Two Brands of Bread- Seeing vs Believing

During Passover, God instructed the Israelites to eat ‘bread made without yeast’ (Exodus 11:8). The Feast of Unleavened bread lasted seven days and ‘whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel’ (v19). In the same Chapter and in other subsequent Chapters, the Lord insists that they must eat bread without yeast, unleavened bread, as they observe the month of Abib- the month the Israelites made exodus out of Egypt. The Israelites, not fully knowing why they had to do this, did it anyway. As I also wonder why, the Lord reveals that He did not prohibit the Israelites to eat bread with yeast because of an allergic reaction, but as a symbolic revelation. No wonder the ordinance was to last generations to come. However, when Lord himself came down, all He did was talk of yeast.

In the third Parable Jesus gave according to the Gospel of Matthew, He talks of the mustard seed and the yeast. Jesus likens the Kingdom of heaven like ‘yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough’ (Matthew 13:33). One quality of yeast is that it ought to be given time until it works through the dough. In a yeastly manner, the Kingdom of God works the same way, in its due time. During the Passover which the Lord instructed to ‘Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover’ (Exodus 12:11), shows the Kingdom of God was not yet. God displayed His great miracle saying ‘I will make a distinction between my people and your (Pharaoh’s) people’ (Exodus 8:23). To the Israelites, this signified that the kingdom of Israel would be established, but God had a bigger picture in mind.

So when Jesus came talking about yeast and the Kingdom of God, it took aback the Jews who were avoiding yeast and anticipating their own kingdom. On one occasion when Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God, the chief priests and elders asked, ‘And who gave you this authority?’ (Matthew 21:23). Unlike the unleavened bread eaten in a time of miracles and wonders, the Kingdom of God seemed unpalatable for the Jews, because they could not see that the Kingdom of God was among them and that it was starting to work as in yeast through a dough. This was because they were spiritually blind and bound by the tradition of their forefathers in eating bread without yeast physically, and now took it further and did the same spiritually.

After Jesus had fed 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, ‘the Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven’ (Mark 8:11). The Pharisees, like their forefathers who ‘were a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God’ (Psalms78:8) and ‘wilfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ (v18-19). Even after God miraculously provided for them in the desert, ‘In spite of all this, they kept sinning; in spite of wonders, they did not believe’ (v32). In the same way, the Pharisees after seeing Jesus’s miracles, still did not believe of who He said He was and when they asked for another miracle, ’Jesus sighed deeply and said, ‘why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?’ (Mark 8:12).

Sometimes like the Pharisees, we ask God for a sign in order to believe in Him. In our ignorance we say, if God is real, why is there…why am I…why can’t He… why did He and so we continue to harden our hearts to receive the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. ‘Be careful, Jesus warned them (his disciples). ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod’ (v15). The disciples were clueless of what Jesus was talking about prompting Jesus to ask, ‘Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? (v17-18).

‘And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’

‘Twelve’, they replied.

‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’

They answered, ‘Seven’

He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’

(v19-21)

Some, instead of partaking of the Bread of Life partake that of the Pharisees and wait for world peace or some other miraculous phenomenal before accepting to believe in God. However, the Kingdom of God is based on faith. In fact, to top the Word becoming flesh, the air we breathe and everything around us is a miracle. Paul writes, ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse’ (Romans 1:20).

We receive by faith through believing in Jesus, whom ‘though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy’ (1 Peter 1:8). No wonder the Israelites ate bread without yeast because the yeast had not yet been revealed to them and so they lacked faith which can only come through accepting the Bread of Life. Once we receive Jesus, we are saved by faith and the faith works in us the Kingdom of God like yeast works through all the dough. In the same way, like yeast working quietly in a dough, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength’ (Isaiah 30:15). Once we follow Christ, miracles, signs and wonders follow us and not the other way round- for Christ did not accompany miracles but miracles accompanied Christ. (Mark 16:20)

