Hebrews 7:11-28: Perfection Through Jesus

Read: Hebrews 7:11-28

The author of Hebrews continues in the same vein in the later part of chapter 7 as in the first. The author established that Jesus is the highest high priest. He changes subjects in verse 11 though and starts talking about how a new priesthood brings about a change in the Law. He reasons that the old priesthood and its counterpart, the Law, were unable to make men perfect and unable to give life which is what the author calls a “weakness” in the old Law and priesthood. By necessity then a new priesthood and better Law was necessary to accomplish this task. Jesus’ priesthood is an everlasting and powerful priesthood that is able to grant “indestructible life”. The author here quotes from the second half Psalm 110:4, emphasizing the “forever” and then again from the first half of the verse talking about how the Lord swore an oath. He established in Hebrews 6:13-18 that the promises of God are unchangeable, and is applying this here. He reasons that God swore that Jesus would be priest forever, and because of this Jesus will indeed be priest forever.

The author of Hebrews reasons that because Jesus is priest forever, that he can save forever those who draw near to God. Prior to Jesus’ coming, the priest had to offer sacrifices for even their own sin and intercede on the behalf of those that they represented. With Jesus’ coming, this was no longer necessary, and even more so, Jesus himself is a better priest all around because he does not have sin, will be priest forever, and does indeed have the power to impart eternal life to those who draw near. While the old law was unable to make one perfect, the new way of things does. Thanks be to God for it!

Lord, through Jesus I can be saved forever indeed! Thank you!

Hebrews 5:11-6:8: Spiritual Maturity

Read: Hebrews 5:11-14, Hebrews 6:1-8

Hebrews 6:4-6 is one of the more controversial set of verses in the New Testament. There are a couple of Christian doctrines that are at stake concerning this text. The first is called “perseverance of the saints”, which says that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end. The second, which is closely related to the first, is called “eternal security”. This doctrine teaches that those who are saved cannot lose his or her salivation. Some groups of Christians, however, believe that the loss of salvation is possible based on this text and Hebrews 10:26. Other groups see these texts as what would happen if such things discussed in the text were possible. In any case when one begins to consider any texts, it is important to not remove the text from the context in which they appear. It is also important to consider the whole witness of scripture to support one’s theological viewpoints. Hopefully, through a careful look at this text and others, one can draw a conclusion about what is going on here in the text.

Hebrews 6:4-6 appears in the midst of a discourse about spiritual maturity that starts at the end of chapter 5 and continues to the middle of chapter 6. The author of Hebrews is chastising the recipients of the letter because, as he sees it, they ought to be teachers when they are like children. He uses food as a metaphor to explain the fact they are like babies drinking milk when they ought to be as adults eating solid food. He wants them to move beyond the basic doctrines to deeper doctrines, and he gives a list. In verse 3, he declares that he wants “us” to move onto spiritual maturity, but in the warning, he switches to third person, talking about people who have who have been “enlightened” and have “partaken” and “tasted” the things of God (particularly the Holy Spirit), yet have fallen away, saying it is impossible to crucify Jesus again.

At the heart of the debate over this text is if one can be a partaker in the Holy Spirit and not have salvation. For some, only those who are saved can experience the Holy Spirit. For others, some see the work of the Holy Spirit, particularly through “enlightenment” in the life of a nonbeliever as a necessary prerequisite to salvation. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 2 talks about the role of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of God. According to this chapter, the things of God are only comprehensible by the Spirit of God. The spirit of the “world”, “flesh”, and “man” cannot understand such things, therefore it is necessary to have enlightenment from the Holy Spirit in order to fully comprehend the things of God. By implication then, knowledge of the truth concerning salvation and all other doctrines can only come from the Holy Spirit. What appears to happening in Hebrews 6 is that some have experienced to some degree or this enlightenment and have rejected it to the point of apostasy.

