Wisdom and Folly

The Rise of Folly

 

By I Gordon

 

Introduction

 

This is part two of my study into wisdom and folly. We saw that in the book of Proverbs, wisdom and folly are portrayed as two women crying out to gain the attention of mankind. The first study spoke about the fall of wisdom in this age. This study speaks of the rise of folly. The first part focused on the problem from man’s perspective. This study will focus on the problem from God’s perspective. Folly is taking over due to a deliberate suppression of the truth taking place in our world. It is important to see what the Bible has to say about this and to see this important issue from God’s point of view. Hopefully we can do that! We need to start by looking at a question that was posed in the first study…‘If wisdom is crying out for people to turn towards her, then why is folly taking over in this world?’ Good question. Let’s start in Romans chapter 1 – a chapter that has got to be one of the most relevant passages to this age in which we live (especially in the Western world) that I know of.

 

The active organized suppression of the truth  

 

Rom 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

The passage above gives us the first step to absolute folly – suppress the truth! Truth and wisdom are being actively suppressed by the wickedness of mankind that does not want to acknowledge God. And how is this achieved you ask? Well, you start by denying the obvious. You start by denying that a wonderful and incredible creation demands a creator! That folks is common sense and God has placed this truth within the hearts of men, but an active suppression of this truth has been underway since Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution in 1859. Today, it has got to the point where a theory is taught as fact within our schools and those that disagree are generally silenced.[1] What is God’s response to this active suppression? We read above that because of this, ‘the wrath of God is revealed…’ Now, exactly what this wrath is will be discussed later, but in the mean time, let’s look at the next part of the passage which shows the effect of this suppression of wisdom and truth.

 

Rom 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  

 

You got it! This is what stems from denying the obvious about creation - ‘Their thinking became futile…’ and ‘they became fools…’. This is the result of suppressing the truth and drowning out the voice of wisdom… folly reigns and the glory of God is exchanged for worship of ‘things’ instead of the creator Himself![2] As it goes on to say in verse 25 - ‘They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.’ At the moment there is a global push to save ‘Mother Earth’. While I’m not against living responsibly and respecting this planet that God has placed in our care, I am also mindful of the fact that one day God Himself is going to destroy this planet because He has plans for a much better one![3] And so, man is his ‘wisdom’ focuses his attention on that which shall pass away (the earth), and not on that which will live forever (the soul of man).

 

God’s Response – the Wrath of Abandonment

 

God’s response in this passage is very interesting... albeit somewhat scary for our age! We have already read that ‘the wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven…’ But how is that wrath actually revealed? We know that God will pour out His wrath in judging this world at ‘the day of the Lord’, but is that the wrath spoken of in Romans chapter 1? The rest of the passage gives us our answer.

 

Vs 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity…

Vs 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts…

Vs 28 God… gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done…

 

God’s wrath, in this age, is the wrath of abandonment. He’s steps out of the way and gives people over to that which their heart truly desires. If you were to ask whether your society is experiencing the wrath of abandonment then here are the signs from Romans chapter 1:18-32.

 

Verse

Sign

18-20

People deny that there is a creator of this world and actively suppress this truth

21

Folly rises - People’s hearts are darkened and their thinking and decisions become foolish[4]

23,25

People worship and rely upon created things, and creation itself, but not the creator

24-27

Sexual immorality in general and homosexuality in particular, abounds

28-31

People’s hearts and minds become filled with every kind of wickedness and depravity

32

People start giving hearty approval of others who perform these wicked acts

 

I don’t know about you, but I see all of these signs in the society I live in and it is a sure sign that God has ‘given them over’ and removed His restraining hand. So why would He do this? Doesn’t He love them? And is there any indication or precedent for this in what we have been studying concerning wisdom and folly? Very, very, good questions. Thanks for asking. Let’s back the bus up a little and go back to the very first chapter of Proverbs where wisdom is introduced to us and see what we can learn concerning this.

