There are a number of theological themes contained in the Book of Isaiah. While the main message is one of judgment and salvation, there are a number of other motifs contained within scripture. Isaianaic themes include, but are in no way limited to: messianic expectations, trusting in God, the description of the Servant of the Lord, and the creation of Zion, city of God.
Major Theological Themes of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is a long work that most scholars agree was written by two, and possibly three, prophets. However, it is also clear that these later prophets were able to maintain the overall theme of Isaiah of judgment and salvation while adding in their own thematic elements.
When Isaiah is called (Isa 6) God tells him to deliver a message that they are to “…be hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving….until the cities lie ruined – (Isa 6:9,11). We also see in Isa 6:13 the beginnings of the messianic expectations with the “…holy seed being the stump of the land”. This theme is further expanded on in Isaiah 9, where the names of the child are revealed, and begins its crescendo in Isaiah 11. In this Chapter the “shoot from the stump of Jesse” will come and bring peace through the establishment of the messianic kingdom. Isaiah 11 is commonly referred to by Christians as the OT scripture that foretells the coming of Jesus.
Trusting in God
This is probably the most prominent message delivered by Isaiah. It is most directly spoken of in Isaiah 7:9 where God tells Isaiah to tell the King that his enemies are plotting against him, but it will not take place if they trust in Him. God tells them “If you do not stand (אמן ‘âman) firm in your faith, you will not stand (אמן ‘âman) at all.” The same Hebrew word is used to express the importance of how important this message is. In other verses, Isaiah warns the King against making alliances and depending on human strength to protect them because God will use another nation (Assyria, Babylon) in judgment.
Servant of the Lord
There are four (4) servant songs in Isaiah. These are found in Chapters 42, 49, 50, and 53. Each of these Chapters describes a different characteristic of the coming messiah. Isaiah 42 speaks of one who will bring justice for God’s people. The servant brings salvation (Isaiah 49) to his people by “…offering his back… (Isaiah 50) and taking upon the sins of all (Isaiah 53) for them.
Similar to Isaiah 11, the four servant songs are referred to by Christians as proof that Jesus is the one Isaiah spoke of.
Zion, City of God
Historically, the message of Zion was to give hope to the people that they would eventually return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. The deeper meaning of Zion is the creation of God’s city, embodying everything spoken of in the expectations of the messianic kingdom, culminating with Chapter 65, with the creation of the new Jerusalem/Zion through fulfilling earlier prophecies covering the messianic expectations and all he shall do as Servant of the Lord.