Guests: Dave Thomas and Zdravko Stefanovic
Relevant Biblical Passages: Job 19:25-27; Gen. 17:1-11; 22:1-18; Ruth, Dan. 6; Esther 4
Tormented Witnesses. Apparently belonging to the Lord’s side doesn’t mean an easy street in the great cosmic struggle. Can you think of one biblical character with whom you would like to trade places? Here is a sample of biblical characters who survived crucial tests to bear witness for God:
Job. Since the book of Job provides the model for the cosmic conflict, it is not surprising that his experience comes up again and again. His great testimony of hope in Job 19:25-27 has been a source of inspiration for many. What enabled him to survive his ordeal? Are there any clues in the book itself? Or must we surmise his source of strength from elsewhere?
Abraham. If you want a daunting list of “tests,” consider the major events in Abraham’s life which were significant challenges for the father of the faithful:
- The call to leave home and travel to a strange land (Gen. 12:1-3).
- His near-loss of Sarah to Pharaoh — a problem of his own making (Gen. 12:10-20).
- His own “solution” — a child from Hagar at Sarah’s suggestion (Gen. 16-17).
- His near-loss of Sarah to Abimelech — a problem of his own making (Gen. 20).
- Command to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22).
Ruth. Not only did Ruth lose a husband, but she chose to leave home and follow her mother-in-law when there was no hope that she could receive another husband from Naomi. Furthermore, according to Mosaic law, Ruth should not have been allowed to be a part of the community of faith because of her Moabite heritage (Deut. 23:3-6). Yet she not only became part of the royal lineage as one of David’s ancestors, but she is also listed in Matthew 1 in Jesus’ genealogy. Was it easy?
Daniel. Daniel is one of those rare biblical characters for whom no sin has been recorded in Scripture. But his life was hardly an easy one. These are the crises he faced:
- Taken captive to Babylon from his home in Jerusalem (Dan. 1)
- Tested over dietary preference (Dan. 1)
- Sentenced to die with the wise men because they couldn’t interpret the dream (Dan. 2)
- Called to give King Nebuchadnezzar a “negative” dream interpretation (Dan. 4)
- Faithful to two different kingdoms at a time of transition (Dan. 5)
- Thrown to the lions because of his religious habits (Dan. 6)
Esther. If Daniel was called to be overt and explicit in his religious habits, Esther kept her identity a secret. Only when her people faced the threat of extinction did she take steps to confront the challenge.
Crucial Question: Is it possible to say which of these faithful characters had the easiest time of it? Which one would choose to trade places with?