Chapter 16—Bible Biographies

“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,...out of weakness were made strong.”

As an educator no part of the Bible is of greater value than are its biographies. These biographies differ from all others in that they are absolutely true to life. It is impossible for any finite mind to interpret rightly, in all things, the workings of another. None but He who reads the heart, who discerns the secret springs of motive and action, can with absolute truth delineate character, or give a faithful picture of a human life. In God's word alone is found such delineation. Ed 146.1

No truth does the Bible more clearly teach than that what we do is the result of what we are. To a great degree the experiences of life are the fruition of our own thoughts and deeds. Ed 146.2

“The curse causeless shall not come.” Proverbs 26:2. Ed 146.3

“Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him.... Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” Isaiah 3:10, 11. Ed 146.4

“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts.” Jeremiah 6:19. Ed 146.5

Terrible is this truth, and deeply should it be impressed. Every deed reacts upon the doer. Never a human being but may recognize, in the evils that curse his life, fruitage of his own sowing. Yet even thus we are not without hope. Ed 146.6

To gain the birthright that was his already by God's promise, Jacob resorted to fraud, and he reaped the harvest in his brother's hatred. Through twenty years of exile he was himself wronged and defrauded, and was at last forced to find safety in flight; and he reaped a second harvest, as the evils of his own character were seen to crop out in his sons—all but too true a picture of the retributions of human life. Ed 147.1

But God says: “I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.... Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:16-19. Ed 147.2

Jacob in his distress was not overwhelmed. He had repented, he had endeavored to atone for the wrong to his brother. And when threatened with death through the wrath of Esau, he sought help from God. “Yea, he had power over the Angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication.” “And He blessed him there.” Hosea 12:4; Genesis 32:29. In the power of His might the forgiven one stood up, no longer the supplanter, but a prince with God. He had gained not merely deliverance from his outraged brother, but deliverance from himself. The power of evil in his own nature was broken; his character was transformed. Ed 147.3

At eventide there was light. Jacob, reviewing his life-history, recognized the sustaining power of God—“the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil.” Genesis 48:15, 16. Ed 147.4

The same experience is repeated in the history of Jacob's sons—sin working retribution, and repentance bearing fruit of righteousness unto life. Ed 148.1

God does not annul His laws. He does not work contrary to them. The work of sin He does not undo. But He transforms. Through His grace the curse works out blessing. Ed 148.2

Of the sons of Jacob, Levi was one of the most cruel and vindictive, one of the two most guilty in the treacherous murder of the Shechemites. Levi's characteristics, reflected in his descendants, incurred for them the decree from God, “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:7. But repentance wrought reformation; and by their faithfulness to God amidst the apostasy of the other tribes, the curse was transformed into a token of highest honor. Ed 148.3

“The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name.” “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared Me, and was afraid before My name.... He walked with Me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.” Deuteronomy 10:8; Malachi 2:5, 6. Ed 148.4

The appointed ministers of the sanctuary, the Levites received no landed inheritance; they dwelt together in cities set apart for their use, and received their support from the tithes and the gifts and offerings devoted to God's service. They were the teachers of the people, guests at all their festivities, and everywhere honored as servants and representatives of God. To the whole nation was given the command: “Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.” “Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance.” Deuteronomy 12:19; 10:9. Ed 148.5