The goal of the Military Bible Challenge is to give its readers a way to study the very comprehensive Bible by charting a path through it. Whether the challenges are looking at accounts of the Old or New Testament, the purpose of these challenges remains the same—to point us toward the Great Commander, Jesus Christ.
The second of five challenges focuses on God’s people in the Old Testament. From the beginning of His Word, God shows us that we have a unique place in creation, a personal place in His heart, and an invitation to participate in life WITH Him. Many stories of the Bible show us what it’s like to try to live WITHOUT Him. Ultimately, He sent His Word in the flesh, to save us from ourselves: Jesus, Emmanuel, “God With Us” and Prince of Peace. We are all in need of a Savior.
Here are three highlights from the second Military Bible Challenge—starting from the very beginning of time to the wicked kings of Israel.
It Was God Who Created the Heavens and the Earth
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (ESV)
Yes, everything that was ever created was wonderfully made by an almighty God. There was no evolution, no Big Bang, and we did not derive from some sort of primordial soup. He spoke the world into existence—and it was. After six days, God created the world and everything in the world and saw that it was good.
God also created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, in His own image and blessed them in this new world that He had created. Adam and Eve had want of nothing—everything was provided for them in a paradise known as the Garden of Eden.
Unfortunately, the days of paradise would not last. A mutiny (Day 2) was to occur in the Garden of Eden. Of all the trees and their fruit found in the garden there was but one tree from which the man and the woman were not to eat—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Upon being deceived by the serpent, the craftiest of all of the other creatures, Adam and Eve both ate from the tree.
Thus sin entered into the world, committed by the very first man and woman. Adam and Eve were to become mortal and never again enter the Garden of Eden. Eve was to endure great pain through bearing children and Adam was to work the fields and eat by the sweat of his brow until he died and returned to the dust from which he came.
Escape and Evasion, Avoiding a Massacre
The account of Adam and Eve certainly would not be the last time that God’s power and authority were questioned. Many generations later, the Israelites, after being freed from captivity in Egypt for 400 years, were led into the wilderness (Day 6) by Moses.
Despite witnessing the many miracles that took place in Egypt before their liberation, the Israelites were still subject to fear and doubt. Though the Egyptians initially let the Israelites go, they pursued them in the wilderness. As the Egyptian army approached, the people of God cried out to Moses, accusing him of leading them out into the desert to die.
Despite their lack of faith, God still saves them. As God instructed, Moses, outstretched his hand across the Red Sea, and the waters parted, allowing safe passage across the sea bed to the Israelites. Meanwhile, a pillar of cloud blocked the Egyptians from further pursuing the Israelites.
What happened next is absolutely extraordinary (as if the previous accounts were not). Israel safely lands on the other side of the sea. The Egyptians, no longer barred by the pillar of cloud pursue Israel into the sea. They didn’t get far. Upon God’s command, Moses again stretched his hand across the sea and the water returned to its original form, annihilating the entire Egyptian army with the Israelites looking on. God rescued his people once more in a great and awesome way!
Battle for the High Ground, a Challenge of Epic Proportions
Many generations later, we find King Ahab who was ruler over Israel (Day 12). The Bible says that there was no prior king in Israel more wicked than King Ahab. King Ahab and the nation of Israel served the false god, Baal, along with the 450 prophets of Baal. Israel had completely turned its back on God.
Enter Elijah, the Lord’s prophet.
Rebuking Ahab for abandoning the Lord’s commandments, he proposed a challenge: set sacrificial bulls on two altars—one to Baal, and one to the Lord God. The prophets of Baal were to call out to Baal and Elijah would call out to the Lord. Whichever deity answered by fire surely was God. The people agreed.
After several hours of calling upon Baal and bloodletting with lances and swords, there was no response from Baal, and his prophets’ cries (not to mention their bloodshed) fell on dead ears.
Now it was Elijah’s turn.
He had the people come near and asked that four jars of water be poured on the Lord’s altar a total of three times until the water filled a trench around the altar he had dug. After calling out to the Lord, fire fell from the sky, completely consuming the altar, the offering, and the water in the trench. Seeing this, the people of Israel fell on their faces exclaiming, “The Lord, He is God!” Every last prophet of Baal was seized and executed at Elijah’s command.
Elijah, a strong and courageous man of God, faced a wicked king, hundreds of false prophets, and an entire nation that had grown callous to God’s commands—and through Elijah, God showed His people that He was the one true God. We ourselves need to remember that even when we are most discouraged at the things we face in our lives, the same God that controls the wind, fire, rain, and the entire universe will surely be with us if we are to keep our eyes fixed on Him.
Learning From the Old Testament—Examples to Follow
These were but three examples of God’s incredible power, mercy, and love that He displayed for His chosen people. On our website you’ll find the remaining 12 accounts of the Old Testament in part two of the challenge. And of course, the Bible contains many more accounts, all with the same message—call upon the Lord, obey His statutes, and serve Him alone.
And should we fall into sin and ignore His commands—if we cry out to Him and repent, He will hear and with outstretched hand, pick us up again, and restore us again as His children.
“But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’” Jeremiah 7:23 (ESV)