Everyone loves a story of survival and victory; one that has a clear hero. Children’s books and movies are dedicated to telling the story of heroes; some are fairy tale type stories such as Snow White and Cinderella. There are also some true stories of heroes and we can find them in the Bible. Here are just 7 famous heroes in the Bible and some of the things that holy men of God, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down.
Noah – A hero that walked with God
We first see this hero in the book of Genesis when we see some of his lineage:
28And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died. (Genesis 5:28-3
Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen 5:32; 6:10). And the Bible says that Noah found grace in the sight of the LORD. It also says that he was a just man, perfect in his generations and that he walked with God (Gen 6:9).
Noah lived at a time when the world was becoming continually evil. This was something that grieved God and so God decided to start over again. God said to Noah:
… The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:13)
And God’s plan was to take Noah and his family (because Noah was righteous before God) and save them from the destruction of the world. Noah did what God commanded him to do – build an ark. One of the amazing facts about this event is that Noah was 600 years old when he began building the ark (Gen. 7:6). Noah believed God when he said that it was going to rain, even though there had never been rain from the sky up until that time (Gen. 2:5).
Why can we consider Noah a hero? Because he trusted God and walked by faith to save his family and the pairs of animals that God said to take onto the ark. Noah was used by God to preserve the human race and the animal kingdom.
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. 23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:21-24)
Abraham – A hero that had a covenant with God
Abraham is first mentioned in the Bible with his original name “Abram”. He is the son of Terah and he had brothers and sisters:
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. (Genesis 11:25-27)
As we read through Genesis 11 we see that Abram’s father took him and his wife and his brother’s son Lot to live in the land of Canaan. But God had other plans for Abram. He told him to take his wife and family and leave his father. Abram was seventy-five when he did as the Lord commanded him to do.
God was pleased with Abram’s obedience and in Genesis 12 God makes a promise to Abram:
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. (Genesis 12:7)
Abram had some fleshly challenges in his life. Like when he came into Egypt with his wife. The Egyptians liked how his wife looked and he feared that they would harm her so he lied an told them she was his sister (Gen 12). And he had challenges with the King of Sodom. And then received a message from the LORD in what seemed like a nightmare (Gen 14 & 15). And we can’t forget that Abram doubted that he would ever have children so he listened to his wife talk him into making a baby with her handmaid (Gen 16). But then in chapter 17 God reminds Abram that he will have a son and it will not be the one that Hagar the handmaid bore to him. Abram’s name is changed to Abraham in Genesis 17 when God reaffirms His covenant with him.
Abraham is mentioned with many others in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith. In Galatians Paul talks about Abraham’s seed once again:
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)
We have been grafted into the inheritance that God promised Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12. Abraham is a great hero of faith and it is by faith that he is considered righteous (Galatians 3:6). Because of his faithfulness that covenant is passed on to us.
Jacob – A hero and a chosen people
Jacob was the son of Isaac and he had 12 sons who eventually became the first tribes of Israel. He bought the birthright from his twin brother with a bowl of pottage. The most famous Bible account of Jacob is how his father-in-law tricked him on his wedding night. He labored for years and years so that he could have the hand of Rachel whom he loved. After the marriage ceremony, Jacob’s father-in-law switched Rachel with her sister Leah (the oldest daughter) and so the marriage was consummated with the wrong wife. He also married Rachel and had children with Leah, her handmaid, Rachel’s handmaid and then eventually with Rachel.
Jacob did not always walk with God and in fact it wasn’t until after he physically wrestled with God, losing the match and gaining a permanent limp from his dislocated hip. This is when Jacob finally turned to God. This was also when God renamed him to Israel, which means “struggles with God”.
Israel is the chosen people of God and the descendants of Jacob (Isaiah 44:1). So then Jacob is the father of the chosen people. Since Israel rejected the message of salvation it was offered to the Gentiles:
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13)
The Bible calls Jacob a hero of faith because “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). That staff was a constant reminder to Jacob that he was not stronger than God and when you wrestle with God you can not win.
Mordecai – An unsung hero
This is a lesser known hero in the Bible. Not a lot of things are written about him and as a matter of fact his name (other than lineage) only appears in one book, Esther. And in that book he is a main character.
Mordecai was a Jew and he raised a beautiful girl named Hadassah, who was really his Uncle’s daughter. Mordecai raised Hadassah as his own daughter because she had no mother or father (Esther 2:7).
