Brazo theological Commentary

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Armwood | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Oct 19 2013 8:42 AM

Would love to hear from those who have the Brazo  Theological Commentaries.  They seem to be very good, but I never hear anyone here talk of them when ask of there favorite Commentary.




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Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 21 2013 12:20 PM
Mark, that was very helpful to me in deciding if this is a commentary that I need. Thanks.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 21 2013 2:23 PM

I would't call it one of my town 5 commentaries but i have found it to be rather helpful a times….. but yes probably more like a monograph over all...


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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 21 2013 2:48 PM

I thought I would share this section… which I found illuminating.. I share not only the section I enjoyed but the entire one to give you a general feel for it...


1 KINGS 12:1–24

Israel is called to be a unique people, and its uniqueness is particularly to be in its devotion to the one God of creation. Other nations worship false gods, but Israel is to be exclusively devoted to Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth. Israel rapidly forsakes that calling, immediately after the exodus, after arriving in the land, and after the Lord set up a monarchy. This is a catastrophe for the people of Yahweh: when Israel turns to other gods it ceases to be Israel.
The initial judgment on the kingdom begins with an assembly at Shechem. Shechem is the place where Israel first renews covenant after the conquest (Josh. 24:1) and the place where Joseph’s bones are finally laid to rest (24:32). In the time of the judges, Abimelech has himself crowned king at Shechem (Judg. 9:6). Abimelech is the first man in Israel to call himself king, and he is violent, oppressive, bloodthirsty, power hungry. He slaughters his brothers to gain the throne, and he is ruthless with anyone who crosses him. He is eventually killed by a woman who dropped a millstone on his head, a serpent with a crushed head. A king crowned at Shechem might be a second Abimelech, following his example of oppression and political folly. The association with Abimelech is, to put it mildly, no compliment to Rehoboam.
Shechem has more ancient associations as well. In Gen. 12, Abram enters the land and goes to Shechem, before moving on to Bethel to set up an altar (12:6–8). Jeroboam takes the same route, though his altar is not devoted to the true worship of God (1 Kgs. 12:1–5, 25–33). The two itineraries are linked in central ways. Abram’s journey around the land is a protoconquest. Centuries before Joshua enters the land to conquer its people, Abram “conquers” the land by setting up places of true worship throughout. Jeroboam follows the same itinerary as Abram, but instead of moving around the land to establish true worship, he moves from Shechem to Bethel to establish an idolatrous altar. This inverts Israel’s purpose in conquest: Jeroboam’s work is a kind of anticonquest, a return to the wilderness.
As Frisch (1991, 6–9, 11) suggests, 1 Kgs. 12 is an integral part of the Solomon narratives. It follows naturally from 1 Kgs. 11, fulfilling Ahijah’s prophecy about the rending of the kingdom, and 1 Kgs. 11–12 shares important themes and structural patterns with 1 Kgs. 1–2:

Each pair of chapters contains a political narrative about Solomon’s rivals which describes the change that takes place in their status: the fall of Adonijah and the rise of Jeroboam respectively. In each case the candidate who loses out is the one with the best chance and the best right to the throne …; and the startling ascent of his rival is perceived as a work of God.… These reversals are described in similar terms: “However the kingdom has turned about” … (2:15), and “So the king did not hearken to the people; for it was a turn of affairs … brought about by the Lord” … (12:15). (Frisch 1991, 8–9 [emphasis original])

