Remember the Heroes of the Past

On Memorial Day, as we sit with our friends and families, we will be tempted to enjoy our freedom without counting the cost. Many soldiers have fought and died in wars to protect our freedom and to help those in other countries. We must never forget these valiant heroes. Do you remember the US Polar Bears who fought against the Bolsheviks in Russia at the end of WW1? Do you remember the Tuskegee Airmen who served as pilots in WW2? How about Franklin Sousley, one of the six soldiers who was killed in action after raising the flag on Iwo Jima? Have you heard about James B. Stockdale who was shot down over Hanoi and spent 8 years in a Vietnamese prison camp? While we will not remember all those who have fought and died for our freedom, we should take some time to remember as many as possible.

As you read through the pages of the Bible, you will quickly realize that God included many accounts of military heroes. We read about many who trusted God and then did valiant things. Their courage and faith in God are recorded so that we would learn from their examples. God honored their faith and gave them the victory when others fled in fear. Today we will be looking at the names and stories of some of these heroes. And as we do, I hope that their memories will motivate us to be courageous in our own times. Let us trust the Lord and move forward for Him no matter what opposition lies before us.

  1. Judges

    The Book of Judges is a history of what happened between Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and the birth of Samuel the prophet. Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites were given the opportunity to trust God’s enablement to defeat many enemies. But after his death, the people slowly turned away from the Lord and forgot about Him. In Judges 3:7, we read that “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.” As a result, God judged his people by sending enemies to conquer and rule over them. When the people recognized the wrong they had done, they cried out to the Lord and asked for help. In response to their prayers, God send a variety of judges to deliver them from their enemies and turn their hearts back to Him.

    Shamgar the son of Anath (Judges 3:31) – God doesn’t tell us much about Shamgar except for his victory over the Philistines. With God’s ability, he killed 600 Philistines at one time using only an oxgoad.

    Gideon the son of Joash the Abiezrite (Judges 7) – Gideon was skeptical at first because of all the suffering his people were facing. But after God convinced him, he gathered a small army. God dismissed most of the soldiers and left only 300 for Gideon to work with. With God’s empowerment, Gideon and the 300 defeated the huge army of the Midianites.

    Samson son of Manoah (Judges 15:14-15) – The story of Samson is a bit different. He was not the best example when it comes to morality. However, the Lord used him as a judge over Israel and empowered Samson to kill 1000 Philistine soldiers at one time using only a jawbone of a donkey.

    We should remember these three judges for their valiant deeds when their country needed them most. But we must also remember them in connection with God’s plan. These men may have been great soldiers, but God was the one who enabled them to defeat their enemies to show His great love for His people. Without God’s help, these people would have never escaped the oppression of their enemies. But at the same time, we can honor these men for what they did for God and for His people.

  2. David’s mighty men

    As you may recall, David was the one who trusted the Lord and defeated Goliath the giant with a sling. His great victory over the giant caused King Saul to become jealous. David eventually had to run away from the king and hide in the wilderness. During this time, he amassed a group of men around him who were valiant soldiers. Many of these heroes served under him when he replaced Saul as king. A list of about thirty men is recorded in 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11. For our study, we will look at three of these heroes in the second passage.

    Eleazar, the son of Dodo the Ahohite (1 Chron. 11:12-14) – Eleazar seems to be one of the top three mighty men listed in this chapter. He was known as a fearless fighter who stood his ground when others fled. He and some others stationed themselves in the middle of a field and fought against the Philistines until they were defeated. The Lord honored his bravery and gave them the victory.

    Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada (1 Chron. 11:22-25) – Benaiah is my personal favorite of David’s Mighty Men. He is noted here for several heroic acts. First, he killed two Moabite soldiers who were like lions. Apparently, their strength and ferociousness were like that of a lion. Second, he killed a real lion in a pit on a snowy day. Killing a lion is not something many have done let alone in hand to hand combat in a pit during the winter. Third, Benaiah killed an Egyptian enemy soldier who was 7½ feet tall. The Egyptian must have been not only tall but also strong as his spear was likened to a weaver’s beam. These three events reveal that Benaiah was a legendary soldier who made it into the top six on the list. We later learn that Benaiah was appointed over the army when King Solomon took the throne.

