bits from bob....

Isaiah: A "Promise" Theologian

by Robert J. Young
©, 2001, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

"Promise theologian" is not original with me--it is Walter Kaiser's description. Many think Isaiah is the greatest prophet in the OT. Certainly he is a stellar spokesman for God in the 8th century B.C. His descriptions of the Holy One of Israel, reflected in Isaiah's call in chapter 6; the Branch, the source of last days gifts; and Immanuel, the ultimate promise of the presence of God; present themes which are threaded throughout the remainder of Scripture as part of the rich tapestry of God's ultimate plan.

One of Isaiah's remarkable literary achievements is seen in the last 27 chapters of his prophecy. This group of three nine-chapter sections reveals the character and activity of God in a way surpassed only by the flesh-and-blood revelation of the living Word, Jesus Christ. It is a strong theology, even as Romans in the NT, yet virtually unknown to many.

This is about God. The magnificence of the Master is initiated in a majestic movement of the wilderness voice announcing his coming. The suffering servant and Savior surface in the middle apex, only to be surpassed by the news of the news heavens and new earth.

1. The Universal God (40-48). The holy, righteous God is Lord of all. Michael--Who is like God? I am Yahweh (41:13; 42:6,8; 43:3,11; 45:5,6,18); I am the first and the last (41:4; 44:6; 48:12); I am He (41:4; 43:10,25; 46:4; 48:12); I am God (43:13; 46:9); I am your God (41:10). This is the Creator-God, redeemer God, lord of history, king of all, controller and revealer of the future. This is an unlimited message, lighting the way for Jew and Gentile.

2. The Universal Savior (49-57). The suffering servant is Savior. The disconnect is apparent, the news incredible. More unbelievable to Israel, yet seldom seen in modern Christendom, is that the servant is both singular (referring to the coming anointed one) and plural (Israel, the servant, is indeed to play a part in the coming salvation).

3. The Universal Eschaton (58-66). When former things pass, God's new thing will come--new repentance (58-59), new city/dwelling (60), new order (heavens and earth). This is the eschaton of the Holy Spirit (63:7-14). The new exodus leads to a new rest under the coming warrior redeemer. Redemption and vengeance bring forth the irrevocable purpose of God--the new city inhabited by new people (62). In the new, all is renewed.

Can one see more clearly than this the progressive purpose of God? The creating God claims all, and thus must redeem, and provide an ultimate deliverance and end. Here in microcosm is a brief description of the work of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Thousands have been touched by the powerful conclusion to Isaiah's prophecy. One of my fellow professors counts a favorite verse in this section. If you've not lately seen the plan, person, and power of God, let me suggest you add Isaiah 40-66 to your Bible reading plan soon.

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Last updated December 10, 2001.