They say that the most unlikely people often do the most extraordinary things, and that is certainly something that has proven true in the Bible. A quick read through some of the most popular Bible stories reveals that God never uses the people you would expect him to use: those who are rich and noble or well-equipped for the job. Rather, he uses everyday, run-of-the-mill people to accomplish his will and ultimately do great things that reveal his glory. It is interesting to note, though, the specific types of people that he uses to accomplish his will, as he doesn’t show any favoritism whatsoever. Let’s take a look at 10 unlikely people that God used to do great things, advance the gospel, and ultimately reveal his glory.
10. Noah: A Drunkard
After the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the world started getting increasingly evil. Noah and his family appeared to be the only righteous people on earth. So God called Noah to build the ark so that he, his family, and all of the birds and land animals would survive the flood and could repopulate the earth when everything was said and done. After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard and got drunk, and his son Ham went in, saw Noah’s nakedness, and told his two brothers Shem and Japheth, what had happened. These two brothers went in and covered Noah with a cloak so that his nakedness could not be seen. Even though God knew that Noah was going to get drunk, he chose to use him anyway to save a small remnant of living things to repopulate the earth after its massive deluge.
9. Abraham: An Old Man
Normally, most people stop having children once they pass their late thirties or early forties. However, when Abraham was 100 years old, his wife Sarah bore him a child, Isaac, just as God had promised. Although Abraham already had a son from his wife’s servant woman, Hagar, God told him that the covenant made between Abraham and the Lord would be through Isaac, the younger son. Isaac went on to become the father of Israel and ultimately, the modern Jewish nation. It was through Isaac’s lineage that many other great heroes came, and through which Jesus, the Messiah, was ultimately born.
8. Moses: A Stutterer
When God was bringing his people back from their captivity in Egypt, he selected Moses to be the man through whom he would speak. After Moses killed an Egyptian for beating up a Hebrew, he fled into the wilderness because he didn’t want to be killed by the other Egyptians or by his own people. One day, God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, and he commanded Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, and to speak to Pharaoh on their behalf. Moses responded, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled (Exodus 4:10)”, but God used him to lead the people anyway, reminding Moses that he would always be by his side. God also used Moses to deliver the Ten Commandments, which many Jews and Christians still follow to this day.
7. Rahab: A Prostitute
One of the most interesting and unlikely people ever to be used by God was Rahab. She was a prostitute living in Jericho, who provided refuge for the Israelite spies when they went to scout out the town and its surrounding areas. Even though the King of Jericho commanded that the men be brought out to him so that they could be punished, Rahab hid them, and as a result, God spared her and her family when the Israelites entered the town and overthrew it. However, Rahab’s story doesn’t end here. God used her to contribute to the coming of the Messiah. You see, Rahab married Salmon, who had Boaz, who became the husband of Ruth. The Gospel of Matthew outlines Jesus’ lineage, and it illustrates the bloodline of Christ, mentioning Rahab and a few other unlikely characters. Thus, one can marvel at the ways that God uses very unlikely, seemingly unqualified people to bring about extraordinary things—like the birth of the Savior.
6. David: An Adulterer and Murderer
David was considered to be an unlikely candidate from the very beginning. Starting out as a shepherd boy who tended his father’s flocks, he seemed very small. However, he managed to defeat the Philistine giant, Goliath with one stone in his slingshot. As a result, King Saul began to favor him, and eventually, David was anointed as king over Israel. Later on, David noticed the beautiful Bathsheba, the wife of David’s solider Uriah, bathing. He thought she was absolutely gorgeous, and thus, he took her into his home and had relations with her. However, David knew that what he had done was wrong, but rather than make up for it, her had her husband Uriah killed so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of his sin. Later on, though, David felt bad, repented, and turned back to God, and it was through his line as well that Jesus Christ, the Messiah was descended. In fact, the Messiah is referred to as the Son of David quite often through Scripture, and God made David a promise that no one would ever fail to sit on his throne. Why? Because God chose to forgive David and in turn, bring about a blessing through him.
5. Jonah: A Man who Ran from God
Jonah was a prophet who was called by God to go and minister to the people of Nineveh. These people were considered to be very Godless, so Jonah was supposed to tell the people that God’s judgment was coming against them. Because of how wicked they were, Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he ran from God. This resulted in his being swallowed by a large fish. While he was in the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed to God for forgiveness and protection, and as a result, God gave him a second chance and spared the people of Nineveh, since they also repented.
4. Matthew: A Tax Collector
The Story of Matthew is one of the most beautiful stories of Scripture, because it is a story of redemption. Matthew, also known as Levi, was a tax collector. In those days, tax collectors were essentially considered the scum of the earth, because it was rumored that they often cheated other people out of money by overcharging on taxes and pocketing some of that money for themselves. So when Jesus approached Matthew at his tax collector’s booth, people probably stared at him, wondering what a righteous rabbi like Jesus was doing associating with this tax collector. Yet he chose to call this man to be one of his disciples, and to follow him and learn his ministry, essentially. Matthew got up, left all of his tax-collecting work behind, and followed Jesus without ever looking back. This disciple ended up writing one of the four Gospels of Scripture, and he has quite the tale to tell.
3. A Little Boy, Five Loaves, and Two Fish
Jesus was all about feeding those who were hungry—both spiritually and physically. When he saw the crowd of 5,000 people, he knew that he had to feed them; he could not turn them away hungry. He asked his disciples to find food for the people, and they returned with what was probably a boy’s lunch: five loaves of bread and two fish. After he blessed the food through a prayer, he broke these items into pieces and distributed it to the disciples, who in turn gave it to the people. There was more than enough food produced in this miracle to feed all the people and to provide the disciples with food as well, which was presumably the reason why there were twelve basketfuls of leftovers at the end of the meeting.
2. Jesus: A Baby Who Grew Up to be the Messiah
While there are many prophecies concerning Jesus the Christ throughout the Old Testament, the Jewish people were not expecting their savior to be born as a baby and then to grow into an ordinary man. Despite what the Scriptures told them, they believed that their messiah would be a conqueror—a mighty warrior, someone who was powerful in battle and who would forcefully restore Israel to them. Imagine their surprise, then, when Jesus was born as a baby, lived the life of a normal child, and grew up to be a man. Furthermore, imagine their surprise when they found out that this man was indeed the promised Messiah. God could have sent anybody he wanted to be the Messiah, but he sent Jesus in the form of a baby to show the world that the Savior is humble, that he has known what it is to be in their position—to be human—and that he can thus relate to them in their sufferings.
1. Saul: A Former Persecutor of Christians
Finally, one of the most unlikely people that God used to bring about his will was Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as the apostle Paul. Saul was originally a Pharisee, a very prominent religious leader among the Jewish community. He would often harm or kill anyone who claimed to be a Christian, but one day, when he set out on the road to Damascus, he had a vision of Jesus, who explained that Saul’s actions were wrong. As a result, he turned his life around, dedicated everything he had to serving Christ, and ended up writing many books of the New Testament. His is a story of how God can take someone who seems to be rebelling against him, turn them around, and cause them to start living for him. Therefore, Paul’s story is also a story of redemption and transformation, and proof that if God can use people like him to accomplish his will, then he can use anyone, no matter what their past, present, or future actions have been or will ever be.