Friday, March 30, 2012

Proverbs 31:21 commentary: a covering of scarlet

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

The virtuous woman is not concerned about the winter snow discomforting her household. As the clause after the colon shows, it is because they are clothed in scarlet. Now, many commentators are befuddled by this verse because the color scarlet doesn’t protect anyone from inclement weather. So, they insert other words and comments rather than admit they don’t know because one of the conditions of the so called scholar is that they often worship their own intellect.

Scarlet and crimson are synonyms.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

We think of dyed clothing as a wealthier person’s prerogative but history tells us that even poor Hebrew women used vegetable dyes to color clothing and scarlet specifically came from an insect’s body which is a long story not necessary for our study. Scarlet, however, was something that important people wore (2 Samuel 1:24; Daniel 5:7; Matthew 27:28). This color was also found in the tabernacle as Exodus 26:31 shows and the ephod had scarlet in it (Exodus 28:6.)

So, going back to Isaiah 1:18 we have scarlet, red, and crimson as synonymous, and we understand they are all basically the same color. This color was a covering for the tabernacle in the wilderness. (Exodus 26:14; 36:19; 39:34). While the assumption you might make from this verse is that the preferred color of the outer cloke worn in the Ancient Near East, at least for women of some means such as our virtuous woman, was scarlet that wouldn’t help our spiritual application for the Christian of this verse written to ancient Hebrews under the Law given to Moses.

Quite often in the Bible snow represents purity and being cleansed from sin as in the verse I quoted in Isaiah. Why, in this verse, if we look at this from a prophetic view of the church, would the church be afraid of the snow for her household but for the scarlet that they are covered with, noticing it doesn’t say she covers them with it but simply that they are clothed with it? Snow not only symbolizes purity but in Western Literature it also symbolizes death as winter is a traditional time of nature’s silence. Snow covered trees are beautiful but show no signs of life. Snow is a covering like a funeral shroud. Also, Proverbs has referred to snow arriving in summer as out of place and unexpected.

Proverbs 26:1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

Of the many possible interpretations of this Proverb for the church, could it be that the church is not afraid of death because her household are clothed in the the scarlet, red, crimson blood of Christ?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Proverbs 31:20 commentary; the church and the poor

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

I don’t think there is any question of what the church’s position should be toward the poor either in the church or in the world. I used to belong to a church that had a Deacon’s Pantry full of canned food and other items for the benefit of emergency help when called upon. They also had an account at a local grocery store for trusted church members who were going through rough times. I can remember loading up an employee at the warehouse where I worked with food for her and her children after her husband had left her and cleaned out their bank account.

The church is called to do good works to all people, but especially to the members of the church.....

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Notice the direction of this verse. The church doesn’t wait for the poor to come to her. She reaches out to them; to the poor and needy. In other words, the church looks for opportunities for service. The church goes to where the poor are. Obviously, there is little need to help people who are receiving help from the government. But, there are many elderly people struggling to survive who often have to choose between much needed medicine or food. We should be reaching out to them. There are two conditions for help within the church. One is that if a person has a family in the church they should be the ones helping them first.

1Timothy 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed..

The person in need must be willing to work when work is available.

2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat..

This verse can also have a spiritual application toward the church reaching out to the spiritually hungry. Remember the Sermon on the Mount admonition in Matthew 5:3?.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. .

Now reach back into Isaiah.

Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. .

Now further back into the Psalms.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. .

It is also these poor whom the church must reach out her hands to, those whose spirits are broken, whose hearts are weeping, who are ready to receive Christ and be saved. The church feeds the hungry in body and the hungry in spirit. Or the church might just be a social club or a political action committee. If the latter is all it is then it is not a church modeled on God’s standards.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Proverbs 31:19 commentary: no mean work for the church

19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

The spindle winds the wool and the distaff prevents it from getting tangled up as I understand it. These are components used in making clothing and blankets. The virtuous woman or wife applies herself to that work diligently. Of course, we buy most of our garments at a store these days. But, there was a time not long ago when many families made their own clothing. The thing that Matthew Henry commented about the virtuous woman with this verse was that she did not regard this work as beneath her.

