10/22/14

From Jim McGuiggan... There's reading and reading

There's reading and reading

Serious believers read a serious Bible and because it’s the word "of God" it’s read with seriousness. No bad thing that, because you don’t have to look far for people who treat the scriptures as something equivalent to a religious Reader’s Digest. A pox on that approach! 

But while the biblical witness is something we must take with profound earnestness we’re not to read it with always-furrowed brows, a case of the jitters and a fear of thunder. It’s true that our personalities, our past experiences, present environments and our theological tendencies affect how we read the Bible. This makes perfect sense. Still, the Christian (in his or her saner moments) will surely feel led to approach the scriptures through the lens of Jesus Christ. It’s precisely because God takes sin seriously that he came in and as Jesus Christ to rescue us from it and bring us righteous and joy-filled life. The last word in God’s mouth is not about sin; it’s about Christ in whom his love for and faithfulness toward his creation is revealed in all its stunning but unfathomable depths.

When people say the Bible is a series of "love letters" they irritate those of us that take the Bible with profound seriousness. More than that, in our cultural climate the description is too saccharin, too Mills & Boone in tone. It reduces everything in scripture to a wooing note and sweet romance. This is unhealthy! But having said that—and I think it needs said—the grand drift of the Bible comes to its climax in Jesus Christ and in and as him God comes passionately saying, "I mean you no harm! None at all!" To read it in any other way is to miss the tender and mighty love of God. To isolate texts, even large sections, of the stern divine response as if God threshed around in perpetual rage, quite prepared to dismantle a world and all in it—to isolate them from the whole clear witness of scripture is to misread it entirely. If the statement that the Bible "is a series of love letters" is too sweet and reductionist, at least it turns its eyes in the right direction.

We must make up our minds about God as he has finally revealed himself in Jesus Christ or we’ll read the Bible the wrong way. We hear God’s voice best in the way he speaks in Jesus Christ.

There was the widower father of two children whose boy threw up his heels and went off into the wild blue yonder while the girl stayed at home, gentle and strong and supportive of the grieving father. A year or two after they’d just about given up on ever hearing from the boy they got a letter from him and since neither the father nor the girl could read they took it to the local butcher and asked him to read it for them. It was the wrong morning and the wrong man. The butcher was an austere man and on this morning was in a particularly sour mood. He took the note and read it to them in a flat, almost snappy tone. "Dear father, I’m very ill; send me some money. Yours, Tom." The father was indignant. "Not a word from him all this time and when he does decide to write, he demands money! I won’t give him a penny!"

Nevertheless, father and daughter were grieved that the only thought he had of them was money. Maybe...maybe, the girl thought on the way home, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take the letter to the baker. Who knows, maybe the butcher had misread it. The baker, a different kind of man, read the words the butcher read but it wasn’t the same message. In a warm and tremulous tone he read, "Dear father, I’m very ill; send me some money. Yours, Tom." On that reading, indignation was completely obliterated and help was soon on its way from a lonely and worried family to a stumbling and sick young man far from home.

I like God because he has written us a "love Story". It’s easy to pick out harrowing pieces of text but it’s every bit as easy to pick out vast stretches of tenderness and strong love and assurance and inspiration.

I like God’s way of writing and I won’t let a sour preacher with a gloomy mind so read it for me that I miss the warmth and steadfast love of God.


©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

Perspectives Matter by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1372

Perspectives Matter

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Twice a year for the past few years I have visited the offices of a certified public accountant in Montgomery, Alabama. Since I rarely went to his place of business (or even the area in which his business is located), I had a difficult time remembering exactly what side of the road it was on. When I expected to see it on my right, it would strangely appear on my left. Then, just as sure as I thought it might be on my left, I would find it on my right. Maybe I was just confused. Perhaps my memory was failing me. For whatever reason, I never took the time to figure out why I had the distinct impression that sometimes this building should be on the opposite side of the road. Whenever the time came for me to see the CPA, I simply headed in the direction of his office, confident that I could find it, but unsure on which side of the road it would appear.
Recently, I finally learned why sometimes the building was on my left and other times it was on my right: I had not realized that the street on which this office is located is a long, slow-curving semi-circle. Both ends of the street eventually meet up at the same road, just one intersection apart from each other. Since the two intersections look very similar, I (like many men who are rather unobservant) never realized that I sometimes turned left at one intersection and other times turned left at the next intersection. When I took the first left, the office building always appeared on my right. When I took the second left, the building was always on my left. For whatever reason, I had never paid close enough attention. I had failed to consider that the apparent contradiction was merely the result of two different perspectives: one from the North, and one from the South.
Sadly, many people approach a study of the Bible as carelessly as I approached the CPA’s office building: they fail to consider the various perspectives at play. Approximately 40 different inspired men from all walks of life wrote the Bible over a period of 1,600 years. These men lived at different times in different places among different people in different cultures. They wrote in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and the original recipients of their writings varied greatly—from Jewish, to Greek, to Roman, to all men. Sometimes the Bible writers wrote chronologically (e.g., Genesis 1; Matthew 4:1-11); at other times they wrote thematically (e.g., Genesis 2; Luke 4:1-13). Sometimes they focused on a group of people (e.g., Matthew 28:1; Luke 23:55-24:1); at other times they targeted a particular person within the group (e.g., John 20:1).
Oftentimes when two or more Bible writers differ in their description of a certain event, skeptics cry “contradiction.” In reality, however, the skeptics have merely overlooked or dismissed the fact that the inspired penmen wrote from different perspectives. One question I continually get asked and hear skeptics frequently repeat is, “How did Judas die?” “Did he hang himself as Matthew wrote (27:5), or, as Luke indicated (Acts 1:18), did he fall headlong and ‘burst open in the middle’ and all his entrails gush out?” The answer: Judas hanged himself, and later his body fell (from wherever it was hanging), burst open, and his entrails spilled. Are Matthew and Luke’s accounts different? Yes. Are they contradictory? No. They simply wrote about two different, specific moments during the same general event.
If we fail to recognize the logical reasons for differences in life, we will continually find ourselves dazed and confused. Just as I was perplexed for years over the exact location of a particular office building, because I had not taken the time to consider the exact direction from which I approached the building, skeptics and others will never come to a proper understanding of Scripture until they recognize that perspectives play a major role.

From Mark Copeland... Wisdom To Endure Life's Vanities - II (Ecclesiastes 10:1-11:8)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

           Wisdom To Endure Life's Vanities - II (10:1-11:8)

INTRODUCTION

1. As mentioned in the previous lesson, there are things in life that
   we cannot avoid...
   a. Such as the inevitability of death
   b. The governments of men
   -- Both of which can contribute much to the "vanity" of "life under
      the sun"

2. But with the right kind of wisdom...
   a. We can endure the imperfect and often wicked governments of men
   b. We can live joyful lives despite the certainty of death

[...and so the Preacher (Solomon) continues with "Wisdom To Endure
Life's Vanities" in chapters ten and eleven.  As we look now at chapter
ten, we find him expounding upon...]

