Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. (Proverbs 20:11)
Like a Tree
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you. (Proverbs 9:9-11)
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
When they came into Bethsaida, a group brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged Him to touch the man and heal him. So Jesus guided the man out of the village, away from the crowd; and He spat on the man’s eyes and touched them.
Jesus: What do you see?
Blind Man (opening his eyes): I see people, but they look like trees—walking trees.
Jesus touched his eyes again; and when the man looked up, he could see everything clearly.
Jesus sent him away to his house.
Jesus (to the healed man): Don’t go into town yet. [And don’t tell anybody in town what happened here.]
Bethsaida is the hometown of at least three of Jesus’ emissaries—Peter, Andrew, and Philip—and possibly James and John as well. Jesus performs many miracles there, most notably the feeding of the 5,000. However, this miracle—the healing of the blind man—is the only miracle in all the Gospels that is done in stages instead of instantly.
Of course, there’s no way to know for sure why Jesus chooses to heal this man partly before He heals him entirely.
Jesus frequently links faith, or lack of faith, with the healings.
Bethsaida is a town He criticizes for its lack of faith (Matthew 11:21–22).
So it’s likely He wants to demonstrate to His disciples that their inability to see His purpose can be healed, too, even if it takes time. (Mark 8:22-26)
It’s judgment time for God’s own family. We’re first in line. If it starts with us, think what it’s going to be like for those who refuse God’s Message!
If good people barely make it,
What’s in store for the bad?
“I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act.
Look, I’m standing at the door and knocking.
If anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in and we’ll eat together.” (Jesus, speaking in Revelation 3:19-20)
Never Betray My Trust; Get over ‘it‘ and Keep Walking in My Will
So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust Him.
He knows what He’s doing, and He’ll keep on doing it. (1 Peter 4:17-19)
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.
Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.
Consider the life of the One who endured such personal attacks and hostility from sinners so that you will not grow weary or lose heart. Among you, in your striving against sin, none has resisted the pressure to the point of death, as He did.
God “disciplines” His “disciples.”
My child, do not ignore the instruction that comes from the Lord,
or lose heart when He steps in to correct you;
For the Lord disciplines those He loves,
and He corrects each one He takes as His own.
Endure hardship as God’s discipline and rejoice that He is treating you as His children, for what child doesn’t experience discipline from a parent? But if you are not experiencing the correction that all true children receive, then it may be that you are not His children after all. Remember, when our human parents disciplined us, we respected them. If that was true, shouldn’t we respect and live under the correction of the Father of all spirits even more? Our parents corrected us for a time as seemed good to them, but God only corrects us to our good so that we may share in His holiness.
When punishment is happening, it never seems pleasant, only painful. Later, though, it yields the peaceful fruit called righteousness to everyone who has been trained by it. So lift up your hands that are dangling and brace your weakened knees. Make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame in you won’t be put out of joint, but will heal.
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, since no one will see God without it. Watch carefully that no one falls short of God’s favor, that no well of bitterness springs up to trouble you and throw many others off the path. Watch that no one becomes wicked and vile like Esau, the son of Isaac, who for a single meal sold his invaluable birthright. You know from the stories of the patriarchs that later, when he wished to claim his blessing, he was turned away. He could not reverse his action even though he shed bitter tears over it. (Hebrews 12:1-17)
The Sun of Righteousness Will Dawn
“Count on it: The day is coming, raging like a forest fire. All the arrogant people who do evil things will be burned up like stove wood, burned to a crisp, nothing left but scorched earth and ash— a black day. But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking. And you’ll tromp on the wicked. They’ll be nothing but ashes under your feet on that Day.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.
“Remember and keep the revelation I gave through my servant Moses, the revelation I commanded at Horeb for all Israel, all the rules and procedures for right living.
“But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.”
“I, Solomon, David’s son and Israel’s king, pass on to you these proverbs—a treasury of wisdom—
So that you would recognize wisdom and value discipline;
that you would understand insightful teaching
And receive wise guidance to live a disciplined life;
that you would seek justice and have the ability to choose what is right and fair.
These proverbs teach the naive how to become clever;
they instruct the young in how to grow in knowledge and live with discretion.
The wise will pay attention to these words and will grow in learning,
and the discerning will receive divine guidance,
And they will be able to interpret the meaning of a proverb and a puzzle,
the twists and turns in the words of the wise and their riddles.
A strategic translation decision has been made to respect the historical situation of this book.
In its original context, Proverbs is practical wisdom passed down from parents (especially fathers, see chapters 1–9) to young men who are preparing to enter a life of adult responsibilities: family, business, community leadership, and so on. Because of this relational aspect, we have retained masculine references when appropriate and have used more inclusive language when that was the intention of the original author. It is our greatest hope that God will use this work to remind fathers of the profound place they have in nurturing, instructing, and guiding the next generation.
Let us begin. The worship of the Eternal One, the one True God, is the first step toward knowledge.
Fools, however, do not fear God and cannot stand wisdom or guidance.
So, my son, pay attention to your father’s guidance,
and do not ignore what your mother taught you—
Wear their wisdom as a badge of honor and maturity,
as fine jewelry around your neck.
