Lesson from Proverbs 2: When Wisdom Mocks

Wisdom cries aloud in the street,

in the public squares she raises her voice;

on the highest walls she calls out,

at the entrance of the gates to the city she makes her speech;

“How long, you gullible, will you love being gullible” –

and mockers delight themselves with mocking;

and fools hate knowledge?

Turn back to my rebuke;

then I will pour forth my thoughts to you,

I will make known to you my sayings.

‘But since I cry out, and you refuse to listen,

and when I stretch out my hand, none gives heed,

and you flout all my counsel,

and to my rebuke you do no consent,

I in turn will laugh when your disaster happens,

I will scoff when your calamity comes –

when your calamity comes like a storm,

and like a whirlwind your disaster arrives,

when distress and anguish come upon you.

Then they will call out to me, but I will not answer;

they will look diligently for me but will not find me,

because they hated knowledge,

and the fear of the LORD they did not choose.

They did not consent to my advice,

They spurned my every rebuke,

so they will eat from the fruit of their way,

and from their schemes they will be filled.

Surely the turning away of the gullible will kill them,

and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

but the one who obeys will dwell in security,

even at ease, without fear of harm.

Proverbs 1:20-33

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The father escalates the grim threat of certain death for all sinners (v. 19) – now referred to as fools – to the awful truth that their death is eternal. There is no third way between wisdom and folly, and there is no second change between life and death.

The setting for Wisdom’s instruction is in the street (v. 20) signifies that this sermon was meant to be heard publicly rather than the standard father-son instruction within the home. Wisdom lifts her voice in the public squares and on the highest walls (v. 20-21), which would be the most advantageous points to be seen and heard in ancient city. Wisdom chooses to stand at the entrance of the gates in order to confront and compel the gullible to make a decision to accept her in order to safeguard them against the fools within the city.

We should also note Wisdom is not dispassionate in her appeal. She cries aloud (v. 20) in order to get a full hearing. She intends that her voice would be heard above the noise of daily life and above the voice of fools within the city. In commenting about this, Kenneth Aitken states

Lady wisdom is no gentle persuader. She shouts, pleads, scolds, reasons, threatens, warns, and even laughs. Pulpit bashing and hell-fire preaching if ever there were! All quite unladylike; and nowadays also quite unfashionable, even frowned upon.

The Call to Repentance

Wisdom begins her sermon with an urgent appeal to the gullible to stop rejecting her and to respond to the stern rebuke she is about to give them. These youths have crossed the threshold into adulthood (with its corresponding responsibilities) and should have made a decisive commitment to Wisdom before this point. Instead of a hear that desires to serve the Lord and retain His revealed wisdom, these youths “love being gullible” (v. 22); in other words, they yearn to remain uncommitted and open to alluring sin. In today’s language, they claim to be “open yet cautious” about the way of wisdom. In truth, their heart is in a state of rebellion. Their guilt is their recalcitrance before legitimate authority and Wisdom pins their guilt to their rebellion against her counsel.

Thus, Lady Wisdom makes her appeal. Although mockers and fools are in a hopeless position, Wisdom calls these youths to repentance. There is still hope for them, but not forever. They must humble themselves and acknowledge that Wisdom is right and they must also acknowledge that they have been in the wrong in nursing their love to be careless and free of her discipline. In response to this repentance, Wisdom will pour forth her thoughts in such a way that they will internalize them and never forget them (v. 23).

The Certainty of Disaster

While wisdom promises blessings for obedience, she also promises consequences for disobedience. Judgment befalls all who ignore Wisdom’s words. First, Wisdom warns the gullible against a progressive hardening in apostasy. If they do not listen, they too may come to hate hear and to mock her, placing them in the same categories as fools and mockers (v. 24-25). Second, Wisdom warns that there is a certainty of catastrophe for all sinners and its finality is pictured as a devastating wind (v. 26). Judgment and calamity will come like a whirlwind and a storm which wreaks havoc. When judgment does come, the gullible will change from complacency and prideful insubordination to extreme terror. The gullible, fools, and mockers will “eat from the fruit of their ways” (v. 31).

