Spokesman for God
We now come to the prophets. The name means “one who speaks on behalf of another.” The prophets spoke to the people on behalf of God. There are four major prophets (those who wrote long books) and twelve minor prophets (those who wrote short books). The books of the prophets are not arranged in chronological order but primarily in order of length.
Isaiah had a long ministry. He spoke primarily to the southern kingdom at the time when the northern kingdom was being overrun by the Assyrians, in the ninth century BC.
In the first chapter, he grieves over the rebellion of God’s people against God, which is such an unnatural attitude, for even farm animals are attracted to their owners (1:3). They are “a sinful nation” for they have “despised the Holy One of Israel” (v. 4). The result has been a spiritual sickness affecting the whole being (vv. 5-6). Isaiah shows that God hates religious rituals that do not reflect a love of the heart. This love must be expressed by justice that prevents oppression.
But there is also hope in the message. When the call to repentance is heeded, great blessings will flow from God to his people. While the prophets addressed God’s Old Testament people, there is a powerful message to us in their words. If we desire God’s blessings, we must serve him from the heart.