Another twelve favourite Bible characters
I have already devoted two chapters to a consideration of twenty-four of my favourite Bible characters and why they are “favourites”, chosen not because there are no just as worthy other candidates to consider, but somehow what they did particularly resonated with my own experience. I am using this opportunity to write about twelve more (and, even then, I can see that I am still far from done, if I were to get back to reflecting on what the Bible says concerning those I didn’t include) and with that I repeat the challenge (dear reader) for you to come up with your own list. I confine my comments on each character to single sentences.
Enoch “walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him” is as much as we know of him from the OT record, but in the NT we find a quote from his amazing book that revealed so much what went on behind the scenes (i.e. in the heavenly realm); but more importantly, in a time when people were already beginning to turn away from God, he kept the faith and remained faithful.
Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” at a time when “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”; but it was his faith and obedience to God over a period of several decades, as a built the Ark, for a Flood that looked unlikely, and urging people to repent, that ever endears him to us.
Joshua “fought the battle of Jericho … and the walls came tumbling down” hardly does justice to the monumental part he played leading Israel into the Promised Land, which included capturing this key city; for it was Joshua who, along with Caleb, spied out the land forty years earlier and alone brought back favourable reports, was mentored by Moses all that time and faithfully led Israel so they were able to take possession of the land and enjoy a measure of peace.
Samuel as a young boy heard the voice of God, responding with “speak; for thy servant heareth”, which words were to mark how he was to carry out his long ministry as a judge and prophet from that time on, as he led Israel until King Saul followed by King David (both kings he was to anoint) took over, providing timely counsel and the word of the Lord when it was so much needed.
Mephibosheth was the crippled grandson of King Saul, who David took over from, and in wanting to show kindness to those left of Saul’s house, particularly to his dear friend, Jonathan, he found Mephibosheth, who although wary given the history of conflict between the houses of Saul and David, greatly appreciated the grace that was given to him, for “he did eat continually at the king’s table”, as in another sense so can we, for the invite includes “such a dead dog as I am”.
Amos was simply a shepherd on a mission for God, as one who had taken the prophetic task on a temporary basis, but for the short but intense time in which he bravely and pulling no punches prophesied a hard-hitting message of God’s judgment to a people who were reluctant to respond, but ticked all the boxes when it came to what God wanted to say, as Israel faced almost its last chance to save itself before being taken into exile: idolatry, social injustice, immorality etc.
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign as king in Judah (the last good one), for it was said “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left”, repairing the Temple, bringing in true worship of God and removing the false, bringing in much needed reform, yet sadly too little, too late.
Ezekiel faithfully prophesied, through visions, pictures and words from the Lord, a hard hitting but much needed message, where he had to partake in some strange actions, and at personal cost, to bring home the point to his audience, concerning the final destruction of Jerusalem, and when all that had come to pass was then able to bring a message of hope, looking far ahead into the future.
Esther was the beautiful queen who was married to the most powerful man in the world at the time, who from a God perspective, even though God was never mentioned, was raised up for “such a time as this”; for it was her brave (she could accept “if I perish, I perish”), timely and wise actions, along with those of her Uncle Mordecai, that saved the Jewish people from complete annihilation.
Anna was an 85-year-old prophetess, who had been long widowed but spent much of her time in the Temple, fasting and praying, who had the joy of seeing the eight-day old Jesus and thanked God, speaking concerning of Jesus “to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”, for what an amazing lady, who undertook this much needed ministry and who God was to openly reward.
Zacchaeus “was a very little man and a very little man was he; he climbed up into a sycamore tree for the Saviour he wanted to see; and when Jesus passed that way he looked into the tree and said “now Zacchaeus, you come down, for I’m coming to your house for tea” – is how the old Sunday School chorus went; but he was also a very bad man who knew something was missing in his life and found his Saviour, restoring four-fold all what he had taken by crooked dealings.
Philip was one of the first batch of (seven) deacons to be appointed by the Early Church but, when persecution came so he had to leave Jerusalem, made effective use of the situation he found himself in by preaching the Gospel and leading a revival that was accompanied by many amazing miracles; and yet when the angel told him to go and meet the Ethiopian eunuch on his way back home, he was able to seize the opportunity and lead this man, who was hungry for the truth, to Christ.