Moreover, when the threatened judgment falls, it will be too late to respond. Wisdom does not laugh at disaster, but at the triumph of what is right over what is wrong when disaster does happen. In other words, Wisdom rejoices in turning the present upside-down world right-side up, when wisdom overturns folly, righteousness overcomes wickedness, knowledge overcomes ignorance, humility topples pride, and life swallows up death. Wisdom scoffs when the dreadful disaster of the wicked comes. This laughter expresses the inward joy and disdain that Wisdom experiences over her chief enemy – namely, folly. As Bruce Waltke says,

Truth has a harsh edge and Wisdom does not dull it. Her shock tactics aim to persuade the young to turn to her.

A question that often arises is whether Wisdom’s response to fools at the time of final judgment is a proper response. It should be noted that fools hated true knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord (v. 29). They did not ponder and consider their ways; rather they deliberately chose NOT to walk in the ways of the Lord and sanctioned other lifestyles. Wisdom’s response is valid because this life would be pre-empted of its true dignity if choices made now had no eternal consequences. Fools would be confirmed in treating this life with careless complacency if there were no eternal consequences. Also, those who follow Wisdom would be made to look foolish if the path of folly could be taken without any accountability.

Application

Even if we are not gullible youths, there is much we should consider in this sermon because Wisdom’s sermon reflects on the Scripture’s teaching on final judgment. First, we should note that Wisdom’s saving voice is not at human disposal; it can be forfeited through prior rejection. This is a theme that the prophets repeated proclaimed – do not harden your hearts against the Lord (cf. Hebrews 3:8-15). Second, it should be noted that many people deny the doctrine of final judgment because they do not want to give this life such dignity that current decisions affect an eternal future in a decisive and definitive way.

At the time of the final judgment, sinners will finally recognize that Wisdom possesses the true life and the security they had traded away for a pseudo-life in this world and false security. This false sense of security leads sinners to destruction. Deluded sinners, restricted by their very limited knowledge, foolishly became so wise in their own eyes that they could not see things from the heavenly perspective of God and so utterly misjudged the true situation. Hence, the complacency of fools causes them to fail to take precautions against the inevitable judgment bound up in their folly, and so it will destroy them. This is the warning that we give to all men and women in this world.

However, we also have the promise of the gospel message: the one who listens will dwell in security, even at ease, without fear of harm (v. 33). In Noah’s day, destruction came upon the world except for those who were safely secure within the ark. In the same way, when God brings judgment to this world, only those who have obeyed the gospel will be safe. This is the essence of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians

… when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when he comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 365

Day 365

Of the Last Judgment.

Chapter 32, Paragraph 3.

“…so will he have the day unknown to Men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour, the Lord will come; and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly, Amen.”

Scripture Lookup

Mark 13:35-37

Luke 12:35-40

Revelation 22:20

Reflection

Jotting stuff down on my calendar lets me determine my priorities. This way I know how to get ready: do I have time to get this errand done? Do I have to be concerned that x,y, and z haven’t happened yet?  With a schedule, I determine the course of the day. I am in charge!

To my carnal self, knowing the date of the Last Day would be ultra convenient. Looking at the number of people who have claimed to know the exact day of Christ’s return, I’m guessing I’m not alone. But we are clearly told in Scripture that no one knows the day or the hour. (Mark 13:32) Why leave us in suspense?

By withholding the date of the Last Judgment, we are completely dependent upon God for our tomorrow. We know that there will be a day when justice and mercy will be meted out in full measure; we are to be content with that. Living however we want for a time and then cleaning up our act will not work. We must anticipate His arrival at any moment.

