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Showing posts from May, 2024

Act before it is too late.

Act Before It Is Too Late Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.’” Having encouraged youth to enjoy life and the present, Solomon concludes with a warning that provides perspective. Solomon compares the decay of age to the decaying effects of an old house in one of the most picturesque allegories in scripture. In verses 2-6, We find a number of descriptive phrases that give a vivid picture of the physical decline that occurs as age brings its destructive force upon our lives. The allegories present a vivid picture of old age that might be paraphrased in this way: “3) Before the mental capacities decline and the struggles of life return, when our body starts to tremble with feebleness, and the body becomes bent and stooped over. When the teeth no longer chew because they are few and the eyes no longer see with clarity, and 4) the ears no

Enjoy the Moment

Enjoy the Moment Ecclesiastes 11:8-10   “Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all.”               It is easy to become so focused on the future and what we want to achieve and attain in life that we stop enjoying the present.  The book gives us an accurate picture of life in a fallen world.  Sin has brought futility and brokenness in a world God created for our enjoyment and accomplishment.  However, the book does not desire to leave us there, wallowing in a meaningless life with no purpose and where all ultimately has no value in death.  As he reaches the book's climax (11:7-12:14), the sage seeks to give us the answer to finding meaning and enjoyment in life.  Even though we are traveling towards death, where all wealth and accomplishments are nullified, we are still to remember that life is a gift from God and the dawning of a new day brings a glorious sunrise for our eyes to enjoy (vs 7).  In spite of all the frustrations of life, Solomon challenges

Trusting in God's Unseen Hand

Trusting in God’s Unseeable Hand Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of god who makes all things.”            Life would be much easier if we knew the outcome of our efforts.  However, for all our knowledge, planning, strategizing, and work, in the end, we do not know what will succeed or what will faith.  In a series of succinct statements, we are again reminded that we cannot predict the outcome of any endeavor, whether positive or negative. God’s providential and sovereign hand remains unseen to our human eyes, so we cannot fathom God’s purpose and what He will accomplish.  The outcomes we strive to perform are not always achieved.  However, this is not the work of blind chance or uncontrolled circumstances that thwart all our efforts. Instead, the outcome is determined by God, who makes all things.  Just as He is the one who forms a baby in the womb, determining

The Danger of Foolish Thinking

The Danger of Folly Ecclesiastes 10:1-7 “Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stick, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.” The hardest thing to fix is distorted thinking. When our thinking is corrupted, it distorts our whole perspective of life and what is right or wrong. Yet the tragedy is that even a small amount of distortion in our thinking can devastate lives. To illustrate, the sage reminds us that a small fly can ruin a whole batch of perfume. So, a small amount of distorted thinking can corrupt our entire outlook on life and our perception of what is morally right and wrong (vs 1). This becomes our great tragedy. In our distorted thinking, we are self-deluded, for we believe that we genuinely think rightly because we only listen to what we want to believe. Instead of desiring transformation, we want only confirmation. Ultimately, we follow the pathway of folly (vs 3). We are the product of what we choose to listen to. In verse two, we are reminded that our ch

The Value of Wisdom in the Struggles of Life

The Value of Wisdom in the Struggles of Life Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 “The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.”               What enables us to succeed in life and overcome our challenges and struggles? Throughout the book, Solomon continually challenges our perception of success to drive home the point that wisdom and obedience to God are the only things that have genuine value in the struggles we face in life.  Everything else becomes a pursuit of the insignificant. To illustrate the importance of wisdom within the context of God’s wisdom, Solomon presents an astonishing contrast.  With the full might of his military strength, a mighty king surrounds a small town.  It is a David and Goliath contrast.  This mighty king has all the weapons of war and the mighty armies of men.  In contrast, the small village has nothing that would stand against this invading force.  Even before the battle starts, the results are already assured. The onl

Finding Success in a World of Vanity

Finding Success in a World of Vanity Ecclesiastes 9:10-12 “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.”               Having extolled the virtue of enjoying the life God has given us in a world marked by uncertainty, Solomon now points to the key to finding success in a world marked by absurdities.  In a broken world, there are no guarantees for success.  We like to think that success and promotions come to the hardest workers on the job.  We want to believe that loyalty is rewarded with advancements.  However, in reality, that is often not the case.  We work hard by working overtime, demonstrating our reliability to the company by going the extra mile and taking on the most challenging projects. Yet when the opportunities arise for promotions, they go to those less deserving. Success and failure are oft

