Isaiah is a somewhat mysterious character. We know quite a bit about him, but it is hard to get to know him. His name means Yahweh saves. The Old Testament book which bears his name is placed first in the books of the prophets. Its many insights into the character of God present a picture of Him being mighty and exalted, high and lifted up, holy and righteous. The book of Isaiah is often referred to as “the fifth gospel” because of its many references to the Messiah, both in His first and second comings. Isaiah uses the word salvation almost three times as many times as all the other prophetic books combined.
Isaiah saw Christ in His pre-existent state. He accurately foretold the virgin birth of Christ, the coming of John the Baptist as the forerunner, and many details of the suffering of Christ. Isaiah also gave us a glimpse into the work of the resurrected Christ, as He intercedes for us with the Father and indwells believers. Isaiah predicts the vengeance and wrath of the second coming of Christ and gives details of the absolute, supernatural age of peace and harmony that will exist in His coming reign. Hallelujah, even now, Lord Jesus!
When Christ began His earthly ministry, He went to the synagogue of His home town of Nazareth. Luke 4:17-21 gives an account, “And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are downtrodden, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (NASU)
What a beautiful description of the Messiah’s work: preaching the gospel to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, giving sight to the blind, freeing the downtrodden, proclaiming the favorable year of the Lord. Upon reading it, Christ proclaimed that this prediction had been fulfilled that very day in their presence. Certainly, He is stating in no uncertain terms that He is the long-awaited Messiah. It is very interesting to examine Isaiah 61 which Jesus read from in Luke 4. He stopped His reading in mid-sentence. Why? He carefully selected the passage to show that He was the Messiah and that the prophecy had been fulfilled. However, the rest of the sentence was not fulfilled at that time. Today, it still has not been fulfilled, but rest assured, it will be. The next phrase says, “And the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2, NASU). Christ’s first coming brought about the wonderful, comforting, saving of the lost and dying, broken-hearted and downtrodden. The day of vengeance won’t take place until His second coming. He could not proclaim its fulfillment then, but He will certainly proclaim that vengeance someday. No one knows when, but many believe it will be soon. Vengeance will come swift and sure and bloody, but not to all, only to those who have refused God’s gracious offer of reconciliation and forgiveness. Those who have given their very lives to the Christ will be ushered into the presence of God, seated at a lavishly furnished banquet table, to adore their Savior forever. Attendance is by reservation only. Have you placed yours?
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.