I once asked a friend what he thought was the most important thing parents could do for their children. He replied, “Make sure they get a good education.” Then he asked what I thought and I replied, “Give them back to God.” He asked what I meant by that. I said, “Some die before realizing their educational goals and it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children have the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” Of course, in order to earn a decent living, society says we need to be educated. I agree education is important but it is not the most important thing we can do for our children. We all know we become educated by gaining knowledge one way or another as knowledge is not always attained in the classroom. It is indeed beneficial for our children as well as for us to gain knowledge; but worldly knowledge can only get us so far. Adam, the first man, was ‘schooled’ in the Garden of Eden. His major lesson as we all know was “…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. Ch. 2 v. 17). The lesson seems simple enough to understand.
Subsequently, it was Adam’s responsibility to educate his wife, Eve, of the consequence of eating from the tree. If you recall, she accurately explained the consequence of eating the fruit of that tree to the serpent. The knowledge Eve had about the ‘bad fruit’ tree, she relayed to the serpent. Adam and Eve actually had two teachers—the Omniscient God and Satan. The former presenting spiritual knowledge and the latter offering worldly knowledge. It is no secret which teacher they chose to obey, in spite of their knowledge of the consequence. Furthermore, in Eve’s eyes the tree was “…desirable to make one wise” (Gen. Ch. 3. v. 6). How could she not know she already possessed wisdom? It may not have been the exceptional wisdom Almighty God endowed her husband with, still she craved worldly wisdom and exercised her volition (free will) to partake of the cursed thing. Wisdom, Himself used to come down to hang out with Adam and Eve. Unfortunately, for them He was not enough. Eve believed the lie the serpent told her and her husband followed, despite their knowledge of the truth. Thus began the trend of choosing the world over the spiritual things of God.
Worldly wisdom does not accept spiritual knowledge as truth. Never has. In fact, worldly wisdom sees itself as master of its own universe. It is what caused the people before the flood to miss their opportunity to enter the ark with Noah and his family (Gen. Ch. 7 v. 21-23). You see, part of their knowledge of the world was, “…a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground” (Gen. Ch. 2 v. 6). There is no record of rainfall until God told Noah in Gen. Ch. 7 v. 4, “…I will cause it to rain…” With a new beginning after the flood, Noah and his family were commanded to replenish the earth once again but the lure of worldly wisdom remained. Their descendants decided it would be ‘wise’ to stay together, build a city and a tower and make a name for themselves. Recall God’s command was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. Ch. 9 v. 1). Worldly wisdom defies God’s commands. Let us examine the scripture in Gen. Ch. 11 v. 4, “…And they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves…”” No doubt the ‘tower’ would have been for idol worship. Worldly wisdom leaves the true and living God completely out of the picture.
Nimrod, (a descendant of Ham, Gen. Ch. 10 vs. 6-10) their leader, somehow encouraged the people to partake in his grand venture of making a name for themselves. When man tries to make a name for themselves, who gets the glory—Man or Almighty God? Nimrod was not appointed by God or anyone at that matter to lead these people. The people’s knowledge of Nimrod was that he was a mighty hunter. Whether or not they were intimidated or impressed by him is unknown. Nonetheless, he used his wisdom and his might to persuade the people into believing that his way was better; for the bible says, “He began to be a mighty one on the earth” (Gen. Ch. 10 v. 8). Bible scholar Alfred Eade stated, “Throughout the centuries men have tried to build their own way to Heaven, using the best and the worst that earth’s brains and brawn could conceive and propagate…” That strategy did not work then and it certainly will not work today.
Nimrod’s venture was a case of the blind leading the blind into a state of confusion. Therefore, Almighty God had to come down and put an end to it by literally confusing their language (Gen. Ch. 11 vs. 7-9). Transforming their knowledge of their original language presented a barrier to communication and their project had to be aborted. What was ordered before for man to do, God had to come down and do Himself; that is scatter them abroad over the face of all the earth. Worldly wisdom steals the fame and glory that rightfully belong to Almighty God. Even Joseph, when interpreting the dreams of the butler and the baker in Gen. Ch. 40, said in verse 8, “…Do not interpretations belong to God…?” and to the Pharaoh in Ch. 41 v. 16 said, “It is not in me, God will give Pharaoh an answer…” Joseph gave God all the glory for what he was able to do.
