PART ELEVEN – ISAIAH AND JEREMIAH
This book is purported to have been written in the 8th century BCE by a prophet names Isaiah ben Amoz. However, like much of the bible, its authorship and timeline are in dispute. Scholarly consensus is that it was written by at least two authors, with the latter part of the book written in the 6th century, during and after the exile. The gist of the book is that after ‘cleansing’, Jerusalem will become the centre of god’s worldwide rule. A righteous Davidic king will take the throne and a messiah will emerge. The book continues with themes of keeping the covenant, the restoration of Israel, and the pilgrimage of nations to Zion (Jerusalem).
Heads up if you are barely paying attention for a lot of this Old Testament stuff – if you want the readings to make sense we get to Jesus, you need to pay careful attention during the book of Isaiah. It’s full of prophesy, and Christians relate most of that prophesy to Jesus. When we get to the NT claims that Jesus’ birth was foretold – well, Isaiah is where it was foretold. In order to connect these prophesies up in their proper context later, you need to know be familiar with Isaiah.
I won’t kid you – this is a dark, gloomy book in which the prophet ruminates about his role as a servant of God, with little good news for his audience. It takes place historically from the reign of King Josiah about 627 BC through the subjugation of Judah by the Babylonians in 605, and the destruction of Jerusalem in 587/586. It was written in complex poetic Hebrew by Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, and there are two known versions, one Hebrew and one Greek, both heavily edited in later ages. The gist of it is that the destruction of Israel and the Babylonian exile are god’s punishment for disobedience and pagan worship. Jeremiah calls for repentance, is consumed by bitterness at those who oppose or ignore him, and accuses God of betraying him.