Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus by Charles H. Dyer is a devotional that is also a historical and geographical lesson about Israel. It covers thirty days, going through different sites each day as if the author was guiding you on an actual tour. It takes the reader through very familiar biblical names, and some not so familiar, and attempts to put you into the stories by describing the scenes. At the end of each chapter (or day) it challenges the believer and asks the non-believer to make a choice about accepting Christ.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book One of the things that stood out to me were the photos. Most of the images I had formed about those places were way off from how they actually appear. After reading and viewing this book, I now have a different approach to the Bible. I'm not sure if the author intentionally used only a few (in many cases only one for each site) or not. In any case, they left me wanting to see more, and hungering to go set foot on these monuments of my faith.
So, kudos to the author for whetting my appetite for the Holy Land, and I would recommend this book for those who want to experience Israel without the means to make a physical visit. And also to those who are looking for a good devotional to draw closer to God.
Reviewed by Andrew Arrant for Beauty in the Binding Blog.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Though compact enough to fit in a small tote, purse or travel bag, Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus: A Holy Land Devotional by Charles H. Dyer, offers vast insight into the life and times of Jesus, Christ highlighting historical and geographical details that bring the Holy Land to life.
The small volume includes beautiful pictures of locations throughout the Holy Land as well as some models of various structures like a model of Jerusalem, including colorful and telling photos of:
Ã¢â¬Â¢ the Judean Wilderness between Jerusalem and Jericho, the general area where Jesus likely faced temptation;
Ã¢â¬Â¢ the Sea of Galilee and the areas surrounding it;
Ã¢â¬Â¢ a heavy millstone; and
Ã¢â¬Â¢ a sycamore tree.
Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus is divided into 30 days' worth of readings, each with a scriptural background passage, and each with a follow-up section at the end that encourages readers to explore what the discoveries mean for readers todayÃ¢â¬âin the here and now. One such example is on day three when exploring Jesus' visit to the temple at age 12. Dyer asserts that we can put ourselves under the authority of others because Jesus did, saying, "Rather than demanding our rights and pushing against that authority, like Christ we should be willing to give up our rights to demand our own way and to submit."
Probably the greatest thing about the book is that while it helps readers understand the historical and geographic background of the Bible better, ultimately it helps readers know Jesus more and grow closer to Him.
Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus provides a wonderful overview of the Holy Land for those who haven't been. And for those who have, it reminds them of all the little details that made the land where Jesus walked come alive to them. I think it would be an equally great resource for Bible teachers. I highly recommend this small book with big value.
About the Author:
Charles H. Dyer (B.A., Washington Bible College; Th.M. and Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) served for ten years as Provost of Moody Bible Institute before becoming Professor-at-Large of Bible and host of The Land and the Book radio program. He is the author of numerous books, including A Voice in the Wilderness, Character Counts: The Power of Personal Integrity, and Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus. His most recent books are Matthewand Daniel, two revisions of classic commentaries by Dr. John F. Walvoord. Charlie and his wife, Kathy, have been married for more than 39 years and have two grown children.
*Note: I received a copy of the book from Moody Publishers for this honest review.
"Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus" is a 30-day devotional on the life of Christ that explores the land and the culture. The author often described each day's "stop" on our "tour of the Holy Land" in such vivid detail so that I felt like I could see the setting of each event. He followed the events in the life of Christ from birth to after the resurrection. He gave insights into how the geography surrounding the event can deepen our understanding of that event. Though he sometimes mentioned the different ideas people have about an event, he kept his focus on what we do know rather than getting sidetracked in speculation or debate.
There were nice, full-color pictures of the different places and of things like a manger when discussing Jesus' birth. I've been to the Holy Land and read many Bible background books, but I still enjoyed this devotional and learned some new things. Overall, I'd highly recommend this devotional.
Charles H. Dyer invites us to take a guided tour of the life, ministry and homeland of Jesus Christ. His passion for making scripture come alive by contextualizing the events in the life of Christ gives the reader a new-found appreciation for the gospel writers and a strengthened faith as their faith in Jesus is strengthened and they learn over and over that every word of the Bible can be trusted.
I've never been to Israel, but this book is so beautiful, alive, and meaningful, that I almost feel as though I have. Dyer is an excellent author who's style is personal, captivating and exciting. He writes as a tour-guide would speak, pointing out details that many would overlook to show the historical, geographical and personal significance that each location holds. He helps us to see the accuracy and trustworthiness of scripture, and encourages us to put our lives into the hands of the Jesus we read about in the Bible.
In the introduction to the book Dyer encourages the reader to read the book "slowly, deliberately, thoughtfully" and I'm very glad I took his advice because it would be impossible to process the weight and meaning of all that he presents in one sitting. It's not that the amount of information is overwhelming, or it is told in a dry way, but that there are so many "wow!" moments along the way. There were days that brought such powerful new insights to familiar scriptures that I ended up setting the book onto my lap and pondering the significance of what I just learned. Dyer brings to the reader knowledge which only a master student of the scriptures with first hand knowledge of the Israel would be able to give. I know and love Jesus more as a result of reading this little book.
That said, it took me until day eight to fully appreciate this book, for two reasons. First, there were some days that the photograph seemed disconnected from the content of the chapter. For example, on day 4 Dyer spends paragraphs describing the geography of Nazareth and then shows a picture of a tree. Yes, he mentions a tree on the next page, but it's not photo I was hoping to see - also, why isn't the picture on the next page?
My second issue was that I couldn't figure out who the intended audience of this book should be. The devotional portion of each day seemed light compared to the heavy content I just learned in the chapter. I have the feeling that a new Christian will appreciate the simple devotional portions but won't have a full appreciation of the content, while a more mature Christian will eat up the geographical insights but be disappointed by the devotional applications.
Despite the disconnected content, I do recommend this book as a valuable resource and plan to pass it around to those who want to know more about trusting the Bible and the life of Jesus.
* I received a free copy of this book through the Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program