A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
It would be nice to have the gift of prophecy, to know for sure what would happen in the future. Since we are not God—the only One Who has a complete grasp on the future—this kind of infallible knowledge regarding future events is limited to that which we find in inspired Scripture. Nevertheless, we are still interested in what happens in the future. We could not act today if we didn’t think our actions had some impact on tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We plant seed, predicting that we will harvest a crop in a few months. We invest our money, hoping that it will yield us some interest. Predicting the future is a vital part of life.
It does take good and careful discernment in order to make wise predictions. This discernment is based on something more than experience. It must be rooted in God’s Word. We see the dark clouds gathering and we forecast a storm. But is it possible to see the dark clouds gathering as immoral people take over our institutions? As relationships sour in a church, the wise man will discern an ungodly spirit of dissension that could rip the church to shreds. Knowing that God’s patience rightfully wears thin with nations in apostasy, we might come to the conclusion that our own nation is at risk of severe judgment. For generations now, American Christians have expected some judgment upon our nation which has forgotten God. How can a nation kill its children and institutionalize sodomy as a preferred lifestyle, and not receive the same judgment that fell upon a child-sacrificing, Baal-worshiping Israel or a decadent Sodom thousands of years ago? If God “winked” at some of the sins of the Old Testament era, but now He commands every man everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), then nations would do well to repent—immediately. Yet, repentance is hardly talked about, even among church-going people. This does not bode well for the future of a nation that has run headlong into sins that are particularly egregious to God.
In a day where weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of sinful men, the prudent will do well not to place absolute trust in princes or in the United Nations. The nature of sinful man hasn’t changed since the garden, and now he has access to powerful weapons that could destroy entire cities. Of course, this does not mean that we live in fear of men. Not at all! We take careful note of our circumstances and do our best to protect our own families in days of trouble. We will “trust in God and keep our powder dry,” as Oliver Cromwell once said.
By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
When the Apostle Peter tells us to teach rhetoric or debate in our high school classes (1 Pet. 3:15), he doesn’t spend much time dealing with method. How might one go about preparing “to give an answer for the hope that is within you”? The Greek thinker Aristotle provided a full 300-page textbook on the subject of rhetoric, but he forgot to mention the two indispensable elements that must be part of every rhetoric class. Peter would never think of teaching rhetoric to teenagers without “humility and fear.” Thus, you can see that the fisherman stands in radical opposition to the philosopher. They propose two radically different forms of education.
But the schools still believe that you can be successful without humility and the fear of God. They are busy “raising tomorrow’s leaders.” That is the overused byline touted by public high schools in Colorado as if everybody gets to be “the leader”! Pride in human achievement and self-assurance constitute the very backbone of modern education. It would be against the law to fear God or to teach the fear of God in those classrooms. So are these riches and honor that they seek after anything but fleeting things? It is interesting that the most proud and wealthy nations in our day are those that have incurred the most debt! Americans live in homes twice the size of houses built one hundred years ago (on average), and their household debt is twenty times what it was then (adjusted for inflation)! They are proud. They live beyond their means. But they are far more impoverished and enslaved than they ever were! What would have happened to this nation if the schools had rather trained young people to be humble and to tremble before God in their biology laboratories during all those years? They would have had true riches, honor, and life that would extend into the generations. There would have been some inheritance to pass on to the next generation. Instead, now only 5% of Americans will receive anything substantial in the form of an inheritance from their parents.
1. What are some of the general patterns by which God works in history? How can this help us to predict what will happen in the future?
2. How does Peter’s view of rhetoric differ from Aristotle’s?
3. If a nation neglects humility and the fear of God in their classrooms, will it be a truly wealthy nation? Why or why not?