I. THE HARM OF FOLLY

   A. FOLLY DEPLORED...
      1. Folly mars the finest of reputations - 10:1
      2. Folly constitutes an unsafe guide (the heart of a fool is not
         in the right place) - 10:2
      3. Folly will invariably betray it own stupidity - 10:3
      -- In contrast, the wise person will be patient, steadfast, and
         conciliatory, even when opposed by those in authority - 10:4

   B. FOLLY OFTEN MANIFESTS ITSELF IN GOVERNMENT...
      1. An evil observed by the Preacher - 10:5-7
         a. Error proceeding from the ruler
         b. Folly exalted while the rich are debased
         c. Servants in power while true princes are humbled
      2. Those who labor with foolishness hurt and hinder themselves 
         - 10:8-10
         a. As illustrated through several examples given by the
            Preacher
         b. The wisdom of the wise will know how to expedite his labors
      3. The foolish seldom know how to restrain themselves - 10:11-15
         a. They do not know how to hold their tongues
         b. They do not know how to direct their labor
      4. How folly and wisdom affect the condition of the country - 10:
         16-19
         a. Woe to the land whose leaders are childish and feast in the
            morning, their laziness resulting in broken down buildings
         b. Blessed is the land whose leaders feast at the proper time,
            whose successful rule provides for true happiness and 
            meeting every need

   C. MEANWHILE, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY...
      1. Do not curse the king - 10:20a
      2. Do not curse the rich - 10:20b
      -- For what you say will likely reach their ears - 10:20c

[As in chapter nine, much of what the Preacher says in chapter ten
pertains to how to endure the vanity of living under governments often
ruled by wicked men.  As he continues in chapter eleven, we find him
describing...]

II. THE VALUE OF BENEVOLENCE
   
   A. AN EXHORTATION TO BENEVOLENCE...
      1. Verses 1 and 2 are parallel, encouraging kindness and 
         hospitality - 11:1-2
      2. The benefits of such benevolence:
         a. It provides blessings for the future
         b. It provides blessings for when days are evil
      -- Similar benefits of a benevolent spirit are described through
         the Bible - Ps 41:1-2; Pr 19:17; Lk 6:38; 16:9; Ga 6:9; 1 Ti 6:18-19

   B. FURTHER REASONS TO EXERCISE BENEVOLENCE...
      1. Calamities (like rain and wind storms) will come...
         a. We cannot stop the clouds full of rain from falling
         b. Trees will lie wherever they fall
         ...if we spend our time just watching and not doing, we will
            not sow and reap - 11:3-4
      2. There are things we cannot comprehend...
         a. Like the way of the wind (or spirit)
         b. Like the development of the child in the womb
         ...so we cannot comprehend God's working; therefore do not
            restrict your charity - 11:5-6
      3. There will be days of darkness...
         a. It is great to be alive when one is well
         b. But even if one lives many joyful days, they should know
            that evil days will come - 11:7-8

CONCLUSION

1. We may not be able to escape the days of darkness in this life...
   a. Evil days often brought on by the governments of men
   b. Evil days that occur for which we have no explanation

2. But thanks to the Preacher, we know how best to endure life's
   vanities...
   a. Avoid making things worse through our own folly
   b. Sow the seeds of benevolence that can help us later when the days
      are evil

3. Of course, besides the Preacher (Solomon), we also have the Good
   Shepherd (Jesus)...
   a. Who has given His life that we might have an abundant life - Jn 10:10-11
   b. Who provides true peace though we may live in a world of 
      tribulation - Jn 16:33

Are we following the Shepherd who leads His sheep to life eternal? 
- Jn 10:27-28

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Wisdom To Endure Life's Vanities - I (Ecclesiastes 8:1-9:18)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

            Wisdom To Endure Life's Vanities - I (8:1-9:18)

INTRODUCTION

1. The Preacher (Solomon, 1:1) has been sharing with us counsel for
   dealing with life...
   a. Counsel gleaned from his own search for meaning - 7:27
   b. Counsel guided by wisdom given him by God - cf. 1:16; 1Ki 3:12;
      4:30

2. In previous lessons we have noted that the Preacher offfered...
   a. Counsel For Better Living - 7:1-14
   b. Counsel For Balanced Living - 7:15-29
   -- Helpful to taking a proactive approach to improving one's sojourn
      "under the sun"

3. Yet no matter what we do, there are things...
   a. We cannot change
   b. We cannot escape
   -- Things which certainly add to the vanity of life "under the sun"

4. Two such things are "death and taxes"; in other words...
   a. We cannot escape the inevitability of death
   b. We must endure the governments of men

[Wisdom can help, however (8:1), and so as the Preacher continues, he
shares "Wisdom To Endure Life's Vanities".  Beginning with...]

I. ENDURING THE GOVERNMENTS OF MEN

   A. SUBMIT TO AUTHORITIES FOR GOD'S SAKE...
      1. Obey the king's command - 8:2-3
      2. Respect his power, and you will be unharmed - 8:4-5a
      3. A wise man will understand that judgment will come in it's own
         time, so don't resort to wickedness (i.e., rebellion) to
         alleviate misery - 8:5b-9
      -- Compare this counsel with that given to Christians - Ro 13:
         1-7; 1Pe 2:11-17

   B. ANTICIPATE WICKED RULERS...
      1. There will be times when men rule to their own detriment - 8:9
      2. But they will soon be forgotten after their demise - 8:10
      3. Why do some persist in their evil rule? Because their judgment
         does not occur immediately - 8:11
      4. Even so, it is still better to fear God - 8:12-13

   C. EXPECT TO BE PERPLEXED...
      1. Sometimes the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosper - 8:14
      2. One cannot always understand why things happen the way they do
         (remember Job?) - 8:16-17

   D. ENJOY LIFE...
      1. Delight in the fruits of your own labor - 8:15
      2. Which is the advice given throughout this book - 2:24-26;
         3:12-13; 5:18-20

[There is little value in getting all worked up about the inequities in
the governments of men.  As long as there are imperfect men, there will
be imperfect governments.  It is better to simply obey the laws, do
good, trust in God, and enjoy the fruits of one's labor.

In chapter nine, we find wisdom for...]

II. ENDURING THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH

   A. DEATH HAPPENS TO ALL...
      1. It happens to both the righteous and the wicked - 9:1-3
         a. While the righteous are in God's hands
         b. And the sons of men are full of evil
      2. While we live, there is hope (9:4);  when we die...
         a. We know nothing of what goes on here on earth - 9:5a,6
         b. Others' memory of us soon fades - 9:5
      -- We cannot escape death

   B. ENJOY LIFE...
      1. While death is inevitable, we should still enjoy life - 9:7-8
      2. Live joyfully with the wife God has given you - 9:9
      3. Work diligently while you are here - 9:10
      -- While we cannot escape death, there is no reason to give up on
         life!

