Proverbs 20:10, 23
Divers Weights and Measures
1. Weights and measures were instruments used to conduct business in ancient times before paper money.
2. Weights: Stones that came in various sizes and thus various weights.
a. They were used in weighing merchandise for sale.
b. It was a stone used as the counter-balance on a scale, as a unit of weight which is the standard.
3. Measures: Ephah; a dry measure of quantity; ALSO – the receptacle for measuring or holding that amount.
4. Balance: Set of scales; i.e., an implement for weighing, consisting of two balance pans with a standardized weight in one pan and the object to be weighed in the other.
a. Prov. 20:23 – a false balance
b. Prov. 11:1 – A false balance is an abomination.
• If the balance arms were of unequal length, the scale would appear to say that they were equal, but they would not be equal.
• It works like a seesaw. The short end requires more weight to balance the bar.
• Thus, dishonest merchants could use a “false balance”—with arms of unequal length.
c. There were LOTS of ways to cheat and steal.
d. There is a lot in the Bible about this practice—because cheating has always been a major problem with commerce.
a. Lev. 19:36 – They were to have “just” (fair) weights in their bags so that they gave a “fair” portion of goods to those who bought from them…
b. The Law demanded this kind of honesty… fair business practices.
c. II Sam. 14:26 – “The king’s weight.”
• This was a standard weight which was to be used throughout the kingdom, so that everyone would be using the same measure.
• Merchants could not make their own weights…
• There had to be one standard weight, or transactions could not be conducted fairly.
• Governmental officials would be assigned the task of inspecting the merchants to PREVENT skimming and cheating.
• God and the king both expected the merchants to follow the royal standards.
d. Prov. 16:11 – A just weight is of the Lord.
e. Ex. – Canada’s Imperial quarts and gallons are not the same as ours.
f. Ex. – In recent years some companies have chosen a sneaky way of getting more money from us.
• Instead of raising the price, they made the product smaller… but just a little smaller so you might not notice. (Ice cream; coffee cans; bread.)
• The size of the product is reduced, but the price is not reduced—so you are really paying MORE per ounce for the product, even though the can has the same price.
• It is not stealing, because the new cans are labeled in small print.
g. Micah 6:11 – This sort of dishonesty was common in Israel…
• Israel is no different than any other nation.
• This kind of dishonesty also exists in Russia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Brazil, China, Denmark, and the good old USA!
• It is because we are ALL sinners. Human nature is fallen and it is the same all across the world.
• Here’s a unifying factor across the globe… something we all share in common. We are all deceitful, lying, dishonest, corrupt, and crooked by nature.
• For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This is human nature.
1. This dishonesty is all rooted in a “love of money.”
a. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
b. Here’s another kind of evil that grows out of that root: deceptive business practices.
2. Dishonesty also involves taking advantage of people.
a. Those ancient thieves would lie right to the face of their customer!
b. They knew that the average customer would not be able to tell the difference between a 5 pounds and 4.8 pounds.
c. Thus, this kind of stealing was a form of taking advantage of one’s neighbor, when the Law commanded them to love their neighbor.
3. Prov. 11:20 – A froward heart is behind this practice.
a. Froward = perverse, morally crooked or warped.
b. Such a heart is an abomination to God… and so is the practice or the fruit that comes out of that heart.
4. We don’t use stones and scales to buy and purchase today, but the principle applies just as well in the modern world.
a. Some companies keep two books instead of two stones. They keep one book for the IRS and the auditor, and another book for their own records. (That’s like having two different weights.)
b. Gas stations have been caught in skimming scams. They tweak their pumps so that you are not getting a full gallon, even though the pump SAYS you are… and even though you are PAYING for a full gallon. That IS stealing and is against the law. Thus, they have two measures—one measure the customer actually receives (9/10 gal.) and the other is what he pays for (a full gallon).
c. Today thieves steal identity. They have their own IDs and credit cards for everyday use. Then they have YOUR credit cards and IDs for when they go on a shopping spree.
1. Both of them alike – (both = #2) & (alike = also; again; alike)
a. The two terms really repeat (for emphasis) the same truth.
b. The two (weights and measures) are BOTH the same…
c. It really doesn’t matter HOW you cheat with these instruments.
d. Whether you put an unequal weight in the scale for items sold by weight, OR if you use the wrong size measuring basket for items sold by volume, the bottom line is the same.
e. You’re cheating! You’re stealing! It is a dishonest scam. You’re a crook!
f. And today, it doesn’t matter by what MEANS we cheat or steal from others… every method is alike an abomination.
2. Abomination: A disgusting thing, a despicable, repulsive, an object or practice which is loathsome and abhorrent, often in an ethical or moral sense; something that is especially offensive.
a. Only a select group of sins were called abominations in the Old Testament.
b. This kind of dishonesty puts you into the same category with murderers, homosexuals, and idolaters.
c. Rev. 21:8 – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
3. To the Lord:
a. God observes all such practices.
b. He hates the deceptive practice.
c. He also hates the greed—the love of money—that undergirds it.
d. He hates to see people take advantage of others.
e. The Lord is a God of JUSTICE.
• Hence He loves just balances…
• And He hates unjust balances.
f. The Lord is a God of TRUTH
• Hence, He hates all kinds of fraud and lies.
• God is opposed to those who oppose truth and justice.
4. Deut. 25:13-16 – this kind of dishonesty was an abomination to the Lord. (That thy days may be lengthened on the earth.)
a. They were forbidden from even possessing a small and a great weight. (Why else would you own such weights?)
b. The small weight they used when they sold a product.
c. The big weight they used when they bought a product.
d. It was a sin-win situation for this dishonest merchant.
e. They were not to have such weights in their place of business OR in their homes (many women worked from their homes).
f. Instead of the small and a great weight, they were to have a perfect (accurate) and just (fair) measure.
g. When you treat your customers fairly, your days will be lengthened.
h. When you are a cheater—you are an abomination to God.
5. Lev. 19:35-37 – Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD.
a. They were to be honest because of WHO GOD IS.
• He is the LORD… Almighty… omniscient One
• He is the Lord of justice
b. They were to be honest because of WHAT GOD DID for them.
• In Egypt, they were taken advantage of, as slaves.
• Therefore, now redeemed from Egypt, they should treat others as they would like to be treated themselves! If you remember what it was like to BE mistreated, you will not want to mistreat others.
6. Prov. 15:3 – the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding both the evil and the good.
a. God expects us to be honest in ALL of our doings.
b. He is observing everything we do.
c. But we should be honest NOT just because God knows anyway and we can’t get away with it.
d. We should be honest because we are yielded to God and the LIFE of Christ is manifested through us… in word and deed.
e. Honesty ought to characterize our lives… even down to the tiny details of life.
f. Honesty should be our testimony before the world. That’s how we should be known.
g. If we do something DISHONEST, we have disgraced the Lord… and ruined our testimony.
7. Prov. 28:6 – You are better off to be poor than to gain riches by being crooked!