Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: Thru the Bible Isaiah 36-66

Isaiah 36-66 (Thru the Bible #23). J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 204 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

I reviewed Isaiah 1-35 in December. I'd hoped, of course, to get to the second volume sooner. But that wasn't to be. I have really enjoyed reading J. Vernon McGee's "commentary" series. In his introductions, I believe, he stresses the fact that they aren't to be taken as "real" commentaries that go through each verse of each chapter of each book of the Bible. That his is a more casual unpacking of truth, that serious students should seek out "better" sources. I love J. Vernon McGee's casual approach. I like his assessments--dated though they may be--of culture and society. I like the respect he shows for the Word of God, and I love his zeal for God. I do. So I'd definitely recommend his books. It's not that I agree theologically with every single sentence, but, he's definitely got some good points--things to think about and consider no matter your theological background.

This commentary focuses on the second half of Isaiah. Chapters 36-39 are historical. Chapters 40-66 are prophetic.

Favorite quotes:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye” is a sign of yearning from the pulsating heart of God. Our God is the God of “all comfort.” That is the way Paul speaks of Him in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” The Holy Spirit is called “the Comforter.” The Lord Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). He is today our Comforter.
The fact is that sin, man’s sin, has alienated him from God, but it is God who did something. And today God is propitious. You don’t have to do anything to win Him over. Propitiation is toward God, and reconciliation is toward us. God has done everything that needs to be done. Today we are asked to be reconciled to God, not to do something to win Him over. God is already won over; that is what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. We need only accept what Christ has done. This is the word of comfort for a lost world today.
God’s Word is our hiding place, a foundation upon which we can rest; it is our sword and buckler, high tower, protection, security, and salvation.
Personally, I don’t care for any pictures of Jesus because they are not pictures of Jesus. I don’t become very popular when I say this. Stores that sell such pictures and people who are rather sentimental think I am terrible. But, my friend, we don’t need pictures of Him. I agree with the old Scottish philosopher who said years ago, “Men never thought of painting a picture of Jesus until they had lost His presence in their hearts.”
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint [Isa. 40:30–31]. There are three degrees of power here, and several expositors have likened them to the three stages of Christian growth that you have in 1 John 2:12–14. These three stages of growth are: (1) the young Christian shall mount up as an eagle; (2) the adult Christian shall run; and (3) the mature Christian shall walk. This reminds me of the black preacher down in my southland who preached a very wonderful sermon, in which he said, “Brethren, this church, it needs to walk.” And one of the deacons said, “Amen.” He continued, “Brethren, this church needs to run.” And the deacon said, “Hallelujah.” Then he said, “Brethren, this church needs to fly.” And this deacon said, “Amen and hallelujah.” Then the minister said, “Well, it’s going to cost money to make this church fly.” To this the deacon replied, “Let her walk, brother, let her walk.” My friend, regardless of who you are, if you are going to move with God through this earth, it will cost you something. But God will furnish you strength whatever your condition. If you need strength to walk, He will give it to you. If you need strength to fly, He has that for you also. This is a wonderful chapter revealing the comfort of God as our Creator, as our Savior, and as our Sustainer.
Now who is an idolater? Have you ever considered the possibility that you may be? Anything you put between your soul and God is your idol—regardless of what it is. It is anything to which you are giving your time and your energy; it could actually be your religion. Anything that you allow to take the place of a personal relationship with God is your idol.
but I am sure you understand that chapter and verse divisions were made of men. It is said that a monk of the Middle Ages marked off the chapters while riding a donkey through the Alps. Each time the donkey came to a halt, he came forward with his pen, and that marked the end of a chapter. Of course, this is a fable, but it looks as if certain places were certainly divided that way. In fact, there are times when I get the impression that perhaps the donkey did some dividing on his own!
Let me ask you the question, “Is your religion carrying you, or are you carrying your religion?” God carries our sins. “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). He also carries our cares, our burdens: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). And God carries us today: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them” (Deut. 33:27).
