csibiblestudy


Ecclesiastes 7: The Better Life through Christ
May 28, 2012, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Ecclesiastes 7:  The Better Life

In Ecclesiastes 6:12, Solomon the seeker asked “For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime?”  In chapter 7, he, as an instrument of the Holy Spirit, shows that the better life involves some bitter things, which God uses to produce the godly character we need to better serve the Lord.  Some of the things that Solomon said were better are: 

• In life or death a good reputation is better than smelling good (v. 1a).

• One’s dying day is better than the day of his or her birth (v. 1b).

• A funeral is better than a festival (v. 2).

• Grief is better than laughter (v. 3).

• A wise man’s rebuke is better than a fool’s song (v. 5).

• The end of something is better than its beginning (v. 8a).

• Patience is better than pride (v. 8b).

• Realism about the present and occupation with the future are better than nostalgia over the past (v. 10).

 

Chapter 7 is divided into two sections: verses 1-14, which examines our circumstances in light of eternity and verses 15-29, which examines our character in light of divine revelation.  Together, both sections proclaim, “Life Is the Time to Serve the Lord”.

 

A Person’s Present Circumstances in the Light of Eternity (7:1–14) demonstrate a great truth that we often miss.  We mistakenly believe that godly people enjoy only the blessings of God, and those who endure the hardships of life are being judged by God for their rebellion and sin.  However, the Seeker, Solomon, discovers that even the godliest individuals endure the ravages of time with the hope that passing from this life will bring a desirable release from the effects of the Fall.

 

Let’s look at the verses in this section:

1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

tov shem mishshemen tov; tov-good, starts and ends the verse.  Shem-name, and shemen-ointment or perfume). The “good ointment” might refer to any of a number of normal situations in ancientIsrael’s culture:

(1) the bathing of an infant in oil at birth (cp. Ezek 16:4),

(2) refreshing the body to provide relief from body odor, muscle soreness, dry skin, and other conditions,

(3) a luxury provided by the possession of significant wealth,

(4) the preparation of a corpse for burial.

In Ecclesiastes 7:1’s proverb, “A good name is better than a good ointment,” the adjective “good” operates as a bridge between chapters 6 and 7, between the first half of the book and the second half of the book. The author utilizes the phrase “better than” (literally, “more good than”) to offer a series of contrasts that argue for the superiority of wisdom over foolishness, righteousness over wickedness.  The second half of 7:1 continues to elevate one’s death above one’s birth. Birth commences a temporary existence “under the sun.” Death, however, propels a person into an eternal existence, so it is better than the day of birth if the name of that person has merited a lasting reputation and influence.

 “Patience” – Hudson Taylor said, “As a rule, prayer is answered and funds come in, but if we are kept waiting, the spiritual blessing that is the outcome is far more precious than exemption from the trial.”

That’s why God balances our life w/trials & triumphs – to keep you from getting proud & set in your ways.
Charles Swindoll defined Wisdom as “The God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and  to handle life with rare stability.”

Great minds talk about ideas; mediocre minds talk about things; small minds talk about other people.

Satan may want to use criticism as a weapon to batter us; but if we let Him, God can use it as a tool to build us!

 

7:2–6 The point of this section is to emphasize that more is learned from adversity than from pleasure.

Verses 2 and 4 form a proverbial pair sandwiching verse 3:  the house of mourning vs. the house of feasting (v. 2) sorrow and laughter compared to sadness and goodness and the house of mourning vs. the house of pleasure (v. 4)

“The house of mourning” refers to the home of the deceased, where the family mourns the departure of their loved one. Jacob’s family observed a seven-day period of mourning, a practice still continued among the Jews. The benefits of a funeral include:

• Understanding more clearly the ultimate result of the Fall.

• Giving proper consideration to the brevity of life.

• Being reminded that how we live does count.

• Recommitting ourselves to live life in the light of eternity.

• Preparing to die.

• Learning the value of comfort and being comforted.

• Knowing that no one lives to herself and no one dies to himself.

2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

Mourning and sorrow are better than feasting and laughter (vv. 1–3) because they cause a man to reflect wisely on the brevity of life.

