Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Isaiah in the ESV Study Bible, and an Interview with Ray Orltlund

We've now posted online the next sample from the ESV Study Bible: the introduction to the book of Isaiah, along with the notes for the first two chapters (a 14-page PDF).

Colin Adams, who blogs at Unashamed Workman (a helpful blog related to preaching), interviews Ray Ortlund about the book of Isaiah, preaching through it, and writing these notes.

Here's an excerpt, discussing Isaiah's relevance for today:

6. So, what ‘prophetic message’ does the book of Isaiah bring to the church today?

I think Isaiah would have loved Calvin, who in the throes of decision wrote to Farel, “I am well aware that it is with God that I have to do.” We are always dealing with God. But little in the modern world makes us well aware of it. Isaiah became well aware of God. He came to realize how urgently relevant to all things is the One who says, “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior” (43:11). But Isaiah also saw that it’s the most natural thing in the world for us, without even realizing it, to redefine God in such a way that we can forsake him and still think of ourselves as good people.

That leads to Isaiah’s second prophetic message to us today. We are more wicked than we know. Isaiah himself went through a profound humiliation before God. He was a privileged man, and obviously a genius. People probably valued his opinions. But when he saw the holy King, he finally saw his own dirty self, no better than anyone else (6:1-5). But the grace of the King was feelingly applied to Isaiah, energizing him for a self-abandoning, God-glorifying life mission (6:6-8). As Charles Simeon wrote to a friend, “You have always appeared to me to be sincere. But your views of Christianity seemed to be essentially defective. You have always appeared to admire Christianity as a system; but you never seemed to have just views of Christianity as a remedy; you never seemed to possess self-knowledge or to know the evil of your own heart.”

Isaiah’s third and breath-takingly glorious message is that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He will preserve, purify and honor his people, drawing us out from all the nations as a glorious new humanity and, through the sin-bearing Servant, he will have us glorifying and enjoying himself in a renewed universe forever. No matter what terrors confront us in the world, no matter what sins we discover in ourselves, God will fulfill his saving purpose. “Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create,” God says (65:18).

Read the whole thing.