True Word for Tough Times
Dale Ralph Davis
Bryntirion Press/EP books, 96 pages, £6.99
Star rating : 4
The situation faced by many churches in the UK is a tide of opposition and little tangible fruit, despite much effort in prayer, preaching and evangelism.
The temptation is to think the Lord is not with us, when the opposite may, in fact, be the case. When Dale Ralph Davis was invited to speak at the 2010 Aberystwyth conference, he opted to look at the life of Jeremiah, a ‘tormented prophet’, in an attempt to comfort the Lord’s servants slogging in such a context.
Those addresses were subsequently published in this book. As one such ‘slogger’, the book was immediately appealing and, having enjoyed other writings by Dr Davis, the appetite was further stimulated.
The work, though short, did not disappoint. The first chapter describes the times in which Jeremiah lived and the message of judgement he had to deliver. Despite opposition, the Word of God kept coming relentlessly through the fragile prophet.
Chapter 2 takes us to Jeremiah 15:10-21, where the prophet confesses his love for God’s Word, but complains (too severely) of the great burden of loneliness and opposition his calling brought. Chapter 3 lifts our eyes to the Lord in the midst of trials.
‘The God of little Israel is not a little God’, but he who rules the nations. Our eyes are to be fixed on him; our ear is to listen to his Word; and we will find there is always grace to live in circumstances we cannot change.
Chapter 4 focuses on resistance to the Word of God, so much a feature of Jeremiah’s day and ours. Chapter 5 brings a fitting conclusion: ‘Faithful futility — a pattern for ministry’. It is what pastors and Christians must remember when we seem, like Jeremiah, to be heroic failures in Christian service. ‘Faithfulness in futility’, says Davis, ‘is never useless’.
This is fresh and illustrative (in some places the illustrations may be a little overdone). The biblical text is handled faithfully and good application found throughout.
The author transports the reader into Jeremiah’s world, but sees that we keep our 21st-century shoes on. In an age of ‘success’ seminars and ‘missional’ strategies it brings realism, a welcome relief and a sure hope.