Introduction by Gowdy Cannon
No tournament we have ever done here at Rambling Ever On has produced the drama and upsets as has Favorite Bible character. It also had its fair share of scurrilous, caustic debate, and none of us will forget the Luke vs. Elijah blow out of 2015 any time soon, but that kind of controversy happens in all of our tournaments.
Here’s how it shook down: 68 names (Jesus was excluded for obvious reasons), seeded 1-68. Four play-in match-ups then a one and done, win or go home, best out of nine votes tournament. And none of the Top 4 seeds made it to championship. We were one vote away from the Final Four being the 3, 7, 8 and 13 seeds. The Championship, both Final Four match-ups and two of the four Elite Eight match-ups were decided by a singular 5-4 vote. The championship was 4-1 after five votes and the character down ended up storming back and winning. If this were an NCAA tournament, it would easily be the best ever. Does it matter more what a Bible character did or how much Scripture they wrote? Is it more important to have a lot of verses written about you, or a direct connection to Jesus? And should you be docked for unrepentant sin when seeding? Those are the questions; below are the answers.
The results may surprise you. They did some of us. But if you disagree, let us know!
Humans are drawn to and impressed by power and leadership. Even our list to some level proves that. But in the midst of patriarchs, kings and apostles, you find this poor, widowed, immigrant woman. God told his people to take special care of people like her (Leviticus 19:9-10) but she was the one who ended up setting the example of how to serve and provide, so much so that her book is named for her. Her life and her book are a breath of fresh air of sacrifice, humility and godliness, coming right after 21 of the worst chapters in Israel’s history in Judges. She is to be mimicked and praised, a woman with dirty hands and a clean heart. And for that she earned a place in our Top 10. – Gowdy Cannon
Shepherd boy turned king, David was the fulfillment of many promises. A man of passion, faith, and fearlessness, he appears on the scene when he’s needed most and converts a tribe of nomads into the most powerful kingdom in the area. Was he perfect? Of course not. Sometimes his passion flared unchecked and the results were disastrous. But being one known for seeking God’s heart, he knows there’s unending grace waiting. How else could he start a song begging for forgiveness and end it thanking God for hearing him? He simply knew the answer would be “yes, I forgive.” – Joshua Crowe
John’s prominent place in the Gospels puts him as one of the closest friends of Jesus. He was so dear to Jesus, in fact, that even while Jesus hung on the cross He gave His mother into John’s care. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, John helped lead the early church. Tradition says that John penned The Gospel According to John; John 1,2, and 3; and Revelation. Tradition also says that he is the only disciple not to die the death of a martyr. Instead, it is said that after his exile on Patmos, he served the rest of his days in Ephesus where he mentored some of the next generation of church leaders. – Benjamin Plunkett
Everyone knows the stories: lions in a den, prophecies, obedient prayer life. You name it. Daniel’s life was full. Like many other famous biblical characters, we know about his great triumphs – his amazing moments of faith and obedience. Unlike most other famous Biblical characters, we know nothing about his failings. Surely he did fall, he was human after all. Yet, there is no Bathsheba in his story. No moments of dishonesty. No disobedience revealed. Daniel, from all appearances, was a truly faithful and righteous follower of God. That might not be completely relatable to most of us, but it is inspiring and challenging. But who are we kidding though? That lion’s den story is flippin’ awesome and Daniel handled it like a boss. – Phill Lytle
Moses was raised to be a leader. Adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh, he was brought up as royalty. Yet this was the guy who didn’t think he was good enough a speaker to amount to any kind of leader at all. Fortunately for Israel, that didn’t matter to our God who can use anyone. Driven from Egyptian society, he would return to free the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage. And by God’s hand, Moses would dedicate the rest of His life to leading them to the Promised Land and to truly establishing them as a nation governed under the law of God. – Benjamin Plunkett
The American Church at times speaks in cliches and throws platitudes at pain. The Bible, however, does not. And perhaps no book cuts through the superficial spirituality of the “right way” to respond to suffering the way Job does. Any time someone says God won’t give you more than you can handle my mind is drawn to Job 6 where Job wishes God would take his life. The issue of righteous suffering can be as big an obstacle to faith as there is and Job is about as clear an answer as the Bible gives. His life is not a formula for how to deal with suffering; just a transparent, raw, unfiltered example. But beyond this, we still find some of the greatest words of faith in Scripture. “I know my Redeemer lives…even after my skin is destroyed, apart from this flesh I will see God.” Bitterness, complaining, depression and all, he never let go and he very much saw God. And that is why he ranks so high on our list. – Gowdy Cannon
He was chosen by God to be the father of a great nation. We remember his willingness to abandon everything to follow where God was leading. Years later, when he thought he had a clearer picture of God’s plan for him, he was still willing to sacrifice his own son if that had been required. He interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah when no one else would. Despite the many great things he did, Romans tells us that Abraham believed God and that faith was counted to him as righteousness. He did have a problem with lying and he foolishly attempted to “speed up” God’s timing by having a son, but anybody who has a song written about them that can keep children entertained for hours deserves a place on this list. So let’s just praise the Lord. – Michael Lytle
Many readers will be outraged that Paul is not number one on this list. What could we possibly have against the man who went from violent persecutor to radical evangelists? This is the guy who spearheaded the equal inclusion of gentiles into the Christian faith by traveling and starting churches throughout the empire, arguing with Jewish Christian leaders who insisted on gentile circumcision, and defending the theology of Jesus’ New Covenant in his letters that make up a third of the New Testament. Paul changed history like few others human beings ever have. Yet, we are still confused as to why he held that grudge against John Mark for as long as he did. Come on Paul, I’ve still never heard a full apology to Barnabas and Mark. – David Lytle
2. Joseph (OT)
Joseph the dreamer. Joseph the favored son. Joseph the faithful steward of God’s gifts. He was all of those things and more. There is no Old Testament person that more clearly points to Christ than Joseph. He was wrongfully sold into slavery. He was punished and mistreated for things he did not do. Through it all, he remained true to the God of his father and the teachings of his childhood and in so doing, he saved countless lives. Joseph is another convicting reminder that most of us fall very short of the mark too often. We relate more to Peter and David. We should strive to be more like Joseph. – Phill Lytle
No significant figure in the New Testament is as relatable as Peter. While he is always first in the lists of the apostles and the first person that Jesus wants to hear the news of his resurrection, he is also prone to be impulsive, rash, bold, and even cowardly. Peter is first to declare Jesus to be the “Messiah, the son of the living God.” He swears his undying loyalty to Jesus, and even cuts off an ear for Jesus. Then he is found cursing as he denies Jesus at his hour of crucifixion. We don’t love Peter’s cowardice; we love that we can relate to it. We love that even after the denials and curses, Jesus didn’t give up on Peter. The resurrection and Pentecost transform him into the fearless church leader we find in Acts and the patient shepherd we encounter in his epistles. Despite his metamorphosis, we can still relate to him, especially to the fact that Paul’s letters confused him. – David Lytle
There you have it. Based on the last time we posted a Top 10 list, I’m sure there are plenty of you that disagree with the results. Fine. Tell us who we left off the list, who we ranked too low or too high.