Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Is 1 — DRAMAS
"Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before My eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow." Isaiah 1:15-17
The best way to read the Old Testament prophets is to understand that most chapters of prophecy are composed of several short mini-dramas arranged for a cumulative, psychological impact. For example, when Isaiah spoke of an ox, ass, gaping wound, hut, shed, city, or crimson sins, he probably used visual aids to represent these things. He probably also had actors portraying the Lord, the nation, the princes of Sodom, the people of Gomorrah, and many others. Isaiah and his band of prophets were very likely a bizarre, creative, powerful street-drama company.
Prayer: Father, send the Spirit to convict me of sin through ministry of the prophets.
Promise: "Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow." 1:18
Is 2 — SHOCK THERAPY
"In days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it." Isaiah 2:2
After "raking us over the coals" in the first chapter, Isaiah suddenly changes his tune and prophesies the coming of the Messianic kingdom of peace.
Then Isaiah again reverses his field and prophesies against us for our idol worship and pride.
Prayer: Father, if necessary, give me shock therapy.
Promise: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again." 2:4
Is 3 — THE WOMEN OF THE NATION
"The Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall take away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and prop." Isaiah 3:1
"Instead of perfume there will be stench, instead of the girdle, a rope, and for the coiffure, baldness; for the rich gown, a sackcloth skirt. Then, instead of beauty: your men will fall by the sword, and your champions, in war." Isaiah 3:24-25
Because of its sins, Judah will be deprived of good leadership and most of its men "will fall by the sword" (3:25). The sinfulness of the nation was partly due to the arrogance, vanity, and sensuality of many of the women (see 3:16-17 ff).
Prayer: Father, raise up strong Christian women to revive our country.
Promise: "Happy the just, for it will be well with them, the fruit of their works they will eat." 3:10
Is 4 — CLOUDS WITH SILVER LININGS
"On that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel." Isaiah 4:2
After the scathing denunciations of Israel in chapter one, chapter two begins with a ray of messianic hope. After the denunciation of chapter three, once again chapter four proclaims the Messiah.
Prayer: Father, convict me of sin but give me hope.
Promise: "For over all, His glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain." 4:6
Is 5 — TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
"Woe to you who join house to house, who connect field with field, till no room remains, and you are left to dwell alone in the midst of the land!" Isaiah 5:8
This chapter concludes the introduction to the book of Isaiah. The prophet comes on very strong with six "woes" (5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22) and four devastating "therefores" (5:13, 14, 24, 25). Isaiah especially condemns greed, deception, and "partying." We get what we deserve unless we repent.
Prayer: Father, may the Truth set me free (Jn 8:32).
Promise: "But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted by His judgment, and God the Holy shall be shown holy by His justice." 5:16
Is 6 — THE CALL
"In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above...'Holy, holy holy is the Lord of hosts!' they cried one to the other." Isaiah 6:1-2, 3
This is the most important chapter of Isaiah. When you don't understand why Isaiah comes on so strong or does something bizarre, chapter six will give you background to understand his intensity. The same is true for our own lives. We must know God's call to understand the basis for everything God is doing.
Prayer: Father, touch my lips with Your purifying fire.
Promise: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?' 'Here I am,' I said; 'send me!' " 6:8
Is 8 — NAMING BABIES
"Look at me and the children whom the Lord has given me: we are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts Who dwells on Mount Zion." Isaiah 8:18
A prophet's life is his prophecy. Every detail of life is used to prophesy. Isaiah named his two sons weird names to proclaim the prophetic message. Shear-jashub (7:3) can be translated: "leftovers will return", Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3) can be translated "easy pickin's." Isaiah even used the names of his sons to proclaim that Israel would easily be defeated if they did not return to the Lord. Yet, God would spare a remnant of His people to rebuild the nation.
Prayer: Father, may I go to any lengths to proclaim Your message.
