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2007 Issue 3

Although a rich and powerful man in the East, Job did not abuse other human beings. He treated everybody with dignity, respect, courtesy, compassion and justice. Although he understood that people differ, that some are superiors and others inferiors in office, talents, gifts, strengths, and the like, he believed that all people are equal before the Law of God that judges all people justly and "blindly," i.e., without regard for race, sex or status. People were not things to be used by him, but people created in the image of God to be respected. He would even allow his slaves, if there ever had a complaint against him, to take him to court to adjudicate their claim. He held this position for two reasons. First, if he despises his slaves' case against him, what will he do when God arises and enters into judgment with him who is God's inferior? Second, both slaves and masters are created by the same God, in the same manner of birth, through the same human means, therefore, slaves and masters are substantially "brothers" with equal accountability before the Law of God. To declare and maintain his integrity, which was under assault by three of his friends, who were really his tormentors, Job took a vow swearing to his just treatment of others. He said, in effect: "May God rise and judge me, if I have treated other human beings as less than they are: the image of God. May God rise up against me, if I ever see those who are in lower places of power and wealth and productivity, as created inferior to me and to be treated by me as if they were physically, spiritually, intellectually and socially inferior to me. May God rise up against me if I ever become a racist. May God judge me if I ever discriminate against another human being because of the color of his skin. May God judge me if I do not regard others as more important than myself, and if I look out only for my own personal interests, and not for the interests of others."

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.


Here are some excerpts from the Code of Alfred (compare Exodus 20:3-17). "The Lord spoke these words to Moses, and said: 'I am the Lord your God. I led you out of the lands and out of the bondage of the Egyptians.'"

"Tell us a story," said a boy when it was raining and no one would go outside. "I want you to tell me a story," said the little girl who was hot and tired and a little fretful on a long trip in the car. When I was a boy there weren't TV's, computers, and DVDs. People actually read things called books and parents read stories to their children. I hope you want to read and hear stories and that your parents like to read stories to you. It's too easy today to just pop in a DVD or turn on a computer game. You should read and be read to by your parents and other adults. If they haven't read to you in a while, ask them to read you a story, even it isn't raining outside!

Nearly all the stories I loved when I was a little boy used to begin, "Once upon a time...," and they used to all end this way, "....and so they all lived happily ever after." Have you ever heard that kind of story? I imagine that you have.

In the United States, millions of Bibles are purchased every year, thousands of Bible conferences occur, and tens of thousands of churches conduct a variety of services and activities. Why, then, is the church divided - in doctrine, polity, worship, and worldview? Why is the church unwilling to discipline disobedient members, confront false teachers, and read serious works of Christian theology and literature? Why is the church morally compromised, disobedient to God's law, and disinterested in seriously confronting this apostatizing nation with the claims of the risen, ruling Lord? Why is the ubiquitous Bible not taken more seriously, applied more comprehensively, obeyed more devotedly? Grappling with these and related questions is challenging but necessary, for if we hope to disciple our nation to Jesus Christ, enjoy trustworthy, principled leadership in church and state, and witness the revival of the church across denominational lines, answers and solutions must be pursued.