Are There Heroes in the Bible?
The Society has such a strong relationship with heroes that we find various occasions to celebrate these people.
It's easy enough to find heroes in our personal lives, society, and the books we consume, but are there such obvious heroes in the Bible?
In fact, as Christians, we can identify individuals in our lives as heroes based on the sense of morality taught to us by Jesus.
With these two truths, we can distinguish people as heroes for not only overcoming their sinful nature, but doing so in a way that supports, encourages, and uplifts other people.
Who are these heroes of the Bible?
"So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den.
The king said to Daniel, 'May your God, whom you continually serve, rescue you!'" "Then Daniel spoke with the king: 'May the king live forever.
Daniel, our first hero, portrayed this truth after disobeying an ordinance put in place by King Darius.
King Darius's subordinates, called the satraps, set themselves up as the villains of this particular story, acting as the foil for the hero Daniel.
Daniel faced King Darius' consequence, only his trip to the lion's den did not end in death.
"David said to the Philistine, 'You come against me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Armies, the God of the ranks of Israel—you have defied him.'" "David put his hand in the bag, took out a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine on his forehead.
Christians today can easily recognize David as a hero for two reasons: showcasing an unwavering faith in God and standing up to a much larger foe.
With nothing but a rock, a slingshot, and plenty of faith, David routed his opponent.
This is another example of someone showcasing the power of faith and putting God first. David did not enter into battle proclaiming the significance of man, but rather his reverence for God.
Faith, putting others before himself, and defeating a mighty foe, David has become emblematic of any hero facing a giant enemy.
"As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground."
Moses displayed himself as a hero by performing several good deeds on behalf of God and his people.
Much of what Moses did was to get the Israelites to the Promised Land; only Moses himself did not ever reach such a place.
Even with this sad truth, in the next chapter, Moses blesses his people and speaks highly of God.
Moses portrays a painful sacrifice that not many would make, knowing that in the end, others would inherit a benefit and he would not.
What more noteworthy biblical hero is there than Jesus?
After Jesus' death, He returned, having conquered what many fear is the end; He shows us that we can find salvation through Him.
Through His actions, Jesus overcame numerous enemies: Satan, His persecutors, and death.
Jesus was a hero throughout every chapter of His life on Earth, a reason why every believer and almost every nonbeliever knows the word.
Not hero, but Jesus.
How Should We View the Concept of Heroes of the Bible?
Heroism involves sacrifice, sometimes a sacrifice that means people reap a benefit that the hero does not.
There are definite similarities between our biblical heroes and those we see around us day-to-day.
However, what the biblical heroes utilize just as much as the other traits is faith in God.
If we want to be both heroes and Christians, we have to make sure we are not just serving humankind or ourselves; we have to serve God.
Heroes make a difference in their homes, communities, nations, and the entire world, not just today or the past, but also for the future - and they always will.
What Do Propitiation and Expiation Mean in the Bible?
You get a speeding ticket. This ticket is a transgression of traffic law, resulting in a fine that must be paid.
These terms are theologically dense and highly nuanced.
Despite this legal connotation, propitiation and expiation are not dry or lifeless words.
Knowing the subtle nuances behind these terms, then, helps us uncover the radical message of the gospel.
Are there subtle differences between these two terms?
- The Meaning of Propitiation
In the example of the speeding ticket, propitiation would refer to the act of paying the ticket. Paying the speeding ticket appeases the anger of the courts.
Firstly, rather than appeasing God’s anger, propitiation is understood to assuage God’s “wrath.” This may seem like splitting hairs, but the nuance between wrath and anger is critical.
More importantly, however, the biblical use of propitiation describes something that God does for humanity, not something humanity does for God.
John writes, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent his Son as a propitiation for our sins” .
Biblically, propitiation for our sins is found only in the love of God, as revealed in the sacrifice of Jesus.
2. Meaning of Expiation
In the example of the speeding ticket, expiation would refer to the renewed relationship with the legal system resulting from the payment of the ticket. Once payment is made, the ticket no longer exists.
Whereas propitiation refers to what God does in response to our sin, expiation refers to the forgiveness we realize because of Christ’s sacrifice.
The biblical word often used to describe this renewed relationship is the word “atonement.” In fact, in many ways, the words expiation and atonement are interchangeable.
When the word is taken apart, atonement means “at-one-ment.” Scripturally, then, atonement refers to the re-establishment of a covenant relationship with God.
In Christ, this atonement shifted away from the continual sacrifice of animals to the one-time sacrifice of Christ on the cross
How Propitiation and Expiation Work Together
Without the crucifixion, the resurrection is nonsensical; without the resurrection, the crucifixion holds no meaning. The two must be held together and be understood to refer to one thing: God’s loving gift of salvation.
Propitiation refers to the activity of Jesus.
Propitiation describes Jesus enduring the cross as a living sacrifice for us.
John states that Jesus is the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, for the sins of the world .
And just like the crucifixion and resurrection, propitiation and expiation must be held together and be seen to refer to one thing: the removal of sin through Christ’s sacrifice of the cross.
