Biblical Period 7
Lesson # 18

Beloved Lord our God,
We have come to the part of Salvation History when 10 tribes of Your Covenant people became lost to You and the other 2 tribes struggled between good kings calling them to repentance and restoration but more often bad kings leading the people into sin.  Both kingdoms of Israel and Judah were on a collision course with tragedy but were incapable of recognizing the dangers.  Our modern age is full of so many distractions that we often neglect Your warnings of danger.  Guide us in the study of this lesson Lord, that we may profit from observing the signs that led the kingdoms of Your people into disaster.  We pray in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.


"So the king thought this over and then made two golden calves; he said to the people, 'You have been gong up to Jerusalem long enough. Here is your God, Israel, who brought you out of Egypt!
1 Kings 12:28

"But if you do not obey the voice of Yahweh your God, and do not keep and observe all his commandments and laws which I am laying down for you today then all these curses will befall and overtake you.  [...] You will plant olive trees throughout your territory but not anoint yourself with the oil, since your olive trees will be cut down.  You will father sons and daughters but they will not belong to you, since they will go into captivity.
Deuteronomy 28:15, 40-41

The books of 1st and 2nd Kings were originally one book and therefore 2 Kings begins where the narrative in 1 Kings ends.  The history recorded in the 2nd Book of Kings explicitly mentions as sources three ancient lost manuscripts: a History of Solomon, the Annals of the Kings of Israel, and the Annals of the Kings of Judah.

The Holy Spirit inspired writer of the Book of 2nd Kings intended this book to be read as a story of salvation.  The book begins with the ingratitude and moral decay of the Covenant people and their kings, followed by the account of God's judgment and their ruin.  But the major theme of this book is the salvation of the "faithful remnant" through which the "seed of the Woman" will be preserved. This is a theme which began in the Book of Genesis [Genesis 3:15] and continues in this book through the preservation of the small body of the faithful who "have not bowed their knees to Baal."  This faithful remnant, fiercely loyal to the Sinai Covenant, will guarantee the fulfillment of God's future plans for the salvation of mankind.


Biblical Period #7 THE DIVIDED KINGDOM


Israel and Judah
Scripture 1:1-----------9:1---------------17:1------------18:1----------------22:1---------------25:1------25:30
Division of Text The Prophet Elisha succeeds the Prophet Elijah Reign of 10 Kings of Israel & 8 kings of Judah

-Death of Elisha
Siege, fall & exile of the 10 tribes of Northern Kingdom of Israel Reign of good King Hezekiah
2 bad kings
Reign of good King Josiah
4 bad kings
Siege, fall & exile of the 2 tribes of Southern Kingdom of Judah
Israel Kings:
Ahaziah to Hoshea

Judah Kings:
Jehoram to Ahaz
Judah Kings:
Hezekiah to Zedekiah
Location Northern Kingdom of Israel
Southern Kingdom of Judah
Israel deported to Assyria
Southern Kingdom of Judah
Judah deported to Babylon
Time 131 years [853BC - 722BC] 155 years [715BC – 560BC]




Divided Kingdom---Southern Kingdom  

                                        (70 yr exile for Judah)

c.873-853              722               587/6            539              516          458            445-3              336-2             

Elijah's                  Israel             Judah             Persians     Temple    Ezra's        Nehemiah      conquest of
Ministry                conquered     conquered     conquer       rebuilt      mission      rebuilds          Persia by
                              by Assyria     by Babylon    Babylon                        to Judah/  Jerusalem's    Alexander the
                                                                             -Judah's                      return #2     walls/              Great
                                                                               Exiles return #1                            return #3

We were first introduced to the great prophet Elijah [whose name in Hebrew = "God is Yahweh"] in 1 Kings Chapter 17.  He is the first in a long line of major prophets Yahweh will send to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the attempt to bring the people back into a faithful Covenant relationship and at the same time to encourage the perseverance of the faithful remnant and the "promised seed". The Northern Kingdom didn't have a single faithful king during its history. Each king was morally and spiritually bankrupted and actively led the people in worshiping pagan gods.  There were no priests left from the legitimately ordained hereditary priesthood -- the priests appointed by Israel's kings were false priests who were totally corrupt.  With no king or priest to bring God's word to the people, God called on His holy prophets to convict the people of their sins and to call the people to repentance or judgment.  For the next 300 years these faithful men and women would serve on the "front lines" of the battle against evil and would play vital roles in both nations. 

Elijah - Elisha, Great Prophets of God

Please read 2 Kings 1:1-2:13:
Question: What was Elijah's best know victory?  Hint: see 1 Kings 18:16-40
Answer: It would probably be his single-handed victory against the 450 false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, but he also shut up the heavens so there was no rain, made food miracles, and raised the dead [1 Kings 17:1, 9-24]. Yahweh worked 8 miracles through His prophet Elijah.

Elijah's 8 miracles:

Miracle Reference
1. Shut up the heavens causing a drought and opening to cause rain 1 Kings 17:14, 41-46
2. multiplies flour and oil 1 Kings 17:7-16
3. raises the widow's son from the dead 1 Kings 17:17-24
4. defeats the prophets of Baal 1 Kings 18:16-40
5. fed by ravens 1 Kings 17:2-8
6. destroys Ahaziah's soldiers with lightening 2 Kings 1:9-13
7. parts the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:8
8. taken to heaven in God's chariot 2 Kings 2:9-18

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2004 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Elijah's single-minded commitment to Yahweh challenges us today.  He was sent by Yahweh to confront-- not to comfort.  He spoke God's words and suffered the terrifying consequences.  He gave all of himself to God, withholding nothing even to the point of having to be fed and cared for by God Himself when he suffered a complete physical and emotional collapse.  Because of his total obedience, God was able to work 8 great miracles through Elijah but the real miracle of Elijah's life was his very personal relationship with Yahweh, a miracle that is available to each of us.

