(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, we’ve been going through some introductory principles for understanding Proverbs. When I began this series, I said that I think Proverbs is one of the most referenced portions of the Word of God, but maybe one of the least fully understood. So, I thought these introductory principles were important.
Here's the next one, “Every Proverb leads you to Jesus and His cross.” I simply am unable, just unable to read the Proverbs without thinking about the incarnation of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. You may say, “Well, why? How do you get there from the Proverbs?” Well, it's really captured in a single sentence in Proverbs 22:15 which says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.”
Now think about this, think about the deep and important thing that that sentence says, “Sin reduces all of us to fools.” The Proverbs is proposing that we’re born into the world as fools and that's a shocking thing to think about. No one's born wise, no one! And it’s not wrong as parents to look at their child and be sobered by the understanding that they’ve given birth to a fool, and Proverbs lets us know how destructive and damaging that foolishness is.
But this phrase says something else. It says that this foolishness is a heart problem. Now, what that means is, foolishness is deeper than bad thinking and wrong behavior. Foolishness is a condition of the heart. I can change my thinking, I can make some reformation of my behavior, but I can't escape the condition of my heart. There's more.
If you look at other passages of Scripture as they define foolishness, foolishness, according to Psalm 14, is about God-denial. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Now, here's what this means. It doesn't mean a theological philosophical atheism; it means that I live as if God doesn't exist. I put myself in the center of my world and I make life all about me.
Now, if we’re all fools and foolishness is a condition of the heart, and the epicenter of foolishness is a God-denial and self-orientation, then Law and Wisdom principles are not enough. We should be thankful for God's Law; we should love His Wisdom, but that Law and that Wisdom doesn't have the power to transform our hearts. And so, the Proverbs points us to the fact that the only hope for fools, because it's a condition, and I can change my location, and I can change relationships, but I can't run from myself, that the only hope for fools is the intervention of divine grace.
And so, the Proverbs point you to the fact that Jesus had to come. He had to live the perfect life that I couldn’t live; He had to die that acceptable death and take on Himself the penalty for all of our self-oriented, God-denying foolishness; He had to rise again, conquering sin and death, or there would be no hope for us. If you understand the deep, scary message of Proverbs, you then understand that Proverbs together, all the Proverbs together, are one big finger pointing us to the coming and the cross of Jesus. In that way, the Proverbs are prophetic because the cry for Proverbs is a cry for rescue; it’s a cry for redemption; it’s a cry for Jesus!