On Sunday, I announced we will begin to study the book of Isaiah in January; and I for one, am pretty excited about digging into this gigantic and spectacular book. In anticipation of the, “Why Isaiah?” question, this post outlines the main reasons for the decision to do a sermon series through one of the longest, complex, and deepest books of the Old Testament.
It is an important Old Testament book
In the Bible, the book of Isaiah is grouped with other books known as the “Major Prophets”. These books mark some serious literature that shapes the Old Testament in profound ways. It is important for us to be familiar with the Old Testament because it is where we get the contrast, context, and promises to accurately view the New Testament. In other words, we cannot fully understand the New Testament unless we know the Old Testament.
It is a huge part of the redemptive history of God’s people
Isaiah chronicles the prophecies of God to his people at a time when they had strayed from faithfulness. It calls them to repentance and warns them of the coming judgement of God through the raising up of foreign Empires. This is important not just in biblical context, but also in the context of human history.
It is one of the clearest prophetic books relating to the coming of Jesus
Often jokingly labeled, “The Gospel According To Isaiah”, this prophetic book is filled with the promise of the Messiah. It is clear, specific, and profound in the descriptions of Israel’s promised savior. Jesus is on every page and in every passage. I believe we will be thrilled by seeing Jesus so clearly presented in this book of Scripture that was written 700 years before his birth.
It is missional
Mission didn’t begin with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) — it has existed since the moment sin entered the world (Gen 3:15). The book of Isaiah is filled with encouragement to reach the lost nations of the world, but also rebuke for failing to see and understand that the role of God’s people is to show the covenant love of YHWH to those who do not know him.
It is eschatological
Isaiah contains some of the most beautiful descriptions of life in the Kingdom of God anywhere in Scripture. It is full of hope for the future, and for the already-not-yet present we find ourselves in.
It is concerned with justice
God’s character and heart for justice in caring for the oppressed is clear in this book. It will be an important study for us as we continually strive to be theologically grounded and passionately involved in the well-being of our neighbors and community.
It is the book I felt Holy Spirit draw me to
Finally, and most importantly, after spending a long, long time deliberating about our next big study through reading, trying on, and discussing the many different books we could study with the elders, leaders, and friends, I felt Holy Spirit drawing me to Isaiah. I originally didn’t want to consider it because of its size, scope, and the intense work it will take to be faithful to preach this book before the Lord and you, his people. But after some nudging from the Spirit through wise counsel and my pastoral community, I knew we were going to study Isaiah.
I ask for prayer in my preparation, and I look forward to beginning this journey with you!