TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ECCLESIASTES 7:1-9:18
The major part of the Book of Ecclesiastes records the speech of the Qoholeth. (As we have learned, this Hebrew word can be translated as Reporter, Teacher, Preacher or Speaker.) His speech begins in Chapter 1 verse 2 and continues till Chapter 12 verse 8.
He is describing life as the natural man sees it and the natural man’s search for happiness. It is life “under the sun”, that is natural philosophy, describing life “in natural light”, without “wisdom from above” (James 3:17; 1 Corinthians 1:30, Matthew 7:24-27).
His conclusion is one that is widely adopted today: The only thing we can be sure of is the importance of enjoying the simple pleasures of life- friends, family, faith, good food and the satisfaction of jobs well done, even though we may lack revelational knowledge of how these fit in to the Divine Purpose. These pursuits are described throughout the Teacher’s speech.
But this philosophy does not satisfy! The end of the book will declare that the thing of most importance is most neglected- to receive Wisdom from Above, a prophetic picture of LIFE UNDER THE SON!
The Apostle Paul speaks of what is of FIRST IMPORTANCE (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).
1 Corinthians 15:3-5 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Death is coming to all men. The Preacher/Teacher/Speaker cries out at the end of the Book: “Remember Your Creator in the days of Your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Don’t waste your life on vanities.
Where is Christ in the Book of Ecclesiastes? After all, Jesus said that the Old Testament Scriptures (the Three sections of the Tanakh- Torah, Prophets and Writings/Psalms) testify of Him (John 5:39; Luke 24:44).
We certainly see shadow images of Christ in at least two places:
He is the forgotten wise man!
Ecclesiastes 9:14-16 14 There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siege works against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded.
Human philosophy is based on human viewpoint with its limited reasoning and limited strength.
1 Corinthians 1:21 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE WISE MAN WHOM GOD APPOINTED TO BRING SALVATION THOUGH THE WISDOM OF THE CROSS?
We see a shadow image of Christ in the last chapter. But that will have to wait for tomorrow’s reading!
A number of questions are put forth in today’s readings. These questions are answered in the New Testament.
- Why do bad things happen to seemingly good people? (Ecclesiastes 7:15; See Luke 13:1-5; 2 Corinthians 4:17; James 1:2-4)
“Why should the righteous suffer?”
“Why not? They’re the only ones who can handle it.” – CS Lewis
- What about my tendencies to obsessiveness?
Ecclesiastes 7:16 16 Do not be excessively righteous (super self-righteous) and do not be overly wise (intellectually proud). Why should you ruin yourself?
Beware of the diseases of Pride: Legalism- Intellectualism
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you” (Matthew 11:29)- That yoke speaks of a faith-union with Christ and His finished work of redemption. Only Christ in you by the Spirit can live the Christian life! Except you become as a little child (We must be repentant, humble, and reliant- Matthew 18:2-4; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17)
Beware the dangers of self-indulgent hedonism, and antinomianism- using grace as a license to sin.
- What about my insecurity?
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 21 Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. 22 For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.
Don’t waste time being concerned with what people think about you. What God thinks is what matters.
- What about my self–disappointment?
Ecclesiastes 7:23-25 23 I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it?
WE DON’T NEED TO LIVE IN THE PAST. – YOU CAN’T UNSCRAMBLE EGGS. Confess your sins, receive God’s gift of forgiveness and move on in faith (1 John 1:9; Phil 3:13).
- What about my gullibility (being prone to seduction)?
Ecclesiastes 7:26-29 (NASB) 26 And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.
“The woman whose heart is snares and nets”- A representative of the seductive world system. (Prov 5:3-14; Rev.14:8; 16:19; 17:1-6; 18:1-24; 1 John 2:15-17)
- Why do I struggle with relationships?
Remember the words of the Qoholeth do not represent God’s viewpoint. He is describing his personal life experience, and apparently, he had a bad experience with the opposite sex.
Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 (NASB) 27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation,
28 which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these.
