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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ecclesiastes Part One

Ecclesiastes 1:1 The words of Koheleth (qôheleth in Hebrew), son of David, king in Jerusalem.

The Greek translation of the Hebrew qôhelethof is ecclesiastes and it means "preacher" or, one who addresses an assembly or convenes a group. The one calling together an assembly of people as if with the intention of addressing them.

Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes. He doesn't divulge his name, but calls himself the "son of David" and "king in Jerusalem" (which was his capital city). Ecc 1:12 "I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem."

Let's first do a brief summary of King Solomon.

Solomon was probably born about 1035 B.C. to the Jewish King David and Bathsheba.

King David had an illicit affair with the married Bathsheba after he saw her bathing on her rooftop one night. Bathsheba's husband was Uriah the Hittite. He was one of the band of David's "mighty men." Uriah had loyally and faithfully fought in David's army. He was on the frontlines when David saw Bathsheba bathing and committed adultery with her. Bathsheba became pregnant by King David, so he had to do something quick or their adultery would be discovery. David devised a sneaky plan to bring Uriah home so that he would sleep with his wife before going back to the battle front, then he would think the baby was his.

David's plan didn't work so he had to think of something else. He came up with the shocking plan of having Uriah left alone during a battle so he would certainly be killed, essentially guaranteeing his murder! This plan worked and Uriah was killed during battle.

King David then married Bathsheba, and she gave birth, but their love child died.

The Prophet Nathan approached the King and talked frankly to him about his sin. When confronted, King David truly repented.

Bathsheba became pregnant again, and this time she bore a son, Solomon. His birth was to David a pledge that God was at peace with him again, thus Solomon's name, meaning peaceful.

Solomon was the 10th of all David's sons. His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons. Solomon's coronation occurred before his father's death to make sure everyone knew he was King David's choice.

King Solomon reigned 40 years, B.C. 1015-975.

1 Chronicles 28:5-7 And of all my sons, for the Lord has given me a great number of sons, he has made selection of Solomon to take his place on the seat of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. And he said to me, Solomon your son will be the builder of my house and the open spaces round it; for I have taken him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will keep his kingdom in its place for ever, if he is strong at all times to do my orders and keep my rules, as at this day.
1 Chronicles 28:9-10 And you, Solomon my son, get knowledge of the God of your father, and be his servant with a true heart and with a strong desire, for the Lord is the searcher of all hearts, and has knowledge of all the designs of men's thoughts; if you make search for him, he will be near you; but if you are turned away from him, he will give you up for ever. Now then, take note; for the Lord has made selection of you to be the builder of a house for the holy place. Be strong and do it.

Before he died, King David, specifically instructed his son on the building of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. King David had wanted to build this Temple himself, but God told him to wait and let his son do it. However, David prepared the materials and plans for it, and he passed this project on to Solomon. In his lifetime, King Solomon constructed, finished and dedicated the Temple which was one of the wonders of the world at that time.

King Solomon entered into an alliance with Egypt by marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh. His first alliance was marriage to a foreign woman which God had forbidden Israelites to do. He also entered into an alliance with Hiram, King of Tyre, who greatly assisted him in his numerous building projects. In fact, it seems his greatest hobby was building.

King Solomon spent 13 years building the royal palace. His palace was 100 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high. Its lofty roof was supported by forty-five cedar pillars, so that the hall was like a forest of cedar wood, and was probably why it was called “The House of the Forest of Lebanon.”

In front of this “house” was another building, which was called the Porch of Pillars, and in front of this again was the “Hall of Judgment,” or Throne Room, aka “the King's Gate,” where he administered justice and sat before his people. This palace was a building of great magnificence and beauty, another wonder of the ancient world. A portion of it was set apart as the residence of the queen consort, the daughter of Pharaoh. From the palace there was a private staircase of red and scented sandalwood which led up to the temple.

Solomon went on to build aqueducts, fortifications, walls, military and commercial outposts, stables for his thousands of horses, etc.

King Solomon's reign was the Golden Age for Israel. Under him, the kingdom of Israel was a great world power almost equal to Assyria and Egypt. Never again were the bounds of Israel so wide; never again were north and south united in one great nation.

King Solomon was fabulously wealthy. The magnificence and splendour of his court were unrivaled. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, evidence of his pride, his wealth, and his sensuality. The maintenance of his household involved immense expenditure.

Solomon is said to have started his reign with a capital sum of 100,000 talents of gold and a million talents of silver. Even so, this huge sum was ear-marked for the building of the Temple. His income was, for one year, 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14).

2 Chronicles 9:13-27 Solomon received about twenty-five tons of gold each year (666 talents of gold), (14) not counting what the merchants and traders brought him. The kings of Arabia and the leaders of Israel also gave him gold and silver. (15) Solomon made two hundred gold shields that weighed about seven and a half pounds each. (16) He also made three hundred smaller gold shields that weighed almost four pounds, and he put these shields in his palace, the house of the forest of Lebanon. (17) His throne was made of ivory and covered with pure gold. (18) It had a gold footstool attached to it and armrests on each side. There was a statue of a lion on each side of the throne, (19) and there were two lion statues on each of the six steps leading up to the throne. No other throne in the world was like Solomon's. (20) Solomon's cups and dishes in Forest Hall were made of pure gold, because silver was almost worthless in those days. (21) Solomon had a lot of seagoing ships. Every three years he sent them out with Hiram's ships to bring back gold, silver, and ivory, as well as monkeys and peacocks. (22) Solomon was the richest and wisest king in the world. (23) Year after year, other kings came to hear the wisdom God had given him. And they brought gifts of silver and gold, as well as clothes, weapons, spices, horses, and mules. (25) Solomon had four thousand stalls for his horses and chariots, and he owned twelve thousand horses that he kept in Jerusalem and other towns. (26) He ruled all the nations from the Euphrates River in the north to the land of Philistia in the south, as far as the border of Egypt. (27) While Solomon was king, there was silver everywhere in Jerusalem, and cedar was as common as the sycamore trees in the western foothills.

1 Kings 10:23-27 And King Solomon was greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. (24) And all the earth sought Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. (25) And every man brought his presents, vessels of silver and vessels of gold, and clothing and armor, and spices, horses and mules, so much year by year. (26) And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen. And he had fourteen hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. (27) And the king made silver like stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars like the sycamore trees in the valley for abundance.

1 Kings 3:5-6 In Gibeon Jehovah appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, Ask what I shall give you! (6) And Solomon said, You have shown to Your servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before You in truth and in righteousness and in uprightness of heart with You. And You have kept this great kindness for him, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today.
1 Kings 3:9-15 And give to Your servant an understanding heart, to judge Your people, to discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge this, Your great people? (10) And the word was good in the eyes of Jehovah, that Solomon had asked this thing. (11) And God said to him, Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life, and have not asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to judge justly, (12) behold, I have done according to your words. Lo, I have given you a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like you before you, and after you none shall arise like you. (13) And I also have given you that which you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like you all your days. (14) And if you will walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days. (15) And Solomon awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

Not only was King Solomon wealthy, an intellectual and a commercial genius, but he had great wisdom and commonsense. He wrote 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He wrote the biblical books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. People came from far and wide to hear his wisdom. The Queen of Sheba made a visit to meet King Solomon and she was astonished at his wealth and his wisdom (1 Kings 10:1-13).

1 Kings 11:1-4 And King Solomon loved many strange women, even the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites; (2) of the nations which Jehovah had said to the sons of Israel, You shall not go in to them, and they shall not go in to you; surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. (3) And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. (4) For it happened when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods. And his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as was the heart of David his father.

