The theme of rebellion against God and being exiled from God’s presence or the land looms large throughout the Bible. In Rebels and Exiles: A Biblical Theology of Sin and Restoration by Matthew S. Harmon introduces that theme, traces it throughout the Bible, and directs readers to a deeper understanding of Scripture.
The book is part of the series “Essential Studies in Biblical Theology” which is intended to show the “fundamental or ‘essential’ broad themes of the grand story line of the Bible” (ix). This book clearly meets that pattern, as Harmon shows the theme of exile and rebellion–and the possibility of restoration–throughout the Bible from the fall through Israel and into the life of the church. The introductory chapter, “Sin and Exile in Contemporary Experience” sets the stage as it shows that these themes can still resonate with people today.
The book, while short, provides an expansive look at the titular theme. Harmon first shows the theme in humanity’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden, then shows how the threat of exile was given to Israel through God’s word. Then, it turns to the reality of exile when Israel rebels (chapter 3) and the return from exile through repentance (chapter 4). Jesus’s life and ministry show the inauguration of a new era in which exile is ended through the restoration of Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension (chapters 5-6). Harmon then touches on how we are to live “as exiles in a Fallen World” (chapter 7) and the end of exile in the New Creation (chapter 8). Finally, Harmon turns to practical implications of the whole study (chapter 9) and provides recommendations on further reading.
Rebels and Exiles is a good introduction to a complex, deep topic found throughout Scripture. Harmon provides the basic outlines and major strands of the theme while pointing readers in directions to do further reading. Recommended.
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Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
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