Moses: Typical Mediator of the Old  Covenant by Bernard Woudenberg.  Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing  Association. $27.95, 282 pages, Hard  cover. [Reviewed by Rev. Matt DeBoer]

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

On Guard: Preventing and Responding  to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak  Reju. Greensboro, NC: New Growth  Press, 2014. 210 pages, paperback.

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.


Rid of My Disgrace: Hope  and Healing for Victims of  Sexual Assault by Justin  S. Holcomb and Lindsey  A. Holcomb. Wheaton,  IL: Crossway, 2011. 270  pages, paperback.

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.