The gap on his views between men and women are not that great There is a .1% difference between his experience of relationships with men and women. His experience is that 99.9% of men cannot be respected. Jesus went further. He said 100% of men cannot be trusted (John 2:25; Jeremiah 17:9).
- What about personality problems?
People are complex and therefore have different degrees of complexes.
29 “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”
The Good News Translation: This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.
The Qoholeth poses further questions of the natural man considering life under the sun:
- How do I put up with power mongers? (Ecclesiastes 8:1-6; Romans 13; John 19:10-11)
- Why am I uncertain of the future? (Ecclesiastes 8:7-8; John 14:1-4)
- Why do I have little hope for justice? (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13; Isaiah 2:3-5)
The truth is that if God were to deal with sin immediately, every human being would be wiped from the planet.
These questions should cause us to meditate upon the good news of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us of Wisdom from above! Jesus is the answer for the world today.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 CORINTHIANS 7:8-16
The New Testament epistles are what is called “Crisis literature” addressing specific problems. The Apostle Paul who called for church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5, is grateful that the church responded and through the means of church discipline restored a repentant sinner to fellowship.
He describes the benefits of repentance and restoration, and contrasts this with those who have not discovered the gift of turning away from sin and putting their faith in God.
2 Corinthians 7:10 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Paul is pleased that his confidence in the Corinthians was not disappointed. Titus was happy to be able to give a good report!
May our obedience to the revealed will of God bring joy to those who must give an account.
Hebrews 13:17 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 48:1-14
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise! How beautiful it is to see His reign in the midst of His city. This is a foreshadowing of the New Jerusalem, the new creation of God in Christ Jesus!
It is “in Christ Jesus” that all the enemies of God are defeated (Psalm 47:4-8).
The citizens of the city meditate on God’s unfailing love. Have you done that today? Take some time to reflect on the many expressions of His goodness and unfailing love. His mercies are new every morning, just waiting to be discovered.
The people of God are called to bear His testimony. See how they love one another. And we pray that this testimony will endure throughout all generations.
Verse 14 contains a personal promise for the believer, the citizen of this new kingdom:
Psalm 48:14 14 For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.
Psalm 48 celebrates God’s activity in bringing about the reconciliation of a lost world to the rule of God. Zion, or Jerusalem, is the center stage for the drama of redemption, for it is there where we see the Promise of God fulfilled, the Messiah offering His life to ransom us from the hold of sin, Satan and death.
God has a plan for a new Jerusalem as the Lord Jesus returns to earth. The establishment of Jerusalem forever is a prophecy pertaining to the eternal reign of Christ. For it is the Prince of Peace who will reign in the City of Peace (Jerusalem).
Psalm 48:8 8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God; God will establish her forever. Selah.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 22:17-19
May this proverb inspire you to learn more of Christ:
Proverbs 22:17-19 17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge; 18 For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD, I have taught you today, even you.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – MONSERRAT
We have enjoyed fellowship with a congregation in Boston made up mostly of believers from this Caribbean Island.
(The following is from “Operation World” Prayer Guide)
British Overseas Territory of Montserrat
Area: 102 sq. km
102 sq. km, since increased by lava flows from Mt. Soufrière, which erupted 1995-2003. One of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.
Population: 5,962 Annual Growth: 1.16%
Official language: English Languages: 2 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenge for Prayer
The massive destruction caused by the volcanic eruptions in the late 1990s nearly destroyed Montserrat as a habitable island. It will never completely recover. Pray for a new start, with Christ placed at the center of the island life rather than nominal Christianity, which largely prevailed in the past.
Church life was severely disrupted. Pray for effective rebuilding of congregations, community life, property and outreach.
PRAYER: Lord, we thank You for the wisdom of the cross, the perfect solution to the human dilemma! Wisdom from above! The world through its wisdom alone cannot know You. Thank You for commanding the light to shine into our hearts, bringing the revelation of Your full expression in Christ, Who has become our all in all. We see that the purpose of our lives is to mirror His likeness to all creation, and bring glory to Your Name. Empower us through fresh repentance and spiritual renewal to fulfill this mission. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.