I know that today is the Fourth of August, and I know that if I was consistent with my writing I should be focusing on Proverbs 4 today, but I couldn’t help but keep going through Proverbs 3 for some reason. In the process of going through the said Proverbs with a fine-tooth comb, I’ve been led to talk about the following verses:
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
The Old Covenant was particular about firstfruits. In the days of Moses, the Lord mentioned the following: “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God” (Exodus 23:19). Just in case it wasn’t clear Nehemiah was even more particular – “We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; 37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor” (Nehemiah 10:35-37)
I take a look at a verse like Proverbs 3:9 and my mind responds almost automatically by turning its words upside down: The Lord has honored us out of His everlasting love for us, through Jesus Christ, who is the firstborn of the New Creation. Sound familiar? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Note that these words were spoken to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ‘ruler of the Jews’ (John 3:1), someone who was certainly familiar with the nuances of the Law, especially in things like the offering of firstfruits… but more importantly, note who spoke these words – No less than Jesus Christ, Creator and Creation, who by His resurrection was recognized as ‘the image of the invisible God‘, and ‘the firstborn of all creation.‘
It’s like saying that John 3:16 is the other side of the coin of Proverbs 3:9. But I must point out, before we go any further, that we aren’t cocky and arrogant that we would figure these things out – no, we recognize how Christ paid for everything, and did all that was needed to be done. For us to even have a glimpse of the amazing salvation we have does not pump us up with confidence, more than it directs us to pay homage to our Savior.
In Tagalog, magaling lang talaga si Lord.
I’m not sure if I want to go on with verse 10 – or even, HOW to go about it. Am I to say that it is now a guarantee that our literal and theoretical barns would be filled with plenty, and that our (most likely) conceptual vats will be bursting with (conceptual) wine? I mean, considering how our lives are going in this finite world, I could say that’s a possibility at best.
Or am I to say that through Christ, we have given something superior, much more than barns filled with plenty? Is this where I point out that Christ died and rose again for us to be “blessed… with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3)? Is this also where I can point out that we are truly bursting with wine, considering that we have been made new wineskins, filled with new wine, as in the Holy Spirit, Who is apparently not only filling us but overflowing in and through us at any given moment?
I mean, just being real here, right now: that first claim to make is definitely not true, because we aren’t all filled with plenty, in regards to finite resources, in this finite world – nor are our vats (if we even HAVE vats) bursting with literal wine. I’ve been led to reconcile my experiences here in this world with the Truth as mentioned in Proverbs 3:10, as seen through the lens of Christ and His finished work – and at best, I’m apparently in need of more meditation to realize and appreciate, here and in eternity, that Christ is who is Plenty, and we’re full of the Wine – that is, full of the Spirit.
Call me out here because sure, this is a lapse in my faith – but I’m only thankful because even during these times, Christ remains faithful.
My son, do not despise the LORD’S discipline or be weary of his reproof,
for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
The peace that we have in Christ would have us actually welcoming the leadership of our God, as seen in His discipline and His reproof, given to us not out of spite or revenge, but with the best of intentions – no less from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who loves us as a Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be deviating from what Dr. Andrew Farley has been saying – God’s discipline is not punishment for our past, but it is preparation for our future; with that said, we don’t despise the Lord’s discipline at all – we certainly welcome it. We wouldn’t grow weary of His reproof – on the contrary, because of His reproof, we grow.
This is such a generous assurance for us to bask in, considering everything that’s going on in the world right now. I’m not one who agrees with these ‘prophets’ who says all that we’re going through right now is God’s direct disciple towards us – but I will say that God is faithful to take whatever IS going on in this messed up world, and He is faithful to make all of it work for the good of those who love Him (as we have responded to His love), and who have been called according to His purpose (His purpose and will being for none to perish but for all to come to repentance). What I’m trying to say here is that God doesn’t cause any harm to us. His blessings will never contain sorrow – but He IS consistent, to take whatever has caused us sorrow in this reality, that we may be disciplined and reproved, sure, but most of all, that we would know and realize exactly how much He loves us, and how much He delights in us – we’d see how He delight in us as a Father who delights in His son.
Friends, I’ve had a pretty full day today, and I think I’ll end it here. The rest of Proverbs 3 – verse 13 and onwards, to be precise – is written under a heading as prescribed by the ESV: ‘Blessed is the One who Finds Wisdom’ – and to this, I respond, simply: ‘Blessed is the Wise One who has found us.’
Let me close with what I think would be one of the best memory verses you could ever have:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
God bless you, my friend. Let’s keep at it.