Ezekiel: a Visit to the Valley of Dry Bones

Ezekiel shows us the stunning contrast of spiritual death and God’s power. His life-giving power overcomes even hopeless death.

If you are following and are on schedule with the Through the Bible Book by Book in 2018 schedule recommended here on this blog site you should be somewhere in the book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Below are some of my reflections on the famous passage in Ezekiel 37 about the Valley of Dry Bones.[1] 

I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 37:6 (ESV)

My Reflections

There is no more vivid picture of the spiritual death of Israel than the one before us here. There is no more vivid picture of the power of God to bring new life to the spiritually dead than the one before us here. Side by side we see hopeless death overcome by God’s life-giving power.

Face Reality

It is necessary for Israel to understand how helpless and destitute she is. She is not merely weak or sick; she is dead. It is necessary to see that God alone can bring her life. And He will.

Recognize God’s Power

Paul in Ephesians 2:1-9 (KJV) pointed out that the Christians to whom he wrote had been “dead in trespasses and sins” before being saved by grace through faith. But God made them alive together with Christ. God brings life to the dead by the preaching of His Word to dry bones and by His Spirit breathing life into those skeletons.

My Challenge

Preachers must faithfully proclaim the gospel even when the hearers are dead. They must rely on the Spirit to breathe life into those dead hearers. God delights in showing His power in bringing the dead to life so that those who see this miracle know that He is the Lord.

Do not neglect the preaching of the word of God. Do not neglect to pray for the Spirit to breathe life into the dead. He delights to show His power in the most hopeless situations. Miracles still happen in the valley of dry bones.

[1]   taken from Cover to Cover: through the Bible in 365 Days (Second Edition), John A Carroll, 2014, 2018 p. 310 with permission.  Available here.

Second Edition of Cover to Cover is now available

I am happy to announce that Cover to Cover: through the Bible in 365 Days (Second Edition) is now available here on Amazon

Q. Why a second edition?

A. The original publisher, Metokos Press, is closing down operations. It was necessary for me to find another publisher or to take over publishing the book myself. I took the latter option which gave me the opportunity to make some changes to the original edition published in Kindle (2014) and print (2015)

Q. What is different in the second edition?

A. Most of the changes are cosmetic improvements (new cover, extensive layout corrections) but there are some content corrections and typos that slipped through the first time. Readers of the first edition will notice that the headings for each day include a day number and a date.  So, the first devotional says January 1/Day 1.  This is meant to encourage starting the book any day of the year not just on New Year’s Day.

Q. Is the second edition available in Kindle?

A. Not yet. We are still working on the Kindle version of edition 2. I will let you know when it is available.  Meanwhile you can still order the Kindle version of edition 1.

Q. Has the price changed from edition 1?

A.  No. The price is still the same for the print version ($12.99). It is hard to reduce this due to the length of the volume (452 pages).

I am indebted to Don Clements of Metokos Press and so many friends who have given me feedback, encouragement and suggestions.  I hope you will consider recommending this second edition  to your friends.

Re-discovering a Great Hymn

We had a  hymn sing last night at Grace Church.  I requested “For All the Saints” a hymn unknown to 95% of the congregation.  But they did a good job learning it, aided by our able pianist Diana Dugan.  If you are not familiar with this hymn, it is excellent musically, and as poetry, imagery, and theology which means it is very singable but requires some thought to get the truths about the Church Militant, the Church Triumphant, and the hope we have in Jesus Christ for a glorious eternal day in the new heavens and new earth.

I can now depart in peace knowing that my church will be able to sing this at my funeral. (No, I am not announcing anything about my current health). Check out this link in case you were not there or if you were but need to practice a little more.

Taking a Break

Since January 1, 2013, I have been posting to this blogsite on a regular basis–often daily.  By God’s grace, today’s post is number 1455 and the site has had 21,000 views over these years.  This past January 1, I published a suggested schedule for reading through the Bible “in chunks” during 2018.  That schedule is here.  I planned to write a weekly blog post about what I was reading and I did that until July.  No, I haven’t stopped reading, but I am behind (a little) and I am finding it hard to juggle writing this blog and other projects and priorities that I have taken on.  I will update you about this in the next few weeks.

So until further notice, I will not be posting regularly here.  This blogsite will stay up, of course, and you have free access to the archives which provide resources that may assist you as you seek to know God through His Word.

