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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Into His Presence: Encountering the God of the Prophets by Napoleon Burt is a Christian non-fiction and historical theology guide that canvasses the Old Testament prophets in order to reconstruct the approach readers take toward Bible study, particularly as it applies to their perception of God. It's the interactions and the accuracy of the historical timelines, through the lives and eyes of the prophets, that is the driver of Burt's work. The chapters are separated by encounters which span from the non-writing prophets—characterized as prophets whose stories are not in books that carry their own name—through to the final Old Testament prophet Malachi, last because the messianic prophecies are fulfilled by the life of Jesus Christ. Each chapter includes the setting, the story, the encounter, the message, its impact on each individual prophet, who were all notably very different, just as any other people on the planet now or then would be. Finally, each chapter ends with a summary that contains charts and graphs to tie the work together.
It's immediately evident that the compiling of information and the pure act of putting pen to paper to create Into His Presence required more than just painstaking attention to detail, even when details are generally considered to be scarce. It took an act of faith. Faith in the message, faith in the ability to convey it appropriately, and faith that those who read it will have the capacity to look with renewed eyes and an open heart. Napoleon Burt does an exceptional job with the delicate balance of using a narrative that is simple enough to understand while still maintaining the discerning, conversant recording of the encounters of the text. That text, of course, being the Old Testament. I found the most enjoyment in chapter five, Encountering Jehovah and His Seventh Century Prophets, which is historically significant as the rising of the Babylonian Empire, and biblically significant as Burt succinctly points out, “through the use of sixty first-person singular divine pronouns and fifty-two third-person singular divine pronouns, Jehovah is declared to be the Holy One.” This is an outstanding piece of work. Very highly recommended.