Little by Little

Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land ~ Exodus 23:30

God telling Moses that He will send an angel ahead of him to prepare the way and bring the Israelites to the promised land, stresses on the procedure in occupying the land- little by little. For the all-powerful God known for big things and who can make anything happen at the snap of the finger, He somehow prefers to do things little by little. He is the God of big things and little things- the God of all things. When He does things little by little, it is not because He is unable to do things all at once, but because we are not able to possess things that He has in store for us all at once. In the age of instant and ready-made things, we surely would not prefer anything to be done in bits, especially not little by little. We want the more and more. Quick and quick. Now and now.

drop

The land promised to the Israelites was already occupied and I wondered, why wouldn’t God just give them an uninhabited land where they can settle without having to draw their swords, struggle, fight then come to rest? The Lord subtly responded, ‘participation’. When we receive promises from God, we think that they will appear magically on our laps, all at once. As good as that may sound, God knows the danger in that and tells Moses of the nations already occupying the land, ‘But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become too desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you’(v29).

In all matters, God goes before us to prepare the way, and ours is to advance at His command. It is a collaboration and neither can the order be reversed. It is God leading and us following. Our advancement in whatever form is done in steps, because as we are collaborating with an all-powerful God, He strengthens us weak vessels along the journey. Once we advance little by little, we gain strength little by little so that the works enemy that lie in wait can be destroyed with maximum victory and not overpower us. If the enemy were to see our strength all at once, then he would attack us and make us desolate.

Like the Israelites journey towards the promised land, our journey towards the Promised Land, towards eternity has already been paved for us by Jesus Christ who went before us. As we make our pilgrimage step by step, God drives out from before us every work of the flesh and of the enemy little by little. He replaces the flesh and the works of the enemy with His Spirit. This happens little by little so that ‘when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears’ (1 Corinthians 13:10). If He were to do it all once, it would require no participation from our end. But because God likes to collaborate with us, He knows our pace and weaknesses and thus does His works in us little by little.

God’s majesty and awe cannot be fathomed all at once, no wonder He takes us from glory to glory because as David says, ‘such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’ (Psalms 139:6). Or like Moses who ‘could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud (God’s glory) had settled upon it, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle’ (Exodus 40:35). God desires that He dwells in us and so He draws back the curtain little by little so that we can experience Him fully. Paul writes, ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:12).

‘It is like precious oil being poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes’ (Psalm 133:2). Little by little, in the same way, the oil of the Spirit flows until it drenches our entire being. Or like the yeast which works little by little all through the dough (Matthew 13:33) because ‘God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzles not storms. Drip! Drip! Drip!’

Few and Difficult Years

‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and do not equal the pilgrimage of my fathers’ ~ Genesis 47:9

Jacob speaks this statement when the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh, asks him his age. Having lived a longer lifespan than majority in this present time, Jacob still sees his years as few. Compared to his ancestors who lived for 900+ years, life spans are getting shorter. Now, ’the length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away’ (Psalms 90:10). No wonder our lives are likened as the grass which, ‘though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered’ (v6).

man on a road

No one needs to be told twice that the life we live is difficult. Jacob did not need a reminder because even as he was born there was a bit of a tug with his twin brother about who would come out first. In fact, the name Jacob means he grasps the heel which figuratively means deception. Although his brother Esau eventually came out first, he acquires his elder brother’s birthright and proceeds to get his father’s blessing by disguising as his brother. He then flees to his uncle for fear of his brother, works for him for two decades and marries his two daughters and has children, he then flees from his uncle, and on the way wrestles with God, then meets and makes amend with his brother. His wife Rachael and his father die, and nothing much is mentioned of him until he meets his son Joseph in Egypt.

A whole 130 years of Jacob have been summarized in about five pages of the Bible and only the significant parts played like scenes. And our lives are exactly that; living to reach significant points that boomerang to other significant ones until we complete the purpose God ordained for us. Once we step out of the purpose God has prescribed for us, what we do remains inconsequential, nothing worth mentioning. Jacob walked in awareness of the will of God after the Lord appeared to him in a dream prompting Jacob to say, ‘then the Lord will be my God’ (Genesis 28:21). When he encountered God personally, then his life truly began because the Lord started instructing him how to live out the rest of his difficult life. For twenty years, Jacob worked for his uncle turned father-in-law who ill-treated him that Jacob said, ‘This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes’ (Genesis 31:40).

