Monday, September 28, 2009

Death Comes to All

Ecclesiastes 9:3-4 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

In these verses Solomon is addressing the issue of death; it is inevitable for all—both good and bad. Human logic makes this observation with the attitude that the way you live makes no big difference in the scheme of things; you are going to die. So….it is far better to be a living dog (a lowly, despised creature) than a dead lion (a greatly feared and powerful creature). Those with spiritual wisdom, however, know that their choices in life have a direct impact on their eternal future. They know that without God that future will be miserable, but with God is eternal blessing. Scripture is very clear in this respect.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Luke 16:22-26 “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Revelation 14:9-10 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:”

Revelation 20:15 “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Isaiah 64:4 “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.”

Psalms 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Ecclesisastes 9:5-6 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

Using human reasoning it seems to be a valid conclusion that those who are alive have awareness of their state of being, while those who are dead have no awareness. The dead have no future. As shown in the comments on the previous verse, this is not true; death is not annihilation. As we continue on in this study, we will find that Solomon does not believe this to be the case either.

Jesus made specific reference to the fact that the patriarchs of old were still alive; physical death did not extinguish their being.

Matthew 22:32 “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Though they have no portion in what is “done under the sun” currently; they have a future of blessing under the “Son.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Safe in the Hand of God

Ecclesiastes 9:1 ¶ For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.

The tone of Solomon’s writing seems to change again with this verse. This verse states a very precious truth to every child of God—God is in sovereign control regarding everything that is allowed to touch him/her; we are firmly in the grasp of His protective hand. I couldn’t help but think of some of my favorite verses from the book of John in light of this truth.

John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”

That truth, however, does not mean that the righteous and wise will only experience love and not hate or good and not bad. Scripture affirms that good and bad (from our perspective) happens to both the one who has yielded to God as Lord in faith and the lost sinner.

Matthew 5:45 “…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

John 9:2-3 “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Scripture is clear that only those who have yielded themselves to God as Lord are declared righteous, that wisdom comes from God, and that the wise fear God.

Isaiah 51:7 “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law….”

Isaiah 54:17 “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.”

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Proverbs 2:6 “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

Psalms 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom….”

Ecclesiastes 9:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

This verse is an exclamation point to the conclusions stated in the previous verse. You can’t judge a person’s standing before God by his economic condition or the state of his health. The whole book of Job gives testimony to this truth. When you study the lives of the apostles, you find that they suffered persecution and lived simply. They weren’t successful men according to the world’s standards; they were hated more often than not. Those who preach the prosperity gospel today are ignoring a major portion of God’s word and using most of the rest out of context. They are preying upon those who know little about the scripture and appealing to their desire for material blessing to promote their own lavish lifestyles. They are certainly not encouraging people to yield their lives to the Lord out of love for sacrificing His precious Son Jesus to provide our salvation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Father Filter

As I was driving to the grocery store this morning, I looked up through the sunguard strip across the top of the windshield to see a beautiful sun outlined through a mosaic of small puffy clouds. For some reason I leaned down to look at it through the unprotected glass and saw not beauty, but a glare that hid all the detail. As I returned to normal posture, the thought ran across my mind, “That filter really makes a difference.” Immediately the Lord spoke to me.

I often say that nothing can happen to me as God’s child unless it has first been Father-filtered. I realized that this was a beautiful illustration of that truth. Through human eyes we don’t often understand why a loving Father allows certain things to happen to us. If we could but see through the filter that the Father is looking through in His eyes, we would understand clearly the beauty that can/will result from allowing us to experience that test or trial.

I hope that is an encouragement to you as you cling to His promise: “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to His purpose.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It’s Impossible to Know it All

Eccl. 8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

We are back again to adopting a motto of “eat, drink and be merry”; man should enjoy the simple things of life as he does the work necessary to support his life “under the sun” on planet earth. According to Paul, this is the natural conclusion to make if there is no life after death, there is no spiritual dimension to life.

