“‘Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?'” They answered and said, ‘Caesar’s. (Luke 20:24).'”
There is a fascinating transformation taking place in our culture. On our $20 bills Andrew Jackson’s image will no longer be on the face of that denomination for the first time since 1928. Jackson was once revered for his humble beginnings and yet reaching the White House. He had an entire era named for him, the Age of Jackson. The father of the modern Democratic Party and a champion of the working man was he. The last time this nation was invaded by a foreign army it was Jackson, the hero of the battle of New Orleans, to the rescue. But these days, there is a new estimation of the former hero, that of a slave owner and the executor of Indian removal from America.
Jackson is not alone in having his image flipped. Recently the California legislature rejected a proposal to establish a John Wayne day on the state calendars. Although “the Duke” was a hero to generations his offensive racial views have come to the fore tarnishing his image. Across the city of Houston eight High Schools will bear new names next year as those named for former Confederates will be expunged. Several other high profile heroes have suffered similar hits in the last few years such as Joe Paterno, David Petraeus, and Bill Cosby to name a few.
This is not to say that these men’s histories should be whitewashed and halos should remain on their statues. Quite the opposite, in fact, is intended. The point is that ALL men have sinned (Romans 3:23) including those who were once regarded as yesterday’s heroes. Warren Wiersbe commented that, “It doesn’t take long for society to change yesterday’s hero into today’s scoundrel.”1
The nation of Israel was oppressed severely by the Midianites (Judges 6:6) when God raised up a deliverer named Gideon (v.14). Gideon delivered his people and restored their freedom but the generation that followed did not esteem what God did for them through the hero of yesterday. Gideon certainly had his failings (Judges 8:27) but we cannot miss that he is forever ascribed as a hero of the faith in the Bible (Hebrews 11:32).
The Bible presents an honest assessment of those “heroes” of the faith. They are presented to us, warts and all. Abraham lied (Genesis 12:13, 20:2) but his faith inscribed in the same “Hall of faith” section of Scripture (Hebrews 11:8, 17-19). Moses had a great temper that occasionally broke out (Exodus 2:11-12, 11:8, 32:19, Numbers 20:9-10) but even though his last outburst kept him from entering the Promised Land his faith is recorded for all generations to consider (Hebrews 11:26-27). Noah got drunk (Genesis 9:21) but again his example of faith endures (Hebrews 11:7). David was an adulterous murderer (2 Samuel 11:3-4, 15) but he was assured that his heir would be the Messiah that would reign forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13, Acts 2:30).
All men have had failings they would never want revealed. You and I also have said, done, and thought awful things we hope no one would ever learn of. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth that no adulterer, fornicator, idolater, homosexual, thief, drunkard, slanderer, extortioners, nor greedy person would ever inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). This might have awful news for them, and us, had the Apostle stopped there. But he continued; “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).”
Let the heroes of yesterday remain in there. We understand that all men have failings and are not to be hailed as our heroes. There has only been One who was perfect (Hebrews 4:5) and it is He that is our real Hero that we follow (Hebrews 6:19-20). And remember that no matter what things are in our past they remain in yesterday while our names remain forever preserved in the Book of Life.
“Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).”
Wiersbe, W.W. (19994). Be Available. “Be” Commentary Series (81). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.