Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Wiseman Observes

Ecclesiastes, in effect, is the veiled memoir of Solomon. The first two chapters record what he experienced in life from a human, earthly perspective “under the sun.” He found everything in life to be meaningless unless a person sought to change their perspective to include a heavenly, eternal one.  Ecclesiastes three, four and five offer insight into what Solomon observed. I covered his observations the life above man, the life within man and the life ahead of man in my previous post, God Orders Time.  Solomon concludes his observations in chapters four and five, discussing the life that surrounds man.


Concerning Oppression (4:1) Oppression is very troubling to Solomon. He notices the tears of the oppressed and calls oppression a great evil

  • Dead are better off than oppressed and unborn better still.
  • God condemns abuse of power (Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Ps 62:10)
  • Godly people must refrain from oppressing others and seek justice for them (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23)

Concerning Toil and Achievement (4:4) These are called meaningless (in light of the certainty of death for every person under the sun).

  • Envy and jealousy motivate the work of overachievers, it drives them to out do others. They seek to be admired or envied by others. Erwin Lutzer calls envy “rebellion against God’s plan.”
  • Love is the opposite of envy, it rejoices in the success of others.
  • Laziness – the opposite of the extreme of the drive to out do others. The motivation of laziness is pleasure.
  • Both extremes (striving and laziness) amount to meaninglessness at death.
  • The one who isolates him or her self from relationships is also scorned.


Concerning Relationships: two people are better than one (4:9)

  • At work, two people striving together offer more strength, creativity, talents, energy, etc.
  • When walking together, you will walk farther and avoid pitfalls
  • Watching out for one another helps us cope with attacks. These attacks don’t have to be physical, they can also be spiritual, emotional or financial.

A quote from Dr. David Jeremiah, “A friend is a treasure; two friends a treasure house.” Guard your friendships like you would a vast treasure. Friendship are eternal whereas possessions are temporal.

There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NLT

Concerning Relationships, Popularity and Power (4:13)

  • Life is about people needing people. Choose relationships over fame or power.
  • Solomon offers the example of a poor wise youth rising to the office of king, was he thinking of his father King David? If so, was the foolish king who wouldn’t heed a warning King Saul? That would make the youth, the king’s successor, Solomon himself.

And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process. Mark 8:36 NLT


Concerning Worship (5:1)

William Barrick offers this comment on the first seven verses of Ecclesiastes chapter five. “Each person must anticipate his or her encounter with the eternal God beyond the sun.”

Solomon looks at our encounter with God, in worship, making vows and fearing (revering) Him.

  • How does your private worship apart from church compare to your public worship in God’s house?
  • Are we listening? To “listen” to God’s word carries the implication that we will obey it.
  • Is your offering to God “a sacrifice of fools?” That is does you outward display (your offering) run contrary to your inward convictions? The word “fool” in this case means one who is dull and obstinate (it’s a chosen outlook not a mental illness or malady).
  • Biblical prayer does not seek to manipulate God. You have probably heard the expression, “prayer changes things.” If you subscribe to that belief, you must consider also that prayer changes “us.”
  • With regard to vows, God takes his commitments to us very seriously, we need to do the same with Him.
  • Does God use “storms” in our lives to awaken us? People make vows during times of upheaval and uncertainty, but few keep them.
  • An unkept vow is equivalent to mocking God.
  • Fearing God does not equate to being afraid of him. God desires that we approach Him and walk with him. Fearing God equates to being in awe of His mighty power, revering Him has supremely holy, and being wiling to respond to that awesomeness and holiness by setting oneself apart from wrongdoing and evil, to be wholly devoted to Him.

…for it is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship—is our worship spiritual and real? Do we have the Holy Spirit’s help? For God is Spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should… John 4:21-24 NLT

Concerning Justice (5:8)

Solomon says politicians or kings oppressing the poor shouldn’t surprise us. Russian author, Alekandr Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through the human heart.

  • Exploitation filters down from official to official and there seems to be no end to it. It comes from the inherent evil that resides within us.
  • New Testament teaching – rulers are supposed to be extensions of the hand of God on earth (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17)
  • Dr. David Jeremiah offers this advice on God’s grace and governing – trust God. He is sovereign. Pray for officials. Be an excellent citizen. Take a stand for God when government defies him. Don’t expect utopia from any earthly system of government ruled by man.


Concerning Wealth (5:10-20)

Do you find it true that whenever life goes awry the first thing we look for is a financial remedy?

