Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Proverbs 14:4 --- Serving the Lord Jesus in His Time

Proverbs 14:4
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
    but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
Today's proverb makes a simple observation about obtaining "abundant crops," in the era in which Solomon lived.  If you wanted an abundant harvest in Solomon's time, then you needed oxen.  As someone put it, the ox was the tractor in ancient Israel.  Apart from "the strength of the ox," a bumper crop was an impossibility. 
One could choose not to own oxen.  This would save the farmer lots of trouble.  Without oxen the hard work of feeding, caring, and cleaning after the animals would be taken away, but so too would the abundant crop be taken away. As Charles Ryrie quipped, "There is no milk without some manure."[1]
So what we have here is an economic observation similar to our modern day maxim:  You
must spend money to make money.  But is that all we can glean from this proverb? If we leave this proverb now and move to the next, don't we feel a bit like Paul, when he said: "Is it for oxen that God is concerned?  Does he not certainly speak for our sake?" (1Corinthians 9:9-10).  Surely the Lord's interest in giving us his Word goes beyond teaching us economics at even a level I can understand! Just as the apostle Paul was certain that the Scriptural observation about oxen he cited from the Pentateuch taught us a spiritual lesson, so I think we also can be certain that this observation about oxen from the Proverbs also teaches us a spiritual lesson beyond economics. But what is that lesson?  The first hint in our text comes from the harvest. The ox was vital to bringing in an abundant crop.  Now, with what harvest is Scripture concerned?  Our Lord's concern was the harvest of souls.  As Christians we share our Lord's concern. This time between our Lord's coming and his return is the time of sowing and planting and harvesting people for heaven. As disciples, we have been given the great commission:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the       Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
We have been given a task of making disciples, but where will the power come to do this? Who is the ox, the "tractor," in this task of making disciples?  May I give you the Sunday School answer?  The ox is our Lord Jesus Christ, and this for three reasons.  First, Jesus is the sacrifice that has made possible the forgiveness of sins.  The ox was a sacrificial animal, and in some ways the chief sacrificial animal.  Solomon sacrificed 22,000 oxen at the dedication of his temple (1 Kings 8:63). Jesus' sacrifice enables all who call on him to enter his heavenlytemple in the heavenly Zion. Second, Jesus is the strength for all his disciples, each of whom is involved in the task of evangelism and discipleship.  Isn't it interesting that Jesus' invitation to us involves a yoke?
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
None of us have the strength or power to make a single disciple.  Jesus himself acknowledges our lack of strength, but also our source of strength when he says to us in John 15:5, "Apart from me you can do nothing." What is a yoke? A yoke was an instrument for work that usually was made for two oxen.  Jesus is promising us a restful and easy yoke.  A yoke made easy because of love --- his for us and ours for him.  A yoke made easy because he is beside us, pulling the yoke, by his power and Spirit. Third, Jesus is the ascended and resurrected King.  The ox was the king of the domesticated animals, just as the lion the king of wild animals, and the eagle the king of the winged animals.  It is his authority and power that guarantees an abundant crop.  Earlier I left out the words that introduce the great commission, but they point to our Lord Jesus Christ's absolute authority:  "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."  Jesus is the King whose authority over heaven and earth ensures an abundant crop. How important it is for us to know the time in which we live.  We live in the time of making disciples for Jesus Christ our King.  You won't read about this time in the news.  You won't
learn about this time in the headlines. But it is what this time we live in at its deepest and profoundest level is all about.  Our proverb teaches us about this time and about the One who is our strength for this time.  May we be wise and serve him in this time, which fundamentally is his time.  Amen.
                                                                                                


[1]Quoted in Kitchen, Proverbs, 303.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Proverbs 14:3 --- Preserved and Protected

Proverbs 14:3 
In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride,
   but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
                                       
The word "rod" in line one, is a rare word in the Hebrew Bible.  The only other occurrence of this word occurs in Isaiah 11:1, where the same Hebrew word is translated as "shoot":
                                                                  
            There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
                and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
                                                        
The idea in this first line, then, is that the words that come out of a fool's mouth express his inner life.  Just like the branch or shoot of a tree can only express what the tree is, so also a fool's words will invariably express what a fool is. 