In a bitter-sweet revelation, the larger portion of his difficult life was ironically his sole purpose. In those difficult years, Jacob was fulfilling his specific mission on earth. It is in those years that he met Rachael whom he loved, married her as well as Leah and gave birth to 12 sons- the 12 tribes of Israel. In summary, Jacob’s pilgrimage could be summed as being the seed carrier of the nation of Israel. The struggle between his two wives occurred to bring forth the 12 sons. His love for Rachael made their son, Joseph, special as he brought his 11 brothers to Egypt, in fulfilment of God’s redemption plan for mankind through the promise first given to Abraham. In hindsight, Jacob saw that all the years of his life could be reduced to critical yet difficult events. He saw that his life was a brief and crucial role he played, with God being the director.

Like Jacob, we truly start living once we meet God who can then instruct and direct us. Although our years may be few and difficult, our legacy lives on. We leave extensions of ourselves on generations and generations to come, which ultimately redirects to God’s master plan because, ‘before I formed you in the womb I chose you, before you were born I set you apart; appointed you as . . .’ (Jeremiah 1:5). Whatever God has appointed each one can only be revealed to us if we know Jesus as Lord and Saviour- if we know God. Otherwise our years will be few and difficult for nothing.

‘So teach us how to number our days aright, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom’ ~ Psalm 90:12

Bricks Without Straw

If the Pharaoh-ic system were to be replicated, it would definitely be the current world order. That of work, work and more work. Leaving no room not just for play but for God. A system where bills come first and God last, and in many cases God becomes optional- almost non-existent. We live our lives to pay bills, but who can blame us? Although God ‘created all things for His pleasure’ (Revelation 4:11) and we find our rest in worshiping God, the system we live in exerts pressure to work, and grave repercussions follow when we try to focus on building the heavenly kingdom and not the earthly one. The rulers and powers of this world scorn at putting God first and exclaim exactly as Pharaoh did:

‘Pharaoh said, ‘Lazy, that’s what you are- lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.’ ~ Exodus 5:17-18

bricks_without_straw_

When Moses appeared before Pharaoh requesting him to let the Israelites go out of Egypt to worship God, Pharaoh scorned at the pretext saying ‘Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go’ (v2). Under the hand of Pharaoh, a new king, the Israelites had been subjected to so much oppression in Egypt that, ‘they made their lives bitter with hard labour in brick and motar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labour the Egyptians used them ruthlessly’ (Exodus 1:12). In short, they were subjected to slavery not any different from the one in the 21st Century disguised in suits and ties.

After Moses and Aaron laid their request before Pharaoh asking to let the people go and worship God, Pharaoh became unbothered asking, ‘Why are you taking people away from their labour? Get back to your work!’ (v4) and on ‘that same day Pharaoh gave this order . . . ‘You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota’ (v7-8). The directive was to ‘make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies’ (v9). If the current world we live in does not voice these exact words in indirect forms, then I don’t know what else does.

Like the Israelites, we have been engrossed in not just making a living but ‘forced’ to overwork in order to meet the requirements of the stifling economies, tax regulations and high cost of living. As many fight for survival to afford basic amenities, it becomes hard for them to even listen to God’s Word as in the case of the slave Israelites. ‘Moses reported this to the Israelites but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage’ (v9). Many in the world are not fulfilling their purpose of worshipping God, not because they want to, but because of the discouragement and cruel bondage in the daily oppression of survival. Little do they know that a land of milk, honey and undisturbed rest awaits them.

Paul, a tentmaker by profession ‘devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ’ (Acts 18:5). He strove to be an approved workman of God and not to make millions out of tentmaking for he knew that, ‘no none serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs- he wants to please his commanding officer’ (2 Timothy 2:4). Paul does the Master’s work but does not also negate earthly work. He in fact urges the Church in Thessaloniki that, ‘if anyone does not work, he must not eat’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10) and ‘make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody’ (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Putting God first and living your real life and not just settle to making a living can be juxtaposing. The voices of billionaires who say one has to work non-stop to make it in life contradicts Jesus words of ‘take no thought of your life’, ‘do not wear yourself out to be rich’, ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’ and other easier said than done statements. However, as we make more time and room to linger at His feet, the Lord enables us to do His good and perfect will making it evident that He is indeed Jehovah Jireh, The Lord will provide.