A representation for the church might be that the church doesn’t regard its work as demeaning. Whatever your function is within the body of Christ you should be pleased to do it, serving Christ. For those who worship in a building set apart for that purpose whether you clean the toilets or cut the grass you are doing a good work. If you worship in a home as they did in the first century then any help you lend is worthy. The person who cares for the babies is no less than the person preaching the sermon. We are all members of the body of Christ.

Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

By taking this application for this specific verse I am drawn to these verses written by Paul with the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 3:15).

1 Corinthians 12:12 ¶ For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Proverbs 31:18 commentary; shining in the world

18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

We have another insistent reference to night, and again underscoring the reason why I believe that night is so significant. Just read my comments on verse 15.

Merchandise, more importantly than just being something you sell, as in Proverbs 3:14 it is something of great value. There is nothing of greater value than the gospel of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The candle is the light that the church emits and as it shows in Revelation as Christ talks to the church at Ephesus, which has left its first love, He has power to remove the candlestick by which the light has a sure place if the church wanders from its mission. American Christianity went off the rails in the 19th century when government became to be viewed as a means to an end and eventually the government began to take over the role of, first, as God’s agent on earth rather than the church, and then, second, in place of God Himself. This is a heresy of both the left and the right, of both liberal and conservative. You look at government, rather than God, to make all crooked places straight and bring all hills to ground level, or you look at government rather than God, to enforce religious dogma, your own personal convictions particularly. American pastors, whether they preach a feelgood gospel or stand in the pulpit and curse the government from the left or the right, have placed government in the position of God and as an excuse for not shining in the world themselves as examples.

Remember, there can be no law made against the fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians 5:22. Its impossible to prevent the church from shining in the world no matter how anti-Christian a government can be.

The church’s merchandise is good and her light shines through the night. When it stops shining and Christians have no impact on the world around them it is a sad day.

Proverbs 31:17 commentary; the church's strength

17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

The work of the church, ministering to the physical needs of its members and the spiritual ones, requires a day to day determination and strength. Church in the modern world is nothing like it was in the first century. There was no public welfare not associated with pagan temples, societies, or heathen religious groups. The church had to take care of its unemployed, its elderly, and the sick if those people had no family to care for them and were willing to work but weren’t able to do so. A simple reading of the book of Acts and the letters from Paul show that if one church in a distant city was suffering from a local famine then other churches would raise money to send relief.

The work of the early church included caring for the helpless, the weak, and the infirm. In the average church today you wouldn’t even know if a senior citizen needed to have their furnace replaced and had no money to do so or if the floor in one of their rooms was rotting out and needed to be rebuilt. Its more of the modern church’s concern to organize a volleyball game for Christ or have a youth rally and concert to try to draw in customers, err, I mean potential members. The modern church is a consumer church. It is more concerned with the church growing in numbers on a weekly basis than the members growing in grace on a daily basis.

How many modern churches equip their members for a daily walk with Christ and daily worship by teaching them how to read and interpret the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, particularly in a day when education is so uneven across the board? We have a wonderful opportunity today. In the first century it would have been rare for a household to have a copy of the Old Testament, the scriptures that were available and literacy in the first century Palestine would have been limited to males and focused on the reading of the Torah in the Synagogue or learning by disciples of a particular Rabbi; a teacher or a Master in Bible terms.

No matter how literate the Jews were in the first century it is most certain that they did not have several Bibles laying around in every home, collecting dust or being used to prop open a door. We have widespread literacy, even for women, who are no longer relegated to demanding answers to questions in a church meeting in someone’s home and being told they need to learn in silence and ask their husbands those questions at home.

We have the Bible, almost a billion in print, God’s word for all ages of man, present in every Christian home, at least, to the number of several copies. Just as there is no excuse for any person in your assembly to be hungry, to be sitting at home sick without anyone to sit with them, to have no heat in their homes, no transportation to work, etc. there is also no excuse for anyone in your church to not know how to read and understand the Bible by prayerfully cross referencing, reading parallel phrasing, key words, understanding dispensational order, and Christian versus ancient Hebrew doctrine. There is, in addition, no excuse for one person to leave a church service confused because the preacher gave a confused, doctrinally mixed up message that kept the member from reading and understanding the Bible on his or her own.

