The First Isaiah, Prophet of Israel
I am here, Jesus:
Isaiah, son of Amos, is known as the prophet of faith in God par exellence, in which this faith is applied to the nation of Judah as a whole, and served to show that God cannot be left out of national politics. In Amos, and in Hosea, we saw that these prophets of Israel warned of threatened disaster to the nation because of moral laxitude and sin, but Isaiah went further, and while he, too, continued the warnings for Israel, and also Judah, because of sin and injustices that swept over the land, yet his warnings were also of a political nature and dealt with politics and foreign affairs on the highest international level.
Isaiah is the first great counselor of peace for his country. He began to prophesy during the year of King Uzziah's death about the year 738 B.C. For some years before, Uzziah had been suffering with leprosy and his son Jotham had been in charge of the Government. Uzziah worshipped Jehovah in the Temple at Jerusalem because of political affairs, but he permitted the pagan rites to be performed in the high places.
He had conquered Philistia and rebuilt the port of Elath on the Red Sea and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod, northern Phillistine towns along the border of Judah. He also constructed fortifications in Jersualem, repaired trenches, built watch towers as a warning system against enemy invasions. He fought wars with the Arabians and Mehunians and defeated them, reorganized the army and did much to further agriculture and improve the water supply. A good report of him was given in the Scriptures in II Chronicles, Chapter 26, Verses 7 - 10, despite his recognition of pagan worship.
What made Isaiah prophesy against Judah was a two fold indictment. The prosperity of the country, with victory and larger territory, brought with it conditions similar to Israel, with inordinate taste for luxury, the introduction of foreign customs, manners and ideas, false pride, avarice and the resultant trampling upon the poor. The second factor was the ascension to the Assyrian throne of Tiglath-Pileser in 746 B.C. and the conquests made by this monarch, Damascus, Tyre and other states submitting to his power. Judah would need all of God's help to prevent it from falling prey to Assyria, as did these countries, and as Israel did in 721 B.C. before the Christian Era. II Chronicles, Chapter 28, verse 20.
Now Uzziah's son, Jotham, did not last very long on the throne of Judah after his father's death. He continued the policy then in effect of permitting pagan worship in the Judean countryside but preached Judaism in Jerusalem. He defeated the Ammonites, built cities in the hill territory of Judah and fortresses and watch towers in the forests, erected in the capital the high gate of the Temple and began work on the walls on the hill of Ophel. He died at the age of 41, just at the time the forces of Israel and Syrians marched against Judah because of his refusal to join against Assyria. Ahaz, his son, who came to the throne, was a timid person who lacked religious faith, and the appearance of the hostile soldiers made him and many of his subjects very fearful of their personal safety. Of this, I shall speak later.
Such was the state of affairs in Judah at the time Isaiah had been prophesying for some years. This prophet was a native of Jerusalem, a member of Uzziah's royal family, being a cousin on his father's side. It seems strange that this young man, who belonged to the nobility, did not partake of their aristocratic attitude of the time toward public life, but rather espoused the cause of the common tradesmen and workers in Jerusalem, who wanted to remain at peace with the other nations of the area. But when I pointed out that the prophets had been staunch in their stand for peace, as against violence and warfare, then one may better understand his position against Judah's alliance with other countries to fight Assyria, as well as his attitude of faith in God as the real and only genuine means of protecting his country. Here he clashed with the King, and with the militant nobility.
Isaiah, as a young man in his early twenties, began his ministry as a prophet at the death of King Uzziah, and his picturesque vision of his call by God is given in the 6th Chapter of his Book in the Scriptures.
Many of his early prophecies are in the vein of Amos and Hosea, both of whom he studied and relied upon for prophetic messages. He bewailed the sins of Judah, the terror to befall the country on the Day of Jehovah, the day when the wicked leaders would be consumed, the superficiality of the wealthy women, the ruin of Israel. These messages, of course, insist upon reform to meet Jehovah's standards of ethics and justice. But in the parable of the unprofitable vineyard, Isaiah showed his insight into God's relationship to the nation; like Moses, he emphasized the Father's Love for His children, then laid bare their disloyalty to Him. He pictured God as the Planter and Judah as the vineyard:
Let me sing of my beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
Well, my well-beloved had a vineyard
In a very fruitful hill;
And He plowed it carefully
And gathered out the stones thereof,
And planted it with the choicest vines,
And built a tower in the midst of it,
And also hewed out a winepress therein;
Then He waited when it would produce grapes
But it brought forth wild grapes. (Isaiah, Chapter 5, verses 1-2)
Isaiah thus spoke to the people of their ingratitude towards the Father by this sinful behavior. He then continues as though God is speaking through him -- demanding judgment:
"What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I
have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it
should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes."
(Isaiah, Chapter 5, verse 4)
"For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of
Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant: and He
looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness,
but behold a cry. (Isaiah, Chapter 5, verse 7)
The important thing to remember, for my prophet here, is that Isaiah thus continued the conception of God's Divine Love for His people. He spoke, and wrote, in a parable that was clear and dear to all Hebrews -- the love that the man of the soil has for his field. God loved the Hebrews because they were the ones to carry out His commands for justice and righteousness, and God, the Husband of Israel, or God, the Planter of the vineyard, was God who loved with His Divine Love the people of His choice and when necessary chastise them so that they would return to Him - - through practice of those sacred commands for righteousness and justice which characterized Him for the Hebrews at this period. And yet, such is the faith of Isaiah in God, that, he declares, the time will come when not only Judah would return to Him, but all mankind as well.
For Isaiah knew and proclaimed that Jehovah is not only God of the Hebrews -- but the universal God of all mankind,
"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let
us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the
God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His Ways, and we
will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
Isaiah, Chapter 2, verse 3)
Isaiah was positive that the Father's Word must come from Jerusalem. I believed this, and it was one of the reasons why I went to Jerusalem to bring my message of the Father's Love to the city of David. The Word of the Lord had to come from Jerusalem. Thus many of my messages of Divine Love, though not recorded, were given in the Temple. Isaiah also spoke his messages of universal peace, an ideal for the future, which constitutes one of the great passages in the Bible: (Isaiah, Chapter 2, verses 4-5).
"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall
rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into
plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up the sword against nation,
neither shall they learn of war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in
the light of the Lord."
As Isaiah thus denounced war, and spoke against rebellion as the way to Salvation, the same did I when I appeared on earth. As Isaiah predicted peace through knowledge of God, I taught peace between the Zealots and Roman overlords in Palestine -- peace to prevent the nation from destruction, and peace among all mankind through brotherly love -- with the Father's Love possessing each soul and bringing to each a compassionate understanding of that of his brothers, regardless of race or color, through adherence to my Way to Eternal Salvation through prayer for His Divine Love.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens.
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