Teaching Isaiah: Unlocking Isaiah for the Bible Teacher by David Jackman
This is not another commentary on Isaiah to help with the specific task of understanding the message of the prophet. We already have a goodly number of those, including excellent contributions in recent years from Alec Motyer and Barry Webb. Instead, David Jackman gives us here a helpful resource to be used when actually teaching the book, either from the pulpit or in a small group setting. He provides help in planning, structuring, and applying key points throughout Isaiah in a style that is neither too heavy nor too simplistic and patronizing.
This book is the ninth installment of the ‘Teaching the Bible’ series from the Proc Trust and Christian Focus, and anyone who has used previous volumes in that series will quickly see the advantages of this one also. David Jackman has worked on Isaiah as both a pastor and as the Director of the Cornhill Training Course over many years, and it is immediately clear from reading this that he has laboured long and hard to find a main line through the mass of material in the book without sacrificing the distinctive flavour and emphases of this particular prophet. (I won’t give it away – you need to buy the book!) One of the great strengths and advantages of a help like this for preachers and Bible study leaders is that it enables us to get a handle on the big picture of how Isaiah fits together
before we dive into all the wonderful details, and to see how each part contributes to the whole. David Jackman is a master at never losing the plot.
At the same time, this book avoids the trap of simply giving us cardboard cut-out expositions to re-use on unsuspecting listeners. The point is not that we avoid all the hard work of sitting down to work and meditate on scripture ourselves and simply imitate or regurgitate “the right message” from David Jackman. Indeed, he himself says, “Downloading other people’s sermons or trying to breathe life into someone else’s outlines are strategies doomed to failure. They may produce a reasonable talk, but in the long term, they are disastrous to the preacher himself since he needs to live in the Word and the Word to live in him, if he is to speak from the heart of God to the hearts of his congregation.” That being said, I benefited a great deal from David’s insight and suggestions while preparing a year-long series of Bible studies and talks on Isaiah, and it is a great boon for us to have such help readily and widely available in this format. So, be brave – do all 66 chapters and not just chapters 6 or 40 or 53! And take David Jackman along for the ride, to inspire and guide you on that exciting journey into territory which is sadly too little known in our churches today.
This review was published in Evangelicals Now (November 2010).