Promise: "With the Lord of hosts make your alliance for Him be your fear and your awe." 8:13
Is 9 — THE ECSTASY AND THE AGONY
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." Isaiah 9:1
Another astounding prophecy! "For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests. They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace" (9:5). This is a ray of hope before the prophecy of the fall of the Northern kingdom. But no matter what, the people refuse to repent. Therefore, God's "wrath is not turned back, and His hand is still outstretched!" (9:11, 16, 20; 10:4; 5:25)
Prayer: Jesus, may I let You save me before I hurt myself any more.
Promise: "His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David's throne, and over His Kingdom, which He confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!" 9:6
Is 10 — REMNANT DAYS
"Woe to Assyria! My rod in anger, My staff in wrath." Isaiah 10:5
Assyria was used by God to punish and destroy the Northern kingdom. However, Assyria became proud and claimed to have been victorious by its own power. Therefore, the Lord destroyed Assyria, while a remnant of Israel survived.
Prayer: Father, may I repent and avoid Your just wrath.
Promise: "The Light of Israel will become a fire, Israel's Holy One a flame." 10:17
Is 11 — RENEW YOUR CONFIRMATION
"A Shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a Bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him." Isaiah 11:1-2
We were confirmed and received the Holy Spirit based on this chapter of the Bible. The Spirit gave us wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and much more. By moving in the power of the Spirit and using these gifts, we can restore the world to paradise, as it was before the first sin. "Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them" (11:6).
Prayer: Father, stir into flame the Spirit in my life (2 Tm 1:6). Renew my Baptism and Confirmation.
Promise: "There shall be no harm or ruin on all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea." 11:9
Is 12 — JESUS SAVES
"With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation." Isaiah 12:3
With another song, this chapter concludes a series of prophecies concerning the Messiah (see 5:1). We thank the Lord that no matter how rebellious we are and how much we have suffered, "God indeed is my Savior" (12:2). Therefore, "I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my Savior" (12:2).
Prayer: Jesus, I accept You as Savior, Lord, and God.
Promise: "Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!" 12:6
Is 13 — WIPE OUT
"Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory and pride of the Chaldeans, shall be overthrown by God like Sodom and like Gomorrah. She shall never be inhabited, nor dwelt in, from age to age." Isaiah 13:19-20
Isaiah now begins eleven chapters of prophecies against the nations. He starts with the arch-enemy of the Jewish people, Babylon.
Prayer: "Fight, O Lord, against those who fight me; war against those who make war upon me" (Ps 35:1).
Promise: "The Lord of hosts is mustering an army for battle." 13:4
Is 14 — RAP MUSIC
"You will take up this taunt-song against the king of Babylon." Isaiah 14:4
This chapter is mainly composed of a taunt-song, satire, against the king of Babylon. We call this rap music. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the beat of the song.
Prayer: Father, may I repent and get the plank out of my eye and then remove the specks from others' eyes (Mt 7:5).
Promise: "This is the plan proposed for the whole earth, and this the hand outstretched over all nations. The Lord of hosts has planned; who can thwart Him?" 14:26-27
Is 15 — ONE-TWO PUNCH
"Oracle on Moab: laid waste in a night, Ar of Moab is destroyed; laid waste in a night, Kir of Moab is destroyed." Isaiah 15:1
The lines in Hebrew poetry are often very short and usually doublets. This produces a driving, punchy feeling, which is perfect for a prophecy against someone.
Prayer: Father, speak to me in the rhythms of life.
Is 17 — FORGET-ME-NOT
"For you have forgotten God, your Savior, and remembered not the Rock, your Strength." Isaiah 17:10
"Damascus shall cease to be a city and become a ruin; Her cities shall be forever abandoned" (17:1-2) because she forgot God, her Savior.
Prayer: Abba, give me an ever greater awareness of Your presence.
Promise: "On that day man shall look to his Maker, his eyes turned toward the Holy One of Israel." 17:7
Is 18 — "TALL AND BRONZED" (18:2, 7)
"Ah, land of buzzing insects, beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, sending ambassadors by sea, in papyrus boats on the waters!" Isaiah 18:1-2
On this occasion, Judah refused to join Ethiopia and Egypt in an alliance against Assyria. This was a good decision because Ethiopia was defeated. Later, some Ethiopians brought gifts to worship Yahweh (18:7; see Acts 8:27).