 

3 Sorrow (or anger) is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

“the sadness that shows in the face results in a better heart, a spiritually healthy heart.

 

4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

 

 5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

5–7. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than … the song of fools. The way to profit is to be kept by patiently hearing the rebuke of the wise.

 

6 For as the crackling (Hebrew for “sound”) of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. Burning thorns will provide quick flames, little heat, and a lot of noise, just like the sudden outbursts of laughter among fools; there is more noise than substance. The pleasing words of the fool are like thorns placed under a kettle. Anticipation may run high as the immediate crackling sound occurs, but little lasting good can come of it. This flash of fire fails to produce any substantial heat. In like manner, the shallow speech and laughter of the fool is never productive of lasting good.

 

7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

In verse 7 the means by which the cackling fool has fallen to such non-substantive living is identified. Some have become fools because they have refused to hear faithful rebuke and have chosen rather to pursue a course of oppression and corruption. The Preacher warns that those who practice oppression and relish the gain brought by bribes are destined for madness.

 

 8 better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

How can the end of a matter be better than the beginning? Patience and humility enable a person to wait for the outcome of a matter and to actually witness the truth that the end is better than the beginning.

 

9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

“Fools” :

the heart of a fool seeks pleasure (v. 4),

his song lacks wisdom (v. 5),

his laughter lasts momentarily (v. 6),

and he harbors anger (v. 9).

This fool can be described as obstinate, with no patience to seek wisdom, and possessing no reverence for the truth. 

10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? (When faced with difficulty, don’t fall for living in the “good, old golden days”) for thou dost not enquire wisely (Hebrew for “out of wisdom) concerning this.

11 Wisdom is good (Hebrew for “as good as an inheritance, yea, better too) with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. (This seems to be a variation on the more familiar phrase “under the sun.”) Wisdom is good with an inheritance. In likening wisdom to an inheritance, the Preacher establishes the fact that an inheritance is to be a permanent possession of a man, which, especially inIsrael, was received from parents and passed on to children. The permanence of such a possession is emphasized.

12 For wisdom is a defence (Hebrew for “shadow”) , and money is a defence (Hebrew for “shadow”): but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it. The word translated defense literally means “shade” or “shelter,” a kind of protection. The Hebrew word translated here as excellence is often rendered profit in Ecclesiastes.

In verses 13-14, Solomon turns the reader’s attention God-ward with the truth that the Sovereign God Is in Control.

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

God’s work cannot be altered (v. 13). God has appointed both the good (the straight) and the bad (the bent or crooked)  circumstances. This is not mere “fate.” God controls all events in our lives and designs them for our good (Rom 8:28).

14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set (Hebrew for “made”) the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Prosperity and adversity both come from God’s hands; a wise Father’s heart has given them to you.

 

A Person’s Character in the Light of Revelation (7:15–29)

Solomon describes what is seen from those living under the sun concerning righteous and unrighteous in the next section.  However, reading the verses reveals a remarkable truth about those who are self-righteous and those who are wicked sinners.  This section provides case studies for verses 13 and 14. 

7:15–18 The focus on the nature of righteousness is made clear in the statement “For the one who fears God comes forth with both of them” (v. 18).

15 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.

Two qualities of personal character of those who “fear God” dominate 7:15–29: wisdom (Wisdom is the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle life with rare stability.”) and righteousness.

Although life has passed Solomon faster than he could imagine, he manages to make some observations related to its brevity. First, he notices that a righteous person’s life might end while he is still living righteously. Second, he observes that a wicked person might experience an extended life in spite of his continual wickedness. In other words, the length of a person’s life does not depend upon his spirituality.

Verse 15 marks the eleventh time Solomon has used the phrase “I have seen.”

In the days of my vanity or “my lifetime of futility” (literally, “in the days of my futility” or “in my fleeting days”).

