When children list their superheroes, we get Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and maybe—now that we’re raising more sophisticated children—Captain America and/or Iron Man. Diligent, Bible-teaching parents might invest in the Super Heroes of the Bible Sticker and Activity book. I would be surprised if the prophet Isaiah was featured in this book. He’s generally not listed with Old Testament greats like:
Isaiah simply doesn’t belong in a list of super heroes—or does he?
A Different Kind of Hero
I researched and studied Isaiah, the man, while writing both Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) and Isaiah’s Daughter (WaterBrook/Multnomah, January 2018). Here’s a glimpse of this different kind of hero from the opening pages of Isaiah’s Daughter:
“Isaiah, a man born to royalty, shouted at kings and comforted beggars. The records proclaim him husband to a prophetess and father of two sons—this is recorded, detailed, written. But what about his daughter?”
Rabbinic literature, Jewish history preserved by religious teachers through generations, tells us Isaiah was likely a cousin of King Uzziah. Their fathers were brothers, making Isaiah as much a descendant of David as any man who sat on Judah’s throne. Those same records tell us he was the father of one daughter, Hephzibah, who Scripture records as King Hezekiah’s wife.
Now comes the heroic part. Isaiah spoke hard truths to Ahaz, the wicked king who led Judah into idolatry. Brave, right? There’s more. When Ahaz died, and his son Hezekiah began leading Judah back to Yahweh, that’s when Isaiah’s true bravery began…
A Different Kind of Bravery
Isaiah was called to stand firm against ANY variation against the Law of Moses, no matter how small. Why? Because human righteousness is as filthy rags compared to God’s immeasurable holiness.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…” Isaiah 64:6
Even when Hezekiah began to lead Judah back toward Yahweh worship, Isaiah was called to condemn his righteous son-in-law despite the good things he did because there were seeds of sin beginning to sprout from them.
- Isaiah was called to walk naked and barefoot for three years to proclaim Hezekiah’s mistake in making a treaty with Egypt/Cush. (Isaiah 20)
- Isaiah pronounced a death sentence on Hezekiah, when the king was stricken with a serious illness, but the prophet was able to deliver a reprieve in answer to Hezekiah’s prayer. (giving Hezekiah a life-extension of fifteen years—2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24-26; Isaiah 38)
- Isaiah condemned Hezekiah’s pride when the king “showed off” Judah’s wealth to Babylonian envoys. (Isaiah 39)
The royal prophet had seen first-hand what pride in a king’s heart could do. Hezekiah’s grandfather, King Uzziah, was a godly king who was stricken with leprosy when he tried to offer his own sacrifice in Yahweh’s Temple—rather than submitting to God’s holy priesthood. King Uzziah’s life…and death…had a huge impact on Isaiah.
A Different Kind of Obedience
As a royal prophet, do you think Isaiah might have struggled with pride himself? Perhaps that’s why Yahweh called him to walk naked and barefoot for three years. Three years!
After reading the rough draft of Isaiah’s Daughter, my editor asked how anyone could have obeyed as unreservedly as Isaiah did. She really made me think. Could I have obeyed like Isaiah?
What kind of experience with my invisible God would I require to obey without question? To obey with such courage and without flinching? I believe I might require the same kind of experience Isaiah had at the beginning of his ministry.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:1–8
From the very beginning, Yahweh warned Isaiah that his ministry would be to declare God’s Word to people who wouldn’t listen. Isaiah would forever—in earthly terms—be a failure.
“He said, ‘Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.”’” Isaiah 6:9
Perhaps Isaiah’s bravest act of all was continuing to minister when he saw little fruit. I think that’s the sign of a real hero. Someone who continues serving, keeps helping, remains faithful in spite of loneliness, hardship, and ungratefulness. Lord, make me a super hero for You.
- Who is Isaiah? A man born to royalty, shouted at kings and comforted beggars. #IsaiahsDaughter
- What experience would make me obey God without question? Isaiah 6:1-9 #IsaiahsDaughter
- A real hero is someone who keeps serving in spite of hardship & ungratefulness. #IsaiahsDaughter
- How can you step out to be braver for the Lord?