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  • Interpreting Isaiah

    Michael helps students of the Bible take a serious first pass through the book of Isaiah. Not surprisingly, Isaiah is the second most quoted book by New Testament authors providing a strong vision of the need for a Messiah who is at the same time King, Servant and Anointed Conqueror. Isaiah's call to faith in difficult times remains relevant to every age.


    While paying close attention to the structure and flow of the book, Michael maintains the basic rule of inductive Bible study that good observation of the text leads to good interpretation which leads to good application which results in life change.


    For full podcast transcripts, charts and reflections questions visit the Isaiah resource page at observetheword.com, where you can also find resources for Michael's other series - Interpreting Romans, Interpreting the Pentateuch, and Interpreting John.

    September 29, 2022 @ 2:22 pm

    Isaiah 48:1-22 Israel Delivered

    In Isaiah 48:1-22, Isaiah completes his description of Babylon's fall and Israel's deliverance. God perseveres in faithfulness to his chosen people, but a dark chord is struck in the joyful song of rescue. A great deliverance from the external oppressor Babylon does not solve the internal problem of the human heart.

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    September 26, 2022 @ 10:06 pm

    Isaiah 47:1-15 Babylon Conquered

    In Isaiah 47:1-15, Isaiah looks ahead to the fulfillment of the Cyrus prophecy with the fall of Babylon. Isaiah's vision looks beyond the specific, historic fall of Babylon to a spiritual reality that runs through human history from the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 to John's depiction in Revelation 18.

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    September 15, 2022 @ 1:01 pm

    Isaiah 46:1-13 God’s Plan for Obstinate Israel 2

    In Isaiah 46:1-13, Isaiah concludes his description of Israel's obstinacy in regard to God's plan to use Cyrus. But first we continue our consideration of how Isaiah 45 influenced Paul's letter to the Romans in regard to the three themes of questioning God's plan, the righteousness of God, and the salvation of all Israel.

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    August 31, 2022 @ 1:04 am

    Isaiah 45:9-25 God’s Plan for Obstinate Israel 1

    In Isaiah 45:9-25, Israel pushes back against God's plan to raise up Cyrus, a Gentile Messiah. God responds with a rebuke and an affirmation that Israel will still play a central role in the formation of a world wide people. We will see significant connection between Isaiah 45 and Paul's letter to the Romans.

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    August 23, 2022 @ 12:54 am

    Isaiah 44:24-45:8 The Cyrus Prophecy and Historical Background

    In Isaiah 44:24-45:8, we consider the historical background and meaning of one of the most specific and unlikely prophecies of Scripture that a king named Cyrus would deliver the Jewish exiles from Babylon.

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    August 11, 2022 @ 3:09 pm

    Isaiah 43:22-44:23 Forgiveness of Sins

    In Isaiah 43:22-44:23, we address the second half of our second major section in the Book of the Servant - the Redemption of Israel. The people of God need spiritual redemption from their own sin nature. Only God can meet our deepest needs. Pagan idol-gods, both ancient and modern, are empty fictions of our own design.

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    August 3, 2022 @ 3:29 pm

    Isaiah 42:18-43:21 Release from Bondage

    In Isaiah 42:18-43:21, we address the first half of our second major section in the Book of the Servant - the Redemption of Israel. Israel is going to need national redemption from exile in Babylon. God is going to do this. God's people are to give witness.

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    June 5, 2022 @ 12:26 pm

    Isaiah 41:21-42:17 Consolation of the Gentiles

    In Isaiah 41:21-42:17, Isaiah offers consolation for the Gentiles by exposing the idol-gods of the nations, prophesying God's remedy in a future servant, and responding with a new song. Isaiah's description of an ideal servant in 42:1-4 constitutes our first of four servant songs in the Book of the Servant.

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    May 20, 2022 @ 4:53 pm

    Isaiah 41:1-20 Three Pictures of Consolation

    In Isaiah 41:1-20, Isaiah concludes the initial consolation of Israel, with a powerful, compact description of God as sovereign over world events and with three descriptive pictures of the transformation he will bring about when Israel's exile is complete.

