In honor of Black History Month, we want to give honor to Christian brothers and sisters of color who have helped lay the foundation of faith on which we now stand. As we celebrate contributions made by Blacks throughout the history of the church, let’s also acknowledge the amazing contributions of so many Black Americans to our present society and culture. Let’s not only celebrate Black History Month, but let’s also celebrate our amazing, multi-faceted God who created us all in His image!
Let’s begin our celebration of Black History by taking a look at some important Biblical figures who were black.
Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, was born to Sarah’s black, Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar. Abraham himself was born in Ur of the Chaldees, a land whose earliest inhabitants included blacks. The people of the region where Abraham came from can be proven historically and archaeologically to have been intermixed racially, leading scholars to believe that Abraham was of mixed racial descent.
Joseph’s Egyptian wife Asenath, a descendent of Ham, was mother to Joseph’s two sons, Manessah and Ephraim.
Moses’ wife, Zipporah, was from the historically black family of Cush. Her father, Jethro, was a key advisor to Moses, wisely encouraging him to distribute his leadership to more effectively meet the needs of the people.
The powerful and wealthy Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon and marveled at his wisdom, was queen of Ethiopia and Egypt. Her role in scripture is to validate the wisdom and blessing of God on Solomon’s life. In doing so, she gave honor and tribute to God.
Solomon went on to write one of history’s most beautiful songs of love. The Song of Songs, metaphorically depicting Christ’s relationship with His church, is the love story of Solomon and one of his wives – a black woman.
Zephaniah the prophet and author of the prophetic book bearing his name, was an Ethiopian and a descendent of Cush, making him the only black author of a portion of scripture.
Ebedmelech, an Ethiopian eunuch saved the life of Jeremiah, the prophet. An unnamed Ethiopian Eunuch in the New Testament became the first non-Jewish convert to Christianity after speaking with Philip the Evangelist. Historians believe this man was responsible for establishing the Christian church in Ethiopia.
The New Testament includes several other important black figures as well. Simon the Canaanite was a convert to Judaism before he became one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. He is believed by most Bible scholars to have been a black man. Another black man, Simon of Cyrene, a country in Northern Africa, carried Jesus’ cross to Calvary. Additionally, Simeon called Niger and Lucius, both blacks, were amongst the prophets and teachers in the Antioch church.
Praise God for all of these powerful figures from Biblical history! It is clear that men and women of color have played vital roles in establishing the Kingdom of God. These saints now surround and exhort us in a great cloud of witnesses, encouraging us to continue running our race with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We celebrate the way in which our God continues to use many different cultures to build His Kingdom! Tune in tomorrow for part 2.