Proverbs 23:1:"When thou sittest[when you sit down--at a state dinner, royal banquet, etc.]to eat with a ruler[someone who is 'out of your class' (a person of influence and power, with a position of authority or leadership), such as your boss, the chief executive officer (CEO) of a company, or a senator, governor, billionaire, etc.], consider diligently what is before thee [or in front of you, or 'carefully consider your surroundings']:"
Proverbs 23:2: "And put a knife to thy[your]throat[meaning exercise self-control], if thou be[if you are]a man[or woman or child]given to appetite[overeating or talking too much]."
Proverbs 23:3: "Be not desirous of [don't covet or crave] his [the ruler's] dainties [delicacies]: for they are deceitful [deceptive, misleading] meat [food]. [In other words, watch what you say and do, and don't believe everything that you see and hear, because the ruler may have ulterior motives for dining with you.]"
Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has written an in-depth explanation of these verses.
At the beginning of the commentary, Pastor Delany says:
"If Solomon wrote this, these words are words of advice from a King to perhaps ordinary citizens, who because of their diligence, competence, and skill, find themselves in a setting with the upper class. … The point is that 'commoners' don't always know how to behave themselves before the upper crust of society and sometimes make a fool of themselves [as in 'The Beverly Hillbillies' TV show]."
He goes on to offer some advice on how to avoid making a fool of yourself if and when you sit down to "eat with a ruler." Here are some excerpts:
"1. The first part of the exhortation was to 'consider whose presence you are in.'
"2. The second part of the exhortation is to curb your appetite.
"3. You may really LOVE to eat. The food and the presentation may be fabulous…like you've never seen or tasted before.
"4. But before you ask for your third plateful, you might want to consider this proverb.
"5. 'Put a knife to your throat' before you go for thirds.
"a. Obviously, this is a figure of speech -- an idiom.
"b. The author is not suggesting you commit suicide. This is hyperbole [a statement that is not intended to be taken literally].
"c. But in a very graphic way, he gets his point across."
"e. In the setting of Proverbs 23--before the ruler--you want to demonstrate restraint, self control, moderation, and self discipline.
"f. This goes for eating, but could also be applied to the conversation. Don't eat too much. Don't talk too much. Know your place. Keep things under check… under control. Restrain yourself."
The commentary ends with a warning that the host may have ulterior motives. Pastor Delany says, "The invitation to the feast might at first seem like a wonderful opportunity for advancement and promotion (and it may be)… but don't be so sure. … The ruler may have something sinister in mind."
This message from God was delivered to the people of Israel (and to everyone else in the world) by God's prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 23:1: "Woe[great sorrow or distress shall]be unto the pastors[in this case, referring to both religious and government leaders]that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture![i.e., born-again Christians]saith[says]the LORD."
Jeremiah 23:2: "Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed [lead, guide, direct] my people; Ye [you] have scattered my flock [my people], and [have] driven them away, and have not visited [or paid attention to] them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings [deeds], saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 23:3: "And I will gather the remnant [remainder, or survivors] of my flock out of all countries whither [to which] I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds [safe places, just as a sheepfold is a pen or shelter for sheep]; and they shall be fruitful [fertile] and [shall] increase [in number]."
Jeremiah 23:4: "And I will set up shepherds [rulers and leaders] over them [the sheep] which shall feed them: and they [the sheep] shall fear no more, nor be dismayed [alarmed, worried], neither shall they [any of the sheep] be lacking [missing or lost], saith the LORD."
God punishes and gets rid of false prophets and wicked rulers, who mislead and/or neglect or refuse to feed, care for, and protect his people.
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Regarding Jeremiah 23:1, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
"… What a dreadful woe this is upon all false shepherds, -- those who profess to be sent of [by, from] God to instruct the people, but who are not sent of God at all, whose labours only result in the scattering of the sheep, and destroying them, instead of gathering them to [Jesus] Christ for their salvation! …"
Proverbs 20:21: "An inheritance[money, property, possessions, etc.]may be gotten hastily[quickly]at the beginning[for example, before or after a parent dies]; but the end[result]thereof shall not be blessed[by God]."
According to Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church, the real lesson of the this proverb is "Easy come; easy go."
He says that the term gotten hastily in the above verse can be taken in two ways--good and bad. The good way is when a parent dies of natural causes and leaves an inheritance for his or her children. A bad way is when one of the children tries to speed everything up (i.e., receive his or her inheritance faster) by poisoning the parent, declaring him or her incompetent, tricking the parent into signing over his or her finances, lying about why the "child" needs the money (e.g., to pay off a gambling debt), etc.