But the bright day of Solomon's glory ended in clouds and darkness. The causes of his decline were his polygamy and his great wealth. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. All of these women came with baggage, mainly their idolatrous religions. King Solomon tolerated and then began to participate in their strange religions. He gave himself to "strange women." He found himself involved in the worship of strange gods. He did not cease to believe in the God of Israel, and he continued to make the usual sacrifices in the Temple at the great feasts. But his heart was not right with God; his worship became merely formality.

1 Kings 11:5-9 Solomon also worshiped Astarte the goddess of Sidon, and Milcom the disgusting god of Ammon. (6) Solomon's father had obeyed the LORD with all his heart, but Solomon disobeyed and did what the LORD hated. (7) Solomon built shrines on a hill east of Jerusalem to worship Chemosh the disgusting god of Moab, and Molech the disgusting god of Ammon. (8) In fact, he built a shrine for each of his foreign wives, so all of them could burn incense and offer sacrifices to their own gods. (9) The LORD God of Israel had appeared to Solomon two times and warned him not to worship foreign gods. But Solomon disobeyed and did it anyway. This made the LORD very angry,

Ecclesiastes presents the philosophy of man "under the sun". "Under the sun" is repeated 29 times in this book. It means unregenerate man, worldly man, man without God. The natural man whose interests are confined to this world. Solomon is speaking of life without God. A man of the world, a non-Christian, is very different from a Christian who's born again spirit makes him a new man in Christ Jesus. We are saved, the Holy Spirit lives within us, our new spirit is eternally with God in the heavenly places. But the man "under the sun" lives his life only in this world, humanity without God, the natural man.

King Solomon, like millions of people before and since, experimented with everything he could think of to find a purpose in life. Some kind of satisfaction and happiness. The book of Ecclesiastes is a summary of his experiments and the end results. The conclusions are human, not God's truth. He searched for satisfaction apart from God and found none. He finds that life is meaningless without proper respect, reverence and love for God. Men madly pursue anything to avoid God and to try and attain what only God can give.

King Solomon was very wise but it was a worldly wisdom. He asked God for wisdom to rule Israel and God gave him what he asked for. King Solomon was a genius in politics and commerce. He ruled a peaceful kingdom that was extremely prosperous. He was a good politician.

And sin is blinding. Solomon fell into great sin and he grew apart from God. So his spiritual discernment was blunted. The wisdom of the book of Proverbs was more Godlike, and the wisdom of Ecclesiastes is comparing human life apart from God with a spiritual life with God. King Solomon wanted others to benefit from his experiences. He gives the results of a backslidden life, a life with no more meaning than fulfilling the next appetite. The natural man (man of flesh) does not realize that the answer to Life is to be found in Him Who is Above, not "under" the sun.

Man is anxious to follow after anything and everything, dashing back and forth from one thing to another. These pursuits may give temporary happiness or false security, but it's only fleeting, skin deep. Life, without God, is "vanity". The word "vanity" occurs 39 times in this book of the Bible. It means wasted, without any purpose, empty, false, futile, disappointing, a big fat nothing.

Ecclesiastes 1:2 All is to no purpose, said the Preacher, all the ways of man are to no purpose. (Bible In Basic English, 1965)
Ecclesiastes 1:2 Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher, Vanity of vanities: the whole is vanity. (King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 1:2 Everything is so meaningless. The Teacher says that it is all a waste of time! (Easy-To-Read Version)
Ecclesiastes 1:2 Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities! says the Preacher, All is vanity (emptiness, falsity, and vainglory). (The Amplified Bible)

hebel translated is "vanity" and means “breath,” “light wind”. In the Amplified Bible it is rendered "vapor of vapors and futility of futilities." It means these things pass away more or less quickly and completely; they have no value; they fail to satisfy; it dissipates like morning mist.

Everything Solomon tried was worthless. He tried science, philosophy, arts, pleasure, materialism, morality/religion, selfishness, love/sex, alcohol, career, power, etc. But everything he tried was futile because it was apart from God.

Ecclesiastes 1:3 Do people really gain anything from all the hard work they do in this life?

Why work hard? Why work at all? How many people have worked hard only to lose it, have it stolen, destroyed, or die and leave it for someone else to enjoy. Was it worth it?

Ecclesiastes 1:4 People live and people die, but the earth continues forever.

People live and die, generations come and go. Great Grandpa was once a young kid. He once was a young healthy man. He once got married and had little children and worked hard. But now, Great Grandpa is dead and buried and now it's you. You were once a baby. Now you, who are young and healthy. Great Grandpa is forgotten. One day you will be dead, buried and forgotten as well.

The cycle is repeated over and over again. What was once old is now new again. There is nothing new "under the sun". Everything has been done and done again. We are only here for a short time, and all our work doesn't really make any permanent, lasting change. In a short time, a whole race or generation of men go off the stage of the world, and then another succeeds them only they also go off to make room for another generation; and so things have been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end of it.

Sometimes, when I'm working on my genealogy, I'm reminded that this name was a real person who lived and died. They had a life, they had thoughts, hopes, goals and dreams. They ate like I eat. They put on their clothes every day like I do. They slept like I do. They were vital and alive, but now they are dead and gone. One day, I will be dead and gone too. Will anyone remember me?

When we watch the archaeology shows we forget that those skeletons and skulls, those dry bones, were once human beings with vibrant lives. Now they are archaeological curiosities and no one knows their name, how they lived, what their thoughts and feelings were.

Ecclesiastes 1:5 The sun rises and the sun goes down, and then it hurries to rise again in the same place.

The sun rises and sets day by day. Days come and go. Time goes by so swiftly. The older we get, it seems the faster times flies. Mankind is also like the sun. We are born, we live and then we die like the sun comes up, heats the day and then goes down.

Matthew Henry says, "Man, after all his labour, is no nearer finding rest than the sun, the wind, or the current of the river. His soul will find no rest, if he has it not from God."

Ecclesiastes 1:6 The wind blows to the south, and the wind blows to the north. The wind blows around and around. Then it turns and blows back to the place it began.

All things in this world are movable and mutable, and subject to a continual toil and agitation, still going, never resting. Like the wind. The wind goes this way and that way and back again. There is nothing permanent but the fluctuation, and nothing new. The old always repeats itself.

Ecclesisates 1:7 All rivers flow again and again to the same place. They all flow to the sea, but the sea never becomes full.

This indicates the cycle of water. Water evaporates into the sky, only to come down again as rain. The rain waters the earth and fills the streams and rivers only to run down to the sea. And thus the cycle begins again. Even though all things are in motion, they continue to return back to where they were. The wind returns to it's beginning and the water returns to it's place.

Man's mind is as restless in its pursuits as the sun, wind, and rivers, but is never satisfied, never contented, a constant restless motion. All things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. The earth is where it was; the sun, and winds, and water, remain on the same course as they always have.

Ecclesiastes 1:8 All these things are wearying; a man is not able to speak, the eye is not satisfied by seeing, nor filled is the ear from hearing.

It is impossible to calculate how much anxiety, pain, labor, and fatigue are necessary in order to carry on the common functions of life. Just recently I thought about buying groceries. You go into the store and you pick up items off the shelf to put in the buggy. You've handled that item one time. Next you take the item out of the buggy to put on the conveyor belt to check out. You've now handled it 2 times. Then you have to put the bags back in the buggy to transport it to the car. That's 3 times. 4) You place the bags in the car. 5) You unload your groceries and carry them to the house. 6) You unpack and put the groceries away. 7) You take the items out to use to make a dinner. Surely there is a better system, but I can't think of one. In the end, you have to handle the groceries SEVEN TIMES before you actually get to eat or enjoy them. And this is the modern and "easy" way. Think about the times when you had to grow your own food, or hunt for your own food! Everything we do requires effort and is "wearying", but the eye and ear is never satisfied. They want to see more and hear more. Whatever we see and hear makes us crave and lust for more.

