Seeing Jesus in Proverbs 11:21

Posted: June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

When reading the Old Testament one should not fail to look for Jesus running through the pages.  I am thankful for the emphasis that is being placed on seeing Christ in the pages of the Old Testament.  The church of the Lord Jesus will have a fuller understanding of redemptive history and be better able to understand the New Testament when the message of Jesus is seen to run from Genesis to Malachi and not simply from Matthew to Revelation.

Thus, when I read through the Old Testament scriptures I am constantly thinking about how this is pointing me to Jesus (while making sure not to miss the historical-grammatical authorial intent).  At the present I am reading through the Proverbs and have seen a number of verses that caused me to run straight to the cross of our Lord.  Let me mention one briefly.

Proverbs 11:21 is a good example of Hebrew parallelism.  One verse, or part of a verse, is paralleled with another.  In this instance it is a negative parallel.  The first part of verse 21 gives us the picture of the “evil person” while the second part gives us the picture of the “righteous.”  The fate of each stands in clear contrast with the other.  The “evil person will not go unpunished.  The “righteous will be delivered.  The person who is wicked will not escape judgment while the one who is righteous will be saved, or delivered, from judgment.

Now, how does this point us to Jesus?  Well, let us examine the verse.  First we see that it is the evil person who is in danger of punishment.  Immediately that should ring like bad news in our ears.  Why?  Because we know we are wicked and evil persons.  The Bible, human history, and our individual existence prove this.  The Bible teaches that sin enters the world through Adam and Eve and that all are guilty in Adam (Romans 5:12-14).  King David would teach us that even he, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), was “brought forth in iniquity” and “in sin” conceived (Psalm 51:5).  The Apostle Paul would combine a few Psalms to confirm the Old Testament teaching of the depravity of man (see Romans 3).  In Romans 3:10-18 we see that “none is righteous, no, not one” (vs. 10).  In Romans 3:23 we are told that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  The Bible teaches clearly that mankind is wicked. Secondly, we see this in the “slaughter bench” of human history (see the philosopher Hegel).  We have been killing and mistreating each other since Cain rose up against Able.  And if you still are not convinced, take an honest look at yourself.  You have thought things, felt things, said things, and done things that you should not have done.  The evidence is clear.  We are the “evil person” of Proverbs 11:21.

So, we deserve punishment.  It is only the “offspring of the righteous” that will be saved.  And we are not naturally those offspring.  We are the children of Adam.  But look at this verse closely.  Ask first who is “the righteous”?  Well, there is only one who fits that bill, right?  There is only one who did not sin.  There is only one who was perfectly obedient in this life.  And His name is Jesus.  The Bible teaches us that it is Jesus who was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  He is the “righteous one” (2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 10:38).  So, if Jesus is the “righteous” and it is His “offspring” that will be “delivered”, who are these people?!?  The Bible tells us that those who have turned from sin (repented) and trusted (put faith in, believed in, etc.) in Jesus alone are the children of God (Galatians 3:24-29, 4:4-7).  We now, through faith, are made righteous (Philippians 3:9) and “will be delivered.”

So even in the Proverbs we are pointed towards the coming of Jesus.  We see in this one verse, made up of two sentences, that our plight as sinners is only judgment.  We are without hope left to ourselves.  However, if we turn from sin and place our faith in Jesus we experience what theologians call the new birth (John 3).  We are now, through faith, the “offspring of the righteous”, namely, Jesus Christ, and will be saved from judgment at the last day.

How wonderful it is to know that the whole of redemptive history is meant to point us towards the work of Christ.  In the Old Testament we see our need for a Savior and we see the shadows that point towards His coming.  Then, when the new dispensation dawns and Christ comes in the flesh (John 1:14), the lights begin to come on.  Now, standing on this side of the cross and at this juncture of the church age, we have the completed canon and can now see clearly. 

So, read both the Old and New Testaments with eyes that long to see Jesus.  He sits on every page.

*Princeton theologian Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield said this about the Old Testament:  “The Old Testament is like a room that is fully furnished but dimly lit.”  He meant that although all the pieces of the puzzle were present in the Old Testament scriptures, it took the light of the New Testament to help us see them clearly.


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