Book Review: A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament
When I put together a reading list last year, I made a point to include not only respected pastors and teachers, but to also include the authors they read. When people like Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and J.I. Packer consider someone essential to their libraries, average humans like me had better pay attention. So, I looked at footnotes and appendices and noted anything that sounded interesting, which is how I stumbled upon J. Alec Motyer and his book, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament.
This book is so small and mighty that I want to compare it to a stick of dynamite - except, it will have the opposite effect on you: it is far more constructive than destructive. It won’t blast your understanding of the Old Testament to smithereens, but rather, will help you see the cohesive, continuous, cumulative witness of both testaments. It brings the pieces back together.
One of Motyer’s major themes is the unity of the Scriptures, and within that theme he finds room to mine several rich topics: how the Old Testament prepares us to receive Jesus, how it provides background and definition for New Testament truths, how it reveals God to us in ways the New Testament authors assume we’re familiar with and build upon. Motyer skillfully traces the one story of the one Messiah from creation to annunciation.
Sprinkled throughout are practical study tips, helpful asides, and the occasional probing question for readers to consider. Another feature that stands out is the pastoral heart that beats beneath Motyer’s scholarly brilliance. For example, in reference to Matthew 26:51-54 when Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword because everything must happen according to the Scriptures, Motyer writes:
“Do you see how he tied himself to the Word of God? If we follow the Lord Jesus Christ, we are following the supreme Bible Man. Don’t ever be ashamed of being thought of as being tied to Holy Scripture. You’re following in the steps of Jesus who bound himself to the Word of God, and insisted by his obedience to fulfill what was written of him.”
J. Alec Motyer wants you to love the whole Bible and receive it as the full counsel of God, whom he expects you to encounter there. Don’t we all need more books like that on our shelves?