The question here, however is whether or not these third person individuals in the text had responded in faith to this knowledge that resulted in salvation. Scripture does teach that those who believe belong to God and cannot be taken away. John describes this relationship using a shepherd and his sheep as a metaphor—the sheep know the shepherds voice and cannot be taken away. These are the ones who have eternal life, and it cannot be taken away (John 10:27-29).  Paul makes a beautiful doxology in Romans 8:33-39, where he is convinced that nothing can separate those who believe from Christ. The role of the Holy Spirit in salvation is that the Holy Spirit as a “seal” for salvation. The idea is that once the decree of redemption is given, it is sealed as a king seals a royal document by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Given the fact that salvation (and all true doctrine from that matter) requires enlighten from the Holy Spirit and the fact that those who are saved cannot be separated from God, it would appear that one is able to receive some sort of knowledge from the Holy Spirit, yet able to reject it through a “falling away” from sound doctrine prior to the point of salvation. To illustrated this, the author of Hebrews uses a metaphor of rain falling on the ground and bringing forth plant life – sometimes the plants are useful, sometimes the plants are weeds, thorns, and thistles. The Holy Spirit comes to some, and sometimes some believe and bring forth good doctrine, and sometimes some reject the Holy Spirit by rejecting, twisting and distorting the truth. Jesus describes the latter condition as a sin that is “unforgivable” which he calls “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 12:31-32). The reason that the author of Hebrews is spurring the believers to move past basic doctrine to spiritual maturity is so that the deceptions of false teachers will not lead them astray. Paul encourages Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-4 to preach the word because a time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine rather will turn to myths.

Vigilance and aggressive pursuit of true doctrines resulting in spiritual maturity help defend against these deceptive teachings, but there does appear to be a point of no return for some. Rather than take chances, one would do well to believe the gospel and move towards spiritual maturity so they can help recognize and call out false doctrine when it does come about. Spiritual immaturity is not a place to stay, rather something to be left behind.

Lord, help me to become spiritual mature so I can help teach others your ways!

Joshua 5:1-12: The Next Generation

Read: Joshua 5:1-12: The Next Generation

The prior generation that had left Israel had by this time all died off. In the desert, they had not circumcised their sons. In response to this, God commanded Joshua to have them make flint knives and circumcise their sons. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant made between Abraham and God. God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations and that they would inherit the land of Canaan (Genesis 17, Exodus 3:17). The generation that died in the desert had faltered in their faith in the desert, and because of this, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:32-34, Numbers 26:64-65). After they were finished with the circumcision, they ate food from the land, and the manna that God had been providing stopped (Exodus 16). God had provided the manna to the obstinate generation, but the new generation was the one who would inherit the land of Canaan and would eat of its produce.

The renewal of the sign of the covenant and the cessation of manna both point to a key transition in the history of Israel. The generation that had left Egypt had passed away, and God renewed his fervor with the new generation of Joshua, who had committed themselves to God. Manna was a blessing from God, but it ceased because the promise was being revealed. Jesus points out that manna, although was from God, still was not enough to grant them life, as the generation that left Egypt had died even though they ate manna. Jesus calls himself the “bread of life”, a metaphor speaking about the means to eternal life, saying that he who eats this bread will never die (John 6:49). Likewise, the sign of the covenant, circumcision, was just a sign. Paul points out that the reality of the matter is that circumcision is an outward maker of something more spiritually significant, and all those who have faith are the ones who are heirs to the promise (Romans 4) and that it was really not a matter of circumcision of uncircumcision, rather a matter of obedience (1 Corinthians 7:9). Paul quotes in Romans 4:17 from Genesis 17:4: God would make Abraham the father of many nations. The ultimate manifestation of this is revealed in Revelation 7:9 when there is a multitude from every tribe, tongue and nation worshipping before God.

