I doubt I’m alone when I say the Old Testament in my Bible is largely unknown to me. This is probably due to the fact that it’s not chronologically structured and many overlaps and gaps make things confusing. Such prospects can be despairing for a big-picture reader like myself.
Typically before I begin a book I question the themes and overall direction of what I’m about to read. It’s the basic ABCs of critical thinking, really. However the historical big-picture of the Old Testament is often hard to discern and so the details are often disconnected.
Enter Mark Dever.
I remember my introduction to Mark Dever four years ago as a carpenter finishing a basement drywall project. I was somewhat new to drywalling myself, usually opting to hire an expert (the wise choice). So like an amateur, I made the mistake of applying too much drywall mud on the walls. Thus I sanded and sanded for several painful winter days while me and my .mp3 player were both covered in several layers of fine white dust. Audible amidst the white fog, however, Mark Dever preached on.
Over those days I listened to (and was sustained by) Dever’s entire sermon series on New Testament (now also in print). I was amazed at the clarity of his messages and his uncanny ability to summarize whole NT books into nice packages. And I anticipated a survey of the Old Testament.
At Together for the Gospel in Louisville Dever’s Old Testament survey was available for purchase and I jumped at the chance. Although several hundred of you jumped sooner I guess because they were sold out before I could get my hands on a copy. As soon as I returned home I ordered a copy and have not regretted it!
The book is simply a 960-page collection of sermon manuscripts. But don’t be intimidated by its size. Dever’s summary of the message of the Old Testament is terse and clear. With a broad brush he paints the major movements of the Old Testament to highlight the history of God’s chosen nation. In fact, early in the book he summarizes the history of the Old Testament in about 2 pages! Very helpful for big-picture readers like myself.
This is one of the most helpful and (in a world of redundant publishing) truly original books. This volume will provide great help for preachers and laypersons wanting to unlock the message of the Old Testament.
As an unexpected bonus, wonderful reflection questions conclude each chapter perfectly suited for group study and personal meditation.
The Message of the Old Testament is the perfect balance of two worlds – letting the biblical storyline come alive for readers today AND addressing the pressing issues of our lives from the application of the ancient text. Buy it, read it, cherish it and some day pass it on to your children. It’s one of those rare and priceless volumes that will bless your heart and your ministry.