Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Gospel of Isaiah 53: A book review

Dr. Gregory Jackson Reviews the Kregel Publication:  "The Gospel According to Isaiah 53"

Isaiah 53 - King James Version (KJV)

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 - Book Review

Book Review: The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 – Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology

Editors – Darrel L. Bock and Mitch Glaser

Kregel Academic and Professional, Grand Rapids, 2012

ISBN #978-0-8254-2593-6

Publisher description -  Description:  The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 presents the redemptive work of the Messiah to the Jewish community, exploring issues of atonement and redemption in light of Isaiah chapter 53. It is clear that Jesus fulfills the specifications of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. This book has many potential uses in its presentation of the gospel for Jewish people. Pastors who study it will find unparalleled help in preparing Bible studies and sermons, so that their listeners will become better equipped to tell Jewish people about Jesus. It will be beneficial as supplemental reading for classes on Isaiah, the Prophets, and Jewish evangelism. And believers will be trained to share Isaiah 53 with Jewish friends and family. Contributors include: • David L. Allen • Richard E. Averbeck • Darrell L. Bock • Michael L. Brown • Robert B. Chisholm Jr. • Craig A. Evans • John S. Feinberg • Mitch Glaser • Walter C. Kaiser Jr. • Donald R. Sunukjian

Bock is a New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Glaser is president of the Chosen People Ministries in New York.

I signed up with Kregel for free books to review, because I have found their books to be worthwhile for theology. We are currently using the Kregel edition of Luther’s Galatians Commentary for the adult study class.

The book began with a Jewish rabbi becoming a Christian believer in 1892, after hearing the Gospel in the Lower East Side. He founded a group that became the Chosen People Ministries. Therefore, this work is both academic and evangelistic.

Biblical Basis for Isaiah 53 as Evangelism

Isaiah 53 is so significant to the New Testament that most of the chapter is quoted in various New Testament books. As they say, if Isaiah 53 in the Old Testament were lost, most of it could be recovered from the New Testament sources.

This also illustrates the unified perspective of the Bible, not as a collection of books or verses, but one unified message of truth, the Book of the Holy Spirit, with one divine author and many human sub-authors.

Pope Piux XII expressed it well, comparing the Bible to Christ, having a divine and a human nature and yet without error.

Isaiah 53 – Justification by Faith

In honor of the Reformation we should recognize the departure from Romanism that Luther advanced, advocating justification by faith while rejecting any version of justification by works. This distinction is essential for understanding the Christian faith, noting what divides and what unites various confessions.

Most conservative Protestants understand that the Gospel creates faith. This book illustrates that confidence in describing a recent campaign to spread the Gospel among Jews. The focus was on proclaiming the Gospel with a focus on Isaiah 53 being fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah and Savior.

Although this basic concept has many variations, the unifying truth among conservative Protestants is that faith in Christ means complete forgiveness of all sin, salvation, and eternal life.

In contrast, liberal Protestants emphasize the grace of God by declaring all the sins of the world forgiven and absolved, whether anyone believes or not, preferably not. This exodus from historic Christianity began at Halle University, which was founded to promote Biblical studies yet soon became rationalistic. The mainline denominations of America teach this cryto-Universalism. Since everyone is forgiven and saved in this parody of the Faith, there is no barrier to ecumenism with any religion and no reason for evangelism.

Holy Spirit, Faith, Forgiveness

Abraham is the example of justification by faith (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4; Galatians 3) and Isaiah 53 is the Gospel proclamation (Galatians 3 and Romans 10).

KJV Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

In Greek, report is akoue, so we often translate Romans 10:17 as

KJV Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

That way, the emphasis is on hearing, but Isaiah really means to emphasize this unique report. To paraphrase it and keep both meanings, we should say – “Faith comes by hearing the preached Gospel.”

Isaiah 53 is the opening of the Gospel of the crucified Messiah.

KJV Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

The Holy Spirit carries out the proclamation of the Gospel, which creates faith and graciously gives that forgiveness promised in the proclamation.

Lacking Trust in the Word

The problem is not that the Word is no longer effective but that people no longer trust the Word to carry out God’s will.

Understanding Isaiah 53 as the key Gospel passage for Jews is the principle reason for this book, which is organized in three parts:

1. Interpretation of Isaiah 53
2. Isaiah 53 in Biblical Theology
3. Isaiah 53 in Practical Theology

“This passage is therefore one of the great pillars of our faith, a multi-faceted diamond that demands we appreciate its true value and worth.” (p. 29)

The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 is so thorough that anyone will find value in it, whether as a beginning in this area or as a minister or professor. The chapters include a large number of references to other worthwhile efforts. I have already promised to loan the book to someone who specializes in this area.

Isaiah 53 is especially for evangelism among Jewish people, but the book is a great resource for any Gospel-based evangelism effort, where the emphasis is upon the Word of God rather than the felt needs of man.

Those who will appreciate this compilation the most are:

College and seminary students.
Biblical and evangelism professors.
Interested laity.

Note that the preceding Christian book review can be found at Dr. Gregory Jackson's website:

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