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much valuable than they?’

(Matthew 6:25-26)

PERSON OF THE MONTH — JULY INTERVIEW FEATURE

An Interview with Oasis In Jesus Christ blog. Thank you Temiloluwa Johnson for the feature, truly honoured but all the same, may He increase and may I decrease. Read more from the blog on https://oasisinjesuschrist.wordpress.com/

Oasis In Jesus Christ

Hello readers, for the remainder of the year, this blog will be bringing stories to you about young Africans that are living out their faith to the fullest. We’ve brought you two interviews prior. This month we went out of the shores of our home country, Nigeria to Kenya.

We are glad to present our person of the month to you. She is Mulyale Mutisya, a Kenyan faith blogger with an inspiring love for Jesus. Her blog posts are riddled with Biblical truths and knowledge that will push anyone into thought provoking moods and ultimately a better walk with Jesus. She is the beautiful representation of proudly African and Christian. It is with great joy in our hearts that we bring this interview to your screen.

Oasis In Jesus Christ Blog: Thank you so much for granting us this interview Mulyale. So we would like to know you? Can you…

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Proverbs, Parables & Predictions (3)

The Book of Proverbs makes some profound predictions and statements that are to be repeated in the New Testament. The voice of Jesus, Wisdom Himself, speaks and makes the same declarations He makes when He comes to earth. As His sheep ought to know His voice which resounds throughout the entire Bible, His voice is not easy to miss. This is because God is unchanging, ‘He is the same yesterday today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). Even in the manner He speaks can be identified within our Spirit and know that it is Him. Hence, some events and statements are made long before He stepped foot on earth and yet we know it is Him because His Spirit bears witness with our Spirit.

Temptation

One such prediction from Proverbs is how the devil will tempt Jesus, and consequently His followers. The devil is referred to in Parabolic terms as Folly, an adulteress or a prostitute, while God is referred to as Wisdom.

‘Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread and the adulteress preys upon your very life’ ~ Proverbs 6:25-26

From the temptation account in the New Testament, the devil tried to captivate Jesus by showing him the beauty of the kingdoms of the world, tried to redirect his mission and reduce it to turning stones into bread, and tried to get Jesus to jump off a very high mountain. However, Wisdom knew all this before it occurred and thus He overcame the temptations of the devil.

‘The tempter came to him and said, ‘if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread…’If you are the son of God, throw yourself down…Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour . . . Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me Satan! For it is written; Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’’ ~ Matthew 4:3-10

Proverbs Parables and Predictions

Persecution of Believers

Another prediction that Wisdom speaks greatly of is persecution of believers. Before people could come to the knowledge of following Christ, the Book of Proverbs reveals how making fishers of men is close to God’s heart.

‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life and he who wins souls is wise’ (11:30)

‘A truthful witness saves lives’ (14:25)

‘Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter’ (24:11)

‘He who tends a fig-tree will be honoured and he who looks after his master will be honoured’ (27:18)

Those who are poor in spirit are the ones in the Kingdom of God. They are considered foolish and poor by worldly standards but rich and wise in God’s eyes. Therefore, the Book of Proverbs sometimes refers to followers of God in parabolic terms as poor but mostly refers to them in straightforward terms as wise, prudent, upright or righteous. It also predicts of persecution of believers;

‘The poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends’ (14:20)

‘A poor man’s friends deserts him’ (19:4)

‘A poor man is shunned by all his relatives- how much more do his friends avoid him!’ (19:7)

Christ reiterates this in human form when He says, ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first’ (John 15:18).

The Beatitudes

Long before Jesus went up the mountainside and sat giving beatitudes, He had spoken of them way before Matthew 5.

