Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth describe the stories from their favorite couples in the Bible, and relate how we can learn from the trials others have faced.
Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth describe the stories from their favorite couples in the Bible, and relate how we can learn from the trials others have faced.
Bob: You know the story of Moses being found in a basket, amid the bulrushes in the Nile River; right? Have you ever stopped to consider how desperate his mother was—putting her baby in that basket, and sending the baby down the river, even with Pharaoh’s daughter waiting just around the bend? Bobbie Wolgemuth recalls the rest of that story.
Bobbie: So, pharaoh’s daughter picks up the baby and says to Miriam, the sister, “Could you go find someone to nurse the baby?” And so, Miriam runs home and gets her mother. Her mother gets paid to nurse her own baby for the pharaoh’s daughter, who takes Moses to the court. The irony, and what I love about the Bible, is how God works out things, way beyond what human understanding could ever figure out.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Are you experiencing circumstances in your family, where you wonder if God is really in control—if He knows what’s going on? You’re not alone. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. When you think about couples in the Bible—other than Adam and Eve and Mary and Joseph—who jumps right out for you? Is there somebody in third place?
Dennis: That’s a good question. You know—
Bob: Here’s who comes out for me, and this is it—David and Bathsheba.
Dennis: Well, I was thinking of that one.
Bob: And you go, “Whoops!”
Dennis: “That wasn’t a good one.”
Bob: No, it’s not. And you didn’t want to go there; did you?
Dennis: I really didn’t. Maybe, Abraham and Sarah—
Bob: Abraham and Sarah—that makes sense.
Dennis: —who had a good—well, they had their problems, too. [Laughter] Let’s just ask the couple who have written a devotional called Couples of the Bible. It’s a one-year devotional study of couples in the Scripture. Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth have written it and join us again on FamilyLife Today. Bobbie, Robert, welcome back.
Bobbie: We are grateful to be here. Thank you.
Robert: Thank you. We sure are.
Dennis: Tell us which ones are your favorites. Do you both know—before you answer—do you both know what your favorites are?
Bobbie: Can you have favorites? It’s like children. You can’t really—
Robert: There you go. That’s a good answer.
Bobbie: —have favorites.
Bob: There you go. The diplomat comes out.
Robert: That’s a good answer.
Bobbie: You learn something different from every single couple, but I can’t say I have—well, my—I think I do have a favorite, actually.
Robert: I think you do.
Bobbie: Amram and Jochebed—are probably my favorite.
Dennis: And I’m sure that—
Bobbie: Yes, and—
Dennis: —really popped on the screen—
Bobbie: That’s right.
Dennis: —of a lot of our listeners, “Oh, yes.”
Robert: That’s part of the wonder—
Bobbie: That’s fun.
Robert: —of this book, because even though Bobbie and I have been students of the Bible for a lot of years, we discovered all kinds of brand-new things; but Jochebed has always been a favorite of Bobbie’s. I knew that.
Dennis: Well, this is Moses—
Robert: Didn’t know much about her husband—
Dennis: —this is Moses’ mom and dad—
Robert: Moses’ parents.
Bobbie: This is Moses’ parents. Yes.
Robert: That’s right.
Dennis: —before he got farmed out to—
Bobbie: That’s right.
Robert: But why is this important to you? Why is this a good couple to you?
Bobbie: Well, I see couples—a couple in the Bible that’s in crisis—and this would have been a couple in crisis. They have this beautiful new baby——and Mrs. Smith, down the street—you just heard that her baby got drowned in the Nile, and the pharaoh is after your baby because he’s a boy. So, they had—
Dennis: The baby got drowned in the Nile, not because he slipped—
Robert: No. Correct.
Dennis: —and fell into the river.
Bob: That’s right.
Robert: He was killed.
Dennis: He was put to death.
Bobbie: The pharaoh was killing—
Bobbie: —babies. Now, how would you feel, as a couple? You’re huddled in your home, and you have this baby, and you’re trying to keep him quiet so the soldiers don’t come and take your baby and kill him. I mean, I think that would—
Dennis: Well, I love what you wrote about in your devotional here. You didn’t just take us to the point where they had the baby and had the decision. You, actually, take the reader into the moments when she was pregnant and the pronouncement had been made.
Dennis: And you take some liberty here—
Robert: Right. We do.
