As I have been preaching through Exodus, I've learned to turn to this resource early in my readings. This is because Enns is excellent in the way he handles application. He weaves NT citations into the application rather well. However, I've found myself wanting more than he gives in this part of his commentary each time I've used this book. Please let me explain. (I struggled between a 3 & 4 star for this book...)
Basically I believe it's a very good commentary, but could be fuller in it's handling of the NT applications related to the passage and that there should be more interaction with ancient near eastern parallels to the objects mentioned in Exodus.
For an example, let me cite Exodus 34:29-35, the section that covers Moses' veil. This passage is commented on with an application to the superiority of the New Covenant by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3. However, I think he misses Paul's perspective in 2 Corinthians when he says that it is "odd, to say the least, that Paul's understanding of the significance of the veil in Exodus seems to be to prevent the people from seeing the full glow of the radiance:". I think that Paul is not looking at this account from Moses' perspective as Enns contends, but from the perspective that the law of Moses is the covenant of 'death' and 'condemnation'. Paul did not miss the fact that Moses' account talks about the veil being used to prevent the people from seeing the full glow of the radiance of his face (2 Cor 3:7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?). Enns doesn't mention this, oddly!
In fact I was left disagreeing with his conclusions. I think he misses the spiritualization that Paul draws out from the passage when Paul then goes on to talk about the veil over the hearts of the Jews who read Moses to this day. He presupposes and states that Moses goes out to the tent of meeting to obtain another 'dose' of God's glory. His arguments were unconvincing and didn't seem to fit the text I have studied in some cases.
I feel that the New Testament passages that comment on the text of the Old Testament portion at hand ought to have a fuller handling in the NIVAC series than I usually find. I think with Enns it's spotty. Usually I'm very blessed by what I find in this volume, but sometimes left wanting.
He combines 35 through 40:33 with 25 to 31. I don't like that and would prefer to see a separate chapter for 35-40. Applications abound from that section, and can be drawn out in many relevant ways (see God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul for some examples.
For great material on the ancient near east parallels in Exodus, I highly recommend the new Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary) which ought to be on every pastors shelf! The idea that the term in the Hebrew 'qaran' basically means 'to have horns' and the fact that an ancient Cylinder seal picturing two 'gods' with horns on their helmets and light emanating from their shoulders in near east antiquity is relevant to this passage as a potential interpretive key. Although Enns connects the translation of 'qaran' to Medieval artistry showing Moses with horns, he does not identify the fact that ancient artifacts depict deity with horns and radiant light eminating from their bodies. And so he dismisses the horn theory relevancy without dealing with the concept that Moses may have had a sort of divine presence as a result and that his skin may have been hardened to the point of even looking like horns. Or that the text could be making a word play intentionally to allude to this topic! This is surprising since John Walton, editor of the ZIBBC, was a consulting editor on this volume!
This illustrates a weakness I feel this commentary has. It does not interact enough with the ancient near east background of the Old Testament for my tastes. I love commentaries that take us into the ancient world where 'regular folks' don't know how to dig up the relevant artifacts. I wish this one did that!
On the section about the Tabernacle, Enns does some interesting things. He brings out the concept of 'sacred space', which is perhaps one of the most important concepts for understanding Exodus!
And he discusses the NT application that the Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit...therefore sacred spaces are all around the world today. But he misses the other NT application about divisiveness (1 Cor 3).
When he talks about the Tabernacle in his application section, he oddly remains Old Testament in his language by talking over and over about 'going to church'! The problem with this is that we, the believers, in the New Covenant are the 'temple of the Holy Spirit. The church building is never connected to the Tabernacle concept in the Old Testament. It is a common error to make this leap and I think demonstrates a lack of depth of thought when it comes to the application of one of the most critical concepts in Exodus!
We as the church are the temple of the Holy Spirit. So we do not 'go to church'...per se...we take the church to the church building or where-ever we corporately go as a group. And of all the passages to bring out this point...this one is it! The 'sacred space' OT Tabernacle which was a physical structure has now become the 'people of God's Kingdom'. Maybe I'm making too big of a point about this, but it seems to me an important point for so many Christians who think of their church building as a sacred space, but their own bodies as their own space. We must start seeing the church body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and we must stop being divisive in our mentality. It is the perfect place to bring in Paul's argument against divisiveness in 1 Cor 3!
That's what I mean when I say that I have been left wanting several times in this commentary. Yet, many of his points are excellent and worth meditating on.
He returns to Genesis in his final discussion of the Tabernacle/Temple theme, and that is good, but I would prefer to see something tying in to the future eschatological hope of full face to face fellowship with God (Rev 21...God and the Lamb are the temple in the New Jerusalem). That takes the spiritualization of the Tabernacle/Temple theme to it's ultimate conclusion in scripture that there will be NO TEMPLE...and we shall dwell with God directly! It's certainly a fulfillment of the passages in Exodus...and the hope of face to face fellowship with our God should be a hope that drives us to purify ourselves!
None of that is discussed, although he does an excellent job of bringing in the application of 1 Corinthians 6 dealing with cutting off sexual immorality.
In summary this is a good commentary, just make sure you have other ones you are using to supplement it for Exodus studies! I give it a four star.