Isaiah was one of Israel’s great prophets. His ministry lasted for many years and he prophesied of the destruction and restoration of Jerusalem. Isaiah is best known for his prophecies about the Messiah.
Isaiah means “the Lord saves”. He was the son of a man named Amoz and prophesied during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah ( Isaiah 1: 1 ).
Isaiah’s wife was a prophetess and they had two children:
- Sear-Jasube– meaning “a remnant will return” – his name was symbolic, representing the prophecy about the restoration of Israel
- Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz– “quickly to the spoils, nimbly to the plunder” – a prophecy about the plundering of Israel and Syria by the Assyrians
Isaiah is sent
In the year that Uzziah died, Isaiah received a call to prophesy to the people of Israel. He had a vision of the glory of God, in the company of sarafins. Isaiah felt unclean but a seraphim took an ember from the altar with God and touched the ember to Isaiah’s lips, who received forgiveness for his sins. God asked, “Who will I send?” and Isaiah offered to speak to the people ( Isaiah 6: 6-8 ).
See also: What does the Bible say about prophecy?
Isaiah and the kings of Judah
Isaiah counseled and rebuked the kings of Judah, giving them messages from God. He also wrote accounts of the reigns of Uzziah and Hezekiah, which are now lost.
The kingdoms of Judah and Israel were separated and in the time of King Ahaz, the king of Israel wanted to conquer Judah. God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to encourage him, because Israel was condemned and would soon be conquered by Assyria. But Ahaz paid little attention to God’s message ( Isaiah 7: 10-13 ). Therefore, Isaiah warned that Judah would also suffer at the hands of the Assyrians and the Egyptians.
Hezekiah, heir of Ahaz, was wiser and feared God. When the king of Assyria attacked Judah and surrounded Jerusalem, Hezekiah sought God’s help. The Assyrians defied the power of God, saying that He was not able to save Jerusalem. But Isaiah said that Hezekiah need not be afraid ( 2 Kings 19: 5-7 ). God acted and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and they retreated. The Assyrians were defeated and there was not even a battle!
On another occasion, Hezekiah became very ill and almost died. Hezekiah cried out to God and Isaiah prophesied that he would get better. As a sign, the only sun shade on the stairway retreated the ten steps that had already advanced that day! ( 2 Kings 20: 9-11 ) After he recovered, Isaiah warned Hezekiah that the Babylonians would conquer Judah. Hezekiah accepted the message because it would not be during his reign.
Isaiah and the Messiah
Isaiah transmitted several prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He prophesied that the Messiah would:
- Being a descendant of King David – Isaiah 11: 2
- Born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14
- Suffer and die for our sins – Isaiah 53: 4-5
All of these prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus.