When you think of the men and women portrayed in Scripture, what do you think of? What comes to mind when you picture Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, and Peter? Do you envision people who did the unthinkable, moved the unmovable, and had an unwavering faith that we can only imagine? Often we seem to focus on the successes of these men and women but forget about their many and varied flaws. We have taken these mere humans and turned them into heroes, thinking that they themselves are supernatural and never did any wrong. We place them on pedestals and view them as role models. We even sing songs such as "Dare to be a Daniel." In Sunday School, they are presented several times on the same plain as Jesus Himself. But the Bible presents no such picture of the men and women that can be found in its pages.
The Bible does not shy aware from showing these men and women in all of their glory, which often is not a very glorious picture. They all are described as sinners just as you and I are, with several flaws. For instance, although Abraham is known as the quintessential "man of faith," he often exhibited periods of lack of faith. In reading about him we see not only his faith but also his failure. Growing impatient towards God's deliverance of His promise to provide Abraham with an heir so that he would be the "father of many nations," he allows his wife to talk him into sleeping with her slave girl, Hagar (Genesis 16). Instead of waiting on God's timing, he took matters into his own hands. We also witness his fear. Twice he lies about his wife because of his fear of the king and Pharaoh (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18). He did not trust God to protect him in both cases. Had not God intervened, this could certainly had ruined His promise to Abraham to provide a child to him through Sarah. We are even given a hint that before God called him, he participated in the worship of other gods (Joshua 24:2). He was another wretch that God in His grace decided to save and include in His divine plan of redemption.
Many speak of how courageous of a leader Moses was and even point to him as an example of what a godly leader should look like. Yet we shouldn't forget that the one who led the people out of their Egyptian slavery wound up doing so because he ran out of excuses in the face of a God who was determined to use him for such a task. He recognized that he was nothing and not fit for the task (Exodus 3:11). He claimed that he would not know what to say to the people to distinguish Yahweh from the other so-called gods (v. 13). The people would not listen to him or believe him (4:1). He was not the greatest speaker (v. 10). Even after God dispels all of these by promising to be with Moses (3:12), instructing the saint on how to introduce Himself to the people (vv. 14-17), showing him the miraculous signs He intends to do through him (4:2-9), and promising to be his mouth (vv. 11-12), Moses still wants nothing to do with the job. Oh, my Lord, please send someone else (v. 13). He finally goes as God's gets angry and sends his brother to aid in his call (vv. 14-17). Don't forget also that this great leader actually did not retain the privilege of leading the people into the promised land of Canaan due to his disobedience at Meribah (Numbers 20:2-13).
Even David does not come across as the "hero" he is often painted to be when one looks at Scripture's record of his life. The great king after God's own heart was also a great sinner. The Bible does not hide the fact from us that he was guilty of adultery and murder in the case of Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11). In fact, the author tells us at the end of the summary of the account that the thing that David had done displeased the LORD (2 Samuel 11:27). The king also finds himself in trouble after conducting a census against God's wishes (1 Chronicles 21:1-17). He certainly was not perfect and had his flaws.
The same can be seen with Mary and Peter. Mary identified herself as a sinner needing the Savior. She states, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:47). (And that statement alone is enough to shoot down the claim of Catholicism that Mary was born sinless. Someone "sinless' would not need saving.) The Peter we witness boldly preaching in Acts in the face of persecution is the same Peter who was referred to as Satan by Jesus (Matthew 16:23), denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62), and had to be confronted by Paul over his accommodating to the Judiazers sect (Galatians 2:11-14).
The only hero in the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ. Every heroic deed stems from His work or points to His coming and purpose. All of the righteous things that people recorded in Scripture have done can only be attributed to God's work through them. In facing the Philistine giant Goliath, the young shepherd David acknowledged that it would be God who would deliver him from the enemy and not himself (1 Samuel 17:37, 46). The battle actually was the Lord's and David merely served as His vessel to accomplish His purpose. for the battle is the LORD's and He will give you into our hands (1 Samuel 17:47). All of these people's flaws reflects their natural sinfulness.
This truth that these Old Testament saints are only humans instead of heroes proves comforting to us. This means that if God can use such wayward sinners as they to accomplish His perfect plan and bring glory to Himself, then He can also use us. It also makes sure that we place our trust in the true hero of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's not "dare to be a sinful Daniel" but find security in the sinless Savior.
Soli Deo Gloria!