Dr. David Jeremiah’s “5 things we should know about Money”

  • The more you have, the more you want (v10)
  • The more you have, the more you spend (v11)
  • The more you have, the more you worry (v12)
  • The more you have, the more you lose (v13, 14)
  • The more you have, the more you will leave behind (v14-17)

Dr. Jeremiah’s “2 Things we need to know about God” (v18-20)

  • Our ability to earn money is a gift from God. There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. What God gives, he can take away (Job 1:21). If we see the money we have as God given, we are more likely to experience contentment and be grateful.
  • Our ability to enjoy money is a gift from God. Money and possessions aren’t evil if we don’t allow them to enslave us. Yes, we can even find enjoyment in giving some of it away.

When you die you cant take wealth with you. There is no own where God is concerned, only a loan because possessions (including money) don’t transcend eternity.

I Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I cannot resist using another one of Jonathan Cahn’s mysteries to commemorate this special day. The Book of Mysteries, features an ongoing dialogue between a teacher and his student. Each day a new mystery is presented. This one is called “The Triunity of Love.”


What is the number of love?” asked the teacher.

“I don’t understand.” 

“How many do you need in order to have love?”

“More than one,” I said.

“Love must have a source,” he said, “the one from whom it comes, the one who loves. So there has to be at least one.”

“But one isn’t enough,” I said. “You can’t have love if there’s nothing or no one to love. If you love nothing, then you don’t love.”

“That’s correct,” he said. “So what else is needed for love to exist?”

“An object. Loves needs an object. The one loved, the object of love.”

“So you have two, the source of love and the object of love. But then you have the love itself, the love between the two, and the love that joins the two together. So if we were to translate love into a sentence, what would we need?”

“A subject,” I said.

“The subject is the ‘I,’” he replied. “And what else?”

“An object,” I said.

“The object is the ‘You,’” he answered. “And what else?”

“A verb.”

“Love,” he said. “Put it together and what does it become?”

“It becomes, ‘I love you.’”

“The simplest expression of love . . . and in how many words?”



“And yet at the same time, love is one. Love is one and love is three . . . one and three at the same time. Love is triune. In the Scriptures it is written that ‘God is love.’ If God is love, then God is triune as well, one and three at the same time. Who is the source of love, the ‘I’? The Father, the source of all love. Who is the object of His love, the ‘You’? The Son, the Messiah, who is called in Scripture, ‘the Beloved.’ And the love that emanates from the Father to the Son? The Spirit.”

“The Lover, the Beloved, and the Love . . . the triunity of love . . . the triunity of God.”

“Yes,” said the teacher, “as incomprehensible and yet as simple as ‘I love you.’” 

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17 NIV


A Fifth Key to Happiness


Carry a stone with you in your pocket. A more practical solution might be to keep one on display in a prominent location in your home or place of work. This suggestion certainly requires some explanation.

In one of his mysteries, “The Heartbeat of a Miracle,” Jonathan Cahn compares a rock to the miracle of a heartbeat.

“The rock exists as a rock with no heartbeat. It retains its shape, its size, its consistency, with no need of a heartbeat. But you have a heartbeat. Every moment of your existence hangs on a heartbeat. The moment it stops, your existence is over. That’s the difference between a rock and your life. God ordained it. Rocks just exist. But life never just exists. It must strive to exist, fight to exist. Your heart must keep beating, every moment of your life. Even if you do nothing, your heart beats. Even when you sleep, it keeps beating every moment so that you can remain alive. If you waste your moments on earth, still it beats that you can waste your time. When you sin, when you gossip, when you covet and hate, still it beats while you do so. When you weep, when you give up hope, still it beats so that even in your tears and despair, it still fights for you to live and to be able to cry.”

Jonathan goes on to say.

“How does one apply this?” “You cease taking your life for granted. You stop wasting it, mistreating it, treating it as something less than the miracle it is. You cease to allow your life to be given to sin and what is less than God’s will. You treasure the existence with which you were entrusted. You stop throwing away your moments. You treat your life and your time on earth as a treasure. You treat your every moment as if there was a heart beating behind it, striving for that moment to exist. In short . . . you live a life worthy . . . of every heartbeat.”

Cahn, Jonathan (2016-09-06). The Book of Mysteries (p. 21). Charisma House. Kindle Edition.

May the stone you carry with you remind you of the miracle of your life.  So, where have you placed your stone?IMG_0379

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 11:19

God Orders Time

In Ecclesiastes chapters one and two Solomon wrote about the life he experienced under the sun (life from a human perspective).   Through the lens of “death is certain,” he saw the futility of striving to possess the world only to lose it. Chapter three of Ecclesiastes challenges the monotony he experienced.