At the assembly at Shechem, Jeroboam seems to be a hero stepping out from Israel’s early history. Jeroboam leads a delegation asking Rehoboam to lighten the “weight” (הכבד) that Solomon had placed on the people (12:4). Solomon’s kingdom is full of “glory” (כבד), but while achieving this glory, he makes things “heavy” for the people. Given regional tensions in Israel, we should be a bit skeptical about the demands coming from the northern tribes. Still, Jeroboam’s request is similar to the demand that Moses makes before Pharaoh (Exod. 5:1–14; cf. 1:14; 2:23). Solomon turns to Egypt for horses and chariots, worships the gods of the nations, and transforms his kingdom into an Egyptian tyranny from which Israel seeks to be liberated. Ultimately, Jeroboam leads the people out of bondage into the wilderness. Spiritually, the northern kingdom remains in the wilderness throughout the history in 1-2 Kings, until removed from the land entirely by Assyria. They worship golden calves as Israel had at Sinai (Exod. 32:1–5), never entering rest, never entering the land. Not every leader who sounds like Moses is a Moses. Some, like Jeroboam, begin like Moses only to end like Aaron (Provan 1995, 103).
When Jeroboam’s delegation approaches, Rehoboam requests three days to consult with his advisors about the people’s request. Rehoboam first consults the old men who were with Solomon and know something of his wisdom. They give Rehoboam good advice, repeating the word “serve” (1 Kgs. 12:7). Rehoboam must serve the people one day, and they would be his servants “all the days.” Apparently, the old men believe that Jeroboam has a point and that Rehoboam needs to lighten the burden that Solomon placed on the people. They also conceive of a king as a servant rather than master of the people.
Rehoboam is forty-one years old when he becomes king (14:21), so the “boys” (הילדים) that he consults in 12:10 are in early middle age, yet they are “boys” both in being younger than the “elders” and in their youthful folly and adolescent bravado. Instead of promising to lighten the burden, they advise Rehoboam to make the burden heavier (Exod. 5:1–2), a Pharaoh-like act (Provan 1995, 104). Their advice is phrased in vulgar terms. “My little finger” is literally “my little thing” (קטני), and the comparison with “loins” suggests a phallic reference (Nelson 1987, 79). If Israel feels “raped” by Solomon, Rehoboam plans to give them more of the same. Rehoboam’s advisors are “boys” who identify cruelty with leadership, who are flexing their political muscles for the first time, who think that the main thing that people need is a good dose of discipline. The boys would be perfect candidates for Hitler Youth, if only they weren’t so old.
Rehoboam follows the advice of the “boys,” answering the complaint about “harsh” labor (12:4) by speaking “harshly” (12:13) (Walsh 1996, 164). He displays further stupidity in sending Adoram, head of the corvée, to the northern tribes (12:18). Even after the northern tribes leave Shechem, Rehoboam is still determined to impose a harsh discipline on them (Provan 1995, 107). Adoram is killed, and Rehoboam has to flee for his life, but then gathers an army of 180,000 men to try again and only stops when a prophet intervenes. If Solomon’s idolatry is the source of the kingdom’s division, Rehoboam’s folly is the immediate mechanism. Rehoboam’s folly is a characteristic folly of a “boy,” a young man who chooses advisors full of youthful pride, cockiness, and crudity, the type of companion against whom Proverbs warns repeatedly (13:20; 28:7; cf. Ps. 119:63). The contrast of youth and age is crucial, and Rehoboam’s story is a cautionary tale in an age intoxicated as ours is with youth and youth culture.
The history of the divided kingdom was contested territory during the Reformation. As Radner notes, Calvin’s Reply to Sadoleto “attempts to explain the apparent ‘schism’ of the Reformers in terms of the figure of the faithful ‘remnant’ of Israelite prophets and their followers who set themselves ‘against’ the corruption of the rulers and priests of the nation.” The Roman church especially is “figured in the Israel of kings Zedekiah and Jehoiakim, far fallen from the purity of David and Solomon’s rule, and prophetically destined for dismemberment and destruction at the hands of avenging agents.” This figural rhetoric was also employed by the seventeenth-century English Puritans. John Owen characterizes the Roman church as idolatrous, contemptuous of the word of God, and internally schismatic. Not to be outdone, Catholics refer to the history of Kings to characterize “the Roman Church in the figure of a chosen people victimized by their own children” (Radner 1998, 30).
First Kings 12 provides several insights into the causes and nature of Christian division. As noted in the introduction to this commentary, 1-2 Kings points to idolatry as the root cause of division within Israel and within the church, and, at least from the Protestant side, this is borne out by the history of the Protestant Reformation. Underlying sola fide was the confession that salvation and justification are found solo Christo, and this was for the Reformers simply another way of saying that sola fide was inseparable from sola Dei Gloria. To say that one is justified and saved by faith alone is to say that salvation is God’s work, not the work of humans, and that salvation exalts and glorifies the saving God. The same principle is at the foundation of sola scriptura. As Barth and many others note, sola scriptura is not merely a “formal” principle, as if it were nothing more than a piece of theological method (Barth 1939–69, 1.1.248–75). Behind the affirmation of sola scriptura is the question of authority: Whose voice guides the church? Is the church guided by itself and God—or by the voice of God alone? Somewhat more modestly but no less radically, sola scriptura can be understood as the affirmation that “all church teaching is corrigible.” God’s godness, his lordship over the church, remains the fundamental issue. From this perspective, then, the dual principles of the Reformation are aspects of a basic challenge to the idolatries that had infiltrated the theology and practices of the medieval church.
