An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked. Proverbs 29:27
The godly and the ungodly take very divergent paths. This is fairly elementary to anyone to see. But what we often do not see is that not only are these paths different - they are also disgusting to each other. The word that is used in today's proverb to describe the view that they have of each other is "abominable." The word used here is the Hebrew word "ebah" which means anything that is offensive or what is an abomination to someone else. In Scripture God uses this word to describe those who depart from His Law. Often the word is used for more grevious sins - like idolatry, child sacrifice, and homosexual behavior. What God is saying to us is that there is a radical and serious difference between those who desire to live godly and those who do not. Let's look at little further into this as we seek to understand God's wisdom for us today.
The "unjust" man ("awel" in the Hebrew) is one who deviates from God's way. This kind of behavior and choice is usually set in contrast to words like righteous, upright, and justice. There is a basic injustice in the one who deviates from God's way - and God, being just, will have to bring judgment and punishment to the one who does so. This is why the unjust man is abominable to the righteous. The godly man sees that the unjust man is unjust first and foremost to God Himself - then from that infinite injustice flows all other lesser injustices to others. Since we know that the righteous man is not so because of his own works but due to God's grace, the righteous man knows the cost of this ungodly behavior. That cost is God's Son, crucified on the cross (to the Old Testament saint it was the promise of this in the sacrifices of the Law). To embrace such behavior is to treat God's gift - the sacrifice made to forgive us and remove us from under God's wrath - as worthless and empty. This is an abomination to the righteous man.
The same is true of the ungodly man toward the upright. What the ungodly see is a man who is "upright in the way." This phrase communicates the path of the godly man. What the ungodly sees is a guy who is seeking to walk according to a set of rules that are different than his. He is seeking to be upright - which means to do what is good and what is right. That alone is offensive to the ungodly man. His worldview involves him deciding what is right and good. It even involves him changing his views to match his lifestyle if he desires. To have what he considers an arbitrary set of morals set by God - which is then viewed as ultimate truth is untenable to him. That would mean his own views of right and wrong are in error if they are different than those God has given. His value system cannot tolerate this - becasue his value system is that of the book of Judges. He does whatever is "right in his own eyes." He is a law unto himself. He does not judge anyone else (unless they judge him or get in the way of him doing what he wants to do) and he expects the same from everyone else (of course always giving way to what he wants if there is any contradiction). Thus the "way" or lifestyle of this guy who is so arrogant as to call his way "right" is an abomination to him. It offends him to the core of his being!
Paul told young Timothy the following in his second letter to him, "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:11-13) Often we focus only on the last of these three verses - that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. This was only a conclusion for what Paul had already said in verses 11-12. In those verses he spoke of his teaching, conduct, purpose, and faith. Paul was persecuted becasue he chose to live in "the upright way." That way consisted of two things - both of which are vital to understanding Christianity.
First is the 'way of salvation.' The upright way will never be lived out by effort and striving. Righteousness and upright living is attained by grace, not by our works. God MAKES us upright by an act of His mercy and grace. That comes through the gospel - and only through the gospel. The world finds this incredibly offensive and very narrow minded. But that is the truth. That is how God has addressed sin - and that is, according to Jesus Hismelf, the only way, truth, and life - the only way to the Father. The second truth of the upright way is that we live and walk it out in a paradox - we work as God works within us. We are called to obedience - and we seek God's power by which we can then walk in that obeience. We are to make choices - strong and bold choices - even as it is God who works in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Living a godly life involves a glorious tension in our lives. We are to do it - and He is to do it within us. We cannot think we do it on our own - and we cannot think that He will do it for us without our cooperation.
The wicked find this whole scenario ridiculous and an abomination. To them it is ridiculous because there is no God - or if there is, their god agrees with them. They have a god of their own making - who looks and acts just like they do. Any other God is unacceptable. The word "wicked" here is telling. The word is "rasa" and it means to be guilty - a wrong-doer, criminal, or a transgressor. It means someone who is wrong! The reason the wicked hate the upright, and find their way abominable is because as they watch them - they know they are wrong. They do not want anyone telling them they are wrong. Their reaction to this is to fume within and rage about how judgmental the Christian is - even if the Christian is not saying anything to them. Their very lifestyle is a rebuke to them. If the Christian speaks out - then they explode - because their guilt rages within them.