That is why marketing is such a big business. Advertising can present stuff to you in such a way as to make you desire and lust for it. They make it to appeal to our eyes and desires. Everywhere we look are advertisements trying to grab our attention and make us want a particular product. King Solomon was way ahead of his time wasn't he?

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, (16) because all that which is in the world: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Another translation says, "Don't love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father."

The Amplified Bible says, "Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh (craving for sensual gratification) and the lust of the eyes (greedy longing of the mind) and the pride of life (assurance in one's own resourcs or in the stability of earthly things) - these do not come from the Father but are from the world (itself)."

King David said, (Psalm 101:3) "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes." It would be good for us to take his example.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (10) Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new"? It has been already in the ages before us.

If we think of time before the Twentieth (and, now, the Twenty First) century, there really was very little that was "new". But, the Twentieth century brought cars, radios, TVs, computers, super highways, the Internet, etc. All within the last 100 years. My Grandfather Huneycutt was born in 1898. He would remember seeing the first car, the first airplane, the first tractor, indoor plumbing, electricity in every home, etc. He died in 1976 so he didn't know the first computer or the first cell phone. But just within his lifetime he saw WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He lived through the roaring Twenties and then through the Great Depression of the 1930's. Think about how much life changed during just his lifetime. Our nation went from an aggrarian society to an industrial super power with atomic and nuclear bombs. We went from fighting wars with horses, swords and muskets to bombing with airplanes and chemical and biological warfare. Tanks, anti-aircraft guns, radar, etc. So it seems like King Solomon had it all wrong. There are new things "under the sun".

But let us look at it another way. Has mankind really changed? The answer is "NO!" We have new gadgets and new technology but we still have the poor with us. There are still starving people in the world. There is still evil and crime. There is still love and hate. There are still wars and rumours of wars. Man hasn't evolved into any better of a creature. We lust for the same evil things. There were alcoholics/drug addicts in the ancient world just like today. There were people addicted to sex back then just like they are today. The only real difference is that there are more people in our world today than there were back then and we have more ways to satiate our desires with the advent of technology. We are still sinners, there is just more ways to sin than there used to be. And, we may have added a few more years to our life expectancy but we still are born, live and die just like our ancestors did. The earth still rotates and the seasons still come and go. So King Solomon was right after all.

Ecclesiastes 1:11 People don't remember what happened long ago. In the future, they will not remember what is happening now. And later, other people will not remember what the people before them did.

We will all be forgotten. We live, we die, we are forgotten. This is the sum result of living a life without God. But, thank You God!, this is not the life of a Christian. God created each of us, we are unique to Him. He knows our every breath and every thought. He knows everything about us and He remembers us. We are not forgotten by God.

Psalm 9:18 It may seem that those who are poor and needy have been forgotten, but God will not forget them. He will not leave them without hope.

Isaiah 44:21 People of Israel, you are my servant, so remember all of this. Israel, I created you, and you are my servant. I won't forget you.

Luke 12:6-7 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. (7) But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear, you are of more value than many sparrows.

Ecclesiastes 1:15-18 What is crooked cannot be made straight; and that lacking cannot be numbered. (16) I spoke within my own heart, saying, Lo, I have become great and have gathered more wisdom than all that have been before me in Jerusalem; yea, my heart has seen much of wisdom and knowledge. (17) And I gave my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I know that this also is vexation of spirit. (18) For in much wisdom is much grief; and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Here is the statement of King Solomon's experiment. He says he tried everything. He looked into his own heart. He was well educated and was famous for his wisdom and knowledge. He had all the power and fame, wealth and knowledge that a man on this earth can have. Who else was better suited to investigate this matter and give the results? Matthew Henry says, "Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity. He found his searches after knowledge weariness, not only to the flesh, but to the mind. The more he saw of the works done under the sun, the more he saw their vanity; and the sight often vexed his spirit." Our heart is truly crooked and defective, sinful and lacking and it cannot be straightened out or filled by our human attempts. It's a waste of time to think we can straighten ourselves out without God. How many people have spent their money going to therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and reading self-help books and, yet, they are still as screwed up as ever? How many hours have been wasted in group therapy, seminars and retreats and, yet, we come home just the same as when we left? Sending a drug addict to a secular rehab clinic can be a waste of time and money because, without God, they don't have much of a chance of being set free. I've watched these TV shows called "Celebrity Rehab", "Intervention", etc. and I see how hopeless their situation is without God. And, even if they are able to get the drugs out of their system and stop taking drugs/alcohol, has their heart really changed? Don't they still have the same problems they started with? What sent them to the pill bottle or the alcohol in the first place? What is crooked cannot be made straight by human strength. What is lacking cannot be filled by human ways. We were created with a need for God and only God fulfills that need. We are greatly decieved if we think anything else can fill that empty spot. We can be real smart but be real dumb at the same time. Book smarts, street smarts can only decieve us into thinking we know it all and we can fix ourselves apart from God. How arrogant to think we can do what only God can do!

Part of 1 Corinthian 8:1 says, "...we all seem to ourselves to have knowledge. Knowledge gives pride..." Another translation says "knowledge puffs up". Our education and intelligence cannot solve the problem. We are born with an evil human nature. We can educate it and try to improve it but it's still the same wicked heart. John 3:6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

We must be born again! We need a new spirit in order to change. And this is something we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus Christ is the only way!

Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. (2) I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? (3) I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

A more modern translation said it like this, "I said to myself, 'Have fun and enjoy yourself!' But this didn't make sense. Laughing and having fun is crazy. What good does it do? I wanted to find out what was best for us during the short time we have on this earth. So I decided to make myself happy with wine and find out what it means to be foolish, without really being foolish myself."

- and -

"I decided to enjoy myself and find out what happiness is. But I found that this is useless, too. I discovered that laughter is foolish, that pleasure does you no good. Driven on by my desire for wisdom, I decided to cheer myself up with wine and have a good time. I thought that this might be the best way people can spend their short lives on earth."

Does this sound familiar? A lot of people have tried to find meaning in "pleasure". They have tried to find fulfillment in the pleasures of the flesh. They think getting drunk, partying, taking drugs, wanton sex is fun and they are just having a good time. Young people all the time are looking for a party with friends and a "hook up" for sex. And a lot of adults have never grown up and partying and hooking up is still their idea of fun. But we all come to the conclusion, at some point, that we aren't getting what we really want. It's not working. In fact, it greatly complicates our lives and can ruin our lives. How many unwanted pregnancies, veneral diseases, addictions and broken hearts come about because of partying, getting drunk or high, casual sex? The flesh will lead us into some real trouble if we follow it's lusts and desires. What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas. That commercial is a lie! Your sins will find you out and the consequences of your sins will haunt you.

King Solomon had 1,000 women as his wives and concubines. Their job was to make him happy. If anyone had sexual experience, he did. As a rich king, nothing was off limits for him so he probably had expert knowledge in sensuality and sex. But he comes to the conclusion that "pleasure" was also vanity, a waste, worthless, of no value, a futile attempt. Satan dresses up sin to make it look awfully pretty. We get seduced into thinking that THIS is it! This will make us happy! But beauty is only skin deep and when we get to know that person better, we will be disappointed. Sex is a temporary experience. You can't have sex 24/7. Once you climb out of bed and it's over, what do you have?

The same with laughter and joking. Laughing is a pleasurable experience so we look for funny things - jokes, comedians, funny TV shows, cartoons, etc. A sense of humor is a good thing to have and it's fun for the moment but then it's over too. Have you ever seen someone laugh in the middle of a serious situation? It's their mind's way of trying to escape the situation. Ignore the problem and focus on something utterly ridiculous. It's your body's way of coping with shock. Well, let me tell you, this world is in a serious fix and if you don't know Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are in mortal danger! You will die and go to eternal hell. It can't get any more serious than that! So what are you doing yukking it up when it's not a laughing matter?

