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Relevant Biblical Passages: Gen. 39; Judg. 13-16; 2 Sam. 11-12; 1 Kings 18; Heb. 11

God’s Witnesses: Imperfect Saints. If the Book of Job provides the framework within which we are to understand the great struggle between good and evil, then it becomes clear that human beings play a key role, not as the accused, but as witnesses. What kind of people can best witness to the goodness of God? Here we look at the lives of God witnesses, a rather checkered lot:

Joseph. In Genesis 39 the story is told of Joseph standing firm for principle in the face of enticements from his employer’s wife. He paid the price for his faithfulness and was thrown into prison. Is this a “typical” reward when someone witnesses faithfully for God? How does Joseph’s experience relate to the promises of God’s protection?

Moses. Both at the beginning of his “career” and at the end, Moses experienced dramatic failures. After he killed the Egyptian he had to flee (Exod. 2:11-15); when he angrily struck the rock instead of commanding it, it cost him the privilege of entering the land of Canaan (Num. 20:9-13). Yet he is listed as one of the heros of faith in Hebrews 11. Does such a checkered witness speak well for God?

Samson. With the possible exception of Jephthah who sacrificed his daughter (Judges 11:34), Samson is perhaps the most striking “witness” listed in Hebrews 11. His exploits are recorded in Judges 13-16. His place among the “faithful” is confirmed in Hebrews 11:32. Is such a witness cause for encouragement, or carelessness, or both?

David. Although he was known as Israel’s “great” king, David’s life turned catastrophic after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. David, too, is listed among the faithful in Hebrews 11:32. Jesus, of course, was known as the “son of David.” Does such a record temper the goal of “perfection” for God’s witnesses? How can one define perfection so as to be a positive goal and not a discouragement?

Elijah. Elijah could not be listed in Hebrews 11 because he was not a candidate for resurrection. He had already been taken to heaven. But he had suffered a dramatic loss of faith after his victory on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:1-10). Passionate people suffer passionate lapses of faith, but they can still be God’s faithful witnesses.

Crucial Questions:

  1. Does God protect his witnesses from distress and persecution when he calls them to be his witnesses in the cosmic struggle between good and evil?
  2. When does our “sinfulness” disqualify us from being a witness for God?

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