   C. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED...
      1. Time and chance happens to all - 9:11
         a. Being swift and strong does not mean you will always win
         b. Being wise, understanding, and skillful does not always
            ensure that you will be fed, rich, and the recipients of
            good favor
      2. Sometimes death will come unexpectedly, like animals caught in
         a trap - 9:12
      -- Anticipating the unexpected, we are less likely to be 
         overwhelmed when it occurs

   D. APPRECIATE THE VALUE OF WISDOM...
      1. The Preacher saw how wisdom saved a city - 9:13-15
         a. Even though found in a poor man
         b. Even though the man was soon forgotten
      2. Therefore he praises the value of wisdom - 9:16-18
         a. As better than strength
         b. As better than weapons of war
      -- Though often despised when it comes from a poor man, wisdom
         spoken quietly is better than the shout of a ruler of fools

CONCLUSION

1. We may not be able to escape all of life's vanities...
   a. There may be times we find ourselves under wicked governments
   b. Unless the Lord returns in our lifetime, death is inevitable

2. But we can endure life's vanities with the aid of the Preacher's
   wisdom...
   a. Enduring the governments of men by:
      1) Submitting to authorities for God's sake
      2) Understanding that wicked rulers will occur
      3) Expecting to be perplexed at times
      4) Enjoying our life as God gives us opportunity
   b. Enduring the inevitability of death by:
      1) Remembering that death happens to all
      2) Enjoying family and work
      3) Expecting the unexpected
      4) Utilizing wisdom that is available to us

In our next study, we shall consider more from the Preacher on the
value of wisdom and diligence in enduring life's vanities.

In the meantime, let's not forget that we have another "Preacher" who
has established the perfect kingdom, and delivered us from the fear of
death:  Jesus Christ!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Counsel For Better Living (Ecclesiastes 7:1-14)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                   Counsel For Better Living (7:1-14)

INTRODUCTION

1. In the first six chapters the Preacher has shared with us...
   a. His search for meaning - 1:1-2:24
   b. His observations during the course of his search - 3:1-6:12

2. He has repeated his conclusions time and again...
   a. Life "under the sun" is vanity - 1:2,14; 2:11
   b. Yet there is good that one can do, provided one is blessed by God
      - 2:24-26; 5:18-20

3. In relating the experiences of his search and observations, he 
   shared counsel for living life "under the sun"; for example...
   a. The value of friendship - 4:9-12
   b. The proper way to approach God in worship - 5:1

4. In the remaining six chapters the Preacher continues to share his
   counsel...
   a. Through a mixture of proverbs and narration
      1) Imparting wisdom designed to make the most of life "under the
         sun"
      2) I.e., while life under the sun is "vanity", how then should we
         live?
   b. There is a wealth of wisdom found in these chapters
      1) Too much to cover in detail in this series
      2) We will simply survey the Preacher's counsel as we make our
         way through the book

[With that in mind, let's take a look at 7:1-14, in which we find a
series of comparisons (note the frequent use of "better"). For example,
the Preacher would have us understand that...]

I. HONOR IS BETTER THAN LUXURY (7:1a)

   A. "A GOOD NAME IS BETTER THAN PRECIOUS OINTMENT"
      1. Here the Preacher is extolling the value of a good reputation
         - cf. Pr 22:1
      2. The precious ointment is representative of luxury

   B. WHY THIS IS SO...
      1. We have already seen the vanity of wealth
         a. We may leave it for someone who is foolish - 2:18-19
         b. Unless God give us the ability to enjoy it, it is all for
            naught - 6:1-2
      2  A good reputation finds honor before God and men, and benefits
         us after death!
         a. Just as it did with the "elders" of the Old Testament 
            - He 11:2,39
         b. Especially if our "names" are written in heaven! - Lk 10:
            20; Php 4:3

[So in what time we have in this life, it is better spent making a good
name for ourselves, than accumulating wealth! Next, the Preacher shares
what may be a shocking revelation to some...]

II. YOUR DEATHDAY IS BETTER THAN YOUR BIRTHDAY (7:1b)

   A. "THE DAY OF DEATH THAN THE DAY OF ONE'S BIRTH"
      1. The day of one's death is better than the day in which they
         were born
      2. Of course, this assumes one has first made a good name for
         themselves!

   B. HOW THIS IS SO...
      1. The day of one's birth is the beginning of many sorrows
         a. As Job observed, and even cursed the day of his birth - cf.
            Job 14:1; 3:1-3
         b. As did Jeremiah - Jer 20:14-18
      2. But for the righteous, the day of one's death is the beginning
         of eternal bliss!
         a. They enter into peace and rest - Isa 57:1-2
         b. They go to be with the Lord - Php 1:21-22
         c. They are blessed to be at rest from their labors - Re 14:13

[Speaking of the day of one's death leads naturally to the next bit of
counsel from the Preacher...]

III. A FUNERAL IS BETTER THAN A PARTY (7:2-6)

   A. "BETTER TO GO TO THE HOUSE OF MOURNING THAN TO GO TO THE HOUSE
      OF FEASTING"
      1. Everybody loves a party, but everybody needs to attend a 
         funeral!
      2. Why?  The Preacher tells us why...
         a. "For that is the end of all men"
            1) Life "under the sun" is not forever
            2) We must all die and face what follows next - cf. He 9:27
         b. "And the living will take it to heart"
            1) A funeral reminds us of the brevity of life and the
               eventuality of death
            2) A funeral forces us to face reality and encourages us to
               prepare for it

   B. "SORROW IS BETTER THAN LAUGHTER"
      1. The Preacher explains further why it is good to attend a
         funeral
      2. Laughter may have its place, but sorrow is superior to making
         the heart better - cf. He 12:11
         a. Laughter provides a temporary reprieve from the burdens of
            life
         b. But sorrow, especially at a funeral, encourages us to make
            positive changes
      3. For this reason, the wise person will be found often in the
         funeral parlor, while the fool would rather spend time at a
         party

   C. "IT IS BETTER TO HEAR THE REBUKE OF THE WISE THAN...TO HEAR THE
      SONG OF FOOLS"
      1. At a funeral, one is likely to hear the rebuke of the wise; at
         a party, the song of fools
      2. But the laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns in a
         fire, and is vanity
         a. Thorns make a lot of noise
         b. But they burn quickly, provide little heat, and are 
            therefore of little value
         -- So also the laughter and songs of the foolish

[Why the Preacher inserted the proverb of verse 7, I am not sure, 
though the point is well taken. However, the next comparison states
that...]
 
IV. THE END IS BETTER THAN THE BEGINNING (7:8)

   A. THIS IS SIMILAR TO WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN...
      1. That the day of one's death is better than the day of one's
         birth - 7:1
      2. But the principle has application to more than just one's
         overall life

   B. HOW THIS IS SO...
      1. Many projects start with good intentions, but are not 
         completed; it is when they are finished that we can truly look
         back with satisfaction
      2. Many things begin with grief and difficulty, only to end in
         joy and peace- cf. Ps 126:5-6

[Our primary concern should be how things will turn out in the end,
rather than how they may look at the beginning.  To help us keep 
focused on the end, it is good to remember that...]

V. PATIENCE IS BETTER THAN PRIDE (7:8-9)

   A. "THE PATIENT IN SPIRIT IS BETTER THAN THE PROUD IN SPIRIT"
      1. Pride is evil, and is of the world - cf. Mk 7:21-23; 1Jn 2:16
      2. Patience is a virtue to be pursued by the man of God - cf. 
         1Ti 6:11; Tit 2:2

   B. WHY PATIENCE IS BETTER THAN PRIDE...
      1. Pride leads to contention and destruction - Pr 13:10; 16:18
      2. Pride leads to anger, which resides in the heart of the
         foolish - 7:9
      3. Patience, on the other hand, is indicative of wisdom and
         necessary to salvation - Pr 14:29; Ro 2:7; He 10:36

[Another gem of wisdom that leads to better living is understanding
that...]