The church girds up her loins, the foundational muscle, by which an athelete does squats and deadlifts, with a daily heavy dose of the Bible reading and hearing, so that their arms, the physical workers of the church, can perform their work without failure and with true strength ministering to the physical needs of her members that can’t be met otherwise and to the spiritual needs that won’t be met otherwise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Proverbs 31:16 commentary: the church in the world

16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Literally, we have the virtuous woman, the wife, engaged in business outside of the home, expanding her family’s holdings in real estate. Considering the purchase of a field, she then buys it, and with her own hands plants a vineyard. She is, as part of her virtue, industrious, hardworking, and thinking ahead. This is a contrast to the modern woman who runs up thousands of dollars on credit cards, lusts after more “stuff,” and yet does nothing to increase the family’s prosperity.

But, wait, there is something else going on here. She plants the vineyard “with the fruit of her hands.”

Jesus used the word “field” as a type of the world in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:38. which the Bible defines in at least one location in contrast to the physical earth as the people who live on the earth. See Revelation 3:10.

The church is to invest in the world, with compassion for the billions of people destined for Hell and the eventual lake of unquenchable fire for the wicked. Thoughtfully and carefully, with discretion and forethought the church’s business is to not only feed its household with the word of God but to buy that field and minister God’s grace in Jesus Christ to it.
The church’s work is to be performed not with armies, magistrates, laws, regulations, monuments, or material possessions. The church’s work is performed by the fruit of her hands, the manifesting to one and all of the lost in the world of the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Sinners are not saved, hellbound people are not brought back from the abyss, by laws and weapons of war, but by the drawing of men to Christ by the example the Christian church is to set and by the preaching of God’s words. The church feeds hungry stomachs and hungry souls and the church feeds God’s words into starving ears.

A vineyard is featured prominently in that great prophetic book of the Old Testament about Christ and the church called The Song of Solomon. It represents the pleasant results of the work of the church. The vineyard also represents Israel. The church plants a vineyard but as it is in the physical world, the church can only accomplish so much. The rest is up to Christ alone.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Proverbs 31:15 commentary: the church's work

15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

Considering this from the point of view of the church, let’s consider a couple of things. We are in the night of man’s existence. He is blind and stumbling about trying to find his way.

Judas left to betray Christ and something important began for mankind.

John 13:30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

That reference to night was more than just an expression of the time of day. Consider these verses as perhaps more than just metaphorical. Paul knew in what dispensation mankind lived.

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

1Thessalonians 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

While the pseudo-Christian state churches believed that the light of Christ was enlightening the world through their efforts Bible believers know that the world is shrouded in darkness.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

1Thessalonians 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

1Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

“The night is far spent” and the dawn is coming. The virtuous woman rises to feed her household with good works and with the word of God. (I have explained before the relationship of food to God’s words.)

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Remember who has maidens to send forth as messengers to spread her word?

Proverbs 9:1 ¶ Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: 2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. 3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. 6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Godly young women in the household of God. Maiden is not just a reference to an unmarried woman but it can refer to a female servant. The church has a special ministry to spiritually nourish and equip young women. As the 1865 poem by William Ross Wallace said, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

The church that runs down women, that belittles their importance, that tries to present a view of them as no better than pack animals is not Christ’s church.

The place of women in Christ is important to consider. Paul said,

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Peter said,

1Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

(The vessel reference is the deference we are to give them as being physically weaker than men in general. See 1 Thessalonians 4:4 for vessel as our body.)

So, here is a picture of the church. You can make it literally mean simply a reference to a hardworking wife of means with a household to run and servants to administer, but the parallels to the church seem clearer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Proverbs 31:14 commentary; food from afar

14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

A simile is a figure of speech where two relatively unlike things are compared, often using like or as. It is commonly used in the Bible to create an analogy for understanding. The virtuous woman, the exemplary wife , is compared here to merchant ships that bring food from distant places. While we would have a difficult time drawing a spiritual conclusion from this verse for the Christian wife we can see very clearly how this would apply to the church.