Mordecai was in the service of the king in the palace since the time he had been held captive during two previous kingships. Well, as the account goes the current king, Ahasuerus, was in search of a new queen because the former queen was dethroned because she refused to come when the king summoned her. The king was calling for young maidens to come to the palace and be in the custody of Hegai, the keeper of women while they were prepared to audition before the king. Among these women was Esther (Hadassah), Mordecai’s daughter, whose nationality as a Jew was hidden from Hegai. Esther was well liked by Hegai so he took care to give her the things for her purification so that she could be presented to the king.
Long story short – the king liked Esther too and took her as his queen. Throughout the book of Esther you see that Mordecai continues to have a relationship with Esther, only in private because he does not want anyone to know of her true heritage. Mordecai is a man of God (even though God is never mentioned in this book). It comes to pass that Mordecai overhears a plot to kill the king and he tells this to Esther, who then tells the king, giving credit to Mordecai for the information.
As the story moves on a certain man named Haman was promoted as one of the king’s right hand man and everyone bowed to him but Mordecai refused to bow to him. Because of this Haman sought to kill all the Jews in the kingdom because he knew these were Mordecai’s people. Haman convinced the king that this was the right thing to do and so the king authorized the massacre.
This plot greatly distressed Mordecai and when Esther’s servant brought her the news that Mordecai was outside in the city she sent someone to go find out what was distressing him. Mordecai sent word back to the queen of the evil plot. Mordecai convinced Esther to appeal to the king and because of Mordecai’s persistence the king called off the plan and eventually even executed Haman, whom he learned was plotting to kill the people of the man who saved his life in times past.
Many would believe that Esther was the hero in this account, but I believe Mordecai’s care for her from childhood and continued love for her was the reason she risked her own life to appeal to the king. Mordecai’s cry for help to his little girl – now the queen saved the queen and her people. Mordecai was an unsung hero.
Joseph of Nazareth – A hero and a Daddy
Even people who generally don’t read the Bible know of the carpenter who was espoused to Mary when she became pregnant with Jesus. He was not a man of any real notoriety. He was not a rich man. He was simply a man who had promised to take Mary as his wife.
God chose Mary as the vessel that would deliver Jesus the Christ and he even chose Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly father. He gave the news to Joseph by a messenger.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: (Matthew 1:19-24)
Joseph took on a huge responsibility; he agreed with God and became Jesus’ earthly father. I would imagine that there were many times that Joseph was just like any other Daddy. He taught Jesus how to speak and walk and buckle his sandals and he even trained him in his trade as was the practice in Biblical times and still holds true today. We don’t hear about the relationship between Joseph, Mary, Jesus and his other brothers and sisters, but we should believe that Joseph was just the right one to be husband to Mary and Daddy to Jesus. I often think of my Daddy as a hero and so I believe that Joseph was a hero too; perhaps a hero to our Savior.
Heroes & Martyrs
John the Baptist
John was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the cousin of Jesus. He spent his life preparing the way for his cousin and Savior. The Bible says this about him:
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:1-4).
He was imprisoned for speaking out against King Herod Antipas, who married his own brother’s wife, Herodias. Later, John ws beheaded at the request of Herodias’s daughter.
We don’t have much detail about John’s life in the Bible but clearly we can see that he went to prison standing on the word of the Lord and even gave his life for something he believed to be the truth. In this sense, John the Baptist was a hero to all who stand for truth, even when personal freedom and life is sacrificed for it.
Considered to be the first martyr for Christianity, Stephen was stoned to death by order of Saul of Tarsus. Take a look at what the Bible says about him:
He did great things
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. (Acts 6:8)
His words of the Lord made some angry
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: (Acts 6:12-13)
The truth was written on his face, even under adversity
And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15)
He was full of the Holy Ghost
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55-56)
He interceded to God on his killer’s behalf with his last breath
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)
His death sent missionaries into all the world
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (Acts 8:1-4)
Stephen, like John the Baptist preached about the Lord and His mighty works till his dying day. Heroes like this are often forgotten. I can’t forget Stephen nor the one who ordered his death—Saul of Tarsus, the same man who was saved on the road to Damascus and trusted to deliver the gospel of grace to the Gentiles.
I am thankful for the heroes of the Bible and for the stories that have been recorded about them. Recounting the amazing facts of their lives is something that we should do regularly with our children and then our children can teach them to their children so we never forget what these men did to secure our freedom in Christ.
The Holy Bible, King James Version