘filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
45:1-25 – ‘I am the Lord… I will strengthen you’ (5). How does the Lord strengthen us? He strengthens us with salvation. He comes to us as our ‘God and Saviour’. He calls us to come to Him and receive salvation: ‘Turn to Me and be saved…’. Through faith in Christ, we are ‘saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation’ (15,17,21-22). We are strengthened with ‘everlasting salvation’. We look ahead to Christ’s Return ‘in power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30). On that Day, the glory of our Saviour will be fully revealed: ‘At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father’. Jesus is our Saviour. His ‘Name is above every name’. Our ‘strength’ comes from Him (23-24; Philippians 2:10-11).
46:1-47:15 – ‘I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me… I am bringing My righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed’ (46:9,13). God does not keep His distance from us. He comes near to us – ‘The Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the Word of faith which we preach). God does not delay His salvation. He comes to us with His promise: ‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:8-9). Jesus is the Word of God. He is our Saviour. He is our Lord (John 1:1,14; 20:28,31). Let us worship Jesus. He is ‘the Holy One of Israel’. He is ‘our Redeemer’. ‘The Lord Almighty is His Name’ (47:4). ‘O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord’ (Church Hymnary, 191).
48:1-22 – ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go’ (17). God knows what is best for us. He helps us to say, ‘As for God, His way is perfect’ (Job 23:10; 2 Samuel 22:31).How does God help us to see that His way is best? He invites us to consider His love. We are to think about all that He has done for us – ‘the mercies of God’. He calls us to dedicate our lives to Him – ‘present your bodies, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’. Dedicating our lives to the Lord – This is ‘our ‘spiritual worship’. We are not to live for this world – ‘Do not be conformed to this world’. We are to live for the Lord – ‘be transformed by the renewal of your mind’. ‘God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect’. Learn this for yourself. Dedicate your life to Him (Romans 12:1-2).
49:1-26 – ‘I, the Lord, am your Saviour, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’. We are not to keep this to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know’ (26). ‘Jesus, the Name to sinners dear, the Name to sinners given, it scatters all their guilty fear, it turns their hell to heaven’ – This is not something to keep to ourselves. We must make Christ known to others – ‘Oh, that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace. His only righteousness I show, His saving truth proclaim: ‘tis all my business here below to cry: “Behold the Lamb!”. Happy, if with my latest breath I may but gasp His Name: preach Him to all, and cry in death: “Behold, behold the Lamb!”’ (Mission Praise, 385). ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News’ (Mark 16:15).
50:1-51:8 – ‘The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught’ (50:4). We are to listen to God. We are to speak for God. We cannot speak for God unless we are listening to Him. Before we can speak for God, we must speak to Him. We must pray, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:9-10). Listening to God comes before speaking for God. First, we wait on the Lord – ‘I waited patiently for the Lord’. Then, we witness for the Lord – ‘He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God’. Waiting on the Lord and witnessing for Him, we will win others for Him – ‘Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’ (Psalm 40:1-3).
51:9-23 – ‘Awake, awake!… O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by… The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them… I am the Lord your God… I have put My words in your mouth…’ (9,11,15-16). We must pray for revival in this generation. Pray for a revival of joyful worship. Pray for a revival of powerful preaching. Where will revival come from? It comes from the Lord. God hears the prayers of His people – ‘Awake, awake!… O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by’. God answers the prayers of His people – ‘The ransomed of the Lord will return… Gladness and joy will overtake them’. Revival comes when God sends His Word of power – ‘I am the Lord your God… I have put My words in your mouth’.
52:1-12 – ‘Good News’ – Let us ‘shout for joy’. ‘Good News’ – Let us sing ‘songs of joy’. There is the Good News of God’s reign – ‘Your God reigns’. There is the Good News of our redemption – ‘The Lord has redeemed’ us. We are not to keep the Good News to ourselves. This ‘news of happiness’ is to be shared with everyone. We must let ‘all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God’. ‘Christ died for our sins’ – This is Good News. Christ was ‘raised on the third day’ – This is Good News. ‘Jesus is Lord’ – This is Good News. This is the Good News we must ‘pass on’ to others. In our world, there is so much bad news. We must not let the Good News be drowned out by the bad news. We must make sure that the people hear the Good News – loud and clear (7-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Mission Praise, 249).