VI. THE PRESENT IS BETTER THAN THE PAST (7:10)

   A. WE ARE NOT TO SAY "WHY WERE THE FORMER DAYS BETTER?"
      1. People often reminisce about "the good old days"
      2. They often bemoan that things were better then than now

   B. WHY ONE IS NOT WISE IN THINKING THIS...
      1. Memory has a way of forgetting bad things in the past
      2. Even if one experiences trials in the present, there is cause
         for rejoicing - Jm 1:2-4
      3. We may neglect opportunities for much good in the present by
         dwelling on the past

[Speaking of wisdom itself, the Preacher tells us that...]

VII. WISDOM IS BETTER THAN WEALTH (7:11-12)

   A. WEALTH HAS ITS ADVANTAGES...
      1. Money can serve as a defense in life - 7:12; Pr 10:15
      2. Money can attract many friends - Pr 14:20

   B. HOW WISDOM IS BETTER...
      1. Riches do not profit one in a day of wrath - Pr 11:4
         a. The presence of wealth often makes things worse
         b. As when marriages and business partners fight over who gets
            the money
      2. Wisdom gives life to those who have it - 7:12
         a. Wisdom will make the best use of one's wealth as a defense
         b. Wisdom will help one weather the storms of wrath

[Finally, the Preacher gives the following counsel for a better 
life...]

VIII. RESIGNATION IS BETTER THAN INDIGNATION (7:13-14)

   A. THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE...
      1. God has His purpose, which we cannot change - 7:13; 
         Isa 43:13; Dan 4:35
      2. His purpose allows for both days of prosperity and adversity
         - 7:14

   B. WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS IN THE BEST WAY...
      1. Enjoy the days of prosperity
      2. In days of adversity, consider what lessons might be learned
      3. It does no good to get angry about things we cannot change
      -- As we saw earlier, there is both a time to weep and a time to
         laugh - 3:4

CONCLUSION

1. What has the Preacher taught us?  Simply that...
   a. Honor is better than luxury
   b. Your deathday is better than your birthday
   c. A funeral is better than a party
   d. The end is better than the beginning
   e. Patience is better than pride
   f. The present is better than the past
   g. Wisdom is better than wealth
   h. Resignation is better than indignation

2. If any of this sounds foreign to our thinking, bear in mind that it
   comes from one...
   a. Who experienced everything life has to offer
   b. Who found life "under the sun" lacking
   c. Who offers counsel from the perspective of wisdom and inspiration
   d. Who provides this counsel that we might make the best use of our
      time "under the sun"

Are we willing to accept his counsel and benefit from it, or will we
learn the hard way, and often only too late to do much about it?  "He
who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

In our next study, we shall consider his counsel regarding "a balanced
life"...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Preacher's Observations - II (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6:12)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

              The Preacher's Observations - II (5:1-6:12)

INTRODUCTION

1. The Preacher has been explaining WHY he reached his conclusion that
   life "under the sun" is vanity...
   a. Based upon his personal experience - 1:1-2:26
   b. Based upon his personal observations - 3:1-6:12

2. In chapters 3 and 4, we saw where he discussed...
   a. The inexplicable purpose of God
   b. The injustice and oppression of men
   c. The vanity of skillful and selfish work

3. Even so, he offered wisdom for living "under the sun"...
   a. It is best to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the good of one's 
      labor, realizing that such is a gift of God to those who please
      Him - 3:12-13
   b. To appreciate the value of friends who can help us in time of
      work and need - 4:9-10

[In chapters 5 and 6, he offers more wisdom as he continues to share
his wisdom for living "under the sun".  Notice his...]

I. COUNSEL REGARDING WORSHIP

   A. WHY PROPER WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT...
      1. Remember, the ability to enjoy the good of one's labor is a
         gift from God - 2:24-26; 3:12-14; 6:19
      2. It is imperative that we please Him in our worship
         a. There is "vain worship", you know - cf. Mt 15:7-9
         b. Therefore not all worship is acceptable to God

   B. HOW TO WORSHIP GOD...
      1. Walk prudently - 5:1a
         a. Both the NIV and NASB say "Guard your steps"
         b. When one worships...
            1) They should give thought to what they will do
            2) They should be careful what they will do
      2. Draw near to hear - 5:1b
         a. We should be concerned with learning what God has revealed
         b. Our attitude should be like that of...
            1) Young Samuel ("Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.")
               - 1Sa 3:9-10
            2) The Bereans ("they received the word with all 
               readiness") - Ac 17:11
      3. Do not offer the sacrifice of fools - 5:1c
         a. Again, not all worship is acceptable
         b. There is that kind of worship...
            1) That is an abomination to God - Pr 28:9
            2) That the Lord will not accept - cf. Lk 6:46
      4. Don't be rash with your vows (promises) - 5:2-3
         a. Be careful what you say; remember...
            1) Jephthah's foolish vow - Judg 11:30-35
            2) Herod's foolish promise - Mk 6:23-26
         b. Give thought to what you say in prayer and song
            1) Do you consider the vows of commitment that are often
               made?
            2) Do you intend to keep them?
      5. Keep the vows you make - 5:4-7
         a. God has no pleasure in fools
            1) Such as those who make vows and do not fulfill them
            2) Therefore it is better not to vow, then to vow and not
               pay
         b. Don't let your mouth cause you to sin
            1) Why make God angry, and destroy the work of your hands?
            2) Many words lead to vanity, and sin - cf. Pr 10:19;
               Mt 12:36-37

[The key thought in proper worship is to "fear God", that is, to
approach Him with the deepest respect and reverence.  Worship Him as He
directs, not as you might wish.  "Swift to hear, slow to speak" (Ja
1:19) should be our attitude in worship if we wish to please God!

In the next two verses of our text, we see a word of...]

II. COMFORT REGARDING OPPRESSION

   A. OPPRESSION DOES OCCUR...
      1. As the Preacher observed in 3:16
      2. And again in 4:1

   B. YET THE PREACHER SAYS DO NOT MARVEL...
      1. Even when there is oppression of the poor and perversion of
         justice - 5:8a
      2. For even high officials answer to someone else - 5:8b; cf.
         Ro 13:1
         a. Often in this life they are brought to justice
         b. But even if not, then there is the Day of Judgment!
      3. The profit taken in oppression usually comes back to all - 5:9
         a. Those who oppress others to gain much rarely consume it all
         b. What profit from the land they gain "trickles down" 
            eventually

[Of course, oppression of the poor and perversion of justice is often
motivated by the desire to be rich.  So we should not be surprised to
find the Preacher returning to the vanity of riches as he offers words
of...]

