November 21, 2013

Can't Get No Satisfaction (Except Through God)

There are four things I’ve found in Proverbs that the Bible says are never satisfied. It helps to understand that Agur (probably Solomon) is speaking through an artificial mode of expression but the imagery is unmistakable. It describes sinful human lusts and desires. These descriptions can refer to nearly any avaricious or materialistic human being too.

Proverbs 30:15-16 ~ “The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.” There are three things that will not be satisfied, four that will not say, “Enough”: Sheol [death], and the barren womb, earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, “Enough.”

There is an insatiable nature to all these things. What they are essentially pointing out in their context is the cruel covetous nature of man's selfishness. There are few words spared here to describe the rapacious heart of man.

A human’s greediness and cruelty are compared to that of a creature the sole end of whose existence is to gorge itself with blood. A creature [leech] that will not relinquish its grip on its victim. Most of us from personal experience know that these descriptions are not overwrought. If anything, they are possibly understated. What is worse is that the sins of mankind are being compared to one of the lowest forms of life and it is parasitic.

There is nothing that humanity can imagine in the form of cruelty can surpass what man has already been guilty of. We need only look at the last century to see just how far man can sink in godlessness and depravity. The 20th Century is a showcase of mechanized warfare, genocidal exterminations and the like. The ingenuity with which man has been able to perpetrate evils against other living beings borders on the ingenious (in a bad way). Things like the systematic slaughter of six million Jews in the 1930’s and 40’s is dwarfed by the horrendous evil that is modern abortion. A procedure that takes the lives of the unborn at the rate of 1.3 million a year. The barbaric manner in which some of these abortions are performed defies words. The ones that do come to mind are dismemberment and chemically burning to death. Sorry folks, anything that takes the life if one and physically and psychologically injures another is not “healthcare”. It’s more akin to war.

It is often the case that people do care not who suffers. So long as they satisfy their own covetousness. It is in this schism or gap between God who is holy and these selfish behaviors that are indwelling man that we see the profound need for the Gospel. It is the only thing that has the ability to transform the savagery of man who acts no better than an animal at times into something capable of entering the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah 11:6 ~ “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.”

Revelation 21:4 ~ “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

In light of this…why does Agur write that the barren womb is not satisfied? Why is it that the earth that is never satisfied with water? Why does fire never say enough? We know that death is never satiated. All die, it’s a proven statistic. What of these other things mentioned? These others are just about as easy to understand. What is interesting in this imagery is that the womb that never says enough produces the life that Sheol or the grave consumes. The avenue for life into the world through the womb ends in the mouth of the grave. In birth we see the blessing of God and the gift of life. In the grave we see the curse of God and the enemy that is death. A death that Christ eventually uses to ultimately turn us to the blessing of eternal life. It is only through physical death through the curse of the Fall that one can reach the perfect blessing and gift of eternal life. It wasn't meant to be this way we are. Might as well make the best of it. Right?

John 12:24 ~ “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”

The earth described in Proverbs 30 is in a Hebraic grammatical arrangement that more specifically states that: The earth [that] is not filled with water [is never satisfied]. In other words it is talking about parched earth of land during a drought. In the Middle East this would seem even more obvious in its semi-arid conditions. Try pouring water into sand…it appears as if you could never stop pouring. As for fire mentioned...the fire when first kindled consumes nearly everything in its scorching path. In a strange way we see allusion about the fires of anger, Hell and other things. Their flames are never satiated…just like men’s lust and greed once kindled.

Deuteronomy 32:22 ~ “For a fire is kindled in My [God’s] anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Proverbs 27:20 ~ “Sheol [grave] and Abaddon [Hell, destruction] are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.

Fire once it is lit will continue to burn all consumable material unless acted on by an outside source. Anger once lit engulfs everyone in sight. It peppers everyone in earshot. It will drain its fuel turning everything to ash. We see this in everything to a campfire to the sun which rises in the eastern sky every day. James adroitly makes this analogy about a person’s speech also. It is ironic that the human tongue exposes or confesses the truth of the desires/covetousness of the heart.

James 3:5 ~ “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

It is therefore sad that these are the most extreme examples of comparison that we can use to describe human covetousness…yet they fall woefully short of the reality at times. The depths to which human desire can sink are still limited to written words and the words sometimes fail in their task to convey the full scope of man’s depravity.

Every excess seems to provoke a further craving for more. It is because man was created to relate to an infinite eternal God and pursue the truths of this infinite eternal God. Instead, we turn aside or turn away from the infinite God and use these mental and emotional faculties given to us by God and misuse them to pursue sin, the finite and the godless. We are therefore never satisfied because sin as an end in limited. Even though pleasures of sin may last a season, eventually they come collecting their due. Instead of eternally pursuing God we pursue the desires of our hearts which are godless. It is another way of stating Blaise Pascal's age old quote:
There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensées
This then returns us to the first thing that is not satiated…the grave. In our constant pursuit of our sin we end up killing ourselves because the wages of sin is death. Anything that is not of God that we pursue with blind zeal leads to death. It is a self-perpetuating nefarious cycle and the only thing that breaks the cycle or interrupts it is the intervention of God either through our trusting in His Gospel or our death and glorification in Christ. If we do not trust God’s truth in the Gospel we are essentially given over to God’s eternal wrath in Hell…whose flames are never satisfied either!

The truth is that in the full scope of salvation history, Agur wrote these words before Christ came in His first advent as Savior and Messiah. The Gospel had not fully been revealed through Jesus. What we really need to take away from this is this: It is only through Christ/God that any of these things can be satiated or overcome. It is God who brings the rain until the land is no longer in drought (1 Kings 18:41, Zechariah 10:1, Matthew 5:45). It is God who will eventually remove the need to give birth to give life (Matthew 22:30, Romans 7:1-3). It is God who can produce a fire so that it does not consume (Exodus 3:2, Daniel 3:25, Isaiah 43:2). 

Most importantly, it is God who can and has conquered death and shut the mouth of the grave once and for all (Romans 1:14, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 25-26, 55-57; 2 Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 20:14).

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