1 Corinthians 1:18-25
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent. 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. — 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
A New Mission
by Julie Gilbreath
Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight. — Isaiah 5:21 (HCSB)
About two years ago I came across a book called Your People Shall Be My People by Don Finto. That was the beginning of an incredible journey—learning and then teaching about the Jewish roots of Christianity. God had a new mission for me that I never imagined or expected.
You may make your plans, but God directs your actions. — Proverbs 16:9 (GNT)
With less than six months to prepare for my first Focus Study, I began to pray for God to guide me to the information I needed, and through circumstances I can only attribute to Him, I discovered the rabbinical literature. It was like finding a treasure chest of profound insights, and it destroyed whatever wisdom I thought I had about the Hebrew Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament). God’s timing was perfect—I needed the information, but more importantly, I needed to be humbled. Studying and teaching the Bible for me would never be the same.
Open my eyes, so that I will see wonders from your Torah. — Psalm 119:18 (CJB)
I will be the first to admit that by most standards, I am unqualified to teach Scripture. I have two degrees, but neither are from a seminary. Teaching is one of my spiritual gifts, but I’ve never had any formal training. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church where my mother was on staff, but I had never taught a Bible study or Sunday School lesson in my life. And I certainly never thought I would become a Bible teacher, much less a teacher of the Torah through a Jewish lens!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. — Isaiah 55:8 (NASB)
One of my favorite Jewish teachers is Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. To put it simply, he’s a big deal in the world of Judaism. He writes with profound wisdom and a depth of understanding of Biblical Hebrew that flow effortlessly, no doubt the result of a lifetime of diligent study. Do I agree with everything he teaches? Of course not. He does not believe Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that is where we part ways theologically. But most of what I know about the Torah I have learned from Rabbi Sacks, and I am eternally grateful. Had I been unwilling to learn from an Orthodox Jew, or considered the Torah obsolete, I would have missed out on so much God wanted to teach me—and through me, to teach others.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. — Romans 15:4 (NIV)
God’s power and wisdom were manifested in Jesus Christ, and any wisdom we trust more than Him, including our own, becomes an idol and source of pride. It’s one thing to feel confident in sound doctrine and diligent study, but it’s another thing to allow what we think we know to close our spiritual ears to what He wants to teach us. Ultimately, trusting our own wisdom over God’s Word is a form of unbelief, just as it was for the Jews and Greeks who rejected the gospel.
Trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. — Proverbs 3:5 (TLB)
Two years ago I knew approximately three Jewish people and had no interest in spending my time studying their faith. I never would have expected my bookshelves to be filled with rabbinical literature, or that I would watch Talmud teachers on the Jewish Broadcasting Service, or have a menorah right next to my nativity set at Christmas time. But now, it’s hard to put into words how thankful I am that the Lord destroyed my “wisdom” and showed me just how much I didn’t know. He has faithfully guided me on this new mission to be part of the reconciliation between Jews and Christians, and in just a few months my mission will continue in the Land—Eretz Yisra’el—and I am humbled once again.
I am doing something new; it’s springing up—can’t you see it? — Isaiah 43:19a (CJB)
- Spend some time praying and asking the Lord where you might be “wise in your own eyes,” and then allow Him to gently reveal any pride or wrong assumptions.
- What mission has God given you in this season of your life? Have you committed to following through, even if it means rejection from family, friends, or coworkers?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.