Before I read the Bible for the first time, I knew there were many Bible heroes. What I did not know was what made them Bible heroes. Would you believe that every hero in the Bible had one thing in common?
I was 43 years old before finishing my first reading. There were many characters with many different backgrounds, lineages, and titles. I expected that I would be reading about many examples of godly men and women that I could model my life around. This was true, but not in the way that I thought.
Who were the Bible heroes?
We can glean examples of both how to live and how not to live from just about every character in the Bible. I was surprised to learn how much I had in common with these men and women. I learned that maybe even I could have been a Bible hero.
The Bible contains very few characters whose faults do not bear mentioning. Enoch, Esther, Daniel, John the Baptist, and John the Apostle come to mind.
Spoiler alert…Jesus lived a perfect life. He is certainly heroic. He is God. Though saying that Jesus was the only hero in the Bible would be true, it would also be cheating. That will not be the topic this week.
Some big names in the Bible were not such squeaky-clean examples:
Abraham (the artist formerly known as Abram) didn’t seem to mind throwing his wife in front of an oncoming caravan to save himself (Genesis 12:13, 20:2). Even though God told Abraham that he and his wife Sarai would have many children, Abraham decided to give it a go with Sarai’s maid, Hagar.
But God blessed Abraham through Sarah (God changed her name too), and he fathered the Jewish nation. It would seem that God’s giving Sarah her first child at the age of 90 made a believer out of Abraham. When God later asked Abraham to sacrifice this son, Abraham’s faith in what God had already told him allowed Abraham to follow God’s orders faithfully, and his son was spared. Abraham later got a star on the walk of faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.
Moses murdered an Egyptian who was in the middle of beating a Hebrew slave (Exodus 2:12). This drove him into hiding for 40 years before he met God at the burning bush. Even after he was in God’s employ leading the Jews to the Promised Land, he had anger management issues that kept him from ever seeing their new country.
Still, Moses was not only tasked with leading the Jews out of Egypt but he was also given the job of writing (most of) the first 5 books of the Bible and has a couple of paragraphs to his credit in Hebrews 11 as well.
King David was faithful from childhood and was anointed king by Samuel as per God’s orders. David took one look at Bathsheba, though, and had to have her (2 Samuel 11:2-5). Even though she was married to David’s top general, Uriah, David didn’t care and slept with her. Then…he had Uriah sent to the front so that he would be killed in battle. There’s coveting someone’s wife, adultery, lying, and murder. That’s four out of ten broken commandments right there. That would be a ‘D’ in most school districts.
Because of David’s underlying devotion to God, however, his meditation on God’s Word, and his repentant heart, God forgave David. God felt that David was a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). David was allowed to pen over half of the book of Psalms and Jesus would come from David’s line.
Speaking of Paul, he wrote at least 13 books in the New Testament. He began many of the very first first-century Christian churches. Paul devoted much of his life to spreading and fostering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unchurched, Gentile world.
Paul’s first job, though, was persecuting, jailing, and likely executing Christ’s followers; all in the name of the Jewish faith.
But then there were some real hot messes whom I believe we will meet in heaven someday.
Ruth was from Moab. Moab was an idolatrous country on whom God would pass judgment in the book of Amos. Ruth accepted God, however, and wound up in Jesus’ bloodline.
Rahab was a prostitute from Canaan (another area under God’s condemnation). She accepted God, however, and aided the Jews in overthrowing Jericho. She was spared in the invasion and also found a place in the bloodline of Jesus.
Matthew was a tax collector (not an honorable profession in New Testament times) when he ran into Jesus. He became an Apostle, though, and wrote the first book of the Gospel.
Peter would betray Jesus 3 times. Let’s face it, Peter had issues. I’ve heard Jesus’ disciples referred to as the duh-ciples before. Peter would be the first Gospel preacher and become the foundational father of the Christian church.
King Solomon had every conceivable possession and may have been the wealthiest man who ever lived. He may have also committed every sin under the sun. But Solomon knew God and was allowed to build His temple in Jerusalem.
Hopefully, Solomon’s conclusion is the same conclusion that all of us who are saved finally come to:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
The title of this blog is “Saved for Later.” I am inspired by many of these characters because of their ages when God put them to work:
Noah was over 500 years old when God tapped him to build the ark.
Abraham was 75 when he heard God’s voice for the first time.
Moses was 80 when he encountered God at the burning bush.
Paul was believed to be about 30 when he met Jesus.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)
I mentioned last week how it was not our faith that saved us, but the object of our faith, Christ’s work on the cross. We will see the consistent theme in the Bible that its characters’ faith was counted to them as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 4:4-5; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).
We are saved by God’s grace which manifests itself in the gift of Jesus Christ. The only way to receive that gift is through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:36).
So the point isn’t when the heroes of the Bible were chosen by God to do work in His name. And God did not only pick out stand-up folks. On the contrary, Bible heroes were people moved on by God to do work in His name, regardless of how much they had messed up their lives. God can use anyone. God can use you or me.
What do they have in common?
The common denominator of every Bible hero is that it wasn’t until God moved in their lives that they were ever anything special.
I find this fact most encouraging when I consider how late in life I was saved. God can use any of us anywhere at any time, no matter what our circumstances or what we have done. When we come to Christ – when we are saved – our pasts no longer matter. We are forgiven.
No matter who you are or what you have done, God can still use you. You can still be a hero for God.
Even if you were saved for later!
Saved for Later is a blog for the recently – or almost – saved adult. To get more of the foundational truths that we were not taught in childhood, subscribe to this blog. Please ‘like’, comment, and share!
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.