“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So wrote the philosopher George Santayana. Short memories do seem common enough as we see examples of past mistakes being repeated over and over.
The Bible describes many who made bad decisions. How could they do what they did when the consequences were never in doubt? Did Eve really believe eating forbidden fruit would not have repercussions? And did the nation of Israel think if they stoned Joshua and Caleb and marched back to Egypt, God would continue to give them manna every morning? Apparently they did.
This issue of The Herald looks at a few who made a bad decision and what happened afterward. These have been recorded so others can learn important lessons (see 1 Corinthians 10:11). Although experience may be the best teacher, there is also much value in learning by observation.
Our first article, Israel, examines a group decision that caused a forty-year delay before the nation could enter the land God wanted to give them. Near the end of their wilderness wandering, Balaam, a prophet not of Israel, came on the scene and demonstrated how greed blinds good judgment.
Eli, Israel’s effete high priest with venal sons, so disregarded his responsibilities one is amazed that Samuel, Israel’s most outstanding judge, could have been successfully reared under Eli’s tutelage. The judging of Israel by Samuel was followed by the period of the kings. Saul was the first. He started well but ended badly. The second king was David, so different, yet so human in his mistakes. As always we see God does not protect individuals from the consequences of their actions.
Joash was a much later king. When he came to dying Elisha for help, his lack of faith became apparent and it affected what happened next. Uzziah was Joash’s grandson. He ruled well, but when he tried to be a priest for a day, he became a leper instead.
We end with Judas Iscariot, historically infamous as one of the specially selected twelve who for reasons not well understood, betrayed Jesus for personal gain.
We trust these examples will help us make better decisions in our own lives as we seek to please our heavenly Father.