In addition, many people get in trouble when they suddenly become rich due to fame (this includes movie stars, rock stars, and athletes), winning the lottery, inheriting a business, etc., especially when they are young and inexperienced. Because they lack wisdom, they spend the money foolishly and it doesn't last very long.
Earlier in the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon "discussed" various things that people try to find fulfillment in, and he rejected each one of them as "vanity" (meaningless). He finally concluded that without God, there is no truth or meaning to life. In addition, as stated by Matthew Henry, "serious godliness is the only way to true happiness." Solomon writes:
Ecclesiastes 12:13: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter [i.e., the search for true happiness and meaning to life]: Fear God[see note below*], and keep[obey]his commandments: for this is the whole duty[obligation, responsibility]of man[mankind, human beings, all people]."
*According to Matthew Henry, the phrase Fear God in the above verse includes having "a reverence of [respect for] his majesty, a deference [humble submission] to his authority, and a dread of his wrath [anger]."
According to the dictionary, vanity has more than one meaning. When applied behavior, it can destroy many things, including people's lives, as is noted in the following article: "What does the Bible say about vanity?" If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-vanity.html.
Serving God on Earth Earns Rewards in Heaven
While preaching his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
Matthew 6:19: "Lay not up[don't hoard, store up, accumulate]for yourselves treasures[riches]upon earth, where moth [bites, as on fine clothing,] and rust [as on metal and some types of food, including corn and grain] doth [do] corrupt [cause things to decay, spoil, rot, or be destroyed], and where thieves break through [the wall or door of a house] and steal [valuable items, like money and jewels]:"
Matthew 6:20: "But lay up for yourselves treasures[in this case, rewards]in heaven[by serving God with your time, talents, money, and influence--see note below*], where [referring to heaven] neither moth nor rust doth [does] corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:"
Matthew 6:21: "For where your treasure[the thing that you value most]is, there will your heart[and, consequently, your love and desire]be also."
Proverbs 17:4: "A wicked doer[an evil or morally corrupt person--someone who intentionally does bad things]giveth[gives]heed to false lips[i.e., pays attention to what a liar says, and is inclined to do what the liar says to do]; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue."
In his commentary on the above verse, Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church wrote that:
-- "The person who DOES evil things pays attention to the person who SAYS evil things."
-- "Giving heed to evil communication affects one's behavior."
-- "By LISTENING to the lies, wickedness, and gossip, we share responsibility with the one speaking the lies."
Also in the commentary, Pastor Delany lists the following reasons why "wicked doers give heed to false lips":
"6. Wicked doers (those who practice wickedness) are those who listen to corrupt and immoral and false speech.
"a. They listen to corrupt speech with delight and great pleasure!
"• Such speech supports them in their evil doings…
"• They FEED upon such speech…
"• It motivates them… encourages them…
"• They get new ideas from such speech…
"• They feel justified by such speech…
"• Without hearing such things from other wicked men, they might be AFRAID to practice their wickedness.
"• Without the support they get from such speech they might be too cowardly to act alone…
"• They NEED this speech to live the way they do."
Also commenting on the above verse, Matthew Henry wrote:
"… Those that design to do ill support themselves by falsehood and lying: A wicked doer gives ear, with a great deal of pleasure, to false lips, that will justify him in the ill he does, to those that aim to make public disturbances, catch greedily at libels [false statements that damage a person's reputation], and false stories, that defame [harm the good name and reputation of] the government and the administration …"
"… The liar and he who listens to him divide the responsibility of the sin between them. These two characters help to increase each other's guilt by strengthening each other in their ungodliness. The liar is encouraged to go on in his lying by those who give heed to his lies; if there were none willing to listen to him he would soon cease to sin in this direction. So that the receiver of falsehood will have to share the punishment of him who propagates [spreads and promotes] it. Then the liar increases the wickedness of the wicked doer by his false words, which help to make his heart yet more ungodly and his doings yet more wicked. Thus ungodly men exert a reciprocal influence upon each other for evil …"
Jesus addressed the above two subjects during his Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7:3: "And why beholdest thou[why do you see, notice, focus on]the mote[small particle, splinter]that is in thy[your]brother's[or sister's or someone else's]eye, but[you]considerest not[don't consider]the[wooden]beam[a long, heavy piece of squared timber]that is in thine[your]own eye?" [In other words, why do you criticize the faults (or sins) of others while ignoring your own, even greater, faults (or sins)?]