III. CAUTION REGARDING RICHES

   A. RICHES ARE VANITY...
      1. Because they are unable to truly satisfy - 5:10-12
         a. Lovers of silver and abundance will never be satiated
         b. As they increase, so their desire for more will increase
      2. Because those obsessed with riches are hurt by them - 5:13-17
         a. Riches can hurt those who possess them
            1) While a laboring man enjoys sweet sleep...
            2) ...the abundance of the rich provides too much turmoil
               for restful sleep!
         b. Through misfortune, or eventually through death, one loses
            their riches
         -- What value then are riches, if in the acquisition of them
            one must endure much sorrow, sickness, and anger? - cf. Pro 15:16-17; 17:1

   B. THE PREACHER'S OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING RICHES...
      1. It is good to enjoy the good of one's labor - 5:18
      2. But it is God who give one the power to truly enjoy them 
         - 5:19-20
      3. A sad situation is where God gives one the ability to acquire
         riches, but not enjoy them! - 6:1-2
      4. It matters little if one lives long and has a hundred 
         children...
         a. Unless one is able to be satisfied (a gift which God 
            gives), he is worse off than a still-born child! - 6:3-5
         b. Even if he lives two thousand years! - 6:6
      5. Riches in of themselves cannot satisfy the soul - 6:7-9
         a. His body might be filled, but that is not what fills the
            soul
         b. It is better to be content with what you see, than to 
            wander after for what you desire
      6. Riches really can't change things - 6:10-11
         a. He is still "man", and cannot contend with God
         b. They are not the things that truly make man better, they
             only increase vanity
      7. The answers to life's questions can't be found in striving for
         riches - 6:12

CONCLUSION

1. In asking questions like...
   a. "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his
      vain life which he passes like a shadow?" - 6:12a
   b. "Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?" 
      - 6:12b
   ...the Preacher illustrates the vanity of looking to riches for the
   answers

2. Indeed, the answers are to be found by turning to God, not riches;
   which is why...
   a. One needs to be careful in their worship of God!
   b. We should draw near to hear what God has revealed through His 
      Word!

It is particularly through "The Word" (Jesus, Jn 1:1) that we learn the
ultimate answers to the questions that challenged the Preacher.  For
Jesus has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel." (2Ti 1:10).

Ecclesiastes tells us that the answers to life are not found in the 
things of this life.  Are we willing to therefore heed Him who is the
Creator of life and is the light of men? - Jn 1:2-4

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Preacher's Observations - I (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4:16)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

               The Preacher's Observations - I (3:1-4:16)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Ecclesiastes, we find the question raised:  "What profit has a
   man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?" - 1:3
   a. The key phrase is "under the sun"
   b. I.e., what profit is there in life when viewed from an earthly 
      perspective?
   c. I.e., what value is there in our labor when we fail to consider
      God's will in life?
   -- We have seen the answer given by the Preacher:  "All is vanity"
      - 1:2,14

2. How did he reach this conclusion?
   a. Based upon personal experience - 1:1-2:26
   b. Also from personal observations - 3:1-6:12

3. Our previous lessons examined the experiences of the Preacher...
   a. Now we begin to note his observations
   b. In which he also shares his wisdom for living "under the sun"

[His conclusion that life "under the sun" was vanity was partly reached
by observing...]

I. THE INEXPLICABLE PURPOSE OF GOD

   A. ALL THINGS SERVE GOD'S DIVINE PURPOSE...
      1. "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose 
         under heaven" - 3:1-8
      2. "He has made everything beautiful in its time." - 3:11a
      3. "...whatever God does, it shall be forever...' - 3:14-15

   B. YET MAN IS UNABLE TO FIND OUT GOD'S PURPOSE...
      1. God has put it in man to search out this purpose - 3:9-11a
      2. But "no one can find out the work that God has done" - 3:11b
      
   C. WHY GOD ACTS THIS WAY...
      1. "God does it, that men should fear before Him" - 3:14c
      2. I.e., to reverence God, and therefore seek to please Him - cf.
         Ac 17:26-27
         a. God has made man an inquisitive creature
         b. He has also made life such that we are always seeking for
            something better, or for some purpose
         -- Hopefully, we will keep seeking until we find Him!

   D. THE PREACHER'S CONCLUSION...
      1. There is nothing better than to:
         a. "Rejoice and do good" - 3:12
         b. "Eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor" - 3:13a
      2. Yet the ability to do so is "the gift of God" - 3:13b
         a. So one must be in favor with God
         b. Knowing that God will require an account of our actions 
            - 3:15b; cf. 11:9; 12:14

[Without revelation, we cannot discern God's purposes; without His 
blessing, we cannot enjoy the good of our labor.  Therefore any effort
to live without God can only be vanity as we will find His purposes 
inexplicable.

The Preacher's conclusion about the vanity of life was also reinforced 
by observing...]

II. THE INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION OF MEN

   A. WHAT THE PREACHER SAW...
      1. Wickedness in the place of justice - 3:16
      2. Power on the side of the oppressor, with no comfort for the
         oppressed - 4:1
      -- Prompting him to think the dead were better than the living,
         even better those who had never lived - 4:2-3

   B. WHAT THE PREACHER REASONED IN HIS HEART...
      1. God will judge the righteous and the wicked - 3:17a
      2. God will somehow use injustice and wickedness in carrying out
         His purpose - 3:17b (e.g., just as God used Assyria and 
         Babylon to discipline Israel)
      3. God allows injustice to test the sons of men - 3:18-21
         a. To help them see that they are like beasts, in that they
            will die and their bodies return to dust
         b. While they are also different from beasts, in that their
            spirit returns to God who gave it - cf. 12:7

   C. WHAT THE PREACHER CONCLUDED...
      1. Once again, the value of rejoicing in one's own works - 3:22a
      2. For this is what God allots him, not what may happen on earth
         after he is gone - 3:22b

[In the remaining part of this section (3:1-4:16), we find the 
Preacher making various comments, which may be summarized as 
following...]

III. THE VANITY OF SKILLFUL AND SELFISH WORK

   A. IT CAN BREED ENVY IN OTHERS...
      1. He saw how that skillful work causes one to be envied by his
         neighbor - 4:4
      2. While it is foolish to fold one's hands and do nothing, 
         acquiring too much is not worth the effort for it really does
         not satisfy - 4:5-6
      3. What is best is to have little with quietness and contentment 
         - cf. Pr 15:16-17

   B. ESPECIALLY IF ONE IS ALL ALONE...
      1. The Preacher saw one with no companion, neither son nor 
         brother - 4:7-8
         a. Who is never satisfied (indeed he can't be, cf. Ec 5:10)
         b. And doesn't think for whom he is laboring - cf. Ec 2:18-19
      2. It is much better to have friends - 4:9-12
         a. Who can help each other in their labor
         b. Who can help each other when they fall
         c. Who can help each other withstand forces of opposition

   C. AND POPULARITY IS SUCH A FLEETING THING...
      1. It is better to a poor and wise youth, than an old foolish 
         king - 4:13
      2. For despite rising from poverty and prison to become king, the
         people will eventually prefer another much younger than he 
         - 4:14-16

CONCLUSION

1. The Preacher's observations about the vanity of life, along with
   wisdom for living "under the sun" will continue in succeeding 
   chapters

2. But we have seen in this study...
   a. Why he reached his conclusions about the vanity of life
      1) The inexplicable purposes of God
      2) The injustice and oppression of men
      3) The vanity of skillful and selfish toil
   b. What wisdom he offers for living "under the sun"
      1) It is best to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the good of one's 
         labor, realizing that such is a gift of God to those who 
         please Him
      2) To appreciate the value of friends who can help us in time of
         work and need

3. As Christians today, we may be perplexed at times concerning the
   workings of God...
   a. But we have the assurance that all things work for good for them
      who love God and are called according to His purpose - Ro 8:28
   b. We have the family of God to help us in our labor and in time of
      need - cf. 1Th 5:11

And of course, there is no greater friend, than the One who is the 
ultimate end of all God's purposes in this world:  Jesus Christ! (cf. 
Ep 1:9-10).  Through Him we can "obtain mercy and find grace to help
in time of need." (He 4:15-16).