There will always be a radical distinction between the righteous and the wicked. There will also be a hostility to the way each other chooses to live. That is the wisdom that God is seeking to impart to us through today's proverb. Therefore the constant effort among Christians to make the gospel unoffensive is silliness. We can be gracious and kind in how we communicate the gospel - but to make it unoffensive to the wicked is impossible. There will always be the offense of the cross of Christ. There will always be the offense of God asserting that He is God and He is absolutely right on moral matters (and all others he touches upon as well). Thus the constant effort to make Christianity unoffensive in its essence is a fool's pursuit. It would be wise for us to abandon it and return to living it simply before the lost, loving them from the heart, and doing all that we can to share the message of the gospel with them. We do so not becasue we think we are superior. Perish that thought. We do it because we've received grace and desire for them to receive it as well. We want them to be saved - made rightoeus by grace - and abandon their abominable way to embrace a life lived by the grace of God unto the glory of God.
When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.
Here is a proverb dealing with what happens when wicked men come to power. Such was the case when wicked king Ahab and his equally horrible wife, Jezebel ruled over Israel. Just as this proverb states, men began to hide themselves. This was especially the case with godly men. They knew that under Ahab and Jezebel's rule godliness would not be tolerated. Thus the prophets of God hid in caves. It was the godly Obadiah who helped feed these men in their distress.
Let's take a closer look at the "wicked" mentioned in this proverb. The word used here is "rasa' which means someone who is wicked, guilty, criminal and a transgressor of God's Law. It is the antonym of the Hebrew word "saddiyq" which is the word describing the righteous or godly in a society. The wicked are mentioned as those worthy of the death sentence - and often are considered beyond being ransomed. They accept bribes - and in several Old Testament passages are murderers.
We have modern examples of such rulers in men like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and a whole list of men who became dictators and ruled with terror over their people. Such men would not tolerate those who opposed them - choosing to kill their opponents rather than deal with any dissention from the rank and file of their nations. In almost every case dictators rise in nations where there is existing law. But these men ignore and eventually usurp the written laws of their nations for their own self-styled leadership. In time they cast the ruling documents of their nations aside and begin ruling by their own decree. Truly this is a time when men hide themselves in fear. It is also a time when darkness reigns in nations. Such rulers are truly a blight to their countries.
Such leaders seldom step down. They usually are killed or overthrown. This is why we read that of them perishing. The word used here means to be destroyed and includes the idea of being overthrown or executed. When this happens the rightreous will increase. This speaks of them increasing openly. Their hidden numbers grow even as ungodly rulers reign. We know that the blood of the martyrs in any society become the seed of the church. Christianity grew far more rapidly in China under repressive communist rule than when they were free. But this growth is underground. When the godless ruler perishes - then they come out and publically and make themselves known.
With the most recent election a choice was made in our nation to embrace a certain moral direction. That direction is in opposition to God's stated morality. The two areas where this is seen most clearly are in an unprecedented expansion of abortion and homosexual marriage and rights. This will, in the end, assure President Obama that his legacy will be one of being a wicked ruler. But there is another area of his rule that is brought out by this passage. The word for wicked, as stated earlier, means to be a transgressor of law. What concerns me most about our president is his unwillingness to submit himself and his administration to the Constitution of the United States. He has ignored it in much of what he has done. This is not a good thing - and if not confronted by our other elected officials - will lead to a man who will act more and more like a dictator in his second term. I realize these are strong words - but can anyone honestly debate their accuracy? As a pastor I truly am apprehensive about the days ahead - and the manner in which gospel-centered churches will have to operate. It may become a time when men - godly men - will either have to stand and possibly be arrested for their biblical stands - or they may have to hide themselves. Now is the time for us to examine our hearts - strengthen them in God's grace and truth - and be ready to stand for what is godly and biblical in regards to true righteousness. May God grant us grace to stand - and continue standing no matter what the cost.
He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. Proverbs 26:27
This is not a proverb that explains why bad things happen to Wylie Coyote - even though at first glance it might. It is actually about those who plan to do evil to others. Those who set traps to catch others and have bad things happen to them are warned in this proverb that what they do will eventually happen to them. Let's take a look at what this means - and also see an example or two.
