1 Cor 1:19-20
“For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
Genesis 17:16-17 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
Abraham thought that God’s statement was so foolish, that he actually laughed at God’s promise! According to human wisdom, a 90 year old woman is unable to bear children. The same is true of a 100 year old man.
Genesis 25:23 The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
This is one of the more common ways that God turns man’s wisdom upside down. In the Bible, the oldest son is supposed to get the blessing. In the Bible however, we often find that the greatest heroes were youngest sons.
Joseph was the second youngest of Jacob’s children (Benjamin was younger). Joseph was sold into slavery (Gen 37:28), thrown into prison for years (Gen 39:20), and immediately upon leaving prison, he became the second most powerful person in Egypt (Gen 41:39-40).
God could have made life easy for Joseph. He could have sent Joseph to Egypt without all of this fuss, but for reasons that were wise to him, he did not do so. Instead, God made Joseph a slave and a felon before raising him up. To me this seems foolish, but to God it was wise.
Exodus 4:10-11 Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Moses was sent by God to speak to the Israelites and to the Egyptians. This spokesman was to make the Israelites believe that God was going to take them out of Egypt. He was also to convince Pharaoh (The king of Egypt) to allow the Israelites to leave. It also appears that this great spokesman for his people had a problem with stuttering (or some other speech problem that would make him slow of speech and tongue). Moses was a brilliant man, but there were other brilliant men in Israel. Why did god send a man who had problems speaking, to give some of the most important speeches in the Bible!?? To me this seems foolish! To God however, it was wise.
Judges 6:14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord , ” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
In Judges 7, God decides that Gideon’s forces are not sufficiently weak, and intentionally reduces the size of his army. Judges 7:2 says, The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’
If I were looking for someone to save my people, I would look for a very well known, smart, well liked individual. What did God look for? He took the weakest person from the weakest clan in a tribe, and told him to save his people. God then takes the army that is under Gideon, and intentionally weakens it, to make his own power more obvious. Again, to me this seems foolish, but it was wise to God.
Samson was physically the strongest man in Israel’s history. He was a famous warrior who killed many of Israel’s enemies (Judges 15:15 for instance) and was the leader of Israel for 20 years (Judges 15:20). He told his enemies about his one weakness, which led to his capture and to his becoming blind (Judges 16:21). After 20 years ruling Israel, Samson is now a blind captive, and his new job is performing for the entertainment of his enemies (Judges 16:25). At this point, Samson prays for strength, and brings the temple down on top of his enemies (and the enemies of God), killing many more when he died than while he lived.(Judges 16:30)
This man, one of the greatest warriors in the history of Israel, killed more enemies when he was blind and weak, than when he was the strongest man in Israel. This makes no sense to me, but it was the way that God decided to do things.
Saul was the first king of Israel. When he was told that he would be king, this was his response: 1 Samuel 9:21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”
Admitedly, Saul was a very kingly type of person (1 Samuel 9:2 an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites, a head taller than any of the others.), but even so, his family had no power in the community. Why on earth would God choose such a man?
The greatest example of the idea that the ways of God are foolish to men, and the ways of Men are foolish to God, is the example of Jesus. The Jewish people expected the Messiah to be a warrior king who would free them from Roman rule. Instead God came to earth, lived a humble life, taught for about three years and was executed. This is most certainly not the way I would have done things.
Paul was one of the earliest persecutors of the Church. He made it his job to hunt down the followers of Jesus (Acts 8:3, 9:1). He later becomes one of the greatest witnesses for Christianity, and speaks quite a bit about how he will only boast of his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:5-9).
God takes the weak, and uses us for his purposes. As 2 Corinthians 12:9 states, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” If you think God cannot use you for his purposes… that you are not smart enough, or good enough, or are simply too broken… remember that the greatest heroes in both the New and Old Testaments were just as broken. God often does not use the strong for his tasks, but the weak.