While Elijah and Elisha are both notable for their prophetic deeds, Isaiah (or Isaias), who appears in the Bible shortly after Elisha’s death, is a more traditional prophet of words. Isaiah advised Hezekiah, a God-fearing king, passing on God’s answers to Hezekiah’s prayers, fears, and doubts (4 Kgd. 19:1-19).
But Isaiah was also responsible for a long, written prophecy, found in the Book of Isaiah, which detailed Christ’s coming to earth, and the salvation He will bring. Isaiah’s name, in fact, refers to God’s salvation. The prophecy comes from the “vision of Isaiah, … which he saw against Jerusalem and Judah in the Kingdom of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Kings of Judah”—it is the product of a long life, spanning four kingships (Is. 1:1).
Isaiah describes the errors and redemptions of Israel in the eras he witnessed, and then, looking forward, details the sinfulness of the human race and the arrival of the ultimate Redeemer. Isaiah’s vision is a clear and detailed view into the events of the New Testament. His messianic prophecies are of singular importance. Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth and the suffering Messiah.
In his icon, Isaiah wears the same shades of blue and red as Jesus does in many of His iconic portrayals. Isaiah’s eyes and right hand—note the position of his fingers—are raised to the Pantocrator. His appearance and pose indicate Jesus’ presence and significance.
“Give ear, O Earth,” Isaiah’s scroll reminds us, “for the Lord hath spoken” (Is. 1:2).
The Prophet Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ. He is one of the greatest prophets of Israel, and his book of prophecy is read nearly in its entirety during Lent in the Orthodox Church at the Sixth Hour each day. He is commemorated on May 9. This icon was painted by Fr. Theodore Koufos.
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