Profiles of the Prophets: Isaiah

Isaiah is the most quoted of any prophet. His Messianic messages are made more powerful through symbolism and literary style. His prophecies of the Restoration are also powerful and detailed.

His writings also reflect the national and international events of the latter half of the 8th century B.C., the context of which should be considered in seeking to understand his meaning.He was the son of Amoz the prophet (not to be confused with the prophet Amos) who served in Jerusalem in the early 8th century B.C., "associated more intimately with Jerusalem and the House of David than any of the other prophets." (Dictionary of the Bible, by Hastings, Grant and Rowley.) The scriptures indicate that he was married and had two children, whose names like the names of the children of the prophet Hosea, were symbolic. Isa

iah's first son's name was Shear-jashub, "a remnant shall return," and his second son's name was Maher-shalal-hash-baz, or "Speed spoil, haste prey."

Isaiah lived and gave his prophetic utterances during the rule of Hezekiah, about 740-701 B.C. According to tradition, his death came during the reign of Manasseh, when he was "sawn asunder." (LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 707; Heb. 11:37.)

Isaiah speaks of his calling in a vision in which he saw the Lord, "sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple."

"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." (Isa.6:5.)

Isaiah related that his sins were then forgiven and he was sent to "tell the people" and to continue his prophecies "Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant. . . ." (Isa. 6:9,11.)

"The writings of Isaiah deal with events of his day as well as events beyond his time, some of which have already come to be. The bulk of Isaiah's prophecies deal with the coming of the Redeemer, both in His first appearance and as the Great King at the last day, as the God of Israel. A major theme is that God requires righteousness of His people, and until they obey Him they will be smitten and scattered by their enemies. But in the end, Israel will be restored; the barren land will be made fruitful and able to support a large population; and the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, will dwell in the midst of His people, who will be called Zion. . . . Some prophecies are probably fulfilled more than one time and/or have more than one application." (LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 707.)

Many of Isaiah's descriptions have become part of the language and are particularly vivid. The state of the wicked, for example, is "like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." (Isa. 57:20-21.)

His description of the millennium is likewise powerful:

"And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp [a poisonous snake], and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' [a venomous snake] den.

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11:8-9.)

Isaiah's writings of Christ are among the most sublime in literature. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6.)

Isaiah also turned his words to the restoration of the gospel and possibly to modern missionary work when he wrote: "And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:

"None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:

"Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:

"Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it." (Isa. 5:26-29.)

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