52:13-53:12 – In this remarkable prophecy, we see Jesus Christ, crucified for us – ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Him’ – and risen from the dead – ‘After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life’ (6,11). ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ (Mission Praise, 745). We might put this question to Isaiah. In one sense, he wasn’t there. He lived long before the time of Christ. In another sense, he was there. God opened his eyes. God gave him a glimpse of what was going to happen in the future. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ In one sense, we weren’t there. These things happened long before we were even born. In another sense, we were there. It was our sins which Christ took with Him to the Cross. It was our sins which He left behind Him when He rose from the dead (Romans 4:25).
54:1-17 – ‘The Lord’ is not only ‘the Holy One of Israel’. He is ‘the God of the whole earth’ (5). The Gospel is for ‘all nations’. The ministry of Christ’s apostles began in ‘Jerusalem’, but it did not end there. The Gospel was to be taken ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). Taking the Gospel out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth was not easy. The apostles faced much opposition. They stood upon God’s promise: ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper’ (17). When we face opposition, we must take our stand on the Word of God: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31). Even when our words seem to fall on stony ground, we must keep on speaking the Word of God’s love: ‘With everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer’ (8).
55:1-13 – The Word of God is spoken – ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found…’ (6-7). No one seems to be listening. What are we to do? We must remember God’s promise: ‘My Word will not return to Me empty’ (11). We do not see all that God is doing. He is doing much more than we realize – ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts…’ (8-9). We may be feeling very despondent – ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’ (Luke 5:5). The Lord still comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘You shall go out with joy…’ (12). Before there is joy, there may be many tears. When there seems to be nothing but disappointments, we must remember the Lord’s promise: ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy…’ (Psalm 126:5-6). We must not ‘judge before the time…’ (1 Corinthians 4:5).
56:1-57:10 – ‘My House will be called a House of prayer for all nations’ (56:7). God is gathering His people together ‘from every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Revelation 5:9). ‘Salvation comes from the Jews’, but it doesn’t end there – ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (the rest of the world)’ (John 4:22; Romans 1:16). We were ‘foreigners’. Now, we are ‘no longer foreigners…’(56:6; Ephesians 2:19). Christ has ‘broken down the dividing wall of hostility’. ‘We are no longer Jews or Gentiles’. ‘We are one in Christ Jesus’. Christ has ‘made the two one’. We ‘have been brought near through the blood of Christ’. We are ‘one body’ – Jews and Gentiles brought together ‘through the Cross’ of Christ (Ephesians 2:13-16; Galatians 3:28).
57:11-58:14 – ‘To the far and to the near’, God speaks His Word of ‘peace’ (57:19). Christ is God’s Word of ‘peace’ (Ephesians 2:13-14). Christ is for ‘the Jews’. Christ is for ‘the Gentiles’. There is one way of salvation. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. We must put our ‘faith’ in Him. Through Him, we have ‘peace with God’ (Romans 3:29-30; 5:1). God’s Word invites us to ‘call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved’ (58:9; Acts 2:21). In Christ, there is true ‘joy’ – ‘I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation…’ (58:14; 61:10). We rejoice in Jesus Christ. He is ‘the High and Exalted One’. He has come from His ‘high and holy place’. He has become ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God with us’. He is our peace and joy, our Saviour and our God’ (57:15; Matthew 1:21, 23; John 20:28).
59:1-21 – What are we to do ‘when the enemy comes in like a flood’? We must look away from ourselves to Jesus Christ. He has ‘come’ as our ‘Redeemer’. Trusting in Jesus Christ, we must pray that ‘the Spirit of the the Lord will come like a rushing stream’. We must pray that ‘the wind of the Lord’ will come sweeping through us with much blessing (19-20). In ourselves, there is no blessing – ‘salvation… is far from us’. ‘Our sins have separated us from God’. We need to receive ‘salvation’ from the Lord (11,2,17). We must not delude ourselves. Satan is stronger than we are. We have no hope of victory over Satan – until we put our trust in Jesus Christ. Without Christ, we are helpless and hopeless. With Him, we shall be victorious. He is ‘the Rock of our salvation’ (Matthew 7:24-27; 2 Samuel 22:47; 1 Corinthians 10:4).
60:1-22 – ‘Arise, shine; for your Light has come… the Lord will be your everlasting Light’ (1,19-20). Jesus Christ is ‘the Light of the world’. When we ‘follow Him’, we ‘will not walk in darkness’. We ‘will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). We are living in difficult times. We are surrounded by much darkness. We must not be discouraged – ‘the lamp of God has not yet gone out’ (1 Samuel 3:3). When the darkness threatens to overcome the Light, we must take encouragement from God’s Word – ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5). When the darkness seems to be everywhere, put your trust in the Lord – The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?’ – and let ‘His Word’ be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path’ (Psalms 27:1; 119:105).