As Paul said in his farewell discourse to the elders in Ephesus:  “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32 ESV).

Thanks to all of you who have given me your encouragement and support.  May the Lord bless you.

Learning to Relish Isaiah

Isaiah challenges us, but we can learn to relish this prophecy. Here’s why and how to glean much from the prophet Jesus quoted frequently.

This blog is based on our scheduled reading through July 31:  The book of Isaiah (suggested “chunks” Isaiah 1-27; 28-39; 40-66)

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” goes the old song.  I have found it easy to get out of my regular reading and writing routine.  If you are following my “through the Bible Book by Book in 2018” schedule you will have noticed that our reading in July allows three weeks for the book of Isaiah.  I hope you find this helpful as Isaiah is both an important and a challenging book.

Why Isaiah is challenging and important

Isaiah’s importance shines through the New Testament writers who frequently quoted him. Along with the Psalms, Isaiah’s words often flow from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ and the pen of the Apostle Paul.  Isaiah gives us new information about the then-coming Messiah introducing us to the “suffering servant.”  He goes like a lamb to the slaughter, bears the sins of many and “make[s] many to be accounted righteous” (53:6,11-12).   In Isaiah, we get an unparalleled glimpse of the holiness of God through the prophet’s eyes and vision.  Truly, Isaiah takes us to the heights and depths of the knowledge of God showing us the urgency and costliness of our salvation through Him.

But Isaiah is a challenging book for modern readers.  It is lengthy and it does not have a chronological narrative thread we can easily follow.  Some may have difficulty wading through the many indictments and judgments which God pronounces on the nations and on His own people.

Reading in smaller chunks

You’ll find help in reading this and other challenging books of the Bible in Ryken’s Bible Handbook where the authors encourage us to read Isaiah in small sections so we are “free to relish the individual units” in the text. These individual units include such passages as chapters 6 (Isaiah’s vision of God), and the servant songs in Chapters 42,49, 50, 53.  We find many individual verses to memorize and quote.

Here are some of the verses in Isaiah that I have relished for many years.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.  Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31(ESV)

God is with us

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)

The Suffering Servant’s Sacrifice

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:5-7 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:1-2 (ESV)

Some conclusions

Isaiah abounds in God’s promises to His people: to cleanse us from sin, to make us to be accounted righteous, to give us power in our weakness, and to accompany us in the fires and floods of life.  This prophet gives us some of the most soaring descriptions of the majesty of God (chapter 40).  Isaiah calls us to seek Him while reminding us that as the heavens are higher than the earth so are His thoughts and ways higher than ours (55:6-9).

Should we not humble ourselves before this great God who is holy but who also sends His suffering Servant to bear our sins, to bring us peace, and to heal our souls?  Indeed we should do that and worship Him in truth. Learning to relish Isaiah will help us.

Readings for the week of August 5: 1 & 2 Timothy; Psalms 46-66

 

Luke: the unlikely gospel writer

Luke’s Unique Resume

If we consider that the writer of the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles was not Jewish but a Gentile and not a fisherman but a physician who never met Jesus in person (Colossians 4:14), we might expect his gospel to have a somewhat different flavor from the others.  Our expectations will not be disappointed.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: the Gospel of Luke.]

Four Writers; Four Gospels

Each of the gospels tells the story of Jesus Christ, the God-Man who came to save His people from their sins.  Notably, all four of the gospels lead us to the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.

We call three of the gospels “the synoptics” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). This indicates that they focus on the overview of the life and ministry of Jesus.

In contrast, John emphasizes Jesus as God the Son, who is divine and eternal. He makes his case through Jesus’ discourses about Himself and John’s own comments.

But each of the three synoptics have their unique characteristics too. Matthew addresses concerns of Jewish readers and shows how Jesus Christ is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham who fulfills Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 1:1). Unique to Matthew are five of the Lord’s discourses.  Mark presents Jesus’ life as one of action and purpose as He effectively carries out His work to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Luke’s Unique Gospel

Luke’s chronology is similar to Mark’s but fills in many encounters with needy people and twenty parables not included elsewhere.

