Summary: A look at the Wisdom of Solomon literature and a tie into Revelation with a promise that Christ has conquered death and payed the price for our sin.
Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-15 and 2:23-24
I have to admit that the wisdom books are some of my favorite literature.
I don’t know if our members have ever been introduced to the apocryphal/deuterocanoninical books, but if you’ve grown up in the Roman Catholic tradition, they are included in the Bibles used in that tradition.
They are also included in the Harper Collins Study Bible, the NRSV version which is used for academic studies at institutions of higher learning.
To give you a background about The Wisdom of Solomon, would be to explain this book as an horatory discourse featuring a highly enthusiastic and eulogistic invocation of wisdom.
It was written in Greek by a learned and profoundly hellenized Jew of Alexandria after that city’s conquests by Rome in 30 B.C.E.
To begin an appreciation of today’s lectionary text, we might recognize that the author is looking at death as the lot of the sinner.
Death is the eternal separation from God.
And we know that separation from God brings chaos and endless pain and suffering.
The author of wisdom pays little attention to the reality of physical death.
Hades is personified as in Job 38:17, Rev. 6:8 & 20:14 as one would read, “I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.” “Then Death & Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Now before I go any further, I want to share with you a thought that came to my mind the week before I began reflecting on this scripture to prepare this message.
I noticed an old church’s worship service being broadcast on national television from the time period when hell, fire, brimstone, and damnation were heavily preached in the church.
The parallel came to my mind, that when people had a reverent fear of the Lord on their hearts, the churches were filled to capacity and often times overflowing, needing several services to accommodate the large crowds.
Where has our reverent fear of the Lord gone?
Are we hearing too much preaching of Jesus love you and you’re ok and I’m okay, and what you do is okay if it doesn’t effect anyone else?
Look what’s happened to Roe vs. Wade.
Since Roe vs. Wade was won in the courts, there have been countless numbers of abortions.
We cannot say that what one person does does not affect another.
I wonder how many women are suffering from post abortion trauma and guilt because they’ve been told that abortions are ok.
Now that Roe is a Christian, she is sueing the courts to reverse their decision.
I had a few interesting encounters on the street in the past several weeks.
I was visiting one of our shut-ins at PPH and when I was getting out of my car, the girl in the car next to me was screaming at her boyfriend using very unlady like profanity. She looked at me, immediately stopped yelling, and apologized to me.
I smiled at her and said, “You never know who’s listening.”
You see, she knew what she was doing was wrong.
What she failed to realize, was that God is always watching what she is doing.
A few days later, I was at Rita’s getting an Italian Ice when some school kids were getting out of school and there was a group of kids hanging out on the corner across the street. I had to cross at that corner to get back to my car. As I was waiting at the light, one of the girls was using very inapropriate language. When she saw me, she stopped and apologized.
I was thankful that at least these two girls in these two situations recognized that their behavior was not how they should be acting.
A few days after that, when I was taking my mother back to Valley Forge Park, we stopped in the restroom before saying good by in the parking lot. I heard one lady whisper to the other, “There’s a minister in here.”
I thought it was interesting to see how people’s behavior changed in the presence of clergy.
At least there is respect left in the world for the office.
But I still stop to think how God is always watching.
I will not be their judge, God will.
Do we need to begin preaching fire, brimstone, and damnation again to balance the anything goes, God loves you, rhetoric of this generation?
There are even pastors at Seminary who don’t believe in hell.