As the first Major Prophet book in the Old Testament, Isaiah is a fascinating read. One of the longest and most diverse books of the Bible, it contains judgments, prophecies and historical details from the lives of four Israeli kings.
Isaiah has many sections describing punishments for countries oppressing Israel and individuals embracing sin. However, it weaves together a powerful narrative revealing God's desire to extend forgiveness and healing to mankind and his subsequent mercy to those who choose to turn from evil and follow him.
Read on below for a deeper look at Isaiah, as seen in the New Living Translation.
For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64:4)
Isaiah uses many vivid metaphors to help readers understand God's nature. For example, he is described as a king (Isaiah 6:5), creator (Isaiah 40:28), shepherd (40:11) and savior (Isaiah 45:21).
Jesus tells his followers in John 10:3 that a shepherd's flock will recognize his voice and respond to his call. As in any relationship, when seniors spend a lot of time with God, they will get to know him better.
Reading Isaiah is a great way to study his thought and speech patterns. As readers continue their studies into other Biblical books, they will more easily recognize similarities between verses throughout the Old and New Testaments, confirming that God never changes (James 1:17) and is trustworthy in all his actions (Psalm 111:7).
Residents interested in deepening their understanding of God's nature can also talk with the chaplain here at Youngtown to request a list of recommended studies and devotionals or share questions they have on the subject.
“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:22)
Isaiah has much to offer seniors of faith looking for encouragement during difficult times. Multiple verses throughout the book describe God himself comforting his people (Isaiah 49:13, 51:3) and teaching his servant, the coming messiah, how to comfort believers (Isaiah 50:4).
Well-known verses, such as those found in chapter 40, promise God renews his children's strength, letting them run and walk through life's trials without growing weary. The wide variety of topics covered makes it easy for seniors to find verses relevant to their current circumstances and need, including how to experience true peace (Isaiah 26:3, 48:18) and hope (Isaiah 51:1).
Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. (Isaiah 55:7)
Judgment and punishment for sin is a hard topic, but God doesn't shy away from explaining the consequences of wrongdoing. As a righteous God, the Lord can't abide injustice and the hurt evil causes.
However, God also deeply desires for each of his creations to turn from sin, so he can forgive and heal them. Isaiah showcases God's overwhelming love and mercy powerfully, as it seamlessly ties proclamations of punishments with promises of forgiveness upon repentance.
While the fate of countries in the distant past may not seem applicable to seniors' lives today, they are important to study. The Bible's ultimate purpose is to teach mankind the result of sin and harmful actions to show individuals their need for forgiveness and salvation through Jesus.
Reading the realities of judgment can be a strong motivation to help believers remember to share Jesus with those around them in their daily lives. Simple ways seniors can get started include offering to pray with others who visit their assisted living apartment and sharing encouraging verses about God's love and provision.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. (Isaiah 61:1)
Some of the most famous verses about Jesus are located in Isaiah, including the reference to his virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14) and sacrificial death (Isaiah 53).
The Gospel of Luke records Jesus' visit to the synagogue of his childhood home of Nazareth early in his ministry. There he reads from Isaiah and attributes the verses to himself, stating that he was the long-awaited messiah.
Jesus continues to quote from Isaiah at other points throughout his ministry to explain his actions (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17), rebuke hypocrisy (Isaiah 29:14, Matthew 15:8-9) and assure his listeners of God's promise of salvation (Isaiah 62:11, Matthew 21:5).
The apostles followed this example and frequently referred to Isaiah as they spread the gospel and taught members of the early church, such as Isaiah 28:16, which is cited in Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:6.
Many pastors today continue this tradition, so seniors looking to learn more can check out bookshops and the library during scheduled outings for additional studies and commentaries by their favorite Bible teachers.