61:1-11 – ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (1-2). Jesus has fulfilled these words (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus has come, ‘proclaiming the Good News of God’. He tells us that ‘the time has come’. This is the time of opportunity, the time for making our response to Jesus Christ. He calls for our response – ‘Repent and believe the Good News!’. He calls us to make our response now – ‘now is the acceptable time… now is the day of salvation’ (Mark 1:14-15; 2 Corinthians 6:2). There will come a time when the time of opportunity comes to an end. When Christ returns ‘with power and great glory’, it will be ‘the Day of vengeance of our God’. We do not know when Christ will return. Get ‘ready’ for His Return. Put your ‘faith’ in Him (2; Matthew 24:30,36,44; 25:13; Luke 18:8).
62:1-12 – God has given us ‘a new Name’. It is ‘the Name which is above every name’, the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (2; Philippians 2:9-11). Christ loves us. He has given Himself for us. He calls us His ‘Bride’ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2,9). Through faith in Christ, we have become ‘the Holy People’. Through Him, we are ‘the Redeemed of the Lord’. We have been ‘Sought After’ by the Lord. In Him, we are ‘the City No Longer Deserted’ (12; 1 Peter 2:9-9-10; 1:18-19; Luke 19:10; John 14:18). ‘There is a Name I love to hear… It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free. It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea… Jesus, the Name I love so well, the Name I love to hear!… O how I love the Saviour’s Name, the sweetest Name on earth!’ (Mission Praise, 672).
63:1-19 – The Lord our God is ‘mighty to save’. He has shown His ‘steadfast love’ to us. He has become our ‘Saviour’. ‘In His love’, He has ‘redeemed’ us (1,7-9). We read here about the power of God – He is ‘mighty to save’ – and the love of God – ‘In His love’, He has ‘redeemed’ us. What love the Lord has for us – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’ (John 3:16)! What power there is in the Gospel of love – ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16)! What a ‘Saviour’ we have – Our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him’ (Hebrews 7:25)! Think of Jesus Christ. Think of His love, His power, His salvation. Thank Him for all He has done for you – ‘Alleluia! What a Saviour!’ (Church Hymnary, 380)
64:1-65:12 – We confess our sins to God – ‘We sinned… All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. We look to God for forgiveness – ‘Do not remember our sins for ever’ (64:5-6,9). We know that God hears and answers our prayer. Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to our prayer. He has ‘come down’ from heaven to earth. ‘The Son of the Most High’ has been ‘born’ into our world. Jesus Christ is God’s way of saying ‘Here am I! Here am I!’. He is ‘God with us’ (64:1; 65:1; Luke 1:32,35; Matthew 1:23). ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’. Let us ‘confess our sins’. ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’ – Let us come to God with faith, believing that He ‘will forgive our sins’. (1 John 1:7,9). Let us rejoice in Jesus, our Saviour!
65:13-66:4 – What a contrast there is between those who belong to Christ – ‘My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts’ – and those who have refused to come to Christ for salvation – ‘You will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit’ (14)! God is preparing a great future ‘for those who love Him’ – ‘I will create a new heaven and a new earth’. He is calling us away from our sins – ‘Past things will not be remembered. They will not come to mind’. He is calling us to His ‘holy mountain’. How can we enter into our full enjoyment of God’s eternal salvation? God’s Word tells us: ‘I will pay attention to those who are humble and sorry for their sins and who tremble at My Word’ (65:17,25; 66:2; 1 Corinthians 2:9). Make sure that you belong to Christ. Put your faith in Him (John 3:18,36).
66:5-24 – ‘Hear the Word of the Lord’. How are we to listen to God’s Word? We are to ‘tremble at His Word’. We are to ‘drink deeply with delight’ (5,10-11). There is to be the fear of the Lord. There is to be joy in the Lord. These are not opposites. They belong together – ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Rejoice in the Lord’ (Philippians 2:12; 3:1). We hear God’s warning, and we ‘tremble’. To those who ‘sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth’, God says this: ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:26,31). We hear God’s promise, and we ‘rejoice’: ‘The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27). Let us ‘hear the Word of the Lord’ – the warning as well as the promise!