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . ‘Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud’ (16:19)
  • Blessed are those who mourn . . . ‘Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief’ (14:13)
  • Blessed are the meek . . .Humility comes before honour’ (15:33)
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . ‘The labourer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on’ (16:26) ‘He who is full loathes honey but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet’ (27:7) ‘He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honour’ (21:21)
  • Blessed are the merciful . . . ‘If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered’ (21:13)
  • Blessed are the pure in heart . . . ‘He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend’ (22:11)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers . . . ‘It is a man’s honour to avoid strife (20:3) ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offence’ (19:11)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness . . . ‘He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favour than he who has a fluttering tongue’ (28:23)

Wisdom spoke these things and repeats them years later so that ‘You may believe that I am He’ (John 13:9) and that ‘Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off’ (Proverbs 24:14).

Proverbs, Parables & Predictions (2)

The Book of Proverbs paints a picture of two opposing forces, wisdom and folly. Scattered pieces like jigsaw puzzles are in the entire Book but once put together a clear picture forms. A picture that makes wisdom and folly apparent. Packed with parables, Proverbs can be read on the surface level and be understood in humanistic terms but a deepener spiritual connotation is its essence. Folly, taken literally means lack of good sense or foolishness, in Proverbs however, folly alludes to the devil. The devil is also referred to as an adulteresses and as a prostitute.

‘For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end, she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.’ (5:3-4)

‘Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) (7:10-11)

wisdom_and_folly

In the same parabolic way, Wisdom alludes to God and thus;

‘Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.’ (3:13-15)

‘Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it costs all you have, get understanding. Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her and she will honour you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendour’ (4:7)

Wisdom and Righteousness (God) warns against Folly and the adulteress and prostitute (Satan) and beseeches us to find Him instead throughout the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs also highlights the characteristics of the followers of Wisdom, and especially of Folly. Those who stray from Wisdom and follow Folly are considered adulterers and prostitutes as well because we are all supposed to be the ‘Bride of Christ’. Those who do not follow Christ take up the same characteristics of their master, the devil:

  1. Enticing- ‘A malicious man disguises himself with his lips’ (26:24). ‘With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk’ (7:21)
  2. Mockers– ‘How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge’ (1:22) ‘The proud and arrogant man – “Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride’ (21:24)
  3. Evil intent– ‘for they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence’ (4:16-17)
  4. Reckless- ‘She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked but she knows it not’ (5:6)
  5. Hates correction- ‘Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you’ (9.7-8) ‘A fool spurns his father’s discipline’ (15:5)
  6. False authority- ‘The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by’ (9:13-15)
  7. Deceitful- ‘She says to those who lack judgement, ‘stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!’’ (9:16-17)
  8. Cruel- ‘the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel’ (12:10)
  9. Rash- ‘A fool shows his annoyance at once’ (12:16) ‘Every fool is quick to quarrel’ (20:3)
  10. Broadcasters of lies- ‘A false witness tells lies’ (12:17)

Proverbs Parables and Predictions

  1. Self-righteous- ‘Fools mock at making amend for sin’ (14:9) ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death’ (16:25) ‘He who trust himself is a fool’ (28:26)
  2. Gullible- ‘A simple man believes anything’ (14:15) ‘A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue’ (17:4) ‘All at once, he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter’ (7:22)
  3. Rebellious- ‘An evil man is bent only on rebellion; a merciless official will be sent against him’ (17:11)
  4. Proud- ‘Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honour’ (18:12)
  5. Hard-hearted- ‘A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge but the simple keep going and suffer for it’ (22:3)
  6. Delusional and Fearful- ‘The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside!’ or ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’’ (22:13) ‘The wicked man flees though no-one pursues’ (28:1)
  7. Sell their souls to the devil- ‘Do not be a man who strikes hand in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you’ (22:26-27)
  8. Greedy– ‘Do not wear yourself out to be rich; have the wisdom to show restraint(23:4)
  9. Misplaced priorities- ‘Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that build your house’ (24:27)
  10. Unreliable- ‘Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble’ (25:19)

The fate of those who refuse to get Wisdom and choose Folly is dire because, ‘her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave’ (5:5) and ‘her house is the highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death’ (7:27). On the flipside, those with Wisdom are obedient and listen to correction and instruction. They heed to Wisdom who says, ‘apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge’ (23:12)

My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right ~ Proverbs 23:15-16

Proverbs, Parables & Predictions

When God appeared to young King Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted, Solomon asked God for ‘a discerning heart to govern your people and distinguish right from wrong’ (1 Kings 3:7). God answered his request and gave Solomon a ‘wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be’ (v10). Solomon was given not just a portion of wisdom, but a heart of wisdom. A wisdom which no one else possesses other than God. Jude writes, ‘To the only wise God our saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.’ (Jude 1:25). With a new heart of wisdom, Solomon makes wise rulings and proceeds to write among other Books in the Bible, the Book of Proverbs, ‘for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise’ (Proverbs 1:6).

