I’ve recently begun leading a study of Proverbs at my congregation, and was particularly stuck by the end of the 2nd chapter:
So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
This summary comes at the tail-end of a section in which Solomon teaches us how to pursue Wisdom and why she is precious. Included in all that, of course, are some of the consequences of abandoning the path of Wisdom for the path of foolishness. And capping that all off is this very interesting phrase: cut off from the land.
As usual, this can be understood on a number of levels. Most directly, Solomon is probably referring to the land of Israel which God had given his people as an inheritance. After all, among the Covenant curses which God declared in Deuteronomy 28 is verse 63: “As the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” That covenantal consequence is mirrored by the eschatological one: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and those who reject Him are lost eternally, not just temporally.
But Wisdom is not Wisdom to Israel alone, for she cries aloud in the streets, the markets, and at the city gates so that anyone can hear her. And it is not Israel alone which was blessed by God with an earthly inheritance. Many–indeed most–have received a treasury of love, privilege, and maybe even property from their fathers which they wish to pass on to children of their own. And it should be no surprise that foolishly following the paths of the wicked has a tendency to destroy anyone’s heritage before too long.
Ironically, that’s exactly what happened to Solomon himself as he foolishly accumulated foreign women as brides and then accommodated their desire to worship idols and lead him away from the Lord. The end result was the division of the kingdom, most of which ended up in the hands of his servant, Jeroboam, instead of his own foolish son and heir, Rehoboam. And there was precious little good to be said of most of Israel’s subsequent kings. David and Solomon were the high water marks for Israelite kings until Christ–and He did not preserve the nation in an earthly sense, but delivered an imperishable heritage to his people rather than an earthly one.
That whole dynamic is also precisely what we see playing out in our own nation of fools today.
The wise build an inheritance for their children. They raise them, teach them, pass on their wisdom and know-how, and do everything in their power to leave their children better off than they themselves were. In a word, it’s a father’s job to privilege his own children in this way. That’s precisely what a healthy civilization looks like: the nation’s mothers and fathers constantly investing in their posterity rather than consuming everything they produce.
Today, we see the exact opposite of this going on in America. Our debt amply demonstrates that we don’t even stop at consuming all that we produce for ourselves; we even consume now what we expect our children to someday produce as well. We actually borrow from our sons and daughters instead of investing in them. The Baby Boomers–a gaggle of fools and scoffers if ever there was one–will be the first generation of Americans to leave their children worse off instead of better. Many (not all) of them even go so far as to see any inheritance they might leave as “lost” money that they never had a chance to spend (or as something to be passed on to the government or a 501c3 instead of their children.)
And that’s for the children that were actually born in the first place. The US birth rate plummeted during the 60’s and early 70’s to levels even below where they fell during the Great Depression. And they stayed there thanks to Boomers diligently promoting education and career above family. On top of that, we have the mass murder of the unborn by the millions since ’73 to consider. Older people sometimes joke about surviving lead paint, riding bicycles without helmets, not having car seats, and so forth. But a full quarter of my generation was actually murdered in utero. That’s a lot of innocent blood for a nation to contend with.
And how did they deal with the population shortfall? Boomers embraced the largest mass migration in human history to “do the jobs Americans won’t do.” In other words, they imported people in to be their servants (a strategy that has never worked out well for America.) They even looked the other way when tens of millions arrived illegally because “undocumented workers” are workers which can be paid illegally low wages. And, of course, most of our political elites were happy to go along with it since they would get a whole new electorate out of the deal. But America will get more than she bargained for on this score because mass migration has always resulted in division and bloodshed–another bill for that will be footed by America’s posterity.
Boomers even left many of their congregations in shambles. For one, they failed to produce enough Christian children to populate them, and sought after all manner of dubious fads to try and kludge a solution. For another, they embraced en masse the heresy of theological liberalism to baptize the leftist politics that were becoming popular. Of course, the Boomers were a deeply divided generation politically–many of them became the staunch conservatives of today rather than larval progressives. Of course, there are large swaths of Evangelicalism which rejected theological liberalism only so that they could baptize their own conservative politics instead. So in the end, both political sides of the Boomers made similar mistakes. All-too-often lost in the shuffle were the actual moral law, Biblical wisdom in general, and worst of all, the Gospel.
Now, as much as I may be crapping on Boomers here, the other generations of Americans are hardly guiltless in this whole mess. The Boomers inherited the legacy of slavery, the rise of progressivism in Western academies, the rise of theological liberalism in churches and seminaries, a nascent feminism and sexual revolution, a generation of parents scarred by war, universal suffrage, etc. That’s a considerable list of challenges even though they failed rise to meet any of them. And what of their progeny? Rather than trying to fix their parents’ mistakes, Generation X actually takes pride in its preference to stand back and watch the world burn. And while Millenials may hate Boomers as a rule, it’s a hatred borne primarily out of envy rather than anything more noble. We want our fair share of the mammon. No, we’ve all been fools, and we will all reap consequences for it.
Accordingly, the real question left for Americans isn’t whether we are going to be cut off from the land, but to what extent. Our own house will be divided, and those we intended to be our servants will inherit much of it. We’ve already consumed much of what we were, and have lost much of the knowhow to cultivate it anew. We failed to teach wisdom to our children or adequately invest in them. And the price of all the innocent blood we’ve shed will fall on our heads.
But there has always been a remnant of wise and faithful individuals in every one of our generations–even the Boomers. There has been a growing desire among many Americans to reject the lies we’ve been raised with, repent of our wrongdoing and our insanity, and strive to once again govern ourselves well. There are many who still raise their voice for understanding and search for Wisdom as for hidden treasure. God showed mercy to Solomon for David’s sake and let his posterity keep Judea. I pray that God will show such mercy to America as well and provide a heritage to those of us who would still fear the Lord.