PROVERBS 19:1 – 21:31 and 2 THESSALONIANS 3:1–18
At the end of one’s life, who is the one that is better off? A person who lived in poverty yet walked in integrity of heart or a person who had riches, lived at ease was perverse in his ways being distant from God? It is easy to answer this question when eternity is in the balance but how many choose option 2 in the way they live their life? Satan is extremely clever in minimizing the consequences of eternity. This was seen from the very beginning when he told Eve that man would not die if he were to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree (Gen 3:4). He veils the consequence of sin with regard to eternity right up to the end when it is oftentimes too late. This is why the Proverbs puts such emphasis on being diligent in preparation for the future. This is why vision is so important! We are so short-sighted; we live with a “got to have it now mentality” which obscures the goal of going on to Zion.
The doctrines taught in many churches today only contributes to this problem. Settling for anything less than what God had intended is falling short of His mark and His glory. Solomon, who is instructing so well in these proverbs will one day fall prey to his own warnings. He will summarize this same truth at the end of his life in Ecclesiastes but it will be from a different vantage point. How tragic of coming to the end of life knowing that God’s best was missed; worse still to be in a position of being the example of the person you warned against earlier in life. It is the true riches of God that should ever be our pursuit. The world and its trappings are all lies and sadly the church is allowing itself to be pulled into its wake.
There are several warnings with regard to being a false witness and liar (vs 5, 9). One of the greatest privileges given to a believer is that of being a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can witness by our words and by our actions. Does our witness betray our faith by the way we live? Do we speak the truth in our interactions with others? Do we witness and speak the truth concerning others out of a pure heart? Our lives should radiate and present Christ in the things we say and do. This is one of the mediums the Lord uses in communicating the Gospel. Remember the great commission
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We must also be warned concerning the consequences of lying. A false witness can be one who misrepresents the truth of God’s Word (Rom 1:18). If this is not corrected, that misrepresentation can then become a lie (Rom 1:25). The implications of these verses can apply to those who bear false testimony towards another as well as to those who live a life of telling lies. It also has clear implications to ministers who are called to teach and instruct the ways of God to the people.
The foundations of a home are referenced in verse 14. The blessings of a true father are seen in the inheritance they provide for their children and children’s children. There is also the mention of a prudent wife. The primary attacks of the enemy seem to focus on fatherhood and marriages. The role of a true father figure has been undermined and demeaned in recent decades. The fruits of this attack are there for all to see. The attacks upon marriages are just as intense and we see the fruits of divided homes and the plagues that come upon society as a result. This is why the message of Restoration must be front and center in these evil days. God has a heart for Restoration and we want to be those who can serve as His instruments of healing. There is a longing in the earth for the Revelation of the Father heart of God. The revelation of knowing the Father and being a Father is that which will help turn the tide of the cultural rot that is seen today. Secondly, there needs to be restoration in marriages. Let’s cry out to God for a heart that seeks Restoration. This is His heart and it must become ours (Jer 24:6-7).
The subject of the dangers of wine is covered in verse 1. It is a drink that many cultures observe without the problem of drunkenness so this verse does not apply in that context. Strong drink is an issue and problem for many due to its ability to dull the senses and affect one’s spirit. Wine and strong drink is often an escape and coping mechanism that people will resort to. It distorts reality and prevents the entrance of God’s Word and ability to work within one’s life. It is a vice that is apprehending people on an increasing basis. Jesus warned that in the last day’s men will be likened to the days of Noah.
Mat 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
Mat 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Do we take seriously the words that Jesus spoke concerning the above? Noah was preaching and warning of a flood while marriages/divorce and drunkenness were taking place around him. He prepared an Ark of safety for him and his family but the others carried on with their lives without a care or concern. Their senses were dulled and non-discerning regarding that which was to come. Is it any different today? Even in the church is there not a stupor or indifference to the realities taking place around us? The signs are there for all to see but who is giving heed?
