Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: The Names of God

book cover

The Names of God
by George W. Knight

Trade Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
First Released: 2009

Source: I won the book from publisher in a contest.

Back Cover Description:
Know God Better--Though His Fascinating Names

If you'd like to know God better, this study of more than 250 of His most important names and titles will help. From "Abba, Father" through "the Word," you'll see the incredible breadth of God's personality as depicted in scripture.

By veteran Bible reference writer George W. Knight, The Names of God shows you the context, meaning, and implications of key names of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Lavishly illustrated in full color, featuring images both classic and contemporary, The Names of God is a unique Bible reference book with a devotional flavor.

The Names of God had entries for 73 names or titles for God the Father, 151 for Jesus, and 26 for the Holy Spirit. The author gave a verse in which the name is used, summarized the context of the verse, explained what the name meant in that context, listed the related names that are used elsewhere, and gave a meditative thought about the name. There were also 'side' boxes which had verses from hymns that use the name or related Bible verses.

The pictures illustrated the name or a point made in the text--usually those things which might be unfamiliar to the reader. There were a lot of nice, useful pictures, but I found some of the pictures a bit odd--like a picture of a dog with the caption 'Dog's are well-loved as faithful companions' to illustrate the title "Faithful"

Though not specifically set up as a devotional, the discussions for each name were relatively short and ended with a devotional-type thought, so it would work well as a devotional. The information was rooted in the Bible, contained good theology, and had some nice insights. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those looking for a devotional-type book and/or those wanting to learn more about the many names of God.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 32-33
God of My Salvation
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18 [NIV: God my Savior]

This passage from the little-known prophet Habakkuk is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. It is filled with agricultural imagery from the prophet's time, including crop failures and the loss of livestock. But Habakkuk's faith allowed him to see beyond the troubles of the moment to the deeper reality that the God of Salvation was in charge. He would not let him down.

Rephrased in modern terms, Habakkuk's sentiments might read something like this: "Although the grocery money is gone, energy prices are going through the ceiling, my mortgage payment just jumped by four hundred dollars a month, and I don't know where the next meal is coming from, I will rejoice in the Lord and continue to trust in the God of My Salvation."

God of Peace
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus...through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work [NIV: equip you with everything good] to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

The author of the epistle of the Hebrews brought his book to a close with a request for the blessings of the God of Peace to rest upon His people. This is one of the most beautiful benedictions in the Bible.

Some people think of peace as the absence of conflict. But peace according to the New Testament is the inner tranquility of those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ and have been reconciled to God because their sins have been forgiven.

The Lord is the God of Peace because He sent His own Son to make it possible for us to experience this sense of well-being. This is how the apostle Paul expresses it: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

God of the Whole Earth
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. Isaiah 54:5

This name of God from the prophet Isaiah emphasizes His unlimited jurisdiction. There is no place on earth where His authority is limited. This idea is just the opposite of the view of most pagan nations of Bible times. They believed their gods were local or regional in scope. These deities existed to serve their needs and protect them from their enemies, so their authority as gods did not extend beyond national borders.

This is why Naaman, a Syrian military commander, wanted to carry dirt from Israel back to his country after he was healed by the prophet Elisha in Israelite territory (see 2 Kings 5:17). He thought this miracle-working God was a regional god whose power he could transfer to his own people.

The Lord's presence doesn't have to be carried back and forth from one country to another. He already exists in every place--the supreme God over all the world. The psalmist declares, "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).

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