The food the church brings from afar is the bread of heaven, Christ, of which the Manna dropped from heaven in the wilderness is a type.

Exodus 16:4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

Nehemiah 9:15 And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.

Psalm 105:40 The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

John 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Joh 6:41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

John 6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

John 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
The church brings the word of God, the Bible, which is food for souls hungering to learn of God and to be changed by Him. There are several verses which liken God’s words to food.

Job 34:3 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

The church brings these precious words of God from afar, even from heaven itself.

Psalm 119:89 LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Proverbs 31:12 commentary; how the church presents Christ

12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

The virtuous woman can be trusted to do her husband good. We are told;

1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

One of the ways to understand the Bible is by word markers. For instance, some people will run to a dictionary when they see the word ‘eschew’ which is not an archaic word as I recently saw it in a sports article online. However, it is not a word we regularly use. But, here one way how you uncover the meaning of a word, as it is intended in the Bible. First, you look for similar phrasing, with the same words around another word or phrase in either that verse or one nearby.

In this case we see “let him eschew evil” in verse 11 preceded by “let him refrain his tongue from evil”. So, we can deduce that the specific meaning of eschew, as intended in verses 11 is to refrain from it, particularly to refrain from speaking it. See how simple that was?! There are several places where you can discern meanings by the use of word markers in the Bible.

Now, back to the virtuous woman. A good wife will not only seek to do her husband good but will likewise not seek to do him evil. Evil is defined in the Bible as, among other things, malice and malicious as in “an evil beast” in Genesis 37:33. It also carries with it the meaning of negative as in “an evil report” in Numbers 13:32. An “evil woman” in Proverbs 6:24 is manipulative and being one of the foreign women to Israel in the land would entice a man to do wrong against God. An “evil man” is violent as in Psalm 140:1 and wicked in Psalm 10:15. He is rebellious in Proverbs 17:11 and in 2:12 seeks froward things.

A husband and wife ought to be able to trust each other completely. They should be able to know in their heart that the other party would never willingly do anything to hurt them or their relationship. The church should never do anything to bring shame on the cause of Christ. Churches that willingly hide evil in the pulpit or the flock, who allow wicked men and women in places of importance to stay in position simply because they are who they are regardless of what sins they’ve committed against some innocent or helpless person are just the kind of wife that is not trustworthy.

A church that is a rebel against government not because of something the government has done to prevent them from doing what Christ has called them to do but simply for political reasons is not doing the work of the good wife, the virtuous woman. The church that is more concerned with political party politics than Christ is an unfaithful wife. The church that is more concerned with getting in the newspaper or on the TV news than with service and worship and obedience is not a faithful wife.

Proverbs 31:13 commentary; the bride's work

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

The first time wool is mentioned it is the fleece of wool that Gideon puts out to test the Lord in Judges 6:37. Later, it is used by God as an example of the believers sin washed from the crimson, red bloodiness of their sins to be as white as wool in Isaiah 1:18. An interesting side note for me is how red and scarlet and crimson are set up as contrasts to white as snow. The Biblical contrast is not between black and white but between red, representing blood, and white.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

And again, white linen symbolizes righteousness.

Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

So, that in the following verse it can’t be said that in heaven everyone is going to be a white person, as the controversial Texas preacher J. Frank Norris claimed that he preached to a congregation of black preachers, but that they will be made white as in the color of snow, not Caucasian flesh. Believe it or not these verses have been used by Bible lightweights and racists to “prove” their points about racial superiority when any serious student of the Bible knows differently.

Daniel 12:10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

To compare this verse with others, all through the book of Revelation white linen is spoken of. Racists, racialists, and bigots, either black or white, are fools, and can only find justification for their weakness by twisting scriptures and using them for a purpose for which they were not written.

So, back to the Proverb, wool is symbolic of being washed from your sins in Christ’s blood and of being clothed in clean, white linen. It signifies righteousness. The church is only righteous because Christ is righteous. As the moon only reflects the sun and has no light of its own (Job 25:5), the church reflects the righteousness that belongs only to Christ and they have none of their own.

