Be Encouraged by Biblical Heroes

The Bible encourages us that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Ro.15:4). The Christian person may often feel as though he is alone in this world, and that the world is a pretty hostile place. What is he to do?

Firstly, he should take encouragement from the promise of Jesus Christ: “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat.28:20). Secondly, he must take solace and encouragement from the Biblical record; countless numbers of people who have believed that the Word of God is true, and have acted accordingly.

These recorded lives of men and women in the Bible, along with the records of countless saints in history, should be an encouragement for us. All these people quickly found out that for most people, life is not easy; it has its challenges-its pain. But the records of the saints should encourage us, that as they trusted in the promises of God and succeeded, so can we.

Many times in my Christian experience, I have found myself identifying with some individual in the Bible. I found myself saying, “that’s just how it seems to be for me right now,” as I considered that person’s life, and what was happening to me.

I remember when about twenty one, and the youngest of five children and the only believer, being impacted by the story of Joseph, when he met his brothers when they came down to Egypt. The Bible faithfully records his deep emotional response at his restoration with them, and I felt it very keenly too. Thirty five years later, I’m still hoping and praying for God to do His work there.

The fact is, God is not some hard-hearted inhabitant of heaven. He understands us. The Bible says that “… He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Ps.103:14). The Bible encourages us that Jesus “offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety” (Heb.5:7). This should remind and encourage us to faithfully and frankly address our petitions to God, knowing that He hears our every utterance and cry.

Another man who had conflict with his brothers that initially went against him, was Jephthah. (I have had a few times when it seemed that if I got into a phone booth with all myfriends, it wouldn’t be constricted, when Jephthah and I seemed to have a lot in common.)

Because he was the son of another woman who appeared to be a harlot, they ganged up on him over their father’s inheritance, and rejected him. Then the Bible says that “Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob” (Judges 11:3). The most reassuring aspect of this, was that God even used his brothers’ rejection of him, to work out His purpose. Later on, God brought him back, and he had a taste of something which a lot of great Biblical characters experienced: resurrection.

I remember in 1993, being powerfully impacted by the godly choices that Moses made, which are carefully described in Hebrews 11:24-27; how he “…refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

Little was I to know that twelve years afterwards, I found myself in a similar moral dilemma, and was challenged to make such a choice. Moses’ life was an example and encouragement to me at the time. God hasn’t left anything out of His record.

Abraham, Gideon and Rahab (who are all described in Hebrews 11) are all great examples of godly faithfulness.

1.Firstly, God apprehended these individuals for His purpose.

Rahab made it abundantly clear to the two spies that she knew all about their God, the God of Israel. Speaking to them of the conquest over the Egyptians and the defeat of the kings of the Amorites Sihon and Og, she said that “…our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11).

Her welcome of them, and her fear of God expressed on the occasion, typified her apprehension by the God of Israel.

Has Jesus Christ apprehended you? If so, there is a lot more still to come.

2.Secondly, they believed God’s Word to be true.

When Gideon heard the Word of the Lord, he had his reservations about obeying it; he took some convincing. But as his faith in God grew, his belief became more confident, and bolder. In a short space of time, he went from obediently cutting down an altar to Baal, to successfully leading a reduced group of 300 soldiers against an army of the Midianites and Amalekites and all the sons of the east “…as numerous as locusts” (Judges 7:12).

Are you too, believing that God’s Word is true?

3.Thirdly, they lived their lives in accordance with their belief in God.

Abraham knew that Isaac was a miraculous child from Sarah’s barren womb, and that God had promised him that his progeny lay with Isaac (Gen.17:15-21). But when the Word of the Lord came to him, requiring that he sacrifice Isaac to the Lord (Gen.22:1-2), he had no hesitation in following the Lord’s direction. If necessary, he knew that God could bring him back from a pile of ashes on Mount Moriah.

Are you obeying God’s Word too?

4.Fourth, their choice of godliness and obedience to the Lord, meant that they faced crises.

Abraham had a godly duty to rescue Lot when he had been kidnapped (Gen.14:11-16); he took his life in his hands and went and delivered him. Rahab faced a crisis when the two spies visited her in Jericho. She knew they were men of God, but if she was found out for sheltering them, she risked certain death for treason. She had to lie to protect both them and herself. The Bible clearly vindicates her deception of the king of Jericho (see James 2:24-26).

Are your crises merely brought about by your folly, or are they a result of your obedience to God?

5.Fifth, God vindicated them and blessed them. The Bible says that “…the Lord had blessed Abraham  in every way” (Gen.24:1), and that he died “…an old man satisfied with life…” (Gen.25:8). Rahab was graciously grafted into the ancestry of Jesus as a result of her faithfulness (Mat.1:5).

Do you expect to be vindicated and blessed for your obedience to God?

Conclusion: The Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday today and forever” (Heb.13:8). The Biblical examples of people who walked with God are there for a reason; the Lord wanted to encourage us, through their example.

Take heart Christian friend; God hasn’t finished with you yet! The trials of life are a part of the job description for the believer, and you will be grateful for them in time.

If you are faithful to God, one day you’ll be with Abraham, Rahab and Gideon in glory, and you might have a story to tell them!

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