Matthew 7:4: "Or how wilt thou [will you] say to thy brother [or another person--relative, neighbor, friend, etc.], Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?"
Matthew 7:5: "Thou hypocrite [or 'you who are engaging in the same behaviors that you condemn others for'], first cast out the beam out of thine own eye [get rid of your own problems first]; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye [and then you'll be able to give other people good advice]."
Charles Spurgeon summarized the above verses as follows:
"… Sin we may rebuke [criticize], but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we willfully practice it …"
Concerning hypocrites, I found an excellent quote from GotQuestions.org:
"… It must be noted that hypocrisy is not the same as taking a stand against sin. For example, it is not hypocrisy to teach that drunkenness is a sin, unless the one teaching against drunkenness gets drunk every weekend--that would be hypocrisy …"
Among Other Things, Steady Faith is Required for Answered Prayer
The apostle James wrote this in a letter to the twelve tribes of Israel (specifically, Jewish Christians), but what he says also applies to all born-again Christians.
James 1:5: "[Regarding guidance needed, both in general and for specific trials and temptations,]If any of you lack[don't have the needed]wisdom, let him[or her]ask of God[through prayer], that [who, referring to God] giveth [gives][wisdom] to all men [and women and children] liberally [meaning he generously gives wisdom to everyone who asks for it], and [who] upbraideth not [does not criticize or scold those people for asking]; and it[i.e., wisdom]shall be given[to]him[or her]."
James 1:6-7: "But let him[or her--in this case, the person seeking wisdom]ask in faith, nothing wavering[not hesitating or doubting]. For he [or she] that wavereth [wavers][between belief and unbelief, or goes back and forth between two opinions or courses of action and has trouble making decisions] is like a wave of the sea [that is] driven with the wind and tossed [about, meaning the person is agitated and restless like the ocean]. For let not that man [or woman or child] think that he [or she] shall receive any thing of [from] the Lord."
According to the Bible, these are some of the requirements for answered prayer. You must:
-- Be born again, or saved (per John 9:31)
-- Obey God's commandments and do things that are pleasing in his sight (per 1 John 3:22).
-- Not have unconfessed sins in your life (per 1 John 1:9).
-- Pray to God in faith (per James 1:6-7).
-- Pray in accordance with God's will (per 1 John 5:14-15).
-- Pray "in Jesus' name" (per John 14:13-14).
The Lord's Prayer (a "Model" Prayer)
Teaching them how to pray, Jesus said this to his disciples (and to all born-again Christians, who, at salvation, have become 'children of God,' according to John 1:12):
Matthew 6:9: "After this manner therefore pray ye[you, meaning they should follow this example, or pray like this]: Our Father which art[are]in heaven[referring to Almighty God, whose throne is in heaven], Hallowed[honored as holy, treated with respect and awe]be thy[your]name[i.e., YHWH, or Jehovah]."
Matthew 6:10: "[Let]Thy kingdom[God's kingdom, which is also called the kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven--see note below*]come. [Let]Thy will[what you (God) want; i.e., that everyone obey your word, as set forth in the Bible]be done in earth[by humans], as it is[done]in heaven[by the angels]."
Matthew 6:11: "[Father,]Give us this day[today]our daily bread[food--everything necessary to sustain (support) life]."
Matthew 6:12: "And forgive us our debts[sins], as we forgive our debtors[referring to people who have sinned against us--those who have said and/or done things to cause us harm]."
Matthew 6:13: "And lead us not into temptation[do not allow us to be tempted to sin and/or to experience overwhelming trials and afflictions], but deliver us from evil[including the evil one (Satan, the devil), evil people, and evil things (sin); i.e., protect us from Satan and sin and prevent us from being corrupted or destroyed by Satan's attacks]: For thine[yours, or belonging to you (God)]is the kingdom[meaning God has control over everything and everyone in his kingdom (the universe)], and the power[meaning God has the power to do everything that we ask], and the glory[meaning God deserves honor and praise], for ever. Amen."