16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy (Hebrew for “be desolate”) thyself? This is a warning against self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the attitude of people who regard themselves as righteous because of the things they do not do. That is, in my judgment, the curse of the church today. The New Testament calls this pharisaism; the Searcher rightly labels it wickedness. Wickedness is expressed not only by murder, thievery, and sexual misconduct but also by bigotry, racism, pompousness, and cold disdain; by critical, judgmental attitudes; by harsh, sarcastic words; by vengeful and vindictive actions. The evangelical prig, male or female, is a wicked person!

Not only is self-righteousness wicked, but the opposite extreme is wicked too, the Searcher goes on to say. The foolish casting off of all moral restraints, the abandoning of one’s self-discipline and going in for wild and riotous living also is wickedness.  “Do not be overly righteous”: Few verses in Ecclesiastes are more susceptible to incorrect interpretation than these (vv. 16–18). This is not the so-called golden mean that advises: “Don’t be too holy and don’t be too wicked; sin to a moderate degree.” The Preacher was warning instead about pseudo-religiosity and showy forms of worship. The Hebrew verb for “be wise” may be rendered “think yourself wise,” and to “be overly righteous” would mean “righteous in your own eyes” (see Prov. 3:7).

17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

 

18 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.

 

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

 

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

 

21 Also take (Hebrew for “give not thine heart”) no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:

 

22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

 

23 All this have I proved(“to put to the test”) by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.

 

24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

 

25 I applied (Hebrew for “I and mine heart compassed”) 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:

The threefold description of the goal of his determination (“to know, to search or investigate, and to seek”) summarizes his previous testimony concerning his search for wisdom.

26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, (This is the seductress about whom Solomon warns young men in Proverbs) 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.

 

27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:

 

28 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. (man=godly man; woman=godly woman)

Why had Solomon not found a wise woman among the thousand?  Think about the women that Solomon knew, then about his intimacy with those women.  He has forgotten the wise woman of Proverbs 31 and the love of his life in Song of Solomon.  Remember he is the same human author of Proverbs and Song of Solomon.

 

29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions (intent or devices).

In our society, we think that we should be able to live without pain, suffering, or disappointment in our pursuit of self-indulgence, pleasure, and happiness.  We believe that these are inalienable rights which are owed to us.  Whenever some circumstance comes into our life which restrict these, we react with five basic methods in our dealing with obstacles or unpleasantness.

  • First, escape through our busy lives.  We become too busy to think, reflect, or even hear about things we can’t handle, enjoy, or control.
  • Second, we try denial.  We deny that our life has problems.  Our conversation is filled with lies we believe that cause us to reject the difficult times we are experiencing.
  • Third, we become callous to pain experienced by others.  This indifference is seen in our callous nature to other’s pain and suffering.  We are unmoved by others pain.
  • Our fourth method is hedonism or our extreme pursuit of happiness at any cost and at every level.
  • Finally, the fifth method is withdrawal, turning inside and closing off as many contacts as possible with the outside world.  We shut off others to live an empty, lonely, and barren existence that we call depression.

God wants us to reject a life in which we try to find “upright-ness” and to have the better life He gives.



Ecclesiastes 6: Becoming a more contagious follower of Christ!
May 21, 2012, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Case History #1: A Full Treasury (vv. 1–2) Prosperity does not result in the good use of wealth.

 (Prosperity is not always as good as it might appear).

 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.

In other words, there are no guarantees in life when it comes to one’s possessions and wealth.

Case History #2: A Full Quiver (vv. 3–5) 3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth (stillborn child) is better than he. 4 For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. 5 Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other

Case History #3: A Full Life Span (v. 6) An untimely birth is better than an unsatisfied life.

6 Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place? (death)

 The Elusiveness of Satisfaction and Rest (vv. 7–9)  Our efforts for personal satisfaction are often frustrated. 7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite (Hebrew “soul”) is not filled. 8 For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes (enjoying present possessions) than the wandering of the desire (the uncertainty of potential possessions): this is also vanity and vexation of spirit. (IT IS BETTER TO ENJOY WHAT WE HAVE THAN TO THINK ABOUT ENJOYING THAT WHICH WE WANT TO HAVE)

Having in his possession all that some people count as blessings, a person “can still depart unnoticed, unlamented and unfulfilled.”

a person living as a mere human being without God in his or her life can never find satisfaction in quantity of possessions, wealth, children, or years of life.

