Proverbs 14:34 "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."This verse is the "verse of the day" from "Bible Gateway" on internet. It sure applies now and did at all times in history It is timeless! Why? Compare it to the Abrahamic Covenant:
Genesis 17:1 "...the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised."Proverbs are "wisdom from the Lord". God said it and it was written! Compare it to his promise to Abraham
- First off God said it. Compare that to "I am the Almighty God" when he spoke to Abraham. The Lord appeared to Abraham. Since no one could look on Abraham, who was it who appeared to him? He spoke. Abraham heard words. It was "the Word" who spoke. He was Emmanuel soon to be called that and "Jesus" as well! Jesus spoke to Abraham! It was Jesus, who had yet to be embodied, but as the angels "The Angel of God" could appear as he desired. After all, he is Almighty God!
- Secondly, Proverbs says "righteousness exalteth a nation". Compare that to "walk before me, and be thou perfect"! That's what righteousness is all about. We are to "be perfect". Since this is an everlasting covenant the deal God made with mankind was to be perfect! That was reinforced in Proverbs! Some will argue two points: 1) A person can never be perfect and 2) the Law has been replaced by grace. God''s deal was that we be perfect. He knows that we shall fail, but he does not dismiss our trying. Endeavoring to be perfect is how we show God that we love him! If he buys into our sincerity, then we are exalted! (More on that shortly). For the second excuse, Jesus came to fulfill the Law. What is written on stone is everlasting! The Ten Commandments are God's expectations of his creation! They are the metrics for "perfection" and all are demonstrations of love!
- Thirdly, what is "exalteth"? That means "to elevate" our stature, not in men's eyes, but God's! The end result that those who are righteous (or who seek perfection by obedience) shall eventually be glorified! That means when the person does their body and soul will be in perfect harmony with God's will, it shall never feel pain and will live forever! Our substance shall be like Jesus' after his Resurrection! Hidden in "exhalteth" is the promise of a Savior who will be a King as promised to Abraham. Jesus Christ was of his seed!
- As always God says things applicable to life here in the world. So fourthly, God is a nation-builder. He did that! He built Israel from the seed of Abraham, but more importantly God's nation is the kingdom of God. That nation was built simultaneously with the death of Jesus on the cross. The old was torn down and a future with hope was created. The ultimate promise in proverbs and to Abraham was that the kingdom of God would be built through Jesus' death and Resurrection!
- In an agreement there are always stipulations! The fifth point in Proverbs is about sin! When God told Abraham "be thou perfect" he was saying "do not sin". That is how mankind fulfills our end of the deal! In effect the Word is saying "because of my grace you are expected to love me back"! Yes, the covenant with Abraham is an act of grace... what Christianity is all about! God didn't have to make a deal. He did it because he loves us (John 3:16). Ironically, or poetic justice, it was Jesus who made the deal with Abraham and it was Jesus who was the object of the agreement. He in effect promised "Take up your cross and follow me and I shall give you eternal life!" It was an everlasting covenant, we shall be glorified and it's God's promise to mankind. We fulfill our end of the bargain by refraining from sin! That is an obligation of the Christian, it's obedience and it's our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
- The sixth point is that sin is a "reproach". It's a disgrace! What God says is that when you sin it's disgraceful! When any person does things which are a disgrace it minimizes God because it's God's covenant which is broken and God's heart which is torn. Not only that, but the sinner becomes a low-life. What they do they can never truly have pride in because they come up short. Some things sinners do are so grievous that they are an abomination (disgusting) to the Lord! If we disgust the Lord we are a disgrace to his name and as such, God's grace is never accepted. Being a "reproach" is denying grace! Those who live a life of sin fail to accept God's grace and this is a reproach! A person cannot serve two masters! He comes to hate one and love the other. By sinning sinners are in effect hating God! Sin is what voids the deal which God made with Abraham. When God said "be thou perfect" having love enough to be righteous, that was the deal breaker, not that perfection i achieved, but that a person is to do God's will as an act of love. If love is not there, then God's deal with mankind is broken. The Law is held in reproach!
- Lastly, Proverbs says "a reproach to any people". Just as all were to obey the Law the reproach of sin is for any people. No one is above the Law. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God"! Grace is for all because all have sinned. God's promise to Abraham was for all mankind... all the seed of Abraham! The Jews cut off their flesh as a symbol of obedience. Whereas, they cut off a small part of the flesh by being perfect God expected them to cut off all "the flesh". That is to "sin no more" or be perfect in heart! Proverbs says that sin is a disgrace for anyone and Abraham was told by God for all his seed to be perfect in heart. Abraham knew the expectations of the covenant because he knew it was the pre-incarnate Jesus who made the deal! Because Abraham mimicked God's sacrifice of his "only son" the pre-incarnate Jesus, using the Word, told Abraham all about what was to come!
King Solomon wrote Proverbs. He was the wisest man who ever lived (move over Stephen Hawking) because God revealed to him his mystery. When the covenant was made with Abraham those who read it failed to understand it until the mystery of God was revealed starting with John the Baptist! Abraham knew the mystery and so did Solomon. David knew it too and so did all the prophets! Now we know the mystery of God!
But these verses are also about the world! Basically, if we obey the Lord and live in righteousness, not only is there a promise of glorification in the kingdom of God, but there shall be prosperity for those who are righteous. As we near the Fourth of July and the celebration of American Independence we must remember that God's promise to Abraham applies to the United States! If we live righteously as Solomon told us, then we shall be exalted as a nation! With Abraham it is prosperity that he gave. If we live as if we love and respect God, he will keep his deal. The outcome is prosperity, but if we fail him, we are a reproach!