I’m reading through the book of Isaiah now. Definitely one of my top three favorite books of the Bible. Mainly because for the majority of the book we hear God speaking directly. In His own words. In the first person. God personally telling us who He is, how He feels, what He has done, and what He is going to do. The contents of most of the prophetic books are statements by the prophet himself saying things the Lord tells him to say. But in Isaiah, well, this is from the second verse of the book, Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks . . . . Indeed the Lord speaks, and it is powerful. Not that other forms of Scripture are not wonderful coming from the pens of the writers. But to hear God Himself speak to us. To paraphrase the investment firm commercial, “When God speaks, people listen.”
He speaks of judgement like:
“For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together.” Is. 48:9-13
and also of redemption,
“I, even I, have spoken; indeed I have called him, I have brought him, and He will make his ways successful. Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit.” Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.” Is. 48:15-17
or a combination of the two, such as
Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed. Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Is it not yet just a little while Before Lebanon will be turned into a fertile field, And the fertile field will be considered as a forest? On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD, And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Is. 29:13-19
Chapter after chapter the glory of the Lord shines forth in the brilliance of a magnificent and beautiful text, like 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.” Or a few verses later, “To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. “Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.” Is. 40:25 Is it any wonder that Handel used so much of Isaiah when he composed his masterpiece, The Messiah in 1742, some of the most memorable and beatific music known to western civilization.
And coupled with the fact that God Himself address us in the first person throughout this book, He also tells us of the coming of His Son as His Messiah using some of the most heartfelt, heart-wrenching verses of Scripture. Read Isaiah 42 where the Lord declares Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” 42:1-3 As well as the entire chapter 53, though this is from Isaiah’s pen not from the Lord’s mouth. Later in chapter 55 we read the wondrous verses Jesus partially quotes from this prophet and cries out before the crowd as He was teaching in the Temple (John 7:37) “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.” Is. 55:1-2 And that is another beauty of reading though Isaiah. That is uncovering those verses used by the Lord Jesus in His ministry on earth. There are some great verses He selects to try to open the eyes and ears of the people He came to save. See how many you can spot. I’ll give you another one: Isaiah 61:1-2.
If you want to hear God speak to you, if you are wondering if He will speak to you, just read through the book of Isaiah. For comfort and reassurance how about “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you. Is. 43:1:4. And great verses putting man in his place giving us the proper perspective of our Lord before His creatures: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Is. 55:8-12
Talk about the Word of God! Read and listen to the marvelous words from His own mouth. You may never think about the Lord God Almighty in the same way ever again after you immerse yourself in this book!
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]