We don't know who wrote this psalm, but its words are applicable to all of us:
Psalm 66:18: "If I regard[see, perceive, am aware of]iniquity[wickedness, evil]in my heart[mind][and do nothing about it--meaning that if I take pleasure and delight in sinful thoughts and/or actions], the Lord will not hear me[when I pray]:"
In his commentary, Matthew Henry explains the above verse like this:
"… 'If I have favourable thoughts of it [i.e., iniquity, or 'heart-sins'], if I love it, indulge it, and allow myself in it, if I treat it as a friend and bid it welcome, make provision for it and am loth [loath, or unwilling] to part with it, …, if I delight in it …, God will not hear my prayer, will not accept it, nor be pleased with it, nor can I expect an answer of peace to it …'"
Albert Barnes says that regarding iniquity in our hearts, meaning we are unwilling to forsake sin (or that we have a desire to hold on to our sins) "… is applicable
"(a) to secret purposes of sin; to sinful desires, corrupt passions. and evil propensities [having an inclination or natural tendency to do bad things];
"(b) to acts of sin in individuals, as when a man is pursuing a business founded on fraud, dishonesty, oppression, and wrong;
"(c) to public acts of sin, as when a people fast and pray Isaiah 58:1-14, and yet hold their fellow-men in bondage; or enact and maintain unjust and unrighteous laws; or uphold the acts of wicked rulers; or countenance [approve of] and support by law that which is contrary to the law of God; and
"(d) to the feelings of an awakened and trembling sinner when he is professedly seeking salvation …"
Joshua 24:14: "Now therefore fear the LORD [i.e., because of his supreme power and authority, you should love, honor, and respect Almighty God], and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods [images, idols, false gods] which your fathers [forefathers, ancestors] served [worshiped] on the other side of the flood [in this case, referring to the Euphrates River], and in Egypt [when they were sojourners (temporary residents) there]; and serve ye [you] the LORD."
Joshua 24:15: "And if it seem evil [hard, unreasonable, disagreeable] unto you to serve the LORD [the living God], choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether [it be] the [false] gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood [the Euphrates River], or the [false] gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye [currently] dwell [live]: but as for me and my house[household, family][as far as I can influence them], we will serve the LORD."
There is only one true God. All other so-called "gods" (i.e., people and things that are worshiped, either intentionally or unintentionally) are idols.
Joshua's challenge in verse 15 (i.e., 'choose you this day whom ye will serve') applies not only to Israel but also to everyone in the world today.
Jesus Begins His Public Ministry by Being Baptized
Matthew 3:13: "Then cometh [came] Jesus from Galilee [specifically, from Nazareth, the city where he had lived for nearly 30 years] to [the river] Jordan unto John [the Baptist], to be baptized of [by] him."
Matthew 3:14-15: "But John forbad [refused] him [Jesus], saying, I have need to be baptized of thee [by you], and comest thou [you come] to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [allow] it to be so now: for thus it becometh us [it is suitable and proper for us to do this in order] to fulfil all righteousness [of the ceremonial law, by obeying God's commands]. Then he [John] suffered [permitted, allowed] him [Jesus][to be baptized]."
Matthew 3:16, 17: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway[immediately]out of the water: and, lo [an exclamation meaning look, see, observe], the heavens were opened unto him [John the Baptist], and he saw the Spirit of God [the Holy Spirit] descending [coming down from heaven] like [in the shape of] a dove, and lighting [landing] upon him [Jesus]: And lo a voice from heaven[from God the Father][was heard, probably by all who were there], saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
As you can see from these verses, all three persons of the Trinity were present during Jesus' baptism:
1. God the Father, speaking from heaven
2. God the Son, in person
3. God the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove
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In his commentary on Matthew 3:16, Albert Barnes said that the Holy Spirit probably appeared in the form of a dove because "… The dove, among the Jews, was the symbol of purity of heart, harmlessness, and gentleness … The form chosen here was doubtless an emblem of the innocence, meekness, and tenderness of the Saviour …"
Colossians 3:20: "Children, obey your parents[both father and mother]in all things[that are good and lawful--i.e., not sinful]: for [because] this is well pleasing unto the Lord [God]."
The above verse especially applies to children who are minors (which usually means they are under the age of 18) and who live with their parents and are still under their care, guidance, protection, and authority.
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In his commentary on Ephesians 6:1, which is similar to the above verse, Albert Barnes said this about God's command for children to obey their parents :
"… it is important, because the family government is designed to be an imitation of the government of God. The government of God is what a perfect family government would be; and to accustom a child to be obedient to a parent, is designed to be one method of leading him to be obedient to God. No child that is disobedient to a parent will be obedient to God; and that child that is most obedient to a father and mother will be most likely to become a Christian, and an heir of heaven. And it may be observed, in general, that no disobedient child is virtuous, prosperous, or happy. Everyone foresees the ruin of such a child; and most of the cases of crime that lead to the penitentiary [prison], or the gallows [a place for hanging, representing the death penalty], commence by [or begin with] disobedience to parents …"
Regarding children's obedience being "well pleasing unto the Lord," Mark Dunagan said:
"… Children were obeying their parents long before Jesus died for our sins. But this is a different type or quality of obedience. This isn"t the grudging obedience found in the world. And neither is it, 'I will merely cooperate now, but once I turn 18, they can"t tell me what to do anymore.' Rather, this is an obedience that pleases God, that finds favor with both God and men (Luke 2:52)."
