Sometimes you just have to lay your cards out on the table to begin with, and I’m going to do that now…Motyer’s Isaiah By The Day: A New Devotional Translation is fantastic! Here we have a first-rate Old Testament scholar bringing together his gifts as a commentator, translator, and exegete into a Christ-centered devotional tool that applies the text responsibly and practically while guiding the reader through digestible portions God’s Word each day.
The book begins with a helpful introductory section which provides the reader with a general outline of Isaiah, allowing for a broad understanding of the author’s structure. Four simple divisions allow for an easily remembered “map” of the book: Isaiah’s preface (Chs. 1-5), The Book of the King (Chs. 6-37), The Book of the Servant (Chs. 38-55), and The Book of the Conqueror (Chs. 56-66). Additionally, Motyer (pronounced “Moh-teer”) is careful to explain his translation process and certain aspects of Isaiah’s style and structure to keep in mind while reading. The introduction provides the most pertinent information for the reader giving them needed technical knowledge without being overbearing. All in all, he aims to be consistent and faithful to the text while retaining the beauty of Isaiah’s Hebrew.
The notes to the right of each day’s translation are a distilled commentary that provides the reader with helpful background, linguistic, textual, and contextual remarks that do well in keeping from becoming over-technical or distracting from the text itself. It’s as if Motyer is there along the way, as a teacher, heading off that which may be overly confusing and highlighting that which may be often overlooked. Additionally, there is ample note taking space on each page, making it easy to mark the text and record thoughts, questions, and reactions without becoming overly cluttered.
One thing to mention is that the text does read a bit rigidly as compared to most modern translations. However, the raw nature seems to awaken the beauty and straight-forward nature of many portions of the text and add to the distinctiveness of this work.
Moving to the application portion of each day’s entry, Motyer has succeeded in including the text’s contemporary significance, connection to Christ, as well as its ecclesial, social/societal, and individual bearing. While many devotionals aim to apply the text through simplistic, often cheesy, questions, Motyer has given the reader the opportunity to significantly understand and apply the text through well-thought, timely, pointed, and pastorally-natured questions.
Overall, I don’t believe you will find another devotional as distinct and substantial as Motyer’s. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Isaiah By The Day and be edified! …Especially, if you’re one who has avoided, or been weary of, much of contemporary evangelicalism’s often shallow devotional literature…this one will be a breath of fresh air! I recommend it very highly!
*The publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of the aforementioned title. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.