Sometimes reading the Old Testament gives Christians the hives. And when Christian ministers get the crazy notion to preach from the Hebrew prophets, either they or their parishioners (or both) begin to doubt their sanity. And so it is quite refreshing to read just about anything Dale Ralph Davis writes on the Old Testament, because he is a delightful scout who is well qualified to guide readers on their trek through “Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24.44). Therefore I was elated to find that Dr. Davis had recently published a new 95 page paperback titled, “True Word for Tough Times.”
This short piece consists of 4 sermons and one lecture which Dr. Davis gave at the Aberystwyth Conference in Wales UK in 2010, and are all taken from the prophetic book of Jeremiah. Each chapter was recorded and then transcribed, and so they read just the way Dr. Davis spoke them. That means they are a smidgen choppy, and not ironed out flat with literary starch (thus the four stars out of five).
“True Word for Tough Times” is almost a survey of the 52 chapters of Jeremiah. The first chapter tackles Jeremiah 1 and the “Astounding Word.” The next takes up Jeremiah 15.10-21, answering the question “Can this prophet be saved?” Then comes material on Jeremiah 27-29, where Davis shows that “The yoke is no joke.” Afterwards is “Jerusalem burning” and Jeremiah 37-39. And finally, Jeremiah 40-45 “Faithful futility, a pattern for ministry.” In each of these chapters, not only does the author explain the passage, and where it is on the time-line, but also its location in the flow of Jeremiah’s ministry. Throughout each of the presentations, Davis skilfully brings old truth that has already been given, and freshly applies it to new situations (41).
"True Word for Tough Times" is clearly applicable for pastors and ministers, but also appropriate for disciples of Jesus in every walk of life. This little book is worth the chronological investment it takes to read (all of maybe two hours), and worth the cerebral and cardiac effort needed to prayerfully consider and cash in on its richness. It is encouraging, sobering, hopeful, challenging, unsettling, and strengthening. I highly recommend this book!