Book Review – Songs of a Suffering King (10/10)

One of the hardest things for a preacher to do is to find Christ in all of Scripture. This difficulty lies not in the text itself, but in the preachers themselves. As we are reminded from the story of what happened when Jesus walked with the disciples to Emmaus in Luke 24. We see how Jesus had no difficulty in trying to explain how all of scripture concerns him rather it was the disciples who were slow of heart!

Songs of a Suffering KingThe Psalms, in my opinion are one the of the most overlooked books in this aspect. John Fesko has written an excellent book to cover this gap. In this book, Fesko shows the readers exactly what the Psalms are: Songs. Next, Fesko is always careful to exegete the passage in it’s original context and bringing out it’s application from there. Finally, Fesko brings out Christ, not by force but naturally from the text. This is where Fesko really excels in this book. He is able to help readers see how each of the Psalm, from Psalm 1 to 8, is directly link to Jesus!

So within each of the chapters, Fesko expounds of the psalm faithfully and biblically. Although personally I not agree with the flow proposed by Fesko from Psalm 1 to 8, I do see that Fesko is able to link each of them from to the another and each from the context of David, and then to Jesus. Fesko should be applauded from his valiant effort! This is no easy feat to say the least. One can only lament that Fesko has not continued for the next 142 psalm. I highly recommend and anticipate Fesko to carry on this series so the whole of the psalms would be covered. And I recommend pastors to give this a thorough read, see how each and every psalm can preached in context and also be connected to Christ. One of the clearest books on how Christ can be seen in the psalms so far in the market currently, this is truly Christ-centred preaching at its’ finest.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – From Jesus to the Church (9/9)

I’m personally not a great fan of history. I find that having a deluge of dates, names and places rather intimating, and don’t usually find myself reading any books on history. However, I was quite intrigued by the title of this book, plus it didn’t seem to be a super thick book and thus attempted to read this book. I must say, this book has been very insightful and perceptive, I came away with a deeper appreciation of the early church history.

From Jesus to the ChurchWithin this book you will find many helpful background info which you normally do not find elsewhere, for example there were many revolutionaries that had tried to revolt against the Rome governance. These revolutionaries, like Jesus, were often executed in the bid to stump the revolt, or are being intimated by the Rome governance. And these ‘solutions’ were often very effective in solving these problems.

Craig Evans first attempts to answer the question about the link between the temple (Jewish) and the Church (Christians), specifically, he wants to show the readers that the forecast of the destruction of the temple was one of the key prediction of Jesus judgement on the corrupt Jewish leaders and shows that Jesus does have the church in mind, but not in the same way as what we might often think. Evans handles this question very carefully, being careful to examine how the new testament authors used the words ‘synagoge’ or ‘ekklesia’ in their writings. Admittingly, I felt the first 2 chapters the most difficult to comprehend, but this is not due to any fault of the author!

Next, Evans examine how Jesus himself proclaims the kingdom of God, what he means by it. And how the Old Testament should shape our understanding of the concept of the kingdom of God. What is clear is that, this kingdom already has in mind the inclusion of the Gentiles even within the Old Testament. Therefore the inclusion of Gentiles into Christianity is not something novel, rather it is a outworking of what the Old Testament passages were writing about.

The third chapter talks about how James, rather than Peter was early church leader was exceptionally well written. In it, he interacts with Acts very well, and attempts to show that James was indeed the leader at that time. This was my first time hearing this, and I would have hope to see how Evans would have had attempt to explain John 1:42, where Peter is called the rock. Within this chapter, Evans also explains about the apparent ‘differences’ between James and Paul with regards the faith and work, and this was very well handled. This was the best chapter within the book and would be well-worth the price of the book.

Lastly, Evans ends by explaining why the church moved from a Jewish majority in the beginning to a Gentile majority thereafter, essentially the ‘stumbling blocks’ for the Jews to believe in the Risen Christ.

This book is exceptionally well-written and would be insightful for many. It has certainly helped me in my exegesis of the New Testament, being more careful to ask myself how would the first readers have understood this text. I do encourage pastors or motivated laypeople to read this book, and reap from the knowledge you would be able to gain from it.

Rating: 4 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Book Review – 1 Samuel For You (17/8)

If you grew up listening to bible stories I’m sure you would have heard before of the story of King Saul and King David. However, when was the last time you heard them preached in the pulpit? For myself, I probably can only remember 3 instances where the sermon was from 1 Samuel, but none of them pointed me to Christ. So it was refreshing to see that Tim Chester had written a commentary that’s extremely readable and insightful for all christians.

1 Samuel For You1 Samuel isn’t particularly difficult book to understand, but many a times when we fear to read the bible text carefully or if we do not have a working knowledge of the original languages there’s many things that we will miss out. That’s my initial response when I was using the is commentary. It is remarkable that Chester has never tried to put out a Hebrew word or phrase, but he simply just tell us what the word means, which is sufficient for most christians.

Readers must not expect this book to be a verse by verse commentary , rather it takes blocks of 2-3 chapters (at times) and explains them in the context of the book, and also helps the readers see how each and every part of the book points us to Jesus. Chester is really able to show us how he derives his main points through the exegetical work he has done, yet Chester has the gift of being to lead the reader see how he has done his exegetical work without using any technical jargons or being too abstruse. Also, Chester is able to help readers see the link of how characters or situations in 1 Samuel are pointers to what Christ will fulfil/has fulfilled in the New Testament. Although I do not agree to all his allusions, I agree what he has been doing is a fine example of showing Christians how they should read their Old Testament, with one eye one the historical context, and with other of how Christ is ‘hidden’ in it.

This is really a book I foresee I will recommend others to if they want to have a deeper understanding of 1 Samuel. I foresee that pastors and cell group leaders will find this resource to be exceptionally helpful not just for those they lead, but also for themselves. Chester pull no punches in this book, and often confronts the readers with very apt application that will force the readers to reflection hard on their own lives about what they have learnt.

Rating: 4.75/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.