I believe it is from Isaiah that we get the phrase, “like a voice of one crying from the dust”, and I think that is as an appropriate description of Isaiah as anything. If the books of the Bible were printed individually and sitting on a shelf, Isaiah would be the dusty one, barely touched, often passed over for more user-friendly, understandable books. He has unfortunately become the butt of scriptural jokes, “Isaiah, yeah, no one understands that book! HaHa!”
In Sunday School today we discussed the book of Isaiah, paying particular attention to the prophecies of Christ, which I believe make Isaiah one of the most fascinating books in our canon, and certainly worth regularly reading. I love reading through Isaiah and looking for what he says about Jesus Christ, as there are some unique and wonderful prophecies.
One of the most famous and favorite is found in Isaiah 9:6, immortalized by Handel in his oratorio, The Messiah. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Unto us a child is born, who shall be Wonderful, who shall be the mighty God, who shall be the Prince of Peace. Those word are wonderful in and of themselves. How many prophets were blessed to view Christ’s life and prophesy of it, and how many more were wished they could have seen His day? This is the second most important event in the history of this and many other worlds, second only to the Infinite and Eternal Atonement.
Isaiah also has one of my favorite instances of the voice of the Lord, chapter 49, verses 15-16. Here Isaiah writes first person as if he were Christ himself speaking. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” I love this verse for what it teaches about Christ and his love for us. He says that he shall never forget us. He says he has even graven us upon the palms of his hands. One of my favorite images of Christ is where he is standing with his arms outstretched and the nailprints in his palms are clearly visible. Can we truly believe that Christ could ever forget us, after having suffered so for each one of us? Can he look at his hands and not be reminded of the immense love that led him to perform that act?
Isaiah also teaches us what our duty is after we have had these prophecies of Christ. 53:1 says, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”. I can honestly and firmly answer, “To me.” It has been revealed to me and I have believed it. Now I have a responsibility. Isaiah 43 is my favorite chapter. It begins with the Lord describing all that he has done for Israel, for his people, as well as the things the he continues to do and will always do. And then we have verse 10, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
Once we read and understand and believe the prophecies of Christ, we become witnesses and have the responsibility to share what we know and believe with others. That is the same call we see throughout the scriptures. We are taught the gospel and then we are asked not only to live it but to serve others so that they can live it as well. That is what the gospel is: it is a means by which men are made better, and is applicable to all men and women.
That is what I learn from Isaiah. I learn the greatness of Christ, the powerfulness of prophecy and the duty of the believers. Isaiah should be taught more in our culture, should be respected more, and should be understood more. I admit it is difficult to get around the parallelisms and the symbolism, but if studied with the proper spirit, and with the Spirit of the Lord, it can be understood. I love Isaiah and I love what he teaches us. Wonderful truths about our Saviour that helps me come to know him better.