Prayer: Father, may I not use anyone or anything as a crutch but rely on You alone.
Promise: "Then will gifts be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and bronzed, from a people dreaded near and far, a nation strong and conquering, whose land is washed by rivers to Mount Zion where dwells the name of the Lord of hosts." 18:7
Is 19 — PYRAMIDS, MUMMIES, AND FOOLS
"The Lord has prepared among them a spirit of dizziness, and they have made Egypt stagger in whatever she does, as a drunkard staggers in his vomit." Isaiah 19:14
The Egyptian leaders will make such bad decisions that they will have civil war, be conquered by the Assyrians, and fall into ecological and economic disasters.
Prayer: Father, "give me Wisdom, the attendant at Your throne" (Wis 9:4).
Promise: "On that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the land of Egypt, and a sacred pillar to the Lord near the boundary. It shall be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt, when they cry out to the Lord against their oppressors, and He sends them a savior to defend and deliver them. The Lord shall make Himself known to Egypt." 19:19-21
Is 20 — NAKED AND BAREFOOT (20:2, 3, 4)
"The Lord gave a warning through Isaiah, the son of Amoz: Go and take off the sackcloth from your waist, and remove the sandals from your feet. This he did, walking naked and barefoot." Isaiah 20:2
A prophet's life is truly at God's disposal. Isaiah walked around naked for three years as a prophecy in the flesh against Egypt, Ethiopia, and those Judahites who wanted to join the anti-Assyrian alliance.
Prayer: Father, may I be willing to do anything for You at any time.
Is 21 — "VENGEANCE IS MINE" (Rm 12:19)
"Fallen, fallen is Babylon, and all the images of her gods are smashed to the ground." Isaiah 21:9
Isaiah prophesied for a third time against public enemy No. 1, Babylon (see chapters 13 and 14). Edom and Arabia would also be destroyed.
God protects His people. "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple" (1 Cor 3:17).
Prayer: Father, may I not avenge myself but leave it up to You (Rm 12:19).
Is 22 — THE DEATH OF THE PARTY
"On that day the Lord, the God of hosts, called on you to weep and mourn, to shave your head and put on sackcloth. But look! you feast and celebrate, you slaughter oxen and butcher sheep, you eat meat and drink wine: 'Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!' This reaches the ears of the Lord of hosts." Isaiah 22:12-14
This prophecy is a tremendous shock. The chosen people expected Isaiah to condemn the foreign nations but never dreamed he would also prophesy against Jerusalem. Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians without a battle because the people loved pleasure and self more than they loved God (see 2 Tm 3:4).
Prayer: Father, may I accept Your call to fast, pray, and repent.
Promise: "I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open." 22:22
Is 23 — STOCK MARKET CRASHES!
"Who has planned such a thing against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the earth's honored men? The Lord of hosts has planned it, to disgrace all pride of majesty, to degrade all the earth's honored men." Isaiah 23:8-9
Tyre and Sidon, the financial capitals of the ancient world, would also crash. Much later, some of the citizens of these cities will convert to the Lord (Acts 21:3-4).
Prayer: Father, may I not rely on such an unstable thing as wealth but rather rely on You alone (1 Tm 6:17).
Promise: "Her merchandise and her hire shall be sacred to the Lord." 23:18
Is 24 — THE LAST DAY
"On that day the Lord will punish the host of the heavens in the heavens, and the kings of the earth on the earth." Isaiah 24:21
After the destruction of so many nations, the next logical step would be the end of the whole world. "Lo, the Lord empties the land and lays it waste; He turns it upside down, scattering its inhabitants" (24:1). "The earth is polluted because of its inhabitants, who have transgressed laws, violated statutes, broken the ancient covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants pay for their guilt" (24:5-6). "The earth will burst asunder, the earth will be shaken apart, the earth will be convulsed" (24:19). However, while the world ends, God's remnant will "proclaim the majesty of the Lord" in song (24:14).
