Messed-up Bible “Heroes” and What We Can Learn From Them

In a recent “tour” through the Old Testament, I have repeatedly seen that the featured people of the Bible have prominent dysfunction in their lives. This is not the exception—it’s the norm! We talk about “great lives” in the Bible—and there are many of them—but the thing that amazes me is how many of those “great lives” were actually lived by damaged people with serious family issues. Personally, I find this trend somewhat comforting—not a justification for wrong-doing or unhealthiness, but at least a consoling depiction of the challenges we humans face. I don’t find myself alone as the only one dealing with issues.

Consider the prevailing trend of “unhealth” among some of the Bible’s greats:

Adam, the first man, was a blame shifter who couldn’t resist peer pressure. (Genesis 3:12)

Eve, the first woman, couldn’t control her appetite and, should we say, had the first eating disorder? (Genesis 3:6)

Cain, the firstborn human being, murdered his brother. (Genesis 4:8)

Noah, the last righteous man on earth at the time, was a drunk who slept in the nude. (Genesis 9:20-21)

Abraham, the forefather of faith, let other men walk off with his wife on two different occasions. (Genesis 12 and 20)

Sarah, the most gorgeous woman by popular opinion, let her husband sleep with another woman and then hated her for it. (Genesis 16)

Lot, who lost his father early in life, had a serious problem with choosing the wrong company. (Genesis 18-20)

Job, supposedly a contemporary of Abraham and the epitome of faith, suffered from the nagging of a faithless wife. (Job 2:9)

Isaac, who was nearly killed by his father, talked his wife into concealing their marriage. (Genesis 26)

Rebekah, the first “mail order bride,” turned out to be a rather manipulative wife. (Genesis 27)

Jacob, who out-wrestled God, was pretty much a pathological deceiver. (Genesis 25, 27, 30)

Rachel, who wrote the book on love at first sight, was a nomadic kleptomaniac. (Genesis 31:19)

Reuben, the pride and firstborn of Jacob, was a pervert who slept with his father’s concubine. (Genesis 35:21)

Moses, the humblest man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:13), had a very serious problem with his temper. (Exodus 2, 32:19; Numbers 20:11)

Aaron, who watched Jehovah triumph over Pharaoh, formed an abominable idol during an apparent episode of attention deficit disorder or perhaps colossal amnesia. (Exodus 32)

Miriam, the songwriter, had sibling jealousy and a greed for power. (Numbers 12)

Samson, who put Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura to shame, was hopelessly enmeshed with a disloyal wife—and ended up taking his own life. (Judges 16)

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Ron Forseth
Ron Forseth is Editor-at-Large for SermonCentral.com and ChurchLeaders.com. He studied for two years with Wycliffe Bible Translators and has a passion to share Christ and see all people groups of the world reached with the Gospel. He served for several years as a college pastor in Colorado and in Christian service for most of the 1990s in China and Mongolia. He is Vice President of Outreach, Inc, an organization dedicated to inviting and connecting every person in America to a Bible-believing church so that they might have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Ron lives with his wife Carol in Colorado Springs, Colorado.