PROVERBS 4: 14-24
"A WAY TO AVOID"
By Elie Nessim
December 18, 1999
Proverbs, Chapter 4, (we are half way through it), verse 14 onwards: “Do not enter into the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of evil; avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is like the shining sun that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. "
We saw last week in the first thirteen verses, the instruction of a father; the affectionate instruction of a father, and it involves choices: choice of that which is good and right, and, of course, a choice of one thing means a refusal of the other. And so, here we have from verses 14 through 19, the way of evil, a way to avoid. “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of evil." It's not something even to try.
“Blessed is the man," says the Book of Psalms, “that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." We are to shun this thing; we are not to say, 'Well, let's try it.' Solomon did in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He said, “Igave my heart to know wisdom at the same time as I was acquainting myself with wisdom, I was trying to plumb the depths of wickedness and of madness." He said, HI found it a futile pursuit."
So, (verse 15), “Avoid it, do not travel on it, turn away from it and pass on." Multiplied dangers, and multiplied warnings. In Genesis 13, we read about Lot. He pitched his tent towards Sodom. It was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, as you come to Egypt.
In Exodus, Chapter 23, GOD warns His people, in the Torah, here He is Exodus Chapter 23 and verse 7: “Keep yourself far from a false matter. Do not kill the innocent and righteous for I will not justify the wicked, and you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous. Also you shall not oppress
So we see "multiplied dangers need multiplied warnings." Don't be deceived by the appearance. All is not gold that glitters. Sulphur pyrites,
a certain mineral, looks just like gold. But the experienced gold miner says, 'No, that's not gold. That's what we call fool's gold.' It was the same with Dinah. She went out (the daughter of Jacob), she went out to see the daughters of the land. Now, obviously, it was something she should never have done. She was gadding about, and the result is she ended up being assaulted.
So, we find, multiplied dangers need multiplied warnings. Lot thought he was really getting the best choice when Abraham told him, "Behold all the land is before you. You choose where you will dwell and I'll go in the opposite direction." It really looked as though Lot really had it made. When the angels came to him, he was sitting in the gate of Sodom. But what happened for all that? He lost everything. He lost his wife; he lost his home; he lost his possessions; he lost his honour. In the end he was destitute. It looked as though he was going to be a rich man, a prosperous man, and he was going to live in paradise on earth. But the last we hear of him, he is in a cave, hiding for fear of coming down into the plain and living in dishonour and shame. Too ashamed, even, to go back to his uncle and to say, "I'm sorry. I made the mistake of my life." We don't read of him going back to Abraham. Don't you thing Abraham would have welcomed him back and shown compassion and love and given him a fresh start? No, we don't read about that.
It looked, really, very inviting. And that's why we have these exhortations; these earnest admonitions pressed on us. Because, to the human eye, and to the unaided understanding, the way of sin looks very alluring; it looks very pleasant. There is such a thing as what the Bible calls 'the pleasures of sin for a season.' For awhile, people are enjoying themselves. 'Oh, I like this. I'd rather be here than with all those fuddy duddies in their buildings with their stuffy air,' and so on. They make fun of us. But there is always a sting; there is always a sting at the end of it all. “They go rejoicing down to the grave," says the Bible. And they find out, too late, that it was poisoned honey.
a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." It's that first sentence in verse 7: “Keep yourself far from a false matter."
Haman and Mordecai; in three months' time we will be celebrating Purim, the story of Esther. Haman was exalted by King Xerxes so that he was second only to King Xerxes. The same kind of position that Joseph had, who was second only to Pharaoh. As he strutted through the gate; as he swaggered in his pride, all the king's servants bowed and did reverence to him, because the king had commanded it. There was one man, Mordecai, the Jew, that refused even to acknowledge his existence. He
Verse 16, he says, “They do not sleep" (he's referring to the wicked men.) “They do not sleep unless they have done evil, and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall." A sinful insomnia. Job spoke about those, in Job, Chapter 24, he mentioned people like that. He was contrasting himself with them, actually, when he spoke like this. In Job 24, verses 15 and 16, he says, "The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight saying, 'No eye will see me,' and he disguises his face. In the dark they break into houses which they marked for themselves in the daytime. They do not know the light, for the morning is the same to them as the shadow of death." See what the Bible means here? “They do not sleep unless they have done evil." People like the darkness in order to commit their sins.
