MASTER'S SEMINARY JOURNAL

BOOK REVIEW

The Faithfulness of God, Part II, Devotional Studies in II Chronicles


By Cyril J. Barber
Santa Ana, Calif : Promise Publishing Co. (2004). 339 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
16.1 (Spring 2005) : 153-154

A writer of more than thirty books follows up a similar theme in 1 Chronicles with twenty chapters on 2 Chronicles (cf. review, TMSJ, 14/1 [Spring 2003]:106-7). With a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Talbot Theological Seminary, the author has served on library staffs of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Rosemead School of Theology, and Simon Greenleaf School of Law. His other books include similar treatments of Ruth, Judges, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Samuel. Similar expositions of 1 and 2 Kings (784 pp., and 684 pp.) were issued by Wipf & Stock Publishers in 2004. He also co-authored An Introduction to Theological Research with Robert Krauss.

The commentator, whose wide awareness of scholarly literature is evident in footnotes throughout this work, insists on the accuracy of biblical details. He also is unafraid to differ on such things as the widespread view that the theme in the Chronicles is the temp le. He opts for a theme of God’s faithfulness in covenant goodness to His people (cf. Ps 132:11-12). He reasons that God was faithful to His people in their Babylonian captivity when He helped them return to their land and rebuild against obstacles. He sees Ezra as the most feasible chronicler, as already shown in the review on 1 Chronicles noted above. He argues some facets of a case for the theme. A walk in the ways of David is upheld as a standard for kings (e.g., 11:17; 17:3-4). In spite of much detail about the temple, he feels that more emphasis is on prayer, as in 2 Chron 7:14 and often in the book (cf. also Dan 9:4-19). Other facets of God’s faithfulness refer to racial and spiritual purity, the law’s proper role, the place of worship in the temple and priesthood, and verses on not forsaking the covenant but being faithful to the Lord, plus a repeated focus on seeking God and the relevance of the Word in strengthening personal faith. Relevancy to believers today is found, for example, in Paul’s words of Rom 15:4 about OT Scriptures nourishing perseverance and encouraging comfort.

The author in his usual manner comments on sections and verses, laid out in a clear outline. He intersperses this with anecdotes that richly illustrate and catch attention. Devotional lessons are fairly consistent along with summaries of passages. Barber uses many good biblical studies, whether commentaries, journal articles, or specialized works. Footnotes, fairly frequent and both short and long, offer pertinent comments, such as Solomon’s probable age when taking the throne (4), algum as wood for temple furniture (21), and length of a cubit (26). In one note (213), Barber says that he believes firmly in having one wife, but seems to soften a stand against polygamy. In another (294) he commends Warren Wiersbe’s focus in the book Real Worship (Nashville: Oliver Nelson, 1986). In yet another he refers to Jerusalem’s wall in pre-captivity days as more than 20 feet thick.

Another feature is reasoning that 2 Chronicles’ numbers are plausible, although scholars often faulted their credibility (282 n. 7). He also sees no biblical evidence for Ethiopian and other tradition that the statement in 2 Chronicles 9 that Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba all her desire supports Solomon’s having had sex with this visitor (78).

Devotional highlights in the work include brief comments on worship in the famous verse, 2 Chron 7:14, and principles drawn from 2 Chronicles 20 where an enemy coalition moved to attack Jerusalem. In the latter case, King Jehoshaphat emhasized prayer, trusting in God, the Spirit speaking encouragement through Jahaziel, and praise to God that He would defend His people. God destroyed the approaching soldiers, so that the Judeans found that the Lord gave relief from the threat (172-78).

Barber surveys successive passages in 2 Chronicles with edifying spiritual lessons for believers. He rises to a climax using provocative illustrations. He includes tempering footnotes that qualify or take things further, and has an outline for each passage to highlight main movements. Now that he is in his later years, readers who have profited from Barber’s diligently studied and lucidly written commentaries on Judges through 2 Chronicles can be thankful for his tenacious persistence to finish the studies. Day to day devotional progress through the book is refreshing as frequent drinks from a canteen of cool water. Each work is a catalyst for pastors, other church workers, students, and laymen.