In the Gospels of the New Testament Elijah will appear with Moses and Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; and Luke 9:28-36.  The prophet Malachi, in the last book of the Old Testament, prophesizes that Elijah will usher in the age of the Messiah: "Look, I shall send you the prophet Elijah before the great and awesome Day of Yahweh comes.  He will reconcile parents to their children and children to their parents, to forestall my putting the country under the curse of destruction."  Malachi 3:23-24.

Jesus identified John the Baptist as the Elijah who was to come in Matthew 11:13-15; 7:11=13; and Mark 9:12-13.  In the Gospel of Luke the angel Gabriel tells the priest Zechariah that the son who will be born to his wife in her old age [John the Baptist] "will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God.  With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him." [Luke 1:15-17].

Please read 1 Kings 2:14-18-13:21: Elisha, Successor of Elijah

Apparently coming from a wealthy family Elisha [Hebrew = "God is salvation"] was called by Yahweh to follow and apprentice the prophet Elijah.  Elijah anointed Elisha as a prophet of God in 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21.  Elisha was completely devoted to his master and supported him up to the very moment Elisha was taken by God: "As Yahweh lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!"  [2 Kings 2:6b]

Question: What request does Elisha make of his master in 2 Kings 2:9?
Answer: He asks to receive a "double portion" of Elijah's spirit.  Elisha was not seeking a ministry twice as great as Elijah's but he was using cultural terms derived from inheritance law to express his desire to carry on Elijah's ministry.  Inheritance law assigned a "double portion" of a father's possessions to the firstborn son [see Deuteronomy 21:17]. Elijah's response that "If you see will be yours" left the gift Elisha requested in God's hands. Elisha does see Elijah being taken up by the chariots of God at the Jordan River and God does fulfill the request -- Elisha received the "double portion" = the power and authority of his master.  It is ironic that Elijah performs 8 works of God while Elisha is given 16! Elisha went on to accomplish greater works of God than his master the great prophet Elijah!

Elisha's 16 miracles:

1. parted the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:14-15
2. purified water 2 Kings 2: 19-22
3. curses attackers who are then savaged by bears 2 Kings 2: 23-25
4. caused a flood to foil the Moabites 2 Kings 3: 14-25
5. miraculous flow of oil for the poor widow 2 Kings 4: 2-7
6. fertility to the woman of Shunem 2 Kings 4: 8-17
7. raised a child from the dead* 2 Kings 4:32-37
8. purified poisoned soup 2 Kings 4:38-41
9. multiplication of loaves to feed a large crowd* 2 Kings 4:42-44
10. healing Naaman of leprosy* 2 Kings 5: 1-19
11. Gehazi cursed with leprosy 2 Kings 5:20-27
12. made an iron axe head float 2 Kings 6:1-7
13. struck the Aramaeans with sun blindness and then cured them 2 Kings 6: 15-23
14. predicted the end of a famine 2 Kings 7:1-20
15. prophesied the death of Ben-Hadad and the rise of Hazael 2 Kings 8:7-15
16. predicts Israel will defeat Aram 3 times 2 Kings 13:14-19

*all miracles that Jesus will perform
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2004 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Question: It is the prophet Elijah who is prophesized to come and prepare the way for the Messiah and yet the works of the one who came after Elijah were greater.  Do you see such a parallel between John the Baptist, who was prophesized to come in the "spirit of Elijah" and Jesus of Nazareth?
Answer: The ministry of these two great Old Testament prophets prefigures John the Baptist and Jesus.  When John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, Jesus received the Spirit of God descending upon Him "like a dove" [Matthew 3:16].  This event served as the foundation of Jesus' public ministry. Then Jesus went on to perform even greater miracles than John the Baptist. 

Question: Can you give some examples of the types of miracles Jesus will perform?
Answer: For example:

*All miracles performed by Elisha.

Question: What is significant about the place where Elijah passed on his prophetic mission to his successor Elisha and what is the connection to the Baptist and Jesus?
Answer: It was at the Jordan River across the river from Jericho, on the east bank near the site of the crossing of the Jordan by Israel in the Conquest [see 2 Kings 2;4, 7-9 & Joshua 3:17]. Elijah transferred his prophetic ministry to his successor Elisha who then began his public ministry.  It is also at the Jordan River, across the river on the east bank, near the site of the crossing by Joshua [his name is Yehoshua or Yeshua in Hebrew and Jesus in English] and the Children of Israel in the Conquest that John the Baptist, the new Elijah--passed on the ministry to Jesus who then began His public ministry as both the new Elisha and the new Yeshua-Joshua who has come to lead God's people into the true Promised Land.

The Northern Kingdom falls further and further into apostasy.  In addition to Elisha, Yahweh sends the prophets Amos, Hosea, Jonah, and Isaiah to prophesize the coming of the covenant curses on the fallen kingdoms.  Directed by the Holy Spirit, these holy men will prophesize that God will use the fierce Assyrians as His instrument of retribution.  The Assyrians, with their great capital city of Nineveh, are the super power of the region and a constant threat of both the Northern and Southern kingdoms. As a nation the Assyrians had achieved a near legendary reputation for cruelty and barbarism.  They were known throughout the ancient world as a people totally without mercy.