Dennis: —in terms of what took place.
Bobbie: Yes, you would wish—you would wonder—you would say, “If I have a boy, his life is in jeopardy; but if I have a girl, she’d be okay.” So, you would even wonder when you’re pregnant, “I wonder if it’s a boy; and if it is: “Is he going to be okay? Is God going to preserve his life?”
Robert: And we create dialogue. You just alluded to this. We have taken some license because, in some cases, you have all the dialogue you need in the Bible. In other cases—and we had a Jewish researcher—a converted Jew, a Christian man—who knows the Bible like crazy—as a Jew and, then, as a believer—help us with some of the details—but we’ve had to make a scenario of some of the conversations between husband and wife.
In every chapter, we do conversations so that a couple reading this can identify this interaction between husband and wife and what they would talk about in a situation like this particular couple was in.
Bob: A little sanctified imagination.
Robert: Like that. Yes.
Bobbie: Right. Or like Noah and his wife. All we learn in the Bible is—it says Noah and his wife. We never learn her name.
Dennis: Yes, we don’t know what her name is.
Bobbie: However, she got in the boat with Noah and her three sons from a very corrupt culture—
Robert: Oh, I love this part.
Bobbie: —had brought wives into the ark, which means the women in the culture had married their sons and adopted Jehovah as their God. So, you know, again, here’s this story of a family who was fearless in a corrupt situation.
Bob: Well, let me take you back to Moses’ mom and dad. Why did you lock in on them? They’re facing a crisis. Their baby—if he’s a boy—he’s going to be drowned in the Nile. That’s what Pharaoh is doing to all the babies. Why did that couple jump into your mind?
Bobbie: I love that God gave Jochebed an idea. The idea was to make that little ark. And I picture her with this beautiful—and you know, three-month old babies are really gorgeous. So, I am picturing her making this little basket, and holding it up to the light, and saying: “Let’s see, have I dabbed enough tar here? Have I put enough little reeds here?” And she would hold it up, making sure that it was going to hold her baby.
In much the same way, every day, we coat our little homes with just enough of hope, and faith, and Jesus. So, we are in this basket. We are in this boat, with our family. We are trying to survive, in the culture, now.
Bob: And when she put her baby boy in the basket—in the river—she had no idea what the outcome was going to be.
Robert: That’s right.
Bob: We don’t often think about that because we know the story. We know there is somebody downstream who is going to pick up the baby—It’s going to be Moses, for heaven’s sake!—but she kissed the little baby goodbye and didn’t know what was coming; did she?
Bobbie: I think that’s what I love about these Bible stories. These couples hadn’t read this Book. They don’t know what happens. Just like when we’re going through something, or our children and their marriages are going through something, they don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
Dennis: But they did know the God of the Book.
Robert: That’s the point.
Bobbie: Yes, they did.
Robert: That’s the point, and you can rest in that. You can rest that He knows best. You do what you believe He is calling you to do; but then, you let go.
Dennis: Well, you’ve got to finish enough of the story so that our listeners remember, at least, what happened to Moses because the mom did let go.
Robert: She did.
Bobbie: Yes, she did.
Dennis: But she sent a little emissary, alongside the river.
Bobbie: Oh, little Miriam, the older sister. I love that. I’m—I can just picture the older sister—sort of there, along the river bank—and then, the pharaoh’s daughter picks up this baby. What I love about this—about the Bible and what we’ve learned about couples—is how God works out things, way beyond what human understanding could ever figure out.
Pharaoh’s daughter picks up the baby and says to Miriam, the sister, “Could you go find someone to nurse the baby?” So, Miriam runs home and gets her mother. Her mother gets paid to nurse her own baby for the pharaoh’s daughter, who takes Moses to the court.
Again, the book is about God and how He interacts with us, as couples, in our marriages.
Robert: Yes. As we were writing, we asked two questions: “What does this story tell us about marriage?” and, “What does it tell us about God?” All the way through, it’s an overview of God’s activity in the lives of these people—event by event, couple by couple.
Bob: Do you remember what that story taught you about marriage as you—because we’ve talked about a momma and her baby—but what about the husband and wife in that? Do you remember?
Bobbie: Trusting God in the dark—
Robert: That’s right.
Bobbie: —was the biggest thing.
