Protection From The Proverbs

Key Texts: Prv. 2:1-15 & Matthew 13:34 & James 1:5 

We can not gain a meaningful relationship with God as mere happenstance, anymore than we can gain a spouse or even a close friend. We must…

Incline our ear

Apply our heart

Cry out and search avidly for His wisdom

Accepting and practicing this advice will protect us from sin. It is good for us to train our soul to search for God’s wisdom, this blesses Him and He blesses us. Prv. 2:1, Heb. 11:6 & Psa. 103:1-4. Whether we are searching for God or not, once we find Him, we should recognize the benefits and blessings He offers, and be willing to SELL ALL to grow in His wisdom, power and blessings, Matthew 13:44-45. How do we “incline”, “apply” and “search avidly”? (v2-3). By prayerfully reading His word and discovering his nature and will. In prayerful reading, we should actively ask God for understanding. That is truly to “incline our ear”. Then when we understand, we should prayerfully ask Him to strengthen us to practice what we understand. Without His strength, we will not apply wisdom. Then of course, we need to KEEP searching for more and grow in His nature. This is easier for you as a Christian, than it was for any faithful Jew, absent of God’s Spirit in their heart. Rom. 8:9 & Gal. 5:22-23.  

Since God is our creator, He knows what will work best for us and help us be completely satisfied and whole. He will protect those who try to live righteously and help our pathway be successful, 2:6-8.  A Selfish Greedy Christian, or a Devoted Mormon Elder?Does God view either of them worse than the other? If we truly love, apply and search to grow in God’s wisdom, then God will protect us from becoming perverted. Remember God sees us as perverted, if we grow twisted and fruitless, instead of straight and fruitful. John 15:5-8. 

In what way is the knowledge we are to pursue more than the mere intellectual awareness of facts?  How can we gain wisdom?  When you recognize the truth of a “lesson in life”, what do you do about it? 

Covenants at the Threshold, Passover & Communion

There are stories from eastern legends which tell us of Syrians, Egyptians and Arabians, using their front door to their house as a threshold altar for sacrifices. This is reflected in the Bible, when God tells the Hebrews captive in Egypt to put lamb’s blood on the front doorposts of their house during the tenth plague, Ex. 12:1-13.  In some eastern cultures, weddings are still held in the front-yard and sometimes an animal is sacrificed during or right before the wedding, then soon after the ceremony, the groom carries the bride over the blood before the threshold. This is the origin of some modern grooms carrying their bride into a new abode. It is interesting that three important modern day events are still affected by an ancient threshold covenant.

1, Weddings. 2, Passover and 3, Communion.
In Judaism, the doorposts or threshold of every Jewish house was sacred, where the shema of Dt. 6:4 is inscribed on parchment and kept protected for the touching or kissing of it practically everyday. When pious Jews do this, they quote “the Lord shall preserve thy coming in and going out from this time forward and forever”, (Psa 121:8). But why? It reminds them of God’s covenanted promise! His faithfulness and blessings. 

The word “Passover” has two meanings, both to pass above something and also to pass through. Today modern orthodox Jews during their Passover feast, will put an empty chair and an extra cup at the table in the hope that God’s messenger will cross the threshold, entering the home as a welcomed guest. In the ancient 10th plague on Egypt, the angel of the Lord passed over the life of the firstborn child, if and only if the blood was on the front door posts. If not, then the angel of the Lord killed the firstborn child as he passed through.  The issue is this: Is the Lord welcome?  Obviously the Egyptians had rejected the Lord, but the faithful Hebrews were receiving Him. Why? The blood. The same sentiment is found in the ancient eastern custom of a groom passing over the blood at threshold with his bride. Why? Because the blood means she is received into a new family and is welcome!

Jesus conglomerated both the Threshold Covenant and the Passover Covenant together to make a new Covenant, which is renewed every Lord’s Day in the Communion. He did this by using the cup, representing His blood, but also the bread, representing His body which suffered to give the blood, Luke 22:14-22. Have you ever wondered why Jesus said repeatedly, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God”.  Because that is where we are finally received and welcomed. This reflects His desire to have us share in taking the cup and bread, as a sign that we welcome and receive Him (His Holy Spirit) every first day of the week. It reinstates that we are ‘betrothed’ to Him and a bride for no one else spiritually, until the great wedding feast in Heaven is enjoyed, Rev. 19:6-10. Why? Because of the blood, it means we are received and welcomed in this new eternal family, Eph. 1:10 & 3:14 in heaven and on earth, we are one.  On earth before we become a Christian, we are outside the family and destitute of God’s blessings & promises of forgiveness, power and life eternal. But when we become a Christian, all that changes into a new family.

