We concluded Isaiah 2 days ago, another milestone in our Bible in a Year project; it was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I could not but feel a slight sense of loss as I turned the page after the last chapter (possibly on espying Jeremiah to come?). It is a long book, we had journeyed together for a while, but it is much more than the mere length of it. One gets caught up in Isaiah, the last chapters in my Bible are marked, they bear the imprint of my assent with Amen, yes, hmm, appended all over them. I take it all personally; God is speaking to Israel, to the church and to you and I.
Isaiah paints a vast picture of a mighty but merciful God, a God who speaks of events to occur hundred years hence as though they were already there, a God who loves deeply, yet does not continue to leave sin unpunished.In Isaiah we see God having to deal with a headstrong and wilful people, surrounded by nations who are a microcosm of rebellious humanity, yet despite the failings of His people still offers restoration and redemption.
At many an unexpected turn comes a stirring redemption song. Indeed, Isaiah contains some of the most beautiful and poignant descriptions of the Christ, the One to come. Who can remain indifferent to Isaiah 53, nearly as heart wrenching as the even the gospel accounts of the passion it so eloquently prefigures.
Also in Isaiah do we see one of the most moving visions of the throne of God and the glory, worship and majesty of it. The prophet in his reaction typifies what man must of necessity do before a holy God, cry out his uncleaness and receive forgiveness, forgiveness and commissioning for service. The book is as varied as it is rich. Isaiah flies high, digs deep, soars and penetrates, frightens and delights, comforts and sustains.
And in Isaiah, I met some old friends again, cherished Scriptures I had meditated on, chewed on, lived in and lived on many a time, sometimes many years ago; I went back to my rivers in the midst of dry land, pools in the desert, eloquent vows of deliverance, restoration and victory. Many of these mothered and mentored me once, and encourage me still. Many were companions in some very dark places. Faithful indeed they were, and true they proved themselves to be.
Isaiah is a place to sink into the tender embrace of a powerful yet loving king, and commit to walk in holiness. It’s a place that speaks of hope in the midst of desolation. Several years ago, a friend, looking at the many markings in Isaiah in my Bible wondered astonished that I seemed to like Isaiah so much, I looked at them taken aback, and wondered even more astonished that they did not.