This overview and outline of Isaiah is meant to contribute to your study of God’s Word. It is our desire that you discover God and see His character as you investigate His letter to you.
Isaiah is the first of the major writing prophets, in the English Bible, in the Hebrew Bible, and chronologically. He prophesied from about 740 B.C. (the year king Uzziah died) until around 687 B.C. (around 100 years before the captivity of Judah). His writings are also the longest of any prophetic book, with only the book of Psalms being longer. The book is quoted 66 times in the New Testament, more than any other book in the Old Testament. We do not know a great deal about Isaiah. According to tradition, Manasseh, the wicked king, personally sawed Isaiah in two with a wooden saw (See Hebrews 11:37). Jeremiah died by stoning. Ezekiel either was pulled behind a horse until his brains were bashed out or he was beheaded (See Matthew 23:29-32: Luke 11:47-48; Acts 7:52).
At the beginning of Isaiah’s prophecy, Israel and Judah were at the height of their reigns. Together, these two nations held almost as much territory as that held by Solomon. They were wealthy and prosperous. Syria was gone. Egypt was weak. Assyria was not a threat. And Babylon was nowhere to be seen.
At the end of Isaiah’s life, Israel was no more and Judah was greatly reduced in size, being only a “gnat” in comparison to Assyria.
The message of the prophets was one of ruin and restoration. They made many references back to the law, warning of the impending judgment because Israel had departed from the law.
Isaiah was a contemporary of Amos and Hosea.
The big debate among scholars is “who wrote Isaiah.” Many hold to a detero-Isaiah because of the strong division in content between Isaiah 1-39 and 40-66. Some even divide the book between more authors, holding that someone else wrote the second part. The best and only Biblical view is that the entire book was written by Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1; 2:1; 7:3; 13:1; 20:2; cp. Isaiah 40:3 w/ Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 42:1-4 w/ Matthew 12:17-21; Isaiah 53:4 w/ Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 65: w/ Romans 10:20). While undoubtedly there is a shift in focus at chapter 40, passages prior to chapter 40 parallel closely those after the chapter (See chapters 25-26, 32).
The phrase “Holy One of Israel” is found 21 times in Isaiah but only once in Jeremiah. “I am the LORD” is found 21 times.
Date: 740-687 B.C.
There is a short introduction: 1:1
I. Messages Relating to Judgment 1-35
- The opening call of God 1
- To Judah 1:2-20
- To Jerusalem 1:21-31
- A word concerning Judah and Jerusalem 2-5
- The Introduction to the Coming Messiah 6-12
- The Vision of the LORD and the Holy Seed 6
- The Great Sign—a Virgin 7
- Immanuel, a Stone of Stumbling to Israel and Judah 8
- The Light from Galilee, a Child 9:1-7
- The Light, a Destroyer of the enemies 9:8-10:34
- The Rod and Branch, the Root, and the Future Day 11
- The Holy One 12
- The Burdens Against the Nations 13-23
- Against Babylon 13-14:27
- Against Philistia 14:28-32
- Against Moab 15-16
- Against Damascus 17
- Against Ethopia 18
- Against Egypt 19-20
- Against the Wilderness of the Sea 21:1-10
- Against Dumah (Edom) 21:11-12
- Against Arabia 21:13-17
- Against the Valley of Vision 22
- Agaisnt Tyre 23
- The Woes and deliverance 24-35
- The earth will be destroyed 24
- But there is victory over death 25
- For those who trust in the LORD 26
- He delivers 27
- Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim 28:1-15
- There will be a precious cornerstone 28:16-29
- Woe to Jerusalem 29-30:11
- God is gracious 30:12-33
- Woe to those who rely upon Egypt 31
- There will be a king of righteousness 32
- Woe to evil-doers 33:1-16
- There is coming a beautiful king 34:17 to 35
II. Historical Account of Hezekiah 36-39
- Sennacherib’s boast 36
- God’s Intervention 37
- Hezekiah’s Illness 38
- Hezekiah’s Sin 39
III. Messages Relating to Mercy 40-66
- The Revelation of God 40-48
- The Revelation of the Servant 49-53
- The Call for Righteous Living 54-59
- The Reign of Messiah 60-66
The Messiah is Coming. The clear references to the Messiah are many (Isaiah 7:14; 8:13-15; 9:1-7; 11:1-10; 16:4-5; 22:20-25; 25:6-8; 28:16; 32:1-4; 35:4-10; 40:10-11; 42:1-16; 49:6-12; 50:6; 52:13-53:12; 59:16-20; 60:1-3; 61:1-3; 62:11; 63:1-6; 63:8-9). Yet, the only use of the name “Messiah” is in relation to Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1).
Isaiah 40 See also 48:16 (the only complete reference to the Trinity in the Old Testament)
Key Lesson: God Himself will bring salvation.