The reason for this new series of articles is a suggestion by the staff that I write on this subject. I asked the staff whether they had any suggestions for a new series. They suggested the title that appears at the head of this article.
The young people are, under God’s blessing, producing an excellent magazine; I am more than happy to be a part of the writing staff.
The series that was suggested is also, in my judgment, an excellent one. Apparently, the staff have taken note of the fact that Scripture frequently refers to children and young people who were given—by God— important work to do and were asked to represent God’s cause in the world in extraordinary ways.
People such as Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, and Daniel come to mind. Though they were children or youths, they were strong in faith and courageous in their calling to be faithful to God.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, after describing a small part of the history of the nation of Israel, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Hebrews 12:1 teaches us the same truth, only in a slightly different way. It speaks of the saints of the Old Testament as men and women of faith who are packed into the stands of a huge arena. On the ground of this arena is a long-distance track on which can be found the saints of the New Testament who are running a long-distance race. The saints in the stands who have already run the race and are now in heaven, are cheering on the saints who are now running, to encourage them and urge them on to faithfulness. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
This is a beautiful and urgent text that could very well serve as a theme for one of your youth camps.
You are yourselves children and youth who are running the race set before you. There are children and youths in the stands who have finished the race and are now in heaven. They are cheering you on. You can hear their cheers coming to you from the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures. They cheer you on by telling you of the things that were asked of them as they ran the race. They tell you of how difficult the race is; they tell you of their weariness, their sin, their terror at the thought of their enemies. They tell you that they were but children and young people. But they tell you that, in spite of their young age, they were faithful, and though they were ready to drop from weariness, they kept going, because they looked “to Jesus the author and finisher of their faith, who for the joy that was set before him endure the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
All those of whom Scripture speaks were Covenant children and youths. They received Covenant instruction, bore the sign of the Covenant and were called by God to live the antithesis as Covenant children, forsaking the world and serving God in the place God had given them in His church. They were all like you— and you like them. They had the same sins that you do. They had the same calling you have. You have a place in God’s Covenant as they did. You have this calling, not in the mighty deeds of making the world Christ’s kingdom, but in the day-to-day struggle to serve the Lord in our own place in life. They have much to teach us.
One more word about them. Sometimes the Bible does not say very much about them, and we have to imagine how they showed their willingness to run the race by the suggestions that Scripture does give us. An example of such a one is Isaac. Sometimes, while they showed their spiritual strength when they were still very small, they showed what it meant for the future that they ran the race when they were young.
But they are all there to be our examples and for our instruction. To hear what they have to say to you is exciting. Are you ready to listen to them as they cheer us on in our own race?
Mrs Hanko and I have drawn up a tentative list of those of whom I am thinking about writing. I will include it at the end of this article. There may be names in the list that will be dropped; there may also be children or young people who should be included. Please read the list and let me know what changes you think should be made in the list.
Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Ahimaaz, Naaman’s wife’s slave, Joash, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Jeremiah, John the Baptist…
Please let me know!
Written by: Prof. Herman Hanko | Issue 38