The Study of the Prophet Isaiah
The name Isaiah is the Hebrew word ‘ysha yahu’. His name means ‘Jehovah saves’, or ‘Jehovah is salvation.’ In Greek, it is the word ‘Esaias’. It is similar to the name Joshua, and to the name Jesus.
This Old Testament prophet has been the subject of many attacks over the centuries. In recent times, some have tried to say that the ‘Isaiah’ that wrote this book had to be at least 5 people, who over time recorded history rather than for them to believe that one person, in that time, could have been so accurate in the revelations of this book. Yet, that is not the only attack. In A.D. 90, when the Jewish religious leaders were trying to put together their canon, they excluded a portion of what Isaiah wrote, a part of the book of Chronicles. This part had revelations of the Messiah that Isaiah was describing so precise to the coming of Jesus’ that the early church Christians had won many Jews to the Lord, showing them these passages. So, those were removed. When Augustine and Jerome compiled the Christian canon, they used the canon of that 90 AD period for the "Old Testament’, so that part of Isaiah’s writings were not included in our text. Over the years, I have located this text, studied it, done a translation of it, and will present it, along with a presentation of the canonical Isaiah, and show how this helps us understand greatly the canonical part. Together, with both books, we will look at Isaiah’s message to us that he received from God. The message is vital in these last days, it is a ‘reasoning together’ of God with mankind, regarding His ultimate purpose with us.
Isaiah 1:16-20 (KJV)
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
THE WRITINGS OF ISAIAH
The writings of Isaiah have no rival for imagery, for descriptions that are brilliant and easily revered. Effectiveness and persuasiveness are shown throughout the writings of Isaiah.
and metaphors are in Isaiah’s writings:
Isaiah 1:13 (KJV)
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Isaiah 5:18 (KJV)
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
Isaiah 8:8 (KJV)
8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
Isaiah 10:21-22 (KJV)
...thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
Isaiah 28:17 (KJV)
17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
Isaiah 28:20 (KJV)
20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
Isaiah 30:28 (KJV)
28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.
Isaiah 30:30 (KJV)
30 And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
He uses interrogation and dialogue:
Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
He employs antithesis and alliteration:
Isaiah 1:18-19 (KJV)
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 3:24 (KJV)
24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
Isaiah 17:10 (KJV)
10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
Isaiah 17:12 (KJV)
12 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
He uses hyperbole and parables:
Isaiah 2:7 (KJV)
7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:
Isaiah 5:1-7 (KJV)
1 Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
Isaiah 28:23-29 (KJV)
23 Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.
24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?
25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?
26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.
27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.
28 Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.
29 This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.
ISAIAH’S LITERARY STYLE
Isaiah is famous for the richness and size of his vocabulary. For instance, Ezekiel used 1535 different words, Jeremiah used 1653, the psalmists used 2170, but Isaiah in the canonical book alone uses 2186 different words. He had an immense vocabulary for God to use in giving him this message. The message is God’s in Isaiah’s writings, but as the ‘secretary’ of God, he is using his vocabulary to express what God wants said. God was able to give through Isaiah, a beautiful, descriptive, poetic, rhythmic message.
The Septuagint uses "Amos" for the name of Isaiah’s father. It is clear that from "Apocalypse of Isaiah 10:22, that Isaiah is regarded as a prophet's son. Amos prophesied during the reign of Uzziah. Isaiah began to prophesy "in the year that King Uzziah died" (Isaiah 6:1). Both Amos and Isaiah preached pure monotheism, in that both denied the reality of any other god. They spoke of the devil, and false demonic powers who attempt to hurt God's program. The people were to heed the warnings of these two great prophets, and the people were later tested to see if they had thus responded. Two generations later, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel claimed that they had not responded, and that the people were "traitors" to the revealed messages of God through these prophets. (See Jeremiah 3:7-8, 10-11) Israel, and Judah had the Lord's plan, His will, and His messages from the prophets, and they did not heed it.
Isaiah was a close friend and confidant to Hezekiah. Uzziah seemed to have used Isaiah to have researched and written the books that we know as I and II Kings. Isaiah was well-read in the books of the temple, and in the hagiography available in that day. He did not consider himself inferior to the king, so he sat upon the couch of the king.
Isaiah had two sons.
Isaiah 8:17-18 (KJV)
17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
This passage is quoted in Hebrews, by its author, probably Paul.
Hebrews 2:13 (KJV)
13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
Shear-Jashub was the first son.
Shear-Jashub means "a remnant shall return". This son accompanied Isaiah when he went to meet Ahaz (Isaiah 7:3). Isaiah uses the name of this son in his oft repeated sermon that a remnant shall return. (Isaiah 10:21, "And the remnant shall return"). Isaiah was likely a student of his father Amos, and now is continuing the tradition by leading his son, Shear-Jashub, about with him, and allowing him to see and hear the prophecies as they occur. Shear-Jashub was the likely inheritor of his father's ministry, and was the likely author of the last part of the ‘Apocalypse of Isaiah, for it records the death of Isaiah, and his son could likely be the one constantly present to see and hear all the events contained.
