Prophet Isaiah and Us
Part 1. Introduction
One of the Bible studies that we have been doing lately is on the prophet Isaiah. About a year ago, I have recorded a series of video programs in Russian covering all 66 chapters of Isaiah, as a commentary. This time, however, we’re doing this Bible study in a group setting, and it makes our study more interesting and interactive. In addition, my reading of Isaiah this year is different – well, maybe not different, but there are many new and essential details that I have previously ignored, or wasn’t paying attention to. In my written notes I can’t by any means to present you with the full scope of our study, but I hope some valuable insights on Isiah will be useful both for those, who are not a part of our Bible study group in South River, and for those who are a part of it. These notes could also produce one new online Bible study group for those interested in Isaiah.
Therefore, here is an idea: in addition, and as a supplement to our Bible study group in South River, let us have some online reflection of our discussion, and, in fact, let’s continue our discussion here. I don’t think another Bible study on Isiah as this one exists. Why? Because as we are reading Isiah, we are not just reading about the events that have taken place nearly three thousand years ago. It’s fun to know the history, it’s great to know it, and we need to know it, if we want to understand Isaiah. But the history of the past is not the point here. As we study Isiah, we study our own time. We learn of our today and tomorrow. In much, more detail than most people think. So, let us not delay. Share this open online Bible study with your friends. Comment. Ask questions. Share your insights. The Bible says “come, let us reason.” I hope and pray I have strength to be instrumental in accomplishing this seminar. So, let’s come and reason.
Isaiah 7:8 clearly indicates Isaiah’s time – at least the beginning of his ministry – “Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken”. Samaria fell in 722 B.C., which means that in 787 B.C. Isaiah has already been prophesying. And here is a setting, briefly. Israel, once united, is now divided. The Northern Kingdom of Israel, the ten tribes under the leadership of Ephraim (capital in Samaria) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah are about to enter another series of wars. Judah is afraid of Israel and Syria that sided with Ephraim against Judah and Jerusalem. So, the nobles of Judah are plotting on employing the king of the North – Assyria, and the king of the South – Egypt to come and assist in their anticipated struggle with Israel and Syria. So, that’s the setting. That’s what most people see.
But that’s now what God sees. And God declares through Isaiah that they’ve got it all wrong. Ephraim and Syria will not strike. In fact, they will be stricken. And you will be stricken – by those, of whom you least expect it, by Assyrians.
So, that’s all the historic background we need to know – well, that’s the minimum. I always encourage you to study more. But above all – study the text of Isiah, read it over and over. And it’ll talk to you.
Now, before we continue, let us make it very clear, why and how Isaiah is important and relevant to us now. There are two extremes among the interpreters of the prophecies. Some believe, that all the prophetic fulfillment of the last days events will be centered around Jerusalem, in the Middle East. There are also others, who totally exclude Jerusalem from their prophetic pictures. Both are wrong. Jerusalem is the anointed city, and just as the life of an anointed person, let’s say, Prophet Isaiah is prophetic for his people, including the important events of prophet Isaiah’s life, so the life of Jerusalem is prophetic for the Church. As the prophets talk about Jerusalem, we can’t dismiss the literal end time conflict that emerges around that city. It is very important, and it is hard to ignore. However, we should also remember, that what is happening in Jerusalem at that time in the most literal way – disasters and devastations, invasions and persecutions – same things are happening to the Church, to all Christians, as the Lord does the last shaking of His people, the last cleansing. Thus, the prophetic story of the city of Jerusalem, that the Bible presents with so many details, is indispensable for our understanding of the time we live in. As the attacks on Jerusalem reflect on the attacks on the Church, and as the situation in Jerusalem reflects on the situation in the Church.
But this is only one of many prophetic benefits that we receive as we open and read Isaiah. We also have much to learn about what is happening in the world today. Yes, the people at Isaiah’s time thought they knew very well what was going on in the world. They thought they knew, who are their friends, and who are their enemies. Now, they got it all wrong. The message of Isaiah was an eye opener to those who had eyes at Isaiah’s time. This very message, as we read it today, is an eye opener to those having eyes and ears. So, come, let us reason, start reading Isaiah. There are limits to my knowledge. There are also limits that we will set in this discussion. Other than that, let’s explore this book, let’s share our insights, our questions, notes and answers.
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