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Almost four years ago I published a blog post titled, “Invitation to the Thirsty,” which contains Isaiah 55 from The Message Bible. Below I’ve included Isaiah 55 from the New International Version along with the first two verses in Isaiah 56, and I’m adding a little background information on Isaiah, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. The following background information on Isaiah is taken from Truth for the World:
Isaiah is often called “The Messianic Prophet.” He is called this because he records many prophecies of the coming of the Messiah [Jesus Christ] into the world. “Messiah” means “the anointed one.” In the Old Testament, priests were anointed with oil when they were appointed to their office (Exodus 30:25-30; Leviticus 8:10-13). Prophets and kings were also anointed with oil when they were appointed by God (1 Samuel 16:1,13; 1 Kings 19:16). The prophets foretold the coming of One who would hold all three of these offices and be prophet, priest and king all in one. Therefore, He was called “The Anointed One” or “the Messiah.” The New Testament word for “The Anointed One” is “Christ.”
Isaiah prophesied during the rule of four different kings of Judah. They were Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1). Isaiah was probably born in Jerusalem about 760 B.C. He likely began prophesying about 740 B.C. He was God’s spokesman to Judah for fifty years or even longer. Hebrews 11:37 speaks of some men of faith who were “sawn in two.” According to the Jews, this is the way Isaiah was killed. When he was a very old man, the evil king, Manasseh, had his body placed between two planks of wood and sawed in two.
Isaiah lived and preached during a very important time in the world’s history. During most of his lifetime, Assyria was the most powerful nation on earth. Babylon was only beginning to gain strength as a nation. While Isaiah lived in Judah, Romulus and Remus were beginning the city of Rome. The Greek cities of Athens and Sparta were just being built. It was during Isaiah’s lifetime that the Northern Kingdom, Israel, was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. Micah, Amos, and Hosea were other prophets of God who lived during Isaiah’s lifetime.
During most of the time that Isaiah preached to God’s people, the nation of Judah was very prosperous. People forgot about God because they were so involved in the things of this world (Isaiah 59:1-8). The rich people lived in luxury and idleness. The poor suffered from lack of food and clothing (Isaiah 3:14-15; 32:9-15). Many of the people were drunkards (Isaiah 3: 16-26, 5:11-12, 22-23; 28:7-8). . . . Government officials were corrupt. They used their offices to oppress the poor (Isaiah 1:21-23). Even the prophets failed to do the job God had given them. Instead of rebuking sin and delivering God’s message, they preached what the people wanted to hear (Isaiah 9:14-16; 30:8-14).
The Book of Isaiah has sixty-six chapters. The first thirty-five chapters speak of God’s judgments on evil and evildoers. Chapters 36 through 39 tell of a time when the Assyrian army surrounded the city of Jerusalem. They planned to attack and destroy it. The leader of the Assyrians boasted that God could not save them just as the gods of other nations they had conquered had been unable to deliver them. King Hezekiah prayed to God about the matter. That very night God sent His angel into the camp of the Assyrians. The angel killed 185,000 Assyrians and the rest of the army fled (Isaiah 37:36-37).
The last section of Isaiah contains chapters 40 through 66. These chapters foretold that the nation of Babylon would arise and oppress God’s people. They also told of the sending of God’s Servant to suffer for the sins of the people. Finally, the glory of the Messianic Age is described. (Quote source here.)
The Book of Isaiah is one of the most important books of the Old Testament. While little is known of the personal life of the prophet, he is considered to be one of the greatest of them all.
The book is a collection of oracles, prophecies, and reports; but the common theme is the message of salvation. There was, according to these writings, no hope in anything that was made by people. The northern kingdom of Israel had been carried into captivity (722 B.C.), and the kingdom of Judah was in the middle of idolatry and evil. The kingdom of Assyria had dominated the Fertile Crescent and posed a major threat to both kingdoms; and the kingdom of Babylon was gaining power and would replace Assyria as the dominant threat. In view of the fast-changing international scene, the people of Israel would be concerned about their lot in life—what would become of the promises of God? How could the chosen people survive, let alone be a theocracy again? And must the remnant of the righteous also suffer with the nation that for all purposes was pagan?
To these and many other questions the book addresses itself.
