Do you think about the heroes in the Bible? Do you ever wonder what their lives were like or what lessons you could learn from them? Let’s spend a few minutes doing that now.
Who Is Considered a Hero in the Bible?
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As we begin our look at some of the heroes in the Bible, it’s important to understand who is a hero. Furthermore, we need to establish how the people of the Bible defined heroism. Did the people of the Bible even have a word for a hero?
The biblical definition of a hero
Today, a hero is someone who champions the cause of others. We may even use the word to describe someone because of what they have accomplished. A person who is courageous or is thought to have a noble character may be called a hero.
In Genesis 10:8-9, we read these words,
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. (KJV, emphasis added)
Nimrod, who lived in the time after the Great Flood, was the first person who was referred to as a mighty man in the Bible.
The Hebrew word translated as mighty is gibbôwr or gibbôr (pronounced ghib-bore’). Gibbôr can also be translated as powerful, warrior, tyrant, champion, chief, excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), or valiant man. And yes, the word tyrant is an option for the translation. As we will see in the verse below, the word “tyrant” makes perfect sense:
Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. (1 Samuel 17:51 KJV, emphasis added )
If you had asked the Philistines to make a list of the heroes in the Bible, I’m sure Goliath would have been among the numbers. On the other hand, the Israelites would definitely nominate David as their hero. But with such disparate choices, who should we truly consider a hero?
As Christians, we should be looking for people who walked with God: men and women who had strong faith that was able to carry them through tough times. For us, the heroes in the Bible are those who stood up for God. Let’s talk about some of those heroes now.
Child Heroes in the Bible
There are not many children heroes in the Bible but there are a couple that stands out. These children teach us that when it comes to standing up for God, there’s no age requirement.
1. Little Maid:
We read about her in 2 Kings 5:2-4 as part of Naaman the leper’s story. We didn’t get a lot of detail about Little Maid but her faith stood as a testimony to Naaman and remains as a testimony for us.
She had no proof that it had been done before but she believed that the prophet who lived in Israel could call on the God of heaven who could heal her master’s leprosy.
Can you imagine the courage it must have taken for this eight-year-old boy to stand up to all the adults around him? When Josiah found out what God required of Israel, he repented and led the nation into a series of religious reforms. We can read about this biblical hero in 2 Kings 22:1-23:27.
Male Heroes in the Bible
There are many male heroes in the Bible: men who stood up for God regardless of the consequences. Some of these men taught others the Word of God, they lived exemplary lives that encouraged others to believe in God and to serve Him. Others started religious reforms or taught new believers what it meant to be a child of God.
This leader of Israel is one of the main heroes in the Bible. David’s rise to fame began when he was just a lad after he killed Goliath the giant claiming the victory in the name of the God of Israel.
David continued to walk with God throughout his life and though he made mistakes along the way, his faith stands as a testimony to believers across the world and throughout the ages. David’s story is one of the most detailed accounts in the Bible and
This leader of Israel is one of the more familiar heroes in the Bible. The first five books of the Bible, as well as, a number of psalms were written by this man who spoke with God face to face (Exodus 33:11). Moses faced down the Egyptian Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelite slaves. God used him to liberate Israel and teach His people for the 40 years they wandered in the Wilderness.
This is one of my favorite Bible heroes. We first meet Caleb in Numbers 13:6 when he’s listed among the leaders who were selected to survey the Promised land. The next time we saw Caleb, he was standing with Joshua against the ten spies who claimed that the Israelites could not prevail against the people of the land (Numbers 14:6-10).
Caleb believed that God could deliver the Promised Land to His people though they were outnumbered and outgunned. Even when Caleb was 85 years old, he still believed in God’s ability to do mighty things through him (Joshua 14:6-15).
Like Caleb, Joshua stood against the ten spies who insisted that the people of Canaan could defeat the people of God. Joshua succeeded Moses as leader of Israel and went on to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
What made Joshua a Bible hero was his faith. After he had ensured that the children of Israel had gotten their inheritance, Joshua stood before his people and boldly declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
This hero of the Bible is best known for his efforts in interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream and putting plans in place which saves a lot of people including his family.
But Joseph’s story isn’t all about glory and pomp. He was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:12-36), was falsely accused of a crime, and spent time in prison (Genesis 39). Joseph is considered a biblical hero because he didn’t allow his circumstances to dictate what he could become. Instead, he trusted God and was rewarded for his faith.
Female Heroes in the Bible
There are many female heroes in the Bible: women who followed God and did His will. The New Testament talks about women who followed Jesus and supported His ministry, women who lived faithfully and taught their children to do the same.
Under God’s direction, Deborah sent for Barak, son of Abinoam, and told him to go against the king of Canaan. Barak refused to go unless Deborah went with him. It was Deborah’s faith that bolstered Barak before the battle and that’s why she’s a Bible hero.
This heroine of faith lived during the time of the judges and was a prophet in Israel. At a time when many Israelites indulged in idolatry, Deborah stood for the God of Israel. She served as a judge for her people and paid a crucial role in encouraging Barak when he led the army of Israel against Jabin, king of Canaan. Read her story in Judges 4:1-14.
Her story is told in just a few verses but it’s a powerful one (Acts 9:36-42). Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, was a humanitarian of the early church. She loved the poor and did much for them until the day she died.
At her death, the people were so distraught that they stood around her bed weeping. Two believers went to call Peter who had been spending time in Joppa and he came. He spoke a few words to her and she rose from the dead.
This miracle became known throughout the region and many people believed in God. In this way, Dorcas is a hero of the Bible. She lived her life in such a way that when she died people mourned because they had witnessed her impact. The miracle of her resurrection resulted in many people believing in the God that she served.
This young Jewish girl who became the queen of Persia is a stalwart hero in the Bible. Esther risked death when she approached the king unbidden. She pleaded for the lives of her people and saved them from the annihilation that was planned by Haman, the enemy of the Jews.
11. Mary, the mother of Jesus
In any day and age, it takes courage to be a parent. Mary accepted the honor and challenge of being the mother of our Lord. When she said yes to God, she didn’t know if Joseph would stand beside her while she carried what would have looked like a child conceived out of wedlock (Matthew 1:18-2:23, Luke 1:26-2:50).
12. The woman with the issue of blood
This nameless hero of the Bible had had powerful faith that inspired the people of her time in a way that stretches through the ages. After 12 years of suffering, she believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’s garment she would be healed (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48).
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