In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul explained why some people don't get saved.
2 Corinthians 4:3: "But if our gospel [i.e., the good news that Jesus died to pay for our sins so we could have eternal life] be hid [hidden], it is hid to them that are lost [unsaved, not born again]:"
2 Corinthians 4:4: "In whom [referring to 'them that are lost']the god of this world[i.e., Satan, the devil]hath blinded the minds[has blocked the understanding]of them which believe not[or 'those who don't believe'][the gospel], lest [otherwise,] the light [excellence, beauty, splendor] of the glorious gospel of [Jesus] Christ, who is the image of God [who 'resembles' the invisible God in all ways, having the same glory and perfection, moral attributes, etc.], should shine unto them [and make them want to be saved]."
Since people can only be saved if they hear, understand, and believe the gospel (Romans 10:14), Satan tries very hard to prevent that from happening.
We Need the Holy Spirit's Help to Understand the Bible
1 Corinthians 2:14: "But the natural man[or woman or child--someone who is not born again]receiveth not the things of the[Holy]Spirit of God[meaning he (or she) has no interest in spiritual matters]: for they are foolishness unto him [or her--because he (or she) thinks they're stupid]: neither can he[or she, referring to the 'natural man,' or unsaved person]know[comprehend, understand]them['the things of the Spirit of God'], because they are spiritually discerned [only revealed (made known) by the Holy Spirit, who, according to Jesus in John 14:16, 17, lives in the hearts of born-again Christians]."
According to the above verse, unsaved people don't understand God's word because the Holy Spirit does not live in their hearts. That explains why most unsaved people do not like to go to church and/or read the Bible.
We Should Consult God When Planning for the Future
James 4:13: "Go to now [hear this], ye [you] that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue [stay] there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain [make money, accumulate possessions, etc.]:"
James 4:14: "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow[you don't know what will happen tomorrow]. For what is your life? It is even a vapour [it is like gas or moisture floating in the air, such as steam, smoke, mist, fog, etc.], that appeareth [appears] for a little time, and then vanisheth away [disappears]."
James 4:15: "For that [reason--i.e., because you don't know what will happen in the future]ye ought to say[you should say instead], If the Lord will[if it is God's will], we shall live, and do this[thing], or that[thing]."
The following are examples of assumptions that people make when they say something like, "To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain" (James 4:13):
"… Tomorrow ... Of course, we shall be alive and in health tomorrow. No emergency will arise, no sickness lay us low, no sudden death overtake us. Tomorrow is our apple, and we'll cut it up like we please.
"We will go into the city ... The weather will be good; transportation will be available; we shall meet with no accident; no car will be wrecked, airplane fall, or train derail; we shall arrive exactly as planned.
"And spend a year there ... Lodging will be available to us, and at a price we can afford; no problems! No rioting shall break out; no epidemic shall occur; no war will break out; no disastrous fire will hinder; no earthquake will level the city; no flood will sweep it away. No thieves or robbers shall injure us!
"And trade ... Ah yes! Goods will be available, and of the kind, quality and price we want; financing the operation will be no impediment; there will be no shortages, no damaged freight, no ruined merchandise, no change in style or taste that would hinder trade; no city regulation, no competition, no shortage of labor - nothing will get in the way!
"And get gain ... Of course, buyers for our products will be plentiful; they will have the money; they will wish to purchase our goods, at a prince [price] substantially higher than we paid; the profits will roll in! …"
About his vision of future events (i.e., those that will occur after the "resurrection of the dead" and judgment day), the apostle John wrote this:
In Revelation 21:1: "And I[John]saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven [our current universe] and the first earth [the one we live in now] were passed away [changed]; and there was no more sea."
When the above verse was written, John was waiting for the above prophecy to be fulfilled, and many years later, born-again Christians are still waiting. When that time finally comes, what a wonderful day it will be!
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In the Old Testament, God promised that there would be no more worldwide floods.
-- In Genesis 9:11, God said to Noah: "And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."
So, the next time that God needs to rid the world of sin (by removing evil people and evil things), he'll have to do it a different way. The Bible says it will be with fire.
-- 2 Peter 3:12, 13 says: "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we [born-again Christians], according to his [God's] promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."