As you begin to read Isaiah today, thumb through it first. Notice how it is set off as poetry for the first thirty-five chapters. Then, it becomes prose – a story. In chapter forty, it changes back to poetry and continues like that to the end of the book. Simply the design of Isaiah lends it to a neat three-point outline. Though his ministry occurs at the end of the divided kingdom period, and the northern kingdom of Israel is addressed, Isaiah is written for the southern kingdom of Judah.
The first thirty-five chapters are also divided into three sections, each ending with a hymn (see chapters 12, 23, and 35).
Isaiah’s relevance for the Christian Church has been largely limited to foretelling of the coming of Christ, and yet, that is a minor concern for the prophet. He is supremely interested in God’s people coming to trust in God. Those who will trust the Lord can be assured of God’s favor and protection. Isaiah 25:6-9 is but a sample of many texts that could be cited to illustrate this point: “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” (See also Isaiah 28:16; 30:18; 40:29-31; 43:1-2; 49:13-23;65:24).
If Hebrews 11 is the great faith chapter in the Bible, and Romans the great faith book of the New Testament, then surely Isaiah has to be the great faith book of the Old Testament.