Robert: Exactly. That’s right.
Bobbie: And that’s often what we have to do. We do not know what’s ahead. We also have to let our children go. Although this is not a parenting book, there were several couples where we had to look at how God intervened in their families—worked in their children’s lives. I think that is one of the things that we have learned about some of the couples in the Bible.
Robert: Yes, and God’s grace. I mean, the very first couple—the Bible begins and ends with marriage; right?
Bob: I’ve heard somebody say that about 700 times in the last 20 years. [Laughter]
Bobbie: That’s right.
Robert: Well, there you go. So, but Adam and Eve had a crisis. They lost two boys in the same day. One fled, and the other was dead; but God’s grace gave them the third son. So, there is that returning of His kindness to you. It’s in the dark. You don’t know, and you’ve not read the whole story. You’re experiencing it as you go along. So, you trust Him that He knows best; and whatever form it takes, you will get back, even better than what you gave away.
Dennis: Explain what you are doing in each of these stories because—
Dennis: —actually, the devotionals that you’ve got—because you tell a story that’s a familiar story—but like I said, you embellish it enough that it’s kind of like, “What are they going to say about this?” And it’s not like you’re taking license with the Scriptures, inappropriately. You are taking the reader into what likely did happen.
Robert: That’s exactly the way to say it, “Likely scenarios.”
Robert: Five days of this particular couple. So, there are 52 weeks and 52 couples. Now, there are some double-ups. Adam and Eve, for example—it’s three weeks with them. First, the perfect couple—perfect companion—then, it’s the fall—and then, it’s crisis in the home, where the boys are gone. So, those are three weeks, just with one couple. There are actually 40 different couples—52 weeks.
So, Monday is called “Their Story”. We take an event, in the lives of this couple, and tell that story. Tuesday, we call “Life and Times”. We help the reader get a cultural setting as to where this took place—what was happening, the setting, geographic setting, whatever.
Dennis: This is where some of the Jewish history comes up. I really liked it—about many of them that I read in here. I haven’t read them all yet; but you take the reader, the couple, into an actual immersion into Jewish culture—
Dennis: —which adds a tremendous benefit.
Robert: Yes. It is very helpful. You can’t find this—material like this—in one place, anywhere else. “Life and Times” is Tuesday. Then, Wednesday—early on, we said, “How can we help the reader pull themselves into the story?” So, we said, “Let’s call Wednesday, ‘Can You Imagine?’”
We invite the reader to put themselves in this setting and encourage them to verbalize, with each other, what they would do in this same setting: “How would this impact us, if we were Jochebed and Amram, and we heard that was something was going to happen to one of our kids and we were going to lose them—they were going to be killed? How would we interact with each other?” We’re inviting couples to put themselves in that setting.
Then, Thursday is called “Their Legacy in Scripture”. The big idea—whether it’s repentance, or confession, or celebration, or conflict about money, whatever it is—we go to other places in Scripture, and we identify those Scriptures. Then, we ask questions. That’s the place that’s really interactive. So, you and your spouse, or a small group, or a Sunday school class—we’re actually doing that right now. We’re taking our Sunday school class through this book.
Then, Friday, we call it “Their Legacy of Prayer”. We have prayers that you can look at, and adjust however you want, or actually read them. I really—our encouragement, on Friday, is that the couples do this together. We know that, by and large, women will be the ones who consume this book. In the introduction, we say, “If that’s the way it works out for you, that’s great; but we really do encourage you to sit down with your spouse and go through Friday together.”
And some guys—let’s say it the way it is—are uncertain about praying like that with their wives. So, we’ve actually given them a guide, and he can pray—again, the theme of what we’ve just discussed this week, on Friday—and we give them an actual text for the prayer.
Dennis: And what I would say is—maybe, it’s true that a lot of wives are going to be the ones that pull this into their home—find a way to read this aloud to each other, even if it takes you two weeks or three weeks to go through the one week—
Dennis: —but find a way to participate together and share in these discussions to begin to talk about your relationship with God—how you trust Him, what you would think, what you would feel in that circumstance. I think that’s all very important to a couple, who—if they are going to grow together in faith in Christ.
Bob: Robert, we asked your wife to pick a favorite couple; and she did. So, now, we’re back to you. Is there anybody who jumped out at you—maybe, somebody that you hadn’t spent a whole lot of time getting to know?
