And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here I am; send me’ Isaiah 6:8
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ Isaiah 7:14
In our last lesson, we studied the story of the prophet Jonah who tried to run away from the LORD. However, trying to run from the presence of God is like trying to run away from your shadow. God accompanied Jonah,
even inside the great fish!
We plan to read about a prophet who came after the time of Jonah and whose name is well known in the Holy Scriptures. This is
the prophet Isaiah
who lived seven hundred years before the Messiah was born. Isaiah was a priest who worked for God in the temple which Solomon had built in Jerusalem. Every day, Isaiah and the rest of the priests had to present to God animal sacrifices on the altar. These sacrifices spoke of the Messiah who was to shed His blood for the sin of the world.
Read what happened to Isaiah one day when he was offering sacrifices in the Temple of the LORD. Isaiah writes: (6:1-8) “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. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said,
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 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. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar. And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 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”. Thus
the LORD God revealed His glory and His holiness to Isaiah
and called him to announce His Word to the Israelites, that is, the Jews, and to write it in a book for the benefit of generations to come. The book of Isaiah is long and we do not have time to look into all it contains. However, we can summarise the prophet Isaiah’s message with two important thoughts.
First, Isaiah told the Jews the bad news about their sin and the punishment that they deserved.
Second, Isaiah presented to them the Good News concerning the Messiah who was to come into the world to bear the punishment of their sin.
Therefore, in brief, the message of the prophet Isaiah is:
1) the bad news about sin and its judgement; and
2) the Good News about a Saviour who would pay the penalty of sin for sinners.
Let us first quote a few verses which show the bad news that God told Isaiah, so that he might announce it both to the Jews and to anyone who has ears to hear. In chapter one, the prophet Isaiah wrote: (Isa. 1:2-4,13-15) “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children,
and they have rebelled against me.
The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass, his master’s crib, but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward …
Bring no more vain sacrifices;
incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies,
I cannot bear;
it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary of bearing unto them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers,
I will not hear”.
That was how the prophet Isaiah rebuked the Jews because of their hypocrisy. He summarised their sin with these words: “The LORD says: ‘These people honour me with their lips, but
their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men!”’ (Matt. 15:8; Isa. 29:13)
After Isaiah rebuked the Jews for their sinfulness and stubbornness, he began to tell them the Good News, which has the power to purify the hearts of all who believe it.
In the rest of the lesson, let us read some of the wonderful words which Isaiah wrote about the Messiah who would come into the world to save sinners. He writes:
“Come now, 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!” (Isa. 1:18).
(Isaiah 40:1,3-5,9-10) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God … The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it … ye that bringeth good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Behold, the Lord will come with strong hand”
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel!” (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23).
God was revealing
a great mystery
through the prophet Isaiah! God planned to do a miracle through the power of His Spirit in the womb of a virgin–a woman who had never been intimate with a man! This is how the Messiah would be born into the world. As you know,
the Messiah had no earthly father.
Before He was born, He was in heaven, because He is the Word which was with God in the beginning. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, the Messiah would be God in a human body. What an awesome truth! As we have said, God planned by His Holy Spirit to do a miracle
in the womb of a virgin,
and through this He would be born and come into the world as a baby! That is what Isaiah prophesied, saying: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel –which means,
‘God with us’!”
In the chapters which follow, Isaiah writes much about the coming of the Messiah. In one place he says: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined … his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
the Mighty God,
the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:2,6) “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaiah 35:5,6). In these verses, Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah would bring
the holiness and mercy of God to the earth.
He also foretold how the Messiah would do mighty works that no one had ever done, so that everyone could know that He was the holy Messiah who came from the presence of God! That is why the prophet Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be called: “Wonderful Counsellor! Mighty God! Everlasting Father! Prince of Peace!” Obviously, Isaiah was not like people today who attempt to put the Messiah on the same level as the prophets. The prophet Isaiah recognized the glory of the Redeemer, who would come forth
from the presence of God.
Before we end this lesson, we must read one more chapter: chapter fifty-three. This chapter is the most wonderful chapter among all that the prophet Isaiah wrote, because in it he prophesies how the Messiah would shed His blood like a sacrificed sheep,
to bear the punishment of the sin of the world.
Read carefully to the Good News God gave His prophet Isaiah, seven hundred years before the time of the Messiah.
The Holy Scripture says: (Isa. 53) “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men,
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes are we healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet
he opened not his mouth;
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement; and who shall declare his generation? For
he was cut off out of the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his mouth. Yet
it pleased the Lord to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for
he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and
he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors”.
That is what Isaiah wrote concerning the suffering, which the Messiah would endure to pay for our sins. Yes, the Redeemer had to suffer and shed His blood
for all sinners
so that God could forgive our sin and still remain righteous. That is why Isaiah wrote: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities …
like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa.53:5,6) This solemn verse summarises the message of the book of Isaiah: the bad news and the Good News.
the bad news
is that we are all sinners and we have no way of saving ourselves! That is why Isaiah wrote that “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way!”
the Good News
is that God designed a plan to save sinners, and that plan is through the death and resurrection of the Messiah. That is why Isaiah wrote: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Friends, do you recognise how great your sin is before God, the Holy One?
Do you believe that the Messiah who was born of a virgin was “God with us”? Do you know why the Messiah had to shed His blood
like a sacrificed sheep?
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
God bless you as you think deeply about this message from the LORD to you through the prophet Isaiah:
“Come now, let us reason together, says 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!” (Isa. 1:18)
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