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Unlikely Heroes - 6.30.2024 Bulletin

Unlikely Heroes

You do not have to read the Bible for very long to learn that many of the heroes we read of in the Bible are "unexpected heroes".  From shepherd boys to cupbearers to fishermen and cloth sellers, many of the heroes and heroines we read of in the Bible would not be your first choice for one to deliver God's people or to proclaim and bring about His Will.  Indeed, in Hebrews 11 we read in verse 34 that they "out of weakness were made strong."  I think perhaps sometimes a lifetime of studying and believing in the Bible makes us forget just how unusual this is, and how profound it is, especially as compared to other religions and beliefs.

Think to David for a moment, and how odd it is that not only is a shepherd boy the champion of God's people, but that he is also the youngest of his brethren.  Even Samuel had to be told by God not to look on the outward appearance, but that God looks on the heart.  Compare this to when Saul was chosen to be king.  Everyone considered him the "go-to guy", because he was much taller than everyone else, was handsome, was popular and was perceived as strong.  Yet one only has to compare the kingships of Saul and David to see the stark difference between man's choice of ruler and God's choice of ruler.  It's not that David was perfect, far from it.  The major errors David made were of course the whole incident surrounding Uriah and Bathsheba, and then again when he numbered the people despite God's command not to, and despite Joab even trying to make him change his mind.  Compare this to Saul's major errors: he did not wait for Samuel and he performed the duties of priest when he offered a sacrifice, he did not fulfill God's command to utterly annihilate the Amalekites and spared the best of their flocks and King Agag, to say nothing of the fact that he sought to murder David who was innocent.  There was even a time when Saul was ready to murder his own son Jonathan.  Yet none of these times did his heart truly repent and seek forgiveness.  This is why even despite his shortcomings, David could be called the "man after God's own heart".  He wouldn't be most people's first choice, he wasn't even Samuel's first choice, but he was God's choice, and that's what matters.

Of course whether David or other heroes, the natural question that arises is "Why"?  Why this choice of heroes and not the "Strong candidate"?  Our answer can be gleaned from a couple of verses.  Firstly, let's consider 1 Corinthians 1:27.  It specifically says God has chosen the foolish and weak to put to shame the wise and the strong.  Consider also the story of Gideon and how God whittled his army down from an initial 32,000 to merely 300, and they were going to fight against a host of Midianites.  That means he ended up with 0.94% of his original army, which is a substantial difference.  God explicitly stated that He would not give the Midianites to the 32,000 "lest Israel claim glory for itself against me" (Judges 7:2).  By using a small and "weak" force, nobody, Israelite, Midianite or otherwise could deny that God was the one fighting the battle, and as always, only obedience was able to bring this about.  Marching around a city for 7 days doesn't destroy walls, blowing horns does not cause an entire army to become frightened to the point of destroying themselves; it's the fact that they were obeying God that brought victory, just as it is with us today.

For our final and greatest example, look no further than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  To rattle off a few points: born in a tiny city, laid in a manger in a stable, grew up a carpenter and from Galilee of all places.  Never achieved great success by man's standards, and this supposed king never rallied an army, never tried to gain political power, and His "triumphal entry" was to ride on a donkey, not some mighty warhorse.  He also regularly spent time with the rejects of society, like tax collectors, harlots, sinners and even those horrid Gentiles.  Surely this isn't the promised King!  Those important and righteous looking Pharisees are much better qualified to be in charge right?  I realize this sounds preposterous to us today, but try to take aside the bias of being a Christian and think about how that would have looked in 1st Century Israel.  Isaiah 53:2 states "There is no beauty that we should desire Him".  Indeed.  Jesus' physical life wasn't very impressive by man's standards, but He was the fulfillment of all the prophecies, hopes and prayers of everyone who came before and He fulfilled everything necessary to make salvation possible for all.  1 Corinthians 1:23 says that Christ is a stumbling-block to some and foolishness to others, but really this is what God has always done.  Use the most unlikely heroes to accomplish His goal, and the ultimate Hero is Jesus.  As one of our hymns go, "I believe that He's the Answer for me."

DY

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