A Banquet of Consequences

Bible Book: Proverbs  28 : 9
Subject: Sin, Consequences of; Prayer

Ideas have consequences. In fact, our thoughts, words, and deeds have consequences as well. Some consequences are bitter, while others are sweet. Still others are bitter-sweet.

Maybe you remember hearing that Dr. Bailey Smith declared on the Phil Donahue Show in 1980, “God Almighty does not hear the prayers of a Jew.” In all fairness to Dr. Smith, I believe the television talk show host employed a tricky technique to set him up. Recently, a pastor asked, “Who are we to say whom God will or will not listen to?” This same pastor asserted, “I believe that God Almighty hears the prayers of every Jew and the prayers of every human being created in God's image." Is this pastor correct? What does the Bible say?

By now, I hope you have found our text, Proverbs 28:9, where we read, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, / Even his prayer is an abomination.”

There are three warnings stated or implied in our passage.

I. First, beware of rebellion against God.

From Proverbs 28:9a we read, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law. . .” We read in 1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, / And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” Isaiah records the first act of rebellion by Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15). He is “the father of lies”, “the devil”, “that serpent of old” and the Scripture describes him with a host of other negative terms. Rebellion is a serious thing with serious consequences.

In our text the word “one” refers to anyone. Paul reminds us in Romans 2:11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Rebellion is wrong if King Saul does it. It is wrong if Satan does it. It is wrong if you do it or if I do it.

In the New Testament we find a phrase “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15; 13:9; Mark 4:23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22). In our text, “hearing” implies heeding the Word of God as well. We read in Psalm 19:7-9, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; / The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; / The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; / The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; / The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; / The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” Each of these designations refer to the Word of God. From Psalm 119:105 we read, “Your word is a lamp to my feet /And a light to my path.”

II. Second, beware of religion without God.

We read in Proverbs 28:9b, “Even his prayer. . .” Commenting on our text, Rev. George Williams (1850-1928) warns, “Outward worship where the heart refuses obedience to the Gospel, is an abomination to God.”[1] Someone explains, “This kind of prayer is hateful to God.” The psalmist writes in Psalm 66:18-19, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, / The Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; / He has attended to the voice of my prayer.” We read in Psalm 109:7, “When he is judged, let him be found guilty, / And let his prayer become sin.”

From Luke 18:9-14 we read, “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”

John Burton (1803-1877), a deacon of the Congregational Church of Plaistow[2], writes, "I often say my prayers; / But do I ever pray? And do the wishes of my heart / Go with the words I say? I may as well kneel down / And worship gods of stone, / As offer to the living God / A prayer of words alone, / For words without the heart / The Lord will never hear; / Nor will He to those lips attend / Whose prayers are not sincere."[3]

Informed by New Testament doctrine, prayer should be in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24, and 26). Those who do not follow this practice reveal their lack of understanding or something much worse.

John writes in 1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

We read in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Paul writes in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The word “even” in our text reminds us that prayer is just one religious expression. We read in Proverbs 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, / But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

We read about two worshippers in Genesis 4:2b-5, “Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” The writer of the book of Hebrews provides this commentary: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks’” (Hebrews 11:4).

We read in Isaiah 1:11-15, “‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’ Says the LORD. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams / And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, / Or of lambs or goats. ‘When you come to appear before Me, / Who has required this from your hand, / To trample My courts? / Bring no more futile sacrifices; / Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts / My soul hates; / They are a trouble to Me, / I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, / I will hide My eyes from you; / Even though you make many prayers, / I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.”

In Amos 5:21-23 we read, “I hate, I despise your feast days, / And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them, / Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, / For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.”

From Malachi 1:11-14 we read, “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, / My name shall be great among the Gentiles; / In every place incense shall be offered to My name, / And a pure offering; / For My name shall be great among the nations,’ Says the LORD of hosts. ‘But you profane it, / In that you say, / ‘The table of the LORD is defiled; / And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ You also say, / ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,’ / Says the LORD of hosts. ‘And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; / Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?’ Says the LORD. ‘But cursed be the deceiver / Who has in his flock a male, / And takes a vow, / But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished— For I am a great King,’ / Says the LORD of hosts, / ‘And My name is to be feared among the nations.”

From John 4:19-26 we read about worship, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’”

III. Third, beware of retribution from God.

We read in Proverbs 28:9c, “. . . is an abomination.” The term “abomination” means “a detestable thing”. For example, Moses writes in Genesis 46:34b, “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” Do not allow this illustration of the use of the term “abomination” to diminish the seriousness of something being an abomination to God. The request of a rebel is repulsive to God, whether Jew or Gentile.