The Reformation protest against idolatry expressed itself even more clearly in the Reformation challenge to medieval liturgical practice and piety. Like the great biblical reformations of Hezekiah and Josiah, the practical side of the Reformation was a purging of idolatry, a stripping of the altars. This was especially evident in the Continental Reformed branch of the Reformation. In the Swiss cantons, the coming of Reformation was marked by outbreaks of iconoclasm and emptying of reliquaries, spreading from Bern to Basel to Neuchâtel and Geneva (Eire 1989). Alongside a satiric attack on the idolatrous veneration of relics, Calvin insisted that relics were spiritually destructive because they pointed sinners away from those designated sites where Christ had promised to make himself available—in the water, where God speaks his word, at the table, in the fellowship of saints (Calvin 1983, 1.289–341).
Luther’s focus on idolatry is perhaps less visible, but it is no less central to his concerns. In a stimulating essay, Lutheran theologian Yeago argues that the key question that sparked Luther’s “Reformation turn” was not “How can I find a gracious God?” but “How can I find the true God?” As Yeago writes, Luther’s early writings show an obsession with “the threat of idolatry, not a craving for assurance of forgiveness” (1996, 17). Above all, Luther wanted to root out the subtle spiritual idolatry of treating God as a means to the end of one’s own spiritual satisfaction. Operating with an Augustinian distinction between uti and frui, between the use of created things and the enjoyment of God, Luther worried that in his sin he would act as if God were in the category of the “useful” instead of the “enjoyable.” In this way, even the sinner’s religious devotions can be idolatrous, an expression of the sinner’s tendency to “curve in on himself” (incurvatus in se). For all these reasons, the Reformers charged that the Roman Catholic tolerance of idolatry, not the Reformers’ protests against it, were the root cause of the church’s division. If there is something to this Reformation protest, as I believe there is, then Christian reunion will happen through the renunciation of the idols that caused division in the first place.
Yet, 1-2 Kings also shows that a division in government is not necessarily a division among the people (Walsh 1996, 203). When Rehoboam wants to pursue the Israelites and force them back into the house of David, the Lord through the prophet says, “You must not go up and fight against your brothers, the sons of Israel” (1 Kgs. 12:24). Long after this event, when the northern kingdom has promoted Baal worship and attacked the prophets of Yahweh, Yahweh still regards them as his covenant people (2 Kgs. 13:22–25). Likewise, all who are baptized wear the name of Jesus, and we should recognize them as fellow citizens of the church of Christ, yet this does not mean that the various churches can leave each other alone, overlooking genuine error or heteropraxy. Baptists and Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans, Orthodox and Roman Catholics are siblings, but it does not follow that each accepts the sins and errors of others. A sibling relation does not mean universal affirmation. Quite the contrary: siblings confront, albeit as siblings.
A “twist from Yahweh” (כי־היתה סבה מעם יהוה): that is what the writer of Kings calls the division of the kingdom (1 Kgs. 12:15). Rehoboam acts willfully, stupidly, brazenly, with foolish bravado, but the division is not ultimately Rehoboam’s doing but Yahweh’s. As is already evident in 1 Kgs. 1, Yahweh sovereignly rules even in the midst of human stupidity, ensuring that his promise to Jeroboam comes to pass. Yahweh fulfills his word, and even the folly and sin and youthful stupidity of Rehoboam cannot stop it. But the idea of the division of the kingdom as a “twist” not only points to Yahweh’s sovereign control of these events, but to the shrewdness and cunning that he displays in these events. Yahweh turns Rehoboam’s power play against him. Instead of intimidating the northern tribes into submission, he drives them away; instead of gaining greater authority over Israel, he loses all authority over Israel. To the kind, David writes, Yahweh shows himself kind. To the blameless, he shows himself blameless. But to the crooked, he shows himself twisted (Ps. 18:25–26). This will not be the last time the narrator of 1-2 Kings makes this point.
There is a larger divine intent here as well, an even bigger twist. The whole of 1-2 Kings is overshadowed by Yahweh’s fixed intent to fulfill his promise to David. David’s son will rule forever, as the Abrahamic seed who will bring blessing to the Gentiles and restore the creation, but the path toward this universal blessing is not easy, nor is the gate wide. Narrow is the gate and hard the way that leads to the Davidic promise. The way lies through death and division; the way is the way of death and resurrection. With Abraham, Yahweh selects one nation from among the nations to be the priestly people, to be the agent of salvation for the world. Life begins to come to the divided human race when Yahweh tears the human race again, into Jew and Gentile. In 1-2 Kings, Israel relives the history of the human race in its own Adamically shaped history, recapitulating the division and reunion of humanity in its own division and ultimate reunion.
The history of Israel is a history of sacrifice: the holy people is torn in two, broken into pieces, and finally immolated in the fire that burned Samaria and Jerusalem. Yet, that sacrifice is fulfilled in a new Israel, the Israel of the restoration. Ultimately, this is the cunning plan, the “twist from God” that the church proclaims as gospel and celebrates as Eucharist. Jesus, the true Israel, reunites the nations in himself by offering himself to be torn and by entrusting himself to his Father, who raises the dead. God’s strange plan for salvation has been fulfilled in Jesus, and we are caught up in that plan as the new human race, the true Israel, gathered at his table to break and share bread.

Peter J. Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible; Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 90–95.

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