Alexander Pope, when he wrote his essay on Man, wrote this about vice:
"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien as to be hated needs but to be seen. Yet, seen too oft, familiar with her face, we first endure, then, pity, then embrace." And what he is saying here is, if you live too long in a poisoned atmosphere, you don't realize that it is a poisoned atmosphere. You adjust to it; you become insensitive. Things that shocked us twentyfive years ago, do not shock us in the same way today. And that's because it has become so commonplace, it's swirling all around us. I suppose there's an inbuilt defence mechanism here, because we would go out of our minds; we would suffer nervous breakdowns if we allowed it to affect us as deeply as it did the first time. But there must always be in the heart of the child of GOD, a holy indignation against evil. Not so much the doer of evil as the evil itself. And we must pray against it; we must fight against it. And one way we can do it, is by keeping away from getting familiar with things like that.
was full of wrath, Haman, and he conspired to wipe out all the Jews in all the empire of the Persians.
Then he got an invitation from Queen Esther to a banquet and he went to his house glad and joyful of heart, but as he passed the gate, something stuck in his throat. There was Mordecai, sitting with his eyes on the ground, not even looking at him, let alone giving him a friendly nod. He was full of wrath, and he went home. He gathered his wife and his friends together. He told them of his greatness; his glory, his riches, all his family, he had ten sons; something impressive about the number 10.
'And, moreover,' he said, 'Esther, the Queen, invited nobody besides the Emperor, Xerxes, except me to the banquet. But,' he says, 'all this doesn't count with me as long as I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting in the gate.' You know what he was saying? 'I'll trade it all to get my hands on his throat!'
That was his vicious, his venomous attitude. So his wife said to him,
'Why bother getting so up tight? Just build the gallows, and in the morning, go and speak to the King Xerxes, have him hung. And after that you can go merrily to the banquet, you'll pass him dangling on the gallows.' So that night he didn't sleep; that's what the Book of Proverbs says here, "Evil men, they do not sleep unless they have done evil, and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.”
All night, (they didn't have overtime in those days, they just had slaves), these people were hammering and sawing all night to build this gallows. forget how high it was, but it was higher than an ordinary building in Vancouver. And in early morning, he hadn't felt the lack of sleep one bit, he was so consumed with his desire to see Mordecai hanging from that gallows. In the morning he went to stand in the King's court for an audience with King Xerxes.
But that night, King Xerxes had also had insomnia, and things turned around. You read the Book of Esther, we find that Haman did not get his way. Mordecai was not hanged, and in fact, Haman had built that gallows for himself. He was hanged on it. You can read the whole story in the Book of Esther.
The reason why they don't sleep, is sinful insomnia. They are staying awake at night hatching some fiendish plot or other. We read about it in
verse 17: “For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence." Their meat and drink is to commit sin.
How contrary was Messiah? Do you remember when He was by the well of Sychar? His disciples said, "Master, eat, you haven't eaten anything." He said, "I have food to eat of that you know nothing of. My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." How opposite! He is the holy Son of GOD, Messiah YESHUA. For Him it was His meat and drink to please His Father, and to do good. Now, you and I are His people; His children! We should be animated with the same ambition. We should have the same holy desire: '0 LORD, make me a channel.' There's a hymn like that: "Channels only, Blessed Master, but with all Thy wondrous power flowing through us, Thou canst use us every day and every hour."
We want to be channels; we don't want big names, we don't want lights. We just want to be used. And that was what Messiah was like. He was always dodging the limelight. He was always keeping away from the mobs that were trying to make Him king. And in the end, the Bible says, that those who love Him and serve Him, have a right to the Tree of Life, they have a right to the Living Waters.
What a difference between what the Believer eats and drinks and what the evil man eats and drinks. “They eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But," we read, (verse 18), lithe path of the just is like the shining sun that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day." Small beginnings, but very great consequences. Great things have small beginnings.
GOD says in Zechariah, Chapter 4, verse 10: “Who has despised the day of small things?" We are growing, we are not there. Perfection is not reached in a day. It is something that grows. “The path of the just is like the shining sun that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day." First of all, we notice that night isn't as black as it was. Then you begin to see some streaks of light of the horizon, reflected, perhaps, from the clouds. Then, at last, there is a brightness, an increasing brightness. And, finally, the sun appears. And then we follow it until it's in its full meridian shining down on us, and we can't look at it because of its brightness.
This is how the Believer is.