The mighty works of God caused the hearts of the kings of the kingdoms of Canaan to melt and the spirit of their armies to fade. They realized that they were no match for an army whose God could part the waters of the Jordan and the Red Sea. The deeds of God had been declared and they were afraid. For those who oppose God, the same is true. The enemies of God fear God because of the mighty works he can do. God’s calling to his people is a calling to obedience – that is to follow the commandments of God by circumcising one’s heart as Paul calls it, alluding to the generation that chose to follow God (Romans 2:29, Deuteronomy 30:6). God is going to accomplish his mission one way or another and the call he gives is a call to obedience. Christians therefore have two options:

  1. Be obstinate like the generation in the desert and let the blessings pass to a future generation who is willing to obey God.
  2. Submit to God and obey him. These are the ones who get to see God work mightily in their generation toward the achievement of the grand vision of a person from every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping before God!

God wants his people to choose to submit and obey.

Lord, I want to be a part of your mission! Help me to obey you in all I do!

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10: Work With a Purpose

Read: Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

This isn’t the first time that the Preacher has encouraged men to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The Preacher had earlier said that enjoying the fruits of one’s labor was a blessing from God (Ecclesiastes 3:13, Ecclesiastes 5:18, Ecclesiastes 8:15). He also thinks that overwork and laziness are some things that should be avoided too (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6). The preacher gives a longer description saying that one should be merry, let one’s garments be white, and enjoy life with the loved ones. These things are “approved” by God. The Preacher also encourages his readers to find something and do it – that is be industrious too.

The encouragement here though he given in the context of the certainty of death. The certainty of death is a pervaded the thoughts of the Preacher and is apparent especially in chapter 9. The Preacher calls the life that one lives “vain” – that is a life void of meaning and purpose. The Preacher seems pretty certain that the readers and he alike are bound for Sheol, the abode the dead in Jewish though. When one died, whether righteous or unrighteous, he or she went to Sheol and remained there. The New Testament follows the tradition of the Septuagint, the Greek New Testament where translating the word “Sheol” into “hades”. The New Testament uses another word to describe the place of punishment called “Gehenna”. Ghenna is mentioned in the context of judgment particularly in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 5:22-29, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 23:15,33, Mark 9:43-47 Luke 12:5, James 3:6). What the Preacher does not seem to take into account is that there will one day be a judgment and all will be resurrected from “hades”. When one is judged, he or she is either condemned or is lives forever with God. The hope of the Christian gospel is made real by the fact that Jesus himself rose from the dead, showing that resurrection is indeed possible.

A life for a Christian does not have to be meaningless and without purpose. Acts 17:22-31 talks about how a person’s existence is tied up in God. Paul actually quotes a a philosopher named Epimenides saying, “for in Him we live and move and exist”. The totality of one’s being is contingent upon God, and the Preacher realized that man’s hearts are set on this. When Jesus came to earth, his mission was not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). In other words, he was about the business of making sure people do not have to endure “Ghenna” – that is judgment – when they are judged. Jesus taught his disciples what they needed to know and then gave them the new work of telling the world about the pending resurrection and judgment at the end of days and how Jesus provided a way to escape this by dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead so the one’s facing judgment would not have to. A Christian who makes this sort of work his or her work does something that has eternal implications. Such a life is not “vain”, rather full of meaning because of the one who they serve, namely Jesus!

Lord, your work is to seek and save that which is lost! Help me to do the same!

Ecclesiastes 9:1-6: Real Hope

Read: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

The Preacher seems to be all doom and gloom in chapter 9 of Ecclesiastes. He again he reflects on the common destiny of all people – the righteous and the wicked, the ones who take oaths and those that do not – there is no difference so the Preacher thinks. The Preacher tops off his lament with saying that the human hearts are full of evil and madness. In a poetic form, the Preacher waxes about how people are forgotten after they are dead. Not only do they die, the memories of the ones who have died die as well. And yet in spite of all this, the Preacher says there is still hope in the ones who live. He seems to think that even in spite of the certainty of death and the obvious evil that fills people hearts people still have a hope – there is a certain yearning to for the eternal in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15).