Prayer: Father, thank You for telling me the future so I can get ready now.
Promise: "Then the moon will blush and the sun grow pale, for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, glorious in the sight of His elders." 24:23
Is 25 — MOUNTAIN-MOVING
"This is the Lord for Whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!" Isaiah 25:9
After this traumatizing description of the end of the world, Isaiah once again gives us a ray of hope by taking us up God's mountain (see Is 2:2). "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain He will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; He will destroy death forever" (25:6-8).
Prayer: "O Lord, You are my God, I will extol You and praise Your name; for You have fulfilled Your wonderful plans of old, faithful and true" (25:1).
Promise: "You are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress; shelter from the rain, shade from the heat." 25:4
Is 26 — THE TRIUMPH OF JUSTICE (42:6)
"Yes, for Your way and Your judgments, O Lord, we look to You; Your name and Your title are the desire of our souls." Isaiah 26:8
This is another one of Isaiah's songs. He sings of God's justice and of our utter dependence on Him. No matter how hard we try, we cannot bring forth salvation (26:18). The Lord has "accomplished all we have done" (26:12).
Prayer: Abba, may my soul yearn for You in the night and my spirit within me keep vigil for You (26:9).
Promise: "Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock." 26:4
Is 27 — HIDE AND SEEK
"This is not an understanding people; therefore their Maker shall not spare them, nor shall He Who formed them have mercy on them." Isaiah 27:11
We will be spared the wrath to come if we are an understanding people. We can be that remnant who hides themselves "for a brief moment, until the wrath is past" (26:20).
Prayer: Father, may I not hide my sins. Then I'll be able to hide myself.
Promise: "On that day, a great trumpet shall blow, and the lost in the land of Assyria and the outcasts in the land of Egypt shall come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain, in Jerusalem." 27:13
Is 28 — THE STONE OR THE STONED?
"Therefore, thus says the Lord God: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; he who puts his faith in it shall not be shaken." Isaiah 28:16
After describing the world's end, Isaiah again focuses his attention on Samaria and Judah. He prophesies against both the Northern and the Southern kingdoms. In their drunkenness and pride, they will be destroyed.
Prayer: Jesus, the Cornerstone, I base my life on You.
Promise: "On that day the Lord of hosts will be a glorious crown and a brilliant diadem to the remnant of His people, a spirit of justice to Him Who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate." 28:5-6
Is 29 — THE PUNISHMENT FOR LIP-SERVICE
"Since this people draws near with words only and honors Me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from Me, and their reverence for Me has become routine observance of the precepts of men, therefore I will again deal with this people in surprising and wondrous fashion: the wisdom of its wise men shall perish and the understanding of its prudent men be hid." Isaiah 29:13-14
Jerusalem (Ariel) will fall "suddenly, in an instant" (29:5). It "shall be visited by the Lord of hosts, with thunder, earthquake, and great noise, whirlwind, storm, and the flame of consuming fire" (29:6). However, the Lord will finally redeem His people.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your great mercy and just punishment.
Promise: "On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." 29:18-19
Is 30 — WAIT
"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies, but this you did not wish." Isaiah 30:15
The Lord told His people to wait on and trust in Him, but instead they trusted in Egypt. Therefore, the Lord used Assyria to destroy them. Finally, He shattered Assyria.
Prayer: Father, may I never let myself be pushed into not waiting on You.
Promise: "You will sing as on a night when a feast is observed, and be merry of heart, as one marching along with a flute toward the mountain of the Lord, toward the Rock of Israel, accompanied by the timbrels and lyres." 30:29
Is 31 — GOD ALONE I (see Chapters 44, 45, and 46)
"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who depend upon horses; who put their trust in chariots because of their number, and in horsemen because of their combined power, but look not to the Holy One of Israel nor seek the Lord!" Isaiah 31:1
Those who trust in diplomacy or technology are doomed. "When the Lord stretches forth His hand, the helper shall stumble, the one helped shall fall, and both of them shall perish together" (31:3). "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord" (Jer 17:7).