END OF FIRST HALF OF BOOK.  THE REST OF THE BOOK FOCUSES UPON WHAT IS GOD’S VIEW ABOUT LIFE

 A Sovereign Lord (vv. 10–12) 10 That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man (‘adam- earthen man) : neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he. (Summation statement)

PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF MESSAGE ON PROFIT

11 Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 12 For who knoweth (occurs 4 times in the book)  what is good for man in this life,(the concept “Man doesn’t know what is good for man” occurs 7 times and emphasizes a distinct deficiency of knowledge and discernment) all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow (VANITY)? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

A Sovereign Lord (vv. 10–12) In effect, verses 10–12 comprise Solomon’s reflection upon the Fall

Summary of Ecclesiastes 6’s Truths:

  • Contentment is more satisfying than wealth.
  • Doing God’s will is more important than gaining goods.
  • Doing God’s will brings the highest wealth of all.13
    • Enjoy the blessings of this life
    • Accept the limitations of this life

Questions:

  • What are the essentials for enjoying a satisfied life?
  • Why are some people unmourned in their death?
  • Why do large families (many children) sometimes fail to provide satisfaction and joy?
  • What are some of the disadvantages of a very long life?
  • Do I enjoy the wealth, children, long life, and blessings God has given me?
  • Where does my supreme joy and satisfaction reside?
  • What things in my life am I holding too tightly these days?
  • What must happen for me to loosen my grip?
  • How do I include God in the various roles and responsibilities of my life?
  • To what extent is He a true priority?
  • In what ways does God provide meaning to my work, marriage, family, possessions, ministry, and personal interests?
  • Am I satisfied or dissatisfied with what God has given me in this life (6:7-9)?
  • What motivates me to do what I do on a daily basis?
  • When I have success who receives the credit?
  • List the ways this chapter teaches the sovereignty of God.
  • Does the thought of God’s hand ruling over my life comfort me?
  • Read Psalm 39:4-6; 90:10-12; and James 4:13-17. What will I do this week to live in light of eternity?
  • How can I become a more contagious Christian?

 

C.S. Lewis said it so well: “To argue with God is to argue with the very power that makes it possible to argue at all.”

 

 



Blessings from God, Ephesians 1:1-14

Read the Scripture:   Ephesians 1:1-14

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.   (Ephesians 1:1-2)

Ephesians 1:1-2 is the briefest salutation in any of Paul’s letters. There are just three simple things to which I will call your attention in passing:

First, Paul’s credentials: notice how he describes himself, “an apostle … by the will of God.”

An apostle was one sent with a message, a messenger. Pau was a messenger who delivered the message he received from the Lord Jesus Christ.   He speaks by the authority of Christ.

Second, Paul was always amazed by the fact that it was “by the will of God” that he was an apostle. God’s plan for his life was that he turned from one who persecuted the followers of Christ to one who proclaim faith in Christ to the world.  Paul recognized that he was fulfilling God’s plan through God’s power.

Third, these Christians are described: “saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” Saints is a word which means “set apart ones”.  God describes Christians as those who belong to God and reflect Him in their different attitudes and lifestyle.  These Christians are followers of Jesus Christ.  Let’s stop here for a moment.  We have developed classes of Christians.  Foundational are the believers in Christ.  These are the average Christians.  Second are the followers of Christ.  These are the people who take their commitment to Christ more seriously.  They are the ones we call “on fire for Jesus”.  The first group, we might call “normal”.  In terms of temperature, the followers are “hot” while the normal are “lukewarm”.  Read in Revelation 3:14-22 and see what a literal interpretation reveals.  Is there such a thing as “luke-warm” Christians.  5 times in the gospels, Jesus tells us to believe.  20 times, he tells us to follow.

Fourth, the greeting of Paul to these groups of followers: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The two great heritages of the Christian are grace and peace. These are two things you can always have, no matter what your circumstances. Grace is unearned favor with God.  Peace is the freedom from anxiety, fear, and worry. These are the two characteristics which ought to mark Christians all the time: Grace — God at work in their life; and peace — a sense of security, of trust.

