During Advent, we read a lot from the Prophet Isaiah. Therefore, for my own meditation and yours, I offer the following reflection on Isaiah, the man and his message. Each of the issues with which he dealt is still with us to today, even though we live in a far more secular world than he ever could have imagined. Let’s consider key elements of his life, struggle, and message. If you would like to read a shorter mediation and already have a firm grasp on Isaiah’s life and teachings, you can skip down to the section below labeled in red: Lessons from Isaiah.

The Prophet Isaiah was born in 760 BC and is further identified as the son of Amoz (1:1). His name in Hebrew (Yeshayahu) means “Yah[weh] is Salvation.” And he lived this name well, insisting that Judah’s Kings and people trust only in God, make no alliances with foreign nations, and refuse to fear anyone but God.

He lived in the terrible period following the great severing of the northern kingdom of Israel (with its ten tribes) from the southern kingdom of Judah. In the period prior to Isaiah’s birth, the northern kingdom had known almost nothing but godless kings. Idolatry there had begun from the start, when the first king, Jeroboam, erected golden calves (of all things!) in two northern cities and strove to dissuade northern Jews from going south to Jerusalem (in Judah) to worship. Other ugly moments in the north featured King Ahab and the wicked Queen Jezebel, who advanced the worship of the Canaanite fertility god, Baal, and who persecuted Elijah and the few who sought to stay true to the faith of Abraham.

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