God set men’s heart on this, and perhaps on purpose. In Acts 17:22-31, Paul gives a discourse concerning how God made the world and its contents and has made the world such that men would seek after God. Paul then talks about the coming judgment and how God has commanded everyone to repent and how Jesus’s resurrection is the proof of this. While the Preacher seems only certain about death, Paul is saying that there is a coming judgment for all – even those who have died. The hope that that yearns for the eternal is made possible by resurrection.

The Christian gospel strikes a chord with men because it is with the Christian gospel that one finds what he or she is seeking and he fulfills the yearnings of his or her heart with the gospel. 1 Peter 1:3-5 couldn’t say it better:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)

There is new birth to a “living hope” through the resurrection of Jesus. This stands in stark contrast to the doom and gloom of the Preacher talking about the evil that exists in all men and the certainty of death. This is free from evil the taint of sin and is eternal. This is what the heart is seeking and yearns for and can only be found one place, and that is through faith in Jesus. Christians should, as 1 Peter 1:4 says, rejoice in this hope. The hope here is not pie-in-the-sky, rather it is as real and was proved to be so by the resurrection of Jesus!

Lord, your resurrection gives me a living hope! Help me to celebrate that!

Ecclesiastes 8:1-15: The Problem of Evil

Read: Ecclesiastes 8:1-15

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes 8 addresses what has become known to in modern philosophy as the “problem of evil”.  The Preacher asks a number of questions concerning the nature of bad things happening to good people and the flip side of that, good things happening to bad people. He begins by speaking of the certainty of one thing that is the common fate of all people, and that is death. He says that no one can know the future. Death as he sees it comes to all and there is nothing that saves one from it and even more so to the ones who practice wickedness, because it will not save them either. The certainty of death then prompts the preacher to look at other matters concerning wicked: First he sees the wicked being praised in the cities in which they did much wickedness and they are being buried with honor. Second, he sees the wicked doing much wrong to the point they are not afraid to do it anymore. Third, he sees good people being treated as if they were wicked, and wicked people being treated as if they were good. All these things he says are meaningless.

The problem of evil has perplexed thinkers for ages as it did the Preacher. The reason why is because of a discrepancy in many the states of affairs that people are in and a purported inaction by God to resolve the state of affairs for good rather than evil. The argument may look something like this:

  1. If God exists, God is all loving and all powerful
  2. An all loving and all powerful God should remove evil.
  3. Evil exists.
  4. Therefore either:
    1. God does not  exist.
    2. God exists and is all loving but cannot remove evil.
    3. God exists and is all powerful but not all loving therefore does not want to remove evil.
    4. God exists but is neither all loving nor all powerful.

In any case, the conclusion purports a contradictory state of affairs in spite of what many believe about God. The problem with this is that the argument in most all forms obligates God to something that God is not necessarily obligated too. In the example above, premise 2 supposes that God “should” do something about evil by virtue of his that he is all loving and able. The only way the contradiction exists is if one supplies the extra premise that God “should” or “ought to” do something about evil. If premise two does not exist, then the contradiction does not exist.

On the other hand, one can supply another premise that says so long as there is a possible reason for evil to exist, there is no reason to doubt God’s existence, his goodness, or his ability to remove evil. A reason that attempts to explain evil is called a theodicy. There are many possible theodicies that are found in the Bible.

  • The Freewill Defense: The Bible is replete with verses that talk about the sinfulness of man, and how it pervades everyone who exists (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20). This freewill defense says evil is a result of man choosing sin.
  • The Greater-Good Theodicy – This reason says that sometimes evil occurs to bring about a net gain of good for the many. This is most clearly seen in Genesis when Joseph was sold into slavery and he endured much evil as a result. But in the end, Joseph says that what his brother intended for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).
  • The Soul-Making or Soul-Building Theodicy: This theodicy suggests that people endure evil to help build their character and faith. The motif of God disciplining children can be found in Hebrews 12:4-13. Hardship can produce a strong, more mature believer.
  • The Eschatological Theodicy: This one is uniquely Christian; in that all is made right in the cross by Jesus’ sacrifice and that there will come a time when evil is removed. There will be a new heaven and new earth with no crying, pain, or death (Revelation 21:1-4).

