Wow, when’s the last time I updated this?
A lot has been going on in the last three months for me. I bought a house (June). I quit my job (July). I got married (July). I moved (July/August). I started seminary (August). I got a new job (September).
To be fair, or rather clear, God was my motivation and supplier for these things. It has been absolutely incredible, other than by God, the orchestrating of these events with perfect timing.
While doing my Bible reading one day I came across Proverbs 24:27,
Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.
For a while I contemplated this verse, journaling on it as I went. So here’s my edited journal:
I thought this to be a difficult passage so I thought I would meditate on it. My confusion is due to the order. The house is erected last. How am I to apply this, especially after just moving here? One thought is that we did look for a job for Sara-Elizabeth [my wife] first, before house shopping. Is that all we are being told? The passage is concerned with “you” – your work, yourself, your house. It seems to indicate a proper time to move as well. We should move at the beginning of planting season seemingly before planting, e.g. before school starts a teacher would move. There is also a disconnect in time and culture and climate here as opposed to ancient Israel. Did it rain at that point? Was it cold? What about livestock?
There are also several unknowns as we come to this single verse without context. Do these people live elsewhere now? Why are they moving? Was there temporary shelter available? Though there are many questions one of the reasons we can continue is because Proverbs is a book of reading unto wisdom, meaning that most serve as general guidelines for us and not mandates.
The basic wisdom is to find work first. It seems that there is a home base, most likely the home of our upbringing or current residence. It should be outside work, not in/on the house. Specifically provision for food is to be made prior to the house being started. Notice that the food is not instant. But the field must be readied. God will care for the growth.
Lastly is the building of the house. Notice how we are told to build the house. There is a sense of completion to the building. We are not supposed to begin only. In fact it seems the field is left almost entirely to go about the building of the house. The verb used for building the house is in the “perfect” mood, meaning it is a completed action. Though not overwhelming evidence, the mood is not such that it would imply beginning and continuing in action, or continuing unendingly (though I’m beginning to wonder about the continuous nature of home repair).
When considering how this related to Jesus Christ, as all Scripture does, I see a parallel to Luke 14:28-33. Here Jesus is discoursing on the cost of discipleship. The first illustration He uses is constructing a tower. Before construction begins the cost must be estimated so a half finished tower is not constructed. The second is a king determining whether with 10,000 men he can defeat the king with 20,000. Jesus then continues with the understanding that the king of 10,000 cannot win. He tells that the king would send a delegation to establish peace. Jesus then says, “So therefore, anyone of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple”. Jesus seems to conclude that the builder does not have the money (compare this tower to Genesis 11:1-9) and the king does not have enough soldiers. They, and we, should then forsake all and give Jesus sole control of our lives.
So for Proverbs, first, Jesus is speaking in Proverbs to give us wisdom. But we must realize that we owe all to Him and trust Him fully, turning the work , the field and our house over to Him in submission and acknowledgement of His worthiness. We should prepare for our personal care and trust in the Lord to accomplish it. At that point we can go about our personal (that which we have control over) activity. First comes our preparation for what God is going to do. Second comes our work in the authority/realm of our responsibility. With both all thoughts of possession must be given to our Lord Jesus.