(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
One of the things that I think we often think about the Proverbs is that it's trapped in the ‘here and now,’ that there's no past in the Proverbs and there's no future in the Proverbs; it’s just about what's happening now, and the dangers of now and the righteous path for now. And that's just not true. One of the themes that courses its way through the Proverbs, that you may not have noticed, is the theme of eternity. You could not have the balanced, Biblical worldview that is in Proverbs without eternity being part of it.
And that comes to us in two ways. First, there are direct references to things beyond the ‘here and now’ Hear Proverbs 12:28, “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” Think about that. That's way more than, “Sin will kill you somehow in the here now.” It's stretching your view beyond just the present rewards and punishment of life to, “This is bigger, this story is bigger than just the here and now.” That's in Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 10:2, Proverbs 10:16, that same view. Eternity is all about the life-and-death consequences of sin and righteousness and the grace that is ours to ever stand before God as righteous. The Proverbs surely has that chord of eternity in it.
But there's more and I love this. The Proverbs gives us a glimpse, a bit of a portrait of what the world to come will be like if peace and harmony and righteousness and justice and wisdom would reign in everybody's heart and everywhere forever and ever. When you read the Proverbs and you see what God is holding out, you are seeing ‘shalom’ again, ‘shalom’ that was shattered in the garden.
What is ‘shalom?’ It's way more than peace! ‘Shalom’ is everything in its right place, doing what it was meant to do. The Proverbs begins to give you a picture of that. Imagine a world where everything is in its right place, and everything and everyone is committed to doing exactly what we and it were meant to do. Imagine a world where there is no sin, there is no suffering, there is no danger, there is no death, there is no foolishness, but wisdom and righteousness reign for ever and ever and ever.
You and I should say to ourselves as we read the Proverbs, “I want to live in a world that's like the one that God describes in the Proverbs.” And you and I could never ever earn a ticket to that world because in the brightest of our righteousness, we sadly fall short of the glory of God. If we could be the righteous, wise person described in the Proverbs on our own, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus would not have been necessary. That eternity that's pictured in Proverbs is only ours by grace.
And so, Proverbs is meant to produce in your heart a celebration that this thing that seems so far away that we could never achieve is ours, and someday we will be in that place where wisdom and righteousness reigns for ever and ever and ever! That message is in the Proverbs.