Those who dig a pit do so to catch someone in it. In biblical times people would dig pits and cover them for the purpose of catching more than just animals who would fall into them. These pits would be dug and covered with camouflage as well as wetted down on the sides so that whoever was caught in them would not have opportunity to escape. Those who caught the person would then either take them captive as a slave - or kill the one who fell into the pit. The reason a stone would be rolled is to be put on a steep hill so that it could then be rolled down to kill or badly injure someone who was coming through the valley. This was a tactic of thieves who wanted to steal what travellers would have as they went through valleys and along roads that were next to hilly or mountainous areas. The idea with a pit or with a stone was to injure or kill someone for evil purposes.
God warns that those who do such things will fall into a pit themselves. God also warns that the stone that is rolled with come back on them. This is not a reference to an actual pit or an actual stone rolling on them - but was a warning that God was going to hold them responsible for their wicked actions. A good example of this would be the story of Joseph and his brothers. The brothers threw Joseph into a pit with the original intention of killing him because of their jealous hatred of him. Joseph and his stinking varicolored coat reminded them every day that their father loved him more than them - so why not teach the little runt a lesson. Of course killing your brother is a little intense. In the end they decided just to sell him into lifelong slavery (their sibling rivalry was way more intense that what I remember with my brothers). They covered their tracks by dipping the hated coat in blood and telling their father that a wild animal killed Joseph. But the pit they dug - and the rock they rolled was going to come back on them one day.
The first "pit-experience" was when their father almost died from grief. Then there was the famine that came and caused them to have to go to Egypt where they had to ask for food from . . . wait for it . . . their snotty little brother who was now the second ruler of Egypt. What was very good for them was that their brother had far more mercy on them in their pit that they had on him when he was in theirs. They had rolled their stone on him - but he refused to roll his on them. He chose forgiveness rather than revenge.
The varied pits that you can fall into are as numerous as the ones you dig for others. It is amazing as I grow older to see all the various pits that people have fallen into after they've dug ones for someone else. It is a fact of life that what goes around comes around. That is the simple, one-sentence way to define this particular proverb. I just hope that we all remember that the next time we grab our shovels and start digging for someone else.
Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. Proverbs 25:18
Here we have a proverb concerning those who are gossips and false witnesses against their own neighbors. This is clearly seen in the second half of the proverb. The things described at the beginning of the proverb - three in nuimber - are compared to this man who bears a false witness agianst his neighbor. He is a perjuror as he destroys the reputation of the one who lives near him. Let's take a look at the three things used to describe the lying witness.
Three things are used to describe this lying man. The first is a club. The actual word means a maul - which is something akin to our sledge hammer. The second two things are very easy to describe - the sword is actually a double-edged sword - and the final object is a sharp arrow. All three of these things are instruments of destruction and murder. Each though has its method and its pattern of destruction. The reason that we are looking at murder here is because of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus said there that if a man is angry with his brother he is guilty of murder. If he calls his brother an empty-head or moron, he is guilty before the highest court of Israel. But it if called his brother a fool, he is in danger of going into the firey hell itself. It is a murderous thing to assassinate the character of your neighbor with your words of false testimony.
The maul or sledge hammer would be used to bludgeon the reputation of one's neighbor. It is a slower, more grotesque death. The lies of this man are not exactly cutting - but they are used again and again to bludgeon the poor man to death. I've watched as these dark blows were struck toward someone. Again and again loose-lipped men would throw ungodly accusations against someone -like the blows of a sledge hammer upon them. The bruises inflicted by these false words would cause the poor man to be bowed down and unable to rise from the bruising of his life.
The sword refers to the words of the wicked man. We are warned elsewhere in the book of proverbs that rash, godless words piece like a sword. These cutting comments can be a tool of the devil to urge us to bitterness and resentment. A sword thrust can pierce our hearts and bring so much damage. When you consider that these sword-thrust-words are false and lying accusations - it is even worse.
The last of the three descriptive terms is a sharp arrow. This was used to shoot straight into the heart - and break and kill it. We are warned to lift up the shield of faith in Ephesians chapter 6 so that we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Since he is known as the Liar and the father of lies, we know that he often wants to shoot us with these lying accustaions and charges. His intent is to wound us or even more likely - kill us. He wants us dead - and will use whatever lies he can to destroy our hearts for God as well as our testimony for Him as well.
