Read Isaiah 1:15-23; 3:13-15; and 5:7, 8. How would you describe the prophet’s response to what he observes in society around him?
Isaiah’s opening sermon—the first five chapters—is a mix of scathing criticism of the kind of society God’s people had become, warnings of impending judgment in response to their rejection of God and continued wrongdoing, and offers of hope if the people would turn back to God and reform their lives and society. But perhaps the strongest emotion that comes through his words is a sense of grief. Based on his understanding of who God is and what He wants for His people, the prophet is mourning what has been lost, the countless forgotten people who are being hurt, and the judgment that is to come on the nation.
Isaiah continues this pattern through his prophetic ministry. He urges the people to remember what God has done for them. He also offers these people the hope of what God wants to do for them in the future. Thus, they should seek the Lord now, for this renewed relationship with Him will include repenting of their current wrongdoing and changing the way that they treat others.
In chapters 58 and 59, Isaiah specifically returns to the concern for justice. He again describes a society in which “justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter” (Isa. 59:14, NIV). But he also affirms that God is aware of it and that God will rescue His people—the “Redeemer will come” (Isa. 59:20, NIV).
Throughout the book of Isaiah, a significant part of the prophet’s attention is given to proclaiming the coming Messiah, one who would ultimately reestablish God’s reign on earth and would bring justice, mercy, healing, and restoration with Him.
Read Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-5; 42:1-7; and 53:4-6. How do these prophecies fit with what you understand of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus? What do these prophecies suggest about the purpose of His coming to this world?