According to Isaiah, God raises up his servant when the world is spiraling in a spiritual downturn—when God’s people are buying wholesale into the ideology of Babylon. Isaiah’s ministry was a type of that scenario. So was the time before the Flood, when wickedness and violence prevailed throughout the earth. At that time God destroyed the earth’s inhabitants by water, saving only Noah and his family. At the end of the world he destroys the earth’s inhabitants by fire, saving only those who heed his warning to prepare. Like Noah, we obtain deliverance when we observe God’s law and word. By yielding to a wisdom higher than our own we show our loyalty, especially through the hard times.
Israel’s ancient pilgrimage to Jerusalem was a type of Jacob/Israel’s ascent. At certain feasts of the year, such as Passover and Tabernacles, God’s people “went up” or “ascended” to Jerusalem to receive divine instruction and offer sacrifice at the temple. Isaiah depicts Israel’s return from exile to the Promised Land as just such a pilgrimage. The physical journey to Zion or Jerusalem at the new exodus out of Babylon symbolizes the spiritual journey that precedes it. The Hebrew word for “pilgrimage” (‘alîyâ) also means “ascent” (‘alîyâ), expressing our inborn desire to attain a higher, transcendent state. Those who return to Zion or Jerusalem in the end-time pilgrimage are those who ascend spiritually.
In his day Isaiah served a symbolic role as a “sign and portent” of calamities to come upon Egypt and Cush (Isaiah 20:3–4). That becomes the type of a comparable role by God’s servant in the “last days.” For three years Isaiah testified that the king of Assyria would take captive the people of Egypt and Cush, typifying a similar three-year warning to all nations at the end of the world. Isaiah lumps Egypt and Cush together with other nations comprising Greater Babylon, all of whom participate in a tragic finale. From the time the servant begins his mission Babylon has a three-year “lease” of time in which to repent before God brings upon it three years of judgment (Isaiah 16:14; 37:30) (see Figure 49).
In the books of Daniel and John that time period is three and a half years. The difference may not be significant—Isaiah’s three years of God’s judgment may simply be a part of Daniel’s and John’s three-and-a-half years. Three years of warning followed by three of judgment may also be part of a seven-year distress cycle such as occurred anciently in Israel and Egypt. The important thing to know is that everything that happens at the end of the world possesses a type or types in the past, so that familiarity with Israel’s history gives us the advantage of knowing how future events fall out. We may indeed survive the times ahead, but it will still require an uncommon degree of resourcefulness.
(Taken from Isaiah Decoded, pp 118–119)