Also characteristic of Paul is to gather everything up in one great prefatory statement, and then break it down into its detail.  In Verse 3 we have a tremendous summary of the teachings of this letter:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  (Ephesians 1:3-4)

There are four elements in this summary that I want you to note.

  1. 1.  The first element is the starting point with which Paul begins, is with the One who is behind all these blessings, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Questions:  Do you start your thinking with God?

  1. 2.  The second element is the aim of the work of God: “blessed” or blessings. God’s goal is to bring about a universe, filled with blessing. Frequently throughout this letter you find the repeated phrase that everything occurs “to the praise of God’s glory,” i.e., in order that God should be praised, in order that his people should be so struck by the wonder of what has happened to them that their hearts reflect without limit and without their being able to prevent it — the praise and the glory and the blessing of God.

In the verses that follow, those blessings are listed for you.

  1. a.   First blessing,

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Ephesians 1:4)

  1. b.   The second blessing:

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6)

“Beloved” means “the One He loves”.  What a fantastic thing that is! We are members of the family of God, made to be partakers of the divine nature.

  1. c.    The third blessing:

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

Redemption- to buy back

His blood- the price of our redemption

  1. d.   The fourth blessing:

9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven , and which are on earth; even in him. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

  1. e.   The fifth blessing:

11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11-12)

  1. f.    The sixth blessing:

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the words of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13)

  1. g.   The seventh blessing:

…ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13b-14)

These come from God, and God alone — God at work. It is absolutely impossible for us to achieve them by ourselves. They are the gifts of God.

1:13 The seal or mark of ownership in believers’ lives is the Holy Spirit.

1:14 The guarantee of our inheritance is the Holy Spirit Himself. Interestingly, the Greek word for guarantee can also be used to indicate an engagement ring. As Christ is the Bridegroom and the church is the bride, so the Holy Spirit is the down payment, the earnest money, in the long-awaited marriage of the two (see Rev. 19:7, 8). purchased possession: The Old Testament described the nation of Israel as God’s special treasure, one He had purchased by His mighty acts of deliverance during the Exodus (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:6). Here Paul describes Christians as the Lord’s own possession, one bought with the blood of His own Son.

  1. 3.  The third element of this great verse is that the apostle points out that all this blessing is “in Christ.” All this comes to us in Christ, in the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus himself. This fact is going to be stressed again and again in this letter. No two words appear in it more frequently than “in Christ,” or “in him.” Over and over it is emphasized that everything comes to us through him.

Fourth and finally, notice the locale where all this occurs — “in heaven” or “in the heavenlies.” Think of this as the absolute reality that exist right now.  It is the invisible, supernatural realm.  Look at II Corinthians 4:18.   While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Do you remember the story in the Old Testament about Elisha and his servant? They were in a small city one day when they were surrounded by the armies of Syria. The servant looked out upon this vast enemy army and he saw the cavalry and the armed chariots. Fearfully he turned to Elisha and said, “Everything’s hopeless! Look! We’re surrounded, what shall we do?” Elisha said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And he prayed, “Lord, open his eyes,” (2 Kings 6:15-17). And the Lord opened the young man’s eyes and he saw ringing the horizon all the fiery chariots of God, manned by hundreds and thousands of angels, and he realized the true situation.

I want to close by returning to that great initial thought of the Apostle Paul and pointing out to you how he underlines the fact that it is God who does all this.  In fact it is a truth which has already been done.  We have nothing to do with the events of chapter 1.  Looking at the chapter, it is God who is doing, not us.

That is what Ephesians is all about. It is a story of how God is breaking down division.  He is healing it. He has already begun. He is breaking down the barriers, removing the hate and enmity, restoring and bringing together.

