Sermon for January 5, 2020

Vision Handed Down Thru the Ages

Proverbs 24:23-34

“These also are sayings of the wise. Partiality in judging is not good. (24) Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, (25) but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. (26) Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. (27) Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. (28) Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. (29) Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.” (30) I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, (31) and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. (32) Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. (33) A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, (34) and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

· This part of Proverbs is the shared wisdom of Solomon, recorded somewhere around 900 BCE. Solomon is recorded to have been the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 4:30). That is until archeology discovered in Thebes in 1847 dating back to the 5th Dynasty of Egypt (2375-2350 BCE) called the “Instruction of Ptahhotep”. There are four copies of the Instructions, and the only complete version, Papyrus Prisse, is located in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.1

· Another Ancient Egyptian and more complete text is the “Instruction of Amenemope” that is the British Museum Papyrus 10474, which was acquired in Thebes by E. A. Wallis Budge in early 1888 dated most likely during the Ramesside Period (ca. 1300–1075 BCE) .2

· Both of these Ancient Egyptian texts predate the Proverbial recordings by a minimum of 175 years and maximum of 1,400 years!

· Should we then be troubled that it absolutely appears that Solomon “borrowed” some wisdom and recorded it, at times word for word, only changing the places where the Egyptian gods are documented with Yahweh? The short answer is “NO”! Wisdom is defined as understanding and application. This is why people who don’t know God can still do good things. There are some things that most everyone can agree upon as wisdom.

o Examples: Matthew 16:1-3; Luke 14:28-29; Mark 3:27-28 So, what do you think is Jesus’ understanding of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 24 in today’s study, especially verse 27? Also consider that it is likely a wisdom handed down to Solomon that he inherited from his ancestors i.e. Joseph son of Jacob and Moses while they were in Egypt.

Let’s see:

Proverb 27-Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build house.

Luke 10:2- And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Matthew 9:35-38-And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (36) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (37) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; (38) therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

So, what did the Ancient Egyptian, Solomon, and Jesus…even Abraham Lincoln all understand? Simply:

Matthew 12:22-28 -Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. (23) And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” (24) But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” (25) Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. (26) And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? (27) And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. (28) But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

With Vision, there is unity. Look at what a world united can accomplish. Look at the pyramids of Egypt and all that has been constructed. History shows that it wasn’t Israelite slaves that built the pyramids, but a nation united with vision. The type of slavery that Israel experienced was one of racial profiling rather than forced labor. Nazi Germany used this same tactic. Solomon built the Great Temple at the summit of Israel as a country. Jesus ushered in His kingdom. But what happens when the people forget and lose their vision? They become divided and begin fighting with themselves. Every great kingdom began to fall from within. Now what you are left with are the beautiful houses that are now in ruins because they forgot what united them in the first place. They stopped doing the outside work and just focused on the house “they built.” 

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  1. Simpson, William Kelly. The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry. New Haven, US: Yale University Press, 2003.
  2. 2 Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II: The New Kingdom (University of California Press, 1976), 146-16

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