Heroes of Faith

It is a remarkable fact that although many of the Old Testament "heroes of faith" were men who attained exalted places in the affairs of this world, the men that live most in Israeli history as those who profoundly influenced the nation moved in humbler walks of life, and were men of the desert rather than of the court. If we were asked to name the ten most prominent men between Abraham and Christ, we would probably designate Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, Daniel and John the Baptist. Of these ten men the first three, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were wealthy and powerful "sheiks," to use the modern word, rich in possessions and servants, accustomed to command respect from those amongst whom they lived, by virtue of their influential position as well as by their integrity and uprightness of character. Four more, Joseph, David, Solomon and Daniel were statesmen, presiding over the affairs of empires, and holding the lives and destinies of multitudes in their hands. The other three, Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist, were men of the desert, witnesses for the holiness and supremacy of God, standing for His laws and His kingdom at times when it seemed that unless such prophets did arise, all would be lost.

Is it not noteworthy that these three last are the ones associated in vision with the coming of the King and His Kingdom? Moses prefigured the greater Prophet that should arise; Elijah the evangelists of this Kingdom; John was the Herald of the King Himself. In the vision on the Mount of Transfiguration it was Moses and Elijah who appeared in company with the transfigured Jesus, and our Lord Himself declared that John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets. Is there not some intimation here that God takes His rulers of the next Age, not from courts and palaces, but from the deserts and caves of the earth? There it is that the best training is to be had to the end that God's ministers of the Millennial Age may be merciful and sympathetic ministrators (ministers or administrators) of Divine blessing.

Of course this does not mean that the Ancient Worthies, "princes in all the earth," will in actual fact be recruited entirely from those who in their first life were prophets of the desert. Men like Joseph and Daniel, who spent their lives in a blaze of public service and power in idolatrous courts will be invaluable for the administration of Millennial conditions. From a natural point of view, the entire company of Ancient Worthies will include men of probably every possible walk in life and variety of experience, and in that fact will lie the peculiar aptitude of this company of men to rule the world in righteousness and peace. From the spiritual point of view, however, it is certainly appealing to think that in Scripture illustrations and symbolism, it is the men of the desert—Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist—who specially represent for us the ruling class of the Kingdom.