Great heroes, both men and women of faith have been recorded throughout the scriptures and compiled in the book of Hebrews’ 111th chapter.
Here, however, are some biblical characters who can be easily overlooked and that would be regarded as heroes, not necessarily because of their extraordinary feats recorded in scriptures, but because they simply chose to stand on the right side of history, they chose to align themselves with the promise made to their fathers and to the propagation of the gospel.
Let us briefly consider each of their lives as recorded in the bible and how significant they were to their time and generation, you would be amazed to see some unexpected heroes.Naaman’s wife’s maid (2 Kings 5)
1. Naaman’s wife’s maid (2 Kings 5)
Well yes, this maid, with her name not mentioned or recorded, is the 1st on our list of overlooked heroes in the bible, the bible story tells of a successful Syrian commander who had the disease of leprosy. The story goes on to reveal how the servant girl of the commander’s wife pleaded with her mistress saying, “oh that my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease. After seeking permission from the king of Aram, the general went to see the prophet of Samaria (Elisha) to be cured of his leprosy. It is an amazing story of healing and turning to the Lord.
It’s important to talk about this strong-in-faith and devote maid, who believed in God, and without a single doubt in God’s anointing hand over prophet Elisha.
2. Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22)
Quite funny, you’ll say, but yes, the donkey deserves to be recognized simply for preventing Balaam’s death at the hands of an angel.
Balaam the Prophet is best known as “The Donkey Guy” for having his donkey speak to him (Numbers 22;21-27). He was sent by Balak, king of Moab, to pronounce curses upon Israel. But God had other ideas, He told Balaam to pronounce blessings upon Israel and not return to Balak. Balaam disobeyed the Lord by returning to king Balak, who wanted to curse God’s people. Balaam, riding his donkey, is confronted by an angel of the Lord. The irony in this story is that the donkey can see the angel of the Lord but Balaam is unable to, one might say Balaam is spiritually blind so he couldn’t see the angel. This is ironic because Balaam is a prophet.
The donkey is understandably startled to see the angel of the Lord on the road and stops several times out of fear. Thinking his donkey had gone mad, Balaam started to beat his donkey until the donkey asks, “Why have you beat me these three times?” and then Balaam’s eyes were opened to the angel of the Lord and his sin.
3. Ehud (Judges 3:15-30)
The story of Ehud comes right out of Judges 3 but would fit in nicely to the plot of any action movie. It happened that, Israel was under the oppressive rule of Eglon the king of Moab and cried out to the Lord for deliverance. The Moabites were idol worshipers who did evil in the sight of the Lord. God sent Ehud and his cubit-long (about a foot and a half) sword to assassinate the king and liberate God’s people from his rule.
Ehud must have been a smooth talker because when he told the servants of the king that he had a “secret message” for him (Judges 3:19), they left Ehud all alone with the king. Ehud’s “secret message” was the sword that he brought — and the “special delivery” was a stab to the belly of the grossly-overweight king which killed him, the short sword was recorded to have completely penetrated the fat king, from the blade to the handle, all disappearing in the belly of the king. Then Ehud quietly locked the doors to the roof to keep the guards out and made a quick getaway. When Ehud returned to the people of Israel, he led Israel in conquering their enemies the Moabites.
4. Jabez (1 Chronicles 4;10)
Though the story Jabez is commonly told when it comes to issues of the power of prayer and topics on Gods mercy, he would still fit right in on this list of overlooked heroes. He is only mentioned in a few verses of scripture and is known for his famous “Prayer of Jabez” mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:10:
“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked.”
He makes the list because through him we have a clearer and simpler picture of how potent and powerful a prayer of faith can be, and gives an understanding that good prayers are indeed answered.
5.Mordecai (Esther 2;5-7. 21-23, 4;1-17)
The story of Mordecai takes place throughout the book of Esther. Mordecai is the cousin and guardian of Esther, a foreigner who becomes queen of Persia. Mordecai uses his position in the king’s court to stand up for the oppressed people of God and foil a plot to assassinate the king. (Esther 2;21-23)
This story is significant and plays a pivotal role in the gospel because if the Jewish people had been destroyed (like Haman desired), the story of God’s saving work through the Jewish people (and eventually Christ) would never have been told.
6. Jethro (Exodus 18)
Jethro was the father-in-law of Moses. In Exodus 18, Moses was overwhelmed with his task to lead Israel. It seemed like everyone who had a problem came to Moses.
Exodus 18:13-27 describes Jethro’s wise suggestion for Moses to divide his labour into tens, his fifties, hundreds, and thousands to reduce his leadership burden and delegate responsibility to the people of Israel.
Jethro said if Moses followed his suggestion, “God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace” (Exodus 18:23). Like a good son-in-law, Moses obeyed. This allowed Moses not to be held up with trivial matters, but rather have a better system where they work themselves out.
This is a leadership structure followed by most businesses and governments till date, how wise was Jethro
7. Josiah (2Kings 22;1-20, 23;1-30)
Josiah, one of the greatest kings to ever rule Israel, started his reign when he was only eight years old. 2 Kings 22:2 says “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”
Later on, in 2 Kings 22, the story is told of the high priest finding the Book of the Law which had been neglected and hidden for years. This caused Josiah to tear his clothes and plead with the Lord to not punish Israel for their disobedience to God’s Word. Josiah read the Book of the Law publicly and made a covenant with the Lord along with his people (2 Kings 23:3) to obey the Lord with all of his heart and soul.
