Hope Lost and Found:
Insights on God’s Plan of Salvation, Revival and Restoration
Part 18 — God's Way of Challenging Us
by Harvey L. Diamond
Like some other books of the Prophets, Isaiah uses challenging language. At times he is blunt and direct; yet at other times he uses imagery and allegory--not unlike the parables of Jesus. So, like Jesus, Isaiah challenges us to tenaciously engage with God to gain a broadened view of God's perspective.
Isaiah also displays God's nature as a Creator not limited in the ways of time and space. For, his messages relate to events taking place in different places, and during different segments of time. What God does through Isaiah is truly challenge us to look beyond the realm of physical life and discover His perspective of spiritual reality. He challenges us to prepare our heart to receive revelation and insight from the Holy Spirit, and be open to getting to know the one true living God who lives in eternity.
Isaiah's use of linguistic style is certainly challenging. It has historically led to much debate. The different times and settings written about, as well as changes in emotion and tone raise issues of concern. A reality of life skeptics must grip is that all of us go through paths over the course of time that affect our circumstances, influencing our emotions and ways we communicate. Isaiah was no different. God used him in a magnificent way. Though challenging, if you allow his writings to speak to your heart, they will draw you to God.
For, truly, God's way is to challenge us! The issue of the authenticity of Isaiah's writings has, therefore, led to continuing debate between Jews and Christians; as well as between traditional sects of Jews and Messianic Jews who claim belief in Jesus Christ as the Lord.
How then, can we believe that Isaiah's writings truly point to Jesus Christ as the Lord? How can we believe the Bible Scriptures, and justify Isaiah as a primary source of Christian and Messianic prophecy? Part of the issue revolves around language discussing the coming of the Messiah.
Traditional Jewish thought retains the matter of the coming of the Messiah as depicted by many of Isaiah's prophecies. Christians and Messianic Jews, however, see two types of Messianic comings, or advents. Those who believe Jesus came as the Messiah see first, the more than 100 Old Testament Scripture passages graphically illustrating how the Messiah would come and be treated, and how Jesus in fact did fulfill them. Secondly, they acknowledge Scriptures pointing to a second coming. One obvious one is in Isaiah 11. See how this unfolds starting with v.11:
"The Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left..."
The Hebrew word used for "second time" is sheniy, clearly meaning second time, or again. Some scholars see this second deliverance as the exodus from Babylon. In a literal sense it does. However, it also ties to many other Scriptures pointing to the Messiah's ultimate second coming and victory.
With open hearts, we therefore, have the opportunity to see the many ways Jesus fulfilled Scripture, and receive the blessings of fellowship with God through His Spirit while we are on earth, as well as eternal fellowship in heaven; and in addition, look forward in hope to His second coming, when He comes in the fullness of His glory!
In the meantime, it behooves us to enter into the type of engagement with God that He intended in the beginning! For, He intended for us to know Him intimately, and relate and interact with Him in a real and dynamic way.