Fools by nature are proud.  They have rejected the fear of the Lord in their pride.  Therefore, the words of a fool are likened to a shoot of pride that springs up from an arrogant heart.  Since the fool's heart is proud, so also are his words.

There is also the connotation of punishment in the first line of our proverb.  A shoot from a tree can be used as a whip.  It can be used as an instrument to inflict pain.  The words of the proud can harm others.  Throughout the Proverbs, the wicked are seen as dangerous,[1] for their words reflect foolish philosophies, which reject the foundation of the fear of the Lord.  Their words, knowingly or unknowingly, contradict the words of the true God, and thus, endanger the souls of men, women, and children.  Since the words of the wicked grow out of a heart that rejects the Lord, so their words lead others to also reject the Lord.

Thus, the second line uses the word "preserve," showing us that people need to be protected from the words of the foolishly proud.  Foolish words must be counteracted with wise words.  Just like certain medicines can counteract poisons or infections, so the lips of the wise can preserve and protect us from the diseases that endanger the souls of men. 

We have already looked at Isaiah 11:1, and the shoot that comes forth from the stump of Jesse.  This, of course, refers to Jesus Christ our Lord, who was the true David who grew up out of the fallen house of David.  Isaiah refers to David's fallen dynasty as "the stump of Jesse" (Jesse was David's father), because David's kingdom had been cut down by the ax of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who conquered Israel and sent them into exile.  No Jewish king had reigned since the exile in 586 B.C.  But God had not forgotten his promise to raise one David's descendants, who would reign forever.

When our Lord came to this earth in fulfillment of this prophecy in Isaiah 11:1, notice how the next verse describes Jesus Christ in wisdom terms:

            And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
                the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
                the Spirit of counsel and might,
                the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  (Isaiah 11:2)

Our Lord Jesus was prophesied to be the embodiment of wisdom.  And, thus he was.  "Where did this man get this wisdom?" (Matthew 13:54) the people asked when he came. 

Another place where people were astounded at Jesus' wisdom was when he went to the temple as a young boy of twelve, and met with the Jewish teachers.  There we read, "And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers" (Luke 2:47).  Then a bit later we read again of his wisdom:  "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).  Here is Jesus growing up as the shoot from the stump of Jesse, filled with wisdom, just as Isaiah prophesied 700 years before his coming.

One other place where we see a reference to Jesus as the shoot is in Isaiah 53.  Here our Lord is described figuratively like a "young plant" or tender shoot as some translations (for example the NIV or NASB) have it:

            For he grew up before him like a young plant,
                and like a root out of dry ground; (Isaiah 53:2)

What would happen with this shoot from the dry ground of Israel's desolate kingdom?  Would he be a rod, to whip us?  Would he be a shoot used to inflict pain on us?  No, look at what he did for us: 

            Surely he has borne our griefs
                and carried our sorrows;
            yet we esteemed him stricken,
                smitten by God, and afflicted.
            But he was pierced for our transgressions;
                he was crushed for our iniquities;
            upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
                and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

The shoot bore the whip in our place.  The rod bore the strokes of punishment that should have been ours.  The eternal destruction that should have been ours, our Lord Jesus Christ came to bear for us on the cross.  By his wounds we are healed.  By being smitten and stricken Jesus  protects his people from God's righteous anger.  Because of his substitutionary death and resurrection from the dead, the words of the gospel preserve us from the righteous wrath of God.  We do not have to be eternally destroyed because of our sinful pride, which rejects the fear of the Lord.  Salvation has come to us in the wonderful words of the gospel. 

The words of our proverb are wonderfully true: the lips of the wise that proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, will preserve his penitent and believing people from the eternal destruction we foolish sinners deserve.


