Isaiah is considered one of the major Prophets, not because of the great importance of his prophecy, but because of its volume. Leading Old Testament and Hebrew scholars including Dr. Allen Ross have reconciled Bible content with secular history to conclude that his public ministry began in 742 B.C., the year King Uzziah died, and that he died around 680 B.C., allegedly at the hand of King Manasseh who had him “sawn asunder”. Isaiah ministered for over half a century in, what might have appeared to him to be a futile attempt, to bring about a revival in the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel. The Northern Kingdom was captured by Assyria in 722 B.C. Judah was becoming increasingly steeped in idolatry and its consequences. The Babylonian Kingdom was perched to seize dominance from Assyria, and all of Israel would be victims of both.
And yet Isaiah, whose name means “Yahweh saves”, was required not merely to predict God’s wrath and judgment on Israel, but also to provide hope for its salvation after repentance was accomplished. He was also mindful that at no time did he believe, like Elijah, that he alone was left. He was always conscious of the small remnant who were faithful to God during the time of prevailing apostasy. Therefore, he featured not only the Kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon as those that would inflict punishment, but also the Kingdom of Persia that would facilitate deliverance and peace. But even as the large picture that covered centuries unfolds in Isaiah’s prophecy, exhortation to repent and obey the Lord is interwoven in almost every chapter, as is judgement on the Nations that God uses to punish Israel.
Isaiah 26:1-9 falls in a sub-section covered between 24:1-27:13 and has been referred to by some as the “Little Apocalypse” – The Message of Judgement and Promise. Within that band, Isaiah 26:1-21 represents a song of rejoicing in the consolation of Judah in the time of trouble and an exhortation to faith. No doubt, the day referred to in Isaiah 26:1 is still to come. It represents a period of Millenial rule when God will govern in righteousness without any interruption from the Devil. The power of the passage is that though it is a song of rejoicing, it is being promoted during a period of persecution. We can therefore extract from it some principles that apply across the board to all generations, and like Paul and Silas, praise the Lord even in the midst of peril and persecution.
An interesting sequential rearrangement of the verses, for meditation purposes only, is as follows:
Isaiah 26:1 a, Isaiah 26:9, Isaiah 26:8, Isaiah 26:7, Isaiah 26:4, Isaiah 26:5, Isaiah 26:6, Isaiah 26:1 b, Isaiah 26:2, Isaiah 26:3.
Isaiah 26:4 tells us what is required of us; and Isaiah 26:3 tells us God’s reward for us. The Hebrew for “perfect peace” is actually “shalom shalom. “ or “peace, peace”. It is a Hebrew idiom of emphasis, and reminds me of the numerous occasions on which Jesus said “verily verily” which in Greek is “amen amen”. John Henry found 25 instances in the Gospel of John alone. Both in the Greek and the Hebrew, it serves as a doubly secured guaranteed assurance. God will keep in perfect and constant peace those whose minds, thoughts, meditations and mental obsessions are constantly focused on, and anchored in Him. In that condition we would be irretractably trusting in God… and He will not, and cannot fail us.
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