The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary Series is a new commentary series from Holman Reference edited by David Platt, Daniel Akin and Tony Merida. The editor's goal is "to present an easy reading, practical and friendly commentary" and "to exalt Jesus from every book of the Bible." In the introduction the editors lay out four distinguishing characteristics for the series. They are: 1) This series seeks to display exegetical accuracy. The desire is to handle God's Word faithfully, even while every volume may not be verse-by-verse commentary. 2) The series has busy pastors in view by presenting its material in a readable, pastoral style rather than academic. 3) A desire to be known for the "inclusion of helpful illustrations and theological driven applications. 4) To exalt Christ in every book of the Bible. They carefully state that, "we are not commending wild allegory or fanciful typology. We must be constrained to the meaning intended by the divine Author Himself, the Holy Spirit of God. However, we also believe that the Bible has a Messianic focus, and the authors in this series will exalt Christ from all of their texts." Some of the authors that will contribute to this series that is projected to be 48 volumes are: David Platt, Daniel Akin, Tony Merida, Al Mohler, Eric Mason, Mark Dever, Russ Moore, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, Thabiti Anyabwile, J.D. Greear and Paige Patterson. This is a very respectable list of pastors and authors to contribute to this series.
The volume Exalting Jesus in Ezra and Nehemiah is authored by James Hamilton Jr., Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and preaching pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church. The key, for me at least, to a good, highly accessible commentary on the Old Testament is one that will help the reader see the main idea of the book (and its smaller sections), gain an understanding of the historical setting and draw out practical application. I am pleased to say that Jim Hamilton has done a wonderful job doing this in these three areas. First, Hamilton, as is typical of this series, opens each section with a main idea. After reading through a section and then returning to Hamilton's main idea I found that he very accurately summarized these sections. This really helps the reader to quickly see the flow of an entire book. Second, Hamilton sets up the historical contexts of these two books of the Bible very well. In some larger commentaries the authors can tend to dig pretty deep into the historical settings at time, and since that style does not fit this series Hamilton avoids that. Instead, he provides enough information to give the reader a proper insight. Third, Hamilton is very helpful in drawing out practical applications based on the text. When addressing the weeping at the foundation of the temple in Ezra 3 Hamilton points out that the number of people was less than 50,000 which is a fraction of what they used to be. Hamilton mentions that because of their disobedience God "visited the curses of the covenant upon them." So how does this apply to us today? Hamilton answers: Let's not fail to learn from the weeping at the foundation of the temple. Sin will endanger you. Sin will ruin your life. Sin will steal your joy. Sin will make it so that even if God restores you, until He wipes away every tear you will feel sin's remorseful consequences. Sin will make it so that though you worship you will weep. Hate sin. This is just an outstanding point drawn out of this text that applies to all believers, everywhere.
Hamilton provides similar application drawn out of Nehemiah. In his commentary on Nehemiah 1-2 (commenting on Nehemiah 1:4-11) Hamilton states, "Look at how passionate Nehemiah is for the kingdom of God! He expresses his sorrow emotionally, weeping and mourning, and then he intercedes with discipline and diligence, fasting and prayer. If we love God and the advance of His glory, we will feel deep sorrow when the advance of the gospel is halted, and we will be disciplined and diligent to fast and pray. If we are not feeling sorrow and cultivating diligence and discipline, we should seek to stir ourselves and one another up to love and good deeds. We can do this by considering what Nehemiah shows us about where he got this kind of passionate fervor for God and His kingdom. In the content of his prayer in verses 5-11 Nehemiah shows that he understands the Scriptures and wants to see the Scriptures fulfilled. If we would feel the kind of zeal for the church that results in weeping, mourning, fasting and praying in response to reports about how the enemies of the gospel have attacked God's kingdom, we should seek to understand the Scriptures and pray that God would cause us to long for their fulfillment." While that was a lengthy excerpt, I think it shows the kind of insight and application that is common to this commentary. If you have never studied through Ezra and Nehemiah, I would highly recommend buying this commentary and reading through it. You will definitely be blessed.
This is one of the most accessible commentaries that I have come across. I was blessed by this commentary and found it very helpful and look forward to future volumes in this series. I have now read multiple volumes in this series and each has been a blessing. The commentary sections are very accessible in their size as well, making this a wonderful commentary to read through devotionally. Overall, excellent work! I received a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group (Holman Reference) in exchange for an honest review.