The book of Isaiah is perhaps the most compelling of all Old Testament prophecy. No other prophet rivals Isaiah's brilliance of style, powerful imagery and clear vision of the messianic hope. Unlike many commentators who divide Isaiah between chapters 1 - 39 and 40 - 66, J. Alec Motyer instead identifies three messianic portraits: the King (1 - 37), the Servant (38 - 55), and the Anointed Conqueror (56 - 66). These three portraits are expounded in Motyer's lucid, insightful and probing commentary.
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“Isaiah is the Paul of the Old Testament in his teaching that faith in God’s promises is the single most important reality for the Lord’s people: this is the heart of chapters 1–37. He is the ‘Hebrews’ of the Old Testament in his proposal of faith as the sustaining strength of the Lord’s people in life’s dark days: this is the heart of chapters 38–55. He is also the James of the Old Testament in his insistence that ‘faith works’, proving itself in obedience: thus chapters 56–66. Behind all this lies the history through which he lived and future events as he envisaged them.” (Page 21)
“Pious though his words sound, Ahaz is doing the devil’s work of quoting Scripture for his own purposes and thereby displaying himself as the dogmatic unbeliever. This was his moment of decision, his point of no return.” (Page 88)
“Isaiah was the prophet of faith, the faith that trusts the promises, perseveres through the darkness and obediently awaits the Lord’s time.” (Page 27)
“The abiding truth of this passage is that faith in the Lord and in his promises is a practical approach to life however great the crisis.” (Page 85)
“Isaiah, therefore, saw his prediction of darkness begin to be fulfilled but, as always, we have to decide what reading of our experiences we are going to live by. The darkness and distress are real but they are neither the only reality nor the fundamental reality. In any given situation we can either sink into despair or rise to faith and hope. Isaiah insists that hope is part of the constitution of the here and now.” (Page 99)
J. Alec Motyer (1924–2016) was a renowned Old Testament pastor and scholar. With extensive experience in parish ministry, he was principal of Trinity College in Bristol, England, and was well known as a Bible expositor. His books include The Prophecy of Isaiah, and he was the Old Testament editor of The Bible Speaks Today commentary series.