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The Youth of the Bible

 
 

CAIN and ABEL

Cain ("acquired”) and Abel ("breath”) were the first children of the Bible. Although Eve probably expected that God would work through Cain, He worked through Abel who remained an example throughout the ages. The first person to ever die was a young man.     

All children need a threefold growth: in body, in spirit, and in soul.

1. The development of the body and the need to earn a living. The parents taught each of the two young men a skill (shepherd and soil worker). The children must grow to be able, at a certain age, to earn a living. The two young men`s skills reflect their thinking about God`s plan (Abel - rule over creatures; Cain - work the cursed land). Career choice speaks about a youth`s thinking of what s/he wants to do with his/her life and how s/he plans to serve God.

2. The development of the spirit and the need to worship. Both Cain and Abel were taught that they must worship. Why did God not like Cain`s sacrifice? "His actions were evil,” says John. He thought that he could worship however he wanted. "All that matters is to be sincere," some say... forgetting that one should also be holy. The Lord looked at Cain first, then at his offering; He looked at Abel first, then at his offering. Abel brought his offering "by faith,” which comes only upon hearing. Worshipping must be in spirit and truth (that is, wherever, but not however). Contemporary worship does not strive to stimulate the spirit, but the senses (lights, loud noises, smoke...). For God, it`s not the gift that matters the most, but the giver. He looks at the character first, then at the gift; at the worshipper first, only then at the offering.

3. The development of the soul and the need to repent. The Lord gave Cain a second chance. However, because this first child did not repent, he became the first murderer. He thought that his evil deed would remain a secret, not realizing that it was already old news for God ("For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed," Mat. 10:26). He knows what you do privately. Today everyone tries to justify their sinful behavior by blaming others (especially childhood events) and this is supported by modern psychologists, but the Bible teaches us that sin is personal and repentance should also be personal.     

Pastor David Măgduţ

ISMAEL - Genesis 16:1-16

1. CONCEIVED IN CRISIS

A child is a gift from God, but Ismael enters Abraham`s family on the background of several crisis:

A. A spiritual crisis. Abraham and Sarah don`t have patience anymore to wait on God`s promises, and decide to “rush” His plan.

B. A sentimental crisis between Sarah and Agar, her servant, who was despising with her mistress.

C. A social crisis. Because of her disobedience to her mistress, Agar ends up alone in the desert.

2. RAISED IN COMFORT

Agar obeys God and returns to Abraham`s house, where she gives birth and then raises Ismael, who thus benefits of comfort.           

A. Spiritual comfort. Ismael has the spiritual example of his father, Abraham, God`s friend.

B. Sentimental comfort. Abraham loves Ismael (Gen. 17:18).

C. Social comfort. Ismael was privileged to be, for a while, the only child of a respected family – the most blessed family on earth.  

3. CHARACTER AND CONSEQUENCES

We would normally expect Ismael to have a beautiful character, an authentic relationship with God. However, he does not honor his family, nor does he honor God, but chooses to mockingly laugh at his younger brother, Isaac. Consequently, he`s exiled in the wilderness along with his mother. His behavior has several consequences: a) “He will be a wild donkey of a man"; b) “his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him” (which is today`s reality in the Arab world); c) “he will live in hostility toward all his brothers”. Life implicates making essential decisions, such as choosing a Master, choosing a spouse, a career… God, the parents, and the church invest in children and in youth, but the ultimate decision is theirs alone. According to these decisions, a young person will have a happy or unhappy earthly and heavenly future.

David Laza

 YOUNG ISAAC
 

One of life’s paradoxes is that we take the most important decisions in our youth, a time when we lack experience and wisdom. This is when we decide our career, our spouse, etc., making major decisions which would determine put path in life. Patriarch Isaac’s life was marked by at least two experiences he had as a young man:

  1. He was born with a special statute – a child of the promise: even before he was born, Isaac was given a privileged status due to God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah. Although the second born, Isaac enjoys all of his parents„ attention, love, and privileges. Since childhood he is exposed to the knowledge of God and of His plan for his family.
  2. He has a special God – the God of the promise: besides being bon under special circumstances, the second experience marking Isaac`s life was the moment when he was offered as a sacrifice by his dad, Abraham – an unsettling, rather dramatic scene. Isaac accepts to be brought as a sacrifice and this experience makes him understand that his father was not only a man who built altars and had religious rituals, but a man who lived with God and for God. Isaac descended the mountain with the lesson of true faith learned.    (Silviu Păușan)

RACHEL - Gen. 29:15-30 - Beautiful, yet unhappy

 

          Rachel is one of the most beautiful women of the Bible: “Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” (29:17). Nowadays, people consider that the appearance and the outer beauty are necessary conditions to happiness and success. However, this “top model” of the Bible proves exactly the contrary. Although God endowed Rachel with physical beauty, she was unhappy and lived a life full of frustrations:
         • Frustrations in the house of her father, Laban, since she was sold by him to Isaac in exchange for 7 years of labor, as if she were a stranger (Gen. 31:15).
          • Frustrations in the family life, since she was in a permanent competition with Leah, her sister and her rival in winning the heart of their husband, Jacob.
          Although she appears to be the favorite in the confrontation, since she is more beautiful and more love by Jacob, Rachel is not happy, because she cannot bear children. Believing that she could remedy the situation with her own wit, Rachel does not involve God, nor does she ask for His help. She makes the same mistake Sarah did, before her: she gives her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob to bear children. Rachel`s attempt to solve the problem in this manner did not meet her need to be fulfilled and happy.
          Eventually, she asks God to get involved in her circumstance (Gen. 30:22) and as a consequence, God fulfills her desire to bear children. From Rachel`s story, we can learn several things. First, we learn that physical beauty is not a proof of happiness, nor does it guarantee attaining it. Second, we learn that the qualities and privileges which make us valuable in people`s eyes do not have real value in God`s eyes. What He truly appreciates is not the outer, but the inner beauty - which is obeying His will and walking with Him in humbleness.

        Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Silviu Păuşan)

 

Miriam, the sister of Moses (Exodus 2:1-9)

 

Miriam is introduced for the first time in the Bible in the episode when the princess saves the life of Moses, her baby brother, who is taken out from the waters of River Nile. Although her name is not mentioned here, we understand from the Exodus story that she was a teenager. Miriam was a young, inexperienced girl, but she gives us a lesson of COURAGE and WISDOM.  

COURAGE without WISDOM leads to acts of FOOLISHNESS. The kind of courage that is characteristic of youth can push young people towards deeds that are not only useless, but can even become disastrous for their lives. Defying parents, consuming forbidden substances, or having an immoral life – these could seem to be courageous acts, but a courage such as this lead to death. Miriam is a role model of courage that leads to life.

COURAGE accompanied by WISDOM leads to LIFE. With her deed, Miriam changed the destiny of a slave child who did not have the right to live, and made him turn, from a baby condemned to death, into the prince of Egypt. With her wisdom and courage Miriam saved Moses and Moses, in his turn, freed the people of Israel from slavery – and from amidst this people Messiah would be born, the Savior of millions of people from all generations and all nations of the earth. These are the great implications that the small deed of a slave teenager`s had. Her courageous act was the element that allowed for God`s plan to move forward in history.

You and I too can change someone`s life through the courage of standing up as a testimony for God, through having the courage of not being conformed to this world and not giving in to the peer pressure. We must have the courage to be different, to say a “yes” or a “no” and stand up for God`s will.  Not all of us will become a Moses, but each of us can be a Miriam, a person who makes a difference in someone else`s life, a person who changes a destiny from death to life. Be courageous and do it!