Warren Wiersbe opens his commentary on Ecclesiastes chapter 3 this way: insects have lifecycles, but humans have histories. A bee is pretty much like another bee but each person is unique. If people are not unique, then they are not important. If people are not important, then life has no meaning and isn’t worth living.

Wiersbe divides chapter three into three sections:

  • Life above man – Eccl. 3:1-8 (God orders the time and seasons)
  • Life within man – Eccl. 3:9-14 (God put eternity in the heart of man)
  • Life ahead of man – Eccl. 3:15-22 (Death is certain)


Life above man:

Imagine for a moment that there were no natural laws governing our universe. Life would certainly be chaotic. Take gravity for example, what if it was a variable and not constant. What if the total number of hours in each day fluctuated wildly from day to day?  What if there were no seasons?  On and on I could go.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is one of the more famous passages in the Bible.  These verses are a description of how beautify and magnificently God has ordered time. Solomon uses 14 poetic statements to convey how God is at work in the life of the individual.

Birth, death – these aren’t accidents, they are divinely ordered.

Planting and plucking – a successful farmer works with nature not against it.

Killing and healing – could be referring to sickness and plagues. Why one person dies and another lives is one of those unanswerable questions that must be left to divine providence

Casting away stones and gathering them – stones had to be cast out of a field before plowing, stones needed to be gathered for building or to be used to destroy someone else’s property

Embrace and refrain – many possible meanings, including Hebrew inference to sexual embrace. Another suggested meaning, a time to say hello and a time to say goodbye.

Getting and losing – possible meaning a time to search and a time to cease searching.

Tearing and mending – tearing of clothing is a Jewish expression signifying grief or mourning.

Loving and hating – a reference to national war and peace? Another possible meaning in a different context involves loving the sinner and hating the sin.


Life within man:

  • A person’s life is a gift from God (v10) – if we believe life is a gift we will have a better attitude towards burdens we are sometimes forced to carry.
  • Consider two scriptures – Genesis 42:36 “All these things are against me.” And Romans 8:28 “ALL things work together for good.” We must choose our perspective
  • Man’s life is linked to eternity (v11) – we can’t be fully satisfied with achievements or accomplishments until we understand that God has a complete plan for us. This plan spans eternity. Another way to look at it, “we will always have a longing inside for something more than what we have experienced until we know God” (Dr. David Jeremiah)
  • I can enjoy life now (v12-14) – Life may be transitory but whatever God does lasts for eternity. Be thankful for what we have and enjoy it.
  • Remember: faith is only as good as the object of our faith. The greatest object of faith is God. If we fear (revere) God we need not fear anything else.


Life ahead of man:

God seeks what is passed by (v15). Chuck Swindoll suggests that when we pass by things, or walk away from what God wants us to learn, God will keep bringing us back again and again until he has broken through to us.

Solomon observed injustice and oppression. He concluded that if there was a time and a season for everything under the sun, then it stands to reason that will have a time for future judgment.

Two of life’s biggest perplexities: why do bad things happen to good people? And why do the wicked seem to prosper or go unpunished? Evangelist Vance Havner suggests this explanation: “God writes over some of our days: “will explain later!””

Verses 18 through 20 are difficult and confusing. They seem to address the certainty of death for all creatures.  Dr. Jeremiah offers this explanation: A man and his dog romp in the same field, breathe the same air, and die on the same acre. They are more alike physically than they are different (considering just their physical bodies).

“Who knows” (can be worded “is it possible”) that a man’s spirit ascends to God while the animal’s spirit returns to the earth (see Ecclesiastes 12:7). The uncertainty lies with the destiny of the animal’s spirit.

So I saw that there was nothing better for men that they should be happy in their work, for that is what they are here for…  Ecclesiastes 3:22a NLT

A fourth key to happiness


A fourth key to happiness, in my opinion, involves viewing the life we live as a beautiful painting. Each person creates their own over the course of their lifetime.  If we experience no hardships, oppression, financial struggles, loneliness, or heartaches, our painting would be a blank canvas, devoid of composition.

It’s the dark lines of struggle, which create the composition and define the boundaries of color. Those colors range from dark and gloomy trials to bright colors of joy, happiness and hope. Together, they make our painting beautiful and desirable to those who love us.


Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?  In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider:  surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…Ecclesiastes 7:13-14