My “heart burns within me” when I see the gospel theme
repeat throughout the Old and New Testaments.
66 books written
over many centuries,
by many men
in many cultures.
And yet, I keep hearing and seeing
the same gospel, the same Savior —
variations on one beautiful theme.
One Seamless Story.
One Gospel Thread Throughout.
One Glorious Savior.
We will see it this week in Isaiah!
Tim Keller tells of being profoundly impacted by Alec Motyer, our expert in Isaiah, when Keller was a young man — before his seminary days.
Keller tells of how, in his early twenties, he “had held the vague, unexamined impression that in the Old Testament people were saved through obeying a host of detailed laws but that today we were freely forgiven and accepted by faith.” But then he heard Old Testament scholar Dr. J. Alec Motyer speak and was “thunderstruck” when Motyer asked them to imagine how the Israelites under Moses might have given their testimony of faith. He said they would have said something like this:
We were in a foreign land, in bondage, under the sentence of death. But our mediator—the one who stands between us and God—came to us with the promise of deliverance. We trusted in the promises of God, took shelter under the blood of the lamb, and he led us out. Now we are on the way to the Promised Land. We are not there yet, of course, but we have the law to guide us, and through blood sacrifice we also have his presence in our midst. So he will stay with us until we get to our true country, our everlasting home.
Then Dr. Motyer concluded: “Now think about it. A Christian today could say the same thing, almost word for word.
I have Motyer’s enormous commentary on Isaiah, and then I have an easier one, which I recommend to all. A great devotional:
This gospel theme is in all three sections of Isaiah, but we will be looking this week at it in section 1: The King.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: The Bad and Good News of the Gospel — as pictured in Isaiah (Review of Last Week)
2. Last week we saw how Isaiah opened in a courtroom with God accusing His children of three sins. Do you remember what they were?
3. Scripture shows us that God is concerned with sin because, like a virus may begin with just one person, but can spread throughout the whole world. (See below) How does Isaiah 1 show sin spreading from the individual to the whole culture?
4. I have a dear gentlemanly friend at pickleball who goes to a church that emphasizes grace over judgment. He feels grace is the whole message of the Bible and that the pictures of the severity of God are contrary to that message and must be in error or should be re-interpreted. He was particularly upset with Leviticus 20:13 that says “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death…” In truth, there is much judgment in the whole Bible, and every judgment we see is a foreshadowing of a much worse judgment, the final judgment. Yet judgment is hard. How should we respond to the judgment of God that we see throughout the Bible? How would you respond to my dear friend?
5. Last week we saw the gospel in Isaiah 1:18. Review this and how it shows both the bad news and the good news of the gospel.
Tuesday: One Picture of Sin from Isaiah: Bondage
In Exodus we see God’s people in bondage, but God sending a rescuer in Moses. In Isaiah, God’s people, because of sin, are going to be taken into bondage by Babylon. Little Judah didn’t have much power and admired the power of her neighbors: Assyria and Babylon. By the end of this first section of Isaiah (Isaiah 1-39) Isaiah will have told them repeatedly, but more clearly all the time, that they are going to be taken captive by this sinful nation they admire. We see hints of this even in Isaiah 1.
6. What does Isaiah see is coming in Isaiah 1:7-8?
During Lent, we are each endeavoring to identify a bad habit, see the sin beneath the sin, and replace it with God. For example, my bad habit is worry, the sin beneath the sin is a security idol, and I need to replace that with the truth of God’s Word that He is my security. My idol puts me into bondage with anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress.
7. What bad habit have you identified, what sin beneath, and what bondage does it put you in?
8. This theme of sin putting us into captivity is not new with Isaiah. Find another place in Scripture where you see it.
Wednesday: Rotten or Beautiful Grapes
Another picture in Isaiah is of a vineyard. Isaiah 1:6 hints at it in that “a booth in a vineyard” connotes transience, flimsiness. But Isaiah expands on this picture in the last chapter of this preface, Isaiah 5.
9. Read Isaiah 5:1-4
A. How does Isaiah refer to God in verse 1?
B. Find all the ways God cared for his vineyard in verses 1-2?
C. Looking at more than one translation, what kind of grapes did this vineyard yield?
10. We are still in a courtroom. What does God ask in Isaiah 5:1-4?
11. What does Isaiah see will happen to God’s people because of being stiff-necked about their idols, about their sin? (Isaiah 5:5-6)
!2. Some of the rotten grapes can be seen in the woes of Isaiah 5:8-23. We also see the judgment of captivity. If you have time, read this, and share one thing that resonates with you.
13. The theme of a vineyard is not new with Isaiah. Watch this (many of you already have) and share how it repeats, but on a more positive note, in the Song of Songs.
14. How does Jesus repeat this and make it abundantly clear in John 15:1-5?
Thursday-Friday: Free Sermon on Isaiah 5 by Eric Alexander, our Scottish Preacher! (I was so encouraged by those who listened to this great preacher last week and how they were impacted.)
15. Share your notes and comments.
16. What is your take-a-way and why?