We will now move from the Book of James, a rather short book at the end of the New Testament, to the Book of Isaiah, a rather lengthy book in the middle of the Old Testament. Today, we will put Isaiah in historical perspective. We will start with the nation of Israel entering the promised land, since most folks are familiar with the bondage of Israel in Egypt, the exodus of Israel (led by Moses) from Egypt, and the wandering of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. So, here is our historical context:
1. Moses dies, and Joshua leads Israel into the promised land.
2. God instructs Israel to completely kill or drive out all the pagan nations in the land.
3. Israel disobeys, allowing some of the pagan nations to remain in the land.
4. Slowly, but surely, Israel begins to intermarry with those pagan nations and begins to worship their pagan gods along side of the true God.
5. Israel is initially ruled by judges, such as Deborah, Gideon, Samson and Samuel (from about 1200 B.C to about 1070 B.C.).
6. Israel grumbles because all the surrounding nations have kings, and it desires a king as well.
7. This grumbling displeases God, who is the rightful king of Israel, but He gives them a king per their request.
8. The king is Saul, who takes the throne around 1070 B.C.
9. King Saul is followed by King David, and King David is followed by King Solomon.
10. Israel is at a spiritual peak under King David, and is at a financial peak under King Solomon.
11. After the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel becomes estranged and divided; this occurs about 925 B.C.
12. The northern kingdom is Israel (ten tribes), which immediately falls into pagan worship and rebellion against God.
13. The southern kingdom is Judah (two tribes), which takes a slower route toward pagan worship and rebellion, but heads there nonetheless.
14. God sends prophets (His speakers of truth; His prosecutors of crimes against Him) to both Israel and Judah.
15. God sent prophets such as Amos, Jonah (actually a prophet to Nineveh in Assyria) and Hosea in Israel.
16. God sent prophets such as Isaiah and Micha in Judah.
17. God sent the nation of Assyria, the world power at the time, to conquer Israel and to punish Israel for its apostasy.
18. Israel was exiled to Assyria in 722 B.C. (after running through 19 kings).
19. God sent the nation of Babylon, which conquered the mighty Assyria and became the new world power, to conquer Judah and to punish Judah for its apostasy.
20. Judah was exiled to Babylon in 586 B.C. (after running through 20 kings).
Isaiah lives in Judah (Jerusalem) and comes on the scene as Israel (the northern kingdom) is being exiled to Assyria and Judah (the southern kingdom) is about to fall deeper into apostasy and toward judgment (such judgment occurring about 150 years after the judgment on Israel). Saturday, we will learn more about the man (Isaiah) and next week we will begin reading the Book of Isaiah, which is 66 chapters. I anticipate that we will be here for about a year, God willing.