Word to the Wise

The Fellowship  |  January 31, 2020

Teenage boy studying the Torah with an elderly man in Romania.

The king answered them harshly. Rejecting the advice of the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” — 2 Chronicles 10:13-14

As we begin a new year and a new decade, let the pursuit of wisdom be one of our top goals. Enjoy this collection of devotions on wisdom throughout the month from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s timeless teachings.

The world observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27. Learn how Christians can respond to this tragic chapter in history and fight against anti-Semitism through our complimentary booklet, Never Forget/Never Again.

There was no great moment of drama when the kingdom of Israel was split into two. There was no spectacular event that caused the rift that had been prophesied years earlier. Though it came about suddenly, just after King Solomon died and his son Rehoboam began to rule, it was the result of unintended consequences.

The people of Israel had approached their new king with a request to ease the heavy burden of taxes that Solomon had levied upon them. Rehoboam’s harsh response had repercussions that he had not expected. Just like that, most of the kingdom broke away, leaving the new king with only Judah and Benjamin within his jurisdiction. This was a historical moment; one that would have ramifications for the rest of time.

If we zoom in on the defining moment that set the wheels in motion, we find at the heart of the matter a choice that Rehoboam had to make. It wasn’t about whether or not to lessen the burden of taxes, but whose advice to listen to and take. First, Rehoboam had consulted his elder advisers who had recommended that Rehoboam yield to the peoples’ request as a sign of goodwill and a promise of good things to come.

But then Rehoboam conferred with a group of young men who had grown up with him. Their recommendation was completely the opposite. Rehoboam’s decision to go with the advice of the young over the old is ultimately what led to the disastrous split in the nation of Israel.

There is a story told about a famous rabbi who found himself sitting next to an atheist on an airplane. The two had a very cordial conversation about evolution and creationism. All the while, the rabbi’s son kept coming to check on him, bring him water, and ask if he needed anything. The atheist couldn’t help but notice and he asked the rabbi how he had been able to raise such an unusually respectful child in today’s irreverent society. His own son was nothing like that!

The rabbi explained that because he and his son believed that the world was created by God who then revealed Himself to man, his son saw him as being one step closer to revelation, to wisdom, and one step closer to God. He gently explained to the atheist that since he and his son believed in evolution, his son saw him as one step closer to being an ape!

Rehoboam made a grave mistake when he discounted the wisdom of those with more years and experience than himself. It cost him dearly. We can learn from Rehoboam, and when given the opportunity, seek the advice of those who are older and wiser.

To learn more on how Christians can respond to the Holocaust, download our complimentary booklet, Never Forget/Never Again.

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