Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review : The Bible and the Land

The Bible and the Land by Gary Burge is a short book that contains main valuable insights into the land of Israel from a biblical perspective. It covers seven topics: the land, wilderness, shepherds, rock, water, bread and names. Each of these topics has a different cultural understanding attached to it that is unfamiliar to those of us who live in the West.

I was surprised after reading the Bible and various commentaries for years, plus going to Israel myself, that Gary Burge was able to enlighten me on so many incidences in the Bible. When we have more insight into the cultural setting of the Biblical stories we are able to understand at a deeper level the point God is making through the Biblical writers. Suddenly little things can open up a new level of understanding. As an example, I have always thought it odd that Mark tells us that the crowds sat down on "green" grass (Mark 6:39). It always seemed to me an unnecessary adjective. Yet Gary points out in Mark 6:34 how the people are described as sheep in need of a shepherd and by using the word green he has connected it with the "green pastures" of Psalm 23:2.

Gary's insight also helped me better understand God's purposes in giving his people the land of Israel. It is not an easy land with an uncertain water supply, dangerous wilderness and unruly neighbours yet God uses the land to teach his people many important spiritual lessons that we can still apply today.

A fascinating read with great photos and art work.

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