Robert: Well, I love Noah. I’ve always loved Noah—
Robert: —but he’s the only one of my favorite Bible characters that made the book. Noah is a carpenter, and I love working with my hands. I’ve built homes. I like that part; but the fact that Noah and his wife—and we have written her as a compassionate person, who’s really understanding of the fact that he heard something she didn’t hear; and she trusted him. “I didn’t hear the voice, but count on me. I’m alongside you,” —that, to me—that’s Noah’s wife; and I love that!
But then, the Lord gave them a hundred years—a hundred years. Don’t you know they spent that time trying to convince their neighbors to follow God? They were successful with three girls, who their sons married. So, their home was a home that welcomed unbelievers, if you will; right? And these three girls had a mother-in-law, who was loving when they walked through the door—so loving—that they were willing to abandon their own families, who eventually died in the flood. I love that part of it.
You know, you don’t picture Noah’s ark as really anything but a kid’s room with little animals and so forth. It’s a treacherous moment. People died. But this family was faithful—so much so that they opened their door to these three girls who came in and said: “You know what? I choose Jehovah because I’m seeing Him in your home.”
Bob: That story spoke powerfully to you about the influence that a wife—a supportive wife—can have in a marriage.
Robert: That’s what it was.
Robert: Yes. Yes, and that’s the big part of the story. The other—it’s hard for me to narrow it down because, I mean, we met Othniel and Achsah for the first time. Othniel was the first judge in Israel, and Achsah was the daughter of Caleb.
Bobbie: Famous warrior.
Robert: And he won her hand by winning a battle. We had so much—I mean, that was a brand-new couple to us.
I loved Jarius and his wife. Again, we don’t know her name; but here’s a man who is a leader in the temple. He’s a very proud man because he’s got that job—not only does he seek out Jesus because his daughter is sick, not only does he bow before Him when he finally finds Him down by the sea, but he falls down—he falls down. We, actually, on Day Two—on Tuesday of that week—we went back through the Scriptures and found all the places where people actually fell to their face in contrition, and repentance, and worship. And so, there’s just a little side bar on that.
But I love that because I—I mean, I deal with pride. I deal with self-sufficiency. I don’t like to say: “Look. I need your help here.” I like to do it myself. Here’s this guy—who not just bows down—but falls down at Jesus’ feet because he’s out of options. I just love that story.
Bob: Bobbie, we’ve already heard, this week, about your battle with stage four ovarian cancer. When you got that diagnosis, how far along were you in the writing of this book?
Bobbie: We were actually finished with the entire first draft and had settled on everything except the edits. So, saturating ourselves, for two years, in the research, and the study, and the writing of this—I felt like that was about the best preparation I could have had for dealing with a crisis. We watched couples in the Bible deal with crisis. The ones that fled to Jesus, or that clung to Jehovah God, or that trusted God were my heroes.
We were warned about some that decided they would go it without God. Those are the ones that would warn us—that it looks like you can trust yourself, but you can’t. Even doctors and people, that are well-meaning, cannot give you the peace, the hope, the joy that is available in God and in His character. I think we learned a lot about that. We were pretty much ready when we got our diagnosis.
Bob: During the year that you were undergoing chemo, you still had final edits to do in this book; and I’m just imagining—
Robert: Oh my goodness!
Bob: —you going—
Bob: —“You know, I’m too tired to work on this today;” or was it a rich time, in the middle of the chemo, to be still working on this?
Bobbie: Well, actually, I had to—
Robert: Are we supposed to tell the truth about this or what?
Bobbie: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: Yes, tell the truth, yes.
Bobbie: We had to ask for an extension because I didn’t have any energy. That’s one of the things it takes from you. The drugs take your energy; but at the same time, I was reading. So, I could read about them. I just—and I had ideas, and I would take notes; but we finished the final edits—
Robert: Here’s the picture. We sent—well, Bobbie and the researcher wrote the first draft together.
Robert: Then, I wrote the second draft by myself. Then, we had two more edits. We did it, literally—picture this—at the dining room table—and she’s reading aloud every word.
Bobbie: Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. We were literally reading God’s Word, out loud, every single day. There is nothing that could have been a better gift for us—
Robert: That’s true.
