Note: This is a revised edition of an article that I first wrote over ten years ago. It is the first chapter in my upcoming book, Study Notes on Books of the Bible.
Why the Critics Attack Isaiah
Critics of the Bible have long attacked the book of Isaiah claiming that it was written by two different men who lived many years apart. They claim that it was not possible for Isaiah to give such detailed prophecies so far in advance, such as Cyrus being named 150 years before his birth (Isa. 44:28). They also point out the dramatic change in style of the last 27 chapters. Thus, the critics tell us that one Isaiah wrote the first 39 chapters of the book and another Isaiah came along much later and wrote the last 27 chapters after some of the prophesied events took place. This is known as the Deutero-Isaiah theory.
Christ Confirmed Isaiah
Of course, nothing in the word of God supports such a ridiculous theory. On the contrary, there is plenty of scriptural evidence that one Isaiah wrote all 66 chapters. Christ Himself quoted from both sections of Isaiah and attributed the quotes to one Isaiah (John 12:37-41). In the New Testament there are 21 quotes from the book of Isaiah that are all attributed to one Isaiah. About half of the quotes are from the first section and the other half are from the latter section.
The scriptural explanation for the amazing prophecies in the book of Isaiah is that “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:21). In the book of Isaiah God speaks of His ability to declare the end from the beginning as evidence that He is the true and living God (Isa. 41:21-24; 42:8-9; 44:6-8; 46:9-10).
The obvious explanation for the change in style in chapters 40-66 is the fact that there is a change in theme. It is not uncommon for the same writer to use different styles when dealing with different themes. It is interesting that the layout of the book of Isaiah gives the critics a reason to attack the Bible while it gives the Bible-believer yet another reason to believe the Bible. How can the same issue result in such different views? It comes down to the attitude of the heart. We must approach the word of God with a believing and humble spirit.
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (Isa. 28:9)
How Isaiah is a Miniature Bible
About 2,300 years before the King James Bible (KJB) was first printed, the exact order of its 66 books was revealed in the book of Isaiah but it was unknown until God led men to insert chapter and verse divisions in the scripture and the KJB was published. The 66 chapters of Isaiah correspond with the 66 books of the KJB in exact order. Some connections are harder to find than others, but they are all there. The KJB has God’s supernatural fingerprints on it because it is the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16).
The scoffers will say, “The 1611 King James Version had the apocrypha in it and therefore had more than 66 books.” The Apocrypha was placed between the testaments as a historical supplement and the translators did not consider it to be inspired scripture. There were translations that preceded the KJB that included the apocrypha as part of scripture and therefore had more than 66 books. There were also translations before the KJB that arranged the books of the Bible differently. The Hebrew OT has the same books as the KJB, but they were arranged differently and some of the books were combined and therefore it had less than 39 books.
|66 chapters||66 books|
|just over 30,000 words||just over 30,000 verses|
|2 main sections||2 main sections|
|1st section has 39 chapters||1st section has 39 books (OT)|
|2nd section has 27 chapters||2nd section has 27 books (NT)|
|1st section has general style of condemnation and ends with a curse (Isa. 39:6-7)||1st section has general style of condemnation and ends with a curse (Mal. 4:6)|
|2nd section has a general style of hope and begins with good news (Isa. 40:1-5)||2nd section has a general style of hope and begins with good news (Matt. 1:18-25)|
Here are eleven examples of how the chapters in Isaiah correspond with the books of the Bible:
- Genesis (1st) – Note in Isa. 1:2a the words “heavens” and “earth” and compare Gen. 2:1. Note in Isa. 1:2b that God brought up children that rebelled against Him and compare Gen. 3. Note in Isa. 1:5 that the sin disease starts with the head and compare Rom. 5:12 (Adam was the head).
- Exodus (2nd) – Note in Isa. 2:3 that God gives the law from a mountain and compare Ex. 19-31. Note that in Isa. 2:2-5 that God sets up His kingdom with Israel over the nations and compare Ex. 19:5-6. Note in Isa. 2:17-18 that God is exalted when He puts down the idols of men and compare with Ex. 9:14-16 (the plagues were judgments on idols in Egypt, Ex. 18:11).
- Numbers (4th) – Note in Isa. 4:5-6 the mention of the “cloud and smoke by day,” “flaming fire by night,” and the “tabernacle.” Compare with Num. 9:15-16.
- Deuteronomy (5th) – Note in Isa. 5:1-7 that in the parable of God’s vineyard God judges Israel because of her sin and note the “woes” pronounced on Israel (5:8-30) and compare with Deut. 28:15-68.
- Joshua (6th) – Six is the number of man and Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible. It is the first book that bears a man’s name. Joshua has six letters. The book of Joshua begins with the death of God’s man (Moses) and an appearance of Christ (5:13-15) to reassure Joshua about victory for Israel. In Isa. 6 we see the death of God’s man (King Uzziah) and a vision of Christ to reassure Isaiah about the victory for Israel. In Joshua God commissions Joshua and in Isa. 6 God commissions Isaiah.
- Malachi (39th) – Note that in Isa. 39:6-7 the prophet announces a curse on Israel and compare with Mal. 3:9; 4:6.
- Matthew (40th) – Note the prophecy of John the Baptist in Isa. 40:3-5 and compare with Matt. 3:1-3.
- John (43rd) – Note in Isa. 43:10-13 that God says “I am” several times and says He is the Saviour and compare with the many times Christ says “I am” in the book of John. John was written to show that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Jn. 20:30-31).
- Acts (44th) – Note in Isa. 44:3 that God says He will pour out His Spirit on the seed of Israel and compare with Acts 2:16-18.
- Romans (45th) – Note in Isa. 45:20-25 the words, “just,” “salvation,” “righteousness,” and “justified.” Compare this with the fact that these are key words in Romans. Compare Isa. 45:4 with Rom. 16:25, Isa. 45:9 with Rom. 9:20, Isa. 45:22 with Rom. 3:29-30, and Isa. 45:24 with Rom. 3:21-26.
- Revelation (66th) – Compare Isa. 66:7 with Rev. 12:5, Isa. 66:15-16 with Rev. 19:11-21, and Isa. 66:22 with Rev. 21:1.
God chose a book written by a prophet to represent the whole Bible because the job of a prophet was to reveal God’s message to men and the Bible is God’s revelation to man. Isaiah is placed first in the OT section known as “the prophets” (Lk. 24:44).