Today we start reading the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 1:1 1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Ecclesiastes 1:12 12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.
We have the account of “The Reporter.” (Some translators refer to the Hebrew word, Quoholeth, as The Teacher, Preacher, or the Speaker in an assembly.)
Solomon is a man who seemingly has everything a person could want. He has all that people would think would bring satisfaction- the good life- wisdom, power, riches, fame, and favor. And yet, he describes the emptiness of it all.
Ecclesiastes is a picture of natural philosophy. The Reporter describes “Life under the sun” – life as it is seen under natural light, without special revelation.
“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
This is a contrast to life under the Son! It is interesting that Ecclesiastes, “The vanity of vanities”, is followed by “The Song of Songs,” which describes a relationship that does satisfy- the relationship of the Shepherd King and His Bride a picture of Christ and His church. (It is true that the Song of Solomon celebrates the delights of the wedded life, yet Jesus claimed that the Scriptures testify of Him. He is the Greater Shepherd King, the Greater Bridegroom, and He is the Greater Reporter than the Reporter of Ecclesiastes, who reports on the life that satisfies rather than the life that dissatisfies.
The Book of Ecclesiastes describes the successive stages in the search for happiness. He starts off examining all the ‘lying vanities’. The result is a penitent turning to a life beyond the sun.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
In Chapter 1, Solomon reports that “All is vanity!” The word is used 38 times in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and it means “What is left after a bubble bursts”- emptiness, vapor, and futility. Life is a chasing after the wind! It is a chasing after that which does not satisfy.
Ecclesiastes 1:8 8 All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.
People may have their 15 minutes of fame, but soon will be forgotten. Soon the bubble bursts and is no more.
Ecclesiastes 1:11 11 There is no remembrance of earlier things; And also of the later things which will occur, there will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still.
In Ecclesiastes 1:2-18, he reports as a ‘man of science.’ Science cannot explain everything, nor does it have all the answers. Nor will science alone solve the problem of the emptiness and futility of life under the sun.
In Chapter 2, he reports as a ‘man of pleasure.’ Satisfaction is elusive to those pursuing entertainment (2:1-3), architecture, beautiful houses and gardens (2:4-6), many employees (2:7), much wealth (2:8), musical talent, and fame (2:8-9). He also sees that the wisdom of men gets them no further than the fool. In the end, both wise and foolish will die.
We can labor to ‘be in control’ of our lives, yet this too is meaningless (2:19). Life’s vain pursuits can make you anxious and leave you weary.
The Reporter recognizes that there are simple God-given pleasures for the natural man to rejoice in. He extols the wonders of ‘common grace.’ But these become gods. They become what people live for. They become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:4). Gourmet food, wine, good jobs, accumulating wealth is what life is all about. Nothing more.
He has the satisfaction of a job well done and good food and drink.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.
Ecclesiastes 2:26 26 For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
But there must be something more!
Ecclesiastes 3 starts with the familiar, “There is a time for everything.”
Satisfaction from work is limited (3:9), so also is our ability to contemplate God (3:11).
Do you know people who settle for a natural philosophy that falls short of realizing God’s choice purposes for their humanity?
Ecclesiastes 3:12 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime.
Jesus reported on the sobering truth that human justice falls short of divine justice (Luke 18:1-8). The Reporter recognizes this fact also (Eccles. 3:16-17). But we all must be ready for Divine Justice by clinging to God’s provision of mercy in Jesus Christ the Savior.
The believer in the Gospel, rejects the report that “All is Vanity” because he or she has received a new life in Christ Jesus. Instead of ‘vanity’ we can enjoy ‘fullness of joy’! Instead of ‘vanities of vanities’, we can enjoy a relationship with our Lord and Savior, our heavenly bridegroom, the ‘song of songs’.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 CORINTHIANS 6:1-13
Chapter 6 begins with the good news that today is the Day of Salvation. The time to believe the gospel is now. It is not to be put off. The need to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus is urgent, and forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available. The gospel demands a response. Be reconciled to God.
We are not to toss aside God’s message. Receive not the grace of God in vain!
Paul describes what authentic ministry looks like. The Christian life involves hardship. (6:4-10).
I like the realistic balance of Paul’s self-description as “sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.”
Paul is pleading for the Corinthian believers to recognize the authenticity of Paul’s ministry and open their hearts once again towards him. (6:11-13).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 46:1-11
Psalm 46 is intimately related to Psalms 47 and 48. They are all set out the relationship of God with the Holy City, Jerusalem, and the security of its citizens.
In Psalm 46, we see God as a Refuge. In Psalm 47, we see God as a Ruler, and in Psalm 48, God is a Resource.
In contrast to the tempestuous commotions in life, God is our stabilizing shelter, our strength, our support, and our security.