In reading Luke, we note the writer’s care to get the historical details correct and to set the life of Jesus in the context of secular history (Luke 1:1-4; 2:1-2; 3:1-2). Luke (not Matthew, Mark and John) treats us to the prophecies and songs of praise surrounding the births of John and Jesus delivered to us through the mouths of Mary, Zechariah, the angels, and Simeon (1:46-55;67-79;2:13-14;29-32). We see Jesus healing the sick, calling His disciples, and extending forgiveness to a woman of the street in the home of a self-righteous Pharisee (7:36-50).

Luke shows us that Jesus welcomed those who were otherwise marginalized—women, tax collectors, the demon possessed, and lepers.  Jesus taught that there is hope for outcasts. More than that, there is joy in heaven when the lost are found and saved (ch. 15).  He rebuked James and John when they wanted to bring fire down on the Samaritans for their inhospitality (9:52-55).

On the other hand, those who were held in high esteem in first century Jewish society were the target of His severest words—the Pharisees, scribes and lawyers (Luke 11:37-54). He condemned the unrepentant towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum who ignored His mighty works (Luke 10:13-16). The parables of Luke 15 all point to certain judgment on those who criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and even eating with them.

Best Small Group Bible Study Ever

In Luke we see Jesus as a Man of prayer who taught His disciples to pray through precept and example. He set His face to go to Jerusalem knowing that He would die to redeem His people (9:51).

In chapter 24, Luke recounts how the resurrected Jesus opened the eyes of His disciples to what the then-existent Scriptures (our Old Testament) said about Him. Luke concludes his gospel (and begins his book of Acts) with the ascension of Jesus which left the disciples worshiping and blessing God with great joy (24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11).

Should we not listen to the unlikely evangelist, Luke, and worship and bless God with great joy, too?

This week’s reading:  Isaiah 1-27

 

 

 

 

When Kingdoms Fall

Kingdoms  fall. So what should we do? Wring our hands and weep? It happened to Israel and Judah. What can we learn from their history?

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 2 Kings.]

Two Kingdoms in Ruins

What do you make of this history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the ignominious demise of them both?  There is little to celebrate here from a human point of view.  Men, including kings, are fallen creatures who sin.  Most of the kings chronicled here used their privileges to sin in a big way, leading their nations astray from God and His law.  Eventually, their sin found them out and they paid a price.  Few did well, and fewer ended well.

Gone were the glory days and the optimism that surrounded the inauguration of David or Solomon so many years earlier.  The citizens of these kingdoms were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They were the people God brought out of Egyptian slavery under the wise and godly leadership of Moses.  These were God’s covenant people whom He chose to be His own–the people of the Law whose forefathers had trembled before God [Exodus 19:1-6; 20:1-21].

Trying to Make Sense of It

How did they get here? The autopsy of the kingdom of Israel was “they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant…they neither listened nor obeyed” (2 Kings 18:12).  Listening but not obeying is bad enough, but they did neither.

Josiah made a commendable effort to restore worship to Judah, but it was too late.  Nothing could stop the wrath of God unleashed through Manasseh’s evil reign (2 Kings 23:26-27).  Jerusalem and Judah would end up like Israel in captivity—cast out of God’s presence (2 Kings 24:20).

What was left?  When the dust of destruction settled, only the glory of God remained undiminished. The failure of Israel and Judah in no way reflected negatively on their God.  God did not fail His people; His people failed Him and they failed Him persistently over many long decades. The Apostle Paul centuries later would write:  “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). The whole world can line up and say that God was unfaithful to Israel, but that would not make it true.

On the contrary, continuing to follow Paul’s argument, “our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God [and] through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory” (Romans 3:5,7).  All sin, even the reckless disobedience of Israel and Judah, serves to show the righteousness and glory of God.

The Right Response

How do we respond to the fall of these kingdoms?  We should be in awe of the blinding majesty and holiness of God against the backdrop of His very sinful people.  It behooves us to humble ourselves as we consider His great mercy toward us who deserve eternal hell. We should be grateful for His compassion toward us to send His Son to live a perfect life and die the most agonizing death possible as our Redeemer, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Most of us are not even members of the Jewish people who historically had the benefits of God’s word and His extraordinary works.  We were Gentile sinners outside of the covenant, but He drew us to Himself by His love and through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Kingdoms fall. So what should we do?  We should worship with all our hearts the God of grace who saves those who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the true King of the Eternal Kingdom in which righteousness dwells—the kingdom that shall never fall.