Are you a friend of Jesus?  Remember then what He said:

   "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." - Jn 15:14

Let Jesus be your friend by obeying His will! - cf. Mt 28:19-20

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Preacher's Search For Meaning - II (Ecclesiastes 2:1-26)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

             The Preacher's Search For Meaning - II (2:1-26)

INTRODUCTION

1. Our previous lesson noted how the Preacher began his search for 
   meaning in life
   a. Observing the futility seen in the cycles of nature and life 
      - 1:4-11
   b. Beginning with human wisdom - 1:12-18
      1) Having already been blessed with great wisdom from God
      2) Which he used to search out the value of human wisdom

2. His conclusion concerning such wisdom in providing the answer?
   a. Trying to find the answer in human wisdom was "grasping for the 
      wind" - 1:17
   b. Such wisdom was the source of much grief and sorrow - 1:18

3. So he began to look elsewhere, and in the second chapter we read...
   a. Of his efforts to explore the value of mirth, pleasure, wine,
      folly
   b. Of his search to find meaning in the acquisition of wealth and in
      great accomplishments

[Did he find the answer there?  If not, what conclusions did he reach?
In this lesson we shall simply allow the Preacher to tell us for 
himself.  We first note how...]

I. THE PREACHER TESTED LIFE

   A. HE SUMMARIZES WHAT HE FOUND...
      1. Mirth and pleasure is vanity - 2:1
      2. Laughter is madness, mirth accomplishes little if anything
         - 2:2

   B. HE DESCRIBES WHAT HE DID...
      1. He experimented with wine and folly - 2:3
         a. Using the wisdom he had
         b. For he was seeking to find what was truly good for people
            to do "under heaven all the days of their lives"
      2. He made many things - 2:4-6
         a. Such as houses, vineyards, gardens, orchards, water pools
         b. Notice also 1Ki 7:1-12; 9:15-19
      3. He acquired whatever he desired - 2:5-8
         a. Such as servants, livestock, silver, gold, treasures, 
            singers, and "the delights of the sons of men" (concubines
            or musical instruments? cf. NIV, NASB, NKJV)
         b. Notice 1Ki 9:28; 10:10,14,21,27; 11:1-3
      4. He became great and seemed to be happy - 2:9-10
         a. Greater than any before him, while maintaining his wisdom
         b. Having all his eyes and heart desired, finding enjoyment in
            his labor

   C. HIS CONCLUSION FROM WHAT HE DID...
      1. Upon reflection, looking back at what he did - 2:11a
      2. He concluded:
         a. "All was vanity, and grasping for the wind." - 2:11b
         c. "There was no profit under the sun." - 2:11c

[The conclusion drawn by the Preacher may seem strange, when he 
admitted that he found joy in his labor (2:10). But when we consider
what he says next, we begin to understand why after his great
experiment...]

II. THE PREACHER HATED LIFE

   A. AFTER REFLECTING UPON WISDOM, MADNESS, AND FOLLY...
      1. Realizing his unique opportunity (who can do more than what he
         has done?), he considered the relative merits of wisdom, 
         madness, and folly - 2:12
      2. He saw that wisdom was better than folly - 2:13-14a
         a. Just as light is better than darkness
         b. At least the wise man can see where he is going
      3. But ultimately the advantage of human wisdom is vanity! 
         - 2:14b-16
         a. For both the wise man and the fool die
         b. After death, there is no more remembrance of the wise than
            of the fool
      4. Thus the Preacher hated life, because all the work done "under
         the sun"...
         a. Was grievous to him
         b. Vanity and grasping for the wind - 2:17

   B. AFTER REFLECTING UPON HIS WEALTH...
      1. He came to hate his labor - 2:18-19
         a. Because he must leave it to one after him
         b. Who knows whether those who inherit will be wise or 
            foolish? - cf. Solomon's son, Rehoboam, 1Ki 12:1-19
         c. In either case, someone else will rule over all the results
            of his labor!
      2. He came to despair of all his labor "under the sun" - 2:20-23
         a. For a man with wisdom, knowledge and skill must leave his
            heritage to one who has not labored for it
         b. He did not think this right ("this also is a vanity and a
            great evil")
         c. In the end, what does he have for all his efforts?
            1) Sorrowful days, restless nights
            2) Grievous work, leading to vanity

[Looking at life "under the sun", trying to find meaning in this life
for all of one's labors, the Preacher came to hate and despair of all
his great efforts. But as he said, "my wisdom remained with me" (2:9).

With that wisdom he shares for the first time what one should do in 
life.  As he does so, we see that...]

III. THE PREACHER ACCEPTED LIFE

   A. MAN SHOULD SEEK TO ENJOY THE GOOD IN HIS LABOR...
      1. There is nothing better, a conclusion he will draw six times 
         - 2:24a; cf. 3:12-13; 3:22; 5:18-19; 8:15; 9:7-9
      2. Note carefully:
         a. The Preacher is NOT promoting the fatalist view of "Let's 
            eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
         b. He is saying to enjoy what you do and what God has given 
            you - cf. 1Ti 6:17
         
   B. THE ABILITY TO ENJOY ONE'S LABOR IS A GIFT FROM GOD...
      1. He saw that the ability to enjoy one's labor is a gift from 
         God - 2:24b
      2. For no one can truly enjoy life without God - 2:25 (cf.
         footnote, NIV, NASB)
         a. To those good in his sight, God gives wisdom, knowledge, 
            and joy - 2:26a
         b. To the sinner, God gives the work of gathering and 
            collecting - 2:26b
            1) To give to the one who is good before God - cf. Pr 28:8
            2) For the sinner, his work therefore becomes (to him)
               vanity and grasping for the wind! - cf. 6:1-2
            -- Yes, some are very successful in accumulating wealth,
               but for what end?

CONCLUSION

1. For the first time, the Preacher has introduced God into the picture

2. Up to now, he has looked at life "under the sun" without God...
   a. He has sought for meaning through wisdom, folly, madness, 
      pleasure and wealth
   b. Even when successful, the realities of life and death can cause
      one to hate life
   -- He could only conclude that "under the sun" all is vanity and
      grasping for wind
   
3. But now, with God giving wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man...
   a. One can enjoy the good in his labor
   b. A purpose and meaning for life is now possible

That purpose and meaning for life will be developed further as we make
our way through the book.  In the meantime, since "God gives wisdom and
knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight" (2:26), have you
consider what is essential to please Him?

One begins with faith... 