                                             

                                                                                                 
















[1] Fox, Proverbs, vol. 2, 534.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Proverbs 13:22 --- The Final Transfer of Wealth

Proverbs 13:22 
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
    but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.
                                    
If we are to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, then the weight of the glory of Jesus Christ must be greater than everything else we are tempted to live for.  Jesus must be more satisfying to us than our pleasures.  Jesus must be bigger to us than our fears.  And, more to the point of our proverb, Jesus must be our true wealth, which relativizes earthly wealth.

This is just what Solomon's Second collection does in the second verse of the collection:

           
            Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
                but righteousness delivers from death.  (Proverbs 10:2)

Right from the start, Solomon in his wisdom tells us that righteousness is far more valuable than earthly wealth, for only righteousness can rescue us from death and give us eternal life.  We know, because we read the Bible backward from the New Testament to the Old Testament, that this righteousness which delivers from death is the righteousness of Christ imputed to believing sinners.

And yet, in our penchant for literalness, we are slow to see that the inheritance a good man leaves to his grandchildren in verse 22 is not earthly wealth.  It is a better treasure than the earthly wealth, which is a mere shadow of the true wealth found in Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament, read Christologically, is not near as enamored with earthly wealth as some would tell us.  Instead, it is enamored with the anointed King, the glorious Christ, who was to come.  For example, we see this in the life of king Saul's son, Jonathan.  Jonathan was the crowned prince.  He was next in line to the throne of his father, Saul.  But the Lord took away the kingdom from Saul, and this was communicated to Saul through the Lord's prophet, Samuel.  Then, at the Lord's direction, Samuel anointed a new king, David, who would replace Saul.  So, in 1 Samuel 18, what we read is remarkable:

"Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt" (1 Samuel 18:3-4).

Jonathan in these words becomes a picture of true discipleship.  Instead of seeking the kingdom for himself, Jonathan recognizes, submits to, and loves the Lord's anointed king, i.e., the christ (the title christ means anointed one).  By stripping himself of his robe, Jonathan acknowledges that the kingdom belongs to David.  Though his father, Saul, will fight David's kingship and defy the word of the Lord through Samuel until the bitter end, such was not Jonathan's attitude.  At great expense to himself, Jonathan gives up his right to reign, and becomes a model of discipleship for us forever.

When Jonathan dies, David laments Jonathan's death along with his father.  But two parallel lines of this chiastic lament tell us of the glory that became Jonathan's because of his loyalty to God's anointed king, the christ:

            Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! (2 Samuel 1:19a)

            Jonathan lies slain on your high places. (2 Samuel 1:25)

The parallelism tell us that the glory belonged to Jonathan, not his father.  Jonathan's glory was found in giving up his right to rule, and in his loyalty and love for God's small "c" christ.  Our glory, our true riches, is found in giving up our right to rule, and in our loyalty and love for the true Christ, Jesus the Lord, who has been installed by the Father at his right hand, after his death and resurrection.

When Jesus Christ becomes the true treasure of our lives, then the most important thing we leave to our children and grandchildren is not earthly wealth, but our prayers, our loyalty and our love for Jesus, so that they too might find Him.  As George Lawson said, "It is better to be the son of a poor saint than of a great lord, for every believer will acknowledge that a single promise in the Bible is far better than a large estate."[1]

As to the wealth that sinners are so anxious to acquire as they live for this world, and are sometimes anxious to leave to their posterity, it will actually impoverish their children and grandchildren if they live only for this world, which is opposed to Christ and his rule.  Instead of laying up true wealth for their children and grandchildren, they may be storing up for them treasures of God's wrath, for earthly wealth can often lead people to forget the Lord and the true riches he gives his people.