The first child, Shear-jashub, was a sign that the Judah was not to be totally destroyed, and that this son would not be grown enough to know good from evil before the kings of Syria and Ephraim would be killed.
Isaiah 7:3 (KJV)
3 Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear jashub, thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;
Isaiah 7:16 (KJV)
16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
Maher-shalal-hash-baz was the second son.
Isaiah 8:1-4 (KJV)
1 Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Maher shalal hash baz.
2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Maher shalal hash baz.
4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
This son’s name meant "haste-spoil-hurry-prey". These names teach that Assyria would spoil Damascus and Samaria. During that time, God would still be with Judah, and protect a remnant. The prophet and his children are thus signs of the nation's future.
In Hebrews, the writer ignores the historical meaning of the names, and message, and puts a messianic meaning into it. He shows us that the oneness of Jesus and his people, and the necessity of his assuming their nature. Just as the message of Isaiah, and his sons’ names was fulfilled, we are told that God is ready, with His children, to carry out God’s Word.
Isaiah 6:1-5 (KJV)
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah had a vision of God, and this is something that many believe is rare, or even impossible. It caused some to turn on Isaiah, when he made this claim.
In Exodus 33:20, Moses had said that one could not see the face of God and live, but one could see God. We find in Exodus 19:11-24, 24:12-18, Deut. 5:4, 22-29 that Moses stood in a cloud on Mt. Sinai and saw God.
"the Lord spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend."
Even the heathen knew that God had been seen face to face.
Numbers 14:14 (KJV)
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
Exodus 33:12-23 shows that Moses saw God's "back parts".
Exodus 34:5-9 indicates that the Lord descended in a cloud and stood with Moses there.
Deuteronomy 34;5-7 establishes that God was seen at the time of Moses' death.
Numbers 12:4-5 shows that Moses, Aaron, and Miriam saw God.
I Kings 19:11-18 demonstrates that Elijah saw the Lord God.
Amos 9:1 establishes that Amos saw the Lord. "I saw the Lord standing upon the altar."
Revelation 4;2-11, 5;1-1-13, 6:16, 7:9-17, 8:3-5, 11:16, 12:5, 14:1-5, 19:1-10, 21:3-7, 22:1-5 show that John saw the Lord.
Ezekiel 1:2-28, 8:1-4, 9:1-4, 10:1-5, 7-22, 40:1-4, 6, 8-14, 24, 28, 32, 45-48, 41:1, 13, 15-20, 43:1-7, indicate that Ezekiel saw God.
Daniel 7:9-14, 10:5-9 reveal that Daniel saw God.
Zechariah 1:8-20, 2:1-13, 3:1-2, 4:1-5, 5:2-5, 6:4-5 show that Zechariah saw God.
Genesis 5:22-24, 6:8-9, Hebrews 11:5-7, Jude 14-15 and many passages in the book of Enoch confirm that Enoch saw God.
So why should people have been upset that Isaiah saw the Lord in this vision and also in Isaiah 6:1? Why do people shy from expecting to see God in vision, or in dream, today? Why do we suspect the sanity or reliability of someone who has visions of the Lord in our day. We have likely hindered our own blessings from God of His majestic presence.
ISAIAH WAS A PROPHET
2 Kings 20:1-11 (KJV)
1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,
3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.
6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day?
9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that He hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.
11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.
2 Chronicles 26:22 (KJV)
22 Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.
As a man of God, a prophet, Isaiah had a calling from God. He worked in the palace for much of his ministry, with Hezekiah, with Manasseh. He compiled the writings of history into the book of Chronicles and Kings. He wrote several prophetic books. He met with other prophets of Judah and Israel and schooled them, shared and received from them prophetic words. We shall study this man’s ministry, and the message God gave him for that day, and for our time.
Josephus tells how Cyrus decided to return the Jews back to rebuild their temple after reading about himself in Isaiah, a book written over 200 years before Cyrus was even born. Isaiah had named ‘Cyrus’ by name, with God’s direction, of course. This prophecy of Isaiah had its great effect some 200 years after he wrote it. The prophecies from God, given through Isaiah, are still having effect in this time. We need to see what Isaiah was told by God to speak to us.
Christ and the writers of the New Testament believed and confirmed faith in Isaiah’s writings. In the New Testament, there are nearly 60 quotations and allusions to Isaiah’s writings. Only seven books in the New Testament are there no allusions or references to Isaiah’s writings.
We will study now the two prophetic writings of Isaiah, i.e. the canonical book found in our Old Testament, and the part of Chronicles that the Jewish leaders removed in 90 A.D. because it spoke so clearly of the Messiah, and its message clearly showed that Jesus was truly this Messiah.
THE BOOK OF ISAIAH,
THE APOCALYPSE OF ISAIAH
are two separate books.