1Cor. 15:19&32 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable….If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

If Solomon was the wisest man on earth, this is certainly not the most stellar example of his writings. He vacillates constantly from earthly wisdom to spiritual wisdom and back again. You would think that once he gained spiritual enlightenment, he would recognize the value of following that course of thinking. But how often are we guilty of the same? The enemy knows all the deceptive and distracting techniques, and we are so susceptible to influence by the flesh.

Eccl. 8:16-17 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

As this chapter closes, Solomon declares it to be impossible for a man to find out all the answers about everything there is to know about life here on earth and in the universe. People are constantly working at the things that are important to them—and that is different for every person. There are men who seem to think that they “know it all,” but they don’t. I think the following three verses sum it up pretty well.

1 Timothy 6:20 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:”

1 Corinthians 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Righteous Judgment will Prevail

Eccl. 8:12-13 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Solomon is speaking with spiritual wisdom in these verses. Though it may seem that the wicked are getting away with their sin over and over again, there is no doubt that God’s righteous judgment will prevail in the end. Those who fear God, who reverence Him and look to Him as Lord, can look forward to eternal life; those who have no fear of God will face an eternal existence away from the presence of God in hell.

Matthew 25:41&46 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels….And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Eccl. 8:14 ¶ There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

Solomon again identifies an observation that has evidently caused him much consternation. It’s an observation that has bothered many a child of God. It can’t be denied that good people sometimes suffer at the hands of the wicked, and wicked people seem to be blessed as though they were righteous.

The psalmist struggled with this same issue.

Psalm 73:3&17 “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked….Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”

God created man and made the decision to give man freedom of choice. When man chose to disobey God, the curse of sin affected not only man but also the creation. God set the laws of science in motion, and the second law of thermodynamics is a fact—the universe is winding down; things are only going to get worse. Until God intervenes, the laws of science and nature will continue to function naturally.

Just as with nature, God allows man to function according to his own choices. Many times those choices are according to the flesh and not in subjection to God’s authority. Most amazing to me is that from before the foundation of the world, God had put a plan in motion that took into account the choices of these billions of people in accomplishing that plan through events that would occur on planet earth. Though we may not always understand why God allows certain things to happen, we can have complete confidence in Him to do what is right and just. Each child of God will be able to look back on the tapestry of his/her life and see how God was using the hard times and “unfair” experiences to accomplish His good. We can take great comfort in the truth that we are not supposed to understand. The following verses are probably those I’ve quoted the most in my studies of scripture.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We Are Not in Control

Eccl. 8:6-8 ¶ Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

As I read through the different translations and looked at the Hebrew, I think the NAS gave the best understanding: For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him. No one knows when misery is going to intrude into one’s life, and we shouldn’t walk around like Eyeore waiting for it to come.

I think the NIV got it right in comparing one’s control over his death to his ability to control the wind; you can control neither one. Just as the soldier is not allowed to walk out on his duties, the wicked will not escape death in spite of their wicked attempts to avoid it (e.g., the deserter).

I liked the thoughts expressed in the NIV Commentary: “Like the king, God has the power of life and death; and, when the time comes for a person to die, he or she cannot insist on retaining the breath of life. Meanwhile, one must press on until the end. There is no escape from the battle by treacherously joining the enemies of the king.”

Eccl. 8:9 ¶ All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.

Again, Solomon makes note that his conclusions have been reached using his own wisdom. In this observation, though, the conclusion was obvious—Men often use power and authority to abuse others. I think this is especially true when one with little experience and who rejects God is given such power and authority, and most governments today are proof of this assessment.

Ray Stedman used a quote from John Kenneth Galbraith that seems to be appropriate to our times: “Under capitalism man exploits man; under communism it is exactly the reverse.” And I might add that you could replace communism with socialism and still have a true statement.

Eccl. 8:10-11 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

I think the NLT got at the heart of verse 10: I have seen wicked people buried with honor. How strange that they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are praised in the very city where they committed their crimes!

