What's the Book of Isaiah All About?
In beautiful form, we see Christ. We see the need for Christ. We see the need for the new covenant. We're left both saddened by Israel's lack of knowledge of God. For instance, in Chapter 1, 'The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know me. My people do not understand.' So there's this sad case where the people of God don't even know God. So that creates a startling longing and shock in our hearts about something's gotta happen here. Why is this like this? It's not supposed to be like this.
And of course, that highlights the state of man and depravity. They don't know God. So it also makes us hunger for the new covenant and all the failures of old covenant Israel makes us long for the true Messiah.
So it starts out and there's a rhythm in the Prophets, a rhythm that goes back and forth from Oracles of Judgment to Oracles of Blessing. God, because he's holy, pronounces judgment on these rebellious, stubborn-hearted people, but yet in the midst of the Oracles of Judgment, there's always this "oracle of hope" because judgment doesn't have the last word. And that's the Gospel in itself: judgment doesn't have the last word. Grace does. Redemption does.
Isaiah is about this flow of history. It's on the stage 740 years before Christ came. Isaiah's time of ministry. Judah's about to go into captivity and the Babylonians are about to come and export them from the land. Which again, creates a longing in the people who know the whole... especially us, who know the whole story, who have the whole Scriptures. We know. We're anxious for the history of redemption to move along and get to the point where the new covenant, and we know the final story. Judah's about to go off into captivity. The Babylonians are gonna come in. Israel is already gone. 722 they leave. 586 BC is fastly approaching, and so it's a very, very dramatic story of redemption, a chapter in the history of biblical theology.
Peppered all through we have indications of Jesus Christ. Of course the most well known, Chapter 53, but we also have, in Isaiah, principles of salvation. We have the principle of substitution, when in one place God says, 'I give Egypt on behalf of you.' So we've got the principle of substitution worked out in the story.
We've got the song of the vineyard in Chapter 5 where God says, 'What more can I do? I've done all the cultivating. I've done all the pruning, and still it's not producing what I wanna produce. What more can I do?' And we know the answer. We're eager to jump in. Yes, God, ultimately, what more can he do than give his only Son to redeem his people?"