Reviewed by: William M. Wood
Date posted: 03/10/2019
Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: A 12-Week Study, by Camden Bucey. Knowing the Bible Series. Crossway, 2018. Paperback, 98 pages, $8.99. Reviewed by professor William M. Wood.
Publishing a short twelve-week study covering three of the more complicated and under-read Old Testament books is a daunting task that Bucey undertakes admirably. Each lesson is full of biblical truth, theological insight, and a Christ-centeredness that will benefit any reader who takes the time to attentively read each passage, answer the attendant questions, and reflect on the material in the study. Each lesson includes introductory comments presenting the place of the passage in the context of redemptive history and in the book, a “big picture” of the message, and a series of questions designed to guide the reader through the important features of the text. The lessons then proceed with prose sections entitled “gospel glimpses,” which focus on important theological features that drive one to consider the gospel of Christ crucified and raised, “whole-bible connections,” which tie the passage in with the rest of the Bible and God’s plan of redemption, and “theological soundings” that dig into the most salient theological issues presented in the passage. Each lesson then concludes with a section of guided questions for personal reflection and a call to prayer. The book contains four lessons on Lamentations, three on Habakkuk, and three on Zephaniah with introductory and concluding lessons. Although the format of a Bible study resists the presentation of a proper thesis, Bucey does offer a “big picture” analysis of these three books where the main focus is that they “wrestle with the reality of sin and its consequences” in a context where the people of God “broke his covenant” and “God’s justice must be satisfied” (87). It is this “big picture” that drives one to Christ as the Son of God who has borne the wrath of his Father that he might give his church “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” (87–88; citing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”).
In my estimation, the study fulfills its goal to faithfully present the gospel in these Old Testament books. It will be a great benefit to any church or individual who seeks to study these difficult books and wrestle through their tough themes, such as the righteous suffering at the hands of the wicked (Habakkuk), the reality of God’s just judgment against sin (Zephaniah), or having hope in the midst of great distress (Lamentations). While a reader who desires to dig deeper into these books would have been aided by the author providing a helpful bibliography for further reading beyond the ESV Study Bible, this study successfully guides readers in wrestling with these books as Christians who find their hope in Christ and his promises of an eternal kingdom where the church will rejoice in the Lord always (Zeph. 3:14).