We are all familiar with the Book of Isaiah in the Bible, but most are not aware of the second book. This second book is mentioned in the Bible, and for long had caused many to wonder what the Book had to say. The book of II Chronicles calls it the "VISION (OR APOCALYPSE) OF ISAIAH".
II Chronicles 32:32
"The rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold they are written in the 'Vision of Isaiah,' the prophet, the son of Amos, and in the book of the kings of Judah, and Israel."
The ‘acts of Hezekiah’ are not ‘written’ in the canonical book of Isaiah, so this is a separate book to which this refers. The ‘Apocalypse of Isaiah’ was used in the early church, and is this book referred to in Chronicles.
For many years this book has been unavailable for us to read, and most saints of this generation have not read, or heard of it. For the first 300 years of the church, this book was read, enjoyed, and used mightily in witnessing to the Jews, of the Messiah Who is easily shown to be Christ Jesus by this book.
The church in Ethiopia has not, as have most of the Christian denominations, rejected many books. Our canon of Scripture has 66 books, 39 Old Testament books, and 27 New Testament books. The Abyssinian canon consists of 46 Old Testament books, and 35 New Testament books. Their canon has the same as ours, plus:
The Shepherd of Hermas
Epistles of Clement
The Prophecy of Ezra
The Ascension (or Apocalypse) of Isaiah
The Book of Adam
Joseph ben Gorion
Jerome and Augustine rejected some of these books, and accepted some. In the following years some have been deleted from circulation and study. The church in Ethiopia possesses these books in the most ancient form. This is the closest we can get to the canon of the New Testament church. Until the fourth century, the early church used these books in their worship, and read them as we read books by Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Grant Jeffries, etc. Since the fourth century many have missed reading these books. The one herein was called by Origen in the third century the "APOCALYPSE OF ISAIAH". Jerome and Epiphanius of the fourth century called it THE ASCENSION OF ISAIAH.
When Jerome and Augustine compiled the canon of Scripture, they accepted for the Old Testament, the books that the Jewish religion had accepted in 90 A.D. in Jamnia. The Jewish people had just 20 years earlier seen their Temple and Jerusalem destroyed, and had for almost 60 years seen the Christian community use certain prophetic books. The Jewish people were discouraged and became anti-prophecy, and very dominantly law-oriented.
Therefore, the Jewish people accepted only a portion of this book to be studied as "Hagiography" (i.e. books considered to be "wise writings" and authentic works although not put into the canon of Scripture). They accepted the portion which described the death of Isaiah. The rest of the book was too descriptive of the first coming of Jesus. For the revival period of the early church, the Christians had successfully used this book to witness and persuade the Jews were still rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. The apocryphal portions of this book which showed so perfectly that Jesus was the real Messiah, were thereby rejected by the Jewish people.
Jerome and Augustine simply accepted the choice of the Jewish community, instead of continuing to use the whole of the book, as had the Christian community for 300 years. The book quietly passed out of circulation. During the years when by Catholic tradition people, other than the Catholic priests, were not even permitted to read the Bible, it was almost forgotten.
R.H. Charles, using an Ethiopian version from the Abyssinian church, Greek fragments, the Latin Version, and the Latin translation of the Slavonic, published a very rough version in 1900. Still, the book received little circulation.
Many "scholars" have believed in a plurality of authorship of the three parts of the book.
1. The vision of Isaiah
2. The testament of Hezekiah
3. The martyrdom of Isaiah
These same scholars are the ones who take the Biblical book of Isaiah, and try to assert that it was written by five different people. They also say that the Book of Daniel had to be a pseudo-pigrapha written after many of the events prophesied had occurred. They also claim that the book of Revelation is only a pictorial view of the fact that truth will eventually win over evil.
If these scholars have no more knowledge or spiritual understanding than that, I will not heed their view on this book either.
This book is quoted by or referred to by:
the writer of the book of Hebrews (Heb. 11:37)
Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph 120:14-15)
and many other early church writers.
The book is also referred to in the Talmud and in many Jewish targums. The wide acceptance of this book during the years that the former rain revival was continuing, and the continued acceptance of it in the Ethiopian church, make this a book that we should read, study, verify its veracity with the Bible, and enjoy.
Like a puzzle, the revelation from the Lord requires each piece of the revelation to make the finished picture. "Line upon line, and precept upon precept" will make us to understand the message of the Lord in the Bible more fully. This book does not disagree with the current canon of Scripture that we have. It therefore is not in error to read this book, no more than it would be error to read a book by Billy Graham.
I have worked with the rough translations of R. H. Charles, and of Laurence, and with the works done by G.H. Box, M.A. on their translations, and have prepared a paraphrase to bring it to a language that we can easily understand. We shall first study the canonical book of Isaiah, and then study this RESTORED TEXT of the Apocalypse of Isaiah carefully, and compare it with the Bible facts. We shall then see if we will not better, and more clearly understand what the Lord has been teaching us in the Word of God with the aid of this book by Isaiah.