As we begin our journey through Isaiah, I want to talk about the man, Isaiah, so we can better understand who he was and the struggles he faced as God’s spokesperson/messenger. Isaiah 1:1 “These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.” Isaiah was the son of Amoz not to be confused with the prophet Amos. It is thought that he was related to King Amaziah who was his uncle. Isaiah often had easy access to the palace and the kings so his ‘royal’ status would have helped him navigate the royal maze of things. Considering his message from God that Judah was sinning and needed to repent, he might not have been the most popular fellow in the palace. He served God during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh. They reigned in Judah from 792-642 B.C. He began his ministry in the year King Uzziah died according to Isaiah 6:1 and continue for 58 years. He was married and had 2 sons which the Lord named. It is thought that he is the prophet referenced in Hebrews 11:37 “Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword.” He was thought to have been sawed in half by King Manasseh.
Isaiah came with a message of repentance as Judah had been sinning against God and definitely not walking by the 10 Commandments. They had fallen into idolatry and followed practices of the nations around them. Kings Uzziah and Jotham sought to follow the Lord but still allowed the high places and idols to remain. King Ahaz went into complete idolatry and wickedness during his reign of 16 years. Hezekiah was a godly man and sought to rid Judah of the high places with idols and bring the people back to worshiping God. He did have his moments though and Isaiah was right there seeking to point him back to the Lord. Manasseh was the final king under which Isaiah prophesied and he was totally evil. He erected idols to Baal and put up Asherah poles. He practiced sorcery, astrology, and divination. He even sacrificed his own sons to the gods. He did much to provoke the Lord’s anger during his 55 on the throne. It is no wonder that Isaiah message of God’s anger over their sin and their need to repent before Holy God was not welcomed in the palace and the nation. He foretold of their deportation to Babylon as well as the coming of a Messiah that would redeem all mankind. His messages gave hope to the later exiled Jews as they suffered in Babylon and to us as we await the return of King Jesus.
As you accept the ashes on your forehead today and look forward to a time of repentance leading up to Holy Week and Easter, may you prayerfully consider the messages Isaiah in regard to your own sin. May you look and feel his messages of hope as he speaks of the magnificence of Holy God, the only one who can save us. May the prophesies in his book lead you to a deeper faith in Jesus and His mission. Christ is the Holy one, the Only one, who can Save us.
Looking forward to this journey and what God will teach me.
You can read about these king in 2 Kings 15-21. The story goes between the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom was taken into exile by Assyria during Hezekiah’s reign leaving only the people of Judah. After one more good king, Josiah, the rest of the kings lead Judah back into idolatry and they are deported to Babylon in 3 phases ending with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. You can read about this in 2 Kings 22-25.