Throughout time, God has selected certain people to reveal His bigger plan for humanity. These people were not selected by coincidence or accident. You may think the characters He would select would be perfect examples, but many were far from it. They made mistakes and had their own share of misses, which some would call epic fails. These Bible characters are more like us than you may think. They had their own struggles. They stumbled, they messed up, and they failed. However, it was in those weak moments that God taught them the greatest lessons. Through their experiences, believers can see the power of God, along with His forgiveness, grace and mercy. Here are seven prominent Bible characters who had their own epic fails and what we can learn from them.
Tamar left home at a young age so that she could marry into the family of Judah. During these times, a woman was valued by her offspring, but she wasn’t able to conceive with her first husband, Er. God then struck Er down, and she married Onan, the second brother. Onan refused to have a child with Tamar, so God punished him, and he died. The law forced Tamar to marry a third brother with whom she still couldn't bear a child with. Tamar was dealing with failure after failure. She had to face the fear of being childless and destitute head on. She had to call for her own justice. Tamar dressed like a prostitute and lured Judah, her father-in-law, into have sex with her. As a result, she bore two twins. Her actions were not only unethical, but she also lost her life for her actions. One of her sons was the ancestor of King David, who is in a direct lineage to Jesus.
Simon Peter, a loyal and devoted follower of Jesus, was still fearful and weak when he denied knowing Jesus. He didn’t do this once but three times. Before the denial, Jesus told him that the closest to Jesus would abandon him. Peter said that would never be the case for him. In Mark 14:31, Peter said, “If I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” Even while his loyalty was rooted in Jesus, he still failed Him. While Peter turned his back on the Lord, God ultimately forgave Peter. He was able to reaffirm his faith. In the end, Peter repented and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ until the end of his life.
Adam was the first man who God trusted in the Garden of Eden. Yet, he sinned against God by disobeying God while also failing to take responsibility for it. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, shame took hold of them, which caused them to try to hide from God. The Bible says, “[Adam] said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). As a result of their sin and their unrepentance, the fall of man resulted.
Judges 16 tells the story of Samson, who was a physically strong man. However, his weak choice for a beautiful but untrustworthy wife led to a result he couldn’t even see coming – capture, bondage and the ultimate loss of his sight and power. Judges 16:6 says, “Delilah said to Samson, ‘Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.’ Samson answered her, ‘If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.’” In the end, he committed suicide when brought down a building he was chained to and killing his oppressors.
Mary and Joseph
Mary and Joseph dealt with their own failures and troubles. Their story appeared to be one of scandal when Mary got pregnant before she was married to Joseph. They also had to figure out how they would navigate, given their circumstances. One of their biggest pressures was being the parents of the promised Messiah. Think about that kind of burden. Even when they had their troubles and failures, they obeyed God. God sent the shepherds, the angels and the wise men to welcome the birth of Jesus. God used their trials and troubles to shape and mold them into something beyond they could ever imagine.
When Moses was in the mountains spending time with God, Aaron, who witnessed God defeating Pharoah, formed an idol. Exodus 32:1 says, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” This idol was made with gold, and the people bowed down and worshiped it. When Moses traveled back down from the mountain, he was enraged. He asked God for forgiveness on their behalf. The people were ultimately struck with the plague.
There is no way to get around failure. Just like the stories of these biblical figures, at some point in your life, you will fail God. You may fail to share the gospel with someone, missing an opportunity to evangelize. You may have lost your temper when you were on the road, which caused a confrontation and derailed your day. You will fail to live up to God’s standards again and again. How we ultimately respond to our failure is on us. We can let the failure overcome us or use these failures as a powerful force to transform our lives. The choice is ours.