The relation of Isaiah and his successors to the Historical background
Isaiah of Jerusalem, the eighth‐century prophet whose work forms the basis of the book, was involved with the first two of these four moments: the Syro‐Ephraimite war and the Assyrian invasion. In the first, he counseled against reliance on Assyria ( 7.7–9 ); in the second, he counseled against reliance on Egypt ( 31.1 ). In each case, the warnings against participating in the international power politics of the day were part of Isaiah's clear teaching that only by relying on the LORD would Judah ultimately prevail.
Two themes dominate the book of Isaiah as it now exists. The first is the proclamation that God is behind all historical events, including the actions of the great empires of the day ( 10.5; 41.25 ). The second is the importance and centrality of Jerusalem for Israel, which includes an emphasis on both the kingship of God and right worship centered in Jerusalem ( 2.1–4 ).
These themes reappear in one form or another, adapted to fit the changing historical circumstances, but refashioned with the aim of making earlier pronouncements relevant to different, later situations. The proclamation that God is behind the events of current history, that God is in control even of the actions of the hated empires of Assyria and Babylon, meant that the prophet's words at the time of the Assyrian threat could be reapplied to the time of the Babylonian invasion. The importance of Jerusalem, and along with it the monarchy and the Temple, attained tremendous resonance at the time of exile and return, when the vision of a restored city carried with it an idealized portrait of the “anointed,” the restored king who in later tradition became the paradigm of the messiah. The restoration of Temple worship is set in the context of the worship that includes all people, even those formerly excluded ( 56.3–5 ).