God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgement is by Dr. James (Jim) Hamilton, Jr., who is associate professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is published by Crossway.
I must begin by saying that I enjoyed this book immensely. But I enjoyed it differently than most other books. I enjoyed this book like I would a rich, decadent peanut butter pie (one that my wife will eventually blog about). The first way to enjoy any food is to look at it (If you never stop to appreciate the beauty of well-prepared food, you are missing out one of the delights that God has given to us). As you can see in the cover art to the left, the cover of the book is striking. The title of the book layered over a foreboding painting of Israel escaping the judgment handed out to the Egyptians gives you a pretty good idea what you are in for when you crack this book. The second way you enjoy a rich, decadent peanut butter pie is slowly and in small portions. If you try to jam the whole piece in your mouth, an overwhelming sensation will surely follow. The richness of the pie will overwhelm the senses to the point of revulsion. It will not taste good. However, if consumed slowly, the richness still floods the senses, but it does not overwhelm. You are enjoying this pie differently than you might enjoy other desserts, like cookies. This book is a rich, decadent biblical theology that seeks to find the center of the entire redemptive story that God is telling. This is no light afternoon reading. It’s best enjoyed slowly, deliberately, with pen and highlighter in hand. So if you pick up this book, remember, it’s rich and decadent. Read slowly.
Now, a more specific reason I liked this book was how it helped me better see the flow of the Bible. I was able to see how God was weaving a cohesive and coherent story within the Bible. I think my favorite parts were Dr. Hamilton’s surveys on Chronicles and the Gospels. I learned a lot about Chronicles I never knew before (like how it was written later than Samuel and Kings, most likely during the time of Nehemiah, with a much different agenda). And I appreciated the surveys on the Gospels, because I was able to see how each Gospel author presented Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises that were laid out in the OT surveys. The story of the Bible became more real to me as Dr. Hamilton pointed out the specifics I had never seen before.
I did feel at times that Dr. Hamilton was stretching to make his argument. The whole book is seeking to argue that the center of the Biblical story is that God is glorified by saving people through judgment. While most of the time, I think he makes strong arguments, there were the occasional moments where I didn’t see what he was trying to show me. Perhaps that’s my fault and not the fault of the book. I may lack the smarts necessary to understand what he was saying!
In the end, I cannot more highly recommend this book. Just remember, it’s a peanut butter pie, not a chocolate chip cookie. You’ll need time to enjoy this rich and decadent work of biblical theology. But it’s worth all the effort.
Back to Post – Crossway provided me with a free copy in exchange for reviewing the book.