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with laughter and fun for a Christian. But if you aren't saved and your eternity isn't assured, then what have you got to laugh about? You are like the person in shock who can't face what's happening so you focus on something silly to laugh about.

King Solomon tried to "lay hold on folly". To me that brings a picture of someone trying to catch a greased pig. You get all muddy, filthy and tired and you still haven't caught the pig. That pig may look pretty/handsome, may be dressed with the latest fashions, may be in the cool group, may have lots of money, but it's still a pig. Take off all the clothes and makeup and strip it of the money and friends and all you have is a pig. Satan can put lipstick on a pig. If you fall for it, then he's laughing at you for falling for it. All you got was a pig with lipstick.

So many people waste their lives running after "fun", "pleasure", "folly" only to find themselves in deep doo doo, or, even worse, spending their eternity in hell. If you party to the last minute and to the last breath and you never call upon Jesus Christ to save you and become the Lord of your life, then you will spend eternity in hell thinking about all those parties and drunken bashes. You will remember all those affairs you had and you will see them for what they were - NOTHING! They can't help you now.

Ecclesiaste 2:4-6 I accomplished great things. I built myself houses and planted vineyards. (5) I planted gardens and orchards, with all kinds of fruit trees in them; (6) I dug ponds to irrigate them. (7) I bought many slaves, and there were slaves born in my household. I owned more livestock than anyone else who had ever lived in Jerusalem.

King Solomon made a hobby out of building. And he built some of the wonders of the world. The Temple and his palace were magnificent. I did a very interesting study on the Temple of God and it is more than I could imagine! But King Solomon built a lot of other things as well. He built public works (irrigation, aqueducts and dams for manmade lakes). He had agricultural businesses with vineyards, gardens and orchards. He was in the meat business owning more livestock than anyone else had ever owned. He had thousands of people to manage because of all the slaves and workers. It would have been like being President and CEO of a worldwide corporation. Managing people would have been a big part of his job as King. All his building and agricultural projects were labor intensive in those days before modern farming and building equipment. It is thought that he may have drafted people into his work forces to work on his projects for a certain length of time before letting them go back home.

King Solomon was not only a political giant as king of a prosperous nation, but he would have been a corporate giant in the world's economy of his day and a construction giant in his time. His buildings were built of stone and, yet, not one is still standing! Of all his buildings, you may find some long forgotten foundations and it is said there are troughs from his stables still being used today. Isn't that sad?!? All the work he did, using the best materials and engineering of his day and nothing is left but some horse troughs? It's here today but gone tomorrow!

We spend so much time building our "dream" homes. I watch some of those HGTV shows where people are building new homes and see all the hard work and effort put into their home. And they are only built of wood and brick, not the massive stones that King Solomon used. Where will our house be in 100 years? In 1000 years? I'm sure it will be dust by then. Much less the 3,000 years it's been since King Solomon built his massive buildings! I know. I, too, have gotten too caught up in remodeling our homes when we bought them. And we spent 18 yrs finishing our first home only to turn around and sell it to someone who doesn't care one fig about all our hard work and has let the house deteriorate. It begins to bring things into perspective doesn't it? We get into so much debt and have so many sleepless nights, we argue and push until we finally move into our "dream home"! We may enjoy it for about a week before we go on to something else. It doesn't satisfy. It's not going to bring us the happiness we thought it would. We will be lucky if we don't end up bankrupt and divorced over it!

How did King Solomon afford all these building projects and farming and ranching? How did he afford to feed all his workers and pay for all the raw materials?

Ecclesiastes 2:8-11 I also piled up silver and gold from the royal treasuries of the lands I ruled. Men and women sang to entertain me, and I had all the women a man could want. (9) Yes, I was great, greater than anyone else who had ever lived in Jerusalem, and my wisdom never failed me. (10) Anything I wanted, I got. I did not deny myself any pleasure. I was proud of everything I had worked for, and all this was my reward. (11) Then I thought about all that I had done and how hard I had worked doing it, and I realized that it didn't mean a thing. It was like chasing the wind---of no use at all.

King Solomon was one of the richest men in the world. In 1 Kings 10, the Queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon.

1 Kings 10:10 She presented to King Solomon the gifts she had brought: almost five tons of gold and a very large amount of spices and jewels. The amount of spices she gave him was by far the greatest that he ever received at any time.

1 Kings 10:14-15 Every year King Solomon received over twenty-five tons of gold, (15) in addition to the taxes paid by merchants, the profits from trade, and tribute paid by the Arabian kings and the governors of the Israelite districts.

1 Kings 10:18-25 He also had a large throne made. Part of it was covered with ivory and the rest of it was covered with the finest gold. (19) The throne had six steps leading up to it, with the figure of a lion at each end of every step, a total of twelve lions. At the back of the throne was the figure of a bull's head, and beside each of the two armrests was the figure of a lion. No throne like this had ever existed in any other kingdom. (21) All of Solomon's drinking cups were made of gold, and all the utensils in the Hall of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. No silver was used, since it was not considered valuable in Solomon's day. (22) He had a fleet of ocean-going ships sailing with Hiram's fleet. Every three years his fleet would return, bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys. (23) King Solomon was richer and wiser than any other king, (24) and the whole world wanted to come and listen to the wisdom that God had given him. (25) Everyone who came brought him a gift---articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons, spices, horses, and mules. This continued year after year.

1 Kings 10:27 During his reign silver was as common in Jerusalem as stone, and cedar was as plentiful as ordinary sycamore in the foothills of Judah.

Can you imagine being so rich that silver was considered ordinary and as common as stones? That everyone in your home, including visitors, would eat and drink from golden plates and goblets? That's how wealthy he was! He had everything he could ever want!

At first he felt pride and satisfaction from all he had and all he worked for. But it was temporary! Ecc 2:11 "Then I thought about all that I had done and how hard I had worked doing it, and I realized that it didn't mean a thing."

Would all this fabulous wealth make him happy? Would it fulfill him and give him a purpose? Will his money purchase the life of his loved ones and bring them back? Could he buy his salvation and an eternity in heaven with God? Could it buy him out of hell? NO! All the wealth and riches in the world cannot rescue us or even go with us when we die. Naked we came from the womb and naked we go to the tomb. Only Jesus can save us.

We've all seen the tombs of great leaders and wealthy men in ancient times. They were buried with treasures and practical items and even statues to serve them. Some had sacrificed human servants, wives, animals and had them buried with them to serve them in their afterlife. But thousands of years later our archaeologists are digging them up and those things are still there or have deteriorated. They didn't go with the person into death. It was an illusion.

The emperor Shi Huangdi [246-210 BC] was the Tiger of Qin. In 1974, workmen discovered the tomb of Shi Huangdi near the city of Xi'an in the modern Shensi province. Among the treasures found there is a marvelous army of terracotta (fired clay) soldiers and horses, consisting of nearly 8,000 life size individual sculpted statues. In 2005 archaeologists, opening another section of Qin's tomb, have found a life-size model of a wetland, complete with 40 bronze sculptured aquatic birds, cranes, swans, and geese.

A tomb containing nearly 50 victims of human sacrifice has been excavated in eastern China. The tomb is 2,500 years old, the time of the great sage, Confucius. The burial chamber was built for the patriarch of an aristocratic family and contains 47 bodies, lying side by side. Xu Changquing, leader of the excavation team and a scholar at the Archaeology Institute of Jiangxi said: "Most of those buried had been sacrificed to accompany their master into the afterlife."

