Wisdom Seeker: Day 23

Proverbs 23

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18

Perhaps because I’ve recently been thinking, reading, and studying about eternity and the end times, these two verses were what grabbed my attention today. Really, just one word caught me: future.

My initial reading was the ESV. But my habit lately has been to to grab my Hebrew Bible and take a peek at anything that stands out, and today I needed to satisfy my curiosity about the word translated as “a future” in the ESV.

Glad I did. A more literal translation is below:

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but only be in the fear of Jehovah all the day. For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18 (LITV)

That word rendered as future in several translations is a Hebrew word meaning, “end, outcome, outcome of a matter, future, posterity, or descendants,” according to Holladay’s lexicon. The root of the word comes from a preposition meaning after, behind, after death, etc.

Take a breath. Now think: As the Body of Christ, where does our hope lie? In the wealth of this world or the wealth of God in Christ? In the here and now or in eternity? What is more real – this life that seems so concrete and long to us at the moment, or forever and ever and ever, time out of mind?

Which will matter more in the long run?

Believer, do you understand that your hope is in Christ alone; that you have died and your life is tied up in Him now and forevermore? Do you honestly believe that after death is when your life truly begins?

Do your daily actions and priorities demonstrate this belief? Or is it lip service?

It’s a humbling and important question.

It’s tempting to envy those who have all the world’s pleasures at their fingertips and for whom financial woes are not a reality. But dear one, if they do not have Christ, then they are still in their sins and soon enough all that material goodness and gain will be a distant memory.

Stuff will not affect our eternity, but only what we do with it. Am I using the stuff God’s entrusted to me to bring glory to Him and aid to others who are suffering? Am I wasting time envying those who have lots of stuff – trips, nice cars, etc. – and forgetting that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow?

The richest and most powerful among us is still subject to the same bodily failures or catastrophic accidents you and I are. All the world’s goods cannot keep a person whose heart fails out of eternity. An earthly lifetime without a single moment of need will do nothing to protect a body if a car is crushed while it sits inside.

And if the Lord comes again later today or in the morning, then what? For He is coming again, and who knows when? Am I ready for that eventuality? Are you?

Let’s not bother with worrying about what the rich and powerful do. Our hope, if it is in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), will never be cut off. Never.

But if our hope is in a comfortable lifestyle, an annual vacation, financial stability, good health, or any other earthly circumstance, well… no promises there. All circumstances can change in the twinkling of an eye.

That’s a lesson I learned the day I woke up at 4:00 am with meningitis. It changed my physical circumstance for the rest of this life, and not in a good way.

But you know what? My hope isn’t in an earthly future but a heavenly one. And it will never be cut off. Thanks be to God!!

For further thoughts on stuff and earthly luxuries (like breathing), check out Bill Sweeney’s blog: https://unshakablehope.com/2019/08/23/breathing-and-other-luxuries/

Wisdom Seeker: Day 19

Proverbs 19

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Proverbs 19:2, ESV

Also, without knowledge the soul is not good, and he who hurries with his feet sins.

Proverbs 19:2, LITV

I’m low on time today, but thought I’d nerd out for a quick sec.

Perhaps because I’m in a hurry, the second verse stood out to me as I re-read the Proverbs chapter today. Let me confess that I was re-reading due to the fact that I breezed through it the first time since I’m low on time.

And whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way… Yeah, that.

My hurry is actually costing me time because I’m having to go back and do things twice or dropping them and adding a mess to my already-stacked agenda. Funny how God directed my attention to this verse, huh?

Anyway, nerding out now…

I’ve seen this verse in various translations and they are all a little bit different. As part of forcibly slowing myself down, I went and read it in Hebrew.

And it isn’t super-clear.

The truth is, the first word of the verse could be yet, even, although, also, or even. It can be used to emphasize or associate items, or when combined with a negative particle like it is here (kinda), it can negate.

The second word consists of a negative particle prefixed with a preposition, usually translated in, at, with, by, against, into, or within.

Next there is the word for knowledge and a word variously translated as soul, life, living thing, neck, or throat.

The second translation I put above is the more literal one, but without trying to make it sound smoother in English, you could also read it as: Yet (or even) with no knowledge, a soul (or living thing) is no good.

There really is no Hebrew word that corresponds to our English is or was, so you have to dive into context a little when you have a verbless clause like the one that occurs at the beginning of verse 2.

Either way you slice it, the import of the phrase is that a lack of knowledge is kind of a soul poisoner. It’s interesting that it is paired with the bit about hurrying with your feet (which, by the way, is far simpler to translate).

I don’t know about you, but when I hurry off on my way, I tend to do it without the knowledge I need. I tend to jump in without first looking where I’m jumping when I’m in a rush. Not good. Well, there’s an understatement.

So this girl is slowing down today. I guess I’ll get done what I can and not worry about what I can’t (like reading other lovely blogs – sorry!!).

And I’ll try to remember that knowledge of where I’m heading is pretty critical to actually arriving there, whether figuratively or literally speaking.