Remember what Jesus said: “All those who are with me gather, and all those who are against me scatter,” (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23). You can tell whose side you are on by the effect of your life. Are you gathering, or scattering? Are you healing, or hurting? Are you bringing together, or breaking up? Which is the direction of your life? Well, God’s great movement in our lives, as individuals, and in history at large, is to heal and make whole, to bring together all things in Christ, to restore harmony once



How Do You View Wealth? (Ecclesiastes 5{8-20)
May 15, 2012, 3:08 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

By looking at Ecclesiastes 5:8-20 we can answer the question, “How do you view wealth?”  Solomon is used by the Holy Spirit to teach us that wealth comes as a gift from God.  He also teaches us that wealth, both the love of it and the realization of it in our lives won’t produce happiness if we fail to see it as a gift from God. 

 

Wealth Does Not Satisfy (v8-12)

1.  Wealth often involves one group taking advantage of another group.  Officials often use their position to gain weatlth.

8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.   (Jehovah who will ultimately judge perfectly the quality of their rule.

9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.

5:9 All people live by God’s grace in His provision for the earth.

2.  Wealth leads to a desire for more and more.  Those who love wealth, never have enough and often live empty, unsatisfied lives.

10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

This is the third time unfulfilled desires is addressed in Ecclesiastes (1:8; 4:8) Desire always outruns possessions, no matter how many things we have.  According to I Timothy 6:9-10, the love of money is never satisfied.

            3.  Wealth often brings people who wish to gain from another’s wealth.  As goods increase, so do those who consume them.   And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?

11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?

Man who has been created with eternity in his heart can never be satisfied with the nourishment of the temporary wealth of this world. 

The accumulation of wealth also attracts a wide variety of parasites. The fruit of a man’s labor is vigorously consumed by an ever-growing group of spongers. The wealthy man enjoys a form of profit. He may enjoy viewing the fruit of his labor. Because of things like inflation, wealth is constantly being reduced and a wealthy man has to constantly protect his wealth.

5:11 those who consume them increase. This refers to the rich man’s dependents.

            4.  Wealth often brings sleepless nights because of restlessness caused by guilt, worries, or desire.

 12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

 

Wealth Brings Difficulty (v13-17)

1.  Wealth creates problems and difficulties for those who have pursued it. 

13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:  wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

This is the climax of the Seeker’s teaching on wealth.  The man who has struggled for riches considered them good, but in reality they are evil. This applies of course to a man who is totally absorbed with life under the sun. Such a man keeps riches to his own hurt.

            2.  Wealth is often lost by misfortune or bad decisions, and there is nothing to leave survivors.

14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

Evil travail- misfortune or a “worthless task”

Begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand- when he has a son there is nothing left for him.

            3.  You can’t take wealth with you.  You can leave it behind for others to fight over.

15 As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.

15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.

The maxim that “you can’t take it with you” is affirmed here.

16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?

16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?

5:16 labored for the wind: The wording is similar to “grasping for the wind” (1:14).

            4.  Wealth is easily lost so it is an unsure foundation for life. 

 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness. (frustration, affliction, and anger)

“darkness … anger”.  The lifestyle of an unsatisfied person often prevents them from enjoying what they do have (contrast 2:24–26; 3:12, 13).

Earthly treasures are precarious and bring disadvantages; they produce anxiety (v. 12) and pain (v. 13). They disappear through bad business (v. 14) and are left at death (v. 15). They can even produce fear (v. 17).

 

Wealth Comes Ultimately From God (v18-20)

            1.  Wealth can be the result of hard work.  Work is a gift from God.

18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.

Labor- the word is used as a noun which means “toil,” or work for material gain (Ps. 127:1; Prov. 16:26), but it can also mean “trouble” or “sorrow” (see Job 3:10).  It is only when we realize that work is a gift from God that it becomes a joy.  We were created to work. Our faithfulness to our work will have eternal consequences and eternal rewards. 

Comely- proper or fitting. The same word translated in 3:11 “appropriate.” Once again, Solomon uses an admonition to enjoy the richness of life that God gives.

            2.  Wealth, and the enjoyment of it, is a gift from God, who enables us to accept them as a part of God’s plan for their life, which produces happiness in work.

19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.

Hath given him power to eat thereof- enables him to enjoy them.

His portion- part of the plan God has for us in life.

Rejoice in his labor= be happy in his work.

The gift of God- insight which causes us to enjoy the satisfaction of His good gifts.

