The local community newspaper listed eight foreclosures in the last week, all residences. That’s just in one week.
I had a hard time reading that and not getting misty-eyed. Eight families, no home.
At that rate, we’ll have 416 foreclosures in 2009 in my locality. Frankly, given the trend of things around here, I’m thinking the real number will tally somewhere closer to 700.
I wish it were zero.
The dread of losing one’s home runs high in most people. In America, it’s the ultimate failure, the financial, social, moral, and intellectual scarlet letter.
The Bible, in one of its more inscrutable verses, says this:
What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
When I first started writing Cerulean Sanctum, I got a lot of emails from people with the gist of “Who do you think you are, some kind of spiritual brainiac with all the answers?” The letters didn’t last, though. I think enough truth came out in postings here that people realized that I don’t have all the answers, not even remotely.
I don’t know what to do with a verse like the one above. In the case of the righteous of the Old Covenant, one could argue that their end goals were earthly prosperity and a continuing lineage. Time and again, the Old Testament’s discussion of the payout for the righteous takes those two forms. You can’t ignore them.
The New Covenant changes it, at least as I see it, so that Christ is the goal for the righteous.
But it’s not the payout for the righteous that perplexes me, but the wicked’s. The wicked’s jagged little pill bothers me because their end is the same in both the Old and New Testaments. What they dread is what they receive.
So I struggle with this. Not because the wicked should not reap what they sow, but because the Bible seems to make it clear that people will see the practical outcomes of wickedness. They will be clearly visible. We will know who is wicked and who is righteous by what happens to them, not only in the life to come, but in life right now.
Which brings me back to Proverbs 10:24.
I think about those eight foreclosures in my locality, and I apply Proverbs 10:24. Those people who lost their homes received what they dreaded. The verse says it is the wicked who receive what they dread, not the righteous.
Therefore, it would appear that every one of those people who lost their homes to foreclosure were wicked. They could not be righteous.
So I struggle with that. I wonder if Proverbs 10:24 and dozens of verses that say the same essential thing elsewhere in the Scripture are proof-textable clarifications of who is wicked and who is righteous.
Then we come to the following passage and the water murks even more:
When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
The thought of the local people: Paul is wicked because of the misfortune that befell him. They seem to be referencing Proverbs 10:24 here.
How does this all fit with the dozens of OT passages that say that the wicked receive misfortune, while the righteous receive good? Hyperbole? Positive thinking? Rainbows and unicorns? Did the New Covenant wipe all those verses away?
So much for being a spiritual brainiac…
Any wise folks out there with some sage wisdom with regards to this topic? Please share. I think that many people in the days to come will be struggling with this same issue and will need to hear godly words.