What are the full and glorious benefits of His covenant with Christians here on earth and also in Heaven?
In the body of Christ on earth, the church or kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:12-14)
Forgiveness of redeemed people & sanctification of their hearts to grow the fruit of His Spirit.
In the body of Christ in heaven, the kingdom of God (1st Cor. 15:24-28)
Eternal life with glory & power unimaginable, while enjoying the full effects of all the spiritual blessings from the tree of life.

God’s Woman of Wisdom

Key Texts: Proverbs 1:8-33 & Romans 3:9-18

God uses Solomon’s advice to his son Rehoboam, as if he is searching for what will satisfy his strongest desires. God puts wisdom forward as a woman, to remind us that there are more important features than just outward appearances.  A proverb may sound nice and pretty, but does it convey the truth in such a way that you can use it and fall in love with everything the woman can offer you? Jesus conveys the same picture in Mt. 11:19. Contrary to popular fiction, there were only two women who held a special place in the heart of Jesus, His mother Mary, and wisdom herself! In being like Christ, we need to work up in ourselves a desire for the right things in our daily lifestyle. Jesus said “man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God,” Mt. 4:4.

Why does Solomon contrast violence with wisdom?  Because violence is bad for yourself, whereas, Wisdom is good for you. Notice whose feet running towards violence end up getting killed? Prv. 1:16-19. Jesus said those who live by the sword die by it, Mt. 26:52. Would Steve Irwin been safer, had he believed this proverb? Wisdom preserves life, and violence ruins it.
She Speaks Loudly  & Teaches Clearly, Prv. 1:21-23. Wisdom is not the illusive and obscure possession of a few mystical professors. No, she is willing to teach ANYone, ANYtime & ANYwhere! The gospel is likened to this simplicity, Lk. 10:20-24.
She extends her hand, offering Discipline. Prv. 1:23-24. The Hebrew word here infers that the woman has a reasoned corrective argument which she hopes everyone will examine. Will you?  What is the reasoned argument all about?  The Apostle Paul tells us that we should pray about the Spirit of Wisdom, Eph. 1:17. The Apostle John tell us that the Spirit of Christ is Truth, 1st John 5:6.

She will make one of two responses to our reaction of her warnings:
1.  She will either laugh at us, Prv. 1:26. Generally speaking men have always been quicker to laugh at someone than women, usually women are more hesitant to mock other people, therefore God uses this mocking as a real distasteful event, surely Rehoboam wouldn’t want a woman laughing at him!). She will laugh at us if we don’t recognize right from wrong, or if we dismiss her by scorning or mocking her, or if we reject her knowledge.

2.  or,…She will guard our freedoms, Prv. 1:33. She will give herself to those that prayerfully ask God for all her counsel & advice, James 1:5. If we try her discipline, and listen to her words, and direct our heart to understanding, Prv. 2:2.

The New Testament quotes Prv 1:16 in Rom. 3:15. God in Jesus wants us to remember that every single one of us has fallen prey to the world’s woman of foolishness. Violence is to be avoided in our lifestyles. How many of us spend money on horror movies, or allow our children to watch WWF?   Does our heart really desire the world’s woman of foolishness? Be honest! How can we avoid a desire for violence? See Php 4:8.

Christians should remember the words of Jesus, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”, Mt. 12:34.  No doubt Jesus had read Prv. 15:2, The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The only way your heart can be filled with wisdom is for us to fall in love with her.

Christ’s Covenanted Marriage

God’s love is different in comparison to human love, but since we are made in his image, we have the capacity to enjoy God’s love and practice sharing it. God is love and this part of His nature is what makes His covenants so effective, eternal and attractive.  An example of God’s love in his covenant with the Israelites is seen in David’s Psalm 89:28-34.  If it were not for the love of God, His promised covenant would not remain with us, equally true, if it were not for the faith of Christians, we would lose the covenant’s blessings. This is why the church is considered a bride for Christ in Ephesians 5:23-32. Our faith is our victory, even when hope may seem so bleak  in our everyday life.