Question: What is the difference between an Israelite and a Jew?
Answer: In ancient times every Jew was an Israelite but not every Israelite was a Jew.  An Israelite was any member of the 12 tribes of Israel, but a Jew was a member of the tribe of Judah.  Later when the kingdom split into the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the 2 tribes [Benjamin and Judah] of the Southern Kingdom of Judah the term "Jew" came to be associated with a citizen of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Question: The men Jesus called to be the 12 spiritual fathers of the New Covenant people were all from the Galilee in the territory of what had been the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  Were these men Jews or Israelites?  Was Jesus a Jew or an Israelite?
Answer: They were the "faithful remnant" of Israel who retuned to the Galilee after the Exile and who remained faithful to the Sinai Covenant and to the Temple in Jerusalem' they were probably all Israelites.  The citizens of Jerusalem in Judea looked down on Israelites from the Galilee, considering them to be uneducated bumpkins [see Acts 2:7; 4:13].  When St. John speaks critically of the "Jews" in his Gospel it is because he does not consider himself to be a Jew but an Israelite and is therefore more critical than St. Paul who identifies himself as a both an Israelite and a Jew because he is from the tribe of Benjamin [Romans 11:1; Galatians 2:15], one of the two tribes that formed the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  Jesus was also both an Israelite and a Jew.  He was a descendant of Judah son of Jacob/Israel, founder of the tribe of Judah and of Judah's descendant King David [see Matthew 1:2, 6-7; Luke 3:32-35].  Today, however, every citizen of the modern state of Israel is identified as both a Jew and as an Israelite.



Biblical Period # 7 THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
Focus Prophetic mission announced Prophetic mission rejected Prophetic mission accepted
Covenant The Sinai Covenant
Scripture 1:1-----------------------1:3-----------2:1----------2:3----------3:1--------4:1-----11
Division of Text Announcement of the mission to the Assyrian Gentiles of Nineveh Reluctance to accept mission to call Nineveh to repentance Jonah's attempt to run away Judgment on Jonah= 3 days in the belly of the fish Jonah Repents and accepts his mission Mission to Nineveh Success Nineveh repents Temper tantrum over success and God's rebuke
Topic God's patience and mercy on Jonah

God's patience and mercy on Nineveh and Jonah

Location Galilee? - Jaffa The Mediterranean Sea The Assyrian capital city of Nineveh
Time ca. 762


---------------------------------------ASSYRIAN EMPIRE--------------------------------

----------------------------Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah----------------------Judah----

765                  762                        740                             737                        722

Plague            Jonah's                 commissioning          Assyria                  Assyria
decimates      mission                 of the Prophet           conquers                conquers
Nineveh          to Nineveh            Isaiah                         the Galilee =           Israel =
                                                                                         Exile of Naphtali     Exileof the
                                                                                         and Zebulun            remaining tribes
                                                                                                            (ca. 40 yrs. after Jonah's mission)

This is the very amusing story' not about the "Big Fish" that got away'but about the Big Fish that got the little Prophet!  Jonah was a native of Gath Hepher, a town in the Galilee in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun about two miles north of Nazareth [see 2 Kings 14:25].  Jonah served Yahweh in his prophetic ministry during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel [782-753BC], just after the time of the Prophet Elisha, and just before the time of Isaiah, but concurrent with the prophetic ministry of the Northern Kingdom Prophet Amos [Amos was from Tekoa, six miles south of Bethlehem but was called by God to go to the Northern Kingdom [Amos 7:15].  When ridiculing Jesus' prophetic calling in John 7:52 and the Pharisee Nicodemus' attempt to call for a fair judgment concerning Jesus the other Pharisees sneered and replied "..prophets do not arise in Galilee."  Apparently they had forgotten about the little prophet and the big fish!

Please read Jonah 1:1-4:11

In ca. 762BC Jonah, the prophet of Yahweh, son of Amittai [2 Kings 14:25; Jonah 1:1], of the tribe of Zebulun of the Galilee, attempts to avoid a prophetic mission commanded by Yahweh, but God brings him to his senses after three very long days in the bowels of a great fish!  

Question: Why is Jonah reluctant to obey Yahweh's command to go the Nineveh, the capital city of the world super-power and call the Assyrians to repentance?  What will happen in 40 days if the Assyrians do not repent?
Answer: If these people do not repent Yahweh will utterly destroy them and their capital city.  The problem for Jonah is that he must surely be aware of the prophecies of his fellow prophets'that Yahweh will use the Assyrians to bring judgment on Israel.  It isn't that he is afraid to go to the people of Nineveh and fail; he is afraid he will go to Nineveh and succeed!  Jonah is a prophet but he is also a patriot.  He does not want to see his people destroyed by the Assyrian pagans!  This is why he is so distraught at the end of the story when he did indeed succeed in calling the people of Nineveh to repentance in Jonah 3:10-4:1-2: "And God relented about the disaster which he had threatened to bring on them, and did not bring it. This made Johan very indignant; he fell into a rage.  He prayed to Yahweh and said, 'Please, Yahweh, isn't this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country?  That was why I first tried to flee to Tarshish, since I knew you were a tender, compassionate God, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, who relents about inflicting disaster."


