A Helpful Guide – Review of The Message of Isaiah

isaiah Book InformationThe Message of Isaiah: On Eagles’ Wings

Author – Barry G. Webb

Publication Information – IVP Academic (1997, $15.82 print only)

Reading Challenge book? Yes.  This is a commentary on a book of the Bible. For more information on the VT Reading Challenge, you can check here.

When I saw that reading a commentary was one of our tasks for the VT Reading Challenge, I immediately knew which book of the Bible I wanted to cover. The book of Isaiah contains so much meaty material and the prediction of Christ’s coming contained therein is only the tip of the iceberg. However, as I’ve read it on my own and studied it in church over the years, I have to admit that this is also one of the more confusing books of the Bible for me.

This may be because prophecy doesn’t read like a history. There is more symbolism, more foreshadowing of events to come rather than recitation of what has been.

At any rate, my pastor had recommended several commentary series to our church, one of them being InterVarsity Press’ The Bible Speaks Today. When I picked up Dr. Webb’s volume on Isaiah, I was not at all disappointed. I read this book side by side with my Bible, and the result not only helped me understand more, but also has enriched my spiritual life immensely.

One of this book’s many strengths is balance. Webb balances discussing material in depth, with accessibility to the reader. I’m not a theologian, so I appreciated how he explained terms and helped me to understand some of the more figurative language used throughout Isaiah. Webb also brings in a great deal of historical background, showing not only how the topics discussed throughout Isaiah fit into historical events, but also with other books of the Bible, notably 2 Kings.

Speaking of history, Webb throughout this commentary not only helps readers place Isaiah in historical context, but also makes sure that we don’t lose him there. The author often gives readers gentle reminders of how to apply the book of Isaiah to our own lives.  Many of the sins of the people of Israel and Judah back in Isaiah’s time (arrogance, pride, exploitation of others, idolatry, and more) continue to plague us today and we need to be attuned to that.

In addition, Webb also spends time explaining the structure of the book of Isaiah to readers. Knowing how this book is laid out helped me understand it better.  It is one thing to read a few chapters of Isaiah in isolation and another thing all together to see how God’s judges the people, but ultimately brings restoration. So much of what we read in this book is seen again in the New Testament, and having it outlined and explained underscored my belief that God is in control.

As I read through Isaiah and read through this commentary, I was struck again and again by the immenseness of God and His holiness. This is a book where we see the power of God and the infinite love of God displayed side by side and the effect is awe-inspiring. If you are looking for a commentary that will more greatly inform your reading of Scripture, this one is wonderful and I recommend it. Rating: 5 stars

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