Reviewed in conjunction with The Bible Exposition Commentary: Prophets.
Wiersbe, former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, served for ten years as general director and Bible teacher for Back to the Bible. He has authored over eighty books and is a well-known international Bible conference speaker. Among the author’s most beloved books are the best-selling “Be” series. These two volumes are compiled from the “Be” series and are part of the author’s six-volume Bible Exposition series. As with the other volumes in the series, these are designed for the masses, that is, those who have had little or no formal biblical training. There is virtually no mention of the original languages and no discussion of some of the major interpretive issues involved in these books (e.g., the unity of Ezra-Nehemiah, the unity of Isaiah, the date of Daniel).
For each of the biblical books covered in these volumes the author begins with a statement of the key theme of the book as well as an identification of the key verse. Then a helpful general outline of the book is provided. This is followed by a brief introduction to each book, usually detailing why it is important to study that particular book. Then Wiersbe moves to the main portion of the chapter, that is, a commentary on the biblical text. The commentary proper includes a discussion of the text, usually at the paragraph level. For example the author separates Jonah chapter 1 into three sections: Jonah the prophet disobeys God’s call (1:1–3), Jonah the Jew becomes a curse instead of a blessing (1:4–10), and Jonah the rebel suffers for his sins (1:11–17). For each of these sections the author has several paragraphs of commentary on the biblical text. Wiersbe has many great insights into the Scriptures. The comments are largely expositional as opposed to applicational. Occasionally the author includes a postlude to a biblical book, identifying some lessons from that biblical book that are applicable today.
The Bible Exposition Commentary: History covers the Old Testament historical books (Joshua–Esther). Of special note in this volume is the author’s treatment of the Book of Judges. No attempt is made to characterize these flawed heroes as perfect. Instead, they are shown to be tragic figures, just as they are characterized in the Scriptures. Wiersbe correctly identifies the key verse as Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (see also 17:6; 18:1; 19:1). Other good chapters include the author’s treatment of the books of Ruth and Esther. Again in Esther there is no attempt to pass her off as an “innocent” heroine and explain away her sins (e.g., concealing her identity by assuredly breaking the Mosaic laws regarding food and other items, engaging in a sexual contest for the throne, marrying a Gentile who believed in pagan gods) as if she could never do such things. Instead, Wiersbe accurately evaluates the person of Esther by showing the two-sided nature of her moral character. An unfortunate oversight in this volume is the author’s failure to separate the Book of Chronicles and treat it independently from the books of Samuel and Kings.
The Bible Exposition Commentary: Prophets covers the Old Testament prophetic books (Isaiah–Malachi). Of special note in this volume is the author’s dispensational approach to his interpretation of the prophets. He consistently interprets “the Day of the Lord” as referring to a future literal time period that includes the Tribulation and the millennium. He regards Ezekiel 37 as referring to the future restoration of Israel, Ezekiel 38–39 as describing a battle to take place at the beginning of the Tribulation, and Ezekiel 40–48 as referring to a literal temple to be used during the millennial reign of Christ. He correctly identifies Daniel’s seventieth week as the future seven-year Tribulation immediately preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ. And Wiersbe asserts that Joel 2:28–32 will be fulfilled at the end of the future Tribulation as opposed to having already been fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.
The author spends no time discussing introductory issues such as authorship, date, setting, historical background, audience, and even purpose. Such critical issues need to be addressed because one’s commentary cannot help but be influenced by these matters.
As with the entire Bible Exposition Commentary series, one of the most helpful features of these volumes is the inclusion of the author’s personal insights. While the emphasis is clearly on the interpretation of the biblical text, the author at times interjects personal comments as to how these books apply to readers today. The author’s heart for Bible teaching and his desire to impact his audience clearly show through in his written words. These volumes are highly recommended for those who desire to know the Word of God better and should prove to be a welcome addition to any Bible student’s library.