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Closer than a Brother

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). In Scripture, God often provided such a friend in the form of a servant, a colleague, a mentor, or a protege. Can you identify these Bible characters and their "sidekicks"?

Samuel & Eli, Elijah & Elisha, Moses & Joshua, Ezra & Nehemiah, Paul & Barnabas, Ahab & Jehoshaphat, Jeremiah & Baruch, Deborah & Barak, Ruth & Naomi, David & Jonathan, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego (There are more choices than needed.)

1. When this person's freedom was restricted, he asked his friend to go to the Lord's temple and "read to the people ? the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated."

2. This leader of Israel was given a companion who was first his personal servant, then his military general, and later his successor.

3. After praying, "I have had enough, Lord ? Take my life," God gave this person a friend who eventually continued the work.

4. When no one in Jerusalem trusted him, this man's friend stood up for him before the leaders and finally convinced them to accept him.

5. Which famous friendship inspired these words: "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God"?

6. When commanded to go into battle for the Lord, he said to his friend, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go."

7. Exiled together, these friends vowed not to defile themselves with forbidden food or to worship foreign gods, regardless of the consequences.

Answers below:

1. Jeremiah and Baruch (Jer. 36:5-8). Jeremiah dictated his unpopular prophecies to his secretary Baruch who then read the scroll aloud at the Temple. When King Jehoiakim burned it, Jeremiah dictated it again. The friends later escaped the fall of Jerusalem and fled to Egypt.

2. Moses and Joshua. Described as "Moses' aide since youth" (Num. 11:28), Joshua accompanied Moses on the mountain of God (Ex. 24:13), stayed with him at God's tent (Ex. 33:11), served as his general (Ex. 17:8-13), and was named his successor (Num. 27:18-20).

3. Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 19:4, 16). Deeply discouraged in his efforts to call Israel to repentance, Elijah believed he was the only person still faithful to God. In reply, God led him to Elisha who would not only continue Elijah's work but would inherit a double portion of his anointing.

4. Paul and Barnabas (Acts 9:26, 27). Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus, believed that Paul's conversion to Christ was genuine and brought Paul, who had once persecuted Christians, to meet the apostles. At first Paul assisted Barnabas (Acts 11:19-30), then assumed leadership in their work as missionaries (Acts 13-14) before they eventually parted (15:39).

5. Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16). In Bible times, a woman depended on her father, husband, or sons for her financial security. The fact that Ruth left her family and her country to follow Naomi, a childless widow, shows her unparalleled devotion.

6. Deborah and Barak (Judges 4:8, 9). Deborah, a prophetess and judge in Israel, gave Barak God's instructions for the battle against the Canaanites. Barak insisted that Deborah accompany him. Deborah agrees, but tells Barak the honor will not be his, but a woman's?Jael kills the enemy commander.

7. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 1:8, 3:17, 18). These young men remained faithful to God even when faced with being burned alive. Like them, we have God's promise that "I will be with you ? When you walk through the fire" of persecution (Isa. 43:2).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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