13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
I would be willing to believe that Jesus quoted from Isaiah more than any other book of the Old Testament Bible. In fact, according to the chart “Old Testament texts quoted in the New Testament” on The Interactive Bible, it appears Isaiah is quoted 37 times in the NT (if I counted correctly), although not all those were by Jesus. It is obviously an important book of significant prophetic and inspirational value. I believe (IOW, it is my opinion) our Savior drew as much emotionally as He did informationally and prophetically from the book.
As an interesting aside, another page on the same site, “Which Old Testament text did Jesus prefer and quote from?“, tells us Jesus quoted from 24 different OT books but “The New Testament never quotes from the any of the apocryphal books written between 400 – 200 BC. What is significant here is that NONE of the books within the ‘apocryphal collection’ are every quoted.”
Is it any wonder that books like Isaiah are under attack by “higher critics”? After all, by discrediting books like Isaiah, they are indirectly discrediting belief in Christ Himself!
The exact relationship between the Book of Isaiah and any such historical Isaiah remains the subject of ongoing scholarly discussion. One widespread view sees parts of the first half of the book (chapters 1–39) as originating with the historical prophet, interspersed with prose commentaries written in the time of King Josiah a hundred years later; with the remainder of the book dating from immediately before and immediately after the end of the exile in Babylon, almost two centuries after the time of the original prophet.
~ Wikipedia, “Isaiah“
However, Jesus upheld the Book of Isaiah as canon, as well as the rest of the Torah, Prophets and Writings that were already assembled in His day.
Not only that, but He read them and was able to quote them, paraphrase them and give insights from them no one else had noticed before. The religious leaders of the day claimed to follow them but did not and twisted them to suit their purposes, but He was able to confound them with the very thing they claimed to use as the basis for their actions.
I believe the fact that He was recorded as quoting from Isaiah so often is of some significance. Isaiah is filled with inspiration. The prophecies contained therein speak often of the Messiah and of restoration. They proclaim in various ways God’s love for His people. No wonder Jesus quoted it so much!
I know a family going through several trials at the same time. Recently, things have taken a hopeful upturn. When it comes to the things in this life, we can never be certain about so many things. Yet, one person in this family pointed to Isaiah for their inspiration.
43 Now this is what the Lord says—
the One who created you, Jacob,
and the One who formed you, Israel—
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine.
2 I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you.
God sees you through your trials, not from them! It should be noted that God does not keep the waters from coming. He does not keep the fires from burning. In fact, you could ask Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (aka Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) all about that if you were alive in their day! God allowed them to be thrown into the furnace, but they came out not only unscathed but not even smelling of smoke! God saw them through their trial.
We need to understand that their tremendous faith was recorded for us, not for their benefit. The Bible is not a book that promotes certain individuals for their own glory but rather in how they glorified God in their actions. However, examples are also given to comfort and inspire us.
We should not treat inspiration as fluff. Rather, instead, we are told over and over again to encourage and edify one another. We are told this by none other than the Apostle Paul, a man who knew danger and oppression well.
Do you know where Paul learned to be such an encourager? From none other “the son of encouragement”!
36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus,
Different translations have various synonyms for encouragement. Some say he was an “exhorter”, “son of consolation”, but they mean all basically the same thing. You take someone who is down and pick them back up again.
After Saul, who later was renamed Paul, was converted, no one wanted anything to do with him! The Christians were all terrified of him! Many, I’m sure, assumed that his conversion was just a ruse to find out who they were and be able to later identify them and drag them off.
26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
Paul learned from the best, and his later exploits he would find that this initial encouragement was much needed. In addition, it gave him the groundwork for continuously instructing the churches to edify one another, not to mention his constant outpouring of love towards them.
You know this is important enough to deviate somewhat from where I intended to go, but to those whom say “Love is keeping the commandments”, I challenge you to read what Paul wrote:
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Does this sound like some sort of strictly epheral, “higher” and theoretical kind of love that is devoid of emotion? No! God gave us emotions, so let us understand they are real, they have value, but also that they have their place. Even righteous anger has its place, although it needs to be determined whether or not it is self-righteousness before action!
4 Because you are precious in My sight
and honored, and I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you
and nations instead of your life.
~ Isa 43:4
Again, is this some sort of theoretical love devoid of feeling? Again, No! The focus on keeping the commandments equaling (actually being higher, if they were honest) than love focuses on it backwards. You show lack of love by not keeping the commandments, just as you show your love towards God by keeping them. However, in each case, they are the result not the cause.
5 Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north: Give them up!
and to the south: Do not hold them back!
Bring My sons from far away,
and My daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone called by My name
and created for My glory.
I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.”
~ vv 5-7
We are precious because God chose us. Otherwise, we are more or less just another walking clay pot. However, we who are chosen are softened by the water of God’s Spirit, formed by the hands of the master potter (sometimes pulled, kneaded, pinched and pulled along the way), and then, when all seems settled down, we are put through the fire.
It can all be seriously discouraging. Just ask Elijah. He was one of the greatest prophets of all time, yet after what most consider his most significant accomplishment, he runs away and prays for death. During his ministry, he was often alone, he felt alone, and thus visible encouragement was in short supply.
The clay cannot look into the mirror, and even if it did could it see the final product? Why is so much of the Bible prophecy, anyhow? To give us hope for the future!
Things get tough before Passover, don’t they? Everyone deals with something different, but even the “small” things can seem overwhelming when they build on top of one another. Rare is the person I know who only has to deal with one thing at a time.
You want to know something? Things got tough in Egypt before Passover too! Pharaoh was a tyrant before, and after Moses told Pharaoh to let Israel go in order to worship God, Pharaoh became a completely unreasonable tyrant.
2 But Pharaoh responded, “Who is Yahweh that I should obey Him by letting Israel go?…
Of course, Pharaoh got his answer, didn’t he?
It should be noted that Israel apparently shared in the first three plagues as well. Beginning with the fourth plague, however, God states:
22 But on that day I will give special treatment to the land of Goshen, where My people are living; no flies will be there. This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land. 23 I will make a distinction between My people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow.”
So, God saw Israel through the first three plagues, but afterwards He showed them mercy and spared them further distress from His hand (there were still the Egyptians to deal with, no doubt).
There is something Israel should have learned from all of this, but they did not. OK, maybe there were several things they should have learned from this, but I believe that the most important lesson they missed was the lesson that Paul eventually learned. The question is whether or not we have learned it. For the record, I’m still learning it myself.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
~ 2Co 12:9