Don Parry introduces Isaiah presuming a traditional setting.
Don Parry, Jay A. Parry, Tina M. Peterson, "Introduction," Understanding Isaiah, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1998) 1-6
Isaiah's name means "Jehovah is salvation." How fitting that a man who devoted his life to testifying of the saving power of the Messiah should also have a name that so testified.
Many scholars believe that Isaiah's ministry took place between the years 740 and 700 (or perhaps 699) B.C.-approximately forty years. According to Isaiah 1:1, Isaiah served as a prophet during the reign of several kings in Judah, including Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He had personal dealings with at least two of those kings. According to one ancient Jewish source, Isaiah's wife was a daughter of one of the kings of Judah, making Isaiah a member of the royal family by marriage.
Isaiah's wife is called "prophetess" in Isaiah's record (8:3), suggesting that she too had the gift of revelation. Isaiah and his wife had at least two sons who served as signs to Israel, as did Isaiah and his wife themselves. "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts" (8:18). As we discuss in the commentary on Isaiah 8, Isaiah stood as a type of God the Father; the prophetess was a type of Mary, the mother of Christ; and one of their sons was a type of Jesus Christ.
According to Josephus, Isaiah was martyred for the faith. King Manasseh, who took rule at the early age of twelve, reportedly put Isaiah in a hollow tree and had him sawed in half (Hebrews 11:37 may be an allusion to this).
What was happening in the political world of Isaiah's time? Assyria, the enemy of Israel, was expanding its borders through whatever means necessary. In 722 and 721 B.C., midway through Isaiah's ministry, Assyria invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel and carried its inhabitants (the ten tribes of Israel) off into other lands.
In the Southern Kingdom of Judah, where Isaiah ministered, King Uzziah had attempted to burn incense in the temple at Jerusalem without God's authority, and God punished him with leprosy. He died ten years later, in 740 B.C., the same year Isaiah began his ministry. Contrast him with Hezekiah, a righteous king who sought religious reforms.
After conquering the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C., Assyria sought to take over the Southern Kingdom of Judah, taking two decades to advance to the city of Jerusalem. Hezekiah and his people were frantic, but Isaiah gave a prophecy of reassurance and comfort: "Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there... for I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake... Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand" (37:33-36).
This is an impressive instance of how the Lord spoke through Isaiah and then immediately fulfilled his word. Just as surely, all of the prophecies of Isaiah concerning our day will be fulfilled; not one will fail.