The Bible story of Elijah is found in the Old Testament, in the first book of Kings chapters 17 and 18. Elijah's story begins by introducing the state of affairs for the people of Israel.
When Elijah returned the boy to his mother, the woman could recognize that Elijah was a man of God and was amazed.
The story continues as Elijah confronts the evil king, Ahab, about being the cause of problems for the people of Israel.
Elijah challenges Ahab to a demonstration of his deity, Baal, versus the God of Elijah at Mount Carmel.
When it is Elijah's turn he boldly drenches the sacrament with water to display his supreme trust in God to start a fire despite being wet. Then Elijah began to pray:
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today
that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have
Answer me, O Lord,
answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God,
God then sent down a fire that completely engulfed the sacrament in flames and the people of Israel rejoiced with a newfound faith in God.
Not only do we see evidence of this man threaded throughout portions of the Old Testament, but we also find mention of him sprinkled in the New Testament as well.
- So who was Elijah?
How did his faith intertwine with his everyday living?
Let’s take a look at fifteen attributes of Elijah and see how this man of faith encourages us in our own faith today.
1. Elijah was a Prophet
Elijah’s message and the meaning of his name go together like a fresh glass of milk and warm cookies.
As a prophet he adamantly shared God’s message and warnings.
Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you waver between the two sides?
The people didn’t say a word.
2. Elijah was a Man Who Heard God
Include Elijah on this list. Call him a man who heard God.
Peppered throughout 1 Kings 17- 22 as well as in 2 Kings 1 & 2, we see instances of Elijah leaning his ear.
Then Yahweh’s word came to him… 1 Kings 17:2 WEB
He came to a cave there, and camped there; and behold, Yahweh’s word came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9 WEB
3. Elijah was a Man who Walked in Obedience
Multiple times God directed Elijah to speak hard truths, trust for provision when circumstances appeared bleak, or stand firm in faith of God’s promises being fulfilled.
Time and time again, Elijah set the example of loyal obedience to God our Father.
So he went and did according to Yahweh’s word; for he went and lived by the brook Cherith that is before the Jordan.
1 Kings 17:5 WEB
4. Elijah was a Man Who Experienced God’s Provision
Elijah drank in God’s promises and found his needs quenched by the Almighty’s hand.
God’s provision displayed powerfully and beautifully in the life of Elijah.
I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 1 Kings 17:4 WEB
The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.
5. Elijah Was a Prayer Warrior
We see Elijah in communion with God many times throughout the Old Testament.
He stands as a voice encouraging all to grab prayer and be a warrior, to know the LORD is God and follow him.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the earth for three years and six months.
James 5:17 WEB
6. Elijah Expected Miracles
We see miracles threaded throughout Elijah’s ministry.
A bull offering doused in water, enough to overflow and fill the surrounding trench, proved no match for the fire of God.
I’d consider that a miracle at the hands of God Almighty.
Then Yahweh’s fire fell, and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
Jezebel coaxed her husband, King Ahab, into Baal worship versus God worship.
Ahab did evil in the eyes of the Lord, forsaking the Lord’s commandments.
Follow the thread as he confronts Ahab then challenges followers of Baal with water, an offering, and fire—all noted in 1 Kings 18.
He answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house, in that you have forsaken Yahweh’s commandments, and you have followed the Baals.
1 Kings 18:18 WEB
7. Elijah was Brave
The message Elijah championed rang clear and seemingly easy, but not everyone wanted to hear its contents.
An unwelcomed message, however, didn’t deter Elijah.
He bravely championed God Almighty and the messages given from Above, even when those messages offered challenges, correction, or bad news for the one receiving them.
He answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here!’” 1 Kings 18:8 WEB
9. Elijah was a Man who Held Belief When Situations Turned Dim
Many times Elijah found himself in the midst of a seemingly dimming situation.
But he held belief.
When promised rain remained absent, Elijah held belief, sending his servant to check the horizon seven times.
He said, “Go again” seven times.
10. Elijah Ran in Fear
The man who stood in solid obedience and courage also ran in fear.
Throughout 1 Kings 19 we see Elijah grappling amid the battle with fear.
The fear clawing and scratching at Elijah dissolves.
So yes, Elijah ran in fear, but he also found courage through God.
11. Elijah Faced Discouragement
When I read 1 Kings 19’s account of Elijah fleeing from the clutches of evil Jezebel, I breathe a sigh of relief.
The sigh isn’t birthed by the fact that Elijah fled or that Jezebel tossed her evil threats his way.
The sigh rises from yet another realization that Elijah was a real person facing authentic, human emotions.
Reading Elijah’s account reassures we’re not alone
12. Elijah was Tempted by a Small Vision
How easy it is to view life through the lens of human vision.
A small vision, focus of the human kind, assured he was the only follower of God left, that everyone else had fallen into worship of the false god, Baal.
In 1 King’s 19:18, we see mention of 7,000 Israelites who refused to bow a knee to Baal.
We can trust the vision of our heavenly Father.
the prophet mentioned earlier, clung to Elijah.