Few pastors ever preach though the Book of Isaiah. Why? Perhaps because they do not know how to expound the book without boring their congregations with an excessively long series. This book by Ortlund, senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville, shows how such a series can be preached. In this he expounded all sixty-six chapters in forty-eight sermons of about the same length.
In each of the chapters (sermons) Ortlund addresses both believers and seeking unbelievers, and he includes appropriate, relevant applications for each kind of reader (hearer). His messages are evangelistic; and they are Christ-centered with a very positive view of God—in some respects much like John Piper’s writings. His emphasis on God’s desire to save sinners is present in every sermon. Thus he views the dominating theological emphasis of Isaiah as soteriological.
This reviewer found it helpful to read only one chapter at a time and then to think about it for a while and make a personal response. This book is too challenging to read quickly. It is not for those who simply want to understand the text; instead it is for those who want Isaiah’s messages to affect their lives.
Each chapter includes a structural outline of the passage in view, and the sermon outline unfolds from that. If these chapters are any indication, Ortlund is an eloquent, passionate, positive preacher. His supporting material is extensive, varied, and up to date. He frequently quotes C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards. A helpful index of sermon illustrations at the back of the book, by subject, contains a summary of each illustration and its source. Other indexes include Scripture and general references to the subjects and individuals mentioned. The author believes that the church will realize God’s promises to Israel, and he takes some of the eschatological passages less literally than do premillenarians. Nonetheless there is much challenging exposition in this volume, and any evangelical preacher will find encouragement from Ortlund to preach the major prophets.