“Our character is best revealed by the decisions we’ve made and the impact of these decisions on ourselves and others.
Over time, the decisions we make–large and small–become the legacy we leave behind” (Erwin Lutzer).
As I was thinking about this statement from the pastor of the Moody Church, I thought back to some of the decisions made by key players in biblical history and the consequences of those decisions. It all started with Adam and Eve and the choice they made to disobey God and partake of the forbidden fruit. Everyone who has been born–apart from Christ–has inherited the sinful nature passed down from Adam as a result of his sin. The Apostle Paul writes: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Ro. 5:12). The curse on the earth, including labor pains in child birth, the tediousness of work, the natural disasters, the mosquitoes and poisonous snakes, even decay and death, are all the results of the choice made by Adam and Eve. (Thanks a lot, huh!).
Cain, after making the wrong choice of a sacrifice, which was rejected by God, became angry and his face showed it (Gen. 4:3-6). God gave Cain a chance to repent but he chose instead to take out his anger on his brother, resulting in the first murder in human history, an act that has been repeated millions of times since. When Jude, the half brother of Jesus, wrote a treatise condemning false teachers, he said, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain…” (Jude 11). That is, they have rejected God’s provision for acceptance with Himself. Today, many do the same by rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf.
God promised to make of Abraham a great nation (Gen. 12:1-3), with descendants as numerous as the stars (Gen. 15:5). But Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren, so she suggested that if they were going to have a son, Abraham should have relations with the Egyptian handmaid, Hagar. Rather than waiting on God’s timing, Abraham had a son through Hagar, Ishmael, whose descendants also would become too many to count (Gen. 16:10)–the Arab nations! God, of course, did provide the son He promised, Isaac, to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. To Isaac and Rebekah were born twins, Jacob and Esau. Jacob’s name eventually was changed by God to “Israel,” and his twelve sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, who have faced conflict with the Arabs throughout their history!
David, who chose to laze around at home rather than to be with his army in the field, also chose to cater to the lust of his flesh and committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers and then tried to cover his sin, ultimately even being responsible for the death of her husband Uriah. Even though David was “a man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14), and repented when confronted later by Nathan (II Sam. 12 cf Psa. 32,51), he faced grave consequences of his sin throughout the rest of his days. Nathan said to him, “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight” (II Sam. 12:10,11). The child born to David through his affair with Bathsheba also died. I’m sure that every time there were problems in David’s family, with his sons, he was reminded of his poor choice and Nathan’s prophecy.
Judas Iscariot who had the rare privilege of spending much time with Jesus and seeing His mighty miracles and hearing His amazing teaching and who, even in the upper room during the Passover meal had a final opportunity to really commit his life to Jesus, chose instead to carry through with a plan that he probably thought would force Jesus to establish His kingdom. He betrayed Him for the going price of a common slave. In his remorse–not repentance–Judas went out and hanged himself. What a tragic end to the lives of those who have opportunity to truly follow Jesus but choose instead the allurements of the world.
Remember when God told Samuel to convey to King Saul that he was to punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel. He said to Saul, “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, oz and sheep, camel and donkey” (I Sam. 15:3). But Saul chose, rather than to completely obey God’s command, to instead to spare King Agag and some of the best of the livestock. When confronted by Samuel, Saul made excuses and placed the blame on the people. He said we saved some of the choice animals to sacrifice to which Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offering and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD. Behold to obey is better than sacrifice” (v. 22). The story doesn’t end there, however, for when we come to the story in the Book of Esther, we find a man by the name of Haman who was promoted by the Persian King, Ahasuerus, to a position of high authority to where all the King’s servants were to bow down and pay homage to him. But there was a Jew by the name of Mordecai who wouldn’t bow because he was faithful to the God of Israel. So, Haman talked the king into decreeing that all Jews be killed because they wouldn’t observe the King’s laws. We read something very interesting about Haman in Esther 3:1. He was an “Agagite!” Because of King Saul’s failure to kill all the Amalekites as God ordered, The Jews were about to be wiped out by the Persians!
Interestingly, we have another Persian (Iran today) ruler who also has vowed to wipe out the nation of Israel. I am reading a fascinating book by Joel Rosenberg, Inside the Revolution, in which Joel describes how on April 1, 1979, Iran became the first Islamic republic in history, and how now, more than three decades later, the shock waves of the Iranian revolution are still being felt around the globe. Iran today is the most dangerous terrorist state on the face of the planet. What’s more, we are rapidly approaching the most dangerous moment in the history of the Iranian revolution. Iran’s leaders, especially Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have stated that the end of the world is “imminent.” They are teaching that the way to hasten the arrival or appearance on earth of the Islamic messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam,” or the “Mahdi,” is to destroy Israel, which they call the “Little Satan,” and the United States, which they call the “Great Satan.” They have vowed to annihilate the United States and Israel and have urged Muslims to envision a world without America and Zionism. They believe that Allah has chosen them to create chaos and carnage on the planet, setting the stage for the return of the Mahdi. The key leaders in Iran are hell-bent on accomplishing their apocalyptic, genocidal mission. They are feverishly trying to build, buy or steal nuclear weapons to help accomplish their goals. No amount of negotiating or sanctions will be able to dissuade them!
But, God is still in control, and the Jews are still His “chosen people,” and just as He placed Esther in her position as Queen to spare her people from annihilation, God will not allow Persia and her allies to destroy the nation of Israel. In fact, we read of a battle in Scripture that will take place–probably in the near future–in which Persia and her cohorts will be soundly defeated.
Obviously, from all the biblical examples, and throughout history, choices can affect not only our own lives, but can affect many for generations to come. We are free to make our choices but we are not free to choose the consequences.