Character Witnesses

The Bible's content is primarily historical. God has chosen to reveal Himself in the histories of men and women, nations and peoples. As they move across the stage of human history, our Bible follows them and comments on them from God's perspective, thus giving us a revelation of God and His ways with men. As history progresses from the beginning of time, we see God's purposes unfolding until, in the end of time, He is all and in all, and all glory and honor is given to God and to His Son. Then we begin to understand that all history is the backdrop to the unfolding of the purposes of God. In history we are to read the story of God Himself as He deals with men and with mankind.

In the epochs of time there are major and minor players. Some of the major persons in history from God's perspective may not count much in man's assessment, so we need to read our Bibles to come to the true understanding of who really is important. There is, of course, Abraham--the father of the faithful. He is just a nomadic shepherd in this world's view, but a monument to the faithfulness of God and to trust in the promises of God.

Then there was Moses, the leader of a rebellious group of people journeying from Egypt to Canaan. But there was no greater prophet who spoke to God as a man speaks to his friend (see Deut. 34:10 ).

Of course there was David and Solomon, and Elijah, and Jeremiah, and many others. Not to mention the New Testament worthies like Paul, and Peter, and John, who laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel.

The questions are asked: What were these men really like? What made them go on for God? What lessons can we learn from their lives to be applied to our lives? These were real men with like problems and passions, but through all the ups and downs of life they came to know God and to trust in Him. Their histories have been told to us so we may profit from them. One of the fascinating methods of Bible study is to look at the men and women who make up the history of the Bible.

One individual who has written on many of the characters of the Bible is F. B. Meyer (1847-1929). His practical ministry was sought after by many in his day, and besides his preaching ministry, he was a prolific writer. His chief contribution to literature is a series of Bible biographies, many of which remain in print to this day.

I have just finished his book on Moses. Mr. Meyer follows Moses from the cradle in Egypt, and the faith of his parents who hid him and taught him in his early years, until he climbed the heights of Nebo to die in the arms of God. Following each successive era of life, he demonstrates Moses' learning of God and his faithfulness to God. Each chapter is replete with lessons for our day and for the different periods of our lives. I found it to be delightful reading as well as instructive in practical lessons for Christian living.

Another book I perused lately in this same vein is Dr. Alexander Whyte's book of Bible Characters. It is now available in a one-volume tome of some 900 pages. It contains 126 chapters devoted to Bible men and women, and 34 chapters on the characters spoken about by the Lord Jesus. In these subdivisions, he deals with the characters in the parables of the Lord and the seven angels to the churches to Asia. These chapters are more doctrinal in nature than the ones on Bible characters. Dr. Whyte was "the last of the Puritans" and as such these last chapters need to be read in the light of his doctrinal stance as reformed and non-dispensational. However, don't let this take away from the first large portion of the book which I found excellent in that which I read.

A quiet evening with one of these books will be well spent. Not only is there benefit in the lessons learned, but in tracing the wonderful way these men used the English language to great effect. It is a skill we need to cultivate.