Hebrews 11:32-40 (CEB)
What more can I say? I would run out of time if I told you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured and refused to be released so they could gain a better resurrection.
But others experienced public shame by being taunted and whipped; they were even put in chains and in prison. They were stoned to death, they were cut in two, and they died by being murdered with swords. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats, needy, oppressed, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve them. They wandered around in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground.
All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith. God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us.
This, of course, is where Barak Obama got his name from. (not this particular passage – but from the biblical character – Barak.) Barak is a biblical name, unlike other names, like (errrr) Donald. His story is all part of the incident where Jael whacked a tent-peg through Sisera’s head… sisters went for it back then – Tarantino should be making a film of it…
Barak comes from the Arabic: al-Burāq which means “lightning”, which – come to think of it – is kinda like a superhero name! (again, unlike Donald.) The book of Hebrews identifies a whole long list of characters as “heroes”. The obvious question is “who are your heroes?” – general heroes and/or “faith” heroes. But I find question very hard to answer. I have never been someone who has had “heroes”. Other people ask the question as if it is the most natural thing in the world to have heroes – and it is a bit like naming your desert island discs… but I have never had “heroes”, not the ordinary kind, not the faith-kind.
Of course I have known people who I have admired and whose faith has impressed me – but “heroes” suggests something a bit stronger than that. It does to me, anyway!
I’ve been thinking about this today. Why don’t I have heroes? (I just mistyped that as herpes! That might have been an easier question to answer!)
I suspect that I am suspicious of people who appear to be “perfect”. I think, rightly or wrongly, I have the idea that “heroes” are impossible characters, they must be hiding something. Or maybe I have the idea that people who HAVE heroes are ignoring the obvious flaws in their heroes. The “hero” didn’t set out to be one, but the hero-lover idealises her/him and I think this is dehumanising. I can see that the problem is probably with me – and that I have a false idea about what the whole hero thing means to people, but that’s where I am, it’s who I am and consequently, I don’t have any “heroes”. (Or maybe I have just got “heroes” mixed up with “super-heroes”?) “But isn’t Jesus your hero?” I hear you protest…. Maybe you’ve got me there, though “my hero” is not something I think I would ever say of Jesus. Looking back at that list that the author of Hebrews writes, though..
they conquered kingdoms,
they brought about justice,
they shut the mouths of lions,
they put out raging fires,
they escaped from the edge of the sword,
they found strength in weakness,
they were mighty in war
they routed foreign armies
they were tortured and refused to be released
There’s a kind-of odd one out in there that doesn’t look immediately to me like conventional “hero” behaviour alongside all the lion-taming and army-vanquishing…. If finding strength in weakness and inspiring others to do likewise is “heroic” – then I guess Jesus IS my hero and it turns out I have known LOTS of people who match that description. Maybe I DO have herpes heroes after all! What about you? PS “they brought about justice” is also an interesting one in the list. hmmmmm…..
yeah – convincing live performance boys!!!! 🙂