The wise man knows of these things and entrusts himself to God to defend and protect him. Jesus faced such things before He went to the cross. He faced those who spoke as with sledge hammer strokes. He faced those who sought to pierce His heart whether with a sword or an arrow. Yet He entrusted Himself to the Lord - knowing that in the end God would vindicate him from all the false charges and lies. Therefore, we know that if Jesus faced such things - we will face them too. It is for this reason that we should prepare our hearts to be falsely accused and falsely charged. A wise man knows this and prepares his heart for what inevitably will be the attacks of the spiritual realms - as well as those who do their bidding and act as their mouthpieces.
He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich. Proverbs 21:17
Much can be discerned about a society and people by those it deems as their heros. Ours is a society in very serious decline - and that can be fairly easily discerned when one examines our heros. Those considered our heros today are people in the entertainment industry and sports stars. Singers and actors are paraded before us day after day even though they offer little of nothing to us outside of entertainment. Their broken lives are the source of the headlines of our tabliods. Each a little more lurid than the last one - we are watch them self-destruct with baited breath. When the next star arises (especially a child star) we can predict the sad trail that will be followed. We will find that if they are rich intially, their riches will vanish - or be consumed by the wreckage of failed marriages, arrests, and stints in drug rehabilitation facilities. The plot of such lives is as predictable as the plot of a soap opera - and usually as ungodly as well.
Take for example Mike Tyson, of boxing fame. Tyson squandered a $350 million to $400 million dollar fortune. What did he do to lose all this money? He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. He definitely loved expensive cars because he spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune went down the drain and he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
We are warned that the ones who love pleasure will become poor. Often for these people hard work, frugality, and restraint are not in their vocabulary. They are far more interested in parties, pleasure, and indugence of their lusts. They are living for the so-called "good time" that they can have here and now - with little or no thought of what lies beyond the end of the week. Their lives are spent on pleasure, the pursuit of things, and often on sexual immorality.
Wine and oil are mentioned in this warning. Those who love these two things, it warns, will not become rich. Wine and oil were the usual things to be had at expensive banquets. This was not ordinary wine, but expensive wine. When I go to higher class restaurants that serve wine, I am shocked that some wines cost over 200 to 300 dollars per bottle. There are wines out there priced at over $1000 to $5000 each bottle. Someone wanting to impress their friends with an expensive banquet would purchase the very best wines to be served there. The oils could also be very extravagant in their price range. Mary was criticized for using an ointment to annoint Jesus that cost almost an entire year's worth of wages. For the rich, such ointments were given to their guests as a sign of their wealth. Their parties and banquets would be filled with the expensive smell of high priced oils. Doing this would cost a fortune - and would assure that the one doing it would not be wealthy for long.
The prodigal son had great wealth when he left his father's house. But he soon squandered it with rich, loose living. His parties were probably the stuff of legend to those who attended. The only problem was that when the money ran out - and the parties became austere in their appearance - all his so-called friends left. The one who loves the pleasures of his flesh will not become rich. His riches and wealth will be swallowed whole by his wicked appetite. This is why we are counselled not to love such things. We are instead told that the wise man is the one who leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren. He is the one who invests so as to reap long-term benefits and rewards. Ultimately he knows that he will take nothing with him when he dies. Thus the wisest man invests in the kingdom of God and the advance of the gospel - sending true riches ahead of him to the one place where moth and rust do not destroy and where no thief can break in or steal. The wise man knows to invest in heavenly things that glorify God is the safest investment of all. Therefore he lives with God's glory as his goal in all things - financial, physical, and spiritual. This will be a rich man, now, as well as for all eternity.
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the LORD will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them. Proverbs 22:22-23
How does God feel about the poor and the afflicted? What kind of safeguard does God have against those who would treat these people with disregard? How does God protect these two groups from being expolited by the unscrupulous actions of others? That is what today's proverb is about.