Waiting for the Lord to come can be wearying, though. As a mom, I am always “on” when watching my young kids. I don’t want anything to happen to them, so I do my best to  keep them out of trouble. When night comes, I can breathe easily when they are finally asleep, knowing I have a break. In a similar way, when the Lord finally comes, our battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil will end. We will no longer have to be vigilant, because there will be no sin to fight. Longing for that day to come, and for it to come quickly, is a good thing. In doing so we recognize our weakness and look to Christ to fulfill His salvation. He will give us the strength to endure, but even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Amen.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you anticipating the Last Day? Why or why not?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 364

Day 364

Of the Last Judgment.

Chapter 32, Paragraph 3.

“As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a Day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity;…”

Scripture Lookup

2 Corinthians 5:10,11
2 Thessalonians 1:5-7

Reflection

We know that the Last Day is a certain event. Scripture has revealed to us several times how Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, and how His kingdom will have no end. But it is an event so foreign to our everyday existence, it almost seems like it won’t happen. Why does God, through Scripture, give us the certainty of a Last Day?

Knowing that there is a Day of Judgment coming requires action. A response is required to the fact that the kingdom of God is at hand. Because there is coming a day of judgment, all of humanity is called to repentance. Unbelievers are called to repent and trust in Christ for their salvation. Believers as well are called to repent, to “abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) Being aware that the Last Day is a fixed event reminds us the need to prepare now for its arrival.

The certainty of the the Last Judgment also encourages Christians to persevere. It is easier to endure hardship when you know there will be a happy ending. This sinful world, with all its hatred and evil, will cease. The justice of the Lord will be made manifest to all at the appointed time. As painful, hard, and difficult the trials faced in this life may be, they do not compare with the eternal glory that is to come on the Last Day.

Questions to Consider

  • How is the certainty of the Last Judgment affecting your life right now?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 363

Day 363

Of the Last Judgment.

Chapter 32, Paragraph 2.

“The end of God’s appointing this Day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his Mercy, in the Eternal Salvation of the Elect; and of his Justice in the eternal damnation of the Reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the Righteous go into Everlasting Life, and receive that fulness of Joy, and Glory, with everlasting reward, in the presence of the Lord; but the wicked who do not know God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into Eternal torments, and punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

Scripture Lookup

Romans 9:22,23

Matthew 25:21,34

2 Timothy 4:8

Matthew 25:46

Mark 9:48

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

Reflection

When thinking about the Last Judgment, we have a tendency to focus on what is going to happen to us. Knowing that the elect will be saved and the wicked will be punished forever gives hope to the Christian, as well as urgency to share the gospel with the lost. Such knowledge is important, but is the purpose of the Last Day to give happy or sad endings to people? The reason for the Last Judgment is to glorify God.

Way back in Chapter 2, paragraph 3 of the Confession, we learned why this Last Day would occur in the manner described in Scripture. The LBCF states:

By the decree of God for the manifestation of his glory some men and angels, are predestinated, or fore-ordained to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice. (italics added)

When the Last Judgment occurs, God’s full glory will be manifest to all humanity. For the Christian, this means receiving the fullness and glory of joy, the joy of being in full communion with Christ. No longer will we walk by faith, but we will see Christ. No longer will our sin prevent us from being in God’s presence. His mercy will be abundantly demonstrated when He invites us in: “Come, you who are blessed of My Father…” (Matthew 25:34). Because of Jesus Christ, we see the final act of salvation – eternal life, singing the praises of God’s glorious grace.

The wicked will also glorify God on the Last Day, but in a manner quite different from that of the saints. In the Last Judgment, those who do not belong to Christ receive everlasting torment and punishment. They do not benefit from Christ’s grace and mercy; rather they see the justice of God on full display against sin. In this God is also glorified, for all will realize that He is holy.

In the end, all of creation and all of time exist for God’s glory. The Last Day, accompanied by the Last Judgment, are no exception. At that day we will see God’s “wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness and mercy” (LBCF 5.1) in all its splendor, and we will praise Him for it. May we practice giving such praise to God even now!

Questions to Consider

  • Do you view the Last Day with God’s glory in mind?