The Book of Isaiah is the longest of the books of the Prophets. This book of the Bible has 66 chapters. It was written addressing the late eighth century BC. During that time came the fall of the northern part of the Holy Land known as Israel. The southern region which contained Jerusalem was known as Judah. This time is divided into three, according to the kings, Jotham (742-735), Ahaz (735-715) and Hezekiah (715-687).
The book starts of warning of the judgement of God. Chapter 6 is when Isaiah hears God calling him. He sees a vision of Heaven while he is in the Temple. The angels are glorifying God saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts!” (Is 6:3). God is powerful and majestic. God is all good. We should recognize this quote from the Bible in the Mass that we celebrate every week.
Realizing his own sinfulness, Isaiah becomes afraid. God touches his mouth with an ember and cleanses him from sin (Is 8:7). I would imagine that would have hurt. Maybe it was the purgatory time off. This prophecy stuff is not easy. Yet, as we read on, he can still talk. This leads me to believe it was more about healing than punishment. When we sin, we wound ourselves and others. The sin of Adam and Eve gave a mortal blow to humanity; such was the wound we received in our human nature. But God wants to heal us as he did Isaiah.
Then Isaiah responds to the call in verse eight; “Here I am, send me”. The healing in his soul empowers him to volunteer to do God’s holy will. God’s will is holy. So when we do God’s will, it is holy. Isaiah sees God’s glory and goodness and realizes his own folly and sinfulness. God heals him of this distress. Having repented and a change of heart, he desires to serve God and His goodness. God’s goodness and His judgement are not opposing powers or attributes of God. All attributes of God are good. Once Isaiah knows of God’s desire, he immediately wants to do it.
After this comes the message he must speak from which Jesus later quotes. “Listen carefully, but you shall not understand! Look intently, but you shall know nothing! You are to make the heart of this people sluggish, to dull their ears and close their eyes, else their eyes will see, their ears hear, their heart understand, and they will turn and be healed. (Is 6:8-10 and Jn 12:40) Jeremiah has a similar idea in chapter 5, verse 21.
The people of God are feeling the pressure of the Babylonians, Assyrians, Ethiopia and Egypt. Isaiah addresses nearly every country around them. The kingdom has utterly fallen apart. Every politician is for themselves and they seem to make decisions that take them farther and farther away from God. This makes them vulnerable to the pressures inside and outside of Israel and Judah.
Chapter 24 foretells of God’s punishment that cleanses. Chapter 25 Isaiah tells of God’s goodness, even in His punishment. Chapter 26 tells of God’s plan to rebuild Jerusalem and gives the people hope for a future with God. From that time on, everything is in chaos. What is foretold happens. There is a twist and turn of events going from under one conqueror to another. In Chapter 48 God implores the people to remain close to Him. He promises good things for them and foretells the coming of Jesus.
The book of Isaiah is loaded with wisdom, reprimanding, hope, and instruction. I hope you will take it up and read through it.