Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: Thru the Bible 1 & 2 Kings

1 and 2 Kings. J. Vernon McGee. 1976/1996. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]

One of my goals for 2017 is to read twelve commentaries. I have always, always, always loved the history books of the Old Testament, so after finishing J. Vernon McGee's commentary for 1 and 2 Samuel I decided to continue on with his 1 and 2 Kings. 

I have always--nearly always--loved these two because of Elijah and Elisha. The books have plenty of drama certainly!!!

If you've never read his work before, what should you expect? Casual, conversational, yet not fluffy, commentary not only on the Scripture text but on church and society as well. He has a call-it-like-I-see it honest approach to unpacking Scripture. I also love how he addresses the reader as "my friend." 

I appreciate his love of Scripture. The way he sees the whole Bible to be the message of God--the revelation of God--to all of us past, present, future. I love his eagerness to explain Scripture in a way that's easy for everyone--no matter your background--to understand. I think you'll find he is still relevant. Now whether his message is welcome or not is besides the point. 

Every chapter of the books of First and Second Kings are discussed in the commentary. I believe the Scripture text printed within this one is the King James Version.

Favorite quotes:
  • The sin of Adam has been passed down to you and me; if the Lord tarries, we will go through the doorway of death. Why? Because this is the way of all the earth, the conclusion of this life’s journey. It is not a very attractive subject. We don’t like to think about death today because it is something a little too depressing for the human race. In Psalm 23:4 David says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” David is not speaking about the fact that he has come to his deathbed. As someone has said, “The moment that gives you life begins also to take it away from you.” David is likening life to a walk through a valley. At birth you start down through the valley, and the farther you walk the narrower it gets. At the end of the valley is death. All of us are walking through that valley today. You may be in robust health today, but you can be dead before the sun goes down.
  • Who is adequate for living the Christian life? Not one of us. The fact of the matter is that we cannot live the Christian life, and God has never asked us to live it. He has asked that He might live that life through us.
  • All of us are wholly inadequate to serve God. We should recognize that fact so that we are in a position where God can help us.
  • In the sickening scene in every government today we see a group of men clamoring for positions. They want to be elected to an office. All of them are telling us how great they are and what marvelous abilities they have. They assure us that they are able to solve the problems. By now, friend, some of us have come to the conclusion that these boys are just kidding us. They don’t have the solution and they don’t have the wisdom. If only some men would come on the scene and say, “I don’t have the wisdom; I recognize my inadequacies. But I am going to depend on God to lead and guide me.” Something like that would be so startling it would probably rock the world. That is what Solomon said, and God commended him for it. It was a great step.
  • We like to feel that God forgives sin because He is sentimental. God does not forgive sin on a low plane like that. A battle has been fought, my friend, and a great sacrifice has been made. Blood has been shed that we might have forgiveness of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ made peace by the blood of His cross. It is only through His blood that we can enter into peace.
  • Friend, only God can give peace, whether it is world peace or peace in the human heart. God alone can give the rest today that the human heart needs. That is why our Lord, when they rejected Him as king, could send out His personal, private, individual invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden”—that is, burdened with sin—“and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Only Christ can give that kind of rest.
  • We worship Him in the beauty of holiness. That is, when we come into the presence of God, sense His presence, and realize our inadequacies, then we can see Him in all of His beauty and glory.
  • To wash in the Word of God is to apply the Word to the life.
  • Oh, my friend, we are called to witness to the world. God have mercy on us for going into the business of apes and peacocks.
  • My friend, when the church of God today gets involved in the things of the world and makes all kinds of compromises, it is a stench in the nostrils of Almighty God. We are living in days that are much like Jeroboam’s, and we need to exercise the same caution and discernment that was needed then by God’s man.
  • You and I are dead bodies. We are lost sinners—dead in trespasses and sins. If we have trusted Christ, then we can say that we were crucified with Him nineteen hundred years ago; He died, and we died with Him. He was raised, and we were raised with Him. We are joined to the living Christ today—if we are not joined to Him, we are nothing. The apostle Paul expressed it this way: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
  • Martin Luther once said that God creates out of nothing. Until a man recognizes that he is nothing, God can do nothing with him. That is the problem with many of us today: we are too strong, we have too much ability, and God cannot use us.
  • Elijah stood alone. He did not voice public opinion, friend. He was no echo—he was no parrot. He was not promoting anyone else. He was no politician. He was more concerned about pleasing God than courting the popularity of the crowd. He sought divine approval rather than public applause. He was not a clown in a public parade. He was a fool for God’s sake. He was a solo voice in the wilderness of the world. He carried on an all–out war against Satan and his hosts. He stood alone, arrayed against the prophets of Baal. Elijah chose Mount Carmel to take a dramatic stand for God.
  • We have no right to demand anything of God. It is true that He demands a great deal of us, but we are not to demand anything of Him. He is not a Western Union boy. He will not come at your command. We are to pray according to His will.
  • The compromise of the church and its leaders has not caused the world to listen to the church. As a matter of fact, the world is not listening at all. They pass the church right by. Why? The world will not listen until the church declares the Word of God. If the church preached God’s Word, there would be communication.
  • Only God can cure sin and save a sinner. Naaman had many fine points, but he was a sinner. He tried to cover up his leprosy, but he could not cure it. Many people today whitewash sin. What they need is to be washed white, and only Christ can do that.
  • We hear a great deal about the fact that “God is love,” but God also hates. You cannot love without hating. You cannot love the good without hating the evil. If you love your children, you would hate a mad dog that would come into the yard to bite your little ones. You would want to kill that mad dog.
  • The greatest miracle today, friend, is not to go to the moon. It is not even to go to heaven in a chariot of fire. Rather it is to go to the highest heaven when we are still sinners and have trusted Christ. That’s the greatest miracle there is—to be lifted out of the muck and mire of this world and to be given meaning for our lives and enabled to live for God.
  • We need God. No nation ever needed God as this nation needs God right now.
  • What we need today is not politicians calling other politicians crooks. We need politicians who will say, “I have been wrong. I am going to get right with God.” It would be a strange thing, and I suppose it would frighten our nation, but it’s what we need.
  • To repent means to make things right, my friend. Repentance means to turn around and go in the opposite direction. If you are going the wrong way, you turn around and go the right way.
  • Many people seem to think that if they get out and protest, things will change. But what we need is some real deep conviction on the inside. We need to recognize our coldness and indifference. When was the last time you confessed your coldness and indifference to the Lord? Have you told Him today that you love Him? He is your Savior, my friend, and I am convinced that even in this dark hour, as has happened in the past, we can have a revival. The story of Josiah encourages me. It was in the darkest hour in the life of his nation that revival came.
  • Trouble will do one of two things for an individual. It will either soften or harden you. It will either draw you to God or drive you away from God. You can never be the same after you experience trouble and suffering. The sun will soften wax, but the sun will harden clay. It is the same sun that softens one and hardens the other.

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