In our Bible reading challenge we have begun the prophetic books, beginning with Isaiah. Like most of the prophets in the Bible, Isaiah calls out the many sins of God’s people. Most of these sins can be grouped under the category of idolatry (forsaking their covenant relationship with God) or injustice (forsaking justice to their neighbors).
The bad news. A big lesson from the prophets is that, like Israel, all people (as in, all of us) have failed to love God wholeheartedly
(commandments #1 through #4 in the Decalogue) and have failed to love their neighbors as themselves (commandments #5-10). See Romans 3
for the New Testament affirmation of this truth.
The good news. As well, Isaiah in particular records some of the most beautiful prophecies about the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Next week, we will be reading the Songs of the Servant (Isa 42–53), which portrays Jesus as the faithful Servant of the Lord who accomplishes what the people of Israel could never achieve. He is the true Israel who suffers in Israel’s place, carrying their sin and guilt away (chapter 53).
This week we have been introduced to the Lord under the name of Immanuel (“God with us”, chapters 1-11). Born of a virgin and shining as a light in Galilee, he is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (chapter 9). In chapter 11 he is called “the branch” or “the root” of Jesse. (11:1, 10). Jesse was King David’s father, and the promised Messiah was foretold as coming from David’s lineage (Acts 13:22-23).
The description here of Messiah is stunning: he will be anointed with the Spirit of seven-fold blessing (11:1-2); he will be the righteous judge of the earth (11:3-5); he will bring about a change in creation, ending violence and pain (11:6-9); and he will be the One in whom the nations come to find their rest (11:10).
As you read the prophets you will hear again and again the bad news of the seriousness of sin and the coming judgment. But the good news is, you will also be seeing Jesus foreshadowed and hearing about his character, his work, and God’s promises for those who come to him in faith and repentance.