Ever since Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue of Nazareth, Christians have gravitated to this great prophecy as the interpretive center of the Old Testament. Here the story of Israel, scourged by judgment and exile yet hopeful of restoration, is framed by its witnesses, heaven and earth. How will Israel be brought through its school of suffering and be propelled toward its divine destiny as the vanguard of a new heaven and earth? In the visionary world of Isaiah, the varied themes and imagery of the Old Testament converge and blend to transcend their plainest meanings as they project an extraordinary climax of the story of Israel and of the world.
Barry Webb calls Isaiah the “Romans” of the Old Testament, where all the threads come together and the big picture of God’s purposes for His people and for His world are most clearly set forth. Attuned to the magnificent literary architecture of Isaiah, he escorts us through this prophecy and trains our ears and hearts to resonate with its great biblical-theological themes.
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“The implication is clear. Forgiveness is possible only when atonement is made, and atonement is provided by God himself. It is a gift from his altar. This is the key to understanding the ministry of the Servant of the Lord in the second part of the book. He is the final answer to the mystery of how God can forgive and remain just. He does it through a perfect sacrifice which he himself provides.” (Page 32)
“The first commits Isaiah to a ministry of judgment, the second to a ministry of comfort; and these become the dominant notes of the first and second halves of the book respectively. It is a book about demolition and reconstruction,42 judgment and salvation. And the order is significant: paradoxically, salvation emerges out of judgment and is possible only because of it.” (Page 31)
“In short, the servant in this passage seems to be a figure who embodies all that Israel ought to be but is not. He is God’s perfect servant.” (Pages 170–171)
“In terms of theological significance, the book of Isaiah is the ‘Romans’ of the Old Testament.” (Page 37)
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