This proverb begins with a warning against robbing the poor or crushing the afflicted at the gate. The gate was the place where financial transactions took place in Israel. It was the "Wall Street" of their society. Because this is where the "movers and shakers" of their culture would meet to transact major business, it was also the place God commanded that the poor and the afflicted be given honest and fair treatment.
The Lord warns against robbing from them and afflicting them. The word rob is the Hebrew word "gazal" which means to take something by force or to seize something from another because they cannot resist. Here God is protecting the poor and afflicted because they would not have the kind of business savvy or representation to protect themselves. The poor are those who a low or small in matters of importance in society. The word for poor is used to describe the lame, those who were defeated in a military engagement, or someone who is so weak that they are languishing before others. They cannot rise up to defend themsleves in the gate. They can barely care for themselves. Thus they are easy prey to those who want to abuse and steal.
The Lord also warns against crushing the affllicted. The afflicted are those suffering in a state of poverty, oppression, or misery. They are in serious want - and biblically are those whose only hope is in the deliverance and grace of God. They are easy pickings for the ungodly and unprincipled. To crush them is to beat them down and oppress them. Again, their sad state of affairs makes them unable to stop those who would use their power and position to take advantage of their poverty.
The warning God gives those with power and authority in the gate is to refrain from treating these people badly. But if someone at the gate would proceed in acting unjustly, we have a picture that should cause us to shrink back in terror. God says that He Himself will plead their cause. The poor and afflicted have no representation - or do they? God said that He would be their representative. He would "plead their case. This word "plead" is a legal term. It means that God Himself will rise up and argue their lawsuit. The word is "riyb" and it means to strive and contend in a lawsuit or legal case.
Imagine someone among the poor and afflicted - trying to muster up enough strength to stand in the gate and argue their case. They have no ability to do this - and some in the crowd would even begin to laugh as they haltingly began their defense. Yet, as they stood humiliated in that setting suddenly a noise would be heard - a mighty rushing of wind from heaven - and all present would begin to tremble as the mighty presence of God descended into the area of the gate. The Lord, manifesting Himself as a mighty angel, suddenly appears at the proceeding. All shrink back from His glory and majesty - as they realize that God Himself has come to argue the cause of the afflicted and needy one. The prosecutor falls on his face and becomes speechless in the presence of God. Then God proceeds to take up the case of this one so frail and helpless. But God not only pleads their case with a passion and wisdom that causes all to fall silent. He also does something that terrifies everyone in the court-setting of the gate. Proverbs 22:23
tells us that God will "take the life of those who rob them." The phrase "take the life," is literally in the Hebrew "rob the soul." God promises to rob the soul of those who would rob the poor and afflicted. Our scene now resumes with God finishing His arguments and brilliantly defending the poor and afflicted in the gate. Then He turns to the one who so arrogantly thought he could rob the poor and crush the afflicted. He reaches out a hand toward this one and tears his soul from his body. Robbed of his very soul, the arrogant one falls lifeless to the ground. All gasp in horror as they watch this fool careen toward the ground with a thud. His lifeless, soul-less body now a monument to God's judgment upon those who would abuse the poor.
This is what God promises to those who abuse the poor and afflicted ones. This is what He says will come to those who live their lives for the sordid gain they can gather from the weakest among us. Some may read this and mock, saying that they've seen the wealthy and powerful do this many times without retribution from God, but know this - their day is coming. This proverb is a promise from God - so you can know that one day it is going to happen. May you be ready by being one who loves and is gracious and compassionate towards the poor.
Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted. Proverbs 3:34
How does God respond to those who scoff at Him? The first half of our proverb for today reveals that to us - then shares some very wonderful news with us about how the Lord responds to those who are afflicted.
God is a God of grace and mercy - but He is not happy with those who mock and scoff at Him and His Word. Here in Proverbs 3:34
we find a strong statement about how God reacts to the ones who are scoffing at Him. We read that God responds with scoffing toward them. The "scoffer" is one who mocks God. He derides the Lord and holds Him in utter contempt - even boasting against the Lord. What God promises to these who mock Him is mocking in return. The difference here is that the human who is insane enough to mock God, does nothing to God by His mocking. He is powerless to have any affect on God's glory or anything to do with God. On the other hand - God's mocking and utter contempt comes with an eternity of consequences - literally! The mocker who thinks himself so powerful has less effect than a flea has as it crashes into an aircraft carrier as it speeds through the ocean. So the one hurt by these actions is the mocker himself - whose mocking is only storing up wrath for himself when God ultimately comes to humble the arrogant.
