Proverbs 28:28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.
Here is a proverb dealing with what happens when the wicked come to positions of public power and influence. 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 seemed that only Elijah was speaking out - and he eventually ran from the death threats of Jezebel and hid too. It is difficult to speak out in such an environment - as honestly - many of us already know.
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. Let's take a closer look at each aspect of this definition. First off let's be honest about this word, "wicked." It is a word that we don't care for - especially if it is used to describe us or those with whom we agree. The word usually refers to those who are disobeying God's laws - or who are opposing God by their actions. This is why the "righteous" hide from them. The righteous are those who follow a moral and ethical path in agreement with God and His Law. So we learn that the wickedness of these who rise up is defined by how they view God's Law - and submission to God's way.
The truth spoken here though is that while these wicked men rise up and take their stand, the righteous will hide themselves. In any society where ungodly choices are exalted - even enshrined into law - godliness and righteousness will have to go into hiding. The sexual revolution in our nation has both exalted and now enshrined into law behavior that has perverted the sexuality God originally gave to us. As this turning away from God's plan continues (in the political realm as well as the realms of news, entertainment, and education) those who hold to what God calls right hide themselves more and more. We see this in the contentious debate in our culture - and especially in online discourse. It is difficult to write or speak what God calls sin and what He calls righteous, because to do so will yield almost instant censure from a majority culture who no longer views the sexuality taught in the Scriptures as right or relevant. We may try to speak out or write - but soon the general condemnation of such views relegates us to silence (at least in any social media format).
So what are we to do if (or in our current situation - when or as) this happens? First of all we need to realize that a more public discourse on biblical righteousness will become increasingly difficult. Another part of this will be that fewer and fewer will be willing to even speak out publicly. As the proverb states, such a situation will cause the righteous to hide themselves. But we do not have to completely abandon God's law - nor should we. The second thing we will need to realize is the value of more private, one on one conversations. Build honest and real friendships with those who disagree with you - and then share the truth with your friends over time. It would be wise to follow Scriptural guidelines in doing this. We are told to "speak the truth in love," as well as to speak with "gentleness and respect" toward those who listen to what we have to say. There is also a third thing I'd like to suggest - and I imagine it may cause some who are conservative Christians to cringe a little. Be careful that your conversations come from a loving gospel motivation - and move toward a gracious gospel presentation. It is too easy to find ourselves locked into very contentious political conversations in such days. That is one problem the early believers really did not have , as they lived under king/caesar/dictatorship rule rather than a representative republic. Yet, regardless of what system of government we find ourselves under, we should remember that we are to be "gospel-people" first - and political-folk second. I can possibly win an argument for my political view and yet seriously lose the honor of gaining a hearing for the gospel .
It is true that as the wicked rise - the righteous will want to hide themselves. It is also true that when they perish - the righteous will increase. We've live in times when the majority culture was far more in agreement with biblical morals - at least in reference to sexuality. But the "facts on the ground" now are that our culture is not moving that was presently. That will mean less public support for morals and ethics based out of Scripture. It also means though that those of us who still desire to give a reason for the hope that is in us - will have ample opportunity to do so. We need to embrace this role - even if it means we, at times, have to engage in "hide and speak" as we do so.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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