Many modern scholars do not consider the story of Jonah to be anything but myth and yet we know from 2 Kings 14:25 that this man was a legitimate prophet from the Galilee.  If this isn't a true story why would God trash the reputation of a legitimate prophet?  The story of this prophet must be more than a fantasy fish tale.  It is significant that in the Gospels Jesus will refer to this prophet from the Galilee by name more than any other Old Testament prophet [see Matthew 12:39, 40, 41, 41; 16: 4, 17; Luke 11:29, 30, 32, 32].  It is also significant that St. John, who was a friend and business partner of Simon-Peter's, identifies Peter in his Gospel four times as the son of a man named "John" [see Gospel of John 1:42; 21:15, 16, & 17] but in Matthew 16:17 Jesus will identify Simon-Peter as the "son of Jonah"!  Can this be an error in Scripture or is there something more?  What is so significant about this prophet? 

Question: Why is this relatively minor prophet singled out for such attention by Jesus?  Is Simon-Peter the son of John [Yehohanan in Hebrew] or is he the son of  a man named Jonah [Yonah in Hebrew]?

Hint: look up the Gospel passages that refer to Jonah listed above.
Answer: In each of the passages that refer to Jonah in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is comparing Jonah's entombment in the great fish to His own future entombment in the grave, and Jonah's resurrection from the fish is compared to His own future resurrection.  The exception is the verse that refers to Simon-Peter as the "son of Jonah":

In the Gospel of Matthew Jonah is referenced 6 times in 5 verses:

1. Matthew 12:39 "The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah."
2. Matthew 12:40 "For Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for 3 days and 3 nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights."
3. & 4. Matthew 12:41 (twice) "On judgment day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and look, there is something greater than Jonah here."
5. Matthew 16:4 "It is an evil and unfaithful generation, and the only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah."
6. Matthew 16:17 "Jesus replied, Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man because it was no human agency who revealed this to you but my Father in heaven."

In the Gospel of Luke Jonah is referenced 4 times in 3 verses:, 30, 32, 32

1. Luke 11:29 "The crowds got even bigger and he addressed them, 'This is an evil generation, it is asking for a sign.  The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah."
2. Luke 11:30 "For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be a sign to this generation."
3. & 4. Luke 11:32 "On judgment day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented, and look, there is something greater than Jonah here."

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1991, revised 2004 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

It is significant that the prophet Jonah is named 10 times in the Gospels.

Question:  What are the repeated themes in these passages?
Answer: Repentance, redemption, and the sign of resurrection.

Question: What is the prophet Jonah's connection to Simon-Peter other than they both came from the Galilee, and why should he be identified as a "son" of Jonah?  Remember the Gospel of John tells us 4 different times that Simon-Peter is the son of a man named John [John 1:42; 21:15, 16, & 17]. Hint: what was Jonah's mission to Nineveh?  What mission will Jesus give Peter as His Prime Minister and His representative as Covenant mediator to His Kingdom of Heaven on earth?
Answer: Jonah's mission was to go to the capital city of the world super power and convince the people to repent and turn to Yahweh.  Peter's mission will be to go the capital city of the world super power, Rome, to establish the religious center of the New Covenant people and to convert the world through Rome!  Jerusalem was the geographic center of the Old Covenant Church and Rome will become the geographic center of the New Covenant Church. 

Question: It may also be significant that the name Jonah [Yonah] in Hebrew means "dove".  There was probably no man less "dove-like" than the Prophet Jonah, but for the New Covenant people what is the symbolic significance of the dove and how can that symbol be linked to Simon-Peter as a "son"? 
Answer: For the New Covenant people the dove becomes a symbol of God the Holy Spirit as He hovered over the Christ at His baptism.  Is Jesus calling Peter the "son of the Holy Spirit" in the mission he will take up as Christ's Vicar of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth?

Question: Looking at the story of Jonah and the major themes of repentance, redemption, and resurrection, what event in Salvation History does the story of Jonah foreshadow?
Answer: The story of Jonah foreshadows redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

1. His mission was to call the gentile Assyrians of Nineveh to repentance and acknowledgement of Yahweh as the source of their salvation [Jonah 1:1; 3:1-2]. 1. His mission was to call all of mankind, including the gentile nations, to repentance and into Covenant with Yahweh [Matthew 28:18-20].
2. Jonah was willing to sacrifice his life for the salvation of his shipmates [Jonah 1:12]. 2. Jesus was willing to sacrifice His life for the salvation of the world [Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 1:29; 1 Timothy 2:6].
3. He was entombed in the belly of a great fish [Jonah 2:1]. 3. After Jesus' death He was placed in a tomb [Matthew 27:60; Mark 6:29; Luke 23:53].
4. On the third day Jonah was "resurrected" from the belly of the fish [Jonah 2:11]. 4. On the third day Jesus was resurrected from the tomb [Matthew 17:23; 20:19; 28:1-10; Mark 9:31; 10:34; 16:1-7; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7; 24:46].
5. After his "resurrection" from the belly of the fish, Jonah continued his mission to call the gentile Assyrians to repentance and salvation [Jonah 3:1-3]. 5. After His resurrection from the tomb, Jesus continued His mission to found the universal Church and to commission the Apostles to spread the gospel to every nation on earth ;it is a mission that continues even after His Ascension [Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:12-20; Luke 24:13-53; Acts chapter 1].
6. Jonah preached that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days if the people did not repent [Jonah 3:4]. 6. After His resurrection, Jesus taught the New Covenant Church for 40 days before His Ascension [Acts 1:3].
7. Jonah taught that failure to repent sin brings judgment but salvation is a gift of God [Jonah 1:1; 3:4-5, 9-10] 7.  Jesus taught that failure to repent sin brings judgment but salvation is a gift of God [Matthew 5:21-22; John 5:22-29; 8:34-36; Luke 24:47; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:19; Acts 2:21].

