One of our college students just came back for a break and said that one of his Bible professors taught that the disciples of Jesus were probably teenagers. I never heard that before. Could that be accurate?
The Bible isn’t clear on the exact age of those Jesus chose as His disciples, but this professor is engaging with speculation rather than fact. I believe Jesus chose His disciples regardless of their age. Rabbis generally established schools to which students could come and learn from a chosen teacher. Jesus, however, selected His disciples personally.
Some have suggested that Peter was older, because when Jesus was criticized for not paying the temple tax in Matthew 17, he told Peter to go fishing and then take the coin found in the fish to pay the tax for both Jesus and himself. These people infer that Peter and Jesus were the only ones in the group over the age of twenty and therefore the only ones required to pay taxes according to the Roman law. Others infer the disciples were younger because Jesus called them little children in John 13:33. If they were adults, that term would have been insulting to them. It seems more consistent with Scripture to say that He called them children because they had so much to learn. And the truth is we all have a lot to learn, no matter how old we are.
Why is there such an emphasis in the Scripture for making a joyful noise unto the Lord?
I had a pastor who recognized his deficiency in musical talent and yet never tired of “singing with great gusto”—which some would call “great noise.” I loved his enthusiasm. In his monotone voice he triumphantly made his way through many a great hymn and praise song. I believe God was greatly honored by his singing.
I think so much of Christianity is about our hearts and our emotions, not just what we know in our head. Music has a way of connecting truth with the deepest places in our hearts. It’s one of the reasons D. L. Moody believed that music should be part of his evangelistic campaigns, and he employed Ira Sankey as his esteemed song leader and choir director. Psalm 33:3 cheers us on to sing new songs to God and shout for joy. The natural response of a sensitive heart is praise.
When I read about Jacob in the Old Testament, I feel that there is very little in his character that I find admirable.
I think we forget that the Bible is a written record and tells both the good and the bad in its historical narrative. When a biblical character does something devious, deceptive, or downright dishonest, God is not putting His affirmation on it. He’s simply recording it for us.
The way Jacob treated Esau was wrong. Some of David’s choices were not exemplary either. There were consequences for their actions, although they weren’t always immediate. Jacob the trickster received a major trick from his manipulative father-in-law Laban. Later, Jacob’s sons tricked him into believing Joseph, whom they hated, was dead. Ultimately, all these lessons molded Jacob into the man God designed him to be, but the process, I’m sure, was painful, as it is for all of us who fail to obey God.
Countless missionaries and their ministries report incidences of very godly people and their children who go to bed at night hungry. David said, “I was young and now am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). How does this fit with the reality that some born-again people are hungry today?
As a young Christian, I found this a hard reality to deal with as well. David’s words seem to indicate that people who love God are protected from hunger. But David is simply telling what was true of himself. He had never seen righteous people hunger. It doesn’t mean it hadn’t happened; he was simply giving his experience. Certainly, godly people lived in the Old Testament time who experienced hunger, just as good people are hungry today.
The problem is not a deficiency of God’s blessing. His creation supplies enough to feed every man, woman, boy, or girl. We have plenty of wealth on the earth to provide for every need, including food, shelter, and clothing.
Did God use evil spirits as judgment on King Saul?
People in Saul’s time had no category for mental illness, and they couldn’t differentiate that from demon possession. So it was not unusual for them to attribute many illnesses involving both the body and the mind to the influence of evil spirits. Most of us can accept the idea that some physical diseases are the direct result of living a life in direct disobedience to the will of God, like perhaps drug abuse or even immoral living. We can understand the direct correlation between divine judgment on any of these. But these causes don’t explain all illness.
In the case of Saul, it appears that his poor spiritual choices began to affect his mental health resulting in depression, paranoia, and bouts of terror. For more on this question, see the following passages: Mark 5, John 9, and James 1:13.
By Mike Kellogg, Moody Radio Host
Mike Kellogg has been with the Institute in Moody Radio for more than 40 years, beginning in 1972. For many years he was the reader on Continued Story and began hosting Music Thru the Night in 1982. He also reads the Today in the Word devotional on air for Moody Radio. He is a graduate of Cedarville University, and has served as adjunct faculty in English and Speech Communications at Moody Bible Institute. He is married to Nancy, and they have 6 children and 16 grandchildren.