“For inquire, please, of the former age, And consider the things discovered by their fathers”
Not everything Bibdad the Shuhite had to say is worth listening to, but he has unlocked a very valuable treasure with this statement. He encourages Job to look back upon the lessons the generations before us have learned as we seek to chart out our course forward. There are others who have said the same thing in a different way.
Italian philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” And it was Solomon who wrote “There is nothing new under the sun.” However we choose to say it the reality is that there are very important lessons that must be passed from one generation to the next.
While the world we live in is different than it has ever been the rules set in place to keep order have not changed. Regardless of how many people occupy the planet or how quickly information is acquired, gravity still causes things to plummet toward the surface of the earth and water still freezes at 32 degree Fahrenheit. Righteousness, like the rules of science do not change from generation to generation. If we want to learn to navigate our way through life it would do us well to become familiar with the timeless lessons of the Word of God that are both tried and tested.
“But the word of the Lord was to them,
‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.’”
I don’t know if it is “a guy thing”, but whenever my wife arrives home from grocery shopping and asks for help bringing the bags in from the car, I attempt to carry everything in at once. It may be the challenge or it may be out of laziness, but whatever motivates me, it is down right comical to see me laden down with groceries, attempting to open the front door. The fact is, there is a much better way to accomplish a big task, that is, one step at at time.
For many, the Bible seems like a massive undertaking. We look at it and have no idea where to start. Perhaps we have even attempted at times to become a student of Scripture, only to become discouraged by how little we understand. It is common to develop an attitude that we will leave the Bible for experts, then our devotional life becomes limited to reading books others have written about the Bible. Isaiah gives us a tip here on the proper approach to understwnding the Word of God.
“Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little”
Many Christians attempt to read the Bible by randomly opening it and reading whatever text they happen to find. Can you imagine reading any other book that way? What if you read articles like that? Would you ever come to the authors intended understanding? The fact is, the best way to approach reading the Bible is to do so systematically. Since the Bible is a collection of books, the best place to start is in one of the four Gospel accounts. Read at least a chapter a day until you are finished, then select another and do the same. You will find that in no time you are beginning to learn and understand the Bible on your own.
“Do you not know this of old, Since man was placed on earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?”
Once again, Job’s agony is answered by one of his self-appointed counselors. This time, Zophar, the Naamathite, raises his voice and refutes Job’s cries, telling him that all of human history testifies against his logic. I find it interesting that Zophar sites history in support of his argument.
We can learn a lot from those who have gone before. It was philosopher George Santayana who wrote, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The idea being, if we attempt to do the same things generations before us have done, we should expect the same results. One common definition of insanity is when a person does the same action over and over, and expects a different result. Much could be avoided if we honestly looked back at those who have gone before us. If young people would look at the affect drugs, alcohol, and even smoking, have had on the generation that’s gone before them, they would avoid the temptation to party. If married couples looked at the impact adultery has had on countless marriages and families, they would avoid those flirtatious moments that lead to sin. If we, as a culture, were to carefully examine Israel’s heritage, we would find that sin weakens a nation, and we would vote for leaders who were willing to take a stand for righteousness.
We cannot make decisions for others, but we can make personal decisions that will impact on others. Don’t wait for the world to change. Instead, determine that you will live for Christ in such a way as to impact others for His Kingdom.