As humans, we all make mistakes. At some point or another, we have failed. There is only one Person who has walked this earth who didn’t fail or make a single mistake – Jesus Christ. Failures and mistakes come in various forms. Just because we fail at times doesn’t mean God gives up on us. God says in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope”. In this article, I’ll give a brief overview of the failures of some of the most well known people in the Bible. They were men and women God used mightily for His purposes. Yet at times they “messed up”. However God still loved them and blessed them. Hopefully you will be encouraged, knowing that despite your mistakes, God’s plan for your life can still come to pass.
God promised Abraham that He would bless him with a son, and that through His lineage, the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Although he was 75 at the time, Abraham believed the promises of God and he accounted his faith to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). However 10 years later, Abraham wavered in his faith and failed. Instead of believing God would grant him a son with his wife Sarah, Sarah was able to convince him to sleep with another woman – Hagar their servant. Abraham had a son from this encounter – Ishmael. However Ishmael wasn’t the son God intended Abraham and Sarah to have. Did God “write them off”? No. No doubt, God must have been grieved by Abraham and Sarah’s actions. Yet still, His love and mercy allowed Him to fulfill His promise. Fifteen years later, at the age of 90 miraculously gave birth to their son Isaac – the son of promise.
Jacob with the help of his mother Rebekah deceived his father Isaac into blessing him instead of his brother Esau (Genesis 27:1-40). Esau was not blameless in this. Prior to this, he had sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup (Genesis 26:29-34). However Jacob’s deceit was very serious. He had to flee from Esau in fear for his life. Despite Jacob’s moral failure and deception, God’s mercy was with him. God kept Jacob over the years and blessed him. Eventually God changed Jacob’s name (which means “supplanter”) to Israel (“contender with God”), and re-united him with Esau his brother (Genesis 32:24 – 33:20).
Moses is one of the most well known men in the Bible. God used him mightily to confront Pharoah in Egypt and lead an estimated 2 million people out of that country. He parted the Red Sea, and led the Jews through the Wilderness for 40 years. He was a man close to God, receiving the 10 commandments. He was known to be one of the meekest men who ever lived (Numbers 12:3). He is mentioned in the New Testament as a hero of the Christian faith (Hebrews 11:23-29). Having mentioned this – we must not forget that as a young man, Moses killed a man. Yes he did! Check the details in Exodus 2:11-15. God’s mercy is so wonderful. Man would have written Moses off after he committed such a crime, but God had other plans. Reflecting on this, we should see that God can use and bless us despite even the most sinful deeds of our past.
God had a special purpose in mind for Samson – to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. As such, God gave specific instructions to his parents on how he should be raised – before he was even born. Samson was to be a Nazirite (see Numbers 6). This meant Samson was to be separated to the Lord in a specific way. He wasn’t to drink wine, shave his hair or go near a dead body. Reading about the life of Samson (Judges 13-16), you will see that He broke this Nazirite vow in various ways. He drank wine, married a Gentile (non-Jewish) woman and slept with prostitutes. With each moral failure and act of complacency, Samson’s spiritual strength was waning. Eventually he made the ultimate mistake, telling his lover Delilah of the source of his great physical strength. He certainly suffered for it (Judges 16:17-21). With his head shaved and eyes brutally gauged out, Samson was languishing in prison. He was ridiculed by his Philistine captors, but God still had one last victory in store for him. As his hair grew back, so did his awesome physical strength. Samson cried out to God one last time. God heard him and answered his prayer (Judges 16:28-31). God granted Samson one last conquest. God forgave him of his sins, and gave him in his death, his greatest victory.
David is known as one of the greatest Kings in Israel’s history. He was anointed to be king as a boy (1 Samuel 16). He defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 18). He led Israel to many victories. He wrote many of the Psalms and was called “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). David loved God with all his heart and loved His word. However at the peak of his success, he committed adultery and murder. He did this by sleeping with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers – Uriah. He then plotted and schemed to have Uriah killed, so his sin wouldn’t come to light. David’s grave sin teaches us that no matter how much God blesses us, we must always be on our guard against sin in our lives. We cannot afford to slide into complacency. God forgave David and David was truly repentant for what he had done (Psalms 51). However David still had to face the consequences of his wrongdoings. Yet still, this did not hinder the ultimate plan God had for David – in that the Messiah would come through his lineage. Jesus Christ still came as planned – one of His Names being “the Son of David”.
Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples. He received the great revelation from the Father that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:16-20). Peter walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33). He experienced the transfiguration of Christ “up close” (Luke 9:27-36). Despite such close fellowship with Christ, Peter would eventually deny Christ 3 times. Jesus had actually warned Peter of his failure (Luke 22:31-34). If there was any failure that could destroy a person – this would be it. However in Luke 22:31-34 mentioned above, Jesus said something crucial “I prayed for you, that your faith should not fail”. Peter denied Christ but Christ forgave and restored him (John 21:1-19). Because of this forgiveness, Peter would go on to become one of the greatest apostles ever. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit used Peter to preach the gospel, resulting in over 3000 people accepting Christ. He wrote part of the New Testament also. What love and grace God shows to us! Though Peter failed, Christ forgave and used him. In the same way, we may fail too, and many times (!), but God forgives us, uses and blesses us also.