    Uriah the Hittite (1 Chron. 11:41; 2 Sam. 11:6-17) – The account of David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife is a terrible story. But in that story, we see why Uriah was honored as one of David’s top thirty soldiers. When David tried to cover his sin, Uriah was invited to Jerusalem to report about the conflict. When David told him to rest at home, Uriah wouldn’t do it. “Though Uriah had been granted a temporary reprieve from battle by the king, he was a true soldier and chose to remain focused on his mission. Uriah could not fathom indulging his own pleasures while his band of brothers were fighting a battle that still needed to be won.”1 David ultimately orchestrated a plan to have Uriah killed in battle. But this also shows his honor in that he followed his commander’s orders even when it led to his death. We need more people like Uriah … the Hittite. Wait, he was a Hittite? Yes, one of the men honored by God in this account was not an Israelite but a Hittite who had left his false gods to serve the one true God.

    As we look at these three mighty men who served King David, we are amazed at their honor, faithfulness, courage, and accomplishments. The Bible records their valiant acts as an example to us. We should remember them and seek to follow their examples. Be courageous for the Lord and trust Him to do great things as you serve Him no matter who the enemy may be.

  3. Christian heroes

    The Book of Acts is a record of how God used a variety of Christians to spread the gospel message across the world. It was not easy. You might say that it was a battle—a spiritual battle. The Jewish religious leaders fought against them to the point where they imprisoned Christians and even killed some. Despite these difficulties, several early Christians stood their ground and fought God’s battles. These men should be remembered.

    Peter and John (Acts 4:1-22) – With the aid of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John preached the gospel to the people in Jerusalem, the same place where Jesus had been crucified a short time earlier. The unbelieving religious leaders confronted them and took them into custody. When hauled in front of the leaders, they were questioned by the high priest, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Peter answered by preaching about Jesus. He confronted them about their evil deeds to Jesus and proclaimed salvation in no other name. The religious leaders were surprised by their boldness but still commanded them not speak in Jesus’ name anymore. Both Peter and John responded like heroes. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Their courage to speak for the Lord is an example for us to follow today.

    Stephen (Acts 7) – A little while later, the early church elected seven men to serve as the first deacons. One of them was Stephen. He was wise, Spirit-filled, and reputable. That is seen in what followed soon after he was chosen. In Acts 6:8-10, we see God enabling him to do miracles and to speak about Jesus in such a way that nobody could resist his efforts. People were listening to him and this made the religious leaders angry. So, true to form, they hauled him in front of the council. There he was falsely accused of speaking blasphemy. But when given the opportunity to respond, Stephen’s spoke with great power. In Acts 7, he recited the history of God’s working with the Israelites despite their stiff-necked rebellion. He finished off the speech with these words:

    Acts 7:51-53 – “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.

    His Spirit-filled speech was more than the religious leaders could handle. They took him outside of the city and killed him by stoning. But even as he was being murdered, Stephen asked God to be merciful to his enemies. This is the kind of hero that we should remember today.

Conclusion

As we have seen in multiple Bible passages, God recorded true accounts of heroes for us to remember. He recorded those stories in the Bible both to honor these men but also to give us an example of how we ought to live. I think what God wants us to respond in the same way these men did. They trusted in the Lord and then did what needed to be done. If you were to ask one of these men if they thought they were something special, do you think they would answer yes? Hmm… I’m not sure how they would answer. They would probably give God the glory and say something like, I was just the person whom God used at that particular place in time.

Many years have passed since these men were actively being used by the Lord. But we remember them today as godly examples of people whom God could use and did. What do you think? Is it possible that God could use someone like you today? It all begins when you turn from your sin and place your faith in Jesus. Once God has saved you, He gives you the power to do what needs to be done. So, if you are a Christian today, will you trust the Lord and faithfully serve Him come what may? Perhaps your life could then be used as an example to future generations.


Footnotes

1 “Who was Uriah the Hittite?”

Bibliography

“Who was Uriah the Hittite?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=30134 on 5/27/2023.

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