Flax is the substance from which linen is made. Flax was used by Rahab to hide the Hebrew spies in Joshua 2:6. If white linen, the color of wool, symbolizes the righteousness that is found only in Christ, then flax, the stuff from which the white linen of the saints is made, is Christ’s rigthteousness which is the church’s covering and protection from the Wicked One and from the second death.

So, we have wool and flax, symbolizing the white linen of righteousness which covers the church because of Christ. This is something the church seeks.

The church, the body of Christ on earth, is called to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Pure religion is defined as showing mercy to the helpless and not adopting the ways of the world.

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

What constitutes the spot and stain of the world found at the end of the verse in James?

1John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

These are the same three things that tempted Eve when confronted by the dragon, Satan.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The characteristics of the true bride of Christ are clear. With sins cleansed white like wool, covered in Christ’s righteousness, she seeks to honor Him with her devotion and good works, rejecting the things the world itself admires and extols, always remembering;

Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Christ’s righteousness is the white linen the church wears. Each member is to reveal the Spirit of God working through them by the fruit of the Spirit which proves who they are.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The church’s behavior and attitude is laid out clearly.

Romans 12:1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith………..9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16¶ Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

What kind of bride is your church?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Latest Reading

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. This was written in the early 1500's. Its a very interesting book and lays out the raison d'etre of brutal thug rulers. Worth reading.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Proverbs 31:11; is the church even trustworthy?

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

Now, here’s an interesting turn of phrase in the use of the word; spoil. Spoil is a word that refers to that which is taken from someone you’ve conquered or robbed. So, why is it used here?

This is one of those verses that you have to allegorize to make it fitting for the Christian young man seeking out a virtuous wife who would have no need of envying those who have taken much in life from others by virtue of her hard work. But, for the church there are some interesting parallels that are worth thinking about.

Can Christ trust in His church to be the virtuous woman she is called to be? As Christ is the husband of the church notice what He is said to do. Understand that the “strong man” in the following is Satan.

Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

The Pharisees, the religious right wing, the fundamentalists of His day, accused Jesus of having cast out devils by the power of Satan. Jesus said that Satan is the strong man and questions how his goods can be spoiled in showing that Satan is not going to cast out his own devils. Jesus was capable of binding the strong man and making spoil of his goods, which are all humans who are by nature taken captive of him at his will. See the entire interplay between Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew 12:22-37 and make note of the word; spoil. In this passage as well the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which was to say that Jesus was working in conjunction with Satan while here on the earth in human form, is laid out.

Remember, Satan is the god of this world. This is his house, so to speak. See 2 Corinthians 4:4 and his offer to Christ in Luke 4:5-7.

The church, the bride of Christ, when doing His will, draws men to Him. They come of their own free will and at the urging of the Holy Spirit through the ministrations of the church. This process of drawing men to Christ continues until His violent and forceful return to assume control over the kingdoms of the earth as per Revelation 11:15.

How does the church draw men to Christ? Is it by political shenanigans, paranoia, a lust for worldly power and control, cultish behavior? No, it is by doing what is clearly laid out in the New Testament as to how the church should function in the world displaying the fruit of the Spirit, being true to Christ’s word and name, helping the helpless, feeding the poor, and ministering to the sorrowful and grieving; particularly in the church but also to all men as any surface reading of the New Testament letters written to Gentile churches by Paul will reveal.

I don’t know but perhaps, after reading much of what is said in the New Testament, as long as the church is doing the part of the virtuous woman, the end will be delayed. But, as the church grows cold and has lost its devotion to Christ and becomes purely a social organization, a cultural entity, and the religious wing of whichever government party is in power, a sort of self righteous bunch of do nothings, preening and prating like a colorful peacock, strutting about as if it was “all that and a bag of chips” then it will be time to take the spoil. Perhaps some want the end of the world to come so badly that they’ll pump up their Cadillac Christianity until;

Luke 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Proverbs 31:10 commentary; who can find a virtuous woman?

10 ¶ Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

This is literally true for the young man whom God would send a good wife. A virtuous woman, a woman of grace, moral courage, and vision, who has an active and living relationship with Christ is worth more than precious stones, worth far more.

A virtuous woman does not make her husband ashamed or embarrass him.

