Isaiah - Introduction




ACCORDING TO ISAIAH 1:1, the book is the vision of “Isaiah son of Amoz,” who ministered in the eighth century BC during the reigns of “Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah”—kings of Judah. Although Isaiah’s authorship was accepted for centuries, it has been challenged by modern critical scholars. Many of them argue that Isaiah couldn’t have written chapters 40–66, because these chapters detail Judah’s defeat by Babylon, exile, and return to the land. These scholars believe a prophet in the eighth century BC couldn’t possibly know about future events. And this is true—unless the Creator God who knows the future revealed them to him. Because God can make the future known to his servants, then there is no reason to reject that Isaiah wrote chapters 40–66 and is, therefore, the author of the entire book.

Historical Background

According to Isaiah 6:1, the prophet received his call from God to ministry “in the year that King Uzziah died” (ca. 742 BC). During this glorious vision of the Lord seated on his throne, Isaiah responded to the Lord’s question, “Who will go for us?” with, “Here I am. Send me” (6:8).

Uzziah’s reign was a prosperous time for Judah, but the nation of Assyria was rising to power. In 722 BC, the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyrian domination. Although the Lord would supernaturally protect Judah from Assyrian aggression, another superpower was on the horizon: Babylon. Isaiah would not live to see the Babylonians assail Judah. But he warned sinful Judah that they were coming. Nevertheless, God’s judgment would be followed by God’s grace, for Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would bring his people back from exile when their punishment was complete.

Message and Purpose

Isaiah, a great prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, blazed onto the scene to describe the condition of this kingdom that was going down spiritually and headed toward disaster. He calls on the people to repent and get right with God, telling them, “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow” (1:18).

The classic passage in this book is found in chapter 6, describing Isaiah’s official call to his prophetic task when he saw the Lord in all of his majestic holiness. That call came in a bad year, when good King Uzziah died. That meant Judah’s human hope to set things right was gone, but Isaiah learned that even in times like that, the Lord was still on his throne and still in control.

Isaiah is a long book because it deals with two great sweeps of time—the days in which the prophet lived and the time yet to come when the Messiah returns and establishes his kingdom of righteousness. That’s why Isaiah 53 is such a precious chapter, telling us of the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, who would bear our sins and someday rule as King. The message of Isaiah to us today is to adjust the way we live so that when the King returns, we can enter into the kingdom full speed ahead because we have prepared ourselves by living according to God’s righteous standards.



  1. The Judgment of God (1:1–39:8)
    1. God’s Judgment on Judah (1:1–5:30)
    2. The Commissioning of Isaiah (6:1-13)
    3. The Coming Messiah (7:1–12:6)
    4. God’s Judgment on the Nations (13:1–23:18)
    5. Isaiah’s Prophecy of the End Times (24:1–27:13)
    6. Woes and Blessings on Israel and Judah (28:1–35:10)
    7. Historical Interlude: Sennacherib and Hezekiah (36:1–39:8)
  2. The Blessing of God (40:1–66:24)
    1. God’s Deliverance of His People (40:1–48:22)
    2. Salvation through the Servant (49:1–57:21)
    3. God’s Restoration of Israel and the World (58:1–66:24)