When told to “Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you,” Abram, (later renamed Abraham by Almighty God) received knowledge of a promise that would change every life that followed (Gen. Ch. 12 v. 1). God promised to make Abram a great nation, bless him and make his name great (Gen. Ch. 12 v. 2). Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Encyclopaedia Britannica placed Ur at a location in ancient Iraq where their form of worship was idolatry. Temples were built in dedication to their false gods and each family worshiped whichever idol they preferred in their personal chapels. Abraham and his family would have been knowledgeable about the religious culture of the time. Yet he was wise enough to pack up and leave it all behind when God said to do so.
I believe this was possible because Abraham would have heard about Almighty God, the Creator, Adam and Eve, the flood and the tower of Babel from his father or his grandfather. Despite what he was exposed to Abraham had the knowledge of One greater than himself or any man-made idol. He wisely gave it all up “built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD” (Gen. Ch. 12 v. 8). In other words, Abraham worshiped the true and living God. Many years passed and Abraham continued on in faith with the knowledge of a promise of a great nation, countless as the stars in heaven (Gen. Ch. 15 v. 5). His wife, Sarah however, relied on the knowledge that you have to be young and possess a fertile womb in order to get pregnant. Worldly knowledge gives way to doubt in your heart about the power of Almighty God.
Meanwhile Abraham’s nephew, Lot who lived in Sodom with his family had to wind up running for their lives as Sodom and neighbouring Gomorrah was about to be destroyed. A judgment brought on by the local residents of that place. The appetite for worldly knowledge of the men there made them “…exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD” (Gen. Ch. 13 v. 13). Lot and his family received a quick lesson or basic instruction from the angels who were about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city” (Gen. Ch. 19 v. 15). The following verse (v.16) is quite alarming to me. It says, “…he lingered.” You know, if someone was to tell me there was a bomb in my house, I would hightail it out of there as fast as my feet could carry me. Yet Lot lingered. The problem with Lot was his life and worth was defined by his worldly possessions and not just him, his wife’s too. I do not think the people in Sodom even liked him that much for when the men were trying to have sex with the angels and Lot resisted, they said in verse 9, “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge.” Lot lingered because he did not want to leave his possessions behind as they were great. Recall in Ch. 13 vs. 5-7 where it says, “Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock…”
Greatness defined by worldly possessions is what Lot and his family knew or what they chose to know. That was their wisdom and the only reason they were spared the same judgment is that Abraham interceded for them and God showed them mercy. For Lot’s wife though, the force of greatness and worldly possessions was too powerful to let go. So she defied the final instruction of the angels to “Do not look behind you…” (Ch. 19 v. 17). Her disobedience caused her to turn into a pillar salt (v. 26). Worldly wisdom sees worldly possessions more precious than life.
When the Hebrews originally migrated to Egypt (due to widespread famine) they were welcomed with open arms by the Pharaoh for the sake of Joseph. Jacob led the contingent of sixty-six people of his house into the land of Egypt by invitation from his long lost son, Joseph; who, by God’s favor, achieved the rank of governor of all Egypt. Their population grew while in Egypt and they were immensely blessed by God. They lived peaceably with the Egyptians but that was until Joseph and the Pharaoh died and another king took his place. Under this new political regime, the Hebrew people suffered oppression. The new Pharaoh felt intimidated by their numbers and mightiness.
Moses was given the mandate by Almighty God to lead the Hebrews out of captivity from Egypt. Inasmuch as Hebrews Ch. 7 v. 22 says, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians…,” he was the chosen one. He was only three months old when the Pharaoh’s daughter drew him out of the river and adopted him as her own. When God introduced Himself to Moses and informed him of the task for which he was chosen, Moses followed up with several questions; for up until that time his knowledge base was Egyptian ideology. Moses, would have heard of the Hebrew God with no name but the actual encounter was remarkable—a burning bush that was not being consumed by the fire and a voice out of nowhere who called him by name. Questions such as why me, who shall I tell them sent me, suppose they do not believe me, were of great concern to Moses. Moses needed to be re-educated in the ways of Almighty God. He needed a better form of wisdom to answer the questions he had.