 

God’s warning to those who reject wisdom

 

Prov 1:20-33 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares… “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you… “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be satiated with their own devices but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

 

What is this passage if it is not the ‘wrath of abandonment’ from the Old Testament? Look at what it says for it gives God’s perspective concerning the rise of folly. It again shows that wisdom cries out, eagerly desiring that people would listen and turn to her. And she in turn would pour out her heart and thoughts towards that person. But if wisdom is ignored and abandoned, then she in turn, will abandon that person (or society) and allow them to eat the fruit of their own ways. And that is where we are today in the Western world. God has said, in so many words, “If this is how you want it… if you will not listen to wisdom and actively suppress my truth, then so be it. I will remove my restraining hand and give you over to that which you desire. I will give you what you want. But know this, that which you have sown you shall surely reap and you will eat of the fruit of your own way.’[5]

 

A glimmer of light…

 

There is a very interesting word in the above scriptures however. It is the word ‘satiated’ (which is what the NASB, which I use, uses in verse 31). God says concerning those that will not listen to wisdom - ‘So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.

 

Now I didn’t know what this word meant so after a trip to the dictionary I can now declare to you that it means ‘to provide with more than enough so as to weary or disgust.’ Now that is interesting, because (for me at least) it provides a glimmer of light into the ways of God. You see, we have seen from both the New and Old Testaments, that God gives people and societies over to the folly of their own ways if they will not listen to His wisdom and truth. And yet, with this word ‘satiated’ we see there is a purpose involved in this ‘giving over’. The purpose of God is to give them so much of what they desire that it becomes wearying and disgusting to them. And then, and only then, they will be in a position to acknowledge that they have wandered far from the truth and that there is a better way![6]

 

Conclusion - Where to from here?

 

So, in conclusion, what has led to the rise of folly in our day? Well, man has actively suppressed the truth and has actively drowned out the voice of wisdom. So God has withdrawn his hand and allowed our generation in the west to eat of the fruit of its own way. And it doesn’t taste very good. After speaking on this topic in church recently, one lady wanted to know what we can do to change the situation.[7] Not an easy question as the problems in our society are well entrenched and complex. But our responsibility is to make sure that we are listening to wisdom and living in the fear of the Lord ourselves. Let’s have a look at one last passage from the book of Proverbs concerning this -

 

Prov 8:1-2 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand.

 

Where exactly is wisdom? Where does she call out from? It says above that it is where the paths meet. From that I take it that she stands at the crossroads where your path and her path meet. And it is right at that place that you have a choice on which path you will walk. It is right at that place where God’s way goes in a different direction from where you may want to go that wisdom cries out! Will you carry on with your own path, or to listen to wisdom and walk on her path? This is not a one off choice. It is a continual life long process of coming to the end of your self and your own ways and listening again to God. It is walking in the reverential fear of the Lord. The world has chosen to ignore wisdom and carry on with its own path. Don’t follow their way for that is the way of folly.

 

Even many within the church believe that the old paths aren’t good enough for this ‘post-modern’ age so many new paths are now being tried. They have come to the crossroads, where wisdom stands, and decided to forge their own path, trying to ‘emerge’[8] into something new. But wisdom lies not in a new path, but in the old. Let me close with a reminder of the word of the Lord -

 

This is what the LORD says:

Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest for your souls.”



[1] The following was sent out by ‘The Berean Call’ and illustrates this point.

 

We’re saddened to report in a recent administrative action at Baylor University (a Baptist school) in Texas, where administrators ordered a professor’s personal website be shut down because of "anonymous concerns" that the site supported ideas associated with the intelligent design movement (IDM). Baylor’s record on dealing with academic freedom, particularly as it concerns intelligent design the IDM, is now all the more odious. In 2000, Baylor removed intelligent design theorist William Dembski, now at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, because Dembski "refus[ed] to rescind a statement supporting Intelligent Design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry."

The professor under fire this time is Robert Marks, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, who launched a website called the “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” in June to study whether natural selection can use chance mutations to generate new information. "Marks’ conclusions, as explained on the website, placed limits on the scope of Darwinism and offered scientific support for Intelligent Design," explains Baptist Press. The debate, surprisingly, does not concern the validity of Marks’ research, but rather "Baylor’s policies and procedures of approving
centers, institutes, products using the university’s name," according to Lori Fogleman, director of media communications at Baylor. In July, after giving an interview to the IDM-promoting Discovery Institute, Marks was asked by Baylor’s engineering school dean to remove the website. In response, Marks requested a meeting for discussion, but just shy of a week before the scheduled meeting, all references to the Evolutionary Informatics Lab on Marks’ website were forcibly removed.

Should we be surprised? Dembski, the previous victim, offers a fairly chilling perspective on academic freedom when it comes to disagreement with Darwin:
"You have to understand, in the current academic climate, Intelligent Design is like leprosy or heresy in times past. To be tagged as an ID supporter is to become an academic pariah, and this holds even at so-called Christian institutions that place a premium on respectability at the expense of truth and the offense of the Gospel."

