Isaiah – God’s Messenger
by John C. Westervelt
Isaiah lived in Jerusalem during the latter half of the eighth century B.C. during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, would be carried off into exile in Assyria in 722 B.C. Isaiah would be instrumental in thwarting an Assyrian attack on Judah, the Southern Kingdom. In 740 B.C., the year Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord. He heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go?”
Isaiah answered, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.” Thus began the career of an eloquent, prolific prophet who gave words of wisdom to kings as well as to the common man. As a boy I knew little about Isaiah, still I had heard his words, “They will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” Years later, these words continue to impart hope in these turbulent times.
On the Sundays around Christmas during my youth, I learned that Isaiah prophesized about Jesus. “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Emmanuel.” “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These names, pronounced by Isaiah in the eighth century B.C., still apply to Jesus today.
Eight years after Isaiah accepted the call on his life, the Lord told him to meet King Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool of Jerusalem. Here he was to tell the king to have no fear of the armies of Syria and Israel who were demanding a dangerous alliance.
Hezekiah was anointed king of Judah in 715 B.C. Soon thereafter, Isaiah became a prayer partner of the king. Together they beseeched the Lord to help the troops of Judah defeat the 185,000 strong Assyrian army led by King Sennacherib. The Lord answered this prayer and used a plague to slay the Assyrian army. Herodotus, a Greek who wrote a history of those times, reported that the Assyrian army camp was overrun by rats. Infected fleas on the rats could well have been God’s choice for eliminating the Assyrian army.
Isaiah was the Lord’s elected spokesman who told Hezekiah that he would die from his illness. After Hezekiah’s fervent prayers, the Lord told Isaiah to return to Hezekiah and tell him that the Lord would give Hezekiah fifteen more years of life.
Isaiah shared with the people his prophecy about foreign nations who at one time or another had persecuted Judah. He wrote a condemning oracle about each of Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Babylon, Arabia, and Tyre. These oracles show the universal sovereignty of God.
Isaiah records God’s encouragement for His people. “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him.” “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good tidings of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you.”
The prophet quoted God, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s people confessed, “O Lord, You are our Father. You are the potter; we are the clay. We are the work of Your hand.”
Isaiah found words of hope for the people of Judah in their day. These same words offer hope to me on this day. “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
Isaiah 2 Kings 18-20
Copyright 2002 by John C. Westervelt
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