As a young teenager, I used to think that I was out of the “league” of the people that hear from God and could subsequently be used for his glory. So, I just served him how I knew best and saw him as this God from afar that says hi to peasants like me when he feels like! Ha! How foolish I was!
One thing I’ve come to learn is that God is a communicator and he enjoys speaking to and using his children for his glorious plans, especially when they’re still children, more like young. He mightily used young people in the Bible and you, my friend, are not an exception. I’ll be pointing out a number of people in the Bible that God used mightily and also try to provide evidence that they were actually teenagers when God called them (because the Bible didn’t directly state their ages and when the Bible says someone is youthful, it’s really describing a 30 or 40-year-old person, really). There are however people whose age were not determinable but were, no doubt, very young and submitted to the call of God.
If this wasn’t the first name you expected to see, I’m sure it was among the first five you were looking out for. David was known as a shepherd boy, and although that phrase is not directly mentioned in the Bible, people directly infer his youth, and probably teen-age, to the fact that he’s the eighth and last son of Jesse. To be a little more specific, David was around 15 years old when he was anointed by Samuel. This is because he was crowned King of Israel when he was thirty and from his anointing by Samuel in 1Sam. 16, up until the time he started reigning in 2Sam. 5, there’s a record of 15 years.
We also know David for being a man after God’s own heart and we see that all through his life and his dealings with God. When King Saul failed, God was actively searching for a man after his own heart, to lead the people of Israel, and he said this through Samuel, in 1Sam. 13. (Fun fact: That was the only time in the OT when the phrase was mentioned). However, we see that David wasn’t anointed until 1Sam. 16, and that was the first time he was introduced to us in the Bible. This shows us that God had already chosen David for his plans to have him lead the people of Israel and subsequently, we see that even before David was anointed, his heart was already in a place where it’s only evident that God was with him.
When I think of Joseph as a young person, his coat of many colors comes to mind. Joseph was the second to the last son of Jacob, a child of his old age and he loved him very much. To show his love for his son, he made him a coat of many colors. This only intensified the hatred his half-brothers had for him because they already disliked him for snitching on them to their father.
Joseph is one of the few teenagers whom the Bible stated their ages. At 17, in Gen. 37, God started speaking to Joseph through the dreams that changed his life, where his brothers were symbolically bowing down to him. It is believed that around that age, he was sold into slavery by his brothers but God was with him that even in slavery, he prospered and became the head of Potiphar’s house. God said he’ll never leave nor forsake us. Are we also going to stick with him through anything? Joseph was imprisoned after being framed by Potiphar’s wife until he was thirty years old. Yet he remained faithful to God and God used him even prison.
Esther remains a popular role model to young Christian ladies today. She replaced Queen Vashti as the Queen of Persia when Vashti refused to obey King Ahasuerus. The book of Esther in the Bible is a small but slightly controversial book based on how people interpret different things in the book. However, the central message still remains and that is, Esther used her position as the queen of Persia to deliver her people, the children of Israel from the imminent danger they were in and God expects that from all of us.
No, not to become a literal queen and live just like she did, but to use whatever position and platform we’re given, wherever we are, to proclaim Christ.
She was also very submissive to her cousin, Mordecai, who raised her. Esther’s age was not directly mentioned in the Bible but she was most likely much younger than you thought. According to Jewish law, the minimum age for girls to get married is 12 years old, so it was culturally acceptable for a teenager to be betrothed and be married. Therefore, Esther was predicted to be around 14 years old when she became the queen of Persia.
Our very own mother of Jesus! Mary displayed great faith when she submitted to the will of God for her to birth Jesus Christ. It would have sounded crazy and even impossible. She probably must have thought that she was hallucinating when she saw the angel and felt bad about herself when nobody believed her. However, she chose to submit to God’s will and be the vessel by which our Savior Jesus Christ came to this world. Like Esther, Mary’s age wasn’t directly recorded in the Bible but according to Jewish law, she must have been betrothed and had Jesus between 12 and 14 years old.
Lunch Boy in the New Testament
Do we remember when Jesus fed 5000 people, excluding women and children? Well, someone was vital to making that happen. This boy gave up his lunch without any knowledge of the outcome and God moved through him and his lunch to feed 5000 hungry people. This might seem like a small gesture but when God wants to use you, everything about you is significant.
Miriam was Moses’ sister, in the Bible. Just like the lunch boy, the role she played in Moses’ early life in Exo. 2, could have well been underrated. When her mother Yocheved safely put 3 month-old Moses, in the river, Miriam diligently watched over the baby in the basket. When Pharaoh’s daughter took the baby, she was wise enough to suggest the services of a maid for the baby to the princess and then called her mother instead. Moses grew up in the Egyptian palace but not without the tutelage of his Hebrew mother, and later became the person God used to deliver Israel. Miriam did all that, and she was only six or seven years old.
If there’s anyone I never expected to be a teenager at the beginning of their ministry, it’s Prophet Jeremiah. His age was also not directly mentioned in the Bible, but Bible researchers have come to infer that he was between 13 and 16 years old, at the time of his call, based on the number of years after King Josiah took the throne. (Josiah was also the youngest King at eight years old). Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” because, through groanings and anguish, he implored the Israelites to repent and prophesied Jerusalem’s imminent destruction. He continued prophesying amidst mockery, beatings and the fear of imprisonment by his own people. (Jer. 20). The book of Lamentations, in the Bible, was in fact dedicated to him.
A common factor among these young people whom God used is that it was never easy for them to stand for God and be used by him. Some had to go against their families and friends, stand firm in a foreign land full of sin, and give up luxury and pleasures that they would rather have had. However, in the long run, it’s always worth it. God always rewards his own.
I want to end on a conversation between God and Jeremiah when God called him in Jer. 1:4-8.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
God is your father and he’s longing to speak to you and prepare you for his awesome plans. He just needs you to be willing and available. You’re never too young to be used by him. I hope to mentally add your name to this list sometime soon. I’m rooting for you!
After reading this, you sure shouldn’t feel hopeless anymore. God can use you, regardless of your age.
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