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Though Sennacherib of Assyria moved south to crush the rebellion of the Palestinian vassal states, Isaiah—contrary to his previous advocacy of neutrality—urged his king to resist the Assyrians because the Lord, rather than the so-called Egyptian allies, who “are men, and not God,” will protect Jerusalem.
He then prophesied a coming age of justice and of the Spirit who will bring about a renewed creation.
” The prophet, caught up as a participant in the mystical dialogue, responded, “Here am I!
Send me.” The message to be delivered to the Covenant people from the heavenly council, he is informed, is one that will be unheeded.
New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly,” against religious superficiality; (2) “cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow,” against social injustice; and (3) “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,” a call for obedience to the Covenant.
His call, a visionary experience in the temple in Jerusalem, is described in some of the most influential symbolic language in Old Testament literature.
Yahweh, in the mystical, ecstatic experience of Isaiah, is too sublime to be described in other than the imagery of the winged seraphim, which hide his glory and call to each other: With smoke rising from the burning incense, Isaiah was consumed by his feelings of unworthiness (“Woe is me!
for I am lost”); but one of the seraphim touched Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal from the altar and the prophet heard the words, “Your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.” Isaiah then heard the voice of Yahweh ask the heavenly council, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
In exasperation Isaiah told the King that Yahweh would give him a sign anyway: “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Thus, by the time this child is able to know how to choose good and refuse evil, the two minor kings of the north who were threatening Judah will be made ineffective by the Assyrians.
The name Immanuel, “God is with us,” would be meaningful in this situation because God on Mt.
These probably came from the time when , Sargon of Assyria died, however, and Hezekiah, a generally astute and reform-minded king, began to be caught up in the power struggle between Babylon, Egypt, and Assyria.