This week’s reading:  Luke

 

 

Learning Contentment; Awaiting Glory

Our readings this week show that nothing in this world will ever completely satisfy us. But there is One who does fill our souls.

Contentment has been an issue since the Garden of Eden.  The serpent sowed seeds of discontentment in Eve and she ate the forbidden fruit that brought death.  In this week’s readings, Ecclesiastes warns us not to expect too much of life under the sun while Colossians challenges us not to expect too little of Jesus Christ in whom we find all our sufficiency and the fullness of life. In Him are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The letters to the Thessalonians clarify issues concerning how believers should live as they await the final day and the return of Jesus Christ.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: Ecclesiastes, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians.]

Here are my book titles, key verses, and thoughts from this week’s reading:

Ecclesiastes—Realistic Expectations for Life

Key verses: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Thoughts: The writer of Ecclesiastes says that experience taught him that nothing (even the best things) in this world completely satisfy us.  But that doesn’t mean that life is meaningless or that what we do or don’t do has no importance.  There is a God. He has given us commandments to keep and He will judge us in the end including the secret things of our lives. We will not do this perfectly (Eccl. 7:20), so how can we be approved by God when we are judged?  He doesn’t tell us, so we must read on to find out.

Colossians—Christ: Supreme Everywhere & Sufficient in Everything

Key verses: For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:9,10

Thoughts: If Ecclesiastes leaves us looking for something or Someone to fill us, Paul gives us the answer.  In Christ is the fullness of everything.  All things are from Him and for Him—including us, His creatures.  Look no further.

1 Thessalonians—Exhortations to an Exemplary Church

Key verse: Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Thoughts: Paul commends this church more than any other, but exhorts them to continue growing in sanctification in light of the Lord’s return.

2 Thessalonians—Keeping Steady while Waiting for End Times

Key verses: Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Thoughts: Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians continues his emphasis on the return of Christ and clarifies some matters that they either misunderstood or that needed further explanation. The Apostle keeps the balance of the Christians’ responsibility to obey and to trust God who completes His work in them.

Our readings this week show that nothing in this world will ever completely satisfy us. Contentment eludes us. Only Christ can fill the void in our hearts and He does that for all who believe in Him.  But we have not yet fully experienced Him.  He will return.  He will take us to Himself and to His glory.  What a day awaits us!  Meanwhile, God’s will is our sanctification, our growth in holiness that begins with the knowledge that by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone we stand justified in His presence. May these truths spur us on to growth in love and good works.

This week’s reading:  2 Kings

 

Good Lessons from Bad Kingdoms

Ever wonder why we read about the failed kings of Israel and Judah? Are there good lessons from bad kingdoms? Yes, indeed! Read on and see.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 1 Kings]

The Sad Record of Failed Kingdoms

The history of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah does not provide support for currently popular theories of social evolution or the basic goodness of mankind.  Rather, the books of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings display the perversity of human beings as demonstrated in the lives of so many kings.  There were no perfect kings (yet), and the best of them had obvious flaws.  Sadly, the records of many kings show only corruption and evil which extended from their personal lives into their leadership policies and decisions.

Frequently, the danger of affluent complacency, that God had warned about when Israel was still wandering in the wilderness and preparing to enter the Promised Land, later came to fruition (Deuteronomy 8:11-20).  The years of Solomon’s reign brought peace, prosperity and international recognition, but Solomon did not end well and the son who succeeded him brought permanent division to the kingdom.  They forgot God’s warnings.

Biblical Qualifications for Kingship

Furthermore, none of Israel’s and few of Judah’s kings during the divided kingdom period show any evidence of heeding Moses’ criteria for a king.  In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, there are several qualifications for a king:

  1. The king must be chosen by God.
  2. He must be an Israelite.
  3. His personal integrity must be seen in that he renounces trust in military power (horses), does not succumb to a life of sinful pleasure (multiple wives), avoids trade with Egypt, and does not seek excessive wealth.
  4. He must have a copy of the law, read it daily, and obey it carefully so as to fear God and to maintain humility.