What one needs to realize though is these are only possible reasons for what God does. Usually when one is enduring evil, it is difficult if not impossible to know why bad things are happening. Even after sufferings have passed, sometimes the reason is not apparent. This was the case with Job. The readers of Job get to see the full picture of the matter, but Job never ascertains why he endured so much suffering. At the end of the book, he basically concedes that God’s reasons are too wonderful to know (Job 42:1-6). In all of his pondering on the problem of evil, the Preacher never questions the goodness of God, rather sees it better that one should do good in their lives because this is right in the sight of God and he sees the blessings that come from work as a gift from God. The Preacher was correct in noting that death is inescapable, but for Christians, there is the prospect of eternal life in a place where there is no evil. For the reasons the Preacher mentioned and the escape from evil when God creates a new heaven and new earth, it is most certainly more wise to side with God. Furthermore, there is no reason to doubt his goodness and power so long as God has a good reason for allowing evil to persist – even if the reason cannot be ascertained.

Lord, you are good! Help me to trust you even when I cannot understand why bad things are happening!

Ecclesiastes 7:10: The Good Ol’ Days

Read: Ecclesiastes 7:10

Any person alive that has lived for any amount of time has probably reflected on what life was like in the “good ol’ days” and how the “good ol’ days” were better than the current. The Preacher here, however, is giving a staunch warning as to not do this because he thinks that such reasoning is not wise. Job reflects in the “good ol’ days” in Job 29. He thinks back to the days when he was living a blessed life with riches, health, fame, and respect among any number of other things that a person could want or desire. In Job 30, Job reflects on how the people he once received honor from no longer give him honor. He is rather the laughing stock of those who used to honor him. Everything that Job had was taken away from him, and his current state of affairs were most certainly more dismal than the state of affairs before everything was removed. When Job questions God, God answers him by spelling out his majesty and grandeur . At the end of the book, after hearing God’s answer, Job admits that he has spoken of things that he does not understand of things “too wonderful to know” (Job 42:1-6). In light of these confessions, Job repents of his act of questioning God in his current state of affairs. The readers of Job have more information that Job did concerning his state of affairs. Job never ascertained why he went through what he did, and at the end of the day, he was re-blessed with everything he had and more.

The current state of affairs in which one is living may seem dismal at the moment, but there is no telling what outcome may come about as a product of the affairs. It is for this reason that the Preacher is probably encouraging his readers to not think of the past in light of the present, because no one knows tomorrow, save God. The reality of the matter for those that believe in Christ is that the future is most certainly better than the days of the past and the present for that matter. Paul in Philippians 3:4-14 considers for a moment the past when he was a Pharisee and the current state of affairs — that is the suffering he is enduring for Christ’s sake and he considers the future promised in Jesus. Paul counts it all a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus and presses on toward the goal to “win the prize”. Paul’s vision was forward looking toward Jesus rather than reminiscing on the past. In the same manner, Christians would do well to think about where one is going rather than were one has been. This is most wise, because the prize that awaits Christians by far exceeds anything that can be found in the past or present!

Lord, help me press toward the goal so I will receive the prize!

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: Life After Death

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: Life After Death

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes had just spoken concerning the cyclical nature of life. He juxtaposes the cycles of life against the enduring and unending nature of God, saying that this is in place for the purpose for man to fear God. But to the Preacher, the there is another apparent discrepancy that he cannot find any resolution to, and that is the apparent indifference between the outcomes of the righteous and the wicked and also the man and beast. The Preacher looked at justice and judgment and saw wickedness there, and states that surely God will bring all to judgment to the righteous and the wicked in due time. The preacher does seem to feel confident in the judgment of God, but there is no indication that he is talking about judgment in eschatological terms. He seems ambivalent concerning the nature of the soul after death or where it goes. He just knows that animals and man alike came from the dust and to the dust they return when they die. He concludes the matter, thinking that the best thing to do is to enjoy one’s work, because this is one’s lot.

