Four Male Role Models in the Bible
Let us acknowledge right at the beginning that no man is perfect; but positive aspects of a man's life may be overlooked by people who prefer to judge him by his faults.
Therefore, we look for positive images in the lives of four men in the Hebrew Bible, who have already been judged. They all have character strengths worthy of mention and they encourage us to imitate their loyalty to God and their service to their fellowmen rather than their human prowess.
Positive, not perfect, is our emphasis in the lives of Jacob, Aaron, Mordecai and Jehonadab.
Male Role Models
Exodus 4 and 17
Book of Esther
- the son who turned his life around
Jacob committed acts of deception toward his father which may cause us to expect that his life would be miserable. His brother Esau became angry to the point of planning to murder him.
So what can be positive about the life of the mischievous, deceptive Jacob?
- Jacob listened and responded to God who revealed Himself in a dream when he left (more like "was sent away" from) home on his way to his uncle’s house.
- He made a commitment: “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going . . . so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God” (Genesis 28:21).
- His life became a demonstration of God grace, and a testimony to the fact that God is willing to effect change in the life of any wayward son.
Jacob is a positive example for the mischievous delinquent who remembers and respects the God that his parents taught him about. It may take severe problems or losses to make him pay attention and learn to trust God. After many trials, Jacob asked his brother’s forgiveness and returned home. He had matured to an understanding that there is benefit in honesty, not in deception.
- the model for big brother support
When a younger brother is selected for a position which the older brother is more qualified to do, it is not unusual for the older brother to decline the role of supporter. Yet, Aaron performed in the role of supporter to Moses, three years his junior. He put purpose above pet peeves.
- When Moses objected to taking the lead on account of his inability to speak, the eloquent Aaron willingly obeyed God’s request to speak for Moses.
- Under the instruction of Moses, Aaron performed miracles before the Pharaoh (Exodus 4:29, 30).
- In a battle between the Amalekites and the Israelites (Exodus 17: 10-13), the Israelites were winning when Moses held up his hands. When his hands became tired, Aaron held up one of Moses’ hands while another Hebrew named Hur held up the other.
Later, Aaron led the people in rebellion when Moses stayed on Mount Sinai longer than they expected (Exodus 32: 1-3). He questioned Moses’ leadership when Moses’ chose a Cushite woman for his wife (Numbers 12:1-3). Anger can be a flaw, but it can also be a show of concern. When God rebuked him, he confessed that he was wrong, and he surrendered again to the direction of his brother.
Both brothers were prevented from entering the Promised Land because they distrusted God (Numbers 20:10-12). Yet the exceptional work that they performed together carried historical, national and spiritual significance. Thanks to the cooperation of a big brother who supported the leadership of his younger sibling.
- exceptional male cousin
Attractive, conscientious, and full of potential, Esther would have brought much joy to the hearts of her parents, but they had passed on. Mordecai, her cousin, inherited the responsibility of protecting, nurturing and guiding the youthful Esther (Book of Esther). He did an excellent job.
- In a male dominated society, where women were treated like property (as demonstrated in the case of Queen Vashti who was dethroned for disobeying the king), Mordecai empowered Esther to become the next queen.
- He had taught Esther the principles of obedience, confidence and loyalty to her Jewish roots. He instructed her what to do and not do in the palace.
- Every day he walked through the courtyard to inquire about her. He was the kind of cousin who loved no less than a good father or brother would.
What a contrast to the family members who are accused of abuse—physical, verbal, emotional, and even neglect—to members of their household. Mordecai rose to the responsibility, giving Esther no excuse to cite the loss of her parents as the reason for failure or delinquency.
She became queen, exhibiting courage, determination and faith when she uttered the immortal words, “If I perish, I perish,” in response to Mordecai’s request that she approach the king on behalf of the Jews who were targeted for destruction. By promoting his cousin’s interest, he saved the lives of his family and his nation. Unselfish interest in the welfare of his cousin Esther makes Mordecai an image of positive manhood. His integrity is worthy of imitation.
- the father who taught by example
Fathers, how would you like to be so effective at parenting, that your children and their children obey your commands forever? Jehonadab (also known as Jonadab) was such an exceptional father that God wanted the entire nation to hear his story (Jeremiah 35).
Then I (Jeremiah, the prophet) set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, “Drink some wine.”
But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. We have obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine.’
What parenting method did Jehonadab use? The most effective: namely, example.
- His nomad tribe despised city life, material goods, wine and anything else which resembled the habit of Baal worshippers. He modeled this lifestyle to his offspring.
- He campaigned beside King Jehu for spiritual reform (2 Kings 10), demonstrating his teaching by his actions.
His integrity and his ability to tell his children, “Do as I do,” makes him an exemplary image of positive manhood. "Example isn't another way to teach; it is the only way to teach," according to Albert Einstein
© 2012 Dora Weithers