My do the headlines of history declare this truth. I’ll not get into identifying specific people, but it should be obvious to any Christian that we live in a world that is quick to honor the wicked when they die. Even in the “church” there is often little discernment exercised in this area. It is true, that only God knows a person’s heart. It is also true that scripture declares that by their fruits you shall know them, and for some reason we seem to want to discount the fruit.

Matthew 7:18-20 “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Though the context in Matthew is regarding false prophets, the principle is valid in all discernment regarding those who are good and evil.

Verse 11 is a direct indictment against our judicial system in America today. Evil deeds are not punished for years, if ever, through our court system. People know that with the right amount of cash or the right lawyer looking to make a name for him/herself, they will often get away with light sentences. Though incarceration is not a picnic, neither is it the deterrent it was in the past when prisons were basically dungeons. Today’s prisoner is treated to three square meals a day, given access to libraries, computers, TVs, fitness equipment and good medical treatment. It is my belief that our current judicial system does not provide a sufficient deterrent to crime because of political correctness gone amuck.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

God-Ordained Authority

Eccl. 8:1 ¶ Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Solomon is basically saying that knowledge and wisdom are reflected in one’s countenance. It made me think of sitting in class and being eager to be called on with my hand waving in the air, or slinking lower in the seat hoping not to catch the teacher’s attention. Solomon makes the comparison of a shining face and a strong, hardened countenance (from the Hebrew for bold).

Eccl. 8:2-5 I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.

It’s interesting that as king, Solomon is giving counsel to obey the king’s commands. The wording also seems to indicate that the people gave an oath to obey the king at his inauguration. The reference to doing evil seems to be in context with acting in disobedience to the king’s commands. The inference seems to be that one who is eager to get out of sight of the king is up to no good and should fear reprisal from the king, who is the absolute authority; no one can challenge his authority. Those, however, who obey the commands of the king have nothing to fear.

The NLT is the only translation that made sense with the last clause: Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.

I also liked Adam Clarke’s comments on this section: “It is a matter of great importance to be able to discern WHEN and HOW both to speak and act; but when time and manner are both determined, the matter comes next. WHAT shall I speak? WHAT shall I do? When, how, and what, answer to time, manner, and matter. To discern all these, and act suitably, is a lesson for a philosopher, and a study for a Christian.”

I think these words are especially applicable to the political atmosphere in America today. We, as Christians, need to remember that the authority of the government is ordained by God.

Romans 13:1-2 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance we are declaring our support of the government of the United States of America. It’s obvious that we are not always going to like the dictates that issue from our government through any of its branches—executive, legislative or judicial. We are free to exercise our voice through voting and public discourse within legal parameters. As Christians, however, we should always keep in mind that the only acceptable reason before God for disobeying the dictates of our government is if they require us to disobey God’s authority as set forth in His word.

Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

I never really thought it would get to that point in my lifetime, but I am afraid that we who claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior and His word as our authority may be confronted with making such a stand sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Eavesdropping, Man’s Wisdom and Wicked Women

Eccl. 7:21-22 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

This is simply a caution to choosing to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. It is always possible that you will hear something negative about yourself. I doubt there is anyone who can honestly say that they haven’t spoken words in private that they have later regretted. Truth is—It doesn’t matter if anyone else is around to hear your wicked thoughts, because God knows all our thoughts and our words before we even speak them. That should be deterrent enough for every child of God.

Psalms 139:4 “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.”

Eccl. 7:23-25 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:

At this point Solomon declares that he has proven all his conclusions through his own wisdom—and therein lies the problem. True wisdom comes from God.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”

James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

No matter how much effort and time one invests in attaining wisdom, those efforts will be fruitless and the time spent in vain without seeking God’s help in the process.

Frankly, it shouldn’t take special revelation from God to recognize actions that are wicked and foolish; but apart from the truth of the word of God, there can be no right standard for judgment.

Eccl. 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

Solomon should certainly have been an expert in this area considering the number of wives and concubines he had. I wonder how many of those unions resulted in trouble and sorrow; my guess is—many, if not most, of them. Solomon is right—A man who chooses to please God will escape the woman who is out to seduce him for her own purposes. That is because it is God’s plan for there to be one man and one woman united in marriage for life and sex outside of marriage is forbidden. It is also God’s will that the marriage be one of an equal yoke—child of God to child of God.