Proverbs 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

It is said that wisdom and understanding, which are synonyms have a value higher than rubies. This links the virtuous woman to wisdom and understanding.

Job 28:12 But where shall wisdom be found ? and where is the place of understanding? 13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. 14 The depth saith , It is not in me: and the sea saith , It is not with me. 15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. 18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.

Proverbs 8:11:For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Wisdom itself is given a feminine gender.

Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

It is by the church that the spiritual powers in the universe are shown the wisdom of God.

Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

The church is the bride of Christ.

2Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Now notice these references in the Old Testament;

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 62:5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Proverbs 31:1-9 commentary; the ruler that judges righteously

1 ¶ The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. 2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? 3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. 8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. 9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

I have read commentators that say that Lemuel was probably a pet name given to Solomon by his mother. One meaning of Lemuel is “for God”. She warns him here about giving his strength to women. It is rather ironic that Solomon, along with breaking other rules laid down by God for a king in Deuteronomy 17:16,17 and context broke the one about multiplying wives. This led to him going along to get along with his many wives’ religious beliefs (I kings 11:4).

Here is the admonition against a king drinking fermented alcoholic beverages. Pharaoh’s butler’s statement shows how a just king handled the fruit of the vine.

Genesis 40:11 And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.

This is the “new wine”.

Isaiah 65:8a Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster,

Squeezed grape juice was pure from adulteration and fermentation.

Deuteronomy 32:14b ……. and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.

Strong drink was to be given to condemned criminals to make them less aware of the agony that they were about to experience. These Proverbs go on to say that wine is for the depressed and the sad, to forget their poverty and misery.

The king here is told that his duty lies in speaking for the condemned and judging the cause of the poor and needy righteously. The king was not only the giver of laws but he was a judge of men’s issues and conflicts, the final judge on earth. The three functions (our branches) of government are bound up in God, and the earthly king imitates these. James Madison did not quote the following verse in the United States’ Constitutional convention and the philosopher that was quoted, Montesquieu, does not quote it in his works either, but it existed for thousands of years before either Madison or Montesquieu.

Isaiah 33:22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

Notice the king’s mother said that his duty was to speak for the condemned, the poor, and the needy. Many of our Founders spoke of the duty of government being to ensure the rights of man or, in some cases they said its duty was to seek the common good. However, in God’s Book He says over and over that the purpose of government is to see justice is done and to be the voice for the poor and needy. It has been said that the rich don’t need help. Rich and powerful men only need the help of government to get more wealth and more power. The poor and needy need government’s help just to survive. Just type in “poor and needy” into any online King James Bible and you will get a slew of verses about God’s concern for them.

Most of our Founders did not fear God. He was someone to worship and respect but not much of a concern. Even the aged Ben Franklin who said at the Constitutional Convention that he believed that God judged nations and men on the earth didn’t live his life in a way that showed he took that very seriously. The Bible was a guide book for living but hardly a living Book that judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. If government is to be Godly and after His own heart, it must be compassionate and champion the cause of those who have nothing, the condemned, and the destitute. A government, a king, without compassion for the poor and needy is Satan’s own kingdom and an excuse for atheistic ideologies like Marxism and Communism to enter in.

Next, I’m going to look at one of the greatest pictures of the church found in the Bible. Then, I’ll be through with Proverbs for this go around.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Proverbs 30:33 commentary: for drama queens and kings

33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

This verse can be literally linked to the previous ones. If you think of starting trouble put your hand over your mouth. Loving drama is not a trait God wants in Christians. Stirring up trouble is not a good Christian testimony as much fun as it may be to some people. When we are spreading the gospel of Christ or ministering to our brothers and sisters, as Paul tells a young preacher and evangelist named Timothy;

2 Timothy 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

This sort of undermines the concept of screaming Bible verses at people on the street and walking away smugly thinking you have done your job.
And we are not to be troublemakers in any of our dealings as Paul tells another preacher named Titus;

Titus 3:1 ¶ Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

If you live Godly you are going to stir trouble up just because the world hates Christ.

2Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Without deliberately trying to tick people off.

In your homes, remember when you have a disagreement with your spouse and everything seems to be calmed down, the next thing you say is often the opening salvo of a new argument. It is almost always better to reconcile each other to yourselves. Sometimes, many couples need to argue a bit just to clear the air but it should not be done in a spirit of picking, insults, and humiliation.

