A Review from the Past

*This review by William Hendricksen was published in the September 5, 1969 edition of The Banner.

BEHOLD, HE COMETH! by Herman Hoeksema (author) and Homer C. Hoeksema (editor and reviser), Published by Reformed Publishing Association, 1969; distributed by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. Price: $9.95.

Truly a formidable volume with no less than seven hundred twenty-six pages, it was the last large work written by the pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, and has been published posthumously. The preparation for publication in book form was begun by the author and completed by his son, who not only did a splendid job of editing but also revised and expanded the exposition of Revelation 19–22.

What is the nature of this book? It is not merely a book of outlines. Neither is it a dry-as-dust exegesis without practical application. It is something far better. It is an exposition in the form of sermons or essays. In serial form the exposition appeared first in The Standard Bearer, of which Rev. Herman Hoeksema was the editor for many years. The author also twice expounded the book of Revelation in sermons. With respect to these his son writes as follows:

His sermons, of which there were two complete sets, totaling well over a hundred…were delivered with a warmth and fervor which kept a large congregation at spellbound attention Sunday after Sunday.

Let me, first of all, mention what I regard as some of the outstanding virtues of this exposition:

  1. The style is simple and clear.
  2. The treatment of the text is definitely Reformed in character in that it always ascribes all the glory to God and traces his way in history.
  3. It is well organized.
  4. It is interesting. Here let me quote a few words from the author’s exposition of the letter addressed to “the angel of the church in Thyatira,” Rev. 2:18–29. Says he:

“It is Wednesday evening. The church holds a midweek prayer meeting…The angel of the church opens with a fervent prayer and offers a few words of introduction glowing with the love of his heart toward the Lord Jesus…After him an old man arises who also testifies in the same manner…A third and a fourth and a fifth give their testimonies…But finally a strange figure attracts our attention. It is a woman of strange and repulsive appearance.”

Enough, I believe, to whet your appetite.

  1. It provides what I believe to be, on the whole, a correct interpretation, for the author believes that the great visions run parallel, yet increase in meaning and intensity toward the consummation climax.
  2. It definitely rejects such wrong interpretations as those favored by the dispensationalists and by the men of the church-historical school (who refer each symbol to a definite date in history).

A commentary, in the sense of a work in which a scholarly introduction is followed by an exegesis of individual passages or paragraphs in which there is frequent reference to the original, and which is supplied with well-documented footnotes or references, and with a bibliography of reasonable length, this work is not. It is, as I said, a book of sermons or essays.

This also means that, in addition to the Bible text itself and this very valuable book by Rev. Herman Hoeksema, the student will need at least one good standard commentary. What makes this all the more necessary is the fact that here and there the exposition furnished by the present volume may fail to satisfy him. At any rate, on such matters as the “silence in heaven” (Rev. 8:1, see p. 289), the trumpets affecting one-third of the earth, trees, sea (Rev. 8:7–12, see pp. 306–308), the seven thunders (Rev. 10:3, p. 345), and especially “Gog and Magog, the nations that are in the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 20:8, p. 645), he will do well to study also the view of other authors. But these are relatively minor matters. I warmly recommend this book.

—William Hendricksen

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