God has separated the gift of enjoying something from the gift of the object itself so that we might be driven back to the Giver.

            3.  The key concepts in a Christian worldview are “God” and “gifts”.  All we have is a gift from God that is to be enjoyed.

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

Wisdom counsels a state of determined rejoicing, whether the menu be steak or hamburger, and the ability to achieve such a perspective is in itself a gift of God.

God “answereth”- literally means to “keep busy”, God keeps a person occupied and delighted primarily with Himself and then with the gifts He gives.

“joy” of his heart: The Seeker uses the word joy in two ways: (1) “enjoyment,” an internal sense of pleasure (2:10, 26; 4:16; 9:7; 10:19) and (2) “pleasure,” pleasurable actions (2:1, 2, 10; 7:4; 11:9).

 

Life Application: True enjoyment in life comes from a specific knowledge that the living God gives day-by-day and we need to take everything from His hand with thanksgiving, whether it is pain or pleasure.



A Portrait of a True Worshiper as Revealed in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
May 7, 2012, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Bible study tonight at 7 p.m. at the home of the Creasy’s and Wild’s.  Join us to study Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.  There are great thoughts that we will see.  Check out CSI Bible Study.wordpress.com

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

5:1–7. The emphasis of the passage is on the folly of an empty religious profession before a sovereign God:

First, we are to enter the place of worship to listen (vv. 1-3).

Second, we are to enter worship intending to keep the commitments we make to God (vv. 4-6).

Third, we enter worship in awe of God (v. 7).

Verses 1-7 contain a number of instructions for preparing for True Worship:

  1.  Be careful what you do and how you enter into worship.
  2. Be prepared to listen
  3. Think before acting and speaking
  4. Listen more than you speak
  5. Pay what you vow
  6. Admit your failures instead of coming up with excuses for failing to carry out your promises
  7. Fear God

1 Keep thy foot (“guard your feet” or act right.  The idea is to  “Be careful what you do.”) when thou goest to the house of God (the house of God. The temple Solomon built in Jerusalem (cf. 1Ki 8:15–21).  Solomon spoke of going in to worship), and be more ready to hear, (“to hear so as to do”; it focuses on actions, not just on information: doing the right things with the wrong attitude or for the wrong reasons does not bring God pleasure.  To hear implies not only hearing, but understanding and obedience as well.) than to give (not the usual word for offering a sacrifice and in this context, it may refer to sacrifices of the lips, or vows; refers to the thank offering and free will offering mentioned in Leviticus 7:12) the sacrifice of fools (acts that are for the wrong reasons or with the wrong attitude, our acts are not impressive to God, what He wants is for us to be living sacrifices, submitting everything to Him and doing nothing in our own strength or abilities): for they consider not that they do evil.

2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thinga before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth (the essential contrast between our righteous God and sinful man.  In the Bible, heaven always means the invisible world of reality, what is going on that we cannot see but yet is really there. God is in that realm, and that is why he sees much more than we do.):  therefore let thy words be few.(God is not impressed by foolish vows;  God is not impressed by any of our works)

The proper worship of man stands in stark contrast to the worship of the fool. The wise worshiper is a careful listener whose heart is bent upon obedience. The fool’s worship is punctuated by braggadocio, his foolish heart manifesting itself in rash and rapid chatter.

3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

The main thrust here is the demonstration of a cause-and-effect relationship. The person who frets over a multitude of things shall surely fall to dreaming of those things in the night. The heavy burdens of the day act as an effectual cause of dreams in the night. In the same manner the heart of the fool becomes the effectual cause of a multitude of words.

The more you worry, the more likely you are to have a bad dream.  Likewise, the more you talk, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

 

4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

The verb “vowest”  refers to the action of making a solemn promise to the Lord to perform an action or offer a sacrifice.  The noun “vow” was a gift or offering promised to be given to the Lord.  It usually was a sacrifice or free-will offering  that was often promised during times of pressure (Judg 11:30; 1 Sam 1:11; 2 Sam 15:7-8; Pss 22:25; 66:13; 116:14, 18; Jonah 2:9). However, we have turned these into conditional promises, which we make to God in a time of stress or need,but haven’t thought out the cost involved in carrying the promise out, simply because we are trying to con God into answering us in a way that produces an outcome that we want.

