Startled from his sleep by a nightmarish dream, King Nebuchadnezzar called his magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers together and put them to a test. Would they be able to relate the dream and give its interpretation? Each of these learned men failed. In a fit of rage, the king ordered the death of all the wise men of Babylon—even those who had not been asked about the dream, such as Daniel and his three friends. But with wisdom, Daniel asked for time and God gave the answer.
Our world desperately needs models worth following. Authentic heroes. People of integrity whose lives inspire us to take God seriously, to follow His Word obediently, to pursue Christ passionately.
Thankfully, the Bible places before us a spiritual "hall of fame"—raw, uncensored, gritty stories of men and women sometimes soaring, often stumbling, through the incredible life of faith. They wrestled with sin, experienced God's grace, struggled with weakness, and overcame by faith. Their inspiring biographies have been memorialized in Scripture, not simply because of their faith in God but because of God's faithfulness to them.
These great lives from God's Word not only provide realistic portraits for appreciation but also relevant principles for application.
The prophet Daniel is unquestionably one of the most remarkable men not only in the Bible but also in all of Jewish history. The book that bears his name traces his life from his teenage years through his days past the age of 80. For 70 years, Daniel lived in captivity (605-536 BC) while serving in the metropolitan capital city of Babylon as prime minister. But when the Jews returned to the Promised Land, Daniel's life, work, and ministry drew to an end.
We don't need to be prophets or sons and daughters of prophets to realize that the world is turned upside down. The cliff-hanging posture of the world today—terrorism, rogue nations with nuclear weapons, predictions of environmental catastrophe, governmental and business corruption—spells the end of our civilization as we know it. To make sense of it all we must first understand God's plan for the future, outlined in the book of Daniel and related Scripture.
Tragically, King Uzziah didn’t learn well enough what it meant to fear and worship God. He had a good start. He walked humbly with God, pursued the disciplines of godly living, and sought wise counsel. But when he achieved military prowess and gained notoriety, his heart became proud. He built monuments to himself. Then his fear of God waned, and he sinned against Him. And Uzziah’s sin had lifelong consequences.
Deep in the heart of Elisha’s helper, Gehazi, were smoldering embers of greed. Silently, secretively, they remained hidden. No one could tell by looking. Words never passed from Gehazi’s mouth, admitting such sin, but it was there nevertheless. Through a series of events those embers burst into full flame. As we recount the story, we want to take sufficient time to examine our own hearts and determine if we suffer from a similar malady.
Though not strong in faith, Naaman was nevertheless greatly respected as a leader of troops and as a military warrior. One day all that was put on hold. None of his trophies seemed important any longer. He was unclean…he had become a leper. This is a story about a man, once proud and self-sufficient, finally humbling himself before the only One who could cleanse his leprosy…and did.
Jabez emerges in the midst of epitaphs on tombstones as the Spirit of God is pleased to hover over his life a bit longer than any other mentioned in this context. Because God singles out Jabez, we are wise to pause and learn the truth of the story. By doing so, many who feel their lives are marked by obscurity and insignificance can gain fresh courage to excel.
Although a rather obscure character, Rehoboam, who lived in the days of the kings, illustrates the principle what appears on the surface doesn’t always match what lies beneath. We can learn many lessons about integrity from his life!
Family feuds, wayward kids, parent-child clashes, husband-wife disagreements, and other in-house pressures have a way of breaking our spirits and stealing our joy. And no one is immune who compromises with God’s standard—not even a king such as David. In this study we witness the monarch’s misery as the sword of consequences falls on him and his family.
The story we discover recorded in 1 Samuel 25 is amazing—change a few particulars, the geography, and the date, and we find ourselves reenacting a series of events as modern as today’s news. It is the story of an unfair boss, a strained marriage, and a great-hearted woman whose act of unselfish bravery saved her husband’s neck! Its fairy tale ending makes the story one of the most memorable in all the Old Testament.