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    May 5, 2022 @ 2:53 pm

    Isaiah 40:12-31 The Creator God – The Ground of Comfort

    In Isaiah 40:12-31 Isaiah extols the character of the Creator God as the ground of the hope proclaimed in 40:1-11. We can find comfort in the hope of God's glory, word and arm when we see God as he truly is.

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    April 21, 2022 @ 5:24 pm

    Isaiah 40:1-11 The Consolation of Zion

    In Isaiah 40:1-11 God calls for heralds to proclaim his word of comfort for Israel. That word is provided by three voices, each adding to the message of consolation. Before getting into the text, we first introduce the Book of the Servant, chapters 40-55, by addressing Isaiah's development of the Messiah and righteousness themes.

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    April 15, 2022 @ 3:09 pm

    Isaiah 38-39 Hezekiah’s Fateful Choice

    In Isaiah 38-39 Isaiah creates a bridge between the Book of the King and the Book of the Servant with a reminder that even good human kings do not persevere in faithfulness.

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    March 29, 2022 @ 8:23 pm

    Isaiah 36-37 Lord of History

    In Isaiah 36-37 Isaiah reminds Judah that God truly is the Lord of History through the example of Sennacherib's inability to capture Jerusalem.

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    March 24, 2022 @ 11:56 pm

    Isaiah 36-39 Historical Background

    In this lesson we consider historical sources of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah to help us better interpret the narrative in Isaiah 36-39.

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    March 15, 2022 @ 9:32 pm

    Isaiah 31-35 The Stability of Your Times

    In Isaiah 31-35, we complete the six woes that rebuke Judah for turning away from God in troubled times to find help in Egypt. Isaiah continues to call his listeners back to God our King who is the source of stability in present times and our sure hope for the future.

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    March 9, 2022 @ 7:01 pm

    Isaiah 30 Security Not Found in Human Alliances

    In Isaiah 30, Isaiah begins and ends with the human perspective of Judah's alliance with Egypt and the looming invasion by Assyria. In the middle of the chapter, he gives us two divine perspectives, calling Judah's leaders to turn back to God and trust him to be their security.


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    February 27, 2022 @ 5:42 pm

    Isaiah 29 Historical Deliverance and Spiritual Transformation

    In Isaiah 29, we address the 2nd and 3rd woes of the Lord of History section, chapters 28-37. In this larger section, Isaiah reminds the people of God's deliverance during a national crisis, so that they might believe God is at work in the present and trust that God will fulfill his promises for the future. 

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    February 22, 2022 @ 12:11 pm

    Isaiah 28 A Simple Message for Halls of Power

    The move from Isaiah 27 to Isaiah 28 is a transition between major sections. In this lesson we briefly summarize 5 principles of faith from the Universal Kingdom section, chapters 13-27, and then move into the first woe of the Lord of History section, chapters 28-37. In chapter 28, employing powerful imagery (fading garlands, ripe figs, a covenant with death and a costly cornerstone), Isaiah calls the leaders of Judah back to trust in God.

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    February 12, 2022 @ 9:27 pm

    Isaiah 24-27 The Third Cycle - Two Cities

    In Isaiah 24-27, Isaiah presents a third cycle of passages that look far into the future to a final day where the city of man stands in stark contrast against the city of God and the faithful are exhorted to endure through to glory.

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    February 3, 2022 @ 11:34 pm

    Isaiah 21-23 The Second Cycle of Oracles

    In Isaiah 21-23, Isaiah continues addressing God's rule over a universal kingdom in a second cycle of oracles to the nations in which he describes the failure of self-sufficiency to meet human need through the depiction of a toppled empire and the rippling effects on smaller nations.

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    January 29, 2022 @ 3:17 pm

    Isaiah 13-20 The First Cycle of Oracles

    In Isaiah 13-20, Isaiah begins a new section addressing God's rule over a universal kingdom. This first cycle of five oracles to the nations shows God to be sovereign over all nations both in his just punishment of self-sufficient pride and in his faithful provision for a believing remnant.

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    January 20, 2022 @ 9:29 pm

    Isaiah 9:8-12:6 The Word to Israel

    In Isaiah 9:8-12:6, Isaiah proclaims a word to Israel that further develops the four themes in his word to Judah, moment of decision, judgment, remnant and glorious hope. We end with an epilogue of praise in 12:1-6.