Bobbie: —during this year. It has been amazing.
Robert: That’s really true.
Dennis: Earlier this week, I stopped by to see a friend in the hospital. This man has led dozens of other men to Jesus Christ—into a faith relationship with Him—and has transformed—seen their lives transformed by the Savior.
He got up, as you would any normal day, and kissed his wife goodbye, and headed out in the car. As he was driving, he had a stroke—as a result, had an accident. The accident occurred in such a way that he hit his head, in the accident, in the area where he had the stroke. It took the pressure off the brain and, ultimately, saved his life.
Today, he’s coming back. He’s not there. He’s paralyzed on the left side of his body; but he’s—it’s starting to come back a bit. But I’m thinking of this book. I’m thinking, as he goes through the rigors of rebuilding the brain and reconnecting all the neurons—asking God to give him strength back in his left arm and in his left leg—what a great way for a couple to get in the Book. Before you’re done here, I want you to sign a copy to my friend.
Robert: Oh, I’d love that; of course.
Dennis: Be great.
Robert: Of course.
Dennis: But I’m thinking of our listeners. They need to get in the book, too.
Robert: As a matter of fact, when you get the book in your hands, you’ll see the print, at the bottom of the cover. It says, “Forward by Dennis and Barbara Rainey”.
Bob: Yes, I just noticed it. It’s in much smaller type than yours.
Robert: It is very small type.
Bob: It kind of fades—
Robert: Okay, come on. They didn’t do that much. [Laughter]
Dennis: And the book you gave me doesn’t even have my name on it.
Robert: That’s not the real book. That’s not the real book. [Laughter] Well, seriously, Bobbie and I sat down—and actually, with the publisher—and said, “Who would be our favorite choice of a Christian couple—who has walked the walk and talked the talk—who would come alongside?” You guys have been friends—
Bobbie: —who loves the Bible.
Robert: —of ours for a long time.
Bobbie: And you love the Bible—
Bobbie: —and I listen to you on the radio. When you talk about marriage, you have become a mentor to so many couples.
This all sort of came out of my Bible study—where I’m looking in the faces of these young 30-something girls. They are wondering, “Is my marriage going to make it until death do us part’?” And people like you—who use God’s Word to encourage marriages—you are one of my heroes, and Barbara, and the marriage you have had. That is one of the reasons we wanted you to write the forward, and thank you so much for doing that.
Dennis: I was honored to do it, and we just want to see couples get in the Book.
Robert: Yes, that’s right.
Dennis: —and get the Book in them.
Bob: Well, and we’ve got copies, of course, of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s called Couples of the Bible. It’s a 52-week devotional, where you take a couple—you look at their lives over the course of the week—and then, you’re on to the next couple the next week—great for married couples to go through together. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth’s book, Couples of the Bible. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, we are encouraged, here at FamilyLife, by the number of listeners who have been contacting us over the last several days—who have heard about the matching-gift challenge that has been made available to us during the month of May. We had some listeners who stepped forward and said, “We want to help you guys get through what we know can be some bumpy summer months.”
Oftentimes, ministries like ours, see a decline in donations over the course of the summer. They said, “We want to get you guys prepared for that.” So, they put together a matching gift of $576,000 dollars. Every donation we’re receiving this month is being matched by donations from that matching-gift fund. We’ve already heard from many of our listeners, who have called and said: “We want our donation to be doubled. We want you guys to be able to take full advantage of this matching gift.”
So, if you’ve been one of those who has already called us or gone online to make a donation, let me just say, “Thank you for getting in touch with us.” If you’ve not gotten in touch with us yet, there is still time. Would you consider, today, making a donation—whatever amount you can afford—to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today and to help us make it through the summer months?
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”, and simply make an online donation. When you do, that donation will be matched, dollar for dollar. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make your donation over the phone. And again, that donation will be matched, as well. Thank you, in advance, for whatever you are able to do. Please pray for us, during this month, that we will be able to take full advantage of this matching gift.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. I hope you can join us on Monday. Gary Thomas is going to be here. We’re going to talk to singles about how to know when you’re ready to pop the question and how to know if the person you are popping to is the right person. We’ll talk Monday about making, what Gary Thomas calls, “the sacred choice”. I hope you can tune in.
Thanks, today, to our engineer, Robbie Neal, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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