Proverbs 12:28

Proverbs 12:28 "In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death."
Proverbs 12:28 Buffalo Baptist Church
The Bible contains no shortage of bold statements.  Perhaps there is no better example than in Romans 8:28 where it reads, “all things work together for good to them that love God.”  This proverb is similarly bold, stating the absence of death in the path of righteousness.  Strong generalizations like these are often targets of skepticism or even criticism.

Is it really true that there is no death on the pathway of righteousness?  Doesn’t it sound absurd to suggest that a righteous life is void of death?  How can the Bible get away with stating things like this when history and even the Bible itself record the deaths of righteous people?
 
Not only is history full of good people losing their lives but it is full of good people losing their lives early and even losing them as the direct result of their goodness.  The Book of Acts tells us that one of the first deacons of the Church in Jerusalem, Stephen was stoned and he was stoned for his righteous defense of Jesus Christ.  The Book of Hebrews tells us that righteous people, “of whom the world was not worthy,” were sawn asunder, suggesting that their horrific deaths were the consequence of their righteousness.  The Book of Revelation foretells the beheading of souls at the end of the world for their faith in Christ Jesus.

How can Solomon write this proverb and not expect someone to disregard it after weighing the evidence?

Allow me to argue that God inspired Solomon to write this bold statement fully anticipating the reader to find fault in it.  God wants us to think it through.  God wants us to investigate this pathway of righteousness.  God wants us to prove the absence of death on it.  In so doing, we will gain a greater understanding about the life we’re living.  Go ahead, take this bold claim and look at the highway of righteousness from start to finish.  Do you see any ambulances?  Do you see any funerals?  Do you see any cemeteries?  Do you see any loss of relationships?  If you are honest, you see plenty of loss over the course of a lifetime but not on the path of righteousness.  Any self-inflicted losses take place off the path of righteousness on some exit that was taken along the way.  Throughout life, we experience loss when we take the lust exit or the greed exit or the pride exit.  James said it best when he wrote, “but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and SIN, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14-15). Righteousness never results in death.  In the pathway of righteousness, “there is no death.”

If you’re a critical thinker, you still see the flicker of first responders along the highway of righteousness and not just off each of its exits.  You see those MARTYRS and other righteous people experiencing death, not on an off-ramp of sin, but on the highway of righteousness.  If that is you, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.  There are indeed countless places along the highway of righteousness where you will see loss take place but if you look close enough, you’ll realize that they all take place at intersections.  Anytime a righteous person experiences death and loss, it is either because they got off the highway of righteousness or because someone’s path of unrighteousness intersected theirs.  Take two prominent men in the New Testament as examples of this truth, Judas Iscariot and Stephen.  While riding on the road of righteousness for years, Judas Iscariot got off and took the greed exit, betraying Jesus Christ for money.  That greedy path resulted in the loss of life by suicide.  Stephen, on the other hand, remained on the road of righteousness as a faithful follower of Jesus and as a Spirit-filled deacon of the church.  While on that righteous highway, he was t-boned by a law-breaking driver who was drunk on power and pride driving on an entirely different road.  His death was not the result of his righteousness – it was the result of someone else’s unrighteousness.  Had his murderers not been traveling their road, Stephen would’ve survived for there was nothing dangerous on his righteous path.

Where the highway of righteousness intersects with the highway of unrighteousness, there is often loss but only ever because of unrighteousness.  The martyrs of church history and of church prophecy all experience death because of another’s unrighteousness, not because of their righteousness.  Death doesn’t take place on the path of righteousness and if it ever looks like it does, it’s only because someone else’s evil path crossed over someone else’s path of righteousness.  Jesus Christ didn’t die because of His righteousness – He died because of the Sanhedrin’s unrighteousness.  Righteous people experience loss all the time because of unrighteous people.  Righteous people lose their lives because of drunk drivers or murderous thugs.  Righteous people lose their health because of drunk drivers or greedy companies.  Righteous people lose their virginity, innocence, marriage and friends because of sinful people out of their control.  In the pathway of righteousness, “there is no death.”

This commentary would be incomplete without addressing the man, woman, boy or girl who experiences loss of health or life due to natural causes such as cancer and disease.  Sadly, this is the biggest intersection that the path of righteousness travels through and rarely does its traveler make it through unscathed.  The widest road in life that travels perpendicular to the highway of righteousness is called Adam’s Way.  Adam’s way is not a righteous road but it’s a road we all have traveled at times throughout our life.  It’s a road we’ve all paid taxes to maintain.  It’s a road that no human being but Jesus Christ can deny he’s been on.  This superhighway is full of illness, disease and aging.  Where this superhighway intersects the path of righteousness, there is loss of health and loss of life for the righteous but it must be noted that this loss is not on the pathway of righteousness – it’s on Adam’s Way.  In the pathway of righteousness, “there is no death.”

This bold proverb is meant to provoke a bold mental response so that we engage serious thought.  If we’re committed to faith in God’s word, we’ll come to the conclusion that God wants us to – righteousness never leads us astray.  Because we live in a world of free-will, roads are constructed on a daily basis by evil people outside of our control and these dangerous roads intersect the highway of righteousness.  Any loss and harm we incur in this world is because of sin – ours or someone else’s.  When we get off the path of righteousness, we bring loss to our lives.  When we stay on the path of righteousness and we experience loss, it’s because someone else’s unrighteous path intersected ours and their unrighteousness is to blame.  In the pathway of righteousness, “there is no death.”  

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