There would be a purging of the nation because God is holy. Before the nation could inherit the promises made to the fathers, it would have to be made holy. So God would use the pagan nations to chasten Israel for its sins and cleanse it from iniquity. And even though the judgment of the captivity would punish sin and destroy the wicked unbelievers, the removal of iniquity would ultimately be the work of the Servant of the LORD, the promised Messiah. On the basis of such cleansing and purification, God would then establish the golden age, a time of peace and prosperity that the world has never known. When the holy God would make the remnant holy, then He would use them to rule over the nations rather than allow the nations again to discipline them.
The messenger of the message of salvation is the prophet Isaiah, whose name means “salvation of Yahweh,” or “Yah saves.” He was the son of Amoz; he may also have been related to the royal family, perhaps King Manasseh, by whom he was believed to have been sawn asunder (see the Apocryphal literature; Heb. 11:37). He prophesied in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, and also may have lived past Hezekiah into the reign of Manasseh. Assuming that he was a young man at the death of Uzziah in 742 B.C.when his official ministry began, he might have been 70 or 80 at the time of his death (ca. 680 B.C.). Therefore, the prophet would have ministered for at least 60 years in an effort to bring the nation back to God. . . .
. . . The setting of the first half of the book is Judah in the days of the Assyrians, and the setting of the second half of the book is Babylon, then Jerusalem again, and then beyond in the age to come. (Quote source and full article at this link).
There are several major themes in the Book of Isaiah: Sin, suffering, justice and judgment; power (human power and God’s power); loyalty; dreams, hopes, and plans; compassion and forgiveness including mercy (source here.) And within the Book of Isaiah is found one of the greatest invitations in the entire Bible–Isaiah 55:
Isaiah 55:1-13, 56:1-2 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Too often, we tend to have a one-dimensional image in our mind of who Jesus Christ is to us. He is, indeed, first and foremost, Lord and Savior to those who believe in and trust in him as their Lord and Savior. But beyond that, what do we really know about the character and nature of Jesus Christ?
Although He had “no beauty that we should desire Him…” (Isaiah 53:2), it was His “personality” that drew men to Him. He was a man of great character.
He had a COMPASSIONATE nature. He had compassion on the crowds “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Because of His compassion for them, He healed their diseases (Matthew 14:14; 20:34), and because of their hunger, He compassionately created enough food to feed more than 5000 (Matthew 15:32).
Jesus was SERIOUS and FOCUSED. He had a mission in life and never got sidetracked from it, knowing the weightiness of it and the shortness of time. His attitude was that of a SERVANT. “He did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). KINDNESS and SELFLESSNESS characterized His personality.
Jesus was SUBMISSIVE to His Father’s will when He came to earth and subsequently went to the cross. He knew that dying on the cross was the only payment His Father could accept for our salvation. He prayed the night of His betrayal by Judas, “O My Father, if it be possible, take this cup of suffering from Me: but let what you want be done, not what I want” (Matthew 26:39). He was a submissive son to Mary and Joseph, as well. He grew up in a normal (sinful) household, yet, “He continued in subjection to them…” (Luke 2:51). He was OBEDIENT to the Father’s will. “He learned obedience through the things that He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus had a heart of MERCY and FORGIVENESS – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). “…If we admit that we have sinned, He will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9). He was also LOVING in His relationships – “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” (John 11:5). John was known as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).
He had a reputation for being GOOD and CARING. He healed often and in most places where He went in order that they might know who He was! Truly He proved to be the Son of the living God by all the miracles He did, all the while showing concern for the afflictions of those around Him.
HONEST/TRUTHFUL – He never violated His own Word. He spoke truth wherever He went. He lived a life we could follow explicitly. “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE…” (John 14:6). At the same time, He was PEACEABLE. He did not argue His case, nor try to bully His way into people’s hearts.
Jesus was INTIMATE with His followers. He spent quality and quantity time with them. He coveted their fellowship, taught them, and helped them focus on what was eternal. He was also intimate with His Heavenly Father. He prayed to Him regularly, listened, obeyed, and cared about God’s reputation. (Angered at the money changers who were buying and selling in the temple, He said firmly and AUTHORITATIVELY, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you have made it a robbers den!”) He was obviously a STRONG, but quiet LEADER. Everywhere He went (until the inevitable decline), the people followed Him, eager to listen to His teaching.
