(#158) The Proverbs of Solomon 21:29-Choose One: A Statue’s Face Or An Obedient Heart?

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 21:29: “A wicked man hardens his face, But as for the upright, he establishes his way.”

Jesus Christ “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) which indicated His purpose of heart was to complete the work of salvation by being crucified, buried, but resurrected the third day (Luke 9:21-22). To “harden” one’s face, however, describes a person who is determined to sin. It was Pharaoh’s decision, not God’s appeal through Moses, that caused him to “harden his heart” (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 14:4); the same for the Canaanites Joshua defeated (Joshua 11:1-4, 15-20); and for the Israelites in their 40-year Wilderness wandering (Psalm 95:7-11; an example for Christians NOT to follow, Hebrews 3:7-19). Other proverbs state this clearly: “Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity” (Proverbs 28:14); “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). Those who are “always reverent” will listen and obey God’s Will written in the Scriptures, but those who refuse to be “often rebuked” will be more determined to keep sinning, therefore it could be said that God “has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Romans 9:18).

“The upright” will make every exposure to Scripture have its effect, as David said: “You are my portion, O LORD; I have said that I would keep Your words. I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word. I thought about my ways, And turned my feet to Your testimonies. I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments” (Psalm 119:57-60). Solomon later will emphasize this truth: “Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools” (Ecclesiastes 9:17); “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:11). In other words, Wisdom will be permanently attached to a wise person without having to be forced by “the shout of a ruler of fools,” but pushing one’s thoughts in the right direction, like “goads” (or prods). True “scholars” drive home their truths, not like false-scholarship today, always challenging truth with questions and doubt.

Flinty faces fail, truth-filled hearts set faces toward Heaven.

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible, #bible-study, #face, #harden-his-face, #harden-his-heart, #obedience, #proverbs, #salvation, #scholars, #upright, #wisdom

(#111) The Proverbs of Solomon 16:17-There Is Only One Highway To Heaven

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 16:17: “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul.”

The way God has prepared for “the upright” to follow is a “highway.” To stay on this way “preserves his soul,” or is the way of salvation. A “highway” has: (1) a built-up roadbed for sturdiness, (2) a smoothed surface for easier travel, (3) signs to indicate progress, and (4) a destination to end the journey. Jesus Christ is “the way” (John 14:6); (1) being rich in good works stores up for us a good foundation for the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:18-19); (2) “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15); (3) “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15); (4) “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:22).

John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. The prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5 was fulfilled in the First Century days of the Roman Empire “while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” (Luke 3:2-6; quoting Isaiah 40:3-5). The way of Jesus Christ goes straight toward Heaven; with valleys filled and mountains and hills lowered, it is level; with no curves; and with a smooth surface, God surely has made the way of salvation the best way to travel through life!

Jesus Christ has traveled this road, and shown us how we may go. “A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray” (Isaiah 35:8). Not traveling this better way, or leaving it once on it, is foolish, indeed. “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).

Jesus’ road is NOT a “broad way” (Matthew 7:13-14) so people could decide for themselves what is right or wrong; nor does it offer choices of how to be saved; nor does it leave it up to a person to choose a church, worship, morals, or Scriptures. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Are you on a back road to nowhere good, or on the King’s Highway?

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #broad-way, #christian-living, #eternal-salvation, #highway, #highway-of-holiness, #jesus-christ, #obedience, #proverbs, #salvation, #upright

(#96) The Proverbs of Solomon 15:19-A Thorny Issue

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 15:19: “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway.”

If this refers to real thorns, “the lazy” will refuse to struggle through difficulties and work. If this refers to imaginary thorns, “the lazy” will imagine too much difficulty to overcome and refuse to work. Either way, “the lazy” is an expression denoting those who are wasting their lives. Jesus Christ described a man giving three servants “talents” “each according to his own ability,” five, two and one. After the others produced profit equal to their talents, the one-talent man returned his one with the sorry excuse: “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24-25). Jesus was hard on such a lazy person when he was condemned as a “wicked and lazy servant” (Matthew 25:26). “Wicked” for blaming someone else for expecting him to produce, “lazy” for producing nothing with what he had! God will save no lazy person from himself/herself, or from eternal punishment for such laziness! Jesus’ invitation is for “all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). After Jesus miraculously fed 5000 men not counting the women and children with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish (John 6:1-14), they followed Him for another “free meal” the next day. Jesus told them: “’Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.’ Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’ (John 6:26-29). Those who call the church only when their laziness has dug them a hole, need repentance, not repeated assistance! Helping those who are searching for the Truth of God’s Word is benevolence, helping those who don’t care about Truth but only “freebies” is malevolence. Gospel Truth includes the Holy Spirit-inspired rule: “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The “lazy” have not “will” to work, and therefore crowd government lines for: commodities, food stamps, reduced-price school lunches and Internet, free cell phones, health insurance, and whatever else the government is willing to re-distribute among them. They are stealing from any who have a deserving need for such temporary aid; are empowering laziness in government who no longer has to work at meeting their constitutional obligations because of built-in votes; and are clogging up the “highway” of “the upright” by forcing them to support wastrels whom not even God will have without changing! Another proverb God has given says: “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13).

Becoming a Christian requires willful obedience (Acts 2:38, 40-41), and the souls of new Christians were to be strengthened when exhorted “to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). Those who are sleeping through their lives, expecting to return to God their one-talent lives, will hear their Judgment: “Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:28-30).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #church-of-christ, #god, #jesus-christ, #lazy, #life, #obedience, #profit, #proverbs, #salvation, #unprofitable, #upright, #will, #wisdom, #work

(#81) The Proverbs of Solomon 14:9-Don’t Drown In A Rainstorm!

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 14:9: “Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is favor.”

To “mock” is to scoff at like a child, childish ridicule, or taunt someone else. Jesus showed a lack of planning ahead opens one to mocking (Luke 14:25-33), but this was falsely heaped upon Jesus, Himself, by the soldiers who crucified Him (Matthew 20:17-19), for Jesus had, indeed, planned ahead for His cross (Mark 8:31-33). Zophar, mis-representing Job, asked, “when you mock, should no one rebuke you?” (Job 11:3) Job, defending God, retorted, “can you mock Him as one mocks a man?” (Job 13:9) Mocking men is childish, but mocking God is insane! The Apostle Paul used the word “mock,” (turn up the nose) to press the issue: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). An up-turned nose can only drown someone in a rainstorm! God cannot be “mocked” without punishment, and all who “mock at sin” will reap their due reward! God considered sin so serious, that: (1) men have no remedy by themselves (Colossians 1:12-23); (2) He gave His only begotten Son to atone for our sins (Hebrews 9:24-28); (3) it is only through immersion a sinner receives the saving benefits of Jesus’ cross (Colossians 2:9-15). All who “mock” at this plan must face God on that day (Mark 16:15-16). All the comedians, sitcoms, entertainers, and propaganda press who childishly turn up their noses at the seriousness of sin and its consequences, will reap their reward from God, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

Only “among the upright” (obedient to God’s Will) is the “favor” of God found. “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him “and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house (Acts 7:9-10; referring to Genesis 39-41). King David “found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob” (Acts 7:46). Another proverb says, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). A word to the wise is sufficient.

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #favor, #fools, #god, #gospel, #jesus-christ, #mock, #obedience, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #salvation, #sin, #upright