Isaiah is something like a miniature Bible. The Bible’s chapter divisions and even some of the book divisions have been developed over time by men, but it’s interesting nevertheless: The first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah (like the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament) predict judgment after judgment upon immoral and idolatrous people. Judah has sinned; the surrounding nations have sinned; the whole earth has sinned. Judgment must come, for God cannot allow such blatant sin to go unpunished forever. The final twenty-seven chapters (like the twenty-seven books of the New Testament), focus more on a message of hope. The Messiah is coming as a Savior and a Sovereign to bear a cross and to wear a crown, and the Lord will restore the fortunes of His people and give them a heart to follow Him completely.
The English name “Isaiah” comes from the Hebrew Yeshaʾyahu and its shortened form, Yeshaiah, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” This name provides an excellent summary of the contents of the book. God saves! And He does so, not because His people deserve it, but because of His great name and amazing love (43:25; 48:11).
Isaiah’s prophetic ministry spanned the reigns of four kings of Judah (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah) and covered at least forty years, and perhaps as many as sixty. Tradition says he was sawn in half during the reign of the evil king Manasseh (compare Heb. 11:37).
Isaiah is the most-quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament, and the prophet Isaiah is generally regarded as the greatest of the Old Testament “writing prophets” (those who wrote books eventually included in the Bible) because so many of his prophecies focus on the coming Messiah and on an age of remarkable divine blessing, when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (11:9).
Themes: The “Holy One of Israel” (see 1:4; 5:19; 10:20; etc.) calls His people to a life of righteousness and justice, but when they turn their backs on Him and His ways, the inevitable result is judgment. Yet God will always preserve a remnant for Himself and will save and rescue them in amazing ways that will ultimately bless the whole world.
Author: Isaiah, the son of Amoz.
Time: Isaiah prophesied from the time of Uzziah (c. 740 B.C.) to the time of Hezekiah (c. 681 B.C.).
Structure: Chapters 1–39 of Isaiah cover events and prophecies in Israel’s history leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Chapters 40–66 contain warnings, predictions, and prophecies concerning Judah from the time of the Babylonian captivity through the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and on into the distant future.
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Is.