When we think of great people from the Bible, we think of individuals like David, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Queen Esther, or Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus. But woven into the stories of each of these giants of faith are some names not quite so familiar to us, yet they are great men and women of faith, as well. These are lesser known figures in the Bible; people who, if they were characters in a movie, would be the “supporting actors” and have the “cameo” roles.
They are people who stand in the background of the main storyline, people who are overshadowed by the more “featured” players in the Scriptural record. From God’s viewpoint, however, there really is no such thing as a “supporting character”; He has given a calling to every person and, regardless of how unimportant mankind might view that calling, God considers everyone who trusts in Him as a great person of faith. Some of these people are mentioned in no more than a single verse of Scripture. Some are not even mentioned by name. But God knows who they are and values their service to Him. Let us now look at 10 such individuals:
“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)
Two traits seem to mark the children of Israel after they leave Egypt: 1.) They complain an awful lot and, 2.) They don’t put much faith in God or in Moses’ leadership. It seems that they are 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. 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).
I was attending a church at one time that was undergoing some serious remodeling and renovations. The Pastor asked for volunteers to help with the work, and I agreed to help out in any way I could. Being that construction is not my area of expertise by any means, I ended up just helping with a lot of the heavy lifting. But many of the other volunteers were licensed electricians, plumbers, handymen, and carpenters. So often we think of ministry as just preaching or teaching, but each of these people was serving God with the abilities He had gifted them with. God needs men like Moses to lead His people, but He also needs men like Bezaleel to build His “Tabernacles.”
“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 is making a move to carry out the Lord’s decree, Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, can contain himself no longer. He rushes 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).
Obviously, God is not calling anyone today to execute idolaters and fornicators, but He is still looking for those who stand up for His Word and are zealous about His holiness. Even when others around us stand idly by, God is pleased with those who will make a stand for His holiness and His commandments.
Shobi, Machir, And Barzillai
“And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, Brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse, And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.” (2 Samuel 17:27-29)
Just as Bezaleel served God by the work of his hands, these three men served God by providing support for David, the man of God. King David was on the run from his son Absalom who was attempting to usurp the throne of Israel, and when he reached Mananaim, these men offered food, water, and a place to sleep to David and his men.
When we offer physical and financial support to others who are serving God, we are taking a part in their ministry. God has called many people throughout the history of the Church to the mission fields, but if they had not had the support of faithful givers back home, they never would have been able to afford to go. Those who offered material support to them were answering a calling of their own.
“And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.” (1 Kings 22:14)
After hearing the encouraging words of his lying “prophets”, King Ahab of Israel is persuaded by King Jehoshaphat of Judah to seek the counsel of a true prophet of God. They are contemplating whether or not to launch another campaign against the King of Syria by invading Ramoth-Gilead. All of Ahab’s 400 or so prophets have promised him success and have declared that God will be with him. Then, at Jehoshaphat’s urging, Ahab announces that there is one more prophet whom they may consult. “But I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil“, he complains (1 Kings 22:8). Nevertheless, one of the king’s messengers goes to get Micaiah. The messenger tells him that ALL of the other prophets have promised success and he urges Micaiah to do the same. After all, who in their right mind would go against the word of everyone else and risk angering the king? But Micaiah says that he will only prophesy that which the Lord tells him to.
“Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king“, Micaiah sarcastically declares before the king’s court. If this is what you want to hear, then by all means, do it. But King Ahab knows that Micaiah is not telling him what the Lord has spoken about the matter. “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?“, Ahab responds. And then, with great solemnity, Micaiah proceeds to tell King Ahab that he will not survive the battle. Not only this, but he calls the bluff of the 400 other “prophets” and flat out tells Ahab that they have lied to him.
Sometimes, we get so used to reading the words of God’s prophets in Scripture that we begin to lose appreciation for the risks that they took and the courage that they displayed by not caving into pressure. How easy would it have been for Micaiah to insist that these other men were right and that Ahab should go ahead as planned? Instead, he makes a stand for God and declares that which is unpopular, he goes against the “accepted wisdom” and speaks the truth of God’s Word. Standing before two kings, 400 prophets, and the entire assembly; with every eye in the room locked steadfastly on him, Micaiah speaks the Word of God, regardless of the consequences.
And what about us? Are we willing to plainly and boldly speak the Word of God no matter what? Are we willing to be thrown in prison; to eat and drink the “bread and water of affliction” (v. 27)? When every eye in the room is locked on us, when the “prophets” who offer up the “wisdom” of this world are casting their despiteful gaze at us; when those who accuse us of being overly pessimistic, negative, and never speaking anything “good” or “positive” (in other words, condoning sinfulness) have hurled their accusations, will we stand up for theWord of God or will we just agree with what everyone else is saying?
Naaman’s Wife’s Maid
“And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:3)
Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army, was a great and honorable man (2 Kings 5:1), but he had leprosy. His wife had a Jewish servant girl working for her who had heard of the miracles that Elisha the prophet had been doing. She spoke up to her mistress and told her that Elisha could heal her husband’s leprosy. She knew where Naaman could go to be healed, and she did not keep silent about it.
For so many people, it is not the preacher or the “prophet” who first witnesses the love and mercy of God to them. It is a friend, or a neighbor, or a co-worker. It is someone who associates with them on a daily basis, someone they know and trust. God could have just as easily sent Elisha to show up at Naaman’s doorstep and heal him right then and there, but the Lord decided to use the testimony of this little slave girl to direct his path to Elisha. The Lord Jesus could also show up at the doorstep of those whom He wants to save, but He doesn’t do that either. He uses you and He uses me. He uses us to speak to the sick and dying around us, the spiritual lepers who are dying in their own sins, so that we might say: Go to Jesus, He will make you clean! May we all have the courage of that Jewish slave girl to speak up and point those around us to the place where they may be made whole.
We have looked at the first five “Lesser Known Heroes of the Bible” this time. Lord willing, we will look at the other five next time.