Profile Of The Prophets - Isaiah

by Joseph Hunting

How can one, so far removed by time and space, describe the spiritual and moral stature of Israel's prophets! Even if we try superlatives the English language seems utterly inadequate. This is the word-picture penned by an unknown Jewish writer nineteen centuries ago: "And what more shall I say, for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

"Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Letter to the Hebrews 11:32-38)

One of these spiritual giants was Isaiah, the son of Amoz, who lived and prophesied in Judah during the reign of four kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Isaiah was granted a vision of the Lord in all His majesty and glory during the closing days of the reign of king Uzziah. This experience transformed the prophet as similar visions have done to others both before and since.

Early in his ministry Isaiah gave vivid prophecies of conditions that will exist in Jerusalem and Judah during the reign of Messiah. Here is a sample. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (2:2-4)

The quality of the Messianic reign on earth is also graphically described in chapter eleven. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (11:6-9)


Isaiah prophesied the 'sign' that would distinguish Messiah's birth apart from all others. "Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (7:14) And by him also were revealed Messiah's majestic titles. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE." (9:6)


Just as other prophets were required by God to do strange and often repugnant acts of obedience in order to portray to the nation its sin, so Isaiah was required to walk barefoot and naked. One can only imagine the embarrassment and shame such an act occasioned the prophet.

Isaiah was no stranger to miracles. He was instrumental in healing king Hezekiah when he was at the point of death. And just to add a further dash of flavour another sign was given. Not only would Hezekiah be healed, but the Lord also promised that He would deliver him from the impending invasion by Assyria with the sign that the sun would not just stand still in the heavens, it would reverse its course! "And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken: Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backwards. So the sun returned ten degrees by which it was gone down." (38:7-8)

Another stamp of the Divine seal upon Isaiah's supernatural ministry was his naming of Cyrus more than one hundred years before he, Cyrus, was born. And for good measure he predicted the commandment this Babylonian king would make concerning the restoration of the Temple and Jerusalem! " ... that saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundations shall be laid." (44:28)

If the ingredients that make one a Zionist are a burning love for the Holy Land, the people of the Land, and its Holy City, then surely Isaiah would qualify. Of course, that does not mean that he would meet with the instant approval of some of the religious leaders of the day. And if Isaiah were to put Israel's case before the United Nations there is little doubt that he would be branded 'racist'. The same could be said for all Israel's prophets.

One cannot read the prophecies of Isaiah and not be moved by their majesty and grandeur. Ponder the vision he gives us of the glory, might and strength of the God of Israel compared with the puny efforts of men. "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? ... Behold, the nations are as the drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance, behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof for a burnt offering.

"All nations before him are as nothing; and they are accounted to him less that nothing, and vanity." (40:12-17)

With the world rapidly becoming a huge nuclear arsenal, and with the natural disasters of fire, famine, flood and earthquakes which seem to be increasing in intensity it is a most comforting experience to shelter under the wings of such a mighty God.

It is a fitting memorial to this great man of God that in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem the complete scroll of the book of Isaiah is so displayed that the entire text may be examined in the language that was spoken and written more than 2,000 years ago.