Life Under the Sun

Suffering and the Life Under the Sun Ecclesiastes 9:2-9 “It is the same for all.  There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean.”               The Book of Job and Ecclesiastes wrestle with the same question:  Why do the righteous suffer?  Traditional wisdom affirms that the righteous are rewarded, but the wicked suffer calamity (See Prov. 13:21; 10:24, etc.). But reality often plays a cruel trick.  Instead of the wicked suffering, it is usually the righteous, and calamity indiscriminately falls upon them.  This leads to the theological crisis that confronts Job and his three friends.  While his three friends concluded (wrongfully) that Job’s suffering resulted from sin, we discover at the end of the book that God does not always insulate the righteous from adversity but has a purpose in allowing us to suffer.  However, we may not always perceive or understand that purpose.  All we can do is simply trust in the creator of the un

Finding Perspective in an Unpredictable World

Keeping Perspective in an Unpredictable World Ecclesiastes 8:15-9:1 “For I have taken all this to my heart and explained it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God.  Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.”                          In a fallen world where sin has corrupted God’s creative work and purpose, life becomes unknowable and unpredictable.  We cannot predict tomorrow, nor can we foresee the outcomes of our actions, even when we act with wisdom and righteousness.  We can gain some sense of purpose as we look at the past. However, our perspective becomes dark and veiled when we look at the future.  We cannot perceive the hand and purpose of God as he works out his redemptive plan.  In Scripture, we find the overarching strategy of God, yet we cannot predict how it will relate to us nor the timing of the events.  Does this mean we blindly trudge through life without finding hope and meaning in our efforts?  If so, we m

When Injustice Reigns

When Injustice Reigns Eccl. 8:10-14 “There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.” Traditional wisdom informs us that God blesses the righteous, and the wicked will suffer calamity because of their sin. In Proverbs 10, we find a discourse on the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Traditional wisdom informs us that “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot” (Prov. 10:6-8). In the moral order established by God, we obtain blessing and prosperity when we walk in obedience to God, for this is the promise of the law given to Moses (see the blessings and curses of the law in Deut. 28). However, Solomon takes a closer examination o

Obeying those in Leadership

Obeying Rulers Ecclesiastes 8:1-9 “I say, ‘Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God.’”               Solomon knew well the importance of government and the role of leadership.  However, he also knew the effects of sin and corruption.  In the book of Proverbs, Solomon challenged those in leadership to act with wisdom and righteousness.  A righteous king brings a blessing to the land as he promotes justice and righteousness (for example, see Prov. 20:8; 20:26).  But Solomon also reminds us of the devastating effects a wicked leader can bring upon the people (Probs 17:23, 29:12, 28:10).  As Solomon is searching for wisdom in a fallen world where sin has distorted and corrupted all of humanity and everything we do, he now turns to our attention towards those in government.  In a world where sin has twisted and distorted God’s purpose for humanity, how do we respond when that corruption has reached the highest levels of government?             Solomon begins by reminding

The Folly of All

The Foolishness of All Ecclesiastes 7:25-8:1 “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”               Solomon now returns to his search for wisdom.  Throughout the book he has taken us on a journey to try and discover wisdom and meaning in a fallen world.  He examined all this life has to offer, and in his search, he only realized what is meaningless and lacks genuine substance.  He has placed everything we might consider necessary under the microscope and found only emptiness.  He has examined pleasure and possessions.  He has looked at our pursuit of success in our careers.  He has looked at riches and accomplishments.  Each time he examines something we consider essential and significant, he discovers that, in the end, it is nothing more than a vaporless cloud that lacks substance in life.  He has carefully tested everything in his pursuit to gain wisdom and understanding, but in the end, his pursuit proved futile as wisdom se

Finding Balance in Life

Finding Balance in Life: The Balance of Righteousness Ecclesiastes 7:15-22 “It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other, for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.”               At first glance, the statement of Solomon in these verses seems to contradict the rest of Scripture, for it appears as though he is encouraging us to “practice a little sin now and then.”  However, from the context of the book, we know this is the farthest thing from Solomon’s mind, for he urges his reader to “fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13).  To understand his statement, we must first understand the grammar.  “Do not be overly wise” is reflective and can be translated as “Do not be overly wise to yourself.”  Thus the idea of the verse is to not  think  of oneself as overly righteous or overly wise. Solomon is not saying that we should not be righteous, but that we should not be focused on religious rituals and performances so that we would become self-righteo