Prayer: Father, I trust in You alone.
Promise: "So shall the Lord of hosts come down to wage war upon the mountain and hill of Zion." 31:4
Is 32 — LADIES FIRST
"O complacent ladies, rise up and hear my voice, overconfident women, give heed to my words. In a little more than a year you overconfident ones will be shaken." Isaiah 32:9-10
When the women repent, it will open the door for the coming of God's kingdom of justice.
Prayer: Father, work through the Christian women of today as You did with Mary, Jesus' mother.
Promise: "Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. My people will live in peaceful country, in secure dwellings and quiet resting places." 32:17-18
Is 33 — RISING SON
"Now will I rise up, says the Lord, now will I be exalted, now be lifted up." Isaiah 33:10
The Lord will rise up (33:3) to destroy Assyria and restore Zion. Little did Isaiah know that this prophecy would be fulfilled very literally when God became man, died, then rose from the dead.
Prayer: "O Lord, have pity on us, for You we wait. Be our Strength every morning, our Salvation in time of trouble!" (33:2)
Promise: "No one who dwells there will say, 'I am sick'; the people who live there will be forgiven their guilt." 33:24
Is 34 — WILD LIFE
"The Lord will measure her with line and plummet to be an empty waste for satyrs to dwell in." Isaiah 34:11
The last prophecy of judgment in the first part of Isaiah is against Edom. Isaiah graphically describes Edom's destruction: "Edom's streams shall be changed into pitch" (34:9). "The desert owl and hoot owl shall possess her, the screech owl and raven shall dwell in her" (34:11). "She shall become an abode for jackals and a haunt for ostriches. Wildcats shall meet with desert beasts, satyrs shall call to one another; there shall the lilith repose, and find for herself a place to rest, there the hoot owl shall nest and lay eggs, hatch them out and gather them in her shadow; there shall the kites assemble, none shall be missing its mate" (34:13-15).
Prayer: Father, use anything, even animals to lead me to repentance.
Is 35 — HAPPY ENDING
"Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense He comes to save you." Isaiah 35:4
This is the last chapter of the first part of Isaiah. This section of Isaiah has a happy ending. "The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song" (35:1-2). "Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee" (35:10).
Prayer: Alleluia! Lord, You are holy, just, and faithful. Alleluia!
Promise: "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing." 35:5-6
Is 36-37 — PROOF OF PROPHECIES
"The angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp." Isaiah 37:36
Isaiah adds this historical appendix, which is taken from 2 Kings 18:1320:19, to show that his prophecies were proven to be true. The Assyrians, and any other enemies, could be overcome by taking the situation to the Lord in prayer and having faith in the prophetic word.
Prayer: "O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and listen! Open Your eyes, O Lord, and see!...Therefore, O Lord, our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, O Lord, alone are God" (37:16-17, 20).
Promise: "For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this." 37:32
Is 38-39 — LATE FOR HIS OWN FUNERAL
"I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the Lord's temple; I will add fifteen years to your life." Isaiah 38:5
The appendix concludes by accounting Hezekiah's healing and the extension of his life for fifteen years. However, in those fifteen years, Hezekiah showed a Babylonian embassy "his treasury, the silver and gold, the spices and fine oil, his whole armory, and everything that was in his storerooms" (39:2). This began what resulted in the Babylonian exile and the destruction of Jerusalem. Hezekiah also became the father of Manasseh, who "did evil in the sight of the Lord, shedding so much innocent blood as to fill the length and breadth of Jerusalem" (2 Kgs 21:16). It would have been better for everyone if Hezekiah had died at the original time.
Prayer: Father, may I die on time.
Promise: " 'This will be the sign for you from the Lord that He will do what He has promised: See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced.' So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced." 38:7-8
Is 40 — CALLED BY ALMIGHTY GOD
"A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!" Isaiah 40:3
The second part of Isaiah begins with another calling from God (see chapter 6). Like the previous calling, this calling is a point of reference. To understand and better appreciate the rest of Isaiah, we should see it in the light of chapter 40.
