The Bible is amazing! I love studying it and recently I’ve spent a lot of time in the book of Genesis (even though I frequently wander away for other studies). I especially like praying through the scriptures as the Holy Spirit leads.
I read a verse recently that nagged at my thoughts for a while—two brief, rather cryptic (in my opinion) sentences that seemed to conceal an emotion-laden situation packed with potentially tragic consequences. “While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.” (Genesis 35:22)
My immediate response— “What was he thinking?”
Was he motivated by lust? Or was this a power play on his part, challenging his father’s authority and attempting to establish himself in a position of influence over his brothers—a position that was already his because he was the firstborn. Perhaps he did this because he had a skewed moral code. Whatever the case, he was wrong to sleep with his father’s concubine.
Granted, his father had not followed the pattern God established for marriage at creation—one man married to one woman for a lifetime—yet that was not a valid excuse for Reuben’s behavior.
Making excuses for ourselves because of what someone else has done (or is doing) is never enough to release us from accountability for our own behavior—whether we are followers of Jesus or not. Yet as Christians, we have all the resources of heaven, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and the promises of God, available to us. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Many nowadays seek to challenge the Father’s authority by rejecting, debating, or qualifying His inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word—the Bible. However, (speaking from experience here), it suits us more to deny or attempt to re-interpret God’s Word to suit sinful and broken human nature instead of acknowledging the fact that we are indeed sinners, our lives and our thinking are broken, and we are all in need of God’s Spirit and His Word to change both our behavior and our thought processes.
The book of Proverbs has sage counsel on those who rely on their own wisdom:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7) and…
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 26:12)
The prophet Isaiah wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)
Whatever pushed Reuben towards such an error in judgment (sin), it did not work out well for him. This is what Jacob pronounced regarding Reuben in his final blessing/prophecy over his sons: “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!” (Genesis 49:3-4)
Things will not work out well for us if we fail to recognize the authority of God’s Word (or are not intimately acquainted with it), for whatever reason—whether rebellion, indifference, or misguided compassion. It is contrary to the purposes of God to solve problems or confront evil with evil! And sometimes we all too easily forget just how “great is our God!” with circumstances blinding our eyes to His righteousness, justice, and sovereignty.
Sometimes we think he needs our help to do His job, yet this He affirms:
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.” (Isaiah 45:22-25)
I have learned these lessons the hard way! —there are no exceptions to God’s Word and the tenets by which He has called us to live. …nor His principles in governing our thoughts. Only when we stand on the heights of eternity will we grasp the majesty of our Creator’s sovereignty and recognize that His hand truly was directing the course of history. I am blessed as I have gotten older, to see just how good and how faithful God is to those who love Him, and to the broken of this world. Trusting Jesus really is the best course for our lives!