Mark Vander Hart
Reviewed by: Charles Telfer
Date posted: 06/06/2010
Bible Studies on Joseph and Judah, by Mark Vander Hart. Published by Reformed Fellowship, 2008. Paperback, 141 pages, list price $8.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Charles Telfer.
This is the third in a series of Bible studies in Genesis by Mark Vander Hart, published in The Outlook magazine, the monthly publication of Reformed Fellowship. Joseph and Judah is divided into eighteen lessons, covering Genesis 37–50. Each lesson introduces the text for the day in about six pages and concludes with five or six "Points to Ponder and Discuss."
Vander Hart brings to bear many years of teaching Old Testament at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. His long-standing interest in the covenants and in biblical theology is evident. Christ is the center of theology that emerges from these chapters, but this is never forced. "The Biblical story is tracing a covenant line that will draw our attention always forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Person and work, and the coming of the Kingdom of God."
Vander Hart takes advantage of recent literary approaches to open the riches of Genesis. He looks for productive literary strategies, how we should "read and hear the story." The background information is relevant and never overwhelming. Here is solid scholarship and an engaging explanation with an eye to practical application. The questions for each section are intended to provoke relevant group discussion. For those who have appreciated the excellent P&R series, "The Gospel According to the Old Testament," this book might fill in the lack of a volume on Joseph thus far. Orthodox Presbyterian readers will find much of value in the other works published by Reformed Fellowship as well. Joseph and Judah is in line with the best of the Dutch Reformed tradition of popularizing redemptive history.
I would very much recommend this work for Sunday school classes and home Bible studies. Home educators might find it helpful, too (though the "Points to Ponder and Discuss" should be handled orally). Adults will find plenty to engage them, though the text is accessible to high school students.
In discussing the delicate subject of how Judah and Onan failed widowed Tamar (Gen. 38), Vander Hart notes, "Jesus Christ, God’s eternal and natural Son, was made like us in every way, but without sin (Heb. 2:14; 4:15). By becoming our Brother, Jesus became responsible to carry out the role of Kinsman-Redeemer. He protects His poor family (the elect brothers and sisters), He secures their inheritance, and He rights all wrongs by executing justice. When Adam, God’s first human son, defaulted and failed, God sent His own Son, who never fails us. The church is not left a forlorn widow, but she is redeemed in divine love by Christ, who paid the ultimate price to secure the church as His own Bride."