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Isaiah lived during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His ministry began in about 740 B.C., the year Uzziah died, and perhaps continued some 40 to 50 years, through and beyond the reign of Hezekiah.

It was during the reign of Hezekiah, the righteous son of Ahaz, that Isaiah had his greatest religious and political influence, as he was Hezekiah's chief adviser.Hezekiah suppressed idolatry and reconstituted the temple services, and, with Isaiah's help, made reforms in church and state during his reign, which lasted 29 years.

While earlier prophets came from humble origins, Isaiah was possibly born into a prominent family. He involved himself in political and religious matters.

Judah was urged to join in an uprising against Assyria about 713 B.C. Isaiah counseled Hezekiah against such a move, assuring the king that God would make it known when Assyria should fall. Isaiah told Hezekiah that Assyria's rise to power was the work of the Lord's hands. (Isa. 19:25.) To go against Assyria would compound Judah's sins.

Hezekiah heeded Isaiah's advice and Judah was spared. (Isa. 37:6, 33-35.)

However, in 705 B.C., Hezekiah disregarded Isaiah's advice. After Assyria's King Sargon II died, Judah joined Egypt in an alliance against Assyria. Sennacherib, Sargon's successor, overran Judah in 701 B.C. Finally persuaded to make peace and salvage what was left of the kingdom, Hezekiah sent Sennacherib a letter conceding defeat and subsequently paid the huge tribute demanded of him.

About 12 years later, when Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem, Isaiah gave the opposite counsel. He urged Hezekiah to resist. The prophet saw the Assyrian king's arrogance as a sign of Assyria's impending downfall. Within a short time, " . . . an angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and four score and five thousand. . . ." (Isa. 37:36.) Sennacherib was slain by his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer. (Isa. 37:38.)



Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by Gerry Avant

Sources: Isaiah and the Prophets, edited by Monte S. Nyman; and general conference reports, October 1901, April 1978 and October 1970.