Here’s another major source of controversy regarding prophesy associated with Jesus. V 1-7 describes Isaiah’s prediction that the dark days after the fall of Jerusalem will not go on forever, but that Israel will be released from slavery and renewed under a future great leader, who will reign from the throne of David with justice for all eternity. So who will this great leader be? According to Jewish tradition, the salvation of which Isaiah speaks in v 1-2 is the miraculous end of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem in the days of the ‘Prince of Peace’, King Hezekiah, a child of King Ahaz. And most Jews believe that the child referred to in v 6 is the coming Messiah. If you’re Christian, however, these verses can only mean Jesus. But is there really any mention of Jesus in here? Read carefully. Sure, Jesus has been called the ‘Prince of Peace’, but that’s just another example of retro-prophesy. Early Christians connected Jesus to OT prophesies in an effort to argue their case that he was the Messiah.
V 8-21 go on to describe Isaiah’s vision of the lord’s anger against the Israelites. More gratuitous violence here – Yahweh has no pity even for widow or orphans (v 17). The land will be blackened, and people will turn cannibal (v 19-21). Warning: these verses are NSFW.
Our friend George Handel cherry-picked a couple of verses from this chapter and turned them into familiar phrases. V 2 became a baritone aria in his Messiah, and v 6 became one of the best-known choruses.
Here’s some light reading on Isaiah if you’re so inclined.
To understand this chapter, you have to go back and reread 2 Kings 19. These two chapters are essentially the same story told first from Hezekiah’s point of view, then from that of Isaiah. I’m not going to comment further on it, because we’ve been there and done that in Kings. But it’s worth noting again the ruthlessness of Yahweh as the maniacal puppet-master – see v 4-7; 16-19; 22-23.
Read this carefully. Isaiah continues his vision of how wonderful when the great leader (from chapter 9) comes. It says that the leader will come from Jesse’s lineage (Jesse was David’s father). That line appears in the Christmas choral work Lo How a Rose. Note the lyrics in the second verse “Isaiah foretold it”.
Which brings me to the next point – is this leader Jesus? Christians believe so. Read or listen to the lyrics of the carol to see how Christians have connected the text to Jesus, when the actual text doesn’t indicate this association at all.
In Isaiah 11:6-9, Christians are sure that when the Messiah (ie Jesus) comes to reign over the earth, the whole world will be righteous and peaceful. The lion will lie down with the lamb… no, wait, it doesn’t say that. Then why is that line so famous? V 6 actually says that the ‘wolf’ will lie down with the lamb. Did someone mix up the wording to make it sound better? (The alliteration of ‘lion’ has a nicer ring, doesn’t it?)
You see these types of images everywhere on religious merchandise and in children’s books. The chapter concludes (v 10-16) with the lord gathering up and reassembling all his exiled people in Israel. Which is why conservative Christians support Zionism – because they believe it is necessary to fulfil this biblical prophecy.
Verse 8 deserves a post all to itself. Not only will the animals get along, but the world will be so safe that children will not have to be afraid of… what, exactly? In Hebrew, a basilisk (a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance). Last time I ran across one was in Harry Potter. In the KJV, a cockatrice (a mythical beast, essentially a two-legged dragon with a rooster’s head). (Note that these creatures are essentially the same – a google search for an image turns up the same drawing for both.) In modern bible translations, a cobra. I guess believers grew tired of being laughed at for believing in mythological creatures 😉
There’s nothing of note in here. It’s more like a psalm – thank the lord and praise his name etc. zzzz