By PAUL J. SCHARF, M.Div.

Editor in Chief

PJSFaithIt is truly incredible that one of the central places that we can turn for Biblical information regarding the Christmas story is the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah (whose name means, “The LORD is salvation”) has been called “The Prince of the Old Testament Prophets” and, along with Micah, comprises one-half of “The Great Christmas Prophets.”

Isaiah’s book—which is denounced by liberals as a historical impossibility but is nevertheless thoroughly vindicated and endorsed by the testimony of Scripture (cf. Matt. 8:17; 12:17-21; 15:7-9; 13:14-15)—has been called “The Bible in Miniature.”

[1]

This most remarkable book of the Major Prophets begins in chapter one with a picture of a people steeped in vain, heartless religion—a nation in decline and ready for judgment for rejecting the very kingdom of God in its midst.

Isaiah 1 is one sermon, followed by a second in Isaiah 2-4 (prophecies against the nation of Judah in light of the glories of the coming Messianic kingdom), and a third in Isaiah 5 (a message of “woe” delivered in the setting of a parable). Isaiah’s purpose is to so arrest our imaginations with these first three treatises that we are forced to ask the source of such powerful spiritual wisdom.

The answer is provided in chapter six, where Isaiah reveals a vision of the holiness of God which had transformed him. Dr. John Whitcomb has famously taught that chapter six actually comes first chronologically—providing the basis and source of such incredible opening sermons.

All of this brings us to Isaiah 7—home of one of the most amazing prophecies of the coming Messiah. What is almost as remarkable, however, is the historical backdrop of this passage.

Isaiah 6 is based during the lengthy rule of Uzziah (Isa. 6:1; cf. 2 Chron. 26:1-15)—a prosperous and generally good king who was tripped up by his own desire for increased stature. He succumbed to the temptation to attempt to serve as priest as well as king—a role that is reserved for the Messiah alone (cf. Zech. 6:12-13). As chastisement for his sin, Uzziah lived as a leper for the final 10 years of his life (2 Chron. 26:16-23).

Following the 16-year reign of Uzziah’s son Jotham (2 Chron. 27:1-9), Uzziah’s grandson Ahaz occupied the throne (2 Kings 16:1-20; 2 Chron. 28:1-27). Ahaz was an exceedingly wicked man, and his failures and fears form the context for the astonishing prophecy that was first given to the nation in his presence.

(Read Part 2)

Copyright © 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] This illustrative device is based on the correlation between Isaiah’s 66 chapters and the Bible’s 66 books. It must not be pressed too far—remembering that the chapter divisions themselves are not inspired.