The opening verse of Isaiah tells us immediately where we are in history:
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Brilliant. First, we know where we are: Jerusalem, capital of Judah. Occasional mention is made of the kings and kingdom of Israel, but politically Isaiah is working with the kings of Judah. This is an important distinction. While the LORD still treats all twelve tribes as His people, and Isaiah’s prophesies will often be directed toward all the descendants of Jacob, Isaiah is only able to interact directly with one throne.
Second, we know when we are: the second half of the 8th century B.C. To overlap all four of these kings, Isaiah would have begun his work near the end of Uzziah’s reign and completed it somewhere around 700 B.C., during the reign of Hezekiah.
Likewise, in his opening oracle Isaiah lays out the LORD’s charges against Judah, answering why their land is being devoured. “What to Me is the multitude of your sacrifices… I have had enough of your burnt offerings… even though you make prayers, I will not listen… cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Way back in Deuteronomy we noted “a curious mixture of laws about economic justice intermixed with laws about idolatry…as though there might be some connection between the two.” Interestingly, today’s two chapters deal with the same issues. In chapter 1, God addresses injustice; in chapter 2, He confronts pride and idolatry. Over five centuries later, Isaiah provides further confirmation that the LORD demands total worship.
Between these, there is renewed hope: “In the latter days… the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of mountains… Out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” But as always, this is not about Judah or Jerusalem or Israel being lifted up, for “the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.”
Our verse for this week is Romans 8:38-39: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Isaiah 1 and 2. Now let’s read it!
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.