I will be starting a new series through the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther in a few weeks at my church. Preparing for this always involves purchasing some new commentaries. I have different reasons for selecting which commentaries I will use: I want at least one that is technical and one more devotional, I like certain authors, and I like certain commentary series (Pillar, Reformed Expository, New International Commentary, etc.) It is the last reason that led me to purchase ‘Exalting Jesus in Ezra and Nehemiah’ by James Hamilton, who is currently teaching at Southern Seminary (they have some exceptional graduates who write great blog posts). I was drawn to this commentary because it is in the relatively new (2013) series called “Christ-Centered Exposition.” What makes this series different? The editors (David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida) write in the preface:
“Finally, as the name suggest, the editors seek to exalt Jesus from every book of the Bible. In saying this, we are not commending wild allegory or fanciful typology (always good to avoid those, wm). We certainly believe we must be constrained to the meaning intended by the divine Author Himself, the Holy Spirit of God. However, we also believe the Bible has a messianic focus, and our hope is that the individual authors will exalt Christ from particular texts…Therefore, our aim is both to honor the historical particularity of each biblical passage and to highlight its intrinsic connection to the Redeemer.”
I love this approach. I know that other commentaries I have read do a good job of pointing the reader to Christ from most passages, but I am excited about a series that seeks to do that with every passage. As a preacher, I hope to do this each and every time I get into the pulpit. It is not enough to simply draw moral lessons from the text, we have to see what it says about Christ. If I am not doing that then I am not preaching as faithfully as I should. Thus, I want to study and learn and teach what Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus teach us about Jesus, how they point us to the Savior. I am really looking forward to diving into Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther to learn the same. I believe Hamilton’s work will help me in that effort.