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2005 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Historical note: We know from the recovered annals of the Assyrians at Nineveh that a plague in 765BC resulting in great loss of life, and a solar eclipse in 763BC and had a devastatingly fearful effect on the extremely superstitious Assyrians.  If you recall that Jonah's ministry was active during this time [c. 782-753BC], God may have timed Jonah's mission to the Assyrian capital to coincide with a time when these people were most vulnerable psychologically!  We also have recorded evidence that a man can survive in a whale for three days.  There are at least two such incidents during the 1800's recorded by the whaling industry in New England.  There is also an account of a man surviving inside a huge grouper.  In any event, this story represents one of the clearest demonstrations in the Old Testament of God's love and mercy for all people, the Covenant people as well as the gentiles.


Isaiah, whose name in Hebrew = Yeshaiah, means "Yahweh is Salvation", has often been called "the prince of Prophets" for the beauty of his prose and the majestic sweep of his themes of justice, redemption, and salvation.  The first 35 chapters of his book deal with God's Covenant Lawsuit against the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah and prophesy judgment on them and on the surrounding gentile nations for their immoral and idolatrous behavior.  These chapters are followed by a short historical account and then by the final 26 chapters, which bring a message of hope, consolation and the promise of future redemption. 

Isaiah the son of Amoz was probably a member of the royal court of Judah.  He was married to a prophetess and was the father of at least two sons.  Isaiah was also a contemporary of the prophets Hosea and Micah.  His prophetic ministry was active during the last years before the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which he prophesized. During Isaiah's ministry the Assyrians were the world power, having expanded their empire to include most of their neighbors along the Mediterranean Sea including Egypt, modern Lebanon and Syria, into southern Turkey and across Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf.  But the main focus of Isaiah's ministry was directed to the Southern Kingdom of Judah who was following the sinful career of her sister nation to the North.  After Assyria's conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722BC, about 40 years after Jonah's mission, Isaiah warned the people of Judah of the coming judgment from God --not by the Assyrians but from a nation which had not yet risen to prominence'the Babylonians, a young and hungry vassal state to the east who wouldn't become powerful enough to defeat Assyria until the Battle of Carchemish in 605BC'long after Isaiah's death.

Isaiah is named as the author of this prophetic work in Isaiah 1:1 and even though there is never an allusion of any other author, many modern scholars ascribe the work to two or three different men, designating them Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah. While some stylistic differences do exist between different sections of the work, stylistic similarities far outnumber differences and support the unity of the book.  Then too, according to the text Isaiah's ministry covered a span of a generation, a 40 year period from ca. 740-680BC.  Isaiah 1:1 identifies the span of his ministry: "which he received in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah." Not only does the book span his entire career as a prophet but during the course of his ministry his book addressed two different audiences with two different messages: judgment for his generation and consolation and the promise of redemption for the future generations. 

However, most scholars who reject Isaiah as the single author do so because it is thought that a man of his generation could not have predicted the events of the Babylonian exile and the prophecy of the return of the "faithful remnant" through the 538BC edict of King Cyrus of Persia, a historical figure who entered the stage of history long after Isaiah's death.  This argument is based on the assumption that predictive prophecy is not possible.  Such a theory not only limits the power of God but also cannot explain the messianic prophecies of Isaiah that were perfectly fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth who lived 7 centuries after Isaiah [see the chart of Isaiah's prophecies fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth].


Biblical Period #6 THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
Focus Prophecies of Judgment Historical interlude Prophecies of Consolation
Scripture 1:1-------13:1----------24:1--------28:1----------36:1----------------40:1------------42:1-----------63:1--66:24
Division of Text Prophecies of coming judgment Prophecies tribulation and triumph Judah's

Hezekiah &
The Book of the Consolation of Israel
Against Judah Against the Nations The Day of the Lord Of judgment and blessing Cyrus Israel's future Redeemer Prophecy of the Suffering Servant Judgment on the Nations and Israel
Topic Isaiah's Covenant Lawsuit The Messianic Hope
Location Northern Kingdom of Israel and Southern Kingdom of Judah
Time 740 BC – 680 BC



740        722                 700             640-609           605            587/6                539                           336-323

Call of    Assyrian         Assyrian     King Josiah    Babylon       Babylon          Cyrus                       Alexander the Great
Isaiah    conquest of     army           killed at           defeats        destroys          and the Persians     conquest
              Israel               withdraws   Megiddo         Assyrians    Jerusalem,      defeat Babylon        of Persian
              Exile of           from Judah  609                 at Battle of   Judah taken    -Edict of Cyrus        Empire,
              the 10 tribes   after 2                               Carchemish    into exile           allows Jews to       Egypt,
                                     attempts                                                                               return to the           Syria,
                                     at conquest                                                                         Promised Land     Judah &
                                                                                                                                                                  western India

Please read Isaiah 1:1-5:30: Isaiah Prophesies Judgment and Destruction for Israel and Judah
The prophet Isaiah is called as Yahweh's prosecuting attorney against an apostate Covenant people.  In Isaiah 1:2 the prophet calls down a "Covenant Lawsuit" [a riv or rib in Hebrew] on a disobedient people: "Listen, you heavens, earth, attend for Yahweh is speaking, 'I have reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me."

