Along with a group of lovely women, I just completed a year’s study on the book of Isaiah. (For a summary on this interesting book go here.)
Initially I was both intrigued and anxious about digging into such a deep, complex book of Scripture. And it has proven to be just that and more. It is an intense proclamation of judgment on the wicked, and yet full of promises of compassion and joy for the humble and righteous. And there are SO many reminders of God’s heart of justice for the oppressed and our responsibility to care for them. (1:16b-17, 25:4-5, 58:6-12)
In our final review lesson, our leader asked us to state 3 things that we have learned that we don’t want to forget. Mine are:
1) To intentionally practice LISTENING to God more (Is. 50:4, 55:2b)
2) To treat the SABBATH as the delight that it is (Is. 58:13)
3) To grow in understanding the purpose and presence of THE SPIRIT OF GOD (Is. 11:2-3, 59:21)
Throughout the year, I enjoyed continually coming across some of the most familiar verses and songs in the world of Christendom. For example:
PROPHECIES FULFILLED BY CHRIST
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (9:6)
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him (Jesus – the shoot from Jesse) – The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3a)
And pretty much all of Chapter 53.
I grew up singing this little diddy about the redeemed of the Lord and their everlasting joy in church thanks to Isaiah 51:11.
The beautiful passage in chapter 61 that vividly communicates what we get to trade: “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” has inspired a few songs including those performed by Shane and Shane, Cory Asbury, and Crystal Lewis.
In Isaiah 63:1, God describes himself as “mighty to save” and spurred the popular praise song from Hillsong.
Even the title of the wonderful devotional Streams in the Desert comes from Isaiah 35:6b. I highly recommend this for those who are going through a dry or difficult season.
The International House of Prayer movement gets its name from Isaiah 56:7b.
And then there are the standout chapters:
Isaiah 40 begins with “comfort, comfort my people,” contains every mom’s favorite promise that “he gently leads those that have young” and ends with those famous questions, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” We are eternally encouraged that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”
Isaiah 55 begins with an invitation for the thirsty to come, encourages all to listen and seek, reminds us that God’s ways & thoughts are higher than ours and that the word that goes out from His mouth never returns empty.
Isaiah 61 describes the year of the Lord’s favor and is the scripture that Jesus spoke in the temple to announce the beginning of his ministry. In it God also declares his love of justice and the everlasting covenant He has for His people whom He describes as “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (v.3b)
TRUTH AND WISDOM
“The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; and he has become my salvation.” (12:2b)
“You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (26:3-4)
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” (30:21)
“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (7:9b)
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (30:15b)
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (30:18)
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (32:17)
“Your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name…” (54:5)
DO NOT FEAR
“Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart…” (7:4a)
“…Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong do not fear; your God will come…” (35:4)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (41:10)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (43:1b)
PRAYERS FOR OUR CHILDREN
“Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.” (29:24) (Praying this for a particular child at the moment…)
“The noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.” (32:8)
“O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in times of distress…He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (33:2 & 6)
“You are precious and honored in His sight…He loves you.” (43:4)
“‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord. ‘My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,’ says the Lord.” (59:11)
“I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (44:3b)
“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (49:16)
“All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.” (54:13)