The nature of life after death was much debated among the Jews up to the time of death. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection but the Pharisees did. The Preacher and the Jewish scholars were like the Preacher in that they were not sure about life after death. Jesus came to the earth and taught concerning resurrection. He said that he was the resurrection and the life. He says that the one who believes in him, though he may die, will live (John 11:25). Jesus proved that resurrection was possible when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Paul thinks the implication of uncertainty concerning resurrection would lead him to believe the same thing the Preacher did (1 Corinthians 15:32). But in any case, what Paul is certain of is that the resurrection is something to be preferred because it will lead to one putting off the perishable and putting on the imperishable (1 Corinthians 35-56). Revelation 21 shows the final judgment of all things concerning deeds where one is judged. The Preacher does not seems to indicated that he believes in such a judgment, but in any case, a final judgment is made clear in scriptures: all will be raised, but some will be raised to eternal life and some to judgment.

Christians need to be wary of the fact that there is an ultimate judgment for all people. This judgment is no joke – it is real and coming and must be taken seriously. Jesus’ resurrection is the source of hope for Christians, but it is also the proof that resurrection is possible, and Jesus wasn’t joking when he talks about the future judgment. The work of man is to be enjoyed in life, but at the same time, Christ’s mission was to propagate the gospel to all creation, and this mission has been imparted to Christians (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians should make the mission of Christ a priority in they live and think. Facing judgment without Jesus as one’s advocate is a scary thought in any respect, and Jesus’ sacrifice is good news considering the reality of judgment!

Lord, Judgment is real! Help me to tell everyone I can about it!

 

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: Life After Death

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes had just spoken concerning the cyclical nature of life. He juxtaposes the cycles of life against the enduring and unending nature of God, saying that this is in place for the purpose for man to fear God. But to the Preacher, the there is another apparent discrepancy that he cannot find any resolution to, and that is the apparent indifference between the outcomes of the righteous and the wicked and also the man and beast. The Preacher looked at justice and judgment and saw wickedness there, and states that surely God will bring all to judgment to the righteous and the wicked in due time. The preacher does seem to feel confident in the judgment of God, but there is no indication that he is talking about judgment in eschatological terms. He seems ambivalent concerning the nature of the soul after death or where it goes. He just knows that animals and man alike came from the dust and to the dust they return when they die. He concludes the matter, thinking that the best thing to do is to enjoy one’s work, because this is one’s lot.

The nature of life after death was much debated among the Jews up to the time of death. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection but the Pharisees did. The Preacher and the Jewish scholars were like the Preacher in that regard. Jesus came to the earth and taught concerning resurrection. He said that he was the resurrection and the life. He says that the one who believes in him, though he may die, will live (John 11:25). Jesus proved that resurrection was possible when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Paul thinks the implication of uncertainty concerning resurrection would lead him to believe the same thing the Preacher did (1 Corinthians 15:32). But in any case, what Paul is certain of is that the resurrection is something to be preferred because it will lead to one putting off the perishable and putting on the imperishable (1 Corinthians 35-56). Revelation 21 shows the final judgment of all things concerning deeds where one is judged. The Preacher does not seems to indicated that he believes in such a judgment, but in any case, a final judgment is made clear in scriptures: all will be raised, but some will be raised to eternal life and some to judgment.

Christians need to be wary of the fact that there is an ultimate judgment for all people. This judgment is no joke – it is real and coming and must be taken seriously. Jesus’ resurrection is the source of hope for Christians, but it is also the proof that resurrection is possible, and Jesus wasn’t joking when he talks about the future judgment. The work of man is to be enjoyed in life, but at the same time, Christ’s mission was to propagate the gospel to all creation, and this mission has been imparted to Christians (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians should make the mission of Christ a priority in they live and think. Facing judgment without Jesus as one’s advocate is a scary thought in any respect, and Jesus’ sacrifice is good news considering the reality of judgment!