There is a lot of modern idolatry about. Face up to it. Do you receive anything when you go to church? For many folk church–going is a real burden to them. It is like a useless god they have to carry around. Oh, my friend, God wants to communicate to you. He has something for you. He doesn’t want you to carry Him; He wants to carry you.
The question is asked, What did the Lord Jesus do the first thirty years of His life? Generally the answer is that he worked as a carpenter. But that is only half the truth. The other half is that He studied the Word of God. How tremendous! If He needed to study the Word of God, what about you? What about me? I think we need to get with it! It is nonsense to say, “Oh, I believe the Bible from cover to cover; I will defend it with my life,” when you don’t study it! If God has spoken between the pages of Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21, then somewhere between God has a word for you and for me. If God is speaking to us, we ought to listen.
Those who are acquainted with God’s Word realize that Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 give us a more vivid account of the crucifixion of Christ than is found elsewhere in the Bible. This may be a shock to many who are accustomed to think that the four Gospels alone describe the sad episode of the horrible death of the Son of God.
If you want to know if God hates sin, look at the Cross. If you want to know if God will punish sin, look at the Darling of His heart enduring the tortures of its penalty. By what vain conceit can you and I hope to escape if we neglect so great a salvation? That cross became an altar where we behold the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. He was dying for somebody else—He was dying for you and me.
Even on the cross He joyfully took our place. He made that cross an altar upon which He offered a satisfactory payment for the penalty of your sins and mine.
We have a living and rejoicing Savior, for His suffering led to satisfaction. He took our hell that we might have His heaven. He is happy, for down through the ages multitudes, yes, millions, have come to Him and found sweet release from guilt, pardon for wrongdoing, and healing from the leprosy of sin. Christ said there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, and that number can be multiplied by millions. Think of the joy and satisfaction of Christ today! We have a happy Christ, a joyful Christ, and it is going to be fun to be in His presence.
All without exception are involved in guilt, and all without exception are involved in sin, and all without exception are guilty of straying, and all without exception have turned away from God, and all without exception have chosen their own way.
Well, the milk of the Word of God is essential for spiritual growth. Now, since I am a teacher of the Word of God, that makes me a milkman. And a child of God ought to want the milk of the Word of God with equal longing! My friend, if you are a believer, there is something wrong with you if you don’t like to study the Word of God. The greatest problem in our churches today is that we are entertaining, we are giving nice little courses in this and that and the other thing, we are giving banquets and dinners, and we are putting folk on committees. We are doing everything but giving them the Word of God. Many church members are stillborn—they have no spiritual life. My friend, if you are a believer, you ought to want the sincere milk of the Word of God.
The only place where the gospel is found is in the Word of God. Salvation is a revelation of God, and the Word of God is likened to the rain that comes down from heaven. You see, the gospel is not asking you to do something. Neither is the gospel something that man has thought up. Man does not work his way up to God by some Tower of Babel effort, but he receives God’s revelation which comes down from heaven like rain. The rain causes the earth to become fruitful. The seeds germinate and fructify and bring forth abundantly. The Word of God is also the seed; and, when the rain and seed get together in the human heart, there will be fruit.
Real religion is a personal relationship with Christ, and it is as secret and private as anything can possibly be. Do you go around and tell others about your intimate relationship with your wife or your husband? Of course you don’t. My friend, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is a precious secret between the two of you. You witness for Him, but you don’t reveal your intimate moments with Him. My friend, are you boasting about your religion, or about going through a certain ceremony or ritual? Shame on you! They are nothing in the sight of God—unless they reveal what is within your heart. Oh, how we need reality rather than ritual!
I believe that the greatest revival—that is, the greatest turning to God is yet in the future.
Don’t let anyone tell you that we have a God of wrath in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament! The God of love is the One making these statements in both the Old and New Testaments because there is love in law—in fact, there is law in love.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Joyful Reader said...

I am reading McGee along with my first read through Isaiah this year. I believe for my second read through I will find more "real" commentary, as you said. I like his style too but when I read the notes in my study bible sometimes they aren't on the "same page". Isaiah is the book I am going to study all year. I am still on the first half but I ordered them together.