Question: Every trial requires witnesses to recount the actions of the law breakers.  Who are the witnesses in the Covenant Lawsuit against Israel and Judah in Isaiah chapter 1?  Can you recall any other passages that are similar from Deuteronomy or the Psalms?
Answer: In these passages of Isaiah chapter 1 heaven and earth are summoned as witnesses in God's lawsuit against the Covenant people.  It is reminiscent of the passages in Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19; 32:1; and Psalms 50:4. This prophecy dates from the earlier days of Isaiah's ministry. 

Chapter 5 is the Song of the Vineyard.  The prophets often compared faithful Israel to a fruitful vineyard and apostate Israel to a vineyard that is full of weeds and has failed to produce fruit.  Beginning in Isaiah 5:8 there are a series of 6 woes or curses that will be followed by a 7th in Isaiah 10:1-4.  These curses are similar to the covenant curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-69 and Jesus, the Supreme Prophet's pronouncement of a Covenant Lawsuit against those in authority over the Covenant people who "occupy the chair of Moses" in the 7 woes found in Matthew chapter 23:2, & 13-32.

The Prophet Hosea, a contemporary of Isaiah, was also sent call a Covenant Lawsuit at Yahweh's command.

Please read Hosea 1-2:25; 9:1-11:6.
In these passages Yahweh has sent His prophet Hosea, whose name means "salvation", to call a Covenant Lawsuit against the Northern Kingdom.

In the ancient kingdoms of Mesopotamia  and the Levant when a vassal kingdom violated the terms of the covenant agreement between the ruling power and the vassal state, the Great Lord would send emissaries to warn the offenders of the impending judgment and to establish the enforcement of the "curse sanctions" [see Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28].  In the Bible it was the mission of God's holy prophets (who acted as God's prosecuting attorneys) to bring the message of the Greatest of King Yahweh's Covenant Lawsuit to the offending nation = in Hebrew a Covenant Lawsuit is a 'rib' or riv.  For example: Isaiah and Hosea brought a Covenant Lawsuit against Israel in the 8th century BC, and both Jeremiah and Ezekiel brought a Covenant Lawsuit against Judah in the 6th century BC.  In Sacred Scripture each prophet is sent to address the generation on which the Covenant curses falls [very important to remember when interpreting the Covenant Lawsuit the Prophet John announces in the book of Revelation]. 

Some examples of Covenant Lawsuits in Scripture:

  1. Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19; 32:1
  2. Psalms 50:4-7
  3. Isaiah 1:2 &21
  4. The Book of the Prophet Hosea. Hosea 4:1 "Israelites, hear what Yahweh says, for Yahweh indicts (literally brings a 'riv', covenant lawsuit to) the citizens of the country:  there is no loyalty, no faithful love, no knowledge of God in the country..."
  5. Ezekiel 2:3-11
  6. Jeremiah 1:17-2:9

The book of Hosea is laid out in the classic Covenant Treaty format established in the kingdoms of ancient Mesopotamia:

  1. Preamble: Hosea chapter 1
  2. Historical prologue: chapters 2-3
  3. Ethical Stipulations: chapters 2-7
  4. Sanctions: chapters 8-9
  5. Succession Arrangements:  chapters 10-14

The book of the prophet Ezekiel is especially noteworthy as a Covenant Lawsuit since it parallels the visions of John in the Book of Revelation.  Please compare the list of the parallel visions in Ezekiel and St. John's Revelation.  It is very important to note that each of the Old Testament Covenant Lawsuits is addressed to the current generation in the context of the Covenant relationship. Hosea speaks to his current generation of Israel in terms of Israel as the adulterous wife who has deserted her faithful husband.

In Hosea 11:5-6 the prophet warns Israel: "He will not have to go back to Egypt; Assyria will be his king instead! Since he has refused to come back to me, the sword will rage through his cities, destroying the bars of his gates, devouring them because of their plots"

Question: When is this prophecy fulfilled?
Answer: In the final assault on Samaria, the capital of Israel in 722BC and the exile of the 10 northern tribes eastward into the lands of Assyria.

Isaiah Prophesizes the Coming of the Messiah

Please read Isaiah 6:1-17; 7:1-9:7; 42:1-66:24.
It was the duty of the prophet to call down Yahweh's judgment but it was also the mission of the prophet to offer reconciliation and redemption.  In these passages Isaiah offers the hope of the coming of the Messiah.  Isaiah 6:1-17: In c. 740BC Isaiah is called by Yahweh into the court of Yahweh's heavenly sanctuary where he heard the angelic choir singing "Holy, holy, holy".  The 3 time repetition speaks of Trinity as well as of God's infinite holiness.  This hymn of 3 times holy is repeated in John's vision of the heavenly court in Revelation 4:8.  This event is the commissioning of Isaiah as Yahweh's prophet. As Yahweh speaks in the heavenly council Isaiah is a witness to the proceedings just as Micaiah in 1 Kings 22:19-20 and Jeremiah in Jeremiah 23:18 and 20.

Question: When do we, as New Covenant believers come into Yahweh's heavenly court? 
Answer:  At every Mass when we sing the "Holy, Holy, Holy".  If we could see with perfect faith we could see the Glory Cloud filled with angels ascending and descending over the holy Altar of Christ the King!