Solomon with the heart of wisdom, makes profound predictions and the voice of Wisdom speaks through him, the voice of the only wise God. The God known of speaking in Parables, does so before stepping foot on earth in human form. The Book of Proverbs paints a picture of the One who is to come. It also paints a picture of areas Wisdom is passionate about; loving thy neighbour, marriage, non-violence, obedience, humility and making disciples. At first glance, the Book of Proverbs looks like nuggets of advices scattered about but with the aid of the Holy Spirit, a deeper look paints a picture of Wisdom because Wisdom Himself speaks throughout. Parallels can be found in Proverbs and in the Gospels making it obvious that the same voice of Jesus is throughout Proverbs, and the entire Bible.

Proverbs Parables and Predictions

The Creator

  • ‘I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning before the world began. When they were no oceans, I was given birth… I was given birth before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust in the world. I was there when He set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep…Then I was the craftsman at his side, I was filled with delight day after day rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind’ ~ Proverbs 8:23-30

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made’ ~ John 1:1-3

  • ‘Counsel and sound judgement are mine; I have understanding and power, by me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just, by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on the earth. I love those who love me and those who seek me find me’ ~ Proverbs 8:14-17

‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is expect the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ ~ Luke 10:22

The Light of the World

  • ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day but the way of the wicked is like deep darkness’ ~ Proverbs 4:18-19

‘I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ ~ John 8:12

The Way, the Truth and the Life

  • For whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord, but whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death’ ~ Proverbs 8:35:36

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ ~ John 14:6

  • ‘In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality’ ~ Proverbs 12:28

‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from life to death to life’ ~ John 5:24

  • ‘Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die’ ~ Proverbs 15:10

I told you that you would die in your sins if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ ~ John 8:24

  • ‘He who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead’ ~ Proverbs 21:16

‘Apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned’ ~ John 15:5

The Bread of Life

  • Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding’ ~ Proverbs 9:5-6

‘I am the bread of life, He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty. I tell you the truth, unless you can eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you’ ~ John 6:35

The Big Question

After giving clues, the Book of Proverbs ends the riddles summing with the biggest question which the Gospels answer. Unlike other riddles and questions, this one determines the eternity of men.

‘Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!’

(Proverbs 30:4)

‘But what about you? he (Jesus) asked, ‘who do you say I am?’

(Matthew 16:15)

Falling

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again ~ Proverbs 24:16

A righteous man falls, not because they are in ‘deep darkness, and knows not what makes them stumble’ (Proverbs 4:19), but because the light ahead is too bright to approach. A righteous man falls, not because ‘they stagger from wine and reel from beer’ (Isaiah 28:7) but God in specific ‘gives us wine that makes us stagger’ (Psalms 60:2). A righteous man does not stumble, but falls because ‘unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed’ (John 12:24). A righteous man falls not because they are not careful in their steps, but because they are pushed to the limit, an edge they did not know existed. And when one is on the edge, there is nothing to do but fall.

man falling from cliff

 

‘A righteous man falls’, not might or can but falls. Falling is certain. It is promised even. When a righteous man falls, they are not bruised, they break. They die. Before they can rise again, their face has to be smack on the earth. There on the ground, their heart beats faster, the neurons in the brain criss-cross at lightning speed but the soul . . . the soul becomes hollow. A place where God’s Spirit dwelt/ought to dwell seems vacant. The righteous man has fallen. The righteous man ought to fall, because the righteous man ought to die. To die to self.

