I love superhero movies. I like watching these men and women use their otherworldly powers to save humanity over and over again. Yet there are some things that have always bothered me about these superheroes:
- In the beginning, the bad guy beats them up.
- There is some flaw in the hero or there’s this one thing that can result in their destruction.
Yet invariably there’s a disaster and everyone starts clamoring for the hero. The comic book industry did much to popularize the concept of hero and villain. But I believe that humanity has always looked for someone to save them.
What Are the Traits of A Hero?
My son likes to ask me the question: “If you could have any superpower what would it be?” The list includes things like super speed, super strength, telekinetic ability, flight, and time travel. I’m always challenged to answer because there’s usually a limit to the number of powers that he allows me to select.
There are many characteristics that we believe a good hero should have. The major ones are:
- Strength – physical and moral
The list gets even longer as we start to add superpowers like speed, strength, and the whole works. But if I could write a job description for my superhero it would look something like this:
I want someone to fight for me even when the trouble I’m in is because of my own foolish choice. I want him to do it because he cares for me and not only out of some sort of obligation. It shouldn’t be a “well I have all these superpowers so I have to save people” kind of thing. And if it is my fault, he shouldn’t rub my face in it
I want someone who is not afraid of the villain. I know we have this new concept that a “true hero” is someone who’s afraid and does what needs to be done anyway. I’m all for the “everyday hero”. But I want my hero to be someone the bad guy’s afraid of and not the other way around.
A man of integrity – my hero should have an incorruptible code of conduct. He should be above bribes and unethical behavior. He should be someone who says what he means and does what he says he will do. If he says he’s going to be there at x time, then he should be there. I shouldn’t be worrying about politic-speak because he won’t double-talk me.
I want a hero who does not have flaws. He should be mighty and courageous and superior in every way. I like Superman but his susceptibility to kryptonite is beyond ridiculous. Especially when every bad guy in the world had access to it and knew how to use it.
He always on call. There are no days off, no sick time, or any vacation days. While I may not need saving every second of the day, my hero needs to be available in case I need him.
Humility is a must. The last thing I want is a hero who’s always flaunting the things he does for me on social media or on the news. I don’t want him to get to the point that he becomes so caught up in his “likes” that he loses sight of his biggest job.
I know you’re probably wondering why I’ve decided to go on a superhero rant. Let me explain. I started thinking about the traits that we should look for in a hero. Then I wondered, “What’s the Hebrew word for hero?”
A little bit of Google research revealed the word gibbor. Next, I read this post on the subject of the translation of the word gibbor.
The Strong’s number for gibbor is H1368. It can be translated as powerful, warrior, tyrant, champion, chief, excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man. And yes, the word tyrant is an option for the translation. As we look at some of the verses where the word was used it makes perfect sense:
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. (Genesis 10:8-9 KJV, emphasis added)
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 )
So I started thinking: “What if we thought of God as our hero?”
Is God Your Hero?
Some time ago I did an interview with Francesca Price of Flourishing Families. One of the questions I asked her was “Who’s your favorite superhero?” With two young children at home, I expected her to respond with the name of one of the Marvel or DC characters. To my surprise, her response was “Jesus is my superhero.”
What characteristics of the triune God should make him our hero?
Let’s examine the traits of God that make him the Ultimate Superhero.
In Genesis 3:1 the first villain makes an appearance. He beguiles the woman into disobedience by twisting words and causing doubt. In a few short verses, humanity goes from perfection to being in need of a savior. God steps in and makes a promise that the Messiah – the Ultimate Savior – will come to save the human race.
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15 NKJV
Immediately the villain knows that he cannot win. He only “bruises our hero’s heel” but gets his head crushed. Thus began the most complex and epic superhero vs. supervillain conflict of all times. We know that in due season the Messiah came and died for our sins as the ultimate sacrifice. God kept his word.
We see repeated examples in scripture that God is faithful. He keeps his promises even when his people are disobedient and fail to hold up their end of the deal.
A Savior of All
Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth so that every person who ever lived or who will ever be born has a chance to receive eternal life.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 KJV, emphasis added)
Mighty in Battle
You may be familiar with El Gibbor as one of the names of God. El Gibbor translates to ‘The Mighty God’.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. (Psalm 24:8 KJV, emphasis added)
One of my favorite stories is found in Joshua 5:3-15. On the verge of storming the city of Jericho Joshua sees a man with a drawn sword. Joshua doesn’t recognize him so he asks, “Are you an enemy or a friend?”
The man replies, “I am a commander of the army of the Lord.”
God is not only mighty in battle, but he also commands a mighty army. He is Elohim Tsebaoth.
Man of Integrity
A lot of times we witness the fall of great men and women in our society. They accept bribes or commit crimes. God is above bribery and corruption. He doesn’t need anything so there’s nothing that anyone can offer him to cause him to favor them over another person.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. (Deuteronomy 10:17 NKJV, emphasis added)
If we read the Bible and substituted ‘hero’ wherever we see ‘mighty’, ‘champion’ or ‘giant’, familiar stories would get a new twist. We would see the difference between the human heroes and God who is the Ultimate Hero.
For example, in the story of David and Goliath, there are two heroes, or at least a superhero and a villain. Goliath is the villain of the story yet he was the Philistine’s champion. In his case, we see how he lorded his superiority over the Israelites. Goliath taunted them every day for 40 days. He knew there was no one in the Israel camp who could match him for size or strength.
Then we see a young boy less than half his size take him on and win. David exhibited an audacious kind of bravery as he approached Goliath. After he killed Goliath he was the hero of the Israel people.
But even David, as valiant as he was, was not perfect. His flaws led to the murder of a man. They almost led to a civil war (twice) when one of his sons rebelled against the ruling monarchy.
Even the fastest superhero can’t be everywhere at once. God can. He is Omni-present.
Superheroes have to rely on being able to access and interpret information as it unfolds. If the intelligence is faulty, their reaction will be too. Goes know everything before it happens. He is omniscient. He has access to every piece of information that exists or will exist. He is All-Knowing.
No Hidden Flaws
Achilles was a mighty warrior in Greek mythology who was almost invulnerable. His only vulnerable area was his heel. Some legends claim that Achilles died when he was shot in the heel by an arrow.
We have the joy of knowing that God cannot be defeated or destroyed. He has no hidden flaws. He’s not allergic to kryptonite or averse to anything. He is Omnipotent.
God meets all the criteria of a perfect superhero. Why then do we not give him the praise and adoration that he deserves?
Who is your hero? Is it a family member or a close friend? A public figure? What if you made Jesus your hero?