I suppose the key is, whenever possible, avoid drama and don’t start trouble or incite people to anger and wrath. That doesn’t mean a woman has to tiptoe around a childish, hot tempered man or vice versa. The hot temper needs to get right with God, not everyone else live in fear of his or her wrath. But, you know what I mean by digging and trying to “get someone’s goat,” which is annoying them slowly to the point where they are ready to explode, rather than just saying something you know will immediately start a fight.

Don’t “force” anger and the resultant strife by playing up to it or stirring it up deliberately.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Proverbs 30:32 commentary; lifting yourself up and thinking malicious thoughts

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

Here is referring to blowing your own horn and thinking of yourself more than you are. It also refers to thinking evil, malicious thoughts. The Proverb says that the smartest move in these cases is to shut up. The specific literal reference here for the Hebrew goes back to the previous verses when in the presence of a king. You will do well in the presence of a king not to exalt yourself or speak evil thoughts. It is best to just keep your trap shut. Let the prince lift you up if you have any merit to him. Be humble, not arrogant, when standing in the presence of power.

Proverbs 25:6 ¶ Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

But, what good is that to most of us who will never stand in the presence of so called “great men?” In any event, if you are humble in the presence of the worldly businessman, the head of your company or a manager, they may view you as weak. Still, not tooting your own horn or speaking in a hateful manner is what God calls the Christian to do.

In fact, to bring this verse to a level of application for the average Christian Joe or Josephine in our daily lives we need to put a slightly different view on it. Christians are told to bring every thought into obedience to Christ, as Paul told us.

2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Not to think too highly of themselves, again from Paul;

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

We are not to put ourselves up higher than others. Here James and Peter repeat the same sentiments;

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

1Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

This is one of the problems with competitive sports. The winner is exalted and for a brief time shares in a counterfeit glory, a sort of self exaltation. Athletes past their prime might dwell on their medals and awards. Sports are about winners and losers, one side being lifted up, one side being cast down. They teach a false ideal to the Christian. This is often also exacerbated by the pressure put on coaches to produce winners on the field, the court, in the ring, or on the mat. Instead of being rewarded for excellent character the athlete is rewarded only for outstanding performance. His bad character is only acknowledged if he or she embarrasses the coach or school.

In the cult of self, the exaltation of the flesh is the greatest good. Yukio Mishima, the famed Japanese author and Samurai, said in his classic Sun and Steel that physical excellence is a sign of spiritual excellence and that bodily weakness proved a kind of spiritual sloth. That classic work is a prime case of the lifting up of Self as the greatest ideal. As the pop song made famous by Whitney Houston, The Greatest Love of All, makes abundantly clear, the world acknowledges love of self as the greatest love, not love of others or love of Christ.

Even in spiritual matters we tend to give ourselves honor for our supposed faithfulness, success at soulwinning, church attendance, dress, or manner of living, as we hold ourselves out as a model of Christian virtue and spirituality.

It is more important in sports to give your best, train hard, and to show humility in victory and noble graciousness in defeat. Temper tantrums, foul language, trash talk, and bragging are the signs of a truly weak person. It is more important in your spiritual life to quietly go about serving God and remember where you’d be and where you’d be going without Him.

The Christian should always be giving glory to God alone. But how often do you, when you receive or accomplish something good in the eyes of the world, publicly give Christ the glory? At the end of the day it is SELF whom you lift up and exalt as a little god. Look what I accomplished. I’m proud of what I did. These things are not from God. They are from your own flesh. At work, at play, in politics, in sports, keep in mind that after you die, within a generation or maybe two, as people who know you now also die, you will be forgotten. It will be as if you never existed on earth except as a name on some ignored records. Even now, your athletic and other achievements have been forgotten and are only a dim memory, even to you.
As the Romans said, “all glory is fleeting.” Only what you do for Christ and with Christ has eternal value, or to quote a movie character, “echoes in eternity.” The Christian who is puffed up at some vain, worldly accomplishment should remember Jesus words in a reference about spiritual things;

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.