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    December 20, 2021 @ 7:55 pm

    Isaiah 8:9-9:7 The Word to Judah II

    In Isaiah 8:9-9:7, Isaiah moves from his prophecy of judgment on Judah to identification of a remnant and a glorious hope.  The great light of glorious hope will arise in Galilee. He will be born a human child whose name is somehow also Mighty God!

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    December 12, 2021 @ 4:39 pm

    Isaiah 7:1-8:8 The Word to Judah I

    In Isaiah 7:1-8:8, we consider a moment of decision set before Ahaz King of Judah and a sign from God that affirms the truthfulness of His words. The sign in this case is a baby born to a virgin.

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    December 1, 2021 @ 6:07 pm

    Isaiah 6 Vision, Call and Mission

    In Isaiah 6, Isaiah experiences the vision of God that becomes the foundation for his lifelong ministry. His call and mission both follow after that vision.

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    November 24, 2021 @ 9:45 pm

    Isaiah 5 Sin and Grace

    In Isaiah 5, Isaiah concludes the initial diagnosis and prognosis of Judah raising the question, "What is the right response to a people who have taken for granted and abused the gracious gifts of God?"

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    November 18, 2021 @ 6:40 pm

    Isaiah 2-4 Sin and Election

    In Isaiah 2-4, Isaiah continues his diagnosis of Judah developing the idea of sin and election by moving from ideal Jerusalem to actual Jerusalem to present Jerusalem.

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    November 10, 2021 @ 6:04 pm

    Isaiah 1:10-31 Covenant Lawsuit Prophecy

    In Isaiah 1:10-31, Isaiah performs the role of a covenant lawsuit prophet as he continues to diagnosis the spiritual condition of Judah from both a religious and social perspective.

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    November 6, 2021 @ 4:34 pm

    Isaiah 1:2-9 Interpreting Biblical Poetry

    In Isaiah 1:2-9, Isaiah diagnoses Judah's spiritual condition. We will take time during this first passage to consider three approaches to observing biblical poetry.

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    October 27, 2021 @ 7:06 pm

    Isaiah 1:1 Historical Context

    Isaiah 1:1 makes a claim to authorship and historical context for the book of Isaiah. In this episode we argue the validity of that claim as an introduction to the series.

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    September 7, 2021 @ 8:31 pm

    Acts 28:7-31 The Kingdom of God

    In Acts 28:7-31 Paul arrives in Rome preaching the kingdom of God. We have been told Paul must stand before Caesar and the gospel must reach the remotest parts of the earth. How does the ending of Acts provide resolution to Luke's narrative while leaving these crucial events unresolved?

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    August 27, 2021 @ 6:10 pm

    Acts 27:1-28:6 God’s Sovereignty Over the Journey

    In Acts 27:1-28:6 God's sovereignty over the events of Paul's life reaches a climax as God leads him into a violent storm and brings him safely through, destined to preach the gospel in Rome.

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    August 22, 2021 @ 4:20 am

    Acts 25:1-26:32 The Gospel’s Message for the World

    In Acts 25:1-26:32 Paul stands before King Agrippa. Once again he is made the focus of judgment. But Paul does not offer up his own behavior for evaluation or defense. Paul offers to the gathered dignitaries for their consideration his message to the world, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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    August 14, 2021 @ 3:35 pm

    Acts 23:12-24:27 The Gospel’s Attitude to Morality and Law

    In Acts 23:12-24:27 Paul's gospel is on trial being judged according to its attitude to law and morality with a contrast between Paul's own behavior and the behavior of his opponents.

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    July 31, 2021 @ 3:42 pm

    Acts 21:17-23:11 The Gospel‘s Respect for Conscience

    In Acts 21:17-23:11 Paul's gospel is on trial being judged according to its respect for conscience in relation to the non-essentials of ritual practice and the essentials of faith in Jesus and the resurrection.

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    July 16, 2021 @ 4:26 pm

    Acts 20:1-21:16 Defense by Miracle, Message and Prophecy

    In Acts 20:1-21:16, Luke ends the first movement of Part VI with a three-part defense of Paul's gospel ministry: a miracle of resurrection, a speech to partners in the gospel, and prophecies identifying Paul's coming trials as part of God's sovereign plan.

