When I was younger, I remember hearing all the stories in Sunday school about the “heroes” of the Bible; Abraham, Noah, Moses, Deborah, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, David, etc. My teachers would talk about all the great and godly things these men and women did and that we should model our lives after them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to conquer vast armies with only 300 soldiers, throw a stone and kill a huge giant and rescue millions of people from slavery? Sign me up!
But as I got older, I started reading about these characters on my own and discovered some things about them that either my teachers conveniently left out or I had completely missed all together. Things that didn’t make these people seem like heroes at all, but rather what you would get arrested for in 2017. I found myself having a difficult time looking up to these people and wanting to emulate my life after them. And the issues in these heroes’ lives were not small things like struggling with biting your nails or sometimes having too much ice cream at night. These failures were colossal bad choices that effected many of these people for the rest of their lives. So why did my teachers call them heroes? Were we just reading two different Bibles, one “G” rated and the other “R” or is there something else going on here? We’ll spend the next couple of blog posts looking at these characters and what it means to be a true hero. Let’s start with Abraham today though.
Abraham does have some great things he did in his life such as obey God’s call to leave everything in faith, put his nephew Lot first when selecting a field to settle, saving Lot from his enemies and trusting God with a future heir. But we also see some serious failures in Abraham’s life. At the suggestion of his wife, he not only has an affair with the maidservant, but marries her as his second wife. This ordeal is wrong on a number of fronts.
First, rather than trusting God with the promise that Abraham received, he completely disobeyed God and decided to take matters into his own hands. Secondly, when his wife suggested he sleep with her maidservant, as the leader of his family, he should have stood up to Sarah and said this was a bad idea and they should trust God. Thirdly, he has an affair with a women. This is huge. This one choice to have an intimate time with Hagar resulted in lifelong consequences for all parties involved. This was surely one of the worst choices Abraham ever made. And lastly, he makes Hagar his wife. This means Abraham now has two wives. He would have known though from God’s original commands that God designed marriage to be between one man and one women. So, once again, Abraham makes a horrible choice that will have lifelong consequences.
So when we read about Abraham, how can we point to him as a hero? Sure he did some commendable things, but to be unloving towards your wife, have an affair, practice polygamy and be a habitual liar doesn’t seem like someone we would want to model our lives after. And I believe we find here our first point of looking at these people; they were never meant to be seen as heroes; they were meant to point us to the real hero – Jesus. Although these men and women have certain characteristics that are worthy for us to adopt and cultivate in our lives, and we should, they are not to be seen as stalwarts of the faith that we should build our lives around. They point us to the real person to build our lives around; Jesus. He is the only hero who is absolutely perfect and the one who can save us from our sins. No other person, including ourselves, can do that.
Join me next month as we look at Gideon and how his successes and failures both point us to Christ!