Jesus warns, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

We must know what God loves and what God hates.

From Proverbs 6:16-19 we read, “These six things the LORD hates, / Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: / A proud look, / A lying tongue, / Hands that shed innocent blood, / A heart that devises wicked plans, / Feet that are swift in running to evil, / A false witness who speaks lies, / And one who sows discord among brethren.”

In Jude 1:20-21 we read, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

Someone wisely cautions, “God refuses to hear the one who refuses to hear Him.” We read in James 4:6 and in 1 Peter 5:5, “God resists the proud, / But gives grace to the humble.” The emphasis on humility is clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14, where we read, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

We must understand where we stand as a nation. In the history of the United States of America some of our Presidents were involved in immorality of almost every sort. Even those have given lip service to the Almighty God in their Thanksgiving Proclamations. An article dated Friday, November 27, 2009, by Kathleen Gilbert reveals, “Obama Makes History: Thanksgiving Proclamation First Ever to Omit Direct Mention of God”[4] . This year things are even worse as we learn from an article by Todd Starnes titled, “Obama Leaves God Out of Thanksgiving Address”.[5] Anyone with spiritual discernment can see our once God blessed nation is following godless notions recorded in Romans 1:18-32. Those who attempt to remove the memory of the true and living God of the Bible will face Him in judgment. If we do not repent as a nation, we will begin to experience the bitter consequences of these actions as God’s judgment comes.

From Proverbs 29:1 we read, “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, / Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

Dr. Ray Pritchard states, “I realize that God’s wrath is not a popular topic these days. Many pastors fear to preach on God’s wrath lest they incur the wrath of the congregation. We’d all rather hear about God’s love than about his wrath. Yet both are entirely biblical because both wrath and love flow from God’s basic nature. While it is true that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8), it is also true that he hates the wicked and those who do violence (Psalm 11:5). Sometimes in our attempt to appear compassionate, we proclaim that God ‘hates the sin and loves the sinner.’ I caution against using that statement indiscriminately because it is only partly true and can be misleading. Does God love sinners? Yes, he does because sinners are part of the world Christ came to save (John 3:16). But as it stands, the statement seems to imply that love is God’s only response to sin. Check out the book of Psalms and you will discover that God hates sinners and he abhors the wicked (Psalm 5:4-5; 37:13, 20; 101:7; 119:119). I believe that much modern gospel preaching is anemic precisely because we preach less than the whole truth to guilty sinners. If all we say to the lost is ‘God loves you,’ we are in danger of making them think that their continued rebellion doesn’t matter to God. Instead, we must warn them to flee from the wrath to come (Luke 3:7).”[6]


Allow me to summarize the main points of our message: beware of rebellion against God, beware of religion without God, and beware of retribution from God. In the words of our text, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, / Even his prayer is an abomination.” Proverbs 28:9 speaks about an unbeliever without a relationship with God. However, there is an application to a believer out of fellowship with God. Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) shares the following comment on our text, “It is by the Word of God and prayer that our communion is kept up.”

Unbelievers will suffer the wrath of God in hell for eternity. Make-believers as we find in Matthew 7:21-23, will find the same sad eternal torment as unbelievers. Only genuine believers will find their destiny in heaven because of the grace of God.

Retribution will come to the unbeliever and the make-believer from our Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Rewards will come to the believer from our Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10) according to our trust and obedience to Him. Paul writes in Galatians 6:7-9, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) warns, “Sooner or later, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.”

[1]George Williams, The Student’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1960) [First Edition 1926], p. 435

[2]Duncan Campbell, Hymns and Hymn Makers (London: A. & C. Black, 1898), pp. 88-89

[3]Elon Foster, Cyclopedia of Poetry: Embracing the Best From All Sources and on All Subjects, First Series, (New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1872), # 2544 p. 568

[4]Kathleen Gilbert , “Obama Makes History: Thanksgiving Proclamation First Ever to Omit Direct Mention of God”, (Friday, November 27, 2009 ), Available from: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/nov/09112701.html Accessed: 11/26/11

[5]Todd Starnes, “Obama Leaves God Out of Thanksgiving Address”, Available from: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/obama-leaves-god-out-of-thanksgiving-address.html Accessed: 11/26/11

[6]Ray Pritchard, “Where Grace and Wrath Meet: What the Cross Meant to God “, (Romans 3:24-26) [Available from:

http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1999-02-21-Where-Grace-and-Wrath-Meet-What-the-Cross-Meant-to-God/ Accessed: 11/24/11]

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com



http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey / fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210

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