Has it ever crossed your mind that Isaiah—often called the “Prince of the Prophets”—would have wanted to trade places with you? Think about that for a moment.
Isaiah lived in Jerusalem and had ready access to the kings of his day: some great, like Hezekiah, some not so great, like his predecessor, Ahaz. Isaiah had the run of the palace. He was a masterful poet and a powerful orator, and God used him greatly over the course of some six decades. But I think he would have seriously considered a swap.
It was Isaiah who told the people that glory days were coming and terrible days as well. Messiah would come—one who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God . . . Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). From the “stem of Jesse,” He would arise, rightful heir to great David’s throne (11:1). The Messiah would be the “cornerstone” of a new work by God, giving us a fresh start (28:16). But on the other side of the prophetic coin, Isaiah anticipated that Messiah would suffer greatly for the redemption of His people. He would be abhorred, “pierced through for our transgressions,” and only through His wounds would we be made whole (53:3–5).
How Isaiah must have longed to see the way his prophecies would unfold! He wrote what God gave him, but God didn’t give him the whole picture. How and when would the glorious Messiah step into history? Where would He live? How would He deal with His stiff-necked and rebellious countrymen? What form would His suffering take? And even after His being “cut off out of the land of the living” (53:8), what would be the abiding legacy of His work? When would the “glory days” come?
Almost 800 years later, Peter the apostle spoke as an eyewitness to many truths Isaiah could only have guessed at.
First Peter 1:10–11 gives us some insight into our privilege of being born after the cross.
The prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
So much of what was written beforehand can be fully understood only in hindsight—through the lens of Christ’s life on earth. Only after His crucifixion can we reflect on the depth of His suffering. Only after His resurrection can we really appreciate the glory to come.
Peter ended his paragraph with a stunning thought: the prophets like Isaiah aren't the only ones who have yearned to know the fulfillment of their prophecies; even the “angels long to look” into the things we Christians can know about God’s plan of salvation through the suffering and glorious resurrection of the Messiah (1 Peter 1:12).
Now think about that for a moment.
Terry Boyle holds a Th.M. in Pastoral Ministries and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He serves as pastor for Insight for Living United Kingdom. His ministry in the UK involves teaching a weekend radio program, hosting the weekday broadcast, and providing a local approach to Chuck Swindoll's ministry. Born in Windsor, England, Terry relocated to the U.S. to attend seminary and then serve as senior pastor of Skillman Bible Church in Dallas. He and his family moved back to the UK in 2007.
More articles by Terry Boyle