"According to the report, aristocrats arranged for their servants, concubines or others close to them to be sacrificed." -Xu.

Here is a photo of a sacrificed horse and rider.

At the Egyptian royal cemetery of Umm el-Qa'ab, the tombs of the 1st Dynasty kings from Aha to Qa'a are accompanied by subsidiary burials. These burials are arranged in rows extending from the royal tomb or surrounding it. The position of the tombs compared to the royal tomb is believed to reflect the relationship of their occupants to the king during life. Several tombs were found to contain skeletal remains. The analysis of the remains shows that the individuals were older than 25 years. This suggests that each of them may have been chosen to be buried along with the king.

Donkey skeletons, sacrificed and buried in a tomb so that they can be used in the tomb owner's afterlife.

Lifestyles of the rich and famous won't continue after death. I think about poor Michael Jackson and the life he had and his death. Michael Jackson had all the fame and money anyone could have but it was never enough. He grabbed at life with both hands and held onto his riches and fame as hard as he could. But he was like every other man, it wasn't enough. And what trouble it brought him. He couldn't trust anyone. He couldn't rest or sleep. He had to have an IV full of knockout drugs to get any rest. He had no one who really loved him or really looked out for his best interests. And, even if they did, he couldn't believe them and he wasn't willing to let go of what he had because it was all he had. He was too afraid of losing what he had in case what he was reaching for was just another dream. How can someone like that get saved? Now, I don't know Michael Jackson's heart but it's possible he was afraid to become a Christian. What if it was just another smoke screen, an illusion. Maybe he was afraid to drop all his worldly gain in order to grab hold of Jesus' extended hand. What if he lost everything? Face it, entertainers who become Christians are laughed at and their career is virtually non-existent. They can lose everything they think is important. But what greater gain has a man than to be forgiven, loved and to know he will go to heaven to be with his God?

The Story of the Rich Young Ruler
Matthew 19:16-26 A man came to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?" (17) Jesus answered, "Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. But if you want to have eternal life, obey the law's commands." (18) The man asked, "Which ones?" Jesus answered, "'You must not murder anyone, you must not commit adultery, you must not steal, you must not tell lies about others, (19) you must respect your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.'" (20) The young man said, "I have obeyed all these commands. What else do I need?" (21) Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all that you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me!" (22) But when the young man heard Jesus tell him to give away his money, he was sad. He didn't want to do this, because he was very rich. So he left. (23) Then Jesus said to his followers, "The truth is, it will be very hard for a rich person to enter God's kingdom. (24) Yes, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God's kingdom." (25) The followers were amazed to hear this. They asked, "Then who can be saved?" (26) Jesus looked at them and said, "This is something that people cannot do. But God can do anything."

The young man declared that he had kept the law. That law required, among other things, that he should love his neighbor as himself. It required, also, that he should love the Lord his God supremely; that is, more than all other objects. If he had that true love to God and man - if he loved his Maker and fellow-creatures more than he did his property, he would be willing to give up his wealth to the service of God and of man. Jesus commanded him to do this, therefore, to test his character, and to show him that he had not kept the law as he pretended, and thus to show him that he needed a better righteousness than his own. -Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

He made an idol of his wealth. He loved it more than God. So he hadn't followed the Ten Commandments perfectly had he? And he wasn't willing to drop everything and follow Christ. Jesus says it's very hard for a rich man to be saved because they are so afraid of losing their wealth. And the more wealth you have, the harder it is to be willing to give all for the sake of Christ. In America, we live in a very prosperous society compared to most countries in this world. I live in a 3000 sq. ft. home with a car for each one of us. We have clothes, TVs in every room, furniture, food in the cabinets. We are very rich compared to those who are starving and living on garbage heaps in third world countries. If God asks a person to leave their cardboard shack and their fly covered piece of bread, it's easier for them to leave it and go for the hope in Christ Jesus! But when God asks us to sell our fine homes, quit our well paying jobs and empty our bank accounts for the sake of Christ, not many are willing to do it. Am I? Are you? Was Michael Jackson? I can't judge him because what would I do?

King Solomon had experienced unimaginable wealth but his conclusion was still that all was vanity of vanities.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-16 Then I thought about everything I had done, including the hard work, and it was simply chasing the wind. Nothing on earth is worth the trouble. (12) I asked myself, "What can the next king do that I haven't done?" Then I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and stupidity. (13) And I discovered that wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. (14) Wisdom is like having two good eyes; foolishness leaves you in the dark. But wise or foolish, we all end up the same. (15) Finally, I said to myself, "Being wise got me nowhere! The same thing will happen to me that happens to fools. Nothing makes sense. (16) Wise or foolish, we all die and are soon forgotten."

King Solomon came to realize that all his work and education had been a waste of time. The expense, hard work, thought and worry had been a big waste! In contriving, designing, and bringing these works to perfection only to realize that it won't last. Nothing solid and substantial in the whole ball of wax; no true pleasure or real joy, no satisfaction nor happiness was to be had from all that he had done.

He is no different than many a young person who goes to an expensive college and takes out college loans or sweats for scholarships. Once they have made it through all those classes and they have their diploma, what then? That college diploma doesn't guarantee you happiness, or a job that is satisfying, or a family that loves you. There are commercials on TV today for colleges that show young people with big smiles on their faces, driving off on motorcycles, and having a family member (parent or spouse) telling the camera how proud they are of their loved one's accomplishments. The graduate is busily and happily working in their chosen career. But the reality is that many leave college with loans so astronomical that they may never get them paid off and that debt hangs around their neck like an albatross. A lot of college graduates are unable to find jobs, much less the "perfect job" and a college degree doesn't insure you will have a loving family and a good looking spouse. All that time you spent worrying over classes and cramming for exams and all those years paying off your school loans or all the years your parents saved for your college tuition will give you a piece of paper. And that paper won't save you. That diploma isn't worth the paper it's written on when it comes time to stand before God.

Or what about the middle aged man or woman who has worked hard all their lives. They've worked overtime and climbed the corporate ladder. They may have done some sneaky or even immoral or illegal things to get a leg up. They are willing to do about anything to get that promotion or raise. Or maybe they've kept their nose clean and done it the hard way but it's been tough and they've finally reached their goal. Now they are the manager, or supervisor, or CEO, or owner. What now? Was it really worth it? Has it brought happiness, joy, fulfillment? Will it save you? Are you going to heaven because you reached that goal? Will a job title and benefits package follow you to heaven? Will God look at you and say, "Well there's Harry/Sally, the CEO of a corporate 500 company! You must really be something and I need a person like you on my board. Come on into heaven and I'll make you the manager of Heaven, Inc. All those job skills and experience will come in handy up here." It's ridiculous isn't it? Being a big whig in your field won't get you into heaven and it won't make you happy here on earth either.

King Solomon realizes that all he worked so hard for will be left for the next king who follows him. And that king will do his term and die too. We can store up treasures and leave it for our beneficiaries to enjoy. We can work hard so that our successor can take it for granted, enjoy it or destroy it. Once we are gone, we are gone and what we leave behind is left to someone else to enjoy or destroy. In King Solomon's case he left this wealthy and prosperous nation at peace to his son who's foolish arrogance divided the kingdom into 2 nations: Israel and Judah. (1 Kings 12)

King Solomon does decide that it's better be a wise man than a fool but the end result is the same. You both end up dead and facing God.

Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 This made me hate life. Everything we do is painful; it's just as senseless as chasing the wind. (18) Suddenly I realized that others would someday get everything I had worked for so hard, then I started hating it all. (19) Who knows if those people will be sensible or stupid? Either way, they will own everything I have earned by hard work and wisdom. It doesn't make sense. (20) I thought about all my hard work, and I felt depressed. (21) When we use our wisdom, knowledge, and skill to get what we own, why do we have to leave it to someone who didn't work for it? This is senseless and wrong. (22) What do we really gain from all of our hard work? (23) Our bodies ache during the day, and work is torture. Then at night our thoughts are troubled. It just doesn't make sense. (24) The best thing we can do is to enjoy eating, drinking, and working. I believe these are God's gifts to us, (25) and no one enjoys eating and living more than I do. (26) If we please God, he will make us wise, understanding, and happy. But if we sin, God will make us struggle for a living, then he will give all we own to someone who pleases him. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.

To be able to enjoy life is not something we can "create" for ourselves. Only God gives us this blessing. It is a gift of God for His people. The sinner can gather and heap up but God can take it from him and give it to the righteous if He so wills. There is nothing we can do about it. We may think we are in control but God is the one who is really in control!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Everything on earth has its own time and its own season. (2) There is a time for birth and death, planting and reaping, (3) for killing and healing, destroying and building, (4) for crying and laughing, weeping and dancing, (5) for throwing stones and gathering stones, embracing and parting. (6) There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving, (7) for tearing and sewing, listening and speaking. (8) There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.

God governs this world and everything has its fore-ordained time, in which there is a determined point when it happens, and a determined point when it ends. Only He knows these things. This passage also reminds us that the world is always changing and we must take things as they come, for it is not in our power to change it. Some of these changes are purely the act of God, others depend more upon the will of man, but all are determined by the divine counsel. This earth was created at a specific time and it will turn on it's axis until God determines the time for it to stop. Life and death are to be in God's hands alone. God determines the seasons and knows the times for world governments. We make big plans but God is the one who allows them or stops them. He has the wisdom, knowledge and power to control everything and He knows what is best for us and for this world. It is best to go with the flow and into God's Will.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 What advantage has he who works in that which he did as a laborer? (10) I have seen the task which God has given to the sons of men, to be humbled by it. (11) He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Another translation says, "What profit has the worker in the work which he does? (10) I saw the work which God has put on the sons of man. (11) He has made everything right in its time; but he has made their hearts without knowledge, so that man is unable to see the works of God, from the first to the last."

God "set the world in their heart" so they will see that the world does not satisfy. The desire for the world and the lust for fleshly and carnal sin is in our hearts. We desire worldly things. They look good to us and we crave them. We want the pretty shiny things because they look good. But we all learn the hard way that a pretty package doesn't mean a pretty present. It is a life lesson that we all have to learn - what the world has to offer won't satisfy us. We were born with a need for God. The Amplified Bible says, "He has made everything beautiful in it's time, He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds (a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy), yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."

"We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God's hand in them." - Matthew Henry

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 I learned that the best thing for people to do is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. (13) God wants everyone to eat, drink, and enjoy their work. These are gifts from God.

When received and accepted as God’s gifts, and to God’s glory, the good things of life can be enjoyed in their right time and order.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. And God does it so that men will (reverently) fear Him (revere and worship Him, knowing that He is). (15) That which is now already has been, and that which is to be already has been; and God seeks that which has passed by (so that history repeats itself).

We are born, we grow old, we die. The world goes from season to season and keeps turning but it will eventually come to it's end too. Only God knows when it's our time to die or time for the earth to be changed. But these thoughts can lead an unsaved person to a sort of fatalism. "There is nothing I can do about it. When it's my time to go, I'll die. What can you do? I'll be just dust in the wind." The natural man might come to this conclusion in a stoic way. It is based on some truth because there is a time for us all to be born and to die and there isn't much you can do about it because it's out of our hands. But Christians can take joy in this and know that God, our beloved Father and Creator, is in control and will do what is right and best for us because all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. For the natural man, the worst thing that can happen to him is to die. For the Christian, the best thing that can happen to him is to die. For the natural man will go to eternal damnation in Hell but those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior will go to eternal perfection in Heaven.

Man’s part is to do and enjoy earthly things as gifts from God in its proper season not setting aside God’s order. It should be done in deep reverence of God. Take for example, sex. Sex is a God-created act between a man and woman and leads to procreation which results in children. It is a beautiful thing that leads to deep intimacy and love, a blessing. BUT only if it's done God's way. God said sex was to be between a man and woman who are married. Not before marriage, not with others outside the marriage, not between men and men or women and women, etc. God set up a structure for sex and as long as we observe and follow His structure it is a great blessing and a meaningful act. But once we start running all over the place, outside of God's structure, it can become a curse. Venereal diseases, AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, perversions, ruined reputations, embarrassment, broken hearts, shame, emotionally damaged children, etc. are some of the consequences of casual sex. People don't seem to have much sense when it comes to sex. Even the unsaved should be able to see the dangers of sex outside of marriage but they run and do it anyway. But for Christians to do the same thing is particularly shocking. We have grown up in a society that teaches us that sex outside of marriage is not only normal but a necessity and Christians have bought into it. To be a virgin today is to be laughed at but God says it's a virtue and it shows great wisdom to have self control and wait until marriage. They reap the greatest sexual blessings.

Man’s part is to do and enjoy earthly things as gifts from God in its proper season not setting aside God’s order. The mysteriousness and unchangeableness of God’s purposes are designed to lead man to respect and worship Him. If we know all there is to know about events in the future and we had any power to prevent things from happening, we wouldn't need God. Keeping us in the dark can develop that sense of trust and faith that is pleasing to God and leads to our salvation.

If we would study nature, we would see all we need to convince us of a good and loving God who creates and controls according to His good purposes. We get too caught up in the world and too busy to "stop and smell the roses". If we would spend some time thinking deeply about nature we could only come to one conclusion - it was created and is sustained by a higher power than us. As Christians we know the immutable and eternal Jehovah, which is, and was, and is to come, and is ever the same. He never changes. God was the same to my great-great grandmother as He is to me and as He will be to any future generations. He is the rock that never shifts and we can stand on Him. He never grows old, He never leaves us, He never forgets about us. As Christians, we know this and it is what prompts us to praise and adore Him! But to the unsaved the unfathomable knowledge of God's Will is a frustation. They want to know what is going to happen, when and how they can change it. Right now, if you please! Otherwise they sink into fatalistic depression. "I'm just a victim."

Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. (17) I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

Solomon is saying that you can't trust anyone, even those whose business is justice. We all have heard of crooked policemen, corrupt judges, police brutality, a faulty justice system and bad judgments. Truly there is wickedness even in the halls of justice. This is a very true but cynical viewpoint. If you are unsaved, you can't trust anyone. If you are saved, you can only trust God!

Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 I said in my heart, It is because of the sons of men, so that God may put them to the test and that they may see themselves as beasts. (19) Because the fate of the sons of men and the fate of the beasts is the same. As is the death of one so is the death of the other, and all have one spirit. Man is not higher than the beasts; because all is to no purpose. (20) All go to one place, all are of the dust, and all will be turned to dust again. (21) Who is certain that the spirit of the sons of men goes up to heaven, or that the spirit of the beasts goes down to the earth? (22) So I saw that there is nothing better than for a man to have joy in his work--because that is his reward. Who will make him see what will come after him?

So Solomon says we are no better than the animals and seeing the news today you would agree with him. We live in a moderately sized city, not a big city and not a small town. But there are shootings and murders every day here. When I was a teenager, I remember watching local news for 30 mins each evening and they had to make stories because there was little violent crime. I laughed and laughed one day when they did a few mins on a stray dog in a community. Now I long for those kind of days where murders are rare. People are behaving like animals. But what can we expect when our teachers tell students that we are evolved from apes and are just another cog in the wheel of evolution? They might as well believe that man dies just like an animal, when you're dead, you're dead. If you have no spirit, then you don't have anything after death to look forward to. You might as well live like an animal. Live for yourself, grab what you can get, be selfish and gratify your every desire. It's the only enjoyment you will have. There is nothing for us after death, just dust.