Question: Why does the Seraph touch Isaiah's mouth with the live coal?  A seraph is a heavenly being.  The Hebrew root underlying this word means, "burning".
Answer: The heavenly fire purges Isaiah of his sins and purifies his lips; a prophet functioned as the "mouth of God" and therefore he needed to speak with "clean lips".  It is interesting that the text mentions "live coals".  Live coals of fire were taken inside the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement [see Leviticus 16:12] when the sacrifice was made to atone for the sins of the Covenant people as a whole community.

Question: When the voice of Yahweh asks "Whom shall I send?" what is Isaiah's response?
Answer: Isaiah immediate faithful response is: "Here I am.  Send me". 

Isaiah's mission as a prophet was to be a difficult one.  He had to tell the Covenant people who, despite their heresy and apostasy, believed they were uniquely blessed by Yahweh that their God was going to inflict punishment on an unrepentant people. 

Question: In Isaiah 6: 9-13 what warning does God give Isaiah concerning his mission to the people?
Answer: The people will listen but they will not learn from his message because their hearts had become hardened beyond repentance.  It was God's judgment to abandon them to their rebellion and hardness of heart.

Question: If God knows the people will not listen why does He bother to send his prophet?  See Isaiah 6:13
Answer: Even though the nation as a whole will not repent there will be some who will listen.  God has a plan for this "holy seed", this "faithful remnant" of believers.  From the time of the Fall in Eden there has always been a "faithful remnant" protected by God.

Question: When will the people listen and repent?
Answer: Only when they have come to the end and have no where else to turn but to God.  This will happen when the land is destroyed by the invading Babylonian army and the people have been taken into exile.  The "tenth" refers to either those who remained in the land after the captivity or to those who would someday return from Babylon to rebuild the Promise Land.  Each group was about a tenth of the total population.

Isaiah 7:1- 9:7: These passages and the Suffering Servant passages contain some of the most profound prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah.  The year is c. 734 BC and King Ahaz of Judah is about to be attacked by an alliance of the Northern Kingdom [Ephraim] of Israel and the [Syrian] Arameans.  Yahweh tells Isaiah to take his young son with him and to go to the king and assure him that the Southern Kingdom will not fall at this time, although the Northern Kingdom of Israel will be destroyed. 

Yahweh instructs His Prophet Isaiah to tell Ahaz to ask for a "sign" that Judah will be saved, but Ahaz declines to ask, giving the excuse that he will not test God.  The problem is Ahaz is feigning righteousness; the fact is God told him to ask, but Ahaz really doesn't want to know what God will say. 

Question: Have you met people like this who shun any discussion of faith and the doctrine of the Catholic Church?  What is often the motivation behind their indifference?
Answer: Can it be the excuse "if I don't know I can't be held accountable?"

Despite Ahaz's reluctance, Yahweh gives the "sign".  Remember a "sign" points beyond the actual event to something even more significant which the "sign" promises as a future event. 

Question: What is the "sign"?
Answer: The sign is that "The virgin will be with child and will give birth of a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

It has always been the teaching of the Church that this "sign", known of as the "sign of Emmanuel" is the promise of the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah. Some scholars interpret this passage to mean that either a young woman in the King's household will have a child or that Isaiah's wife will have a child, but how would such a common occurrence as a young woman giving birth be a significant sign?   The problem is the next two lines refer to a boy child and set the time for the imminent destruction of Ahaz's two enemies, which would seem to indicate that Isaiah is speaking of an eminent birth of a boy child.  But if tradition is correct Isaiah is speaking of two separate events: the "sign" of the miraculous birth of a boy child some time in the distant future, which will lead to deliverance for the people, and a second event which will result in the removal of Judah's enemies and deliverance in the immediate future.  The key to understanding Isaiah 7:15-17 is the fact that Isaiah's little son is standing beside him as the text was careful to point out in Isaiah 7:3 when God commanded Isaiah to take his son with him! If Isaiah's son is the boy the prophet is gesturing to as he addresses the king about the promise of deliverance then it is in fact this boy, Isaiah's son who will not have had enough time to come to the age of reason before Judah is delivered from the armies of her enemies.  This would mean that the 7:14 passage speaks not of this  immediate deliverance but of a much greater salvation through the sign of the birth of a son to--not "a" virgin but to THE VIRGIN [the Hebrew article is ha meaning "the"'this is a great "sign" indeed--a child the world will call "Emmanuel" = "God is with us".  This is the context of the promise Jesus gave to His disciples after the Resurrection and before the Ascension when He told them "Behold I am with you always, unto the end of the age" in Matthew 28:20.  Jesus is "God is with us" in the fullest sense. The prophecy of the "virgin" passage of Isaiah 7:14 is quoted and claimed as fulfilled by the Apostle Matthew in Matthew 1:23.

Questions for group discussion:

Question: These passages in Isaiah are known as "the Song of Emmanuel".  Isaiah chapter 9 continues with many prophecies concerning the future Messiah. Can you identify how a few of these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth?
[note: some translations have slightly different verse designations on these passages].

  1. Isaiah 9:1 " As the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, so the future will glorify the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, the [Galilee of the Gentiles] territory of the nations.."  See 2 Kings 15:29.  
  2. Isaiah 9:2 "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light." see John 8:12b
  3. Isaiah 9:5"For a son has been born for us, a son has been give to us, and dominion has been laid on his shoulders; and this is the name he has been given, "Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace, to extend his dominion in boundless peace, over the throne of David and over his kingdom to make it secure and sustain it in fair judgment and integrity."