My son, should your less honorable peers pressure you to do what is wrong,
you should be strong enough not to go along.
God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:
when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,
When you avoid sin’s highway,
when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.
For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.
It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.
You are like a tree,
planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.
Your fruit ripens in its time;
your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.
No matter what you do, you prosper.
For those who focus on sin, the story is different.
They are like the fallen husk of wheat, tossed by an open wind, left deserted and alone.
In the end, the wicked will fall in judgment;
the guilty will be separated from the innocent.
Their road suddenly will end in death,
yet the journey of the righteous has been charted by the Eternal.
Reassure the righteous that their good living will pay off.
But doom to the wicked! Disaster!
Everything they did will be done to them.
Although a wicked person commits a hundred sins and still lives a long life, I am confident it will go better for those who worship the one True God and stand in awe before Him, and it will not go well for the wicked nor will their days grow long like evening shadows because they do not stand in awe of God.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
Make our sons in their prime
like sturdy oak trees,
Our daughters as shapely and bright
as fields of wildflowers.
Fill our barns with great harvest,
fill our fields with huge flocks;
Protect us from invasion and exile—
eliminate the crime in our streets.
How blessed the people who have all this!
How blessed the people who have God for God!
Blessed are All who Walk in His Ways
My ears are filled with the sounds of promise:
“Good people will prosper like palm trees,
Grow tall like Lebanon cedars;
transplanted to God’s courtyard,
They’ll grow tall in the presence of God,
lithe and green, virile still in old age.”
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD.
The Meaning of the Harvest Story
“Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart”
This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.
“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm.”
But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.
“The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard….”
and nothing comes of it.
The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News…
and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
He told another story. “God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.
“The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’
“He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’
“The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’
“He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time.
Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.’”
Another story. “God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.”
But what happens when we live God’s way?
He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—
things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.
We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart,
and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.
We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments,
not needing to force our way in life,
Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.
That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.
We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.
Each of us is an original. (Galatians 5:22-26)
The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
“Be free from your imprisonment!”
He has sent me to announce the year of jubilee, the season of the Eternal’s favor:
for our enemies it will be a day of God’s wrath;
For those who mourn it will be a time of comfort.[a]
As for those who grieve over Zion,
God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes,
To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow,
to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness.
People will call them magnificent, like great towering trees
standing for what is right.
They stand to the glory of the Eternal
who planted them.
And they will rebuild this place from its ancient ruins;
they will restore the ages-old, once-splendid structures;
They will renew Israel’s ruined cities
from the ashes and debris that laid untouched for many generations.
And people will come from all over to serve you:
Outsiders will tend your flocks, plough your fields, and prune your vines.
You will be known as the ones specially chosen by the Eternal as priests;
people will speak of you as ministers of our God.
And the wealth of nations will come to you for your delight and enrichment.
Many called you disgraced and defiled and said that shame should be your share of things.
Yet you suffered doubly and lived in disgrace;
So double will be your share, and with joy everlasting.
Eternal One: For I, the Eternal, love justice.
I hate stealing and all manner of wrongdoing.
In faithfulness to those who do justice, I promise they will be rewarded for their work;
and I will establish an everlasting covenant with them.
Furthermore, I will promise them My support for their children,
so that all nations and everyone around
Will see that they are the children blessed by the Eternal God.
I am filled with joy and my soul vibrates with exuberant hope,
because of the Eternal my God;
For He has dressed me with the garment of salvation,
wrapped me with the robe of righteousness.
It’s as though I’m dressed for my wedding day,
in the very best: a bridegroom’s garland and a bride’s jewels.
The whole earth sprouts newness and life in the springtime,
and green shoots break through the well-seeded garden soil.
That’s what it is like with the Eternal’s victory—
the Lord will cause justice and praise to sprout up before all the nations, for all peoples to see.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful!
But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
My heavenly guide brought me to the river of pure living waters, shimmering as brilliantly as crystal.
It flowed out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle and dividing the street of the holy city.
On each bank of the river stood the tree of life, firmly planted, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and producing its sweet crop every month throughout the year. And the soothing leaves that grew on the tree of life provided precious healing for the nations.
Fed by a crystal clear river is the tree of life.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve were prevented from eating from the tree once they were expelled from the garden of Eden. Divine creatures and a flaming sword then stood guard at the entrance to the garden (Genesis 3:24).
Now the tree of life returns to the story, a single tree situated on both sides of the river.
No one is denied access to its luscious fruit and healing leaves.
No one or nothing will labor under any curse any longer.
And the throne of God and of the Lamb will sit prominently in the city.
God’s servants will continually serve and worship Him.
They will be able to look upon His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads.
Darkness will never again fall on this city.
They will not require the light of a lamp or of the sun because the Lord God will be their illumination.
By His light, they will reign throughout the ages.
Guide (speaking to me): These words are faithful and true.
And the Lord, the God who inspired the prophets, has sent His heavenly messenger to show to His servants what must soon take place.
The Anointed One: Look now, I am coming soon!
The one who remains true to the prophetic words contained in this book will truly be blessed. (Revelation 22:1-7)
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-17)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.