Psalm 46:1 1 “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…”
This city is gladdened by the river of supply from the Throne (v.4). The citizens can take confidence that the Lord is dwelling in their midst.
Verses 8-11 anticipate the coming kingdom of God. We can rest secure that He will bring to pass what He has promised.
Psalm 46:10 10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 22:15
Parents must dare to discipline as they nurture their children in the tender care of the Lord. Foolishness needs to be recognized as such and repented of with reinforcement.
Proverbs 22:15 15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
Republic of Moldova
Area: 33,700 sq. km
Landlocked republic between the Ukraine and Romania.
Population: 3,575,574 Annual Growth: -1.00%
Official language: Moldovan Romanian Languages:13 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova has long been the traditional passageway between Europe and Asia. The small nation has been conquered by the Romans, Greeks, Huns, Bulgars, Ottomans, Romanians, and Soviets, leading Moldova to be extremely diverse and its citizens able to speak several languages.
Moldova also boasts the world’s richest and most fertile soil, which supports vast wheat fields, vineyards, and orchards. The irony is that even though Moldova has so many natural and human resources, it is the poorest nation in Europe; 72% of its people live below the poverty line, 60-80% of its adult population is unemployed, and thousands of people leave annually seeking work throughout Europe, leaving children to be raised in single-family homes or with their elderly grandparents.
Roughly 70% of the 4.6 million Moldovan’s are Eastern Orthodox Christians. However, most are nominal Christians who base their religious affiliation solely on their infant baptism. Yet, due to poverty and years of Soviet atheistic indoctrination, Moldavians yearn for a deeper meaning in life, are desperately looking for hope and thus are open to hearing Christ’s life-generating and hope-filled gospel.
Though a mere 3% of the population are evangelical Christians, they are zealous, dynamic, and eagerly sharing their faith. Bible colleges are training leaders, churches are instituting youth programs, and church planters are resolute in their goal to establish healthy churches in the 800 villages that currently have no gospel witness. God has prepared His people with energy, vision, skills and the geographic location to spread His love, hope, peace and life to people who desperately are seeking it in Moldova and to those in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Please urge Him in prayer to release the power of the Holy Spirit within the Moldavian Church and that those who hear His gospel will respond in faith and subsequently unite with His people to build His kingdom for His glory.
Challenges for Prayer
Mission vision among Moldovans is rapidly growing, but training and support are serious obstacles requiring prayer. OM and the European Baptist Federation are just two of the groups dedicated to finding innovative ways to train, send and support economically-limited Moldovans through partnerships with other Christians. Pray for a release of resources to support those called by God to serve in Moldova and abroad.
Beaming with magnificent scenery, the renowned and prestigious nation of Monaco is the second smallest in the world. Less than one square mile in size, the Mediterranean city-state is bordered by France on three sides. Rocky terrain and steep hills dominate most of Monaco’s landscape, and the climate is mild year-round. The principality of Monaco has been governed by a constitutional monarchy, the royal Grimaldi family, since 1297.
Nearly half of the 30,000 people living in the nation are indigenous to France, and French is the official language. The nation’s breathtaking vista, beautiful weather, and exquisite French cuisine make Monaco the vacation destination of choice for the wealthiest people in the world. Foreign businesses are attracted to Monaco by its lenient and advantageous tax laws, and expatriates from around the world make up the majority of the population. Home to more millionaires per capita than any other nation, Monaco has no income tax for its residents. Since the opening of the famous Monte Carlo Casino, gambling and tourism have become the leading industries in the nation’s economy.
Monacans enjoy the freedom to worship; however, all forms of proselytism are strongly discouraged. Roman Catholicism is the state religion, and 84% of Monacans profess Christianity; however a mere 1% are evangelicals. Affluent living standards and overall material abundance result in many hardened hearts towards the Gospel. There is great need for Monacans to realize the beauty and completeness that comes from eternal life and eternal treasures compared to those that will so quickly fade away. The expatriate community is vast and the Catholic, Anglican, French Reformed, and evangelical churches are seeking to serve this segment of society. Supernatural wisdom and discernment are needed for effective evangelism, and only God can change the hard Monacan hearts.
PRAYER: Father, we were prisoners to the futility and emptiness of a life lived under the natural light of the sun. Apart from Your Word our lives were a dead-end street. But You, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, have shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. You sent forth Your truth and Your light through the gospel and showed us the sinfulness of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior. Thank You for turning us from darkness and the power of Satan unto Yourself. You are our present help in times of trouble. You help us see that, although we still live in a Genesis 3 world with our share of sorrows, You have provided the Victory in Christ and have overcome the world. May Your love compel us to reach out to others with the hope of the gospel. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.