Proverbs 24:11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not requite man according to his work? (RSV)
The preceding verses could be taken at least two ways. One, if a poor man is cheated out of his food, will he not die? But if we see the poor being afflicted and taken advantage of by the greedy rich and powerful and we do not speak out, does that not make us accomplices. Does not the Lord take notice of our behavior, or as it were, ‘inaction’?
Also, if Christians see the unsaved going to their death without the Lord, are we to just sit back and suppose that they did it to themselves? Did not the Lord instruct us to share His Word with all people? Will He not take notice of those who sit back and don’t carry His Word forth?
Next, I remember as a child on up hearing about how much the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament and how Jesus Himself quoted from the Old Testament. I accepted it as such, and taught so myself without much more thought. It recently occurred to me, if the Old Testament is God’s Word, and Jesus is God’s Word from before the foundation of the world, then actually, the Old Testament is quoting Jesus, and Jesus in the Gospels is only repeating what He told the prophets of old. Here are just a couple of examples.
Proverbs 25:6 Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great; 7 for it is better to be told, "Come up here," than to be put lower in the presence of the prince. (RSV)
Luke 14:8 "When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (RSV)
Proverbs 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you. (RSV)
Matthew 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (RSV)
Here are a few more gems from Proverbs.
Proverbs 28:11 A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out. (RSV)
Is this not an indictment against those who get rich, especially when it is at the expense of the poor?
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. 14 Blessed is the man who fears the LORD always; but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (RSV)
Are there not those who act as if they have no transgressions? If there is any sin, and one acts as though they have nothing to conceal, then by not confessing to the Lord one is concealing and should certainly have reason to fear the Lord. Consider these next two verses of Solomon.
Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, "I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin"? (RSV)
Ecclesiastes 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. (RSV)
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (RSV)
As it teaches also in the New Testament, we are to study His Word, and we are to seek the help of the Holy Spirit in understanding, and we are to rightly handle the Word of Truth. By mishandling God’s Word, we may read into it what it doesn’t say, and this is what Proverbs 30: 5-6 above warn about.
Ecclesiastes 3:16 Moreover I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. (RSV)
4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. (RSV)
Beware of those who are rich and powerful, for any they have more than they need is what belongs to the oppressed of the land, and God who sees their tears will judge the righteous and the wicked.
Sometimes it almost seem uncanny to me, how much of my New Testament reading echoes my Old Testament reading, but it shouldn’t seem uncanny. The Old and New Testaments are God’s Word and are in complete harmony. He surely wouldn’t teach differently.
Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; 2 let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. (RSV)
Is not the teaching of the strong bearing the failings of the weak comparable to what those who are ‘strong’ in riches and power should do for the oppressed?
1st Corinthians 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; 27 but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; 31 therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord." (RSV)