The first two kings of Israel, Saul and David, went through a process of anointing by the prophet Samuel thereby showing that God chose them. (David honored Saul calling him “God’s anointed”). This practice was rarely mentioned in the case of subsequent kings. Solomon accumulated wives, concubines, and wealth.  He set a bad example for all who followed him.

Good News in the Bad

All this bad news about kingly failure pointed to (and still points to), the need for a King who is perfectly righteous if there is ever to be kingdom in which righteousness dwells. The good news is He has come and His name is Jesus Christ.  He surprised everyone because He did not immediately assume the throne many wanted Him to have.  Instead, He humbly went about preaching: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 ESV). In the culmination of His ministry He laid down His life for His sheep making atonement for them by His own blood.

Was that the end? No! Death could not hold Him.  He rose triumphantly proving His victory, revealed Himself to hundreds of His disciples, and ascended into heaven in glory.

The kingdom of God is at hand!  God has revealed the King He has chosen and it is His Son—the God-Man and Son of David.  He is our King, our High Priest, and our Prophet.  Jesus the Son of God sits at His Father’s right hand and makes intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).  He has promised to come again and take us to Himself to share in His glory (John 14:1-7; 17:24).

And so…

So why read about the failed kings of Israel and Judah? Are there good lessons from bad kingdoms? Yes! Because the glory of the King of kings shines brighter against the darkness of human kingdoms—those recorded in the Bible and all the other kingdoms of this world right down to the present.

Now we wait “for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13 ESV).  As we wait, let the gloominess of every miserable reign drive us to pray “Thy kingdom come” with greater fervor than ever.  His kingdom is at hand! His kingdom is forever! [Luke 1:32].

This week’s reading:  Ecclesiastes, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians

The Joy of Being in Christ

It is hard to exaggerate all the joy of life in Christ.  Do you know what it means to be in Him?  This theme runs through Paul’s letters.

[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: Ephesians; Philippians]

Last week we delved into two well-known but very different letters of Paul.  Ephesians tells us essential truths we need to know and what we need to do about those truths. [1]  We could call it “Cosmic Perspectives for Daily Living” as Paul lays a theological foundation in God’s eternal decrees that leads to salvation, the unity of the Church, and personal ethics for believers who desire to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).

Philippians is more personal and pastoral.  Paul holds up Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself as examples of those for whom “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). My favorite Bible handbook[2] nicknames Ephesians: “The Identify and Conduct of Those Who are in Christ” and Philippians: “The Joy of Living in Christ.”  The phrase “in Christ” runs through both of these letters.

A Visual of Being in Christ

Recently, my pastor, Tim Martin, gave a great illustration of what it means to be “in Christ.”  He described a set of Russian nesting dolls he obtained on a mission trip to the Ukraine.  When you first look at the set, you see just one large painted wooden doll.  Then on closer examination you realize that the doll is  hollow and inside there is another doll slightly smaller.  Inside that second doll you find another even smaller one.  You can keep opening until you have a whole family of dolls each one smaller than the previous one.  The last one is quite tiny.  When you return all the smaller dolls to their “mother,” again you only see the largest one.  And if you take that larger doll and move it or lift it up, all the other dolls inside are moved or raised up.

Here is the point. Whatever happens to the outer doll happens to all the rest, too. In a spiritual sense the same goes for those “in Christ.”  If we are in Him, He is the one who is predominantly seen.  Whatever happens to Him, happens to all those in Him. As He has been raised from death to life to sit in the heavenly places, so all who are in Him have been raised with Him and given every blessing in those heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).

Our Calling in Him

As those who are in Christ, God calls us to live a life worthy of Him (Eph. 4:1).  It is a life of joy and contentment.  It is a life of victory and hope.  He has taken us into Himself and our destiny is with Him forever.  In Him are all who believe whether Jew or Gentile.  He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. We have received redemption, forgiveness, and adoption as His children.  Jesus Christ has sealed us by the Holy Spirit, granted us an inheritance and a purpose to glorify God the Father who chose us from before the foundation of the world.  How can we not “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4)?

Have a week of joy being in Him.

This week’s reading: 1 Kings

 

 

 

 

[1] See Displaying the Wisdom of God by Daniel Esau, Westbow,  Bloomington, IN 2012, pp 1, 25

[2] Ryken’s Bible Handbook: a guide to reading and studying the Bible. Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken, and James Wilhoit, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL 2005 pp. 527, 537