Note from CM: Clark Bunch is a regular reader and commenter here at IM. He taught with Michael Spencer at OBI, and has since returned to live and work in his hometown of Calhoun, GA. The local paper there recently featured him in a “Profiles in Faith” piece. We’re excited for Clark that he had the opportunity to publish this book and thought it only fitting that his friend Denise Spencer should review it for us. Clark blogs at The Master’s Table.
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God is Near
A book review by Denise Day Spencer
Do you see the forest or the trees? I am sometimes left-brain to a fault. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed God Is Near: His Promise to His People, by Clark Bunch. (Outskirtspress, Denver, Colorado, 2014) My own playful subtitle for this book is, “The Gospel for Left-Brain People!” Bunch tells the good news of God’s nearness to us by focusing on select parts of Biblical history, then backing up to show how they all fit together.
In the introduction to the book, Bunch explains, “My purpose is to demonstrate not only that God is near, but that He always has been and for the believer always will be.” He adds, “The Bible tells the story of our past, present and future.”
Most of God Is Near deals with the past, as Bunch takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the Old Testament. He asserts in chapter one, “From beginning to end the Bible tells one story, and that’s how a holy God deals with sinful, fallen and broken people.”
The book begins with a glimpse of the intimacy Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator before the Fall, and how sin ruined that perfect communion. It moves on to relate how God drew close to mankind again by making a nation of Abraham’s promised son. Centuries later, He was near His suffering people and heard their cries, sending Moses to deliver them from slavery in Egypt.
Four chapters are given to the Exodus and Israel’s years in the wilderness, as we see the many different ways God manifested His presence – the pillar of cloud and fire; the smoke, thunder and lightning of Mount Sinai; the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle. The reader then follows the account from the entrance into the Promised Land to a quick glance at how God used judges, kings and prophets to communicate with His people.
This, of course, leads us to Christ, in Whom God was more than near; He was truly with us as one of us. The final chapter, “God In Us,” is where Bunch addresses God’s presence with us in the here and now, and our hope for the future. God the Holy Spirit is in each believer, and will be always.
At 88 pages, God Is Near is the big picture of God’s progressive relationship to mankind squeezed into a nutshell. Bunch writes in an easy-going style that is pleasant to read. He salts his narrative with humor, devotional thoughts, and words of pastoral encouragement.
Read God Is Near for yourself. Then you may want to share it with someone who is struggling and needs to be consoled by the truth of the forest — yes, God Is Near.