The Prophecies of Isaiah, the Fearless

The Church venerates the prophet Isaiah as a Saint. His prophecies are not limited to the coming of the Son of God, His Passion, Death and Resurrection, but also cover the founding and expansion of his Church.

Gaudium Press English Edition

Newsdesk (17/10/2022 3:30 PM, Gaudium Press) Grand is the scene of Isaiah’s vision in the year 740 BC. God is seated on a high throne in the Temple; next to Him the Seraphim sing: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of the universe! The whole earth proclaims His glory!” At this shout, the doors shudder on their hinges and the enclosure fills with smoke.

He cries out, “Alas! I am lost because I am a man of unclean lips, and yet my eyes have seen the Lord of hosts!” But one of the seraphim applies a live coal to his mouth, saying, “This coal having touched your lips, your sin is taken away, and your fault is blotted out.” At that moment, he hears the voice of the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send?

– Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

– Here I am, send me — he readied himself. God sent him, and he faithfully transmitted the word of the Most High to the chosen people and all the nations of the earth.

Eight centuries ahead, he announced in such detail the coming of the Messiah, that one commentator goes so far as to say, “Isaiah wrote the Gospel in advance.”

“Apostle” and “Evangelist”

Almost nothing is reported in Holy Scripture about Isaiah’s life. We know only that he came from a noble family, married and had at least two children, to whom he gave names full of mystery and symbolism: Sear-Iasub (One-will-return) and Maher-Shalat-Hash-Baz (Ready-shake-next-pillage).

However, his words and his name resound in countless passages in the New Testament. Everything the other prophets say about the universal Kingdom of God, to be set up by the Messiah, is in some way contained in the book of Isaiah, the Messianic Prophet par excellence.

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Of all the prophets – 17 have left written works – none has given a complete account of the coming of the Redeemer. Each one made his own partial contribution to the formation of the great whole. Their oracles were heard mostly under the kings of Judah and at the time of the Babylonian Captivity, but the work was not completed until Malachi, the last of the prophets.

And when in the desert the Precursor indicated to the Jews “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29), the last word was spoken: the Symbolized One, Jesus of Nazareth, was present; the symbolic expressions had no more reason to exist.

However, the one who contributed the most to the construction of this magnificent prophetic edifice was Isaiah, to the point that he can be considered the Messianic Prophet par excellence.

Everything that was good in humanity cried out to God, imploring the coming of the Redeemer. Isaiah expresses this ardent desire in the form of a prayer: “Pour down your dew from on high, O heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth open and let happiness spring forth and at the same time let justice sprout” (45:8).

And it is he who declares that Jesus will be of the lineage of David, whose father was Jesse: “A new branch will come out of Jesse’s trunk, and a shoot will sprout from his roots. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him … the shoot of Jesse, set as a standard for the peoples, will be sought after by the nations, and his dwelling will be glorious” (11:1-10).

Anticipated Gospel Narration

When the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Virgin Mary in the humble home of Nazareth, one of Isaiah’s most important prophecies was fulfilled: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call him God with us” (7:14).

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In poetic terms, he announces, eight centuries beforehand, the Messiah’s entry into this world: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who dwelt in darkness, a light has shone” (9:1).

This prediction is confirmed by St. John’s Gospel, using the same words: “The light shines in the darkness … the true light that has come into the world and gives light to everyone” (Jn 1:5 and 9).

St. Luke relates how Jesus himself confirms that in his Divine Person the oracles of this great prophet were fulfilled:

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom, and stood up to read. He was given the book of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the book, he chose the passage where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me; and He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach redemption to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the captives free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and all who were in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'” (Lk 4:16-21 – Is 61:1-2).

No less categorical are his predictions concerning the Saviour’s Passion and Death: “He was punished for our crimes, and crushed for our iniquities … like a lamb led to the slaughter, and a sheep dumb in the hands of the shearer, He opened not His mouth. By an unrighteous judgment He was taken up … when He died, He was among evildoers” (53:5-9).

Reading all this, one cannot but agree with the statement of one commentator: “Isaiah wrote the Gospel in advance”.

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Important aspect of the prophecies

However, the prophecies are not limited to the coming of the Son of God, His Passion, Death and Resurrection. They also cover the foundation and expansion of his Church, built on the unshakable rock. It must yet, however, shine much more brightly, in the whole world. The following two passages from Isaiah are very illustrative in this regard:

“In the end times it shall come to pass that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be set on the top of the mountains. All nations will flock to it, and many nations will come, saying, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob;He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in iHs paths'” (2:1-3).

The prophet uses the known reality (the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) as a symbol to express what is revealed to him: in the messianic era, the mountain of the Lord’s house (the Catholic Church) will be established “on the top of the mountains”, that is, placed in a position to be seen and recognized by all the nations of the earth. By the splendour of her light, she will draw to herself all peoples and teach them the way of salvation.

Later on, a further prophecy shows God’s immense love for His Church, which He will clothe with the most precious ornaments of holiness, symbolized as follows:

“Behold, I will align your stones and build you on jasper stones, on sapphire foundations. I will make your gates of crystal, and your whole enclosure of precious stones. All your children shall be instructed by the Lord” (54:11-13).

In what way, and when, will these prophecies be completely fulfilled? Do they not refer to the triumph of the Immaculate Heart announced by Our Lady at Fatima?

Text taken, with adaptations, from the magazine Heralds of the Gospel n. 36 December 2004. Sr. Mariana Morazzani Arráiz, EP.

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

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