 

[2] At the time of writing this study, an online auction has just finished on the main buying/selling website in my country. A lady found a pebble on the beach that had, in her opinion, an image of the ‘Virgin Mary’ on it. One person wrote in and said that in his opinion, he actually thought it looked a bit more like Noah than Mary (which made me laugh!). But this pebble had apparently brought the seller great luck in the time she had had it, but she had now fallen on hard times so she needed to sell it. Leaving aside that obvious contradiction, the auction went ahead. There was a lot of interest and when the auction finished the top bid was $27,000 for ‘a pebble’. Alas however, the seller demanded more than that so the sale did not go through and our seller was off to eBay to target the global market! Why do I write this? Because folly reigns and people look to things created, not the creator. Pure folly.  

 

[3] See Isa 65:17, Matt 24:35, 2 Pet 3:10, Rev 21:1

 

[4] In my country, all sorts of liberal laws have been passed in the last few years that, as far as I can see, show that Folly is in control. We have lowered the drinking age, legalized prostitution, brought in gay ‘marriages’, and recently banned parents from smacking their children as if that was the problem with our society! G.K Chesterton once said ‘Before you pull any fence down, always pause long enough to find out why it was put there in the first place.’ Wise words but unfortunately they haven’t been heeded and society is bearing the result.

[5] Straight after the attacks of 9-11, Billy Graham’s daughter Anne was interviewed by Jane Clayson on CBS’ “Early Show”. She was asked the following:
Jane Clayson: ”I've heard people say, those who are religious, those who are
not, if God is good, how could God let this happen? To that, you say?” Anne Graham Lotz: “I say God is also angry when he sees something like this.  I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we're sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life. We put our trust in you. We have our trust in God on our coins, we need to practice it.”

That is so true. God is a gentleman and if he is not wanted and is rejected and is actively suppressed and denied then He will depart. And He will allow a society to experience the rotten fruit of their own “wisdom”. 

 

[6] If you know the pattern of God’s dealing with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament (especially seen repeatedly In the book of Judges) then you will recognize this. When Israel became proud and self sufficient and no longer listened or desired God, then He gave them over to the hand of their enemies until they would cry out to Him for mercy. Western civilization is on this track. We have abandoned God and He has given us over to our own folly and devices. The effects of such folly in our government, our schools, and our individual beliefs have lead to rapid changes and breakdown in our society and families. While the Bible predicts that this is to happen in the last days, I can only hope that some will become so nauseated by what is happening that they will retrace their steps to find out where such folly originated. And maybe then, they will cry out ‘Enough! Let us listen back to wisdom. Let us turn back to God. Let us repent that we have abandoned Him.’

 

[7] Larry Norman was once invited to come and play at the White House but he was told not to sing anything ‘religious or political’. Well, if you know Larry Norman’s songs you know that doesn’t leave him with too many options! He said that he didn’t know any John Denver songs and proceeded to play his awesome, religious, highly political song – ‘The Great American Novel’. Why am I saying this? Well, because when this lady asked what we can do to change the situation, I immediately thought of the end of this song. Larry’s song highlights many ills in American society – but none of which are easily changed. Because many of the problems highlighted in the song, and in society in our day, stem from a systematic denial of truth going back many decades, there isn’t any quick fixes. The end of Larry’s song says ‘And your money says in God we trust, but it’s against the law to pray in school. You say we beat the Russians to the moon, and I say you’ve starved your children to do it. You say all men are equal, all men are brothers. Then why are the rich more equal than others? Don’t ask me for the answers I’ve only got one, that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son.’ And to that I say Amen! I know of no other way in which true answers will come.

[8] This was obviously a not to subtle warning to beware of the ‘emerging church’ movement. It is a real mixture of truth and error but in its redefining of Christian terms and undermining of the absolute truth of God’s word, I hear the same old voice of the enemy still saying ‘Hath God really said…?’

 

I listened to a radio interview the other day with one of the leaders of the emerging church that was eye opening to say the least. The host clearly wanted to quiz the emerging church “Pastor” about his beliefs about Heaven and Hell. And that, it seems, is easier said than done! If you have heard of the emerging church then you may want to listen to this interview here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0isqLRhClo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfY-i2iXxQ0