But Christians know that we are different. God created each of us and loves us all. He sent His Son to die on the cross to save us. He holds out the invitation to every human being. "Come, be saved!" Those who accept His salvation are forgiven of their sins and have Jesus as the Lord of their life. We are worth more to our God than anything else in the universe. He was willing to give His own Son as a sacrifice for us. He loves us. We are not brute animals to Him, (although God loves all of His creation and takes care of animals too) but His beloved children. He has provided a paradise for us to live in for eternity with Him. Every second and every hour of our lives is known by Him and He plans all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We don't return to dust. Our newly born spirit goes to be with God. And God even resurrects our body at some time in the future and makes it perfect and immortal once again.

Luke 12:24 Give thought to the ravens; they do not put seeds into the earth, or get together grain; they have no storehouses or buildings; and God gives them their food: of how much greater value are you than the birds!

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 And again I saw all the cruel things which are done under the sun; there was the weeping of those who have evil done to them, and they had no comforter: and from the hands of the evil-doers there went out power, but they had no comforter. (2) So my praise was for the dead who have gone to their death, more than for the living who still have life. (3) Yes, happier than the dead or the living seemed he who has not ever been, who has not seen the evil which is done under the sun.

No matter who is in leadership positions, the oppressed are always oppressed. There is always oppression. Whether it's capitalism, communism, democracy, socialism, monarchy, dictatorship, oligarchy, etc. It will all end in oppression of the weak.

Solomon basically says, "I wish I were dead. It would be better if I were dead."

Then he says, "I wish I had never been born. It would be better if I had never even been born."

There have been times when I thought that. My heart hurting for some reason or other and I question God and ask why He brought me into this world. Probably everyone has wondered that at some time. For the unsaved, you might as well be dead. Those who are dead are finally out of the rat race. But for the Christian, we know there is a hereafter. The unsaved, the unbelievers, think they will just cease to exist but we know that they will go to hell unless they become a Christian. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. My problems on earth are but temporary and then I will spend eternity in paradise with my Lord. Their problems are only a prelude to eternity in hell.

Ecclesiastes 4: 4-6 Then I saw that all painful effort in labor and all skill in work comes from man's rivalry with his neighbor. This is also vanity, a vain striving after the wind and a feeding on it. (5) The fool folds his hands together and eats his own flesh (destroying himself by indolence). (6) Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full with painful efford, a vain striving after the wind and a feeding on it.

King Solomon is saying, "I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is because they envy the things their neighbors have." They want what someone else has or they want to keep up with the Joneses. Everything someone else has always looks better to you. You could be standing in a luxurious pasture, under a shading tree with a sparkling brook at your feet but, like many cows, you will stand at the barbed wire fence and push and push to get into the neighbor's pasture. You aren't satisfied with what you have, you always want more.

You can work hard and try to do good but if it's apart from God, it's a waste of time. Or you could be lazy like verse 5 says. Sit back and expect others to feed you. Fold your hands in idleness and expect others to take care of your needs. In many cases this is exactly what happens to those in our welfare system. They expect others to work, be forced to pay taxes, and then have the government use those taxes to provide for them as they nap all day. (I do not mean this to imply everyone on welfare is a lazy bum. There are real cases of real hardship that need help.) Unfortunately for those with the folded hands, it ends up in their destruction. You become enslaved to that ungodly system and it will chew you up and spit you out. People who live their whole lives on welfare find themselves unable to cope with normal life, unable to work a job. They become emotionally and mentally handicapped. And what the government provides is never enough so many resort to crime or addictions to cope. They are unwilling to help themselves and then become unable to help themselves.

But, according to Solomon, the end result for both the hard worker and the indolent is the same... you both die. He concludes that it is better to have enough for your basic needs (one handful) and have some peace in your life than to have both hands full but it come with a price of much trouble and vexation of spirit. I think of so many wealthy people who have their hands full of this world's riches but their lives are a mess and they are miserable.

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 I have noticed something else in life that is useless. (8) Here is someone who lives alone. He has no son, no brother, yet he is always working, never satisfied with the wealth he has. For whom is he working so hard and denying himself any pleasure? This is useless, too---and a miserable way to live. (9) Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. (10) If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. (11) If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself ? (12) Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.

A man "under the sun" has a choice of whether to go it alone or link together with other people. For him/her there are pros and cons on being alone or with other people. Let's look at them.

You don't have to ask anyone's permission to do something.
You can be yourself and not have to change to please anyone else.
Every dime you make is yours and you can spend it like you want.
Your expenses are less for one person than for two or more.
You make your own decisions and it's no one else's business.
You don't have to take care of anyone else in an emergency and you don't have to take care of some one else who may be sick or injured.
You don't have to worry about whether or not someone else is honest, faithful, true, dependable.

Your income is based solely on you.
You have no one to share the labor with in keeping up your property.
You don't have anyone else's input on decision making, no one else's good ideas.
No one to help you in an emergency. No one to take care of you when you are sick or injured.
You have no one who is honest, faithful, true and dependable that you can trust.
You can get in a rut and become someone that no one wants to be around.

If you yoke together with a business partner, a family member, a spouse and children, or a friend you need to think about these things. According to King Solomon, it's better to have some help along the ways of life rather than being alone. If you marry, you will take on the responsibilities of another but you can also be a stronger unit. If you make and maintain a friendship you will have someone who has your back. If you join with a business partner, you have someone to share to load with. If you take on an employee, you have someone who will do the things you can't do.

On the other hand, if you choose to have a friend(s) be aware that friendships lead to expenses and you have to invest emotionally and spend time to have friends. If you choose to marry it would be more expensive, and bring on a family of children with all the commitments and expenses a family entails. If you choose employees, you have to pay them and their benefits. If you choose a business partner, you have to be accountable and responsible with their investment.

Either way you look at it, yoking with someone else means you have to be willing to give of yourself and your resources and be held accountable by someone else. For a natural, worldly man or woman, this can be too much. They don't want to invest anything of themselves in another relationship. It "costs" too much. They don't mind taking from others but they don't want to give anything of themselves. What comes to my mind is Barney on the TV show, "How I Met Your Mother". He sleeps with every woman he can but he's such a commitment-phobe that he drops them as fast as he can. He is a taker and not a giver. The same with Charlie on the TV show, "Two And A Half Men". The rotating women in his bed never seem to care that Charlie is a taker and not a giver. Barney and Charlie get what they want - sex with beautiful women. But neither Barney nor Charlie ever give what the women want - a loving marriage. Today boys and girls, men and women feel like they should have sex with anyone. It doesn't even have to be someone they love. It's not even after a few dates, it's on the first date or not even a date! Women think they have to have sex if the man pays for their dinner and a movie! For some it's that "friends with benefits" deal and others are willing to have sex with people they don't even know. Don't be surprised at the consequences.