Remember the story of the man searching for a job during the 20’s great depression. Frantically needing to feed his family, he went to a telegraph office where he had heard of an opening job. When he arrived, he saw 50 other men in line for an application, he felt like it was hopeless, but he believed he had an equal chance as any other man who knew Morse code. So he took a ticket and stood in the corner to wait his turn for an interview. While waiting, he heard a tapping sound and started listening and trying to interpret the tapping. He learnt the tapping was saying, “if you can hear this, come in the office for a job”, so he rushed to the door, burst in and won the position! Out of over 50 other men, he won. Why? Because the tapping message was loud enough for everyone to hear it, but only he was listening. This is true of God’s covenanted promise. The message is clear and concise and well known in the world (Jer. 31:34 & Col. 1:6).  But who is listening and will believe in order to make this ‘marriage’ work.  Our faith is the victory, 1st Jn. 5:4.  The question is: Do we want the benefits of His covenanted promise earnestly enough to listen, learn, and put into action by faith?

When or if we break all faith in God’s covenanted promise, we begin to live like we do not have hope or faith. Israel did this early in Hosea’s lifetime. God used his children to speak about Israel’s lack of faith. God then promises to bring it all to an end, Hosea 1:6. However, God’s patience with an unfaithful wife would be prolonged until Christ came, please read Hos. 2:18-20.  Eventually God shows us in Romans 7:4, a new marriage God wants to enter into, “…so that you may belong to another…”. The Jews used to belong to God the father of Abraham, but they fell faithless and rejected God as a covenanted husband, but now in Jesus Christ, God is offering another marriage and we Gentiles are introduced to the ‘agape’ of God which keeps this marriage alive, even though we (like the Jews) continually commit spiritual adultery. All of us have at least toyed with idolatry. But God remains faithful, it is only us that breaks off with the marriage, see 2nd Tim. 2:11-13.

Our society does not value covenants sealed with blood, but it does observe contracts. Why? Because they have limitations and involve money, instead of life. We see this in the immorality that surrounds us, consider the letter written to “Dear Abby”, I am in love with two different women, obviously I can’t marry them both, what should I do, and please don’t give me any of that morality stuff, “Dear Abby” replied, the only difference between humans and animals is morality, perhaps you should ask a veterinarian!

How can we grow our faith, love and appreciation for the blood covenant in Jesus with us? Do we view our relationship with Christ like a contract or a covenant? If we accept God’s view of the church as being a bride, then we will enjoy our relationship with him in a covenant affecting our whole life now and into eternity, rejecting the idea of a contract which innately carries many ideas of limits. Ephesians 5:23-32 & Revelation 21:2.

Proverbs, Vertical Teaching for Horizontal Living

15 April 1912, it was Sunday night and John Phillips was the wireless operator on board duty for the Titanic in the North Atlantic. He received a message from the USS California 10 miles away at 11pm warning him of a large ice field. Mr Phillips had been working all day transmitting messages and was tired. He simply replied, “Shut up, shut up, I’m busy”. 40 minutes later the Titanic collided with an ice berg at high speed, causing too many holes, breaching the safety walls inside the ship to isolate the water leaking in, flooding too many compartments. It began to sink! Something which Mr. Phillips didn’t really believe could happen.  Over 1,500 passengers and crew sank into a watery grave by 2.20am. One of the worlds most horrible human disasters took the greatest cruise ship of all time to the bottom of the ocean. The reason? Actually there were a few mistakes which culminated in the Titanic’s tragedy, but the very first mistake was this: Mr. Phillips ignored the warning! He had the wrong attitude towards a warning from wisdom. It is wise to avoid ice fields.

King Solomon’s kingdom proved to be the Titanic among Hebrew reigns. He had the greatest of wealth & wisdom, with unprecedented peace & prosperity, while Israel seemed to be unsinkable, Solomon ordered full speed ahead, only to be hit by huge icebergs which sank Israel. One of the worlds’ greatest spiritual disasters is having Solomon at the helm while icebergs caused 4 huge holes in his life (Eccl. 2:1-2, 1st Kings 4:26 & Duet 17:14-16).

