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Isaiah’s Imagery

The writings of Isaiah were quoted by Christ more than any other Old Testament prophet. Not only was he a visionary for Christ’s day, but I believe he was visionary for our day as well. The goal of this project is to encourage people to find and apply lessons from Isaiah for their own lives. I believe Isaiah wanted us to find true peace and emotional freedom in our hectic modern times—the kind of peace and freedom that comes when you have developed the ability to bridle your emotions, master your impulses, grant forgiveness, and show love even when others would break. While I do not pretend to be this person yet, I invite you to join me in learning from Isaiah how we might reach this goal. By the grace of God may we get there.

So why Isaiah? Isaiah is a difficult book of scripture. Not only are his cultural customs and analogies so far removed from our own, but he also uses poetic language forms that are nearly undetectable to people other than ancient Hebrews and trained scholars. As a result, studying Isaiah takes more work than other Biblical prophets. However, as I’ve come to know Isaiah through his writings, I’ve wanted to share his message for two reasons:

First, because Isaiah is a remarkable prophet. Christ Himself, as well as Christ’s apostles, quoted Isaiah more than any other Biblical prophet. Isaiah is so accurate in his prophecies of not only the Christ child, but also non-Israelite leaders and international events far removed from his own time period that most biblical scholars conclude that there were actually three different authors of the book of Isaiah. After a great review of this theory, Biblical Scholar John Oswalt states, “it is my conviction that the essential content of the book has come to us through one human author, Isaiah the son of Amoz.”1 I agree that Isaiah was one man; that he actually was a prophet; that prophets can, indeed, prophesy; and that Isaiah was the best of the best.

Second, because Isaiah’s prophecies are critical for us. I believe he has forseen not just the mortal Christ and the circumstances around His life, but also the millenial Christ and the events leading up to His return. I believe he understood human nature and is encouraging people of all historical ages—but especially ours—to take more personal responsibility, and to trust God above all else. That said, if you wonder why I didn’t dress my models in traditional biblical attire, this is precisely the reason. This project is for us to apply…today.

(1) Oswalt, John. The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1986. Pg 25.

Isaiah is a book of scripture that is beloved by Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The principles I have found have much in common with the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other ideologies. The book of Isaiah was written during a time of political power grabs, economic uncertainty, and shifting morals—just like our day today. I hope to share what I’ve learned in a away that brings us together—not pulls us apart. I remember listening to a Dave Ramsey show when a caller asked about Dave’s view on a certain politician’s waste of public funds. Dave replied with something along these lines: “I don’t get into politics. I prefer to focus on individuals. If we create a nation of individuals who are financially responsible, they won’t tolerate government leaders who are financially irresponsible.” Similarly, while my project does have some religious, cultural, and political implications, in and of itself it is not about reaching a specific ideology. This project is about becoming the kind of people that can live with peace, joy, purpose, and true inner freedom no matter what religion, culture, or government permeates our lives.  

In the art world, there is a debate about whether artists should share what they were thinking behind the symbols and concepts in their artwork. Some argue that if the viewer knows what the artist was thinking, then it blocks them from receiving their own inspiriation. On the other hand, if a viewer has already received an inspiration, then knowing the artists intent can make them feel as if their own inspiration was wrong…or at least less important than the artist’s original intent. These are real challenges; but I have decided to tell you all about my inspiriation for two reasons: (1) The vast majority of people I have met have never been moved by art. Maybe they connect easily with music, or were brought to tears by a film, but the field of visual art remains a mystery to them. If I can possibly help someone who has never learned how to connect with art to have their very first moment of being truly moved…by learning to pause long enough to SEE something they’ve never SEEN…then I will jump for joy! (2) I invite and actually HOPE my viewers will see something I didn’t intend. When they do, that tells me that they are SEEING with inspiration for their own lives and circumstance. That inspiration is far more significant and important for them than the inspiration that drove the painting. I find tremendous joy in conversations with those who have seen something I didn’t consider in my own work. It’s those two-way conversations that uplift me, teach me, and inspire me to create even more work. I can’t wait to continue learning from each other!