Notice in verse 5 how counsel and understanding (2 of the7 spirits of the Lord) complement one another. There is the weight and treasure of good counsel in certain ones and it is a man of Understanding that has the ability to draw it out. This is one of the blessings in growing and developing in these anointing’s. Remember, the 7 spirits of God were expressed in the 7 candlesticks which were positioned in the Holy Place of Moses Tabernacle. It was only the priests that had the ability to access the Holy Place and Holy of Holies. They had to have an exchange of garments as they transitioned from the Outer Court to the Holy Place. We cannot automatically assume this precious anointing’s; they are costly and there is a qualification required. One of the greatest dangers I see today is the presumptiveness that people have regarding their position in Christ. True, we are the righteousness of God at salvation but that does not mean we are righteous in of ourselves. There is an outworking of righteousness that needs to be imparted into the life of a believer. This is accomplished by learning to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).
A talebearer is to be avoided along with those who tend to flatter with their lips (vs 19). The antichrist will thrive as a flatterer and will have the ability to draw many to himself (Dan 11:21, 32, 34). We see his prototype in Genesis in the person of Nimrod (Gen 10:9). A flatterer is one who seeks to gain the favor and attention of another by speaking to their heart with the intention of drawing that person to himself. A constant check must be placed upon our lips while taking note of our motives.
The cursing of mothers and fathers is another plague that is so prominent today. Many parents do not make it easy due to the abandonment of their respective roles in the home nonetheless children still need to be taught to honor their parents. There needs to be a respect for authority figures that God has placed over man. Once again this can be difficult when looking at the leaders of many of the nations. Remember, it is God that raises up one and takes down another. The powers in place of authority are there because God has ordained it. (Rom 13:1)
We again see the link of Mercy and Truth and how it helps in preserving the king. Have we come to appreciate our little survey on the subject of Mercy and Truth since examining its foundation in Psa 25:10?
Psa 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
We saw how Mercy and truth are essential in the purging of iniquity (Pro 16:6) Here we see Mercy and Truth as that which preserves the king. Let us not forget the latter part of Psa 25:10 where it speaks of those who keep His covenant and Testimonies. The reign of King Josiah came to a place of revival when the words of the law (testimonies) were read before him. He immediately instituted reforms which resulted in a mighty revival throughout Judah. I personally feel that the reign of Josiah serves as a template for what will be seen in the days before us. May Mercy and Truth be the path that goes before us in all that we do.
It is comforting to know that the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. It is God who places man in a position of leadership. There may be different reasons for why God lifts up certain leaders over nations but it is God who is always in control. There are times when God may allow a wicked ruler to lead a land because of how he reflects the heart of the people. As believers we need to know that the heart of a king whether he be good or evil is able to be used by God to accomplish His purposes. God is sovereign and in control; nothing is too hard for Him and nothing is beyond Him.
Verse 3 is an area where King Saul failed. He did not execute God’s judgement when it came to Agag and the Amalekites. He did defeat them but he did not execute God’s full judgment which resulted in not satisfying God’s justice in what he was looking to do.
1 Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
1 Sam 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
It was God’s intention for the Amalekites to be totally destroyed because of what they did in hindering Israel in their journeys. Their cup of iniquity had become full and God was looking for a faithful king to execute His full pleasure and judgement upon this enemy. This is why kings are made and why they need to be prepared and developed for the days to come. God is looking for priests and kings that are likened to the most High-God. These are the ones who will accompany him at the time of the 2nd coming and these will be the ones who will reign with Him during the millennium (Rev 20:6).
The Lord has a very special place in his heart for the poor (vs 13). The poor will always be with us but that does not mean they are to be neglected or forgotten. The Lord lives and moves amongst the poor, the fatherless and widows. How do we view them? Do we assist and help in any way? The Bible makes clear that to the extent we heed the needs of the poor will be to the extent we will be heard in our time of need. One of the keys that will help us is to come into that place of “being poor in Spirit” (Math 5:3). This mind-set and attitude of heart will help us to have that sensitivity towards others knowing that we are ever dependent upon the Lord and His mercies.
