Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Proverbs 10:29 --- I AM the Way

Proverbs 10:29 --- I AM the Way
The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless,
    but destruction to evildoers.

The difficulty many have seen in this verse is that it is hard to see how a way can be a stronghold.  Invariably, in the Old Testament, it is the Lord who is a stronghold for his people.  One example is Psalm 27:1:

            The Lord is my light and my salvation;
                whom shall I fear?
            The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
                of whom shall I be afraid?

The coming of Jesus solves the dilemma of a way being a stronghold.  It turns out that the way is a person!  Jesus himself told us this in John 14:5-6:
"Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

In these words, Thomas displays the integrity that is inherent in the Hebrew word translated in our proverb as blameless.  Thomas is humble in his approach to the Lord.  "He asks rather than demands, which conveys a sense of humility."[1]  But he is also honest, and is willing to admit his ignorance.[2]  This is the "honest and good heart" Jesus spoke of in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:15).  It is this sort of honest humility that receives and holds fast the gospel word, and it describes those who have the Lord as their stronghold.

Just as Jesus is wisdom incarnate, so Jesus is the way.  When we read Proverbs 10:29 in light of Jesus' coming, it is impossible not to see this, and we should see it!  Christ's coming has changed the way we read the Old Testament, or at least it should!  This is just common sense and the way history works.  We now read about World War II through the lens of the allied victory, not as though the outcome was still in doubt!  If we read a mystery novel, once we have read the book and know the outcome, a second reading of the book must be different than our initial reading!  We now know the significance of the blue cap and the unlit cigar found at the scene of the crime!  Similarly, when we read that the way of the Lord is both a refuge and a path we walk, it is not a surprise, but merely what the coming of Jesus has made clear.

There already have been hints in the Old Testament that the way of the Lord would be a person.  Psalm 1:1-2, for instance, could have given its first readers pause:

            Blessed is the man
                who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
            nor stands in the way of sinners,
                nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
            but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
               and on his law he meditates day and night.

The Psalter opens with a verse that excludes blessing to all sinners, for what sinner has ever kept the law in a perfect way?  Who has never walked in the counsel of the wicked?  Who, after Adam and his race rejected the law of the Lord, has always delighted in the Lord's instruction?  The answer is no one.  But the Bible from Genesis forward was looking for a second Adam, the seed of the woman, who would delight in the word of God and walk in his way.  This man would lead us back to the Father.  This person would be the way to God, taking away our ignorance and death by his truth and life.  This person would give us the blessing we had lost.

Jesus is this man, but he is the God-man.  He is the I Am of Exodus 3 and John 14:6, whose truth can heal our ignorance and life can raise us from death.  He is the way, who restores us to the Father.  When we know Jesus, we know the Father, and we are saved from the destruction that awaits "evildoers."  The way is a person, and he will be either a stronghold or the destruction of every member of the human race.  "Therefore, [believer], as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him" (Colossians 2:6), for he is your stronghold and he is your way in which you walk.

[1] Rodney A. Whitacre, John, 350.
[2] Ibid.

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