1- Misdirected wisdom (Eccl 1)

2- Misdirected wealth (Eccl. 2:1-2, 1st Kings 4:26 & Duet 17:14-16)

3- Misusing women (Duet. 17:17, 1st Kings 3:1-2, & 11:3, Eccl. 9:9)

4- Mixed worship (1st Kings 11:4-8, Eccl. 5:1-7)

The book of Ecclesiastes is a record of Solomon’s regret and despair as he rehearses the utter uselessness of squandering God’s wisdom, blessings and power, and spending them all on our self. One of the most important points we can learn from Solomon’s derelict duty is that wisdom itself cannot save you, knowledge cannot save you, nothing can save us from all our sinful mistakes, other than God’s grace and the blood of Jesus.  David said it best on his deathbed to his son Solomon, “…pay close attention to your ways, to walk before God in faithfulness with all your heart and with all your soul and you will not lack a man on the throne of Israel” (1st Kings 2:4). What Christians should hope Proverbs does for us, is this: enlighten us into the mind of Christ, so we can react the right way when we receive warnings. 

Solomon’s spiritual failures resulted not because he lacked knowledge, but because he fell short in the discipline of growing, “knowing” the truth into “being” true and then on into truly “doing” what is right. Solomon’s sinful unwillingness to heed his own words doesn’t diminish the value of Proverbs in any little way. It is a huge and powerful house of wisdom for us today. Paul told Timothy (2Tim. 3:16), “All Scripture is inspired of God….”. If only Mr Phillips had read Proverbs 14:35 on the night he received his warning about the ice. “The Captain favors a wise servant, but his anger falls on a disgraceful one”. How could that have changed history and saved lives?  If Mr. Philips had desired to be a wise servant he could have at least passed on the message from the USS California. No one knows what the Captain would have done. How can Proverbs change our life?

Old & New Blood Covenants

The Covenant made with Abraham in circumcision and with Moses in the law was RENEWED and RESTORED several times in the history of the Jews. Blood sealed the covenant in it’s initial announcement and in each renewal blood was present or nearby. Firstly of course every time a male child was circumcised and also every time the law was obeyed in making animal sacrifices. But of course, the act of circumcision was not always faithfully obeyed, and neither were the sacrifices consistently offered. Therefore the need to renew or restore the covenant was a reality with ancient Israel, suffering from rebellious sins, here are a few examples.

The first renewal was in Deuteronomy 31:24-30, led by Moses. Notice the Ark/Mercy Seat was present!

The second renewal was led by Joshua in 5:2-8 before they entered Canaan (where all men were circumcised) and again another renewal before his death in chapter 24.

Thirdly, King Josiah led a renewal of the covenant in 2Kings 23:2-3. Notice it took place in the Temple and then he reinstated the Passover, v21-23.

Fourthly and most likely the last renewal was led during the exile of Israelites from Babylon by Nehemiah,  after Ezra secured sacrifices to be offered in Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the Temple, Ez. 6:8-10, the renewal was completed in Neh. 9 & 10.  

Sporadically individuals restored the covenant they had with God in their sacrifices, (Psa. 50:5), showing throughout every renewal, blood was present and representing the priceless value of the covenant.

Once God’s covenanted promise was fulfilled, in Jesus, He provided and planned a constant renewal of the New Covenant in Jesus. The blood of Jesus is an eternal covenant, compare Mt. 26:28 with Isaiah 42:5-6.  We enter into an agreement of submission to the Lordship of Jesus by faith in His blood and victorious death (baptism, Romans 6:1-7) and in turn we receive the benefits of his blood, forgiveness & life in the heavenly city.  The renewal in a Christian’s life, is observed in the communion where it was first instituted, Mark 14:22-25 & Luke 22:14-22.  In John’s gospel the institution of the Lord’s supper is recorded in the context of the Passover supper where His betrayal is predicted and He teaches on love & service, prophesying the coming of the Comforting Holy Spirit of Christ (Jon. 13:2-16:33). Later, the first day of the week commemorates the resurrection, but the communion was established as Thursday turned into Friday. The reason we commemorate and renew His covenant of blood on a Sunday is because that was the day His resurrection proved the power of His blood, wherein eternal life resides. Do you believe this? If you do, you can enter into a covenant relationship with God, who is faithful to keep His promise of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus. Therein lay the motivation for us to always have a reason to rejoice in the Lord, Philippians 4:4. Rejoice and give thanks for His blood is always working and eternal, 1John 1:7.