Joshua D Jones, pastor of Therfield Chapel, Cambridge, UK, blogger at Sanity’s Cove, vlogger at Counterfeit Vlog, has written a great devotional for our times. The title is a bit strange but the content is spot on – punchy, Reformation-style preaching in 80 short chapters like a volley of flaming arrows.
The focus of the book is on the prophet standing firm on the Word of God in a time of mass apostasy. We see loads of helpful insights into the ministry and heart of Elijah and loads of startling parallels between his days and our own. But Jones also traces the biblical theological lines from Elijah, Ahab and Jezebel through the Old Testament to the days of John the Baptist and Jesus, and then on to to the final encounter between Elijah-like prophets and Jezebel in the Book of Revelation.
Just as Elijah and Elisha had a ‘school of the prophets’ – men who stood with them on the side of Yahweh – so we are encouraged to be ‘Elijah men’, following in the spirit of Elijah, loyal to the Lord Jesus. The ‘men’ part here does mark this out particularly as a devotional for men (though it could be read with huge benefit by women) as it deals with battles men particularly struggle with and challenges guys to ‘man up’ in a culture which “does not raise a lot of men. It raises a lot of ageing boys.”
The meat meant here is not so much nyama choma (though there is a sideswipe at vegetarianism) but rather the meat that the author of Hebrews encourages his readers to be eating. “You will be unfit for confronting the idols of our day if you eat spiritual junk food.” What Jones serves us in this book is designed to be (and I think well succeeds in being) the “nutrient-dense spiritual food” we need. It’s a rich biblical meal covering a lot of ground from homosexuality and pornography to accountability, leadership and mentoring,
Holding together tensions
What is remarkable about this book for me, apart from the beautiful, pungent language and the great nuggets of truth that had me highlighting something on every page, is the way that Jones holds together things that you very rarely find in one place:
- Careful Bible handling and powerful application. Character studies and devotional books often abuse or wander from the text of Scripture but here we have the very best of the genre – careful observations of the Word, in context, getting to the heart of the matter and to Jesus.
- Culture and heart. There is a very sharp analysis of our post-post-modern times but also a very sharp analysis of our own hearts. As a finger is pointed out to the world, three fingers point back to our own hearts, the Ahab tendencies within us.
- Fire and nuance. There is scorching Lutheresque language here but also (rather unlike Luther) a lot of carefulness and balance, holding things in tension. For example…
- Complementarianism and a great valuing of women.
- The priority of gospel proclamation and a concern for the poor.
- A hatred for sin and for false teaching together with a deep love for people themselves.
- Boldness and gentleness. Courage and compassion. Truth and love.
- Word and prayer.
Let me finish this review by just giving some examples of the book itself…
Whenever evil gets the influence it craves, it then proceeds to silence the good. Canaanite worship had been slowly sneaking into Israeli culture for many years before Ahab arrived, but Yahwehism was still present… It is now Ahab and Jezebel who shepherd God’s people from the strange fields of religious pluralism to the harsh desert sands of pagan totalitarianism.
Who cares too much if laws against the worship of Yahweh are being slowly introduced? People have always been willing to trade freedom of worship and expression for security, a good economy and sexual license.
Your spiritual pride stinks to God.
Love is the big difference between true holiness and a man who simply has a judgmental spirit.
We need those who can pray and speak in the compassion and courage of Elijah. We need this because Elijah points us to Jesus. His cross is a message of both offensive truth and radical love. Jesus’ death speaks the hard truth that you are so wicked and evil that the perfect Son of God had to be crucified in order to save you. At the same time, it speaks a message of unspeakable love: that God so cared for you that He was willing to leave heaven to do so.
Men, don’t marry a woman who cares more about your comfort than your character. If you choose to marry, then marry a woman who kicks your butt if you insist on unrighteous attitudes and actions.
Temptation is most effective when it presents itself as a form of relief.
Deception relies on confusion.
Elijah men don’t focus on Elijah. They focus on the one Elijah focused on.
The greatest enemy to the church in the 21st century west is not feminism, nationalism, LGBTism racism, atheism or Mohammedism. Our chief sin, that makes us vulnerable in every other area, is our laziness after God.
Elijah Men Eat Meat is available on Kindle and at a number of other retailers.