5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. (don’t promise God something that attempts to bribe Him, example Ananias and Sapphira)

6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel (“the messenger of God”, referring to the Old Testament priest who served as a mediator between God and man), that it was an error: (make excuses for not following through with the promise;  it refers to a rash vow thoughtlessly made, which the foolish worshiper claims was a mistake) wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin. The messenger (angel) spoken of is the priest to whom the guilty fool makes his appeal for atonement (Mal 2:7–8). The maker of rash vows desires the priest to offer for him a trespass offering. Under the premise that his vow was an error, he expects to thus dispose of his sin. Those who trifle with vows in this way are reminded that such shallowness is an affront to God. Far from being a marginal error, this failure to fulfill a sacred promise is a sin that merits God’s full judgment (cf. Deut 23:21). God’s just anger will surely result in the destruction of the works of such a person’s hands.

7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God. (repeats the idea of acting right from verse 1: it has the idea of correctly understanding who God is and then responding to Him with reverence, awe, and wonder in light of who He is.  The concept of fearing God is a central theme throughout Ecclesiastes)

Life Application: What is the first thought that pops into our mind when we ask: Who is in charge? Have we learned to let God be God and to humbly inquire and listen to His wisdom?

  1.  Learn to let God be God; that is the first thing he declares to us.
    1. The lessons of life will fall into place when you learn that. God is in charge of life, let him be in charge; take these lessons from his hands.
    2. The place to learn that is in the house of God. When you go there, guard your steps, i.e., enter thoughtfully, expect to be taught something. In ancient Israel, of course, the house of God was the Temple in Jerusalem. There sacrifices were offered, and explanation was made to the people as to what they meant. There the law was read, and the wisdom of God about life was given to people; this marvelous Old Testament was unfolded, with its tremendous insights into the truth about life, about what humanity basically and fundamentally is. The Temple was the only place in the land where people could learn these things. In our day the house of God is no longer a building. We must be clear about that. You, the people, are the house of God. What the Searcher is saying is that when you gather together as the people of God, be expectant; there is something to be learned.
  2.  Secondly, he says, listen carefully with a heart that is willing to do what you hear.
    1. A fool is somebody who glibly utters naive, ingenuous and usually false things.
    2. We tend to complain and murmur about what has been handed us in life and in reality, since God is sovereign, we are complaining against Him and the wonderful plan that He has for us.  We don’t enjoy our pleasures and we really don’t enjoy our pain.
    3. So he says, listen carefully, for among the people of God the truth of God is being declared; the wisdom of God is being set forth. Through painful experience, you will see you as you really are and how God can change you if you let Him.
  3.  “Don’t play games with God!” Verse 4

True Worship of our Living God, Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

  1. What things might we do in worship without proper thought?
  1. Do you pray more for yourself to hear from God or more that others will hear from God?
  1. What is the danger for us when we pray more for others to hear from God than ourselves? (cf. 1 Cor. 10:12)
  1. What are some excuses you have made when you didn’t follow through on   commitments?
  1. In v.3 and in v.7, Solomon warns about “much dreaming” and “many words” in the context of worship. What do you think he’s warning us about?
  1. When you read “stand in awe of God” what thoughts about God come to mind?
  1. Where have we slipped into “self-realization” instead of God-pleasing?
  1. Are we less than content when things are not as we prefer?
  1. Have you retained the right fear of God? When was the last time you shuddered in light of God’s holiness?
  1. Have you slipped into the trap of thinking that worship is a something we do to prepare for preaching?
  1. What activities helps you listen and center your affections upon God?
  1. When the word of God is taught and when you surrender to the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit convicts and we make rash promises to God that we end of not keeping.  What prevents us from following through with our promises to God?
  1. What stood out to you from the worship service you attended? Why?
  1. What keeps you from living in relationships that reflect God’s glory?
  1. Do you think that you can change your relationships without “you” actually changing?
  1. What would keep you from taking those steps?

a thing: or, word