He was PATIENT, knowing and understanding our frailties. He was and is “patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
These are traits that all believers should desire to become a part of their “personality” and character. The things that drew people to Jesus should be the very things that draw people to us. Jesus has given those who believe in Him His Holy Spirit, who enables us to be constantly changing into His image (Romans 8:29). This will only come about as we YIELD to Him for who He truly is…LORD of the universe! We must believe that He is conforming us into His image, and not resist His will for us. Even as Jesus never drew attention to Himself, (but rather to His Father), even so, we ought to say as John the Baptist did, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). (Quote source here.)
There are over 70 questions related to Jesus Christ with links to the answers on GotQuestions?org at this link. There are also approximately 200 names and titles attributed to Jesus Christ found in the Bible. Here are a few listed on GotQuestions?org:
The Nature of Christ
Chief Cornerstone: (Ephesians 2:20) – Jesus is the cornerstone of the building which is His church. He cements together Jew and Gentile, male and female—all saints from all ages and places into one structure built on faith in Him which is shared by all.
Firstborn over all creation: (Colossians 1:15) – Not the first thing God created, as some incorrectly claim, because verse 16 says all things were created through and for Christ. Rather, the meaning is that Christ occupies the rank and pre-eminence of the first-born over all things, that He sustains the most exalted rank in the universe; He is pre-eminent above all others; He is at the head of all things.
Head of the Church: (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23) – Jesus Christ, not a king or a pope, is the only supreme, sovereign ruler of the Church—those for whom He died and who have placed their faith in Him alone for salvation.
King of kings and Lord of lords: (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16) – Jesus has dominion over all authority on the earth, over all kings and rulers, and none can prevent Him from accomplishing His purposes. He directs them as He pleases.
Light of the World: (John 8:12) – Jesus came into a world darkened by sin and shed the light of life and truth through His work and His words. Those who trust in Him have their eyes opened by Him and walk in the light.
Prince of peace: (Isaiah 9:6) – Jesus came not to bring peace to the world as in the absence of war, but peace between God and man who were separated by sin. He died to reconcile sinners to a holy God.
Son of man: (John 5:27) – Used as a contrast to “Son of God” this phrase affirms the humanity of Christ which exists alongside His divinity.
Word: (John 1:1; 1 John 5:7-8) – The Word is the second Person of the triune God, who said it and it was done, who spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation, who was in the beginning with God the Father, and was God, and by whom all things were created.
Word of God: (Revelation 19:12-13) – This is the name given to Christ that is unknown to all but Himself. It denotes the mystery of His divine person.
Word of Life: (1 John 1:1) – Jesus not only spoke words that lead to eternal life, but according to this verse He is the very words of life, referring to the eternal life of joy and fulfillment which He provides.
His Position in the Trinity
Alpha and Omega: (Revelation 1:8; 22:13) – Jesus declared Himself to be the beginning and end of all things, a reference to no one but the true God. This statement of eternality could apply only to God.
Emmanuel: (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23) – Literally “God with us.” Both Isaiah and Matthew affirm that the Christ who would be born in Bethlehem would be God Himself who came to earth in the form of a man to live among His people.
I Am: (John 8:58, with Exodus 3:14) – When Jesus ascribed to Himself this title, the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy. They understood that He was declaring Himself to be the eternal God, the unchanging Jehovah of the Old Testament.
Lord of All: (Acts 10:36) – Jesus is the sovereign ruler over the whole world and all things in it, of all the nations of the world, and particularly of the people of God’s choosing, Gentiles as well as Jews.
True God: (1 John 5:20) – This is a direct assertion that Jesus, being the true God, is not only divine, but is the Divine. Since the Bible teaches there is only one God, this can only be describing His nature as part of the triune God.
His Work on Earth
Author and Perfecter of our Faith: (Hebrews 12:2) – Salvation is accomplished through the faith that is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and Jesus is the founder of our faith and the finisher of it as well. From first to last, He is the source and sustainer of the faith that saves us.
