I thought this a little too long-winded to put in the comments box, so here it is:
You’re right, context does add a deeper understanding to any verse, but since my plan is to memorize a verse per week, and not the entire book, I’m sticking to verses.
To answer your question, Isaiah was speaking to the children of Israel during the time when they were practicing idol worship and living hedonistic lives. During Isaiah’s time, they were also under attack by several imperialistic Babylonian kings. Isaiah’s prophecies took place during the reign of four kings, whose histories are recorded in 2 Kings 15 - 2 Kings 20. Isaiah spoke of Israel’s eventual defeat and the Babylonian captivity, as well as their deliverance from that, but his concern isn’t just for his contemporaries. He prophesies the coming of Jesus. Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “He (Isaiah) has been well called the evangelical prophet, on account of his numerous and full prophesies concerning the coming and character, the ministry and preaching, the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and the extent and continuance of his kingdom. Under the veil of the deliverance from Babylon, Isaiah points to a much greater deliverance, which was to be effected by the Messiah; and seldom does he mention the one, without alluding at the same time to the other;”
I knew all this before I chose this particular memory verse and I’m inspired by the fact that the words speak just as eloquently to me of God’s concern for me in the here and now as they did to the Israelites of Isaiah’s time.
You’ve wasted your time at the Bible studies if you have not been taught the truth of God’s great concern for your eternal existence.
Yes, He wants us to be happy and productive within His will while we are here, but more than anything else, He wants an Eternal relationship with each and every one of us. He did not send Christ to suffer the agony of the cross so that we would learn to be nice to each other and have a good life here on this earth. His life and death accomplished much more than that: it separates us from our sins and makes it possible for us to have a restored relationship with God.
As for learning a new language and culture, that is exactly what Christian Missionaries have been doing for centuries. The Bible has been translated into over 700 languages, about 400 of which (including many North American Indian groups) would never have had an alphabet or written language if Missionaries had not gone to live with them and learned their culture and language in order to create for them a meaningful translation of the Bible. And the work continues to this day: CBC is right now supporting a young family who has moved to a remote area of Peru to do just that as well as another couple (parents of the young man in Peru) who was living in Indonesia doing the same thing until the Muslims took control of the government and ran them out.