The names of Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth and David are familiar to Jews and Christians alike. Pulpits worldwide proclaim these men and women of God who are found in the pages of the Old and New Testament. We often overlook, however, that God called these men and women as youth. Through their testimonies, we’re reminded that youth is an opportune time period for God to start the discipleship process. God loves to do the unexpected through youth and to challenge the false beliefs that only the older and wiser can be God’s special tools.
Joseph, was a “young man of 17” when God interrupted his sleep with some amazing dreams (Genesis 37:5). God eventually used Joseph to save the world from starvation and deliver his family, the bloodline of Christ, to prosperity in Egypt.
Joshua was Moses’ aid since “youth” (Numbers 11:28). When Moses interceded with God in the Tent of Meeting outside the camp, Joshua would go with him.
Samuel is another excellent example of God’s calling to young people. We read that the “boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli” (1 Samuel 3:1). He first heard God’s voice and call as a child. When Samuel was “old and gray,” he testified that it was from the time of his youth that he was a leader for the people of Israel (1 Samuel 12:2).
Ruth was still a young woman when she became a widow and followed Naomi to Bethlehem (Ruth 1).
David was a mere boy when he defeated Goliath and attracted the attention of the king. David’s character development and faith exploits began when he was a boy shepherd, caring for the sheep (1 Samuel 17).
Josiah was king at the age of eight, and by the time he was in his late teens, God used him to bring a rebellious nation back to God (2 Kings 22:1).
Daniel and his friends were probably teenagers when they were led across the Fertile Crescent into captivity. We can imagine them as young men, quite possibly in their late teens, as they testified to Yahweh and interpreted the king’s dreams (Daniel 1-5).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a mere youth when the angel appeared to her with unprecedented news of her supernatural pregnancy (Luke 1:26-38).
Some have observed that Jesus led the original “youth group,” believing that Christ’s 12 disciples were probably under the age of 18. Christ’s choice of the 12 gives new meaning to youth ministry and motivation to disciple those who are young.
The Apostle Paul first began to work with Timothy when he was approximately 16 years old. Paul discipled Timothy and developed him to become the pastor in Ephesus, a very important church. He exhorted his young disciple, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). He then told Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
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