The Lord's message to Isaiah is that He intends to comfort His people and lead them out of the Babylonian exile back to Jerusalem. The all-powerful Lord alone can do this.
Prayer: Jesus, come with power. Rule by Your strong arm (40:10).
Promise: "They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint." 40:31
Is 41 — COURT PROCEEDINGS
" Present your case, says the Lord; bring forward your reasons, says the King of Jacob." Isaiah 41:21
In the setting of a courtroom, God and the prophet converse. They come to the conclusion that the Lord is Lord alone. He is the First and the Last. Therefore, because He is with us and He is our God, we need not be afraid or dismayed. He will redeem us and empower us for victory. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rm 8:31)
Prayer: Father, give me an awe and fear of You. Make me very conscious of Your presence.
Promise: "I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them." 41:17
Is 43 — WITNESSES
"You are My witnesses, says the Lord, My servants whom I have chosen to know and believe in Me and understand that it is I. Before Me no god was formed, and after Me there shall be none." Isaiah 43:10 (see also 43:12; 44:8)
We are witnesses to the fact that the Lord is the One, the only One, the Savior, the Redeemer. "There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12). He is "our only Master and Lord" (Jude 4).
Prayer: Lord, do something new! (43:19)
Promise: "You are precious in My eyes and glorious...I love You." 43:4
Is 44 — GOD ALONE II
"Thus says the Lord, Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; there is no God but Me. Who is like Me? Let him stand up and speak." Isaiah 44:6-7
The court case continues (see chapter 41). On cross examination, the false gods and idols prove to be nothing. There is no God but our God.
Prayer: Father, I repent of any attachments to the gods of the world.
Promise: "Remember this, O Jacob, you, O Israel, who are My servant! I formed you to be a servant to Me; O Israel, by Me you shall never be forgotten: I have brushed away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you." 44:21-22
Is 45 — GOD ALONE III
"I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides Me. It is I Who arm you, though you know Me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun men may know that there is none besides Me." Isaiah 45:5-6
The Lord, not Cyrus, freed His people from the Babylonian exile. Cyrus, the King of Persia, was merely an instrument in God's hands. Therefore, we should bend our knees in homage before the Lord and "swear, saying, 'Only in the Lord are just deeds and power' " (45:24). He is "the Lord, there is no other" (45:6).
Prayer: Father, I adore You and give my life to You. Do with me as You will.
Promise: "Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also sprung up!" 45:8
Is 46 — GOD ALONE IV
"Whom would you compare Me with, as an equal, or match Me against, as though we were alike?" Isaiah 46:5
Our God is a jealous God. He alone has the right to be jealous. He insists that we obey the first commandment and have no other gods before Him (Ex 20:3; Dt 5:7; 6:4).
Prayer: Father, may I live to worship You alone.
Promise: "Listen to Me, you fainthearted, you who seem far from the victory of justice: I am bringing on My justice, it is not far off, My salvation shall not tarry; I will put salvation within Zion, and give to Israel My glory." 46:12-13
Is 47 — A BAD RAP (see chapter 14)
"Your nakedness shall be uncovered and your shame be seen; I will take vengeance, I will yield to no entreaty, says our Redeemer." Isaiah 47:3
The prophet taunts Babylon in song. "Suddenly, in a single day: complete bereavement and widowhood shall come upon" (47:9) her because Babylon committed the sin of Adam and Eve in trying to be like God (Gn 3:5).
Prayer: Father, may I repent immediately rather than be destroyed suddenly.
Is 48 — BAD CREDIT
"I foretold them to you of old; before they took place I let you hear of them, that you might not say, 'My idol did them, my statue, my molten image commanded them.' Now that you have heard, look at all this; must you not admit it?" Isaiah 48:5-6
The Lord was exasperated with His people. They attributed God's works to everyone but Godto themselves, kings, nations, or false gods. He alone foretold what He would do. How can anyone else take credit for it?
