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Friday, May 17, 2013

"These are the Days of Elijah" (RT Kendall)

TITLE: These Are the Days of Elijah: How God Uses Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things
AUTHOR: R.T. Kendall
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Chosen, 2013, (192 pages).

This book is about the life of Elijah, the famous Old Testament prophet who spoke for God, lived for God, and shone for God. He prophesied, did miracles, fought the evil prophets, and struggled against the idolatry in the land. As one of the greatest prophets in the Bible, Elijah is in a class of his own. Kendall guides readers through a study and understanding of the inner life of the man of God. Questions are asked of:

  • What kind of a man is Elijah?
  • How can we make sense of a man who is weak as well as strong?
  • What is the role of Elijah, himself not a "canonical prophet" and yet figures mightily in the Old Testament?
  • Elijah can be a complex man, locked in ancient times. Is there any modern applications for us?

These questions and more are addressed in this book that contains sermons preached by the author at Westminster Seminary from September 2000 to December 2001. Beginning with the call of Elijah, Kendall focuses on the call of Elijah through the oath language in Old Testament times. This is important because the oath to God is unchanging and reflects the promise to God that needs to be faithfully kept. From this oath, just like Abraham, Elijah ventures off in faith and heads eastward toward Kerith Ravine (1 Kings 17:2-6). Just like Elijah becomes obedient to God and lives for God, modern readers can also learn obedience to Christ, and live for Christ. From the life of Elijah, we also learn several things that can be direct applications for modern readers. First, Elijah encounters disappointments one after another. After a promising start, soon, Elijah faces the disappointment of drought. How is the prophet going to serve God if he is dehydrated or thirsting to death? What the author tries to home in is the fact that believers are to expect trials and tribulations. Every positive change will lead to some kind of challenges. That is why Kendall spells faith as R.I.S.K. Second, there is also the challenge of relationships. Elijah faces the problem of disillusionment and misunderstanding. In the story of the widow's son who died, Elijah was accused of being directly responsible for the death. Here, Elijah's dependence on God to deliver comes through as a mark of a man of God.  Third, there is a challenge of facing Ahab direct. Himself a wanted man, Elijah knows that he needs to face Ahab at great personal risk. He may even die! Four, there is the challenge of being persecuted even after doing the right thing. The famous win over the prophets of Baal that leads to persecution is a famous example. These and many more shows readers the trials and tribulations Elijah had to endure.

Thankfully, Elijah's life is also one of hope, faith, power, and salvation. In all of these challenges, the LORD God delivers Elijah from the clutches of death. Against the terrible rule of Ahab, and the evil schemes of Jezebel, and the deceptive ways of idolatry, Elijah stands with God against all of them. It is the LORD who delivers Elijah, strengthens Elijah, and uses an ordinary man to become an extraordinary prophet. Kendall has helped us to distill the life of Elijah, to enable readers to identify with the ups and downs of the spiritual life, and to be encouraged to keep faith in God. The purpose of the author is clear. He wants to show us that the God who delivers and helps Elijah, is the same God that we have today. Following Christ is worth it. All we need to do is to watch the life of Elijah, how real the trials of Christian living is, and how splendid is the grace and power of God, given for the people of God. More importantly, Kendall reminds us that trusting in God is not about knowing all the things or solutions to all the problems in the world. It is about trusting in God, even when things seem to be hopeless. Kendall reminds us that "God loves to do what is unprecedented. Sometimes He repeats Himself; sometimes He does what He has never done before. This part of the story shows the unpredictable ways of God - how He loves to surprise. It teaches us not to speculate as to what God is going to do next or how He will show up! We all have so much more to learn about God, regardless of how old we are or how long we have been Christians." (143)


Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Chosen Books and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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