“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness…that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3) The darkness that pervaded Judah and Jerusalem at the time of Isaiah’s prophecies was heavy. But the message of Isaiah rang out with hope that the dark is always darkest right before the dawn. It would get blacker, the future would be even more dismal, but then, amidst the darkness, the Messiah would burst forth in glorious light, bringing redemption and salvation.
Isaiah 50:3, “I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering,” sets the stage for the oppressive darkness surrounding the cross over 700 years later (Luke 2:3-4), just as the prophecies of Isaiah shone forth with a glimmer of light, giving hope for the promised Light of the world who, shrouded in deep darkness, would hang on that cross.
There are seven primary aspects of Christ portrayed in the book of Isaiah. (Gorder) Isaiah saw Christ in His preexistence, His incarnation, His suffering and death, His resurrection, His intercession at the throne of God, His indwelling of the believer through the Holy Spirit, and His second coming.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Here, thousands of years before the birth of the Messiah, Isaiah saw the Promised One of Israel in a vision. (John 12:41) Who is this child prophesied? He is one able to make wise plans, to guide and direct. He is a ruler with supernatural power and wisdom. Mighty God, as a name for God Himself, communicates the God-nature of this child. He is a benevolent protector, and the purchaser of peace for the world. Isaiah 9:7 continues the description of the coming Messiah by explaining that the empire of grace brought by His life will be without end, a theme reflected in Luke 1:31-33. (ESV Study Bible) Years later, in the town of Bethlehem, Luke 2:11 bears record of the birth of, “a Savior, which is Christ the Lord,” to whom was given all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:1).
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The incarnation of Christ, being born of a virgin, was a sign given to unbelieving King Ahaz that the Lord might be glorified in the everlasting redemption of His people rather than the temporary false hope in salvation from Assyria. It is in this same passage that the name of the promised Redeemer-King is found to be Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” This is the very message of the sign given to Ahaz: God is with us (Matthew 1:23). In accordance with this prophecy, Christ was born of the virgin Mary and given the name Immanuel.
“…He is despised and rejected of me; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53) Quoted partially in John 12:38, the entirety of Isaiah 53 portrays the coming Messiah as a suffering servant. Described as a servant living in rejection amongst a blind and unbelieving generation (John 1:10-12), an obscure person whose life was filled with sorrow, and a man who in his own innocence bore the sins of others (2 Corinthians 5:21), we see that the very life and earthly reception of the Savior was a part of God’s sovereign plan. His suffering on the cross is depicted here with terms such as wounded, crushed, chastisement, and stripes; terms repeated throughout the New Testament (Romans 4:25). Interestingly enough, verse nine of Isaiah 43 is clearly a description of the events surrounding Christ’s death, of his crucifixion among criminals and his burial in the tomb of a wealthy merchant.
“Therefore will I divide him…a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong…” (Isaiah 53:12a) This image is one of a reigning conqueror dividing his victory among his allies. (ESV Study Bible) Thus, Christ is seen as the victorious King who in rising from the dead has conquered death for all eternity. In many ways, Isaiah 53:12 is echoed in Philippians 2:6-11 as Paul describes the death and resurrection of Jesus as God’s exaltation of His Son.
“…He made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12c) The priestly work of intercession before God for the acceptance of those He represents here completes the description of the Messiah as the suffering servant. This is a wonderful truth echoed throughout Scripture, but seen especially in Hebrews. Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, is both priest and intercessor for man to God (Hebrews 4:14-5:10).
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1) Reflected in John 4, this passage identifies the Messiah as the Living Water. In John 4, Christ is at Jacob’s well when a Samarian woman comes and Jesus offers her Living Water that she might not thirst again and might have everlasting life. Here is God indwelling man as the Holy Spirit. Also echoed is the theme of the Living Water as the free gift of God which cannot be bought by the works or wealth of men.
“And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” (Isaiah 65:17-25) The second coming of Christ and the New Jerusalem are described both in Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65:17-25. The book of Revelation more fully describes the second coming and reign of Christ, where the only light will be the glory of God and the peace of the Prince of Peace will be made manifest.
The purpose of these and other prophecies of the coming Messiah in Isaiah are clear, “…that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3) Indeed, this is the message of Isaiah, the Lord’s restoration of His created order, which would be accomplished through the coming, life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. There, in the darkness of the death of Christ on the cross, the glorious treasures of the light of salvation were made manifest as Christ was made victor over death (1 Corinthians 15:17). To God be the glory!