Book Review: The Mysteries of the Kingdom
Mysteries of the Kingdom: An Exposition of Jesus' Parables (revised
by Herman Hanko
Reformed Free Publishing Association, Michigan, USA, 2004
Hardback, xvi + 416pp.
here to order from the CPRC Bookstore)
There seem to be very few expositions of Scripture that
combine deep theological insight, sound doctrinal teaching and yet such
great clarity that a child can listen and understand. The Mysteries of
the Kingdom is an excellent book which, although clearly aimed at a
more mature age group, I have found can be profitably read aloud to
children, even of elementary age. This book deals with almost thirty
parables and also contains two very helpful introductory chapters entitled
"The Interpretation of Parables" and "Why Parables?" A Scripture passage
in the Authorised Version opens each chapter. This is followed by the
exposition of the parable arranged under sub-headings, each of which is
about one to three pages in length. These are ideal for personal devotions
or reading with your children.
To give a flavour of the book, chapter ten, "The
Certainty of Prayer’s Answer," expounds Luke 11:5-10, concerning the man
who goes to his friend at midnight seeking food for an unexpected guest.
Following the introduction, Prof. Hanko looks at "Why We Must Pray." The
author emphasises the absolute sovereignty of God, making it clear that
our prayers do not change the will of God. Rather "we learn to trust [God]
alone and to commit our way with contentment to the higher knowledge and
wisdom of our heavenly Father." Next he discusses "For What We Must Pray"
from both a negative (we are not to pray for earthly things) and positive
(we are to pray for the blessings which only the Holy Spirit can give)
point of view. In "The Need for Encouragement," he stresses, "We must
persevere in prayer. We must ask and seek and knock." If we ask our
petitions of the Lord and seemingly are not heard we are then instructed
to seek. "This is a stronger word than ‘ask’ and implies more. By seeking,
we put forth effort to be heard. We look for the reason in ourselves,
first of all, why we have not been heard." Here we are reminded of the
apostle Paul praying three times for the thorn to be removed from his
flesh (II Cor. 12:7-9), of Jacob continually wrestling with the Angel
until he blessed him (Gen. 32:26, 28), and of the Syro-Phoenician woman
pleading with our Lord to heal her daughter (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark
7:24-30). In the last section in this chapter, "The Certainty of Being
Heard," we read: "we do not and cannot pray of ourselves or in our own
strength. God brings us to himself in prayer. Only when he inspires prayer
within us can we also bow our heads to seek from him the needs of our
life. Our prayers are the fruit of his grace." As the title of the chapter
implies, the child of God is encouraged by the absolute certainty that all
his prayers are heard and answered.
Another chapter which we found particularly helpful
explains the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-12). This is
probably one of the most difficult parables to understand and therefore
can all too often be overlooked. This intriguing chapter throws great
light upon the subject.
The author, Professor Herman Hanko, taught New
Testament and Church History for thirty-three years, having previously
been a pastor. His book gives us abundant insights into the parables of
our Lord, allowing Scripture alone to interpret Scripture. The book is
rich in vocabulary, yet can still be understood by children. It certainly
provides beneficial and God-honouring reading for the whole family.
What more can I say, except what others have said to
us: "I was not aware that this treasure existed" and "… food for thought
and a lovely addition to my bookshelf to lift down and re-read ..."
Mrs. Lois Steele, Londonderry