Prayer: Jesus, without You I can do nothing (Jn 15:5).
Promise: "If you would hearken to My commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea." 48:18
Is 49 — FEELING LIKE A FAILURE
"He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of His arm. He made me a polished arrow, in His quiver He hid me. You are My servant, He said to me, Israel, through whom I show My glory." Isaiah 49:2-3
This is the second "Suffering Servant" prophecy. The Servant has preached God's word with apparently little effect, but actually He has affected not only Israel but brought salvation even to the ends of the earth.
This prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus' death on Calvary. He seemed defeated (see 49:4), but He actually saved the human race.
Prayer: Father, may I walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
Promise: "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." 49:15
Is 50 — SERVING AND SUFFERING
"The Lord God has given Me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning He opens My ear that I may hear." Isaiah 50:4
The third "Suffering Servant" prophecy describes the Servant as a Prophet Who spoke "to the weary a word that will rouse them" (50:4). In doing His work, the Servant suffered. He says: "I gave My back to those who beat Me, My cheeks to those who plucked My beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting" (50:6). Nevertheless, He persevered and set His face like flint, knowing that He would not be put to shame. This prophecy describes Jesus' ministry and His perseverance, even to death on the cross.
Prayer: Jesus, give me new opportunities to suffer for love of You.
Promise: "Who among you fears the Lord, heeds His servant's voice, and walks in darkness without any light, trusting in the name of the Lord and relying on his God?" 50:10
Is 51 — WAKE-UP CALLS
"Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! Awake as in the days of old, in ages long ago!" Isaiah 51:9
The prophet repeatedly tries to wake up Jerusalem (see 51:9, 17; 52:1). The Lord assures the prophet and us of His salvation and justice, if we but wake up and let Him have His way.
Prayer: Father, may I repent and not limit or delay You in any way.
Promise: "My justice shall remain forever and My salvation, for all generations."51:8
Is 53 — "A MAN OF SUFFERING" (53:3)
"He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by His stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon Him the guilt of us all." Isaiah 53:5-6
This last of the "Suffering Servant" prophecies is one of the most important revelations of all times. It prophesies in detail Jesus' sufferings and death in our place, for our sins, out of love for us. Pray this chapter before Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Prayer: Jesus, You gave Your life for me. I give my life for You.
Promise: "He surrendered Himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses." 53:12
Is 54 — THE FRUIT OF CALVARY'S TREE
"For He Who has become your Husband is your Maker; His name is the Lord of hosts." Isaiah 54:5
The sufferings and death of the Suffering Servant bear fruit abundantly. The barren and deserted wife, Zion, will have so many children that she must enlarge the space for her tent (54:2). Jesus promised: "I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit" (Jn 12:24).
Prayer: Father, use my life and death to lead many into Your kingdom.
Promise: "No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you. This is the lot of the servants of the Lord, their vindication from Me, says the Lord." 54:17
Is 55 — COMING AND GOING
"Come to Me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant." Isaiah 55:3
The Lord will lead His people back from Babylon. In fact, He will extend His salvation to all nations.
Come and be part of God's perfect plan. Go and "make disciples of all the nations" (Mt 28:19).
Prayer: Father, may Your word to me always achieve the end for which You sent it (55:11).
Promise: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts." 55:8-9
Is 56 — OPEN HOUSE
"My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." Isaiah 56:7
The Lord has extended His salvation to all people, even eunuchs and foreigners. "He wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth" (1 Tm 2:4). We need only believe in and obey the Lord. "Open wide your hearts!" (2 Cor 6:13)
Prayer: Father, may the greatest desire of my heart be to make disciples of all nations.
Promise: "Them I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer." 56:7
Is 57 — LOVING THE SINNER AND HATING THE SIN
"I will not accuse forever, nor always be angry; for their spirits would faint before Me." Isaiah 57:16
Despite the spiritual blindness of the leaders and the faithlessness of the people, the Lord promises to revive, heal, lead, and comfort us. Why does God love so much those who hate Him?
Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son to redeem us "while we were still sinners" (Rm 5:8).
Promise: "Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove the stumbling blocks from My people's path." 57:14
Is 58 — FASTING IS FASTEST
"This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke." Isaiah 58:6
Fasting in a spirit of repentance will be a catalyst for renewal. The Lord promises that when you fast, "your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard" (58:8). "The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up" (58:12). "Then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken" (58:14).
Prayer: Father, give me the opportunity and privilege of fasting more than once a week.
Promise: "Then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails." 58:11
Is 60 — THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT
"Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears His glory." Isaiah 60:1-2
"The Lord shall be your light forever, your God shall be your glory. No longer shall your sun go down, or your moon withdraw, for the Lord will be your light forever" (60:19-20). Moreover, we, God's chosen people, will be a light to the world (see Mt 5:14) and lead all nations to Jesus. "Now you are light in the Lord. Well, then, live as children of light" (Eph 5:8).
Prayer: Father, thank You for rescuing us from the power of darkness and bringing us into the kingdom of Your beloved Son (Col 1:13).
Promise: "The smallest shall become a thousand, the youngest, a mighty nation; I, the Lord, will swiftly accomplish these things when their time comes." 60:22
Is 61 — JESUS' WORK
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me; He has sent Me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord." Isaiah 61:1-2
Jesus uses these verses to describe His public ministry and His ministry today (Lk 4:18-19). "As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations" (61:11). Let Jesus, the Worker, work on and through you.
Prayer: Jesus, may I see You do the same things today as You did yesterday (Heb 13:8).
Promise: "They shall rebuild the ancient ruins, the former wastes they shall raise up and restore the ruined cities, desolate now for generations." 61:4
Is 62 — INTERCESSION AND RESTORATION
"Say to daughter Zion, your Savior comes! Here is His reward with Him, His recompense before Him. They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord." Isaiah 62:11-12
Keep praying day and night until God's promises are fulfilled and He re-establishes His people as "the pride of the earth" (62:7). "Will not God then do justice to His chosen who call out to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them, do you suppose?" (Lk 18:7)
Prayer: Father, may I keep praying and believing until I see Your glory.
Promise: "As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you." 62:5
Is 63 — GOD IN PERSON
"It was not a messenger or an angel, but He Himself Who saved them. Because of His love and pity He redeemed them Himself." Isaiah 63:9
"I looked about, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that there was no one to lend support; so My own arm brought about the victory." Isaiah 63:5
The Lord redeemed us Himself. God actually became man, a helpless infant. God was crucified and put to death by His creatures. God in person saved us.
Prayer: Lord, "too long have we been like those You do not rule, who do not bear Your name. Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before You" (63:19).
Promise: "He became their Savior in their every affliction." 63:8-9
Is 64 — LORD, HAVE MERCY
"You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay and You the Potter: we are all the work of Your hands." Isaiah 64:6-7
The prophet prays that the Lord would have mercy on us: "Would that You might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of You in our ways! Behold, You are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean men, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind" (64:4-5).
Prayer: Father and Potter, may I be pliable in Your hands.
Promise: "No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any god but You doing such deeds for those who wait for Him." 64:3
Is 65 — A HAPPY ENDING?
"I have stretched out My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in evil paths and follow their own thoughts, people who provoke Me continually, to My face." Isaiah 65:2-3
As we end the book of Isaiah, the Lord is trying to get our attention. He says: "I was ready to respond to those who asked Me not, to be found by those who sought Me not. I said: Here I am! Here I am! To a nation that did not call upon My name" (65:1). "Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hearken to them. The wolf and the lamb shall graze alike, and the lion shall eat hay like the ox....None shall hurt or destroy on all My holy mountain, says the Lord" (65:24-25).
The Lord has done everything to provide a happy ending to our life and our universe. We must simply repent and let Him have His way.
Prayer: Father, what more can You do? Thank You for Your mercy. May I go to Confession as soon as possible.
Promise: "Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create." 65:17-18
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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