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    July 11, 2021 @ 7:30 pm

    Acts 19:21-41 The Defense of Paul and the Riot in Ephesus

    In Acts 19:21-41, Luke begins Part VI the final major section of the letter in which he provides a defense of the gospel by defending the gospel's messenger Paul. Each of the five movements in this part contains a danger avoided, beginning here with a riot.

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    July 3, 2021 @ 12:33 pm

    Acts 19:1-20 The Holy Spirit and the Name of Jesus

    In Acts 19:1-20, Luke completes Acts Part V with a focus on how the Kingdom of God, being established in Ephesus, clashed with the spiritual forces of darkness in that city.

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    June 26, 2021 @ 6:16 pm

    Acts 18:1-28 Jesus Christ and the New People of God

    In Acts 18:1-28, Luke continues to define and defend the gospel as Paul's preaching encounters Gentile culture with an emphasis in Corinth on the particularly new covenant expression of the local community of God's people.

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    June 10, 2021 @ 4:09 pm

    Acts 17:1-34 Gentile Philosophy, Politics and Religion

    In Acts 17:1-34, Luke uses the gospel's encounter with Gentile philosophy, politics and religion to highlight the Christian beliefs that God is the one true creator God and Jesus Christ is Lord and judge of all peoples.

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    June 1, 2021 @ 1:36 pm

    Acts 16:6-40 The Holy Spirit and the Powers of Darkness

    In Acts 16:6-40, Luke begins Part V of Acts with a problem in Philippi that provides insight into the Holy Spirit's work in the life of a believer contrasted to the pagan experience of spiritism.

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    May 15, 2021 @ 4:27 am

    Acts 15:22-16:5 The Jerusalem Council - 2nd Question

    In Acts 15:22-16:5, the apostles and elders in Jerusalem send a letter to Gentile believers urging obedience to certain commands. Why? This is a 2nd question of covenant issue.

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    May 6, 2021 @ 11:13 pm

    Acts 15:1-21 The Jerusalem Council – 1st Question

    In Acts 15:1-21, the missionary expansion of the gospel among Gentiles forces the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem to address the theology of Gentile inclusion beginning with the first question of covenant.

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    April 28, 2021 @ 3:41 am

    Acts 14:1-28 Paul’s Strategy – Iconium to Derbe and Back Again

    In Acts 14:1-28, we consider seven strategic actions that help us understand the missionary ministry of Paul.

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    April 20, 2021 @ 5:12 am

    Acts 13:13-52 Paul’s Speech in the Synagogue of Promise and Fulfillment

    In Acts 13:13-52, we consider in this unique example of Paul preaching in a synagogue the proclamation of promise fulfilled in Jesus and the response of both Jews and Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch.

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    April 7, 2021 @ 4:16 am

    Acts 12:25-13:12 The Holy Spirit Initiates Gospel Mission to Gentiles

    In Acts 12:25-13:12, from the church of Antioch gospel mission to Gentiles begins, being initiated and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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    March 26, 2021 @ 1:18 am

    Acts 12:1-24 The Power of God, the Power of Man, and Angels

    In Acts 12:1-24, two stories sharing the common factors of King Herod and an angel present for us the ongoing struggle between the power of man and the power of God.

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    March 13, 2021 @ 9:35 pm

    Acts 11:19-30 The Healthy Christian Community at Antioch

    In Acts 11:19-30, the first report of a church plant of Gentiles in the major urban city of Antioch provides a widow into an early, healthy Christian community suggesting principles to apply in our own communities.

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    March 7, 2021 @ 6:24 pm

    Acts 11:1-18 Cornelius’ Household and Speaking in Tongues

    In Acts 11:1-18, Peter reports back to the believers in Jerusalem concerning the events at Cornelius' household, raising questions for us about the modern day understanding of the gift of tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

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    March 2, 2021 @ 2:41 am

    Acts 10:1-48 Culture, Covenant and the Inclusion of Gentiles

    In Acts 10:1-48, Peter is shaken by the implications of the New Covenant when God forces him to acknowledge the end of the ceremonial cleanliness code and to consider his own inner prejudice against non-Jews.

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