January 26: A Little Folly
Genesis 41:38–42:28; Hebrews 3:1–5:10; Ecclesiastes 10:1–9
Like dead flies in perfumer’s oil, the writer of Ecclesiastes aptly proclaims that a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Sometimes fools are elevated to positions of power, while those who are fit for the position are given no influence. The Preacher says, “I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves” (Eccl 10:7).
It’s not difficult to nod our heads and say “Amen” when we come to this example of an “evil under the sun.” We probably all have a story to tell about a leader who wasn’t fit for a position and about the injustices we endured under their authority. When a fool is set up as an authority figure, everyone suffers.
The Preacher gives a suggestion, though: “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest” (Eccl 10:4). This doesn’t just tell us we should have a posture of humility and obedience before bad leaders. We should also teach them by responding with love and humility—something that may calm even the worst of fools.
In Hebrews, we find the context for this. We stand naked and exposed to God, who judges our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. On our own, sin and guilt would condemn us. But we have a high priest in Jesus Christ. He intercedes for us, just as the Old Testament high priests interceded for the people of Israel. Our confidence is not in our own wisdom and righteousness, but in Him.
We can’t credit ourselves for our own wisdom. We stand before God on account of His Son’s righteousness and obedience. Jesus is the one who is able to withstand our folly. We stand in His righteousness, and we can learn from His obedience.
How can you respond to authority in a way that reflects God’s righteousness?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Then said Pharaoh unto his servants, Can we find such a man as this, in whom is the Spirit of God? Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is no man of understanding, or wisdom like unto thee. Thou shalt be over mine house, and at thy word shall all my people be armed, only in the king’s throne will I be above thee. Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, Behold, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a golden chain about his neck. So he sat him upon the best chariot that he had, save one: and they cried before him, Abrech, and placed him over all the land of Egypt. Again Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneth: and he gave hi to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-Pherah Prince of On: then went Joseph abroad in the land of Egypt. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh King of Egypt: and Joseph departing from the presence of Pharaoh, went throughout all the land of Egypt. And in the seen plenteous years the earth brought forth store. And he gathered up all the food of the seven plenteous years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, that was round about every city, laid he up in the same. So Joseph gathered wheat, like unto the sand of the sea in multitude of measure, until he left numbering: for it was without number. Now unto Joseph were born two sons (before the year of famine came) which Asenath the daughter of Poti-Pherah prince of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: for God, said he, hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. So the seven years of the plenty that was in the land of Egypt were ended. Then began the seven years of famine to come, according to Joseph had said: and the famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt was bread. At the length all the land of Egypt was famished, and the people cried unto Pharaoh for bread. And Pharaoh said unto all the Egptians Go to Joseph: what he saith to you, do ye. When the famine was upon all the land, Joseph opened all places, wherein the store was, and sold unto the Egyptians: for the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all the countries came to Egypt to buy corn of Joseph, because the famine was sore in all lands. Then Jacob saw that there was food in Egypt and Jacob said unto his sons, Why gaze one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is food in Egypt, Get you down thither, and buy us food thence, that we may live and not die. So went Joseph’s ten brethren down to buy corn of the Egyptians. But Benjamin Joseph’s brother, would not Jacob send with his brethren: for he said, Lest death should befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy food among them tha came: for there was famine in the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor of the land, who sold to all the people of the land: then Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed their faces to the ground before him. And when Joseph saw his brethren, he knew them, and made himself strange toward them, and spake to them roughly, and said unto them, Whence come ye? Who answered, Out of the land of Canaan, to buy vittles. (Now Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. And Joseph remembered the dreams, which he dreamed of them) and he said unto them, Ye are spies, and are come to see the weakness of the land. But they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy vittles thy servants are come. We are all one man’s sons: we mean truly, and thy servants are no spies. But he said unto them, Nay, but ye are come to see the weakness of the land. And they said, We thy servants, are twelve brethren, the sons of on man in the land of Canaan: and behold, the younger is rhis day with our father, and one is not. Again Joseph said unto them, This is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies. Hereby ye shall be proved: by the life of Pharaoh, ye shall not go hence, except your youngest brother come hither. Send one of you which may fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be truth in you, or else by the life of Pharaoh ye are but spies. So he put the in ward three days. Then Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live: for I fear God. If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in your prison house, and go ye, carry food for the famine of your houses: But bring your younger brother unto me, that your words may be tried, and that ye die not: and they did so. And they said one to another, We have verily sinned against our brother, int hat we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear him: therefore is this trouble come upon us. And Reuben answerd them, saying, Warned I not you, saying, Sin not against the child, and ye would not ear? and lo, his blood is now required. (And they were not aware that Joseph understood them: for he spake unto them by an interpreter.) Then he turned from them, and wept, and turned to them again, and communed with them, and took Simeon from among them, and bound him before their eyes. So Joseph commanded that they should fill their sacks with wheat, and put every man’s money again in his sack, and give them vittles for the journey and thus did he unto them. And they laid their vittles upon their asses, and departed thence. And as one of them opened his sack for to give his ass provender in the Inn, he espied his money: for lo, it was in his sack’s mouth. Then he said unto his brethren, My money is restored: for lo, it is even in my sack. And their heart failed them, and they were astonished, and said one to another, What is this, that God hath done unto us? Genesis 41:38–42:28
- Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly vocation, consider the Apostle and high Priest of our profession Christ Jesus: Who was faithfu to him that hath appinted him, even as Moses was in all his house. For this man is counted worthy of more flory that Moses, inasmuch as he which hath builded the house, hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded of some man, and he that hath built all things, is God. Now Moses verily was faithfu in all his house, as a servant, for a witness of the things which should be spoken after. But Christ is as the Son, over his own house, whose house we are, if we hold fast that confidence and that rejoicing of that hope unto the end. Wherefore, as the holy Ghost saith, Today if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, according to the day of the temptation in the wilderness, Where your fathers tempted me, provied me, and saw my works forty years long. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They err even in their heart, neither have they known my ways. Therefore I swear in my wrath, If tey shall enter into my rest. Take heed brethren, lest at any time there be in any of you an evil heart, and unfaithful, to depart away from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we kee sure unto the end that beginning, wherewith we are upholden, So long as it is said, Today if ye hear hs voice, hardent not your hearts, as in the provocation. From some when they heard, provoked him to anger: howbeit, not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he displeased forty years? Was he not displeased with them that sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom swear he that they should not enter into his rest, but unto them that obeyed not? So we see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief. Let us fear therefore, lest at any time by forsaking the promise of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to be deprived. For unto us was the Gospel preached as also unto them: but the word that they heard, profited not them, because it was not mixed with faith in those that heard it. For we which have believed, do enter into rest, as she said to the other, As I have sworn in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shal lenter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter thereinto, and they to whom it was preached, entered not therein for unbelief’s sake: Again he appointed in David a certain day, by Today, after so long a time, saying, as it is said, This day, if ye hear his voice, harden not your heart. For if Jesus had given them rest, then he would not after this have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, hath also ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us study therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is lively, and mighty to operation, and sharper than any two edged sword and entereth through, even unto the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, ando fthe joints, and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts, adn the intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature, which is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto his eyes, with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high Priest, which is entered into heaven, even Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we havenot an high Priest, which cannot be touched withthe feeling of our infirmities, but was in all things tempted in like sort, yet without sin. Let us therefore go boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. For every high Pirest is taken from among men, and is ordained for men, in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. Which is able sufficiently to have compassion on them that are ignorant, and that are out of the way, because that he also is compassed with infirmity, And for the same sake he is bound to offer for sins, as well as for his own part, as for the peoples. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So likewise Christ took not to himself this honor to be made the high Priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my son, this day begat I thee, gave it him. As he also in another place speaketh, Thou art a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. Who in the days of his flesh did offer up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears unto him, that was able to save him from death, and was also heard in that which he feared. And though he were the Son, yet learned he obedience, by the things which he suffered. And being consecrated, was made the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him: And is called of God an high Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 3:1–5:10
- Dead flies cause to stink, and putrefy the ointment ofthe apothecary: so doth a little folly him that is in estimation for wisdom, and for glory. The heart of a wise man is at his right hand: but the heart of a fool is at his left hand. And also when the fool goeth by the way, his heart faileth, and he telleth unto all that he is a fool. If the spirit of him that ruleth, rise up against thee, leave not thy place: for gentleness pacifieth great sins. Ther is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as an error that proceedeth from the face of him that ruleth. Folly is set in great excellency, and the rich sit in the low place. I have seen servants on horses, and princes walking as servants on the ground. He that diggeth a pit, shall fall into it, and he that breaketh the hedge, a serpent shall bite him. He that removeth stones, shall hurt himself thereby, and he that cutteth wood, shall be in danger thereby. Ecclesiastes 10:1–9