“Delighted to be but wise, for men improve with the years.” William Buttler Yeats
Well guys, this is the last stop on the “Masculine Journey”. This last stage of life is ideally conceived in the scriptures and we will try our best to portray it here. I think it’s appropriate and perfect that I’m writing this on Father’s Day. I’ll ask forgiveness up front for the length of this one but assure you it’s a good read.
- Today in our society men are burning out at alarming rates. We feel as though time is running out and we are not there yet.
- Scriptures provide a much longer look at manhood than we do. At 40 we just kids, guys.
- Moses wrote a song- to remember what God had done. “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:7) This is so when one generation is denying what God had done and the ability of God, they would bring in the elders; The elders will tell what really happened.
- It’s about what was learned from life, not what was accomplished. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25) Your goal men, is to be gray headed and to pass great wisdom on to the next generation.
However, having gray or silver hair alone does not mean you are wise. “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.” (Psalms 119:100) “And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I [am] young, and ye [are] very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion. I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But [there is] a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not [always] wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.” (Job 32: 6-9) To become wise you must have the study of scriptures, faith in God,, trust in Christ and the obedience to the truth. You must be doing things while you are young to ensure that when you are old you have the wisdom through scriptural insight and obedience.
THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
Respect and honor for the elder is rooted in the Ten Commandments, where God says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)
Please don’t miss the interesting concept here. As we give respect to our older parents we ensure that we have greater longevity for ourselves. So, read between the lines men, if you do not want to live long go ahead and treat your parents with animosity.
“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:32) In other words, stand up when your elder enters the room and have some respect. Do this because you have the fear of God in your heart. This isn’t an old wives tale from the south. It was part of the law of Israel.
“Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22)
If these verses were obeyed, if people today heeded these instructions it would make our society so much better. “This one section of biblical admonition could radically change our culture,” says Robert Hicks. It would change how parents are treated, how grandparents are treated and how seniors are dealt with and with no question, the change would be for the better.
ZAKEN: A Time of Fulfillment
Our society is looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places and all the wrong times. We constantly sacrifice the good of the present for the might-bes and wannabes of the future. We are rarely satisfied. Ultimately God must be the source of our satisfaction. Jesus said it, “Only those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (which comes from God) will ever find it and be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)
We do not think about how we want to die. We are going to die and this culture does not prepare for it. We are a death-denying culture. People today do not want to come to grips with death.
From a biblical perspective the Zaken is the time of ultimate fulfillment. It is the time to prepare for a natural death. A natural death with all business taken care of and with all relationships reconciled.
If you notice how most people die today they go to death cantankerous, bitter, demanding and regretful. And this is not totally because of physical pain and discomfort.
Three conditions make the Zaken time less than fulfilling.
- No Zakens in the family. “Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy [in my] habitation, in all [the wealth] which [God] shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, [whom] I shall not cut off from mine altar, [shall be] to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this [shall be] a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.” (1 Samuel 2:30-34) Eli died alone with no other family and no connections.
- Grieving the needless loss of life from unnatural causes. “Moreover, thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.” (1 Kings 2:5-6) This is reference to both needless killing and also death from accidental means.
- Suffering the loss of our own young. Our children should never precede us and when it happens it takes a major toll. It robs a man of the joy of old age.
The two things these three issues have in common are the loss of life and the loss of family connections. The number one commonality on people that live long lives is the ability to suffer loss and move on from it.
The key to fulfillment is RECONCILIATION, having our important relationships maintained. We should do our best to reconcile any relationships severed or harmed in earlier times.
Zaken: It is a Time of Significant Contribution
We should not be short sighted and in a hurry. Life is not over at age 40, not at 50, not at 60, 70 or even 80.
The Zaken of Israel defended their region. “And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head?0 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words. Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.” (Judges 11:5-11)
The Zaken defended their families and their cities. “And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children, saying, Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour; Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house. But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand? And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.” (2 Kings 10:1-5)
The Zaken furnished counsel along with the priests and the prophets. “Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.” (Ezekiel 7:26) “Then said they, Come and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.” (Jeremiah 18:18)
Zaken is a Time for Mentoring
The concept of mentoring is coming back full-circle. All the major companies today are adopting mentoring concepts and relationships. Mentoring gives you a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on and sometimes a good swift kick in the pants. A mentor cares for a younger man in the totality of his life. A mentor helps the student to become successful in Life. Not in accumulating things but successful in how to live.
There is a huge need for elderly (Zaken) mentors for young people today.
As a professor at the Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks always passed an anonymous paper to every one of his students. So here it is:
ADVICE TO A BORED YOUNG MAN
“Died age 20; buried age 60. The sad epitaph of too many Americans. Mummification sets in on too many young men at an age when they should be ripping the world wide open. For example: Many people reading this page are doing so with the aid of bifocals. Inventor? B. Franklin, age 70. The presses that printed this page were powered by electricity. One of the harnessors? B. Franklin, age 40. Some are reading this on the campus of one of the Ivy League universities. Founder? B. Franklin, age 46. Others in a Library. Who founded the first library in America? B. Franklin, age 25. Some got their copy through the U.S. Mail. Its father? B. Franklin, age 31. Now think fire. Who started the first fire department, invented the first lightening rod, designed a heating stove still in use today? B. Franklin, age 31, 43, 36. Wit, Conversationalist, Economist, Philosopher, Diplomat, Favorite of the capitals of Europe. Journalist, Printer, Publisher, Linguist, (spoke and wrote 5 languages). Advocate of paratroopers (from balloon) a century before the airplane was invented. All this until age 84. And he had exactly two years of formal schooling. It’s a good bet that you already have more knowledge than Franklin ever had when he was your age. Perhaps you think there is no use trying to think of anything new, that everything’s been done. Wrong. The simple, agrarian America of Franklins day didn’t begin to need the answers we need today. Do something about it. Tear out his page and read it on your 84th birthday. Ask yourself what took over in your life, indolence or ingenuity!”
Zaken keeps connecting, keeps contributing and makes his reconciliations.
JESUS IS THE VOICE OF GOD!
Men, Jesus moves us from one stage to the next. Jesus is the only one that can empathize with us where we are. He can help us because he experienced the same stages. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Because Jesus is the second Adam he was very much human. He was tempted in every way.
He was a warrior.
He was a wounded male. See Luke 22:39 through Luke 23:25.
He was the mature man during the resurrection. Wise beyond His years. (And that is an understatement!)
He is our sage.
It is FAITH men, day by day, event by event, stage by stage, that gets us through to the other side. New expressions of FAITH EVERY DAY!
I hope you got as much out of this Masculine Journey as I did.
Many thanks to Robert Hicks and his book The Masculine Journey, Understanding the six stages of Manhood.
God bless you men. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
Until next time,