The promise though is not just scoffing to the scoffer - but also grace to the afflicted. The word afflicted here is the Hebrew word "anaw" which has a much wider range than just the afflicted. It means one who is poor, oppressed, afflicted, and humble. This "afflicted one" is not proud, haughty, self-advancing, or self-assertive when it comes to standing before God. He is humble. He puts himself intentionally in a low and meek position. He does not view himself in comparison to men - either presently or in the past. He takes a good look at God and does the only wise thing a man can do - he chooses humility. One Hebrew commentary even suggests the idea of affliction here is that of self-affliction. He sees who he truly is in the sight of God - and chooses to humble himself in the dust before a God whose glory and majesty dwarfs him in a way that cannot be expressed in human language. Yet this humbling of himself is what makes him a candidate for God's grace. God looks at this humilty and desires to bless him. This is nothing more than the promise in James, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." That is pretty much what the writer is saying to us here. May God see us remove ourselves from among the scoffers - and align ourselves with every haste to the ones who humble themselves and give God glory!
If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, All his ministers become
wicked. Proverbs 29:12
This proverb reminds us that when we are in a position of authority - often what we want to hear is what we are going to hear. That is why it is so important for rulers, both religious and secular, learn to shun falsehood, lies, and deception in the counsel that they receive. For, as this proverb says if they listen to this kind of thing - all that they will hear in the future is this type of counsel. The end of such a swing in the opinion brought to this leader will be that all his subordinates will become wicked.
To "pay attention" to falsehood here means to listen with an intent to obey or heed the advice given. It has the idea that as the falsehood is offered, rather than reject it, the ruler listens closely and does so with a desire to obey. This means that the ruler's heart has a predisposition to what is false rather than what is true. The Word of God says that a godly ruler winnows the wicked from his presence - and makes sure that falsehood will not be spoken to him as advice.
The worst aspect of this ruler's choice to pay attention to falsehood is the affect it has on his ministers. They will become wicked. Such a ruler tends to not appreciate men who will tell him the truth. To be such a man means that you will speak the truth - even if the ruler to whom you speak it becomes angry and doesn't want to hear it. Such was Daniel - before he was thrown into the lion's den. Such were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego before they were cast into the firey furnace. The king only retracted his actions and his words after he had witnessed God's miraculous deliverance of these men. Only in the case of David do we see a man who is willing to hear the truth - even if it meant a humbling of himself in repentance for his sin.
We need to pray daily that our leaders will be men who value truth rather than falsehood. Included in this prayer is that they will heed biblical truth when it is directly related to legislation that is pending. Such is the case when it comes specifically to both the abortion issue as well as laws concerning sexuality, decency, and morality. Too often over the last 30+ years our elected officials, including our president, have not even considered the Bible when making such decisions. Outside of President Reagan, most of the pro-abortion Republicans have been paper tigers who spoke boldly but carried no stick whatsoever. We've watch laws concerning public decency become nothing more than the latest retreat from biblical morality. It has been disheartening to see issues of heterosexual morality, marriage, and now homosexuality made while completely ignoring the counsel of Scripture. In fact I would have to say that currently one would find themselves shouted down and called the most horrible names to even assert strongly a biblical stance on these issues. It is almost as if these issues are non-issues any longer. They are definitely not the front-burner issues that they should be. We think the greatest issue is the economy - and yet God WILL NOT bless our economy as long as we continue to abort 4000 babies a day and condone as an acceptable sexual lifestyle what He calls an abomination. We need a president and a Congress who once again listen to and value the truth. Until we do - not only will they be making wrong decision after wrong decision, but they will also be surrounded by more and more aids who are wicked - because their bosses listen to falsehood.
a roaring lion and a rushing bear Is a wicked ruler over a poor people. Proverbs 28:15
Oppression of the poor by a wicked ruler - that sounds like a modern day headline in one of our newpapers - or in a report that we would read online. Unfortunately oppression has been going on every since the fall of man - and the beginning of politics. When the sinfulness of man combined with the treachery of politics - it was not going to be long before men learned how to oppress the poor and helpless for their own benefit.