Finally, as Lawson wisely notes, wealth is often changing masters,[2] or changing hands.  But as Proverbs and the rest of the Bible teaches, in the eschaton, there will be a final transfer of wealth, when the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5):

            For the upright will inhabit the land,
                and those with integrity will remain in it,
            but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
                and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.  (Proverbs 2:21-22)

On that final day, "The kingdom of the world has [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15).  In that kingdom, "Whatever is excellent and valuable in this world shall be there enjoyed in a more refined kind, and to a far greater degree---brighter crowns, a better and more enduring substance, more sweet and satisfying feasts, . . . a true sense of honor and far higher posts of honor . . . and a form and a countenance more glorious than ever were known in this world."[3]







                                                                                                                       


[1] Lawson, Proverbs, 180.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Matthew Henry. A Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 6, 1185.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Proverbs 13:21 --- A Clear Choice

Proverbs 13:21 
Disaster pursues sinners,
    but the righteous are rewarded with good.
                       
I believe Proverbs is a book obsessed with the age to come.  Proverb after proverb looks forward to the judgment or the blessing of the future, and urges us to live in the light of what is coming.  Contrary to the popular view that Proverbs is about tips for living well in this life with no view to the age to come, Proverbs offers a much more profound wisdom.  The wisdom of Proverbs teaches that wise living in this life is predicated on living in light of the future age which is coming, and for us has now arrived in Christ.

I come to this view, in part, because I believe it is legitimate to read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament.  Reading backwards in the light of Christ's coming is what the New Testament itself calls us to do.  The Old Testament is Christian Scripture, not only because it pointed forward to Christ's coming, but also because its true and full meaning is only brought to light by Christ's coming.  What once was obscure is now made plain in the light of Christ's death and resurrection.
                                                                                     
The idea that Proverbs, a book inspired by the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of the age to come, would teach an earthly sort of wisdom that never looked beyond the end of one's own life seems ludicrous to me.  If wisdom is merely planning for a good retirement on earth, it is hard to see why we should spend much time with Proverbs at all, since a much more profound wisdom can be found in the teaching of Jesus and his apostles.  But, thankfully, a wisdom bound by the parameters of our conception and death is not what we find in Proverbs.  Rather, in the light of Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection, we find a book that teaches us the true wisdom that comes from living on earth in the light of heaven.  Proverbs is not out of step with our Lord's prayer: "Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."
                                                                                                                   
Our verse today is no exception in teaching us that true wisdom is found only in the light of the eschaton, i.e., the age to come.  John Kitchen states, "The imagery of this verse is powerful!  The rebel is hunted down and set apart for destruction, while the righteous man is ushered into the King's presence and conferred with rewards for faithful service."[1]  Here is true motivation for a life well-lived.  On the one hand, we are warned that unrepentant sinners face a future disaster if they continue to live defiant, unrepentant lives.  On the other hand, we are promised that the Lord's people will be rewarded by their King, if they live in repentance and faith in fellowship with him.  The choice between these two paths and destinies belongs to us.

Furthermore, our proverb also teaches us that the judgment of the eschaton is oftentimes  anticipated or experienced in this life.  This is intimated by the word "pursues" in line one.  "Disaster" is personified as hunting down sinners who refuse to repent.  As Hubbard writes, "This theme of retribution is sounded crisply in the line "evil [i.e., 'disaster' or 'calamity']pursues sinners,' as the hounds harry the stag."[2]  The word "pursues" implies that the disaster gets closer and closer before finally catching its victim.  This rings true to the experience of unrepentant sinners as trouble and dread begins to stalk their paths.  And whether the disaster of the final judgment is felt in this life by sinners or not, the reality of line one is always a certainty.  Eternal disaster will inevitably fall upon all the unrepentant at the day of judgment.

But if this judgment seems to pursue the unrepentant in this life, how much more does the Lord's mercy and blessings pursue his people!  As Psalm 23:6 teaches, the future blessings of the age to come are already, at least in part, given to us in this present evil age:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow [same Hebrew word as in our proverb] me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The choice set before us could not be clearer.  Continue to defy the Lord by living in unrepentance and unbelief, while the eternal disaster of God's judgment chases you down and finally catches you.  Or, live a life of repentance and faith in Christ, while increasingly learning the blessing of his presence and mercy before you receive the reward of life in his presence forever, free from sin and death.  The choice is yours.  Which do you choose?








