Noah, Moses, David, Peter, Mary, Jesus…these are names we all know well. They are the subject of the well-known Bible stories heard in the church nursery and long into our adulthood. But the Bible contains narratives about countless people who were part of God’s redemptive story—people who get overlooked when we focus on the more well-known names!
It was hard to decide on only a few of these characters, but the following seven people give you a glimpse of what God can do in a life surrendered to Him.
1. Bezalel (Exodus 35-37): If you’re skimming Exodus (which we are prone to do!) you might miss this guy. Bezalel was the artist’s artist. He was chosen by God to oversee the creation of the Tabernacle, God’s very first, portable temple. Bezalel was so good with His artistry that God said He “had the Spirit on him” to create beautiful works. His artistry glorified God and helped create the place where God dwelt in the wilderness!
2. Deborah (Judges 4-5): Deborah was the sole female judge of Israel in the days prior to the Jewish monarchy. She was a bold leader and prophetess, who declared God’s truth to His wayward people. Not only did she gather Israel together in unity, she used her God-given wisdom to guide Israel into victory. Together with her military leader, Barak, Deborah led Israel against the army of Sisera and the Lord completely defeated the enemy. When Sisera fled from the defeat, he met with Jael (see below) – another strong woman of God who helped accomplish His purpose in that generation.
3. Jael (Judges 45): Jael’s story is short and a bit violent. During a war between Israel and the pagan King Sisera, Sisera’s troops were defeated and the king escaped on foot. He came upon Jael’s tent and asked Jael to take him in. Jael knew the king was evil and that his intentions toward Israel were violent and wrong. God had commanded that Sisera be killed because of this. So Jael boldly took it upon herself to kill the evil king, saving Israel with the use of a tent peg.
4. Elisha (1 Kings 19): Elisha was the assistant to the prophet Elijah before taking over when Elijah was taken up by God. Elisha is characterized by his complete obedience and willingness to follow God’s call. When God first called him through Elijah, Elisha was a plowing a field with his team of oxen. Oxen and plowing gear are expensive, but Elisha immediately burned his wagon, cooked the oxen over the fire and used them to feed the people of his village. He gave up everything to follow Elijah and learn to do God’s will.
5. Mordecai (Book of Esther): You might be familiar with Mordecai if you’ve read the book of Esther; he is Esther’s uncle. Though we often focus on Esther in this book, Mordecai is an incredible man of God. It is his advice that encourages Esther to approach King Xerxes with her appeal. Mordecai was known for his good character and work ethic even though he was working for a king who did not love the Lord. Because of his faithfulness, Mordecai is honored by the king.
6. Jeremiah (Book of Jeremiah): Many believers struggle to read the book of Jeremiah because it’s so sad and dark. It prophesies the fall of Israel into captivity. Jeremiah’s life was sad because he had a mission to deliver this bad news to Israel. His whole life was spent preaching truth that went unheard. But Jeremiah was faithful to preach this message even when he was ignored and demeaned by rebellious people. He remained true to God’s message until the very end.
7. Philip (Acts 8): Moving to the New Testament, we meet Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples whom He specifically called to be part of the Twelve. Philip was known as The Evangelist, partially because of how he shared the gospel with the Ethiopian courtier in Acts chapter eight. Philip was quick to take an opportunity to share the gospel and explain God’s Word to someone who didn’t yet understand it.
8. Priscilla (Acts 18): Last but not least, Priscilla is the wife of Aquila and friend to the apostle Paul. Priscilla is mentioned throughout the books of Acts and Romans. She served the church alongside her husband and played a role in the advancement of the gospel in those treacherous early years. She also helped teach Apollos, another early missionary and teacher, correct theology so he could continue to draw people to the Lord.
There are many more characters in Scripture who could be included in this list. Next time you read the Word, keep an eye out for those little-known people who play a part in God’s redemption story. They reveal to us that no person is too insignificant for God’s use!
Who is your favorite character from the Bible?