Lord, Judgment is real! Help me to tell everyone I can about it!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15: Hearts Set on Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15: Hearts Set on Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 was classically adapted by The Byrds in the song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The song is lifted right out of the text for the most part. The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes penned this poem in light of a general observation he makes: there is a time for everything. He lists 14 things using classical Hebrew parallelism about many life events concerning life. The Preacher, being an old man, perhaps saw many cycles of these various antonymous pairs. And he himself had probably experienced many of them first hand with his family, fortunes, and friends. The general observation has already been made in one fashion in Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. In chapter one and here in chapter 3, the Preacher describes the circular nature of life with an ebb and flow to all things. When one makes and observation that something is new, this really is not the case. Rather, someone is really rehashing the same old stuff. It might have the appearance of newness, but in and of itself is nothing of note.

The Preacher does make some observations concerning God though. First, he says that God has set the hearts of man on eternity, yet no one can fully comprehend it. Man has always yearned to understand what is beyond the temporal existence he lives in. Second, he notes that the best thing for men to do is be happy and do that which is good. Man should enjoy the fruits of his labor; this is a gift from God. And third, he says that everything that God does endures, and nothing can be added or taken away from this. God’s work in its totality is complete and infinite. The Preacher says this is so that man might fear God. The contrast between the finality and finitude of the experience of man and the eternalness and infinitude of God stand in stark contrast to one another. The Preacher in all his endeavors could still not obtain or grasp what it is like to be like God in these regard, and all his pursuits left him empty

The yearning for eternity can only be satisfied with one thing: God. When Jesus came to earth, he came as a man to break the cycle of death so that man might be free of it. Jesus died, but he did not stay dead. He resurrected from the dead. He also came to disrupt the cycle the Preacher describes in other ways. In the end, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears (Revelation 21:4). All that stands in contrast to what men desire from eternity will be satisfied in Jesus. When Jesus says he came to that men may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). God has set the hearts of man on eternity to that they would fear him – that is trust him. The provision that God made to satisfy this is Jesus, who was God in the flesh. There can be no greater satisfaction than that which comes from the maker of the universe!

Lord, my heart yearns for eternity. My heart yearns for you!

Ecclesiastes 2:12-17: God Doesn’t Pity The Fool

Read: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes does indeed believe that it is better to be a wise than to be fool. He uses the analogy of walking around. When one walks around in the light he or she sees where he is going while the one who walks around the darkness trips over everything and runs into objects. The wise man is the one who walks in the light and the fool is the one who walks around in the dark. But the Preacher says, nevertheless, that the fate of both types of people is the same: they die. He sees this as vanity and empty of meaning. Also at the end of the day, no one remembers the wise man any more than one remembers the fool. Because of the fate of death, the Preacher hated life.

What is apparent though, is the Preacher did not consider was the prospect of eternal life. Eternal life comes from having faith, and this is counted to one as righteousness (Romans 4:5, John 3:16, 36). Jesus himself compares the wise man to the fool in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus says that the one who hears his words is like one who builds his house on a rock such that when rain and floods come, the house stands. But the fool builds his house on the sand, so when the rain and flood comes, it washes the house falls. Those who hear Jesus’ words and put them into practice are like the one who builds his house on the rock. Jesus taught many things, and eternal life was among them. Faith in Jesus is the beginning, just as fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

People do not have to be as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes and hate life because of the similar fates between the wise man the fool. One would be wise to consider Jesus’ words concerning eternal life. At the end of days, the Lord will resurrect everyone, but the fools who rejected Jesus will not be pitied, rather will be condemned and the wise man who listened to Jesus will not be condemned. The Lord will not forget those who have faith. He has written their names in the Lambs book of Life (Revelation 20:15). Christians can rest assured they are not among the fools, but among the wise. While some men are wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 26:12), it is God who is the ultimate judge of all things, and it would be best in any case to be wise according to God’s standards than one’s own (Proverbs 3:7)!

Lord, help me to be wise by listening to and obeying your teachings!

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