                                                                                                                       



[1] Kitchen, Proverbs, 295.
[2] Hubbard, Proverbs, 333.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Proverbs 13:17 --- An Indescribable Love

Proverbs 13:17 
A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
    but a faithful envoy brings healing.

Growing up, I was never a big fan of poetry.  English poetry always struck me as too obscure and difficult to figure out the meaning.  Over the years it has grown on me a bit, but I still prefer prose to poetry.  And yet, I have come to love Hebrew poetry.  I think the reason for this is that the main feature of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, which instead of promoting obscurity, promotes clarity.  Hebrew poetry shares the imagery and terseness of English poetry, but its parallelism promotes meditative understanding.

In today's proverb we have a great example of how parallelism can pay meditative dividends.  The two things paralleled in Proverbs 13:17 are:

            A wicked messenger
                  is parallel and contrasted with
            a faithful envoy;

And,

            falls into trouble
                  is parallel and contrasted with
            brings healing.

The first contrast suggests that wickedness is about unfaithfulness.  All human beings are obligated to their Creator.  Wickedness is essentially unfaithfulness to the Lord who made us.  Wickedness is not fulfilling our reason for existence, which is to bear his image and reflect his character.  The parallelism of "wicked" and "faithful" helps me better understand what wickedness is.  It also helps me to realize what the Lord requires of his servants, namely, faithfulness to himself.

There is a sense in which every person is a messenger or envoy.  This status as messengers is inherent to our created status and the purpose of faithfully glorifying our Maker.  We were created to reflect our God, who he is and what he is like.  But if we are unfaithful to him, we still send a message, but the message we send is false and is seen in all we say and do, as the previous proverb taught us.

The second contrast between falling into trouble and healing is more imprecise, but that imprecision makes it more interesting and thought provoking.  The first line teaches that a wicked messenger falls into trouble.  In other words, the messenger himself falls into trouble.  This trouble comes because the one who sent him calls him to account.  If we apply this to everyone's created status as sent ones, then the proverb teaches us that all of us will have to give an accounting of our lives to the Lord who made us.  We will be judged by what we said and did, and the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of our words and deeds will bring us either trouble or blessing.

The second line teaches us that a faithful messenger brings healing to others.  Because of the parallel with line one and the messenger who fell into trouble himself, the healing applies not only to those who hear and accept the message, but also to the faithful messenger himself.  The faithful messenger has been healed by the good news he carries to others.

Now, I have applied this proverb to the whole human race as image bearers.  But we could uniquely apply it to our Lord Jesus Christ, who was the One sent by the Father in a mission of mercy to the sinful human race.  Jesus said of himself, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me" (John 6:38).  Our Lord describes his mission of love and grace when he says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).  "The lost" who need saving are all of us, who have fallen short of reflecting God's glory in this world.

But if we reflect on the parallelism between "trouble" and "healing," we see something remarkable about our Lord as the Apostle (cf. Hebrews 3:1-2) or Sent One from the Father.  Our proverb teaches that those who bring the gospel to others are blessed themselves by the gospel, because we are saved from the trouble and calamity of God's displeasure and wrath.  But not so, with our Lord Jesus Christ.  In order for him to bring us this message of healing, he himself had to be cursed.  He himself had to forego healing.  And so he says, in words that looked to the cross in his first sermon in his hometown, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself'" (Luke 4:23).  Later, his words will be fulfilled at his crucifixion:

"And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, 'He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!'  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!'" (Luke 23:35-37). 

Our Lord came as a faithful messenger and envoy from heaven.  He was the Apostle, which means sent-one.  Sent from the Father, he brought a message of healing for a human race, which desperately needs saving, because we have fallen short of the glory of God and are subject to his just wrath and displeasure.  But the only way our Lord could save us was if he endured in our place the wrath and displeasure we deserve because of our wicked unfaithfulness.  And yet, in his great love and compassion, he did just that.  May we meditate and prayerfully take time to internalize and thank the Father for sending his Son, who has loved us in such an indescribable way.



