“But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.” Job 11:12 NIV
Here is a verse that seems rather hopeless. Change is not possible, then, nor education? But we need to look at who is speaking here, for it is not God. Time and time again we see the habit of prooftexting, a tool of the witless if ever there was one, when, solely in order to prove their point, a person lifts a verse out of context without thought or consideration. The Bible is a collection of holy books, alive by the working of the Holy Spirit, and yes, it is in many ways the Word of God. But it is also the history of humanity’s relationship with the Lord and so also contains our own falseness, stupidity and wickedness. This particular verse is spoken by Zophar, one of Job’s annoying, self-righteous friends.
More on the folly of his speech tomorrow. Zophar so good (sorry couldn’t resist that one). For now we are focussing on this verse which tells us that a leopard cannot change its spots, and a fool must always remain so. We might be tempted to say that under the Old Testament and its set in stone legalism, this was most likely believed. But how then did Solomon become more and more wise if we are born with such traits? And is a fool always a fool? And in any case, isn’t there a difference between intelligence and wisdom?
James tells us in his letter that if we don’t have wisdom it is because we haven’t asked for it. Solomon was asked by God what gift he wanted, and he chose wisdom, proving perhaps that it was something he already had. And as the rules of God’s kingdom go, when you have the capacity already for a spiritual richness, more and more can be given to you, if your motives are right and your heart belongs to the Lord. But we can also ask for and be granted things which we do not have at all in the earthly. And brainpower is rather different from understanding, if you ask me, as often the most intelligent people are the most likely to refute the existence of God. (More about my thoughts on this can be found on my Golden Apples blog, here )
Zophar would have us all predestined to our fates, unable to change or learn, and yet then goes on to proclaim the changes God could make in Job’s life if only he will repent. Seeing God work, we know that transformation is possible in everything. It can take a very long time. It can be painful. Did you know that a caterpillar in a cocoon or chrysalis has to totally dissolve in order to become a butterfly or moth, apart from its wings, which are already waiting inside? Sometimes it feels like God is turning us inside out. I can testify to that! But if we have given over ourselves in prayer, even our foolishness can be turned into wisdom. Prayer, relationship with God, is always the catalyst for change. We have already seen on this year’s blogging journey, that a drowning prophet can be rescued and in turn rescue a whole city, that a zealous religious persecutor can end up dying for the very church he wanted to destroy, and that the Lord delights in turning things upside down. We should rule nothing out with our small thinking. Any leopard who gives her spots to the Lord as part of her living sacrifice, may well end up stripy!
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