You will find an introduction and outline of Isaiah, here.
A prayer to use before you read, from the Book of Common Worship.
O Lord our God, your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love, that we may be obedient to your will and live always for your glory; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Outline of Isaiah 1-39
I. 1:1-31 Title and Prologue
II. 2:1-39:8 The Testimony of Isaiah from the Death of King Uzziah to the End of Time
J.28:1-33:24 Judgments and Promises to Judah:
The oracles in this section begin with “Woe”, “Ah”, “Alas”, “Ha”,or “Oh” depending on your translation. The first judgment oracles are against Judah, then in chapter 33, judgment against Assyria and then oracles of promise in chapters 34-35. Generally speaking these chapters are about events during Hezekiah’s rebellion against Sennacherib (705-701 BCE).
28:1-29 Woe to Ephraim and to the Rulers in Judah: Verses 1-6: Ephriam was the main tribe of the Northern Kingdom. An oracle against the leaders and a promise of blessing to the remnant. Verse 7- 13 continues 1-4 but is directed toward Judah. The repeated lines in v 10 and 13 are not well understood. Perazim in verse 21 references 2 Sam 5:17-21 and the victory over the Philistines and Gibeon to Joshua 10:10 and the victory over the Canaanites. Verses 23-29 is a parable of the farmer. God, like a farmer, has a plan and a purpose.
29:1-14 Woe Ariel, City of David: “Ariel” is the Hebrew term for “lion of God” a reference to Judah. It is also related to the word for “altar hearth”. Verses 1-8 describe Jerusalem under siege and then a visitation by the Lord. Verses 9-12, similar to 6:9-10 the people do not understand. Verse 13-14 Even in worship the people do not rightly understand.
29:15-24 Woe to Ones Hiding from God’s Counsel: God is the potter, the people the clay, nothing is hidden from God. Verses 17-24 Israel’s suffering will be completed, a promise of reversal and redemption.
30:1-33 Woe to the Rebellious Children : A warning against seeking alliances with Egypt against Assyria: as Hezekiah did in 701 BCE. Verses 6-7 seem to be in reference to a caravan taking goods to Egypt and seeking Egypt’s help. Rahab is a mythological sea dragon which can also sometimes symbolize Egypt. Verse 8 and following, Isaiah writes down his oracles because the people will not listen and do not trust. Verses 18-26 ultimately God will be gracious and Judah will respond. Verses 27-33 are an oracle against Assyria and a song of deliverance.
31:1-32:20 Woe to Those Who Go Down to Egypt: Again Isaiah warns against alliances with Egypt. God will protect Jerusalem. Fire and furnace are references to the temple altar. 32:1-8 Talk of the coming day of justice with its reversals. (the blind see, the deaf hear…) These verses are patterned after wisdom literature. Verses 9-14 more reversal and transformation.
33:1-24 Woe to the Destroyer: This chapter is a series of oracles and entreaties. The prophets words are followed by a response from the people. This may have been a liturgical piece used in the temple. It may be an independent, post exile addition. Verses 1-6 the prophet’s words against the “destroyer with a congregational prayer in verse 2:, v 7-9 the lament of the people, v 10-13 another threat against the enemy, v 14-16 are similar to Psalm 15 and 24:3-6. Verse 17-19 a promise oracle, v 20-22 a hymn of confidence ( like Psalm 23), Verse 23 a threat, verse 24 a promise to Judah.
Read More About It:
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Isaiah.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 6, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 2001.
Sheppard, Gerald T. “Isaiah” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
Sweeney, Marvin A. “Isaiah” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.