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Home / They Looked at God

They Looked at God

Frank Johnson reviews a new book by Judith Lang.

[New City magazine]

The Old Testament prophets are, to many modern day Christians, an unknown quantity. They are often perceived as precursors to the coming of Christ, but very few of us have a deeper knowledge of either the historical context in which they lived or the links between them and the one for whom they were preparing the way. But, as I discovered through reading Judith Lang’s insights into the life of the prophets ‘the power of the word of God as proclaimed by them finds fulfilment and continuity in its revelation in Jesus.’ What come across strongly in They Looked at God, is what the author sees as the prime duty of the prophets, their constant and faithful proclamation of God’s never-failing love for his people, coupled with reminders of what that people must do in response to God’s love.

The author’s knowledge of the Hebrew language helps her explain and illuminate the various subtleties of meaning, which would pass over the heads of most casual readers of the Old Testament, but it is done in a way that never intimidates the reader. She makes frequent and thought-provoking connections between what the prophets say and what Jesus says. She says, for example, ‘When the true prophet speaks God’s word, his voice represents the voice of God; God actually speaks in the prophet.’ She then quotes the words of Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus says ‘He who hears you, hears me…’ (Luke 10: 16)

After a general introduction, the author then dedicates different chapters to different prophets or groups of prophets, starting with Moses and going through to Second Isaiah, finishing with an incursion into the New Testament with John the Baptist. In a brief review such as this, it is impossible to cover each of these chapters, but the chapter on Second Isaiah will serve as an example of the author’s skill and insight. There is no knowledge assumed, so she begins by explaining why the Book of Isaiah is regarded as in fact being two books, written by two different authors. She goes on to explain the historical context, explaining how, when Second Isaiah starts his prophetic ministry, Israel is at one of the lowest points in its history, the exile in Babylon. The prophet therefore consoles his people and offers them hope based on the unfailing love God has for his people. In the famous ‘song’ of die Suffering Servant, Second Isaiah reveals to the Hebrews the fact that it is the one who is ‘despised and rejected’ and totally graceless, who is ‘lifted up’ by God. Here, the comparison with the suffering Jesus is so obvious as not to require explanation.

They Looked at God is an excellent book for anyone whose knowledge of the Old Testament in general, and the prophets in particular, is somewhat sketchy. It is a scholarly work, but it is easily understandable to anyone who has a desire to gain a deeper understanding of how the word of God was transmitted and interpreted before the coming of Christ.

  • They Looked at God

    Judith Lang
    £7.95
    This book looks at Jesus Christ in the light of the prophets. It brings the prophets alive, seeing them and hearing their voices in the context of their own day. Exploring the close links between them and Jesus, then, it gives us a new and fascinating understanding of Jesus, the man-God from Nazareth.
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By |2019-12-19T16:41:55+00:00October 19th, 2006|NC Book Review|0 Comments

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