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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

A.2:1-4:6 Promises of Judgments of Zion

B. 5:1-7 The Song of the Vineyard

C. 5:8-30 One Side of a Framework of Judgment Against Ephraim and Judah

D. 6:1-9:7 The Testimony of Isaiah

E. 9:8-10:4 The Other Side of a Framework of Judgment Against Judah and Ephraim.

F.10:5-11:16 Woe to Assyria and Promise to Judah

G.12:1-6 Anticipatory Praise

H.13:1-23:18 Oracles against the Nations:

22:1-14: Warning to Jerusalem: We do not know why Isaiah referred to Jerusalem as the valley of vision. Verses 1-2  are about a celebration, perhaps the end of the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE. But the following verses describe a destructive Day of the Lord. Elam and Kir supplied mercenaries for the Assyrian army. Are verses 12-14 bitter, fatalistic statements in the face of disaster? Or are the words of the celebration turned around?

22:15-25 Against Hezekiah’s Royal Officials Shebna and Eliakim. See Jer 20:1-6 and 2 Kings 18-19. The tomb of Shebna has been found in the Kidron Valley. Even though Eliakim will replace Shebna, Eliakim will also fail.

23:1-18 Against Tyre: Tyre was a major Phoenician city. The Phoenicians were a major sea trading nation. Ultimately Tyre’s trading profits and goods will be dedicated to God.

I.24:1-27:13 Promises and Visions of the Future: These chapters are sometimes called the “Isaiah Apocalypse”. They are a later addition to the book of Isaiah and are from a variety of traditions: lament, thanksgiving, judgment oracles, promises, songs and prophetic oracles. These chapters interprets the earlier oracles against the nations, especially in terms of God’s future restoration of the world. Babylon is named as a representative city which is the object of God’s wrath. Notice the fates of Babylon and Jerusalem as they are contrasted in these chapters.

24:1-23 Prophetic announcement of God’s punishment of earth:There is no escaping the judgment. Who are the people in verses 14-16 who glorify God? Perhaps Judah who is vindicated “on that day”? Heaven and earth are affected.

25:1-12: The Lord’s blessing of the earth: Verses 1-5 are a psalm of Thanksgiving. Notice the poor and needy are protected. In verses 6-10 a banquet is held for all the nations on Mount Zion- the Temple. Sacrifices made at the Temple were thought of as a meal shared by God and God’s people. The last verses of the chapter are against Moab.

26:1-21 Judah petitions God: Verses 1-6 are a hymn of praise.Verses 7-21 area a hymn of lament and (in verse 21) an assurance of God’s response.Notice the statement that the “dead shall live”. This may be a reference to the resurrection of individuals but it also may be a statement of confidence that God will restore Israel as a nation.

27:1-13 “In that day” and “Those to Come” Now a series of four statements of the future and reversals of past events. The leviathan is, in ancient Near East symbolism, the monster of chaos. Verses 2-5 are a new song of the vineyard. Recall in 5:1-7 the Song of the vineyard was an oracle of judgment. Verse 6 Jacob takes root. Recall 6:13 where there is only a seed in the stump. Verses 7-13 an unnamed city is deserted. Through the experience of the Exile guilt has been removed. The oppressor has been removed and the exiles are gathered and returned home.

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.

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