  1. The tribes of Zebulum and Naphtali were the first tribes taken into exile by the Assyrians.  Jesus will begin restoring Israel by making their land, the Galilee, His first conquest and the headquarters of His ministry.  This passage is quoted by Matthew in 4:13-16.
  2. This is to be a royal child of the house of David. Christian tradition and the Christmas liturgy apply these titles to Christ.

Chapter 42 begins Isaiah's "Song of the Suffering Servant."   Please read Isaiah 42:1-66:24.  These passages depict the Messiah as a "suffering servant" offering Himself as a sacrificial sin offering for the sins of the people.  Give some examples of how these passages were fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah:

  1. "And now Yahweh has spoken, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and to re-unite Israel to him; I shall be honored in Yahweh's eyes and my God has been my strength--[..] I shall make you a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach the remotest parts of earth." Isaiah 49:5-6
  2. "Forcibly, after sentence, he was taken.  Which of his contemporaries was concerned at his having been cut off from the land of the living, at his having been struck dead for his people's rebellion.  He was given a grave with the wicked, and his tomb is with the rich, although he had done no violence, had spoken no deceit." Isaiah 53:8-9
  3. "It was Yahweh's good pleasure to crush him with pain; if he gives his life as a sin offering," Isaiah 53:10a
  4. "By his knowledge, the upright one, my servant will justify many by taking their guilt on himself." Isaiah 53:11b


  1. Jesus was destined from the womb as the promised Messiah.  In bringing salvation to the entire earth He in essence re-gathered the 10 lost tribes of Israel who had been absorbed by the gentile nations.  See Luke 2:32 and Acts 13:47.  Jesus identified Himself as "the light of the world" in John 8:12.
  2. Jesus was taken by force in the garden of Gethsemane and arrested [Matt. 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-11].  He was judged and found guilty of blasphemy by the Jewish Sanhedrin [Matt 26:57-66; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54-55; 66-71; John 18:15-24]. He was abandoned by his friends and the people of Judah, sentenced to death and crucified by the Roman authority [Matt 27:1-54; Mark 15:1-41; Luke 23:1-49; John 18:28-37].  He was placed in the grave of a rich man named Joseph of Arimathaea [Matt 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-55; John 19: 38-42].
  3. Jesus suffered in His Passion for the sins of the world in His beatings by the guards of the Sanhedrin and the Romans, and the torture of His crucifixion.  He gave His life as a perfect sin offering:
    • John 1:29 ="Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!"
    • Hebrews 13:10-16 ="We have our own altar form which those who serve the Tent have no right to eat.  The bodies of the animals whose blood is taken into the sanctuary by the high priest for the rite of expiation are burnt outside the camp, and so Jesus too suffered outside the gate to sanctify the people with his own blood."
    •  1Jn 1:7= "But if we live in light, as he is in light, we have a share in one another's life, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin." [also see Romans 3:24-25; 5:12; 6:10; 8:3].
  4. It was His sacrifice, the blood sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God'He who was without sin, who took our sins and the curses of Covenant disobedience on Himself:
    • Romans 3:25-26"God appointed him as a sacrifice for reconciliation, through the shedding of his blood, and so showed his justness; first for the past, when sins when unpunished because he held his hand; and now again for the present age, to show how he is just and justifies everyone who has faith in Jesus."
    • 1Peter 3:18a "Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God...
    • 2Corinthians 5:21 "For our sake he made the sinless one a victim for sin, so that in him we might become the uprightness of God."

Question: In Isaiah 66:18-20 the Prophet Isaiah receives a prophecy from the mouth of Yahweh.  When was this prophecy fulfilled and to what past promise to Abraham does it point? "I am coming to gather every nation and every language.  They will come to witness my glory.  I shall give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: [..] to the distant coasts and islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations and from all the nations they will bring all your brothers as an offering to Yahweh."
Answer: This last prophecy of Isaiah is the worldwide blessing promised to Abraham 2 thousand years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth!  It was fulfilled on Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost Sunday and through the spread of the Gospel by Jesus' Apostles and disciples and their successors to the entire world through the Universal Church of Jesus Christ = the Catholic Church!

The readings for Biblical Period #8: The Exile

Assyria Destroys Israel: Exile/ Foreign people Inhabit the Land 2 Kings 17:1-41
The Salvation of Judah 2 Kings 18-21
King Josiah's Reforms in Judah 2 Kings 22:1-23:30
Jeremiah Prophesies the Fall and
The Restoration of Jerusalem
Jeremiah 1:1-52:34
The Prophecies of Ezekiel Ezekiel 1:1-44:31
Babylon Destroys Judah and Jerusalem/ The Exile begins 2 Kings 25:1-30
The Lament over Jerusalem Lamentations 1:1-5:22
The Prophet Daniel Daniel 1:1-6:28
Daniel's Vision of the Messianic King and the 5th Kingdom Daniel 2:31-45; 7:9-27
Daniel and the Secret Prophecy Of the Last Days Daniel 12:1-13

Resources and Recommended Reading:

  1. The Navarre Bible Commentaries:1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings
  2. Anchor Bible Commentaries: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1 Chronicles
  3. "Is the Temple Scroll the Sixth Book of the Torah?", Hartmut Stegemann, Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, edited by Hershel Shanks
  4. Bible History: Old Testament, Alfred Edersheim
  5. Dictionary of the Bible, John McKenzie, S.J.
  6. The Book of Isaiah, Edward J. Young, vol. I-III, [  William Eerdmans Publishing, 1997].

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.