Thinking Out Loud

May 23, 2013

Book Review: These are the Days of Elijah

Much as I hate to admit it, while I’ve been aware of him for many years, this week was the first time I finally got around to reading one of the more than fifty books by R. T. Kendall. The American born author and pastor is best known for being the pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel where he succeeded the likes of Glyn Owen, G. Campbell Morgan and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

R. T. Kendall - These are the Days of ElijahThe book I asked to review is These Are The Days of Elijah: How God Uses Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things (2013, Chosen Books) which was compiled from a series of Sunday evening sermons given at Westminster in 2000-2001; and if those Sunday night sermons were this good, I can only imagine what his preaching was like on Sunday mornings.

The book is an exposition of the story of the prophet Elijah. That said, you would expect the book to rest firmly in a Old Testament setting, but it’s as though Dr. Kendall can’t complete a paragraph without reference to a New Testament character or narrative. There is a great satisfaction in reading something where the Old and New Testaments are so clearly and strongly linked; where the character of God is seen as consistent throughout the two very different eras of our spiritual history.

But in addition to making the connection across the Biblical timeline, Days of Elijah is filled with application to our 21st century situation. Elijah was a man like us; he had his weaknesses, his rants, his frustrations. Several times the book quotes the phrase, “The best of men are men at best.” The prophet who led the showdown on Mount Carmel had his days of despair. A few times, Kendall links the Elijah story to periods in his own ministry where he felt rejection and failure; his journey as a pastor in two countries making this good reading for those who find themselves in that vocation today.

This is a book with what I call ‘rich text.’ I certainly see why Dr. Kendall has the following of readers that he does. I’m thinking this will be the first of several books by him to fill my bookshelf.

Top Ten Books by R. T. Kendall according to Send the Light Distribution:

  1. Total Forgiveness
  2. Totally Forgiving God
  3. God Meant it for Good
  4. Word, Spirit, Power
  5. Jealousy: The Sin No One Talks About
  6. These are the Days of Elijah
  7. The Power of Humility
  8. How to Forgive Ourselves Totally
  9. Why Jesus Died
  10. The Sermon on the Mount

Top Ten Books by R. T. Kendall according to Spring Arbor Distributors:

  1. Total Forgiveness
  2. These are the Days of Elijah
  3. How to Forgive Ourselves Totally
  4. Totally Forgiving God
  5. Word, Spirit, Power
  6. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
  7. The Power of Humility
  8. The Sermon on the Mount
  9. The Anointing: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  10. Did You Think to Pray?

A copy of These are the Days of Elijah was provided to Thinking Out Loud by Graf-Martin, a literary marketing and promotion agency based in Elmira, Ontario, Canada.


April 17, 2011

On Biblical Illiteracy and Forgetting God

A few years back, Wood (Woodrow) Kroll wrote a book which bears the same name as the organization he heads, Back to the Bible (Multnomah Publishing).  The following is taken from pages 67-68:

Two Old Testament prophets from Israel would feel very much at home at the dawn of the twenty-first century.  I think they have much to say to us as the did to those who heard them in person…

Amos was a lowly shepherd from Tekoa (Amos 1:1) a village not far from Bethlehem.  He made no special claims for himself, in fact, when his authority to speak for God was challenged because he was not what people expected of a prophet, Amos said, “I was no prophet nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit”(7:14).  Amos was a pretty humble guy, but when God appeared to him and said, “Go prophesy to My people Israel” (7:15) he could do nothing else.

Amos prophesied during the days of King Uzziah, when Israel’s economy was flourishing.  He looked at a society in which the people of God had become complacent and noticed that the Jews had no intimacy with the heavenly Father and paid no attention to those charged with teaching them the Word.  When he spoke these words to his countrymen, Amos actually predicted our day: “‘Behold the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord'” (8:11).

That famine has arrived.  In our physical and financial prosperity, the church has become spiritual anemic and biblically illiterate.

The prophet Hosea echoed the cry of Amos.  He ministered to Israel during the chaotic period just before the fall of the nation in 722 B.C.  In that respect he was ominously familiar with what happens to a nation who forgets God and His Word.  Unlike Amos, Hosea was a member of the upper class. He was one of the most unusual prophets of the Old Testament.

Strangely, God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2-9).  His wife, Gomer, eventually returned to her life of sin, but Hosea bought her back from the slave market and restored her as his wife (3:1-5).  Hosea’s unhappy family life served as an illustration of Israel’s sin.  The people of God had fallen out of love with God, grown cold toward Him and no longer heeded His Word.  They rejected the one true God and served pagan Gods.

In that context, Hosea prophesied with words that have a chilling ring for the church of the twenty-first century.  He spoke for God when he said, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me, because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (4:6). The Israelites forgot God’s law.  They failed to read his word and showed no respect for it.  Therefore God promised that he would forget His people as they had forgotten His Word.  That simply meant that He would withhold His blessing and all the good things that would have been theirs had they spent more time loving God by reading His Word. 

~Wood Kroll

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