                                                                                                                       










Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Proverbs 13:12: The Healer and Lover of our Souls

Proverb 13:12 
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
                                               
I am with Bruce Waltke who sees this proverb as "an index of lives that are moving either toward final despair of every expectation in death or toward a fulfillment of every desire in the the everlasting presence of the Lord."[1]  The wicked, in line one, are those who will learn the hopelessness that comes from not knowing the Lord and following after idols.  The righteous, in line two, are those who have set their desire on knowing the Lord, walking with him, and being in his presence forever.  In this life, they enjoy the continual hope and sustenance that comes from knowing him.
                                    
Earlier Proverbs gave us a picture of these two paths:

            But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
                which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
            The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
                they do not know over what they stumble.  (Proverb 4:18-19)

What the wicked do not see is that no one can live in the universe the Lord created and defy his rules with impunity.  If we do not love the Lord, but love other things more than him, we will pay a price.  The price in Proverbs 4:19 is deep darkness.  The price in Proverbs 13:12 is a heart that is sick with no hope of getting better, but only worse.

The righteous, however, desire to know the Father and the Son.  Above all else they long for eternal life in the presence of the Lord.  They know their heart is still sick with sin, and they long for the day when that sickness will be completely healed.  But even now they have a source of healing the wicked do not have.  That source of healing is called the "tree of life" in today's proverb.

The tree of life first appears in Genesis two.  The tree of life is a symbol of immortality and eternal life.  After man sinned in the garden, the first couple were not allowed to eat from the tree of life, lest they become confirmed forever in their sinful condition without a means of escape.  Therefore, they were banned from the garden:

"Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 3:22-23).

The next time we run across the tree of life is in Proverbs 3:18, where it is associated with wisdom, and wisdom is personified as a woman:

            Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
               and the one who gets understanding,
            for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
                and her profit better than gold.
            She is more precious than jewels,
                and nothing you desire can compare with her.
            Long life is in her right hand;
                in her left hand are riches and honor.
            Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
                and all her paths are peace.
            She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
              those who hold her fast are called blessed.  (Proverbs 3:13-18)

Since the New Testament pictures our Lord Jesus Christ as embodying wisdom, Jesus is the fulfillment of the tree of life imagery.  His cross, which is often spoken of as a tree, is the means of our spiritual healing and eternal life.  One example, would be 1 Peter 2:24:

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."

It is through the cross that our most pressing spiritual need is met, namely, our need of forgiveness and restoration to the heavenly Father.

When a person contracts a potentially fatal disease, what they want more than anything else is a cure.  Dear friends, we all have that fatal disease.  It is called sin.  It is called desiring other things more than we desire our Creator and Redeemer.

The "desire," in line two, is not a sinful desire, but a holy desire.  We know this because of the mention of the tree of life.  This desire is, first of all, to be healed of our disease.  It will be wonderful to be transformed in the age to come, free of sin, and filled with the glory of the Lord.  I don't know about you, but I long for, I desire, the day when I am set free from the sinful and wicked desires of my heart, and transformed by the glory of the Lord.

But, next, this desire is a desire to know the triune God.  It is a desire to know God as our Father; our Lord as our Husband and Savior; and the Spirit as the indwelling presence of Christ, who is changing us into his likeness.  If we don't want this, then our desires must be changed.  We must stop living for lesser things.  We must learn to see that those lesser things are merely pointers to a relationship with God, and only in the triune God is desire truly "fulfilled."

Wherever you are at spiritually, come to the great Physician.  He alone can heal your soul.  Come to the One who wants to be your Husband, and spread his arms on the cross to embrace you in his love.  Only He can satisfy your desires.  Come to the One who is your true food and drink, for only his body and blood can nourish you by faith and fill the hunger of your heart. 









                                                                                              





[1] Waltke, Proverbs, vol. 1, 563.

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