We read in today's proverb that a wicked ruler over a poor people is like a roaring lion or a rushing bear. A roaring lion scares the other animals in the forest. The lion roars to establish his territory and his authority. Thus when a wicked ruler acts like a roaring lion - he is establishing that he has the power and authority over the poor ones he is oppressing. We've seen it again and again in history. The powerful oppress and dominate the poor - even resorting to attacking them with the army to establish their power. They will use the secret police to kidnap them and torture them to silence anyone's opposition and threat to their power. It is a sad thing to see - but unfortunately it will continue until the day that Jesus Christ comes to establish a kingdom based upon justice and righteousness.
Those who dare to stand against such a wicked ruler will find themselves quickly attacked and often silenced for good. They may be thrown into prison - or summarily executed for their boldness to oppose the ruler - or threaten their absolute stranglehold on power. However it is done, the poor quickly learn to hide any desire for freedom and justice, because these things can cost them their lives. This is why it is so vital for those who have the freedom to choose their leaders, to choose wise and godly ones. To do otherwise will cost us far more than just a wrongly cast vote - it could cost us our freedoms - and in some severe cases - even our lives.
The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied
with his. Proverbs 14:14
Too often some religious words have been used in such a way that they are either now devoid of meaning - or they have become so cluttered with misunderstanding that they mean little to us now. Such is the word, "backslider" in our religious vocabulary. We've heard the term screamed shrilly at us - or have attributed the word to back woods preachers who use it to scare the faithful to the altar when revival services are in town. This is a loss for the church because this word is used as a warning to us - not with a piercing scream of a preacher trying to make a point - but with the gentle yet strong urgings of wisdom who only desires to prevent us from walking in a foolish way that will cost us far more than we are willing to pay in the end.
The backslider in heart - is a phrase that speaks of someone who has turned away. The word actually comes from the Hebrew word, "sug" which means to turn away or to turn ones back. The idea with this word is that someone is turning from an accepted or expected path or commitment. They are crossing a boundary line, and in the process are being disloyal in the process. Here we also get the idea that this is not just an isolated decision - but something that has been chosen enough times to where a heart has been set in a direction. The backslider in heart is the one whose heart commitment to the Lord has turned badly in the wrong direction. He has decided to walk away from his commitment to the Lord - and now his decisions are betraying his faith.
What is fascinating about this proverb is that we read that the backslider in heart, "will have his fill of his own ways. The idea here is that this person who is turning from the Lord and from His Word - is going to be filled to the point of misery with his own ways. He is not going to be happy with this development. He will be miserable. The proverb states that the good man will be satisfied with his ways. The good, godly man will find the lifestyle and the direction of his life and choices are very satisfying. But the backslider in heart is going to be full. But the fullness that he will have will be a fullness of regret, a fullness of problems, and a fullness that is very unpleasant.
Imagine with me a meal that you've eaten. But what has happened at this meal is that you have eaten to the point of being miserable. As you sit and are now sickened by the mere thought of food - you groan over being full of your own over eating. That is truly a horrible feeling when it happens. What the proverb here is trying to describe is a lifestyle that is overflowing with regretable decisions that were not in accord with the Scriptures. The consequences that begin building up are awful. This man looks at them and thinks how he is full of the consequences of his own ways. What proverbs says elsewhere is that he groans at his latter end. When everything comes to roost - he finds that he is groaning under years of bad decisions - just wishing that he had done something different. For this man there is little more than regret over the choices he has made. These were choices that glorified his flesh and did not honor God. Filled to the full with these choices and the myriad of horrific consequences they have brought on - he can only sigh and steel himself for the tidal wave of problems and difficulty he is about to face.
Think about this . . . that when you turn from God you are setting a course for misery. You may not see it right away - but know that your backsliding from God and from His Word are going to have a very steep price to pay. You may decieve yourself that such a price will never come, but the truth is that as you make choice after choice to ignore and even defy God - you are storing up misery for yourself. That misery IS coming. And when it comes all you will be able to do is groan under the weight of it. Filled with your own ways - you will finally learn that satisfaction comes as we embrace God and embrace the good He desires for us in our lives.