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The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made Hardcover – April 10, 2006
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"Here is a walk through the Bible that is well worth taking!"
"For many Christians the Old Testament is daunting and confusing. The books are long and speak about a culture dramatically different from ours. Mark Dever's sermons do not substitute for reading the Old Testament, but they do provide a wonderful help in understanding it. Dever unpacks the major themes of each book with remarkable clarity, and the book also shines in conveying the message of the Old Testament for today. Here is a survey to the Old Testament that is accessible and spiritually edifying."
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
"To hear the Bible tell its own story in its own way-this is the obvious but all-too-rare strategy for reading the Book of books. I thank Dr. Mark Dever for showing us how. We are immeasurably enriched."
—Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
"This is a bold project, some might say foolhardy, but Mark Dever has brilliantly succeeded. This is no mere textbook; it is powerful preaching. We are not only introduced to the sweep and message of each book of the Bible but, above all, confronted by our great God and called to obey his living word."
—Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s, Oxford, England; Director, The Proclamation Trust; author, God's Big Picture
"In these distinctive overview sermons, Mark Dever manages to bring together around the core issues of each biblical book three concerns that ought to occupy every faithful preacher of God's Word: theological content, exegetical wisdom, and pastoral application. Here is a walk through the Bible that is well worth taking!"
—Timothy George, founding dean, Beeson Divinity School; general editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture
"Mark Dever has done the Christian community a great service in publishing these sermons. The material is academically informed but presented in a very accessible way with relevant application. With its Christological focus and careful Christian application of the Old Testament, this book enables readers to get into the theological heart of the message of each biblical book."
—David Peterson, former Principal, Oak Hill College; Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in New Testament, Moore Theological College
"Mark Dever has written a needed book and written it well. With a pastor's heart, a scholar's mind, and the intimacy of a friend, Dever introduces the reader clearly and creatively to a book that has changed the world but to which contemporary culture remains largely unexposed. This book is warm, engaging, straightforward, and profound. It will be a valuable resource for individuals, study groups, churches, unbelievers and believers alike. Dever takes the reader on an unforgettable journey into the most remarkable and moving book ever written."
—John ShouseProfessor of Christian Theology, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
"This is a good book, written by a pastor/scholar for people in the pew. Clear, concise, thoroughly readable. Buy two and give one to a friend."
—Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
"I have long desired a book that would unlock the richness of the Old Testament-assisting both the pastor in the pulpit and Christians in their devotions. This is that book."
—C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church, Louisville, Kentucky
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This book is wonderful by itself, but is especially cool if you are doing a daily Bible reading program or just reading the Bible. By reading each sermon before or during your reading of the particular book you are in the BIble, that book comes alive with better understanding and comprehension.
What is most helpful is the fact that sound, biblical theology is maintained throughout. When studying a passage of scripture, it is easy to get caught up in a verse or two and miss the "forest for the trees." This book is helpful in placing a passage in a theological context.
This is an excellent resource to keep on hand. When studying from a particular book of the Old Testament, Dever provides a great place to start.
I highly recommend this for any Christian's bookshelf; clergy or laity.
Trying to reveal the intent and message of the author of each book and God's design for how that message would fit into the whole of the Bible and redemptive history, Dever attempts to fly us above the details to get the big picture of the Bible. Message of the Old Testament opens with a chapter on the big picture of the Bible. Then, he follows with a chapter on the overarching theme of the Old Testament, which he summarizes as "Promises Made". Finally, grouping the books of the Old Testament into groups (i.e. Pentateuch: "The Great Story", Historical Books: "The Other Millennium", Wisdom Books: "Ancient Wisdom", Major Prophets: "Big Hopes", and Minor Prophets, "Eternal Questions") he delves into the message of each book, each having its own chapter of approximately 20-25 pages apiece.
How helpful is this book! Rightly, we are directed to dig deep into a text, and we have this modeled in excellent expository sermons that may spend weeks on a single verse and years on a single verse. This type of expository preaching is good; it is right, and it is to be emulated in personal study. But without Dever's model, the Christian may be very prone to lose his or her way. If we truly want to know the God of the Bible we must know His message, and in order to know God's message in a single verse we must know the message of the chapter, and to know the message of the chapter, we must know the message of the book, and to know the message of the book we must know the message of the Bible.
I imagine what Dever is doing is similar to how I play with the map program, Google earth. Sometimes to better understand what I'm looking at up close, I need to zoom out. We must be in the habit of doing this, and that is exactly what Dever does: He zooms us out. He describes what he is doing as flying over the Biblical landscape rather than walking (or crawling) through it.
Not only is the concept of the book an excellent one, but so is the implementation. This book has been years in the making. Written with knowledge and precision of the scholar, but at a level that a lay Christian can easily understand, I know of no other resource like this that I can recommend as highly. The hours and hours of hard work, reading, prayer, and research that went into each sermon is evident. Each chapter, full of excellent content and providing a good introduction and expository summary of the book, is made even better by the pastoral bent of the work. Dever will not settle for mere knowledge, but pushes the knowledge all the way to the heart, with the hope that the reader will love the Holy, redeeming, loving, and self-giving God that His Word reveals.
Beginning in December 2006, I have been leading my smallgroup on a study through the entire Bible, focusing on one book of the Bible for 2 weeks at a time. We have been using Message of the Old Testament as a supplement to our daily reading and study precisely for all the reasons stated above. The consensus of the more than 20 people who have likewise been weekly interacting with Dever is "Excellent". You would do well to purchase this book and make good and slow use of it. I do not have the same level of familiarity with the The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept that I have with this one but will post a review of it as soon as I do; I expect that it is more of the same (but I can tell you that just the foreword by John MacArthur makes it worth the price).