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Focus on the Bible – Joel & Obadiah

By Iwan Rhys Jones
August 2016 | Review by Nathan Pomeroy
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-78191-602-5
  • Pages: 128
  • Price: 8.99
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This is an edifying commentary, in the Focus on the Bible series, on Joel and Obadiah. It is readable, concise and well structured. It focuses on expounding the text of these two books, pulling together larger themes, as well as selecting key phrases and words for more detailed exposition.

Iwan Rhys Jones is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament Studies at Wales Evangelical School of Theology. He has considerable knowledge of the Scriptures and illuminates his expositions through cross-referencing other parts of the Bible, especially the prophets and Revelation. Many illustrations are drawn and applications made.

An example might be this summary of the locust plagues in Joel: ‘In chapter 1 the prophet was describing an actual locust invasion that had brought devastation, but that historic event became the basis of the prophet’s dire prediction of an eschatological army of the Day of the Lord’ (p.46).

A second piece of excellent exegesis concerns Joel 2:12-14, which includes the call to ‘rend the heart’. The author states that it ‘is expressive of deep-seated grief’, and is rooted in four reasons that recall Exodus 34:6, ‘the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.’

Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, is identified by Jones as having three key themes: the justice of God, the Day of the Lord and the sovereignty of God.

At the end of each chapter there are a series of questions for further study, making the book useful for Bible study leaders. I found it a refreshing change for a few days in my morning quiet time. It is a good book and it would be hard to find a better commentary, especially for clarity of expression and insight into the structure and themes of Joel and Obadiah.

Nathan Pomeroy