The angry and contentious woman is highlighted in verses 9 and 19. In both instances she is contrasted with one who is in a corner of a housetop or in a wilderness. What can an angry and contentious woman look like; what are her characteristics? Clearly, it speaks of one who is out of alignment of what God intended. She has no regard for authority be it in under her husband or perhaps in a work environment. We hear mentioned today about women who have a “Jezebel spirit”. Jezebel was one who used her husband’s authority as a platform for her evil intents. She herself did not have the authority but she appropriated power and influence through his covering. It is not hard to see modern day examples of this in the world today. It is a concern in seeing how this spirit is slowly creeping into many churches. It is not that God is looking to separate men and women who may be linked in marriage but rather to show the power, influence and damage that can be done through such a woman. Thankfully, we shall soon be able to speak on the virtuous woman from Proverbs 31.
2 Thess 3
Paul is going to close this 2nd letter by exhorting the Thessalonians to take to heart the instructions and admonishments that he had given them. At the same time, they were to stand strong against those who would not obey or submit to that which he had written them. Paul begins this chapter by asking them to pray that the Word of The Lord would have free course and be effective as it was effective with them. Paul was currently in Corinth when he wrote to the Thessalonians. One will never know the full fruits of their prayers until eternity. True prayer establishes an identity and walk with God. Paul was a man who was in constant prayer for others. His prayers were effectual whether he was amongst a group or whether praying from a prison. His prayers had such an impact that the enemies would oppose him while he was in prison. A good example is when he prayed and wrote to the Colossian church (Col 2:1).
Paul had many adversaries; some even bound themselves to a curse to not eat until they killed him (Acts 23:12). This is an example of wicked and unreasonable men as seen in verse 2. Paul had full confidence that that the Thessalonians would fulfil that which was given for them to do. He trusted in God’s ability to keep them and lead them. In verses 6-12 Paul commands them to withdraw from those who walk not after the message and teaching that he had given them. These can be people who are in the church but who are not walking in sync with the congregation. The tribe of Zebulon was noted in being those that could “keep rank” (1 Chr 12:33). They knew their position and flowed accordingly, not looking to the right or left. Many in the church are dissemblers; those who do their own thing and march to their own drum. God gives space for men to hear and respond to His Words for the purpose of coming into alignment. Paul was their example in how they were to function. He did not waver in his testimony and witness before them (vs 7). He also demonstrated a strong work ethic (vs 8-9). Ministry work is hard and requires discipline and diligence. A common critique that my spiritual father would employ when evaluating Bible School students was not so much their grades or preaching and song leading ability (Yes, these are important but they do not represent everything). He would take note of their willingness to serve in their duties. He also noted the attitude they displayed while at school. He coined this phrase which I have come to see through my experiences in being associated with Bible Schools. “What you are in Bible School you will be in life”. I cannot emphasize enough how true this saying is. Paul gave them an example of a strong work ethic and how one should conduct themselves within the church.
Paul warns of being a busybody; people who do not work and spend idol time talking about others. An idle and lazy person will find themselves susceptible to the wiles of the enemy. He thrives on people who are in this state of life. People who do not have responsibilities will tend to meddle in things that do not concern them resulting in potential problems. This tendency must be avoided and guarded against. Paul goes on to encourage the church to not be weary in well doing (vs 13). This keeps us fresh and out of potential problems while meeting and ministering to the needs of others. There is a sense of strength and fulfilment that comes when we are able to be a blessing to others. He then warns again concerning those who do not obey or give heed to the instruction that Paul has given. We must be faithful in upholding right standards. If one is opposed and chooses not to go along with what God is saying, then there should be a separation. A person who refuses to go along should not be tolerated in their sin. This does not help them but would only encourage them that what they are doing is all right. If there is to be hope for such a person then they need to be told the truth. Let them know however that you care for them and are available if they choose to amend their ways. This was an issue that the Thessalonians had to stand strong against. Paul then gives his familiar salutations to the church in verses 16-18.