In this age of insecurity, rapid change, cynicism & tyranny, could it be that we have poor priorities? God’s proverb (PRV 14:12) teaches us that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” We may be “too smart for our own good”.This message is about the priorities that many of us have uncritically accepted from the World which in the end will leave us shorthanded. This is a discussion on JER 9:23-24.
In order to discuss it, let’s quote it: ” ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; let not the mighty man glory in his might; nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD YHWH, exercising lovingkindness (hesed), justice (mispat), and righteousness (sedaqa) in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD.” WOW. Wisdom, power & wealth. Brains, brawn & big bucks. Shrewd, filthy rich & unbeatable. These are the things we are told to get, the way to success, and those that get them are proud of their achievement!! God told the prophet Jeremiah that He delights in lovingkindness, justice & righteousness. Hmmm. What makes God happy are today unpopular politically incorrect things.
GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT. We’ve all heard the expression “Garbage in, garbage out.” And yet we often don’t seem to apply it to what enters our own minds. We simply absorb whatever the World sends our way. What is one of the lessons of war & sports & political races??…power, especially power to win, is great. And sports fill our lives. Walk into a particular restaurant in this area and a series of TV screens offers the guest his choice of watching golf, basketball, football, baseball, or tennis. Sports seem to hold more attraction than academics to many college students. And each sports event reinforces the idea that power is success. Nietzsche taught that weakness is a vice & that life is a struggle for supremacy. But the World has gone further than Nietzsche’s opinion, worldly “Science” (so-called) tells us that nature is in a fierce competition for survival and that “natural selection” picks the strongest. With science supporting the idea that might makes right, all the support is in place for worldly thinkers to be firmly sure that might is right. Darwin, due to what was happening in his own life, focused on “natural selection” (competition so to speak)…and ignored cooperation. If one looks at ants & bees & birds, and other successful animals & plants, one sees cooperation plays just as big a role in success as competition. Plants need to be pollinated by bees or other pollinators.
JUSTICE? Yes, the word is still used a great deal in the World and America, but it is not connected to godliness, truth, love, & righteousness. In America, it is no longer connected to the meaning of the Bill of Rights & the Constitution as a whole, the true legal foundation of law. It is now simply a function of power, especially executive power, and those with the wealth to have power. The police, the molders of public opinion, our military authorities are all simply extensions of that worldly power and their “justice” is warped by the whims of that power. Truly righteous just men are now a threat to this perverted power. Try to protect your health in CA by refusing vaccinations and go to prison. Refuse to believe homosexuality is good and have your church closed. Believe as a general that your job is to protect the American people & the Constitution and lose your job. “Justice” is merely the whims of those in power.
WORLDLY POWER v. GOD’S POWER. There is an account (backed by history) of King Herod. He was quite popular, and thought nothing of God or the Bible. He killed the godly man James (the brother of John) and other Christians. Peter only survived him by an angel releasing Peter from prison chains. Herod was filthy rich & powerful. When he gave a big speech to his people, they shouted, “The voice of a god and not of a man.” Immediately an angel of God killed Herod, “because he did not give glory to God”. ACTS 12:23 Then in the next line, we are told, “But the word of God grew & multiplied.” ACTS 12:24. In the long run, pride fails. There have been some similar things happen in modern times. Clearly, if you are going to make money, best realize that it is a myth that you are self-made, you had better give thanks to God almighty, as well as the others that have helped you to your success.
MISTAKEN IDEAS OF SUCCESS. In the U.S., even in the churches, you often see the mistaken idea that poverty is an evil and a sign of God’s judgment, and that wealth is a sign of God’s favor. DT 8 is devoted to reminding people not to forget God is behind their blessings!!! “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God… Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God…lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them;…when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…then you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.”(A) The conclusion of this pride at the end of the chapter is this: “you [your nation] shall perish…”(B)
An example of how easy it is to forget God is the roaring twenties, famous for its sexuality, drunkenness, and high crime rates. The thirties were the depression. Crime rates went down even though people were poor, and people had to depend on each other for survival. The rich young ruler came to Christ thinking he had it all. What do I lack, he asked Christ?? He went away disappointed, obviously Christ had different values than are prevalent in America today! Our culture shows what it values…it pays exorbitant, needless, monstrous amounts of money to actors, CEOs, politicians, and top sports figures. “Come now, and let us reason together.” ISA 1:18. If you see life as merely competition, then you are satisfied that those at the top get more than they can use. But if you see life as cooperation, and are willing to face the reality that none of those at the top got there by only their own talent & efforts, then you realize there is something wrong in our system and our priorities. Man needs to quit looking at himself, and get to know his Creator. He needs to climb down from his ivory tower, and quit bragging about all the factoids he knows. The Word of God repeatedly reminds us to do this.(C)
GOD DOES NOT NEED OUR WISDOM! God is not looking over the shoulders of scientists to see what they discover! Worldly “wisdom” is “earthly, sensual, demonical” and “The wise men are ashamed; they are dismayed and taken. Lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?”(D) If you think I exaggerate—look at old medical and science books…science & the medical profession reject them! I have a medical reference book from the 1970’s. It is outdated. Its info is now rejected…of no relevance. The Word of God is still as powerful as it was back in Christ’s day. It has been powerful throughout history & throughout the world. It is the most published book in all history. But America thinks they are smarter. They have rejected God’s wisdom. How is that working for America??!! The Apostle Paul asked, “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” Wow. The philosophy & science of the Greeks, and the banking & religion of the Babylonians…all these impressive kinds of things were shown to be foolish. This is why Paul, a very educated man who could speak Greek, went to the heart of Greece (the Areopagus on Mars Hill) and confronted the wise men of Greece with the gospel of Christ. When it is all said & done, we should prioritize knowing God, and glorifying in Him, not ourselves.
(A) DT 8: 10, 11, 12, 14, 17 (B) DT 8:20 (C) For instance, 1 COR 1:31 & 2 COR 10:17 which both quote JER 9:24! (D) JAS 3:15, JER 8:9