The book of Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book, written by King Solomon in his latter years when he had drifted away from the LORD. The book drives home his point that “all is vanity” when we consider life “under the sun.”
I would agree with Solomon, that all is vanity IF all there was to life is life under the sun…but as Christians we know, there’s more to life. We know there’s also life “under the Son” (Jesus). Because of our Savior, nothing is futile, everything we do and and all that we are has purpose…so our New Testament light will correct any misconceptions Solomon has.
Still, it’s fascinating to me when I read Ecclesiastes and consider the mindset of millions of people who share Solomon’s vacillating values.
Solomon considers man’s toil and labor to be in vain. Solomon had it all, intelligence, wisdom, money, gold, silver, flocks, singers, servants, Solomon had everything that this world had to offer – but it did not satisfy him.
Ecclesiastes 2:7 (NKJV) “I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.”
Ecclesiastes 2:10a (NKJV) “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure…”
Ecclesiastes 1:17 (NKJV) “And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.”
Solomon was the richest man in the world, he was also the wisest, and he learned first-hand that the things this world has to offer, everything under the sun can never truly satisfy, it’s like grasping for the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NKJV) “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.”
Solomon looked at life and thought to himself, that all we do is live and die, but the world carries on its merry way…it’s all in vanity. Solomon thought to himself, I work so hard and leave everything to someone behind me who hasn’t earned any of it, what if they squander it? He felt this was a waste.
Solomon DID enjoy meals and times of fellowship with others, he saw this as a gift from God (and I would agree with him on this). Clearly times of breaking bread with family and friends is one of the highlights of life, wouldn’t you say?
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 teaches us that there is a “season” a time for every purpose under heaven. Wise is the person who knows what “time it is.”
Solomon is not all fatalistic or materialistic, he does have his moments where he gets theistic.
He sees the goods things in life as gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:12). He acknowledges the fact that what God does is eternal (Ecclesiastes 3:14). He touches on the truth that one day everyone will give an account of himself/herself to God (Ecclesiastes 3:15), and that our soul and spirit does live on after we die (Ecclesiastes 3:21) (another sense in which we’re different than animals)
When I read the book of Ecclesiastes, I’m reminded that life “under this sun” is indeed vanity. If I only live for this world, I will be empty inside. But life “under the Son” (Jesus) is life lived abundantly, He give purpose to everything, even the pain, and my Savior is the ONLY One who satisfies my soul.
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
I have a hunch that this first part of chapter 6 should have been included in chapter 5, where Paul elaborates on such a beautiful salvation we have as Christians – that ministry of reconciliation. God help us not receive this grace in vain, not to take it lightly, not to think that we can turn it on and turn it off – this is the day of salvation – God determines the acceptable time, if someone plays games or puts it off till “tomorrow” it just might be too late.
Paul goes on to describe true Christian ministry. We discover that it’s much different than what we may have envisioned. Allow me to simply highlight some of his words. I encourage you to read these lists slowly.
IN – much patience, tribulations, needs, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, riots, working to the point of exhaustion, sleepless nights, fasting…
BY – purity, knowledge, longsuffering, kindness, the Holy Spirit, sincere love, the Word of truth, the power of God, the armor of righteousness on both arms…
And then Paul lists how certain things go hand-in-hand, even though they seem to be anomalies – honor and dishonor, evil and good report, as deceivers and yet true, unknown and yet well known, as dying and yet living, chastened but not killed, sorrowful and yet rejoicing, as poor and yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.
This is true ministry. We shouldn’t be in it only to the point of convenience, or ease, or to see what I can get out of it. It’s war, it’s the fight of our lives, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Tragically men had crept into the church who were wolves in sheep’s clothing, claiming to be someone special, spreading lies that Paul wasn’t an Apostle. Part of the reason was because Paul didn’t throw his weight around as a leader, he didn’t demand that people serve him…some of the Corinthians misinterpreted this as a weakness.
It’s too bad he had to defend himself as an Apostle…but that’s what the book of 2 Corinthians is all about – it’s a defense of his ministry.
What an absolutely beautiful Psalm! Did you notice the personal application?
Psalm 46:1–2 (NKJV) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR…”
It matters not if the whole wide world was moved and removed, it matters not if the waters of every ocean rose up to roar and threatened to swallow us alive, God Himself is in the middle of it all, and He will help us (Psalm 46:5).
Psalm 46:6 is interesting for first of all, it refers to God as the “LORD of Hosts” which means the LORD of Heaven’s Army – He fights for us.
Secondly, it refers to the God of Jacob as our refuge. Jacob was that man who struggled and schemed. Jacob was a man who found God’s grace…just like us. Not that I’m making light of sin in any way, but we all need God’s grace as Jacob did, for we all fall short every day of our lives. If our confidence is only in a God who helps us when we’re good, we will live in constant fear, for we will never know if we’re “good enough.” But if we understand that God helps us even when we fail and fall – He even fights for us this LORD of Hosts, this God of Jacob – it really does bring me to that place as God’s child… where, “I will not fear.”
As the earth moves to the end of the world right in front of our eyes, the King of kings will one day end all wars by winning the War of wars…so he concludes our Psalm for today:
Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
What does that passage mean to you?
Don’t be afraid. Don’t panic. Don’t fret. Don’t act hastily. Don’t do too much to try and “fix” your situation. Trust Him, relax, and rest firmly in Him.
Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV) “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
You don’t have to teach a two-year-old how to lie, it’s in him. We’re all born into the “Adam’s family” with a sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:22) “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…”
You DO have to teach a two-year-old how to share, because usually they don’t want to.
We were all born with “original sin.”
Psalms 51:5 (NKJV) “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
We were born broken, with an inclination to sin. It’s for that reason we need the loving discipline of our parents. Never abuse, never in anger, never leave a mark, maybe a sting when they’re younger – take that rod of correction to the “seat of understanding” and that’s about it. Explain to them what they’ve done wrong and pray for them.
Much of the problems we have in society today are due to the fact that parents have neglected to lovingly discipline their children.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.