For the month of March, This Small Group focused on an Instagram relaunch, starting with a hashtag that most people are familiar with. However, instead of posting about significant others or the celebrities we’re crushing on, we decided to put a different spin on it, choosing instead to focus on biblical characters that we admire and could actually learn a thing or two from.
For March, This Small Group chose five awesome individuals to learn from, all for varying reasons. So with that, I give you, the #man/womancrushmonday wrap-up.
We already covered Moses in the first blog post in March, so I’ll do a really quick bio. He was born a slave when the Pharaoh was killing all the baby boys of the slaves. His mother saved him and he wound up getting adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter. When Moses grew up and learned who he was, he saw an Egyptian overseer beating a slave and so he killed the overseer. Fearing retribution, he ran away. God, however, called him back to Egypt, appearing to him in a burning bush. Moses would go back to Egypt and get Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. He would lead them through the Red Sea and through 40 years in the desert.
Moses is probably one of the most well-known biblical characters, seen as the one who freed the slaves. Yet, he also had his flaws: he was a murderer and a doubter. And in spite of that, God used him to set the Israelites free. It’s such a great example of how God can use anyone and everyone to do the most incredible things. So, when we get down about ourselves, thinking of how we’ve messed up, we need to remember that God can do amazing things through any of us.
Joseph was his father’s favorite child and, unfortunately, his brothers all knew about it. His father gave him a beautiful coat, which only increased their jealousy. They wound up selling him into slavery. He ends up in Egypt as the slave of a powerful man and rises through the ranks. When his master’s wife tried to seduce Joseph and he refused, she told the master that he attacked her and Joseph was thrown in prison. While in prison, Joseph ends up interpreting the dreams of two other prisoners and they come true. After many years, the Pharaoh has a dream and one of the prisoners, who ended up being freed, remembers Joseph, who then came and interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph ends up being made a successful man in Egypt. When famine sweeps the land, his brothers come to Egypt for food. After a misunderstanding, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers and ends up saving his family.
I always liked Joseph’s story. I feel like it is one of those great examples of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Joseph went through some insane situations; he was enslaved, wrongly accused of a crime, and thrown in prison. Yet, God was with Joseph and wound up raising him to a higher place than I’m sure Joseph could have ever dreamed. So, whenever we’re facing a dire situation, we can remember the story of Joseph and remember that, even in the hard times, God is with us and He will end up working it all out for good.
Ezekiel was a prophet for God to the people of Israel while they were in exile at a time when the Israelites did not want to listen. Ezekiel was told of Jerusalem being under siege, the defilement of the temple by the people of Judah, and God’s resulting judgment. However, even though the people of Israel had been scattered and dispersed among other nations, they would eventually be brought back to their land, the temple and the priesthood fully restored.
When I think of biblical prophets, I don’t typically think of Ezekiel. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure part of it may be that the book of Ezekiel is full of a lot of depressing prophecies. I’m sure the people of Israel didn’t want to hear about how Jerusalem would be under siege or the temple would be defiled. Yet, Ezekiel had the courage to tell it like it is. Now, while there is a way to tell people the truth in kindness and in a loving manner, we cannot shy away from the truth. Sometimes the truth can be grim. Yet, whenever we can, we should end our truth with hope, because even in dire situations, there is still hope.
In contrast to Ezekiel, when I think of the word prophet, Elijah definitely comes to mind. He was a prophet when Ahab was king of Israel; Ahab’s wife was Jezebel, one of the most infamous women in the Bible. Jezebel was killing off the prophets of God, but Elijah ended up presenting himself to Ahab. He challenged the prophets of Baal, the god Ahab was following, to build an altar, sacrifice a bull, and call on Baal to burn up the offering. The prophets of Baal called upon their god, but there was no reply. Elijah then built his own altar, sacrificed a bull, pouted water all over it, and called upon God, who rained fire down, burning up everything including the altar and the water.
We can learn a lot from Elijah’s faith. His faith was so strong that he knew that God would show Himself to the prophets, proving that God is the one true God. He even went so far as to make the situation even more challenging by pouring water all over the altar. In difficult situations, do we have the same kind of faith, where we automatically know that God is going to overcome the situation? Do we automatically know God is going to win, or do we just assume the worst, thinking that this situation or that situation is too much for God? We need to remember that God is greater.
Deborah is one of my favorite biblical characters. The story of Deborah can be found in Judges 4. Before the nation of Israel had a king, they were led by people called Judges. The Judges would provide wisdom and counsel to the Israelites. When Deborah was their Judge, the nation of Israel was being oppressed by a foreign king. Deborah called for an Israelite named Barak to raise up an army to attack the foreign king, but he didn’t want to go against the king without Deborah. Because of this Deborah told him that he would not be the one to kill the commander of the king’s army, but rather that a woman would kill the commander, and that’s exactly what happened.
Deborah was a female leader at a time when women were not thought highly of. The entire nation of Israel trusted her judgment and trusted her to lead them effectively. What I admire about Deborah is that she stepped up to lead. Yes, people may have been skeptical and doubted, but she stepped up, even when the world may have told her that she couldn’t. That is a lesson all of us can learn from!
Which character from our first five highlighted was your favorite?