The way this book reads reminds me of being told engaging Bible stories in catechism about Moses by an experienced minister. Rev. Woudenberg (now deceased) tells the story of Moses’ life in a way that is easy to read, and he teaches doctrines that come out of those stories in a way that is simple to understand for adults and teenagers. The great thing is that while the minister in catechism has limited time and thus must tell the stories with less detail, the author of this book has the space to tell the stories with fascinating detail.
Each chapter of the book begins with a quotation of a Scripture passage, which the author then uses to tell the true stories of Moses’ life. Woudenberg begins by describing Israel’s bondage in Egypt under Pharaoh, helping the reader sense what that would have been like for the people. Then he tells the story of Amram and Jochebed and shows how they felt while hiding their baby Moses from the Egyptian authorities. Throughout the rest of the book, the author speaks mainly from Moses’ perspective, revealing what he was thinking and feeling during the events of his life. For instance, Woudenberg causes the reader to see how Moses must have hurt when the Israelites rejected his initial efforts to lead them out of Canaan, what he was learning while tending to sheep in Midian, and the struggles of leading the Israelites through the desert to Canaan. Sometimes the characters of the Old Testament seem so distant from us today, but Woudenberg makes it easy to relate to Moses and understand what he went through.
While telling the stories of Moses’ life, the author emphasizes the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and beautifully shows that the Almighty God makes all things work for the good of His people. For example, when telling the reader about Pharoah allowing his daughter to spare one of the Hebrews and bring him into the palace, Woudenberg writes, “What Pharaoh did not realize was that behind that one seemingly insignificant exception was the will of Israel’s God. Moses, the child drawn from the river, would rise up to put to naught all of the boasting of that evil kingdom” (12). Later, in describing the plagues, the author states, “They were a means of revealing the power of God; they were a means of hardening the heart of Pharaoh and thus revealing the power of God; they were a means of bringing about the deliverance of Israel from Egypt; but, more than anything else, they were a testimony of God’s righteousness and mercy that would work in the hearts of his people through all generations” (79).
Also, as Woudenberg tells the stories about Moses’ life, he wonderfully points the reader to salvation in Christ. He shows how God’s deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea is typical of Christ’s deliverance of His people from sin. He also teaches how Moses was a type of Christ. For instance, while telling the reader how Moses faithfully and lovingly prayed for the people after they had worshiped the golden calves, Woudenberg explains how the ascended Christ faithfully and lovingly prays for the sinful members of His church (152).
In this book, I read many things about Moses and Israel that I had not considered before and thus I certainly grew in knowledge. Most importantly, the book often reminded me how great Jehovah is and how merciful He is to His people. I was edified, and so will you be in reading this new book.
In light of recent events in our churches, there is an increasing awareness of the great evil of abuse, including the verbal and physical abuse of spouses as well as the sexual abuse of children. While such awareness is a good thing, it is necessary that we continue to grow in our understanding of these issues. In his recent speech for the annual meeting of the RFPA, Prof. B. Huizinga encouraged his listeners to read, study, and grow in the area of understanding abuse. Following in that vein, I offer the following brief reviews of two books on abuse. I recommend them both as a possible place to begin in studying these important issues.
Rev. Joshua Engelsma
This book focuses on the sexual abuse of children, particularly within the context of the church. Reju serves as Pastor of Biblical Counseling at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. As a Baptist, he takes a different view of the children of believers than we do as Reformed believers, but his book is still worthwhile.
The first section of the book is entitled “Getting Familiar with the Problem of Child Abuse.” The chapters in this section are helpful in setting forth basic facts about childhood sexual abuse. Especially helpful are his chapters on “The False Assumptions We Make” and “Type, Techniques, and Targets of Sexual Predators.” He also spends a chapter showing why many sexual predators specifically target churches in their hunt for prey.
In the second section of the book, Reju lays down practical strategies that churches ought to take to try to prevent the sexual abuse of children in the church building and at church functions. Consistories could profitably read this section as they give consideration to the protection of their little lambs, even in such practical matters as nursery policies or the construction/remodel of a church building. Though directed to churches, this section would also be profitable for school boards to read as they seek to protect the children in our Christian schools.
The third (and shortest) section of the book deals with how a church responds after abuse has taken place. There is good advice for consistories here on reporting the abuse to the civil authorities, caring for the abused, keeping the congregation informed, and laboring with the abuser.
At the back of the book are a number of helpful appendices. I found to be especially helpful “Child-on- Child Sexual Abuse” and the “Child Abuse and Neglect Training Sheet.” And the appendix on “How Do I Talk to My Kids about Sexual Abuse?” ought to be required reading for all parents. That section alone is worth the price of the book.
Justin and Lindsey Holcomb are a Christian couple with considerable experience dealing with abuse, Justin as a pastor and Lindsey as a counselor. They have previously co-authored a book seeking to help those who are victims of spousal abuse, and in this book they focus on providing help for those who are victims of sexual assault.
The first section of the book explains in detail what sexual assault is, making the case that sexual assault is not just being raped, but includes any form of nonconsensual sexual contact. There is also an explanation of the destructive effects of sexual assault on body, mind, and emotions.
The second section of the book addresses some of the major struggles that the abused experience: denial, distorted self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. These struggles are not only described, but carefully addressed with the Word of God. Interspersed between the chapters are the heartbreaking stories of individuals who have been sexually assaulted, giving the reader a bit of a sense of what they have experienced and what they continue to struggle with. I found this whole section to be especially valuable.
The final section of the book is theological in nature. The authors develop the concepts of sin and grace, with particular application to sexual abuse.
There are two brief, but helpful, appendices in the back of the book: “Ways You Can Help a Victim” and “What to Say and What Not to Say to a Victim of Sexual Assault.”
This book would be especially helpful for those who have been sexually abused, as well for those who seek to care for the abused, although all can learn much from it.