Saturday, September 2, 2017

September 2: Ecclesiastes 1 – 3; Psalm 46; Proverbs 22:15; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13


            Ecclesiastes: These are the words of the Preacher who is the son of David and the king in Jerusalem. He calls everything vanity (ESV, NAS, NKJV, KJV, RSV), meaningless (NIV, NLT). He asks what toiling on earth during this life gains because everything just keeps on being the same, day and night, wind, water flowing to the ocean, it is all weary and we are not satisfied by what we see or hear. It is vanity because there is never anything really new and on top of that we don’t remember the past.
            The Preacher decided to search out everything done on earth. Since it is all vanity, everything God has given us to do is unhappy. He tried to know wisdom, madness, and folly and called it all vanity also because knowing so much only brings sorrow.
            He tried all kinds of pleasure, laughter, wine, folly, great building projects, farming, acquiring possessions, music, and sex. He became greater than anyone before him. He thought the pleasure was his reward but discovered he had gained nothing and it was all vanity.
            Thinking more about it, he believed wisdom was better than folly. Then he discovered that fools and wise both die. He hated life.
            He hated his toil on earth because he would have to leave his stuff to another when he died. That person may be a fool and waste it all. So, he was in despair. He saw that all his toil was full of sorrow and vexation and he can’t even rest at night.
            Nothing is better than being able to eat, drink, and enjoy your work. The ability to enjoy it comes only from God because apart from him, no one can have enjoyment. God gives wisdom, joy, knowledge to those who please him. Sinners work and it all ends up with the ones who please God. This is also vanity.
            Everything has a time such as to be born and die, plant and harvest, and many other examples are listed. God has given men tasks to be busy and everything is beautiful in its time. He has placed a longing for eternity in us but we can’t discover what God has done from the beginning to the end. So, we should be joyful and do good in order to have pleasure – that is God’s gift.
            What God does is eternal and we can’t add or take anything from it. Therefore, we should fear him. God knows what is happening, has happened, and will happen. He doesn’t forget any of it.
            The Preacher saw injustice and wickedness. He thought God would judge that. He thought God was also testing man to show us that we are only animals. The same thing happens to animals and people, they all die. Man has no advantage over animals as they all return to dust. He says that no one knows if the spirit of man goes to heaven and the spirit of an animal goes to hell. So, have fun in your work because you don’t know what will happen after you die.
            Psalm: God is our help regardless of the problems we face, even in natural disasters. We don’t need to be afraid. Nations threaten peace but God is with us. He will put an end to all war someday and he will be exalted in all nations. Right now, he is with us.
            Proverbs: Discipline will make sure that a child’s foolish tendencies are eliminated.
            2 Corinthians: Paul and his companions urge the Corinthians to receive God’s grace because now is God’s favorable time and he will listen. Today is the day for salvation. They didn’t make any obstacles for the Corinthians so anyone could fault their ministry. Rather, they endured all kinds of problems, persecutions, sleeplessness, and hunger. However, with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, power of God, weapons of righteousness they spoke freely to the Corinthians. Their hearts were open wide and did not restrict their affections for the Corinthians. The Corinthians had restricted their affection to Paul and his companions and he urged them to open up.

What Stood Out

            Ecclesiastes: “For apart from him [God] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” (Eccl 2:25).  
            Psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps 46:10).
            Proverbs: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Prov 22:15).
            2 Corinthians: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).


            Ecclesiastes: A key word in Ecclesiastes is vanity. It means, “emptiness or vanity; figuratively, something transitory and unsatisfactory.”[1] Every time the Preacher (most likely Solomon) says something is vanity, he is judging it as empty and unsatisfactory. A key phrase in the book is “under the sun.” This simply means on the earth. It applies to his human perspective of what he sees happening on the earth. Since everything under the sun is vanity, then it reveals that there is little if any spiritual revelation. In other words, most of what is written is God working through Solomon to let people know what it is like to live without any regard to God. It doesn’t matter if it is your work, hobbies, pleasures, or anything else. Apart from God, they are all empty and will never satisfy (Eccl 2:25).
            Much of what is written in the first three chapters is what an atheist would say. Look at the ending of chapter three. They don’t know if there is any life after death, so just enjoy what you have. There are two kinds of atheists. Honest ones who admit that life without God is just a waste, so do what you want to feel good, but they really know it leads to dispair. A dishonest atheist will not admit that life without God is a waste. They claim that it is somehow liberating and energizes one to become the best person they can be. These are the militant atheist who want to destroy and rid the earth of all religions.
            Be careful not to read into Ecclesiastes but take out of it what God wants us to know. Life without him is futile.
            Psalm: When troubles assail us, it is good to take the time to be still and know that God is sovereign. When we have quiet times before the Lord, we can weather the storms more easily than when we have never had them. I can’t say that the victims of Harvey would all have peace when it hit if they were taking their refuge in the Lord. But that is what God is saying in this Psalm. The waters were roaring and foaming and I believe that those who were looking to the Lord had a peace that was there even during the most fearsome part of the storm and even now as they find that their worldly possession destroyed. Those who don’t know the Lord or have not taken refuge in him are like Solomon. They view all that has happened and believe life is just vanity.
            Proverbs: This is one of those verses that child psychologists and Department of Child Services hate. They translated the “rod of discipline” into child abuse. So, the result is that some of them come up with ways to discipline a child that really isn’t discipline. I’ve talked to enough people who work in our school systems to know that the lack of discipline is now hitting the second generation. The undisciplined kids are now having kids and discipline in schools is doubly tough because parents won’t support teachers and administrators when they need to discipline schoolchildren. Bottom line: don’t let your children get away with foolishness. Discipline them appropriately.
            2 Corinthians: Paul says something to the Corinthians that is rather hard to explain. He tells them not to ignore or receive in vain the grace of God that has been given in which Christ has reconciled us to God. He then tells them that today is the day of salvation. Is he telling the Corinthians that they are not saved? That is a strong possibility. He may be thinking of those in the church that know it all but haven’t really submitted to Christ for salvation.
            The other possibility is that he is imploring them to go out and tell other that this is the time of salvation. He takes the next few verses to explain what he and his companions went through to bring the gospel to the Corinthians. Since we are ambassadors we should be about the business of declaring to others that today, meaning every day from Christ to the end of the millennium, is the day of salvation.
            When we are alive we have the opportunity to be saved. After the millennium, there will not be any opportunities for anyone to be saved. Eternity will be in place and the final judgment will be next. Now is the only time we have to tell others that they can be saved. We don’t have any guarantee that we will be able to tell anyone tomorrow because we might be gone or they might be.


             I don’t want to be one who looks at life as futile. It only leads to depression or sinful behavior. I want to be doing God’s work for me and part of that is telling people how to be saved.

[1] OT:1892 (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

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