For each section of the Bible, the Focus on the Bible Commentaries summarize the passage of Scripture, including the intentions of the authors, the historical and cultural environment, and the questions and issues raised by a particular passage. But most importantly, the Focus on the Bible Commentaries brings you into the heart of the Bible, by explaining Scripture in an accessible way that makes sense for daily Christian living.
Isaiah has been called the “fifth gospel.” Why? Because in it, God speaks through his prophet of his people's departure from truth, the need for repentance, and the redemption provided by a coming Savior. Isaiah's imagery is some of the most beautiful, and terrifying, in the Bible.
It was written in the eight century B.C. at a time of material prosperity. This wealth had brought increased literacy and so God's people could be brought back by a book of 66 chapters to understand a world that had spiritual, as well as physical, dimensions.
This is a key Old Testament book, as well as charting a key change in the life of God's people it provides some of the most important prophecies fulfilled only in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Its lessons for the contemporary church are particularly apt.
Too often modern commentaries become a discussion between commentators rather than an exploration of what the text has to say to contemporary readers. Allan Harman's methods follow those of Leon Morris and Allan McRae in that he devotes most of his energy to discovering what God is saying through his prophet, rather than what we are saying amongst ourselves.
“In chapter 6 Isaiah gives his own account of the way in which he was called to the service of the living God and how he was given a message from him. This chapter appears to record the initial call of Isaiah to the prophetic ministry. Three reasons suggest this.” (Page 71)
“The threefold gifts with which he will be endowed are wisdom and understanding for government, counsel and might for war, and knowledge and fear of the Lord for spiritual leadership. No king in Israel or Judah ever had all these gifts. It is only in the perfect ruler to come that these manifold endowments will find embodiment.” (Page 111)
“For a long time there has been a Christian interpretation of this verse as a description of the fall of Satan. This probably goes back to the Vulgate translation of ‘morning star’ as ‘Lucifer’ (‘bearer of light’). However, the words refer to the king of Babylon, who in his immense pride exalted himself as though he were a god. There may well be use of the imagery of Mesopotamian star gods to make the point that the king was elevating himself to divine status. This ‘god’ will however be humbled to the dust, and his former glory as he ruled over nations will have gone for ever. Babylon also becomes a representative figure in the Bible, appearing in the eschatological visions in the book of Revelation (see especially Rev. 18:1–24).” (Page 126)
“The world will become a new Eden, with all physical infirmities such as blindness, deafness, crippling disease and dumbness gone. In addition, the wilderness areas will suddenly have abundant water supplies, and the dry dens of the jackals will be changed into flourishing vegetation such as grass, reeds, and papyrus. Jesus takes up these words along with Isaiah 61:1 when he sends word back to John the Baptist (Matt. 11:2–4; Luke 7:18–23). His healing ministry pointed to his messiahship, and the breaking into time of his kingdom. But that ministry did not exhaust the prophetic word concerning eschatological days. It merely foreshadowed the even greater changes to take place at the end of time.” (Page 230)
Outstanding. What I mean by that is that he has been able to do the work of a first class exegete, yet make it understandable to a wide audience. As I train my theological students in the prophets of the Bible I will send them to this book immediately.
—John D. Currid, Carl McMurray Professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary
With Allan Harman's Isaiah before me, I know what the saying means that ‘even a cat can look at the queen!’ His work has made me wish wholeheartedly that I could start all over again. The detailed interpretative work is superb, and Harman's defense of the unity of Isaiah is robust (to say the least), and, in my view, unanswerable. I thrill to a commentator whose prime aim is to understand and explain the Hebrew Text, not just to distil the opinions of others. Thank God for this book—and its author.
—Alec Motyer, former principal, Trinity College, Bristol, England
Allan Macdonald Harman (born 7 June 1936) is an Australian Presbyterian theologian and Old Testament scholar. He has been described as a “well-known and highly regarded figure in Christian and especially evangelical circles within Australia and overseas.” Harman was born in Lismore, New South Wales and attended Taree High School and Sydney University. He then studied overseas, at the University of Edinburgh and Westminster Theological Seminary.