Dear 365 Readers,
I am still marveling at the content of Isaiah… chapters 40-66 might be some of my favorite in the whole Bible. It’s incredible to think Isaiah wrote all the passages about the exile and return of Israel, the coming of Jesus Christ, and the new heaven and new earth so long before any of those things came to pass (or haven’t happened yet!). We are also personally grateful for Isaiah 56:6-7 and 66:19-21 where Isaiah shares that the gospel will be for ALL peoples of ALL nations. So fantastic!
Jeremiah spoke (or wrote) in the time period just after Isaiah was put to death. For more than 40 years he delivered a warning to top officials that they did not want to hear and refused to heed. The destruction of Judah was coming, and no one wanted to listen to the truth.
For me, the interesting character is Jeremiah. He was a reluctant prophet, insecure, unhappy, afraid of ridicule and death. He hated standing alone against the crowd. He was moody, and he felt unprepared and incapable of the task God called him to. And yet Jeremiah obeyed – he is one of the best examples in the Bible of what it means to follow God in spite of everything.
You can re-read 2 Kings 23-25 to understand the period when Jeremiah was speaking. Unfortunately his messages are not chronological, so you might need to watch for the names of kings in order to keep it all straight. And finally, one chapter of special note – chapter 31 is God’s promise of restoration and a new covenant.
Dear 365 Readers,
Tomorrow (7/16) we start reading in Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet – a preacher, poet, and politician. He was an advisor to the kings of Judah (the southern kingdom after the split) for some 60 years, outlasting four kings until finally wicked King Manasseh had him killed. He is a giant of Jewish history, often called the Shakespeare of Hebrew literature. The book of Isaiah is quoted more in the New Testament than all the other prophets combined, and no other Biblical author can match Isaiah for his rich vocabulary and imagery!
When Isaiah began speaking the nation of Judah seemed strong and wealthy, but Isaiah saw signs of danger. People used their power to harass the poor. Men went around drunk, and women cared more about their clothes than about their neighbor’s hunger. People kept up the outward appearance of religion but did little more. Outside of Judah’s borders other nations, like Egypt and Assyria and later Babylon, grew strong and dangerous.
Though he was an advisor to kings, Isaiah spoke the cold, hard truth and warned of disaster to come. From chapter one on the question is asked, “Why do you persist in rebellion?!” (1:5) As you read this collection of Isaiah’s sermons and warnings, watch for these things:
What are the sins the people have committed? (watch for the “woes”)
What judgments are rendered?
What promises and future hopes are mentioned? (watch for prophecies of the savior to come)
Watch also for “the Spirit of the Lord” (at least 10x) and see what you discover!