The Bible tells us of many men and women who thought their own earthly wisdom was better than God’s wisdom. Here are a few examples of how man’s foolish wisdom has caused problems on this earth. “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” (1 Corinthians 3:20).
God created Adam and Eve as perfect humans, gave them a perfect place to live in, and told them to take care of the garden. God told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because if you eat of that tree you will surely die (Genesis 1-2). The serpent (Satan) deceived Eve into thinking she could become like God if she ate of the forbidden tree. She ate and gave to Adam to eat, and they both died spiritually. Their trusting in their own earthly wisdom caused God to put them and this earth under a curse. The results of this curse are sin, suffering, death, and destruction. Using our own human wisdom can have severe earthly and eternal consequences.
Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain brought an offering of fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and their fat. God accepted Abel’s offering, but God rejected Cain’s offering, and Cain got angry. God warned Cain about controlling his anger, but Cain didn’t listen to God’s warning and he killed his brother Abel. Cain’s listened to his own earthly wisdom and God put a curse on him, and he became a fugitive and vagabond on the earth, and none of Cain’s descendants survived the great flood. “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
During the time between God’s creation and the Great Flood God allowed the people to live according to their own earthly wisdom. And “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air” (Genesis 6:5-7). The people lived their life according to their own worldly wisdom, and God destroyed them. Noah and his family were saved because they trusted in God’s wisdom for their life. Trusting in our own wisdom brings God’s judgement; obeying God’s wisdom brings God’s blessings.
After the flood God told Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). As the people journeyed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there…And they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the face of the earth” (Genesis 11:1-4). The Lord confused their language and scattered them over all the earth. God can circumvent our earthly wisdom and force us to do His will whether we like it or not. “God rules in the kingdom of men” Daniel 5:21).
Abram believed God and God counted him righteous (Genesis 15:6), but Abram had a lying problem. Abram took his family into Egypt to get food. As Abram was about to enter Egypt he realized his wife, Sarai, was a beautiful woman, and he was afraid the Pharaoh would kill him and take his wife for his own. So Abram told a half-truth (a whole lie) and said Sarai was his sister (Sarai was Abram’s half-sister). The Pharaoh saw how beautiful Sarai was and she was taken to Pharaoh’s house. God plagued Pharaoh and his house with plagues because of Sarai. Pharaoh scolded Abram severely for lying to him, and told Abram and everyone with him to leave Egypt. Trusting in our own wisdom can hurt other people. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22).
Strife arose among Lot’s and Abram’s herdsmen and they decided to go in different directions. Abram gave Lot his choice of direction to go. Lot chose the plain of Jordan, it was well watered and like a garden, but the town of Sodom was there. Lot pitched his tent as far as Sodom. Lot and his family were taken prisoner and Abram rescued them, and then Abram had to warn Lot that the Lord was going to destroy Sodom. Lot trusted in his own earthly wisdom and it caused him to lose his wife and all his riches. Lot escaped out of Sodom with his children and the clothes on his back. Many times what we think are the best things for us can cause us many problems and harm. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15).
Pharaoh made slaves out of the Hebrew people. God sent Moses to set the Hebrew people free from slavery. Moses told Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Let my people go, that they may make a feast to Me in the wilderness.” Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.” Pharaoh trusted in his own earthly wisdom and it brought ten plagues from God upon the Egyptian people, including the death of all the firstborn children and animals, and the destruction of the Egyptian army. The consequences of trusting in our own earthly wisdom can bring severe judgment from God. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The people of Israel wanted a king like the rest of the nations. Samuel was upset, but the Lord told him, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” The Lord told Samuel to tell the people that a king will make soldiers out of their sons, make them plow his land, reap his harvest, take their daughters as servants, tax their crops, etc. (1 Samuel 8:1-21). Biblical history says that’s what happened. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8).