Seven is the number of perfection. A righteous man falls until there are no more edges to fall over from, no more limits to push to make them lose it. A righteous man falls not once, not twice or thrice, but seven times to reach the perfection their Maker desires. A righteous man is not righteous by their own merit or making, but because they are ‘the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, when they fall, they cannot pick themselves up neither can anybody else because when they fall, they fall from Christ Jesus. But even in their fall, something deep inside keeps calling to rise, but they can’t; they are feeble. But once they remember that they are righteous in Christ and not in themselves, a force grabs hold of them and rises them back up. As they rise, something is left behind, pieces of their broken selves have remained on the ground. A part of them has died. They have died to self and made alive again in Christ.

I thought I had completely died with Christ and raised up with Him when I gave my life to Him, but ‘how can anyone understand his own way?’ (Proverbs 20:24). I always thought that I have given myself fully to God, but the One who searches all things and reveals a matter showed me otherwise and continues to do so. I valued sleep so much that if I found myself awake in the middle of the night, I would get myself back to sleep at all costs. I would never think of communing with God because I mean they are such ungodly hours and besides I talked to Him during the day and before sleeping. Or better yet, He could speak to me in my dreams if He really wanted to. So when He disrupted my sleep, again and again, I lost it. It became unbearable to live with a self who had no sleep. I gave room for anger which did not go down when the sun went down. I fell. But when I rose up, God could now have my attention, even in the wee hours of the night.

It seemed the verse ‘All day long he (the sluggard) craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing’ (Proverbs 21:26) was written just for me. I craved for sleep and did not give God my time without sparing it. ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’ (I Corinthians 10:12) made perfect sense. But a righteous man has to fall, ‘so that you (God) are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge’ (Psalms 51:4). When we fall, God is proved right that nothing good lives in us and that we need to die to our flesh to be justified in Christ. When we refuse and deny this, we become like the wicked ‘who are brought down by calamity’ (Proverbs 24:16). But when the righteous man rises up, ‘One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God are strong, and that you O Lord, are loving’ (Psalms 62:11).

What Does God Want?

Find out what pleases the Lord ~ Ephesians 5:10

Have you ever found out what pleases God? Ever wondered what God wants anyway? For some ‘the word of the Lord becomes do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there’ (Isaiah 28:13). However, the repercussions in doing what we think is right or good is that ‘they will go and fall backwards, be injured and snared and captured’ (v13). So this begs the question, what does God want? For starters, the Bible says, ‘Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings’ (Hebrews 13:9) or as John puts it, ‘Do not let anyone lead you astray’ (1 John 3:7). After taking this first step, we still haven’t known what God wants. So how then can we really know what God wants? The answer is simple. We can’t. And even though we get an inkling of what we think God wants, we still can’t give Him what He wants.

‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world’

(John 8:23)

HolySpirit

    Source: thomasnelsonbibles

 

Essentially, only God knows God. No one else knows Him or what He really wants. Paul writes, ‘No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God’ (1 Corinthians 2:11). What Paul is alluding to is that no matter what lengths one goes to know God, it all remains futile because there is no way we can know God. But . . . there is hope. There is ONE way in which man can know God, even the deep things of God- and that is through His Spirit. ‘The Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you’ (John 16:15). When one receives the Spirit of God, then they can know God, what He wants and accept the things of God.

‘The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that comes from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned’

(1 Corinthians 2:14)

One may ask, how then can I receive the Spirit of God? It is only by accepting the One He sent can we receive His Spirit. Jesus says, ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also . . . if you hold my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:19, 31-32). What is truth anyway? In John 16, Jesus mentions truth as a Spirit. ‘When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth’ (v13). In other words, God will guide you to Himself because He is the only truth.

Once we receive Christ, we receive God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit and then we can know Him. However, this is not a one-off event but requires intentionality and for ‘the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14). Jude also points to the intentionality once we receive God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit. He writes ‘Build yourselves up in the most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit’ (Jude 1:20).

When we receive God’s Spirit, we not only know who God is and what He wants, but we are able to distinguish other spirits than that of God which have gone out into the world. Most importantly, we are able to be imitators of Christ, as our ‘attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5) and by the power of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit that ‘works in us, we are able both to will and do his good pleasure’ (v13). This becomes important ‘because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God’ (Romans 8:14).

‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?’ ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5

‘Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God’ ~ Romans 6:9-10