   "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who 
   comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder
   of those who diligently seek Him." 
                                         (He 11:6)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Preacher's Search For Meaning - I (Ecclesiastes 1:4-18)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

             The Preacher's Search For Meaning - I (1:4-18)

INTRODUCTION

1. Why am I here?  What am I to be doing?
   a. These are questions that nearly everyone asks at some point in
      their life
   b. They are questions the author of Ecclesiastes sought to address

2. In our introductory lesson we saw...
   a. The author identified - 1:1
      1) The Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem
      2) I.e., Solomon
   b. The theme stated - 1:2
      1) All is vanity
      2) I.e., life from an earthly perspective ("under the sun") is 
         futile, meaningless - 1:14
   c. The question raised - 1:3
      1) What profit is there for a man from all his labor under the
         sun?
      2) I.e., what benefit can one derive from all his efforts in this
         life?

3. In the first two chapters, Solomon demonstrates how he came to this
   conclusion
   a. From his observations regarding the cyclical nature of life and
      its apparent meaningless
   b. From his own experiences as he sought to find meaning through
      various avenues

[As we continue to listen to the "Preacher", then, we find him 
describing...]

I. THE FUTILITY OBSERVED IN THE CYCLES OF LIFE

   A. NOTHING SEEMS TO CHANGE - 1:4-7
      1. The earth appears to abide forever, even as generations of men
         come and go
      2. The sun is constant with its rising and setting
      3. The winds continue their whirling cycle
      4. The water cycle also, as rivers run into the seas, and then
         through evaporation and rain return to the rivers again
      -- Looking at nature, it seems nothing ever changes, it just goes
         in circles and remains the same!

   B. NOTHING SEEMS TO SATISFY - 1:8
      1. Despite all our labors, man is never truly satisfied
      2. What satisfaction one may think they have is only apparent and
         fleeting
      3. Given time, they soon desire something else

   C. NOTHING IS NEW UNDER THE SUN - 1:9-11
      1. What will be done is that which has been done
      2. If thought to be new, it is only because we have forgotten 
         what occurred before
         a. What about our modern technological advances?
         b. What about the technology that created the pyramids, 
            Stonehedge, etc.?
      -- Given time, future civilizations will forget what we are doing
         today, and only "rediscover" what has been learned again and
         again!

[Faced with what appeared to be such meaningless cycles in life, the
"Preacher" sought to determine man's true purpose.  He first shares 
with us his own experience with...]

II. THE FUTILITY OF HUMAN WISDOM

   A. THE PREACHER PREFACES HIS SEARCH - 1:12-15
      1. He was king over Israel in Jerusalem
         a. I.e., Solomon
         b. Who had been given wisdom from God - 1Ki 3:9-12; 4:29-34
      2. He determined to use such wisdom to seek and search all that
         has been done "under heaven"
         a. A task that he understood God had given to all men
         b. A task for which he knew he had been especially equipped
      3. He summarizes what he found, having seen all the works done
         "under the sun"
         a. He concludes they are vanity and grasping for wind
         b. For there is little one can do to make significant changes

   B. THE PREACHER APPLIED HIS GOD-GIVEN WISDOM - 1:16-17a
      1. He acknowledged the greatness and wisdom he had attained
         a. In answer to prayer, Solomon had attained great wisdom
            1) Again, cf. 1Ki 3:9-12
            2) Compare this also to Jm 1:5
         b. This is "God-given wisdom", to be contrasted with "human 
            wisdom"
      2. He therefore sought to apply it to wisdom, madness, and folly
         a. The "wisdom" here I believe is "human wisdom" (e.g., 
            philosophy)
         b. For this is wisdom that he set his heart to know (learn)

   C. THE PREACHER CONCLUDES HUMAN WISDOM IS FUTILE - 1:17b-18
      1. He perceived that such wisdom was like grasping for wind, it
         did not provide the answer to his problem
      2. He also saw that such wisdom and knowledge provides much grief
         and sorrow
         a. As we might say today, it provides "information overload"
         b. One becomes burdened as they learn of many things in life
            1) Things they have no control over
            2) Yet things they often worry over

CONCLUSION

1. In beginning his search for meaning, the wise Preacher naturally
   began with wisdom...
   a. Thus he set his heart to "know wisdom"
   b. But he found such wisdom to be "grasping for the wind"

2. I do not believe we are to take his words as an indictment against
   all wisdom...
   a. For there is a "God-given wisdom" for which one should seek 
      - cf. Pr 2:1-9; Jm 1:5
   b. This kind of wisdom can bless one's life - cf. Pr 3:13-18

3. But it is an indictment against "human wisdom"...
   a. A wisdom that seeks to understand life, but leaves God out of the
      picture
   b. A wisdom that can only leave one "grasping for the wind"

In our next study, we shall continue with the Preacher's "search for 
meaning" and notice his observations regarding pleasure, madness, and 
folly.

In the meantime, remember what Paul wrote in contrasting human wisdom
with God's wisdom:

   But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom 
   from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;
   that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the
   LORD." (1Co 1:31)

Have you accepted and obeyed the true wisdom from God, Jesus Christ,
who gives meaning and purpose for life?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Introduction And Prologue (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3)

                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

                   Introduction And Prologue (1:1-3)

INTRODUCTION

1. The book of Ecclesiastes has long fascinated many people...
   a. Many feel it is one of must puzzling books in the Old Testament
   b. It is considered by some the most melancholy book of the Bible
   c. It is often quoted by those who deny that man has a soul which
      continues after death

2. It is not a book Christians should ignore...
   a. In our materialistic society, there is a great need to understand
      its basic message
   b. In our youth-oriented society, it is of special value as its
      message appears directed to the young

3. As with all Old Testament scripture, it was written...
   a. For our learning - Ro 15:4
   b. For our admonition - 1Co 10:11
   c. For doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in 
      righteousness - 2Ti 3:16-17

[With this lesson, therefore, we begin a series of studies based upon
this book.  We begin with...]

I. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK

   A. TITLE...
      1. In the Hebrew Bible, the book is called "Qoheleth"
         a. Which means "the words of the preacher" - cf. 1:1
         b. The term suggests one who speaks to an assembly, an
            ecclesiastic or preacher
      2. The translators of the Septuagint version called it
         "Ekklesiastes"
         a. Which also means "preacher"
         b. Derived from the word "ekklesia" (assembly)

   B. AUTHORSHIP...
      1. Jewish and early Christian tradition attribute the book to 
         Solomon
      2. The author identifies himself only as "the son of David, king
         in Jerusalem" - 1:1
      3. Internal references certainly point to Solomon:
         a. His wisdom - 1:16; cf. 1Ki 3:12
         b. His building activities - 2:4-6; cf. 1Ki 7:1-12
         c. His wealth - 2:7-9; cf. 2Ch 9:13-28

   C. DATE...
      1. Assuming that Solomon is indeed the author
      2. That would place the date of the book around 945 B.C.

   D. MESSAGE...
      1. The futility of life "under the sun" - cf. 1:2,14
         a. A key word is "vanity" (occurs 35 times in 29 verses), 
            which means "futility, uselessness, nothingness"
         b. A key phrase is "under the sun" (occurs 29 times in 27 
            verses), which suggests "from an earthly point of view"
         -- The book illustrates the vanity of life when looked at
            solely from an earthly perspective
      2. The importance of serving God throughout life - cf. 11:9-12:1,
         13-14
         a. The meaning of life is not found in experiencing the things
            of this world
         b. The meaning of life is found in serving the Creator of this
            world!

