I’ve come halfway through my journey in the Scriptures, to my favorite book of the Old Testament. Isaiah. There is no more beautiful reading than the words of this prophet who saw the horrors of the declining days of the nation of Israel. Especially in contrast to the glories of the Kingdom under the reigns of David and Solomon. Maybe I love reading this book because so much of the writing is of God Himself, speaking to His people and us, directly, as if face to face. It will be fabulous to stand before Him one day and hear with our restored hearing His great voice. This is God himself calling to His beloved people to return to Him. With words of love and tenderness He woos His fallen tribe.
Isaiah 43:4 “Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you . . . “
Isaiah 51:12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Isaiah 54:6-8 “For the LORD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” Says your God. “For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the LORD your Redeemer.
Isaiah seems to be the entire Bible in miniature, you find God expressing the fact that all was created by Him, nothing excepted, then fallen mankind forsaking their creator, through the trails of the building of the nation of Israel, all the way to the redemption offered by a gracious God, taking away their sin by His Chosen One, calling on this One to carry away their burdens upon His own shoulders. (Is. 30:1 ff, Is 48, and Is 53). It is a delicious treat to soak in the encouragement of God making whole a broken and desolate people.
Some of the most magnificent verses of Scripture are found in Isaiah. Most notably are those verses that G. F. Handel chose for his opus, The Messiah.
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
Isaiah 40:1-2 “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.”
Isaiah 53:3-6 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
Isaiah 60:1-2 Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.
There are just too many to list. Go ahead and read through the book and find them all.
Some of my other favorite verses that magnify the Lord are these:
Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.
Isaiah 6:1-5 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
And this verse which Jesus used to inaugurate His public ministry:
Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
To be sure there is a lot of judgement, doom and gloom – for those who maintain their rebellious natures. But it is the joy or restoration, of redemption, all those whose heart belongs to the Lord, that makes this book so amazing.
Isaiah 25:1-4 O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. For You have made a city into a heap, A fortified city into a ruin; A palace of strangers is a city no more, It will never be rebuilt. Therefore a strong people will glorify You; Cities of ruthless nations will revere You. For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall.
Isaiah 44:21-26 “Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; For the LORD has redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone, Causing the omens of boasters to fail, Making fools out of diviners, Causing wise men to draw back And turning their knowledge into foolishness, Confirming the word of His servant And performing the purpose of His messengers. It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’ And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’ And I will raise up her ruins again.”
The first phrase here recalls words Jesus cried out in the Temple during the Feast of Booths (John 7:37):
Isaiah 55:1-6 “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
And in case you thought the Lord didn’t know how to throw a party this is a delightful description of a future celebration:
Isaiah 25:6-9 The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
Talk about the ultimate in party favors! He swallows up the covering that clouds and dulls our very perception of our existence and the barrier between God and His people. And the comfort that comes from Him wiping away every tear, such consolation!
The profit in reading this book of Isaiah is like a breath of Spring after a cold dead Winter. In here is such a lovely depiction of our great God restoring all things, removing the distress of this present age. And having the opportunity to be part of it side by side with Him is something to be eagerly anticipated.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]