Here are four lesser-known Bible heroes.
Caleb the Faithful Witness
When Moses sent the 12 spies into the Promised Land, they all gave a good report of the land. It was “exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey” (Numbers 14:7b-8). Even though the other 10 spies gave the same report, they said, “’We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.’ So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height’” (Numbers 13:31-32). Because of this negative view, “all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness’” (Numbers 14:1-2). Most people remember Joshua, who took over for Moses; but few remember Caleb, who was equally faithful to God because both he and Joshua knew that God could deliver them from the inhabitants. If your difficulties are too big, then you have a god that is too small. If your God is as He is–big–then your problems are small. Caleb is often overlooked, but he along with Joshua and Moses were faithful when the majority was not. This shows that frequently, the majority is wrong!
Martha and Mary
These two women were apparently women of means. That is, they had some wealth and shared that wealth by supporting Jesus’ ministry when few others did. It seems that those who supported Jesus’ ministry were mainly women, as they seemed to be the main ones, as it says in Luke 8:1-3, “Soon afterward he (Jesus) went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” If not for these women, Jesus’ ministry would have had little or no financial support; thereby, Martha, Mary, Susanna, Joanna, and a lot of other women are true heroes (really heroines) of the Bible that you might not think much about.
Why would Thomas be a biblical hero you might overlook or not know about? For one thing, he forsook everything to follow Christ. And at one point when Jesus was going to return to Bethany to eventually raise Lazarus from the dead, His disciples warned Him, “A short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back (John 11:8)?” But what does Thomas say to Jesus and to the rest of the disciples? “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Poor old Thomas is often disparaged and overlooked and is called Doubting Thomas, which the Bible never calls him. But wouldn’t we have had doubts, too, after seeing Jesus crucified and murdered on the cross? I know I would have, so I can’t be too hard on him. Besides, there is some evidence that Thomas ended up as a missionary in faraway India; and he was establishing a church there when he was, ironically, stabbed and died from a spear wound to his side. Maybe it was the same side Jesus said “put out your hand, and place it in my side” (John 20:27).
Phinehas Saves Israel
I imagine you haven’t even heard of Phinehas. He was the son of Eleazar, who was the son of Aaron. So he was apparently a very young man whom almost no one has heard about. Yet he sparred the whole nation of Israel. How so? There was a young man by the name of Zimri, and he had blatantly defied the Lord and flaunted his rebellion in front of Moses and the entire congregation of Israel (Numbers 25:6). But no one did anything about it–except Phinehas. Because Zimri felt too important to submit, obey, and humble himself before the Lord because he was a leader among one of the chief tribes, Simeon, he began to corrupt the people of Israel by sinning with the Moabites, a detestable, pagan, children-sacrificing people. Seeing that no one else was doing anything about it, Phinehas rushed toward him in fierce anger because he was despising the Lord and His holiness. He slew him on the spot. Do you think God valued this? Yes, because “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel’” (Numbers 25:10-13). Phinehas is often overlooked; and yet, because of him, God turned back His wrath and did not destroy Israel as a whole. Ever feel that way when someone uses God’s holy name as a curse or swear word? It should. It angers me. Imagine how angry God gets at that.
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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