Isaiah and The Kings of Judah
In June 2000, I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to take Old Testament Prophetic Literature taught by Dr. John T. Willis. The Isaiah prophecies were cloaked in mystery to me, until I met Dr. Willis. I’m not saying there is no longer mysteries I find in Isaiah, but I understand more how one of the greatest prophecies of all time fits together with the records of 1&2 Kings and 1&2 Chronicles. I'm dedicating this blog series on “Isaiah and the Kings of Judah” to Dr. John T. Willis, because he introduced me to the world of Isaiah. I’m happy to share with you what I learned in Dr. Willis’s graduate class. Much of the background and understanding of this incredible prophecy, Isaiah, that I owe to Dr. Willis, I am now passing on to you. Any errors I make as I go along are not Dr. Willis's fault but mine.
I can close my eyes and be in that classroom two decades ago with African brothers and sisters and several expatriate missionaries like me taking the 10-day intensive class. I can still hear Dr. Willis's laughter, his enjoyment of the prophetic metaphors and backstory that brought Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Hosea, and Jeremiah to life for me, in many ways for the very first time.
We ate meals together, and Mrs. Willis was there, always joyful and conversational. We all were invited (Ok, required) to share a brief speech about a particular prophet we were studying for our term paper. We took walks in the late afternoons and I will never forget something vital about the most notable, intelligent, and wise Old Testament scholars I've ever had the pleasure to know: when we were discussing a particular religious group in church history on the road one day, Dr. Willis simply said, "I don't know much about [that topic]." I was struck by his candor and discretion. He showed me you don't have to spout what you know or don't know about everything.
I can also hear Dr. Willis one day reading one of my exam papers and becoming amused at one of my answers. I had gotten the answer wrong but had tried to make something up that at least would get a laugh, and it worked. I still smile today thinking about him laughing, rather than stoically slashing it with red. He did that as well, but not before having a belly laugh.
Eight centuries before Jesus Christ walked the earth, one of the greatest prophets was given a vision that endures to this day. The prophet's name is Isaiah. Would you like to come with us as we reading this amazing prophecy?
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.