At church every week, we see lots of adults leading everything from preaching and worship to Sunday school and youth group. It often makes us think that the Bible is full of adults too. That it’s a book for adults, by adults, about adults. We try to imagine the Old Testament and all we see are old people between the Bible’s dusty pages. But when you actually start reading, you find out the Bible is packed with young people.
Sure, there are old people too: Noah was 600 when the ark set sail, Abraham lived to be 175, and Moses was 80 when the burning bush talked to him. But just as many stories involve young people. Think about it . . . .
Joseph—He Started as a Spoiled Sibling
When we first meet Joseph, he is “a seventeen-year-old adolescent with adjustment problems. He’s having a hard time fitting into the world he’s growing up in. His brothers are tired of his superior airs, so they plot to murder him. But instead of killing him, they decide to throw him into an open cistern. Shortly after that, a caravan of traders comes by, and the brothers see their chance to make a few dollars by selling Joseph as a slave.” (Taken from The Message Study Bible.)
Of course, Joseph’s story doesn’t end in slavery. He experiences incredible transformation when he chooses to put God first.
Esther—She Lost Her Parents, then Stood Her Ground
Esther was orphaned as a young girl, then taken in and protected by her cousin Mordecai. She grows into a beautiful young woman, such that she is taken into the Persian king’s harem. She didn’t choose any of this, but then God, through Mordecai, gives her a choice, and she seizes it. By following God, “she moved from being a beauty queen to becoming a Jewish saint, from being a sex symbol to becoming a passionate intercessor, from lying around leisurely in the harem to standing up courageously” in the king’s court “and speaking on behalf of God’s people.” (Taken from The Message Study Bible.)
Esther didn’t get to choose her circumstances, but she did get to decide how to respond to them. That’s true for each of us.
Daniel—He Ate His Veggies, then Faced the Lions
“Daniel was in his teens when the Babylonians invaded his country and took members of the royal and noble families to Babylon as captives. Because of their brains and spirit, Daniel and some of his friends were placed into the Babylonians Royal Academy to train for the empire’s vast bureaucracy. Daniel agreed to work of the empire (the alternative was death), but he continually risked his life by refusing activities that would dishonor God.” (Taken from The Message//REMIX, “Introduction to Daniel.”)
Like Esther, Daniel didn’t get to choose his circumstances, but he knew which choices he did have, even if they were risky.
John—He Considered What Life with God Could Be
“John was in his late teens or early twenties, wondering what his life would amount to, when he met Jesus. Within a few short years, he experienced the unforgettable events described in the Gospel of John and considered what his life could be. When he finally wrote those events down, some sixty years later, he knew from experience the transformative power of Jesus’ Message, and he wanted to share it.” (Taken from The Message//REMIX: The Gospel of John. Download it here for free!).
John’s story reminds us that our experiences as young people can dramatically set the course of our lives.
Timothy—He Found His Passion and Went All In
Timothy knew what it was like to be an outsider, caught between two ethnic backgrounds—Jewish and Greek. He “was raised with his Jewish mother’s religion, but not circumcised in deference to his Greek father. An outsider among both Jews and Greeks in his Galatian town, the teenage Timothy embraced Paul’s news of Jesus, left home to travel with Paul, and even endured circumcision to become fully Jewish.” (Taken from The Message//REMIX, “Introduction to 1&2 Timothy.”)
A lot of us can feel like Timothy—like we don’t fit in—including many Christians. But Timothy reminds us that the world’s outsiders become God’s insiders when we commit our lives to his service.
Live the Bible In Your Generation
There are a lot more young people like them in the Bible: Joshua, Ruth, Samuel, David, Josiah, and Mary are just a few. You can find more. Their stories are scattered throughout the Bible, showing us all how important young people are to the story God is telling.
God’s story isn’t over either. Even though the Bible is complete, God is still telling the same story today. And he’s inviting you to join all these young people. They are those “pioneers who blazed the way” like Hebrews 12 talks about.
Like Esther and Daniel, young people don’t always get to choose their situations. We don’t choose where we grow up, go to school, or maybe even what church we attend. But the Bible’s young people remind us that we can choose to listen and respond to the choices God gives us, no matter how small they may seem.
Read More . . .
If you’re looking for a way to better listen and hear God’s voice, or if you want to dig deeper into the stories of these Bible young people, check out The Message//REMIX. Inside you’ll find a Bible designed for young people like you. And it’s written in a language that feels honest. It doesn’t sound like cleaned-up church language. It sounds like the other 6 days of the week.
If you want to read about all these Bible young people, here’s a list of their stories, where you can find them in the Bible, as well as page numbers from The Message//REMIX.
Joseph (Genesis 37–50), pages 64-83
Joshua (Numbers 13–14; Deuteronomy 14–15; Joshua 1–24), pages 194-197, 250-252, 283-318
Ruth (Book of Ruth 1–4), pages 352-358
Samuel (1 Samuel 1–16, 28), pages 359-380
David (1 Samuel 16—1 Kings 2), pages 380-440
Josiah (2 Kings 22–23; 2 Chronicles 34–35), pages 510-513, 591-594
Esther (Book of Esther 1–10), pages 638-646
Daniel (Book of Daniel 1–12), pages 1277-1298
Mary (Matthew 1–2; Luke 1–2), pages 1430-1432, 1506-1511
John (Book of John 1–21; Acts 1–3), pages 1555-1600 (Download The Message of John here for free!)
Timothy (Acts 16–28, Philippians 2:19-23; 1 Thessalonians 1–3; Books of 1 & 2 Timothy), pages 1621-1641, 1728, 1740-1742, 1748-1757