   E. THE BOOK CONTAINS "GOADS" AND "NAILS" - 12:11
      1. Words of the wise, designed to "goad" or "prod" our thinking
      2. Words of the preachers (lit., masters of the assemblies),
         given to "nail" or "anchor" our lives
      -- In this book we will find statements that prod our thinking,
         and exhortations that provide stability and direction for 
         living!

[With this brief introduction, let's now consider....]

II. THE PROLOGUE TO THE BOOK

   A. AUTHOR IDENTIFIED  - 1:1
      1. "the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem"
      2. These are the words of Solomon...
         a. A dramatic autobiography of his experiences and 
            observations
         b. Some of which, perhaps, while alienated from God! - cf.
            1 Kings 11:1-13
         c. Some of the preliminary conclusions expressed throughout
            the book may have been those drawn while he was still
            alienated and searching for meaning
      -- If written by Solomon, and penned toward the end of his life,
         this would be evidence that Solomon repented before his death

   B. THEME STATED - 1:2
      1. "Vanity of vanities...vanity of vanities, all is vanity"
      2. All is futile, useless, meaningless!
      3. Of course, this vanity pertains to life "under the sun" - cf.
         1:14
      -- All the effort one makes in life, as far as "this life" is 
         concerned, is like "grasping for the wind"!

   C. QUESTION RAISED - 1:3
      1. "What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils
         under the sun?"
      2. This is the question the "Preacher" sought to answer
         a. Is there any value or profit for all the things we do on
            this earth?
         b. If our labor is meaningless as far as this life is 
            concerned, what can we do?
      3. In this book he will share...
         a. What he learned from personal experience
         b. What he learned from personal observations
         c. Wise counsel based upon the wisdom and inspiration God gave
            him

CONCLUSION

1. Solomon begins to answer his own question in the next verse, which
   we will save for our next study

2. It has been said that the Bible answers life's most often asked 
   questions; e.g...
   a. Who am I?
   b. Where did I come from?
   c. Why am I here?
   d. What am I to be doing?

3. The book of Ecclesiastes certainly addresses such questions; which 
   is why...
   a. It is worthy of our careful study
   b. It is of value to all, especially the young
   -- I pray, therefore, that we will hear what the "Preacher" will 
      have to say to us!

There is another "Preacher", also "the son of David", who is "king in
Jerusalem" as well as everywhere else.  His name is Jesus...

   "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"
                                                    - Col 2:3

Have you heeded the words of that Preacher (cf. Mt 7:21-23; Mk 16:
15-16)...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading October 22



Bible Reading   

October 22

The World English Bible

Oct. 22
Ecclesiastes 8-10

Ecc 8:1 Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.
Ecc 8:2 I say, "Keep the king's command!" because of the oath to God.
Ecc 8:3 Don't be hasty to go out of his presence. Don't persist in an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him,
Ecc 8:4 for the king's word is supreme. Who can say to him, "What are you doing?"
Ecc 8:5 Whoever keeps the commandment shall not come to harm, and his wise heart will know the time and procedure.
Ecc 8:6 For there is a time and procedure for every purpose, although the misery of man is heavy on him.
Ecc 8:7 For he doesn't know that which will be; for who can tell him how it will be?
Ecc 8:8 There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death. There is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver those who practice it.
Ecc 8:9 All this have I seen, and applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has power over another to his hurt.
Ecc 8:10 So I saw the wicked buried. Indeed they came also from holiness. They went and were forgotten in the city where they did this. This also is vanity.
Ecc 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Ecc 8:12 Though a sinner commits crimes a hundred times, and lives long, yet surely I know that it will be better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him.
Ecc 8:13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he lengthen days like a shadow; because he doesn't fear God.
Ecc 8:14 There is a vanity which is done on the earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked. Again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.
Ecc 8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that will accompany him in his labor all the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.
Ecc 8:16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes),
Ecc 8:17 then I saw all the work of God, that man can't find out the work that is done under the sun, because however much a man labors to seek it out, yet he won't find it. Yes even though a wise man thinks he can comprehend it, he won't be able to find it.
Ecc 9:1 For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hatred, man doesn't know it; all is before them.
Ecc 9:2 All things come alike to all. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good, to the clean, to the unclean, to him who sacrifices, and to him who doesn't sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath, as he who fears an oath.
Ecc 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event to all: yes also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Ecc 9:4 For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything, neither do they have any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Ecc 9:6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy has perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.
Ecc 9:7 Go your way--eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.
Ecc 9:8 Let your garments be always white, and don't let your head lack oil.
Ecc 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity: for that is your portion in life, and in your labor in which you labor under the sun.
Ecc 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.
Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
Ecc 9:12 For man also doesn't know his time. As the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.
Ecc 9:13 I have also seen wisdom under the sun in this way, and it seemed great to me.
Ecc 9:14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it.
Ecc 9:15 Now a poor wise man was found in it, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
Ecc 9:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
Ecc 9:17 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the cry of him who rules among fools.
Ecc 9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.
Ecc 10:1 Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.
Ecc 10:2 A wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart at his left.
Ecc 10:3 Yes also, when the fool walks by the way, his understanding fails him, and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
Ecc 10:4 If the spirit of the ruler rises up against you, don't leave your place; for gentleness lays great offenses to rest.
Ecc 10:5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, the sort of error which proceeds from the ruler.
Ecc 10:6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place.
Ecc 10:7 I have seen servants on horses, and princes walking like servants on the earth.
Ecc 10:8 He who digs a pit may fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
Ecc 10:9 Whoever carves out stones may be injured by them. Whoever splits wood may be endangered thereby.
Ecc 10:10 If the axe is blunt, and one doesn't sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but skill brings success.
Ecc 10:11 If the snake bites before it is charmed, then is there no profit for the charmer's tongue.
Ecc 10:12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but a fool is swallowed by his own lips.
Ecc 10:13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
Ecc 10:14 A fool also multiplies words. Man doesn't know what will be; and that which will be after him, who can tell him?
Ecc 10:15 The labor of fools wearies every one of them; for he doesn't know how to go to the city.
Ecc 10:16 Woe to you, land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning!
Ecc 10:17 Happy are you, land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!
Ecc 10:18 By slothfulness the roof sinks in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaks.
Ecc 10:19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes the life glad; and money is the answer for all things.
Ecc 10:20 Don't curse the king, no, not in your thoughts; and don't curse the rich in your bedchamber: for a bird of the sky may carry your voice, and that which has wings may tell the matter.
 
Oct. 22
Colossians 3

Col 3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.
Col 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.
Col 3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;
Col 3:6 for which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
Col 3:7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them;
Col 3:8 but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth.
Col 3:9 Don't lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings,
Col 3:10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator,
Col 3:11 where there can't be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance;
Col 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do.
Col 3:14 Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.
Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.
Col 3:17 Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.
Col 3:18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and don't be bitter against them.
Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases the Lord.
Col 3:21 Fathers, don't provoke your children, so that they won't be discouraged.
Col 3:22 Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.
Col 3:23 And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men,
Col 3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Col 3:25 But he who does wrong will receive again for the wrong that he has done, and there is no partiality.