This is truly a marvelous story of repentance, spiritual leadership, and the mercy of God!Bezaleel (exodus 36;1-38)
8. Bezaleel (Exodus 36;1-38)
Two traits seemed to mark the children of Israel after they left Egypt: 1.) They complained an awful lot and, 2.) They didn’t put much faith in God or in Moses’ leadership. It seeme that they were constantly testing the Lord’s (and Moses’) patience with their perpetual attitude of distrust and negativity. Then we meet Bezaleel, the foreman of the Tabernacle work crew.
“And Moses said unto the children of Israel; “See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” (Exodus 35:30-31)
Here is a man filled with wisdom, the Spirit of God, knowledge, and an ability to work with his hands. Not only that, we are told that he and his work crew were eager and excited about performing the work God had called them to do (Ex. 36:2). He and his work partner, Aholiab, were also gifted with the ability to teach their skills to others (Ex. 35:34).
9. Phinehas (Numbers 25: 10-11)
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.” (Numbers 25:10-11)
God will always honor those who are serious about honoring Him and His holiness; those who will take action and obey what He has commanded. A young man by the name of Zimri blatantly defied the Lord and flaunted his rebellion in front of Moses and the entire congregation of Israel (Num. 25:6). It seems that Zimri was the son of a prominent leader from the tribe of Simeon and likely felt that he was too important of a person to humble himself before the laws of God. Idolatry and fornication had begun to corrupt the children of Israel as they began to sin with the Moabites, and the Lord commanded Moses to deal with this rebellion. Moses had just issued the command to the judges of Israel to execute the guilty parties when Zimri marched right into their midst, a pagan idolatrous female companion on his arm.
Seeing that nobody else was making a move to carry out the Lord’s decree, Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, could contain himself no longer. He rushed toward Zimri and his companion (Cozbi) and swiftly puts them both to death. This simple act of devotion to defending God’s holiness not only turns the Lord’s anger away from the children of Israel, it earns him God’s “Covenant of peace” and a position for him and his descendants as high priests before the Lord (Num. 25:13).
10. Jael (Judges 4:21)
Just like other uncommon heroes of the bible, Jael the wife of Heber managed to finish off a Canaanite general who had fled from defeat by Israelite forces (led by Deborah, as it happens).
He pitched up at her tent and fell asleep from exhaustion after she gave him a drink of milk. She drove a tent peg through his skull into the ground – “and he died”, says Judges 4:21, perhaps a little redundantly.
P.S.: This is perhaps the only time an enemy general has been killed with a tent-peg.
11. The thief on the cross (Luke 23: 32-43)
We do not know much more about the thief on the cross other than he was:
A criminal. Crucified next to Jesus. Brought into paradise at his death. His powerful story is told in Luke 23:32-43, that describes the conversation between Christ and the two criminals crucified alongside of him.
The first criminal mentioned mocked Christ, “Save yourself and us!” (23:29). The other criminal, of whom we are writing, defended Jesus in a humble manner, acknowledging the justice of God and the innocence of Christ. His response to the mocker was,
“Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” (v 40-41)
Then he pleaded with Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This desperate and humble cry for mercy is all that God needed to welcome him into the family of God.
Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (v 43)
What an incredible story! A man who presumably led his entire life in opposition to God, by the great mercies of God was able to be saved in his dying moments. This demonstrates that a humble heart that cries out to God for salvation will be heard.
As written: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
12. Rehab (Joshua 2)
Rehab was, according to the Book of Joshua, a prostitute who lived in Jericho in the Promised Land, she was probably not someone to talk about if It wasn’t recorded that she assisted the Israelites in capturing the city – by hiding the Israelite spies that came to scout the land of Canaan from the soldiers sent by the king.
In the New Testament, she was lauded as an example of living by faith, while being considered righteous by her works, all because she believed in the God of the Israelites.
13. Simon of Cyrene (Matthew 27: 32)
“As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.”
Simon makes the list of uncommon heroes not because he performed an extra ordinary feat, but because he was privileged to be a part of the fulfilment of Jesus’ mission on earth.
14. Ananias (Acts 9:10-17)
This is another brief tale a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”. He is given detailed instructions by God on how and where to locate a certain Saul of Tarsus, who would later be known as Paul.
What makes Ananias so significant to the spread of the gospel is simply that he was the vessel God used to convert Saul who was once a strong persecutor of the church.
Its notable that Ananias was a strong believer and had a good relationship with God, for him to be entrusted with such a historic task.
15. Tabitha/Dorcas (Acts 9; 36-42)
Dorcas is indeed one of our uncommon heroes, she is an example of what a modern day Christian woman should be.
The bible records that “she was always doing good and helping the poor.”.
It’s no surprise that due to her good works and acts of kindness, she was taken as a top priority when she died, peter was called and after he prayed over her, she lived again.
P.S.: in verse 42, we learn that more people believed in the lord because of Dorcas’ miracle.
All the biblical characters discussed here have one thing in common; their devotion to our faith.
This list, however, isn’t complete and if thoroughly expanded, we would agree that the list would, in fact, be lengthy. Enjoy Looking through the Bible, as you discover more uncommon bible heroes, and celebrate the same God that works through them all.