Matthew 19:4-6 “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Exodus 20:14 “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Eccl. 7:27-29 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

According to Solomon, there might be one upright man in one thousand, but not one upright woman. It’s interesting that he chose the number 1000 since we know that he had 1000 wives and concubines.

We’re all sinners, but from a human perspective I think this is quite a chauvinistic statement. I’m sure it was true from his own experience, but how can one who knows nothing about a committed relationship expect to have any contact with an upright woman. All upright women would run from his presence.

I agree wholeheartedly with Solomon that God created man in righteousness. It didn’t take long, however, for man to rebel against God and turn to his own “wisdom.” Since that time, man’s ability to find more and more ways to sin against God and his fellowman has proven relentless and horrifying.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Life Isn’t Fair

Eccl. 7:15-18 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

These verses declare a very troubling truth to many of us; often the good die young and the wicked live long and prosper.

I liked Ray Stedman’s thoughts on this verse. This seems to be Solomon’s way of saying, “Moderation in all things.” On verse 16 he states: “The second verb of Verse 16, "Do not make yourself overwise," is the key to understanding the verse. In grammar this is called a reflexive verb; that is why the word yourself is included there. What the Searcher is really saying is, "Do not be wise to yourself; do not be wise in your own eyes, in regard to your righteousness." He goes on to state that self-righteousness is usually based on what a person doesn’t do, but I think it would also include the things they do. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day are a great example of its truth. That person is more concentrated on pleasing self than God. That type of pride is a sin just as despised by God as wicked actions. Both types of sin lead to His judgment.

Solomon’s conclusion is that one should live one’s life in light of this truth. The most important truth in the end is that the one that fears God finds life after death in the presence of God.

1 John 2:17 “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Eccl. 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

I think the CJB gives the better insight: “To a wise man wisdom is better protection than ten rulers in a city.” The Hebrew, however, seems to me to be referencing strong men, not rulers. We have already discussed that those who are truly wise have put their faith in God. So my version would be: One man with the ability to seek God’s wisdom in making plans and preparations for defense is far more important to the protection of a city than ten men of brute strength.

Eccl. 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

This verse is the Old Testament match to Romans 3:12: “…there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Every person born since the fall of man into sin is born a sinner. The only exception to this truth is the man Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born without the sin nature inherited by the descendants of Adam; and He lived a sinless life.

Hebrews 4:14-15 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wisdom, Money and the Power of God

Eccl. 7:11-12 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

In these verses Solomon is declaring that to possess both wisdom and money gives us an advantage. The knowledge that gives us wisdom, however, is more valuable because it gives life. How is that? Because true wisdom is rooted in the Word of God in which we find the words of eternal life.

2 Peter 1:2-3 “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

Colossians 2:2-3 “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Money is only an advantage in this present life; the benefit of possessing true wisdom is eternal.

Eccl. 7:13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

This is basically a statement of the power and authority of God. No other being in the creation can thwart His will.

Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:”

Deuteronomy 3:24 “O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?”

Deuteronomy 4:35 “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.”

Eccl. 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Solomon seems to be saying that we should enjoy the times in our life that are filled with blessing and prosperity; however, when experiencing the troubles that will come with life on this earth, we should remember that God is sovereign over all.

The difficult part for me was understanding the last part of the verse. JFB indicated that this was reference to not being able to cast blame on God for our circumstances. Though God is sovereign, He doesn’t limit us from experiencing the consequences of sin in this world. Some of our bad times (e.g., disease and natural disasters) are a natural result of the impact of sin on creation. The important difference for the child of God is that every experience that touches us is Father-filtered; it has been caused or allowed for good in accordance with God’s purposes.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Adam Clarke expressed the thought that the bad times are necessary to balance out the good times so that we don’t forget God. It is sad but true that troubled times seem to provide soil more conducive to spiritual growth than do the good times.

Romans 5:3-4 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”