Ecclesiastes

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“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiates 11:1 NKJV).

September 5, 2017

A saying of Solomon that has had many interpretations. Yet, the principle of sowing and reaping seems to be at the heart of it with an emphasis on generosity and faith. Consider the word “bread.” It may be seen as “seed.” So, it might mean, instead of eating your seed, sow it liberally upon the waters of Spring that when the waters recede, you will find a crop growing there. It may be about sharing with the poor, only to find that we have been rewarded by God later. It may be about taking a risk with our time/talent/treasure, letting it leave our hands (our control), and casting it out to see where God might cause it to prosper. It is certainly about living a life of the open hand. Open to God to receive and open to others to give.

“Let not your mouth lead you into sin” (Ecclesiastes 5:6 ESV)

September 3, 2016

How many times has your mouth led you into sin? How quickly it seems to speak without thinking. It makes promises it can’t keep and it offers opinions on things of which it has no knowledge. It exaggerates for pride’s sake and denies to avoid accountability. It is, as James has said, “an unruly evil” (James 3:8). So Solomon warns not to be “rash with your mouth,” especially as you open it to make promises to God. Better not to vow, than to vow and not keep it. Better to be quiet, letting your words be few, than to be a fool with many words. Why let your mouth lead? It will nearly always lead you into sin. Instead, let the Spirit lead. Let His words fill your mouth.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV)

September 2, 2016

Every time I read this verse, I hear The Byrds singing “Turn, Turn, Turn” in my head. Yet, this passage is more than the inspiration for a 60s song. It is a keen observation on life “under the sun.” As the writer, Solomon, struggled with a search for meaning in life, he observed that everything has a “season” and a “time.” There is an appointed start and finish “time,” and there is a length of time between the beginning and end of a “season.” Just as the sun, moon and earth move through times and seasons set by an unseen hand, so the times and seasons of humanity seem similarly set. Solomon concluded that it is best to just “be joyful and to do good” (Eccl.3:12) in every season, since we have no control over the times. In other words, make the best of things as they are, knowing as the Persian poets have said, “This too shall pass.” Yet, Solomon’s observations were necessarily limited to life “under the sun.” His wisdom did not take into account the larger arc of time that began at creation and will end with the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment. Those who have heard this revelation from “beyond the sun” are able to do more than just make the best of things. They are able to hope for better things to come because of Jesus.

“If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NKJV)

September 5, 2015

Take time to sharpen your saw. One of Solomon’s habits long before Covey’s seven. My mother’s father, my Papaw, knew this habit. Before the invention of weed-eaters, he used a large hand scythe to clear the creek bank. He always kept a sharpening stone in his pocket and would pause from time to time to keep an edge on his blade. He also had a mesmerizing method to his motion, using his strength to lift the long blade and then allow its weight to drop and fall through the weeds. I never mastered this, hacking away at the brush, often with a dull blade, I would spend my young man’s energy in under an hour, while Papaw could continue all day even in his 70s. Papaw would say, “Son, you’re just beating yourself to death. Let the weight of the blade do the work. And stop to sharpen it once in a while.” He had the wisdom that I lacked. You can actually get more done by taking a break to sharpen your saw. Slow down to speed up. Retreat to advance. Take a sabbath one day out of seven to sharpen your edge.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV)

September 2, 2015

King Solomon was the writer of Ecclesiastes. He observed the beauty of how God had assigned everything a season and how these things seemed to repeat over time. Yet, he also observed that God had put an eternal longing in man’s heart that wanted to know and experience more than just what his season on earth allowed. This “eternity” that God put in humanity’s heart makes us unique in creation. We long for that which will last. We long for ultimate meaning and purpose. We long for God. Solomon found that everything “under the sun” was “vanity” (empty, meaningless). Why? Because we long for that which is beyond the sun. We long for the Eternal One. As Pascal said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”