First lesson, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus Ch. 3 v. 6). In other words, God is saying, “Moses, you have been exposed to many false gods made by man. I am the true and living God you have heard of. The God of the Hebrews. Your God.”
In response to his first question in Exodus Ch. 3 v. 11, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God said in verse 12, “I will certainly be with you…” Lesson number two: Know that this has nothing to do with who you are and everything to do with Who I Am.
Second question, verse 13, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” In response, God made the most profound statement the world will ever hear, “I AM WHO I AM…thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (verse 14). Lesson number three (same as lesson number one): I am the God of your father—I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. The true and living Almighty God.
Third question, Chapter 4, verse 1, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” Lesson number four was a demonstration of the power of Almighty God; the beginning of many to follow for Moses and the Hebrew people. The rod Moses was carrying, God turned it into a serpent; He made his hand leprous and restored it again, (verses 2-7). The demonstration was not only necessary to prove to Moses that God is who He said He is and subsequently, to the children of Israel, but also to develop a system of trust. Moses had to learn to trust Almighty God. The lesson was crucial for he had to teach his brethren to do the same for the transformation of their ways of knowing.
Eventually, Moses did accomplish the task bestowed upon him with many signs, wonders and plagues from Almighty God (Ex. Chaps. 7-14). Then came the ultimate challenge—teaching his brethren about the ways of Almighty God. When they left Egypt, they left knowing Egyptian ways. In the wilderness their lesson began with the institution of Moral Law—the Ten Commandments (Chap 20); Judicial Law (Chap 21-23 vs. 1-9) and Ceremonial Law (Chaps 23 vs. 10-33). Prior to that, the LORD demonstrated His power again to them in the wilderness where he made the bitter waters sweet for their consumption. He also provided bread from heaven (which they called Manna) and quail for meat. Saints, I have to pause here for a while as I marvel at God, the Nutritionist providing basic dietary requirements to keep His people healthy in the desert. Hallelujah, God does not change! Another vital demonstration to educate the Hebrew people about Who Provides for them. However, Worldly knowledge not discarded from your memory can be a cancer to your judgment or your ability to make wise decisions. As was the case with the Hebrews who decided a golden calf should be their god (Chap. 32).
Idol worship was a destructive habit they picked up from the Egyptians and like some hard-headed children, they had to be disciplined, sometimes harshly, for their action was no ‘slap on the wrist’ matter. Subsequently, “about three thousand men” died that day by order of Moses (Chap 32). Whenever God resorts to disciplinary action, the lesson being taught is obedience and I assure you all it is done in love. Just like a parent disciplining a child who has been naughty and continuously tries to ‘push the envelope,’ punishment becomes inevitable.
After the golden calf incident, God renewed His covenant with them, reminded them of the mission ahead and gave them stern warning if they should allow themselves to be sidetracked or wooed by the people of the land which they were to seize (Chap. 34 vs. 10-11). Before his departure from the earth, Moses felt inclined to remind the people about a few things that could either be detrimental or beneficial to them. With class in session, the lesson began with an admonition, “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you” (Deut. Ch. 4 v.1). Saints, hearing is the function of the ear, but listening is a skill that every one of us need to develop. The Hebrews did not listen very well and many times, neither do we. When we listen we really pay attention and the lesson is not lost in the wind.
Verse 5 says, “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess.” Moses is saying to them, the knowledge God imparted to me, I imparted to you. You have no excuses when times of testing arise.
Verse 6 is the anticipated result of what was said in verse 5, which states, “Therefore, be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statues and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” In the Old Testament/Old Covenant, the statutes (laws) and judgments (decrees) enacted by Almighty God, were given to ‘a people’ chosen by Him to be an example to others. Those on the outside would take notice and acknowledge that the Hebrew God is the true and living God, not made by human hands and that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs Ch. 9 v. 10).
I beseech anyone reading this article who has bounded themselves in any way to idols of any kind, to desist from such a practice. It is not wise to do so. Among other ungodly practices, God hates idol worship. In fact, He calls the practice an abomination many times in the Bible.
By Gail Reid
I wish you all a Prosperous New Year. Blessings to you all for 2016.
All scripture was quoted from the New King James Version Bible.