Bread of Life: (John 6:35; 6:48) – Just as bread sustains life in the physical sense, Jesus is the Bread that gives and sustains eternal life. God provided manna in the wilderness to feed His people and He provided Jesus to give us eternal life through His body, broken for us.
Bridegroom: (Matthew 9:15) – The picture of Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride reveals the special relationship we have with Him. We are bound to each other in a covenant of grace that cannot be broken.
Deliverer: (Romans 11:26) – Just as the Israelites needed God to deliver them from bondage to Egypt, so Christ is our Deliverer from the bondage of sin.
Good Shepherd: (John 10:11, 14) – In Bible times, a good shepherd was willing to risk his own life to protect his sheep from predators. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep, and He cares for and nurtures and feeds us.
High Priest: (Hebrews 2:17) – The Jewish high priest entered the Temple once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. The Lord Jesus performed that function for His people once for all at the cross.
Lamb of God: (John 1:29) – God’s Law called for the sacrifice of a spotless, unblemished Lamb as an atonement for sin. Jesus became that Lamb led meekly to the slaughter, showing His patience in His sufferings and His readiness to die for His own.
Mediator: (1 Timothy 2:5) – A mediator is one who goes between two parties to reconcile them. Christ is the one and only Mediator who reconciles men and God. Praying to Mary or the saints is idolatry because it bypasses this most important role of Christ and ascribes the role of Mediator to another.
Rock: (1 Corinthians 10:4) – As life-giving water flowed from the rock Moses struck in the wilderness, Jesus is the Rock from which flow the living waters of eternal life. He is the Rock upon whom we build our spiritual houses, so that no storm can shake them.
Resurrection and Life: (John 11:25) – Embodied within Jesus is the means to resurrect sinners to eternal life, just as He was resurrected from the grave. Our sin is buried with Him and we are resurrected to walk in newness of life.
Savior: (Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11) – He saves His people by dying to redeem them, by giving the Holy Spirit to renew them by His power, by enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, by sustaining them in trials and in death, and by raising them up at the last day.
True Vine: (John 15:1) – The True Vine supplies all that the branches (believers) need to produce the fruit of the Spirit— the living water of salvation and nourishment from the Word.
Way, Truth, Life: (John 14:6) – Jesus is the only path to God, the only Truth in a world of lies, and the only true source of eternal life. He embodies all three in both a temporal and an eternal sense. (Quote source here.)
Title and Names of Jesus Christ
These, in their rich variety, throw light on either the person of Jesus Christ or on some aspect of his ministry.
Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s identity
The Lion of Judah Rev 5:5
The “I am” sayings of John’s Gospel:
John 8:58 See also: John 6:35—the Bread of Life;
John 8:12; John 9:5—the Light of the World;
John 10:7-10—the Gate;
John 10:11-14—the Good Shepherd;
John 11:25—the Resurrection and the Life;
John 14:6—the Way, the Truth and the Life;
John 15:1-5—the True Vine
Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s ministry
The Root and Offspring of David Rev 22:16
The Bridegroom John 3:29–John the Baptist describing himself as the bridegroom’s friend, and Jesus Christ as the bridegroom. See also Matt 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35; Matt 25:1-10; Rev 19:7; Rev 21:2
The Firstborn among many brothers Rom 8:29
The Firstfruits 1 Cor 15:23
The Firstborn from the dead Rev 1:5
The Heir of all things Heb 1:2
Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s authority
Prince Acts 5:31
Titles emphasizing Jesus Christ’s saving work
Jesus: the Lord saves Matt 1:21
Man of Sorrows Isaiah 53:3
The Passover Lamb 1 Cor 5:7
A Horn of Salvation Luke 1:69
Titles stressing Jesus Christ’s mediatory status
The Mediator 1 Tim 2:5
See also (click on links):
—Jesus, the Christ —Christ, Son of David —Christ, Son of God —Christ, Son of Man —Christ, the Lord —Immanuel —Messiah, coming of —Christ, high priest —Christ as Lamb —Christ as Saviour —Christ as shepherd —Servants of the Lord
Jesus Christ is so much more than we can ever imagine . . .
How can anyone resist a Savior like this?
YouTube Video: “At The Cross (Love Ran Red)” by Chris Tomlin: