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Believer's Bookshelf

Israel’s Broken-Hearted Prophet - Hosea by Malcolm C Davis, 2017; published by, and available from, John Ritchie Ltd; 94 pages. Price £8.99 (9781910513736)

The back cover of Israel’s Broken-Hearted Prophet points out that Hosea’s prophecy is unique in Scripture. It is the record of the trying history that Hosea, a faithful prophet of his God, experienced, as a result of obeying the divine command that he should marry a woman who would be unfaithful to her husband over a prolonged period. Her behaviour was not a result of her husband’s misbehaviour in the context of the marriage.

Several of the author’s works deal with prophetic matters, particularly in the Old Testament, where his knowledge of the ancient languages has proved helpful to many. He points out, in the first chapter of Israel’s Broken-Hearted Prophet, that there are “linguistic obscurities, which have been better translated in some more recent versions” than in the Authorised Version (AV) translation of Hosea. Over the 94 pages of the commentary he provides a number of explanations of rather obscure passages of the AV translation: for example, Hosea 10.10 has bewildered many readers faced with the phrase “bind themselves in their two furrows”!

The author’s writings on prophetic matters are “written from the premillennial pre-Tribulational standpoint.” The reviewer shares the view expressed in the Publishers’ comments in the back cover of the commentary that Israel’s Broken-Hearted Prophet “is intended to help both believers and interested unbelievers, because the prophecy has a clear message for all of us today.” Hosea’s prophecy may illustrate dramatically the relationship between Jehovah and Israel. For many centuries Israel has been unfaithful in the relationship into which it entered as far back as Moses’ day, while her God has remained true to His promises. Indeed, God has gone beyond the terms of the covenant between Israel and her God, rising early and sending her prophets and, despite her stubborn rebellion, sent her the promised Messiah, whom His nation crucified. As in Hosea’s day, God is still appealing to Israel but, as the Scriptures testify, after the Rapture of the saints of the Church age, and the tribulation period referred to by Jeremiah as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” is ended, Messiah will appear with the armies of Heaven. He will deliver a remnant from Israel and restore to that nation all that they lost as a result of their waywardness.

As with a number of his commentaries, the author has limited the length of the book so as to encourage readers, particularly younger ones, to read a commentary that is not three or four hundred pages in length, and that is delivered in readily-understood language. Again, as in other commentaries from Malcolm Davis’ pen, Israel’s Broken-Hearted Prophet conforms with the model of Commentary comprising an Introduction and a Concise Commentary on each chapter; the average length of a chapter being 4.6 pages. That Israel’s Broken-Hearted Prophet is 94 pages in length, despite Hosea’s prophecy being 14 chapters long, is proof that the author has remained true to his commitment to open minds to understanding Hosea and other of the so-called ‘Minor Prophets’.

- Tom Wilson

Escape from the Island of Occupation by Robert Plant, 2014, published by, and available from, John Ritchie Ltd; 192 pages. Price £5.99 (9781909803954)

Set in the island of Jersey during the early days of World War II, the story centres around a plot to capture Hitler on his first visit to the island after the German occupation. A young lad called Jerry, and his female accomplice, learn of this and decide to inform the British authorities 100 miles away across the Channel in the hope of ending the misery of the war and its effects on the island - but how? Some older people are enlisted to help with a boat and its equipment, there is an old outboard motor involved which eventually fails, a shipwreck, and a near-fatal landing on a mined beach, followed by a journey to Whitehall to brief the top brass, then an anticlimax! At times it is breathtaking, and you want to read on!

The story is well written in a style suitable for 7-11 year olds, but perhaps it matches better the interests of early teens; indeed, adults too will find it an absorbing and enjoyable read. The author makes good use of his knowledge of the geography of Jersey and its people, but the best thing about this book, from a Christian viewpoint, is how the Gospel message is so effectively woven into the story, seamlessly and gradually. Starting from a base of unfamiliarity with the Bible and no awareness of God, the storyline introduces the need for salvation and how it can be found through faith in Christ alone.

- Bert Cargill

The Life of David Brainerd by Jesse Page; published by, and available from, John Ritchie Ltd; 160 pages. Price £7.99. (9781907731785)

Why did John Wesley say “Let every preacher read carefully over the life of David Brainerd”? The reader of this addition to the Classic Biography Series will quickly discover the answer to this question.

David Brainerd was often depressed and downcast, and seldom, if ever, happy with his own spiritual state. He constantly battled severe ill health and loneliness. It was among the Indians of Crossweeksung (now Crosswicks, New Jersey) that he first saw his prayers answered in a way that simply amazed him. He was astounded to find that the “hearts of these Indians were melted by the love of Jesus” rather than the terrors of judgment. Converts were gathered to form a local church of which he said “I know of no assembly of Christians where there seems to be so much of the presence of God, where brotherly love so much prevails, and where I should so much delight in the public worship of God, in general, as in my own congregation; although not more than nine months ago, they were worshipping devils and dumb idols under the power of pagan darkness and superstition. Amazing change this! Effected by nothing less than divine power and grace!” By the end of 1747, 29 years of age and less than four years after his life’s work began, David Brainerd was called Home, a victim of tuberculosis. His last words were “I shall soon be in glory, I shall soon glorify God with the angels!”

Every Christian who, conscious of weakness, desires to serve God more effectively, should heed John Wesley’s counsel.

- Alan Wilson


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