Isaiah: God Saves Sinners

Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, by Raymond Ortlund, Jr., a PCA teaching elder, is also a helpful resource to preachers, teachers, and Bible students. This commentary is part of a series edited by R. Kent Hughes.

I chose both commentaries for this issue to underscore a common thread. While Genesis is the basic and absolutely essential book for understanding how God the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer relates to his creation, laying the theological foundation for the Christian faith and life, Isaiah is viewed by many as one of the most theologically significant books in the Old Testament. Ortlund’s makes a point to underscore that unity of vision of God throughout the sixty-six books.

According to Ortlund, Isaiah’s aim is to show us more of God and more of ourselves than we have ever seen. Ortlund writes, “God saves sinners. We don’t believe that. We bank our happiness on other things. But God says to us, ‘I’m better than you think. You’re worse than you think. Let’s get together.'” While demonstrating good exegesis, this book like others in the series is designed to help the preacher know how to effectively and faithfully set forth the message of Isaiah. Ortlund mentions his gratitude to J. Alec Motyer and John N. Oswalt for their help in exegeting Isaiah. I would agree and add to that list, E. J. Young’s classic set as well.

The opening passage in chapter 1 will give you a preview of other rich words in this volume: “We can know, because God has spoken. Into our troubled world, God has spoken to us from ‘the borders of another world.’ Our needs go deeper than the remedies on sale in the marketplace of ideas today. Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, wouldn’t you agree that the ‘solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time?’ …Surprisingly, his message is good news for bad people like us. Will you listen to him thoughtfully, patiently?”

There are so many rich passages in this commentary that it is impossible to mention them all. One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 60, the Old Testament version of Revelation 21. Ortlund entitles that chapter, “Revival and World Renewal.” It is the new Jerusalem and the climax and consummation of all history. I especially appreciated his handling of that rich chapter and its various themes. One last passage that again reflects the importance of this commentary, “God himself came down into this world and suffered Hell out of love for us, to save us from our folly. It’s time for us to humble ourselves. It’s time to change the subject in our minds from blaming God for ruining the world to owning our real moral guilt before him, so that we can receive his saving love in Christ.” Need I say more to encourage you to have access to this commentary and use it in your studying, preaching, and teaching? It is powerful!

Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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