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Tongues: A Sign of Covenant Curse and Blessing

God does not generally startle his people with the novel and the unexpected. The whole purpose of the long preparatory history of the Old Testament was to cushion the potential shock of the appearance of an incarnated Son of God. Hardly a doctrine or an experience of the New Covenant people of God has failed to have its Old Testament counterpart. The softening shape of the shadow has preceded the luminous entry of the reality. In order to assure its comprehension in the right context, God carefully guarded the entry of his truth into the world.

This "preparation principle" certainly played a prominent role in the charismatic gift of tongues. On the day of Pentecost, Peter could point readily to Joel the prophet as one Old Testament figure who had anticipated quite specifically the outpouring of God's Spirit on all flesh. The connection established by Peter between Pentecost and the Old Testament is well known. Not so readily recognized is the connection made by Paul.