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Book Review: "The Gospel According to God" by John MacArthur

A few months ago, a friend loaned me his copy of The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament. This 2018 book, written by noted pastor/author/speaker John MacArthur and published by Crossway, expounds upon the prophet Isaiah's text from Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The passage is very familiar to many Christians because of its clear prophecy, which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Many, however, especially Jews, may be kept in the dark by religious leaders about the contents of this passage because of its obvious fulfillment in Christ. So, the book is of great value to Christians in gaining a much deeper understanding of Jesus as the promised Messiah and those outside of Christianity, especially Jews, who are open to discovering the true Messiah.


I've heard selections from Isaiah 53 read nearly every year of my life in churches, especially around Christmas. Still, I learned far more from reading this 200+ page book than from all the previous readings and brief comments combined. The book won the ECPA Book of the Year Award for Bible Study, so others must also see its value. For these reasons, I heartily recommend it to anyone interested.


The publisher's brief description of the book says the following:


“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)


Often hailed as one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 foretells the crucifixion of Jesus, the central event in God’s ultimate plan to redeem the world.


This book explains the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 verse by verse, highlighting important connections to the history of Israel and to the New Testament—ultimately showing us how this ancient prophecy illuminates essential truths that undergird our lives today.


The Table of Contents provides a quick overview of the subject matter and related resources:


Introduction: The Whole Story of Salvation in Prophecy

Part 1: The Suffering Servant

1. The Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament

2. About Whom Does the Prophet Say This?

3. Astonishing!

4. What If Some Did Not Believe?

5. The Substituted Servant

6. The Silent Servant

7. The Suffering and Exalted Servant

8. The Sin-Bearing Servant

Part 2: The Life and Times of Isaiah the Prophet

9. Here I Am! Send Me

10. Judah's Demise

Acknowledgments

Appendix: “The Man of Sorrows”: A Sermon by Charles Spurgeon

General Index

Scripture Index


There is a reason why Isaiah is quoted more in the New Testament than any other Old Testament prophet. Isaiah's prophecies are so accurate that some critics of biblical truth and skeptics of divine authorship seek to dismiss his prophecies as history recorded by someone else after the fact rather than prophecy. What Isaiah wrote is so detailed, specific, and fulfilled in the life and crucifixion of Jesus that one has to be willfully or spiritually blind not to see Christ in the passage.


The message of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is foundational to the Christian faith, hence the book title, The Gospel According to God. MacArthur notes in his introduction: "The book of Isaiah is sometimes called the 'fifth Gospel.' It's really more than that. It contains in microcosm the whole range of redemptive truth. It is like a miniature compendium of the Bible. In fact, there are some interesting parallels between how the book of Isaiah is laid out and the arrangement of the bible as a whole" (p. 16). I found those parallels remarkable as I read about them in the book.


If you want to study in depth this critical Old Testament passage, if you are open to being astonished at the detail and accuracy of Isaiah's prophecy as fulfilled in Christ, if you want to go beyond the brief Christmas readings of a few verses and understand the significance of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, if you aren't knowledgeable regarding Isaiah the prophet or the context in which he prophesied, then please read this relatively short, easily read analysis by MacArthur. And don't neglect to read the appendix that contains Charles Spurgeon's inspiring sermon, "A Man of Sorrows." It is well worth your time.

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