Wisdom From Beyond the Grave

The post that was the ninth most viewed here in 2019 was a book review of a new work from a theologian who died in 1963. You would have thought that after more than 50 years all of his works would have been published already, but apparently that was not the case. 


I think I am safe in saying that we have too much unclear Christianity today, if it can really be called Christianity. So much in our Christianity has no clear meaning to it. We have so mingled with the culture that it is hard to distinguish between the two. – A.W. Tozer

How do I know what God wants me to do? Ever asked that question? Figured out the answer?

That’s one of the biggest questions anyone can grapple with, and frequently one of the toughest to come up with a response you can be sure of. Which is one of the reasons A Cloud By Day, A Fire By Night, being published today, is an interesting read.9781493417155.jpg

It is always interesting when a new book appears by an author long dead. There usually are questions as to whether the author intended the material for publication. In this case you could say the material is previously published, but not in book format.

J.R.R. Tolkien I think has published more books since his death than he did when he was alive, as his literary executors have mined his notebooks for anything that might sell. There was much debate about Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, though she was still living when it was published. C.S. Lewis’ papers were burned upon his death, though there was at least one posthumous title that I can think of.

Then there is A.W. Tozer, a name you may not be familiar with. He was a mid-twentieth century pastor and theologian of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, thanks to his writings probably the best-known member of that small denomination (if 14,000 churches in 81 countries is small). He wrote more than 60 books, most published after his death, including A Cloud By Day, A Fire By Night.

This small volume is an adaptation of a sermon series he gave when he was a pastor in Chicago (he ended his career in Toronto). It is a reflection on how you can know God’s will, primarily using the Biblical book of Exodus and ruminating on what the journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land can mean to us today. If you want to know what plans God has for your life, it makes sense to see how He guided others.

Lent starts tomorrow, for those who follow the church calendar. As I read this book, I thought it would be quite suitable as a Lenten devotional, something you could read one of the 23 chapters each day and then reflect on what Tozer was saying. You could go through it twice very easily.

Each chapter is too short to have been a complete sermon, unless Tozer was that rare preacher who understood that people will remember more of what you say if you use fewer words. Therefore, the material has been edited; my guess is there may have been topical references removed, but that really is a wild guess on my part. I will admit to appreciating the bite-sized chunks.

I like it when a book can take a familiar subject and make me think of it in a new way. A Cloud By Day, A Fire By Night took a familiar scene from The Bible and helped me to see it in a new way.

“Review copy of this book was provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishers.”

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