January 18th, 2021

Chosen for a purpose

By Submitted Article on August 29, 2020.

Children and teenagers in

the Bible

First of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Children and teens will be in the limelight for the immediate future. Let us study some of them in the Bible.

In today’s value system, what Abraham did to his son Isaac (Gen. 22) would be considered cruel abuse. Abraham bound Isaac, put him on the altar and pulled out his knife as if he were about to kill Isaac and burn him to ashes.

We can only imagine what agony the boy must have gone through. Many years later, Isaac’s son Jacob took an oath by “the fear of his father Isaac” (Gen. 31:53). Maybe that was Isaac’s view of God after his brush with death – a God who orders children-sacrifices is to be feared.

From God’s viewpoint, Abraham and Isaac represented God and Jesus. On that same mountain, Moriah, God later gave his incarnated Son as atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

Jacob’s son Joseph was “sacrificed” to save his family in a severe famine. At age 17, his jealous brothers sold him as slave to Egypt where he was falsely accused of sexual harassment and imprisoned (Gen. 37, 39-45).

By a strange twist of events, he interpreted the dreams of the king in such a way that the king appointed him governor of Egypt to oversee the preparation for, and survival in, a great famine.

Joseph’s family benefitted from that as well. He did not take revenge on his brothers, realizing God used the injustice to provide in a time of need. He was a type of Christ who was innocently sentenced to bring the bread of life to starving humanity.

Little Samuel was also controlled by forces outside his own choosing. His barren mother Hanna prayed for a son, promising to give him to God’s service. God granted her request. When the boy was weaned at about age three, Hanna fulfilled her promise and left him at Shilo in the care of the high priest Eli. Samuel grew up in the Tabernacle (1 Sam. 1-3).

The sons of Eli were wicked; they desecrated sacrifices brought by worshipers, and they committed immorality with women who came to the Tabernacle. Eli reprimanded them but did not restrain them. God warned Eli through a man of God, but Eli did not act to bar his sons from the priesthood.

One night, God called Samuel by name. He thought Eli called him. After it happened three times, Eli suspected it was the Lord calling the child. He told Samuel how to respond: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” We should use the same words when we worship.

When little Samuel did that, he became a prophet. God told him what would happen to Eli and his sons. The next day, Samuel brought God’s message to Eli.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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