Tag Archives: Bible characters
Everyone likes different bits of the Bible and has their own favorite Bible stories and characters, especially as children. Certain aspects of a story or character may attract our attention, perhaps because we identify with them, or they echo parts of our own lives, or they do exciting things that we would like to do.
I remember a few months ago at church, we did an exercise where everyone wrote down their favorite Bible character and then we stuck them on a huge Bible time-line. It was interesting to see that the characters chosen spanned the whole range of Bible history – although a significant proportion of people did choose Jesus!
Choosing your favorite stories and reading them again is a good way to get interested in the Bible. Of course over time we should have a go at reading the whole book, but if you don’t enjoy what you are reading it will become a chore.
When I was little I was interested in the stories about Bible women, as I’m a girl myself, and liked reading about Ruth and Esther, and the wives of the patriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel and Leah. I also enjoyed reading historical fictions of Bible women – not all wholly accurate of course, but still I often ended up going back to the Bible text to see if something really happened or if an author made it up.
I also remember being fond of Paul’s travels in the Acts of the Apostles, and following his missionary work on the maps. The thought of walking all those distances on foot was the most mind boggling I think; today we could travel the same distances in hours in a car instead of the days it took them on foot.
When I was a teenager I enjoyed reading the book of Ecclesiastes. Not a story as such, but a book that talks round the meaning of life, and also has quite a negative tone in some places as Solomon discusses the pointlessness of everything. Quite suitable for grumpy teenagers! Of course it does end on a good note…
Thinking about Bible characters and their lives can make things more real for us today. If we try to put flesh on the bones of the story, and really understand what a particular character was feeling, we learn that human nature doesn’t change over time. These people had the same desires, needs and wants as us. They got things wrong, they made mistakes, and they picked themselves up and started again, and learned how to deal with their emotions – just like we have to do.
Some people were impatient, some were loving and kind, some were warlike, some were ready to stand up for what they believed in. Some had difficult family lives, some were fully supported, some people were introverted, and some were leaders and heroes. The only differences between them and us are cultural and social differences, and the method by which God revealed his truth to them – whether by laws, prophets, or writings.
So next you pick up the Bible why not re-read your favorite childhood story, or if you have a child yourself, or a Sunday School class, ask them what their favorite story is and share it again together, and bring those men and women of olden times back to life.
The apostle Paul loved his Bible stories – have a read of Hebrews 11 some time where he discusses many situations in which Old Testament characters showed their faith. He ends the chapter with a wonderful promise:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. – Hebrews 11:39-40
It can be very easy to distance ourselves from those long ago events in the Bible that shaped history. We easily forget that Bible characters were people just like us with same fears and emotions, and the same split personalities wrestling between doing the right thing and the wrong thing.
We can feel that it was easy for them to do what God wanted and can overlook the internal struggles many Bible characters went through, and feel that decisions are so much harder for us.
To refocus our minds it can be helpful to reread the story elements of the Bible and try to put ourselves in the shoes of these characters to understand their thought processes. It helps to imagine the scenario, the geography, the political atmosphere of the time, and the social habits.
Take Moses – from prince of Egypt to an outcast and a killer hiding in the wilderness. Is it any wonder he was scared and felt unable to speak on behalf of a people he barely knew? Yet he brought the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land.
O my Lord, I am slow of speech … please send by the hand of whomever else You may send – Exodus 4:10/13
Take Paul – zealous persecutor of Christians to zealous Christian missionary. Is it any wonder he felt a conflict between his past life and his future work, doubting his worthiness? Yet he almost single handedly commenced the spread of the gospel to the Gentile world.
When I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom … I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. – 1 Corinthians 2:1/3
Take Peter – impetuous and spontaneous in his love for Jesus, recognising the truth of the Messiah, and yet denying him three times when trouble struck. Is it any wonder he wept bitterly? Yet his strength in the early church is shown in his inspiring epistle.
Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” – Matthew 26:75
Take Jesus – perfect son of God, but even he would have not gone through with his death if there had been any other way. Is it any wonder his sweat was like great drops of blood? Yet he gave his life for us, bringing salvation to all mankind.
O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. – Matthew 26:39
Sometimes all it takes to get us back on track is to realise that we face the same sort of conflicts that believers have faced for centuries. And how do we make our decisions? How do we make our righteous mind win over our worldly mind?
The same way that Jesus did – we need to pray. So let’s remember the words of Jesus’ prayer to bring us comfort and reassurance:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27
Another new quiz… test your knowledge of the characters in the Bible and decide whether they were a King, a Prophet or an Apostle!