Bible reading for April 5 -- 6
Apr 5 -- Proverbs 23 and 1 Thessalonians 2
Apr 6 -- Proverbs 24 and 1 Thessalonians 3
"Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out." (Proverbs 24:19-20)
BE NOT ENVIOUS. There are sections within the book of Proverbs. Those originating with Solomon transition to other sources in chapters 22 through 24. Here there are parallels with Egyptian wisdom teachings of Amenemope (see Derek Kidner, Proverbs, pp 23-24). They are adapted -- either by Solomon or perhaps Hezekiah later -- for use by Israelite believers. In these chapters there is a repeated call by the father to his son to pursue wisdom, to listen, to observe, to control desires, and to make good decisions. Familiar themes are repeated: labor vs. laziness, sobriety vs. drunkenness, justice vs. injustice. One repeated admonition is to avoid envy and the temptation to join with others in a worldly version of "the good life" (23:17; 24:1; 24:19). When our children were younger, they would sometimes say to us -- when we set family boundaries -- that other people, and other families, were not observing such boundaries. They could see that their friends, and perhaps the popular heroes they looked up to, did not follow such standards and were apparently doing fine, and in fact were enjoying life tremendously. Things look differently after the decades pass and the chickens come home to roost. We may choose our pleasures, but we do not get to choose the consequences of those pleasures.
THE ANCIENT LANDMARK. The "ancient landmark" (ESV) was a boundary stone placed to designate the land inheritance belonging to each family, which was a parcel within the larger tribal inheritance bestowed by the Lord. Property rights and boundaries were vitally important for maintaining justice for families, especially for widows and orphans (23:10-11). The land promises were therefore an important part of the Mosaic economy. Proverbs sometimes seems to emphasize the land blessings, especially agricultural (cf Prov 3:9-10), over the spiritual, but we are told here, "My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off" (24:13-14). Israel's real inheritance was much more than agricultural blessing (like honey) but rather, it was godly wisdom, which gave them a future and a hope. The Torah, and the wisdom that came from God's teaching, was their most precious inheritance. And so, there may be a deeper sense to the words of 22:28... "Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set." In addition to preserving boundaries (and justice), this may mean to preserve the ancient ways (the teaching) given to Israel through Moses. As Jeremiah wrote, "Thus says the LORD: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'" (Jer 6:16). A major lesson of wisdom is this: God establishes the boundaries, and it is wise for us to walk within them.
"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
SELF-AUTHENTICATING WORD (ch 2). Verse 13 recalls a statement from chapter one... "...our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1:5). An important principle here is that God himself validates his word. There is, of course, much evidence for the trustworthiness of God's word, such as, the many fulfilled prophecies, the historical accuracy of the narratives, the supporting archaeological evidence, its internal consistency, and the high moral standards that are promoted. But one thing needs to be remembered: it is God who ultimately authenticates, that is, confirms and makes known the divine origin of his revealed word. Part of our salvation is the internal witness he gives (and we experience) of the authority of God's holy Word.
MODEL FOR MINISTRY (ch 2-3). In these two chapters Paul tells how he, along with Silas and Timothy, served the young Thessalonian believers. He writes about his affection, truthfulness, labor, gentleness, and courage. Then he writes of his concerns and prayer for them. Make a list from these two chapters of what Paul says are his practices and his desires for their growth in the Lord. How can these traits help you be a better parent, teacher, or discipler of others?
Image credit: photo by Art Rachen on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.