Women have shortchanged themselves in this era of casual and free sex. My mother used to give me some very sound advice that has been passed down from mother to daughter for decades... "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?". In this day and age, kids may not exactly realize what that means because we are no longer an agrarian society but this is what that statement means: Why spend money on purchasing a cow and spend more money on feeding and housing the cow, and even more money on vetting the cow, and spend all that time every single day milking that cow, when you can get what the cow produces (MILK) for free? Well, girls, why should a man go to the expense and take on the responsibility of a wife when what he wants (SEX) is for free? If you want a loving marriage and family, then hold yourself as the prize you are and wait for the man who appreciates what you are holding for him. Use self control and commonsense and remain a virgin. Hold your virginity sacred until the man comes along who wants you bad enough to pay the price for you... marriage! You are a prize worthy of a man giving up his singleness and carefree days. If he wants you bad enough, he will want to take on the responsibility of a wife in order to get you. But if you give out, then don't expect him to change his life for you. He got what he wanted and didn't have to pay a thing for it! If you move in together and have a life together but it's without marriage, more fool you! Why should he get all the benefits of marriage with none of the responsibilities? The first time things get tough, he's out of there because he has nothing to keep him around. It works the same way with men. Men also should hold their virginity sacred until the right woman comes along who wants him bad enough to marry him and be his helpmate and the mother of his children. Modern women today push men to have sex just as much as men push women to have sex. So no matter which side you are on, take this to heart. Don't sell yourself for a bowl of pottage like Esau did. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. That's how little he valued his birthright. It's just plain commonsense.

Of course, the end result for people who are users (and not givers) is being all alone. Eventually you age out of those good looks and you start getting gray hair or going bald; you put on a few pounds; you get wrinkles; you begin to have age related health problems. You no longer look so great on the dating scene and you have a reputation for loving and leaving so word gets around. You find yourself alone and no one to help you. You were a selfish, self centered, greedy, stingy user! There will be no friends to watch out for you, no family to check up on you. You are truly alone and it's frightening to realize that no one would care if you died all alone in your room. They may not find your body until the postal worker notices no one is picking up your mail. No one would even come to your funeral.

So Solomon is advising people to take up with someone else to help each other in this life. Remember, Solomon is talking about the natural, worldly man. He advises people to work together for their own protection and for a better return. Two, even three, make a stronger unit than one alone. But these relationships of convenience have their own problems. Women who marry for money or men who marry trophy wives; people who marry for social connections or for stability in their lives. All will have their own problems.

Whether he is alone or has a family, the natural man will continue to work to gather riches. He/she will never be satisfied and will want more and more. They will finish one project only to go on to another. If they are alone without the need to accumulate wealth, they still do it. If they are married with a family, they will ignore the family to accumulate wealth. Either way, it's the same.

As Christians we should not be analyzing our relationships against how much they cost us. Every human being was made by God and is made in the image of God and are, therefore, to be valued and loved. A human being is priceless. There are no "throwaways". Men and women shouldn't use each other just to get what they want. As a Christian we are to be "givers". We are suppose to have relationships with other people and be there for them. We are suppose to invest our time and money in people. It is a way we can witness about our faith in Jesus Christ and lead others to salvation. Witnessing is an act of love because, as Christians, we believe that those who don't accept Christ go to hell for eternity. So, in love, we don't want to see anyone die and go to hell.

In dating we, men and women, are to obey God's commandment which is to keep yourself a virgin until you marry and remain true to your spouse after you are married. This means we don't pressure each other to have sex outside of marriage. We respect God and the other person enough to obey His commands and not pressure them for more. If we have found the love of our life, we are to be even more loving, respectful of boundaries and keep them and protect them until you are married. Once you have taken on the responsibilities of marriage, sex is a beautiful act between two people who love each other so much that they were willing to put the needs of the other person before their own. It becomes a bond that is not shared with anyone else. And it is blessed by God. If you are dating someone but you aren't in love with them, a Christian will be up front about it and not pressure their date with going any further than being friends. Why? Because God commands us to love one another and that means putting others before ourselves, even friends. We should be thinking about what makes them comfortable and what is the best way to bless them. Christians should be "givers".

Of course, as a side note, there are some toxic relationships that should be avoided or ended. If you are in a friendship with someone who is sucking you dry and nothing you do in Christian love is helping that person, then re-think the relationship. You can still be a friend from afar by praying daily for that person. If you find yourself in a business partnership or employer/employee relationship with someone that is making some shady deals, re-think your relationship. If you are in an abusive marriage, pray, pray, pray, read the Word and seek godly advice and then do what is best for you and your children. Never leave a spouse lightly but never hesitate if there is danger. And, remember, you can still be "married" even if you don't live in the same household. You can remain sexually faithful and not have sex outside that marriage bond and you can daily pray for your spouse.

There are people who are so greedy and grasping that their selfishness won't allow them to let anything go. We've seen the TV shows about hoarding and these people are so self centered and greedy that they hold onto everything, even garbage. I once knew an old lady who lived in a seedy little rundown house. She had actually fallen and broken her hip in that house. She looked so poor and pathetic. Someone went in to help her and they found out that the woman was fairly wealthy. She had properties all over town but they were all empty and in bad condition. She wouldn't sell the properties nor would she fix them and rent them. These properties were filled with antiques and expensive items that she had gathered throughout her life but without heat/ac the items were mildewing and rotting and warping and falling to pieces. An inventory showed she still had thousands of dollars worth of things she could have sold but she wouldn't sell them. She had money dispersed throughout all the banks in town. She had a mountain cabin that had been a vacation home. She could no longer go there because of her age and health but she was unwilling to sell it or do the needed repairs to keep it from falling down. She refused to sell her rundown house and move to an apartment or assisted living (although she could have afforded it). In the end, there was nothing that could be done for her. She even began to complain about the expenses of the person who had been trying to help her. So what is the end result? That little old lady is all alone, living as though she was a pauper, no one who would even know if she had died in the night. She has no family or friends and her house is falling down around her. She's trapped in her own greed and selfishness while her possessions are rotting and no good to anyone not even her.

Ecclesiastes 4:13 A young leader who is poor but wise is better than a king who is old but foolish. That old king does not listen to warnings. Maybe the young ruler was born a poor man in the kingdom. And maybe he came from prison to rule the country. But I have watched people in this life, and I know this: People will follow that young man. He will become the new king.  Many people will follow this young man. But later, those same people will not like him. This is also senseless. It is like trying to catch the wind.
As a king, King Solomon would have some experience in this next subject, government. He points out that in the world government leaders come and go. An elder king has become so prideful that he refuses any wise counsel and won't accept any admonishments. He has been king too long and he has surrounded himself with "yes" men. He is no longer interested in ruling in the best interests of his people but is only concerned in what are his best interests. So a charismatic young man takes the place of the king. If he comes from a humble background the people are even more supportive. Everyone likes the underdog. Surely someone who has lived the life of the people will be a good ruler over the people. The king has become so insular and arrogant that the people think anyone would be better. So, even though this young ruler had been in prison, he was still supported by the people. The people follow him and he runs the old king out of office. But, once in office, the young ruler also becomes turned. He is no better, if not worse, than the old king had been. Soon he will have to watch out for his successor.

King Solomon was right! We have seen this happen over and over again in our world. For instance, King George of England ruled over a colony called America. He became so arrogant and greedy that Americans declared independence from England and we fought the American Revolution. After we won the American Revolution, our forefathers desperately wanted to establish a government "for the people, by the people" where Americans could be free and yet be loosely bound for our own protection and benefit. Some of our first leaders had very humble backgrounds. And with each new president, we hope for men who will lead our land in the best interests of the working man but it seems, once they get in office, they are more concerned with helping themselves and their cronies.

King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte

We can't forget the French Revolution that happened after our revolution. The French king and queen and their elite noblemen and noblewomen had become so rich and greedy that the working class had enough. When some men rose up as leaders they arrested and beheaded the king and queen and many of the noble families. But the new French government turned sour itself before long.

And then there is the infamous Russian Revolution. The Tsar and his royal predecessors had run the country into the ground and the peasants were starving and dying in WWI. So they became restless and began to look for leaders who would lead a revolution. These men came from humble circumstances and even from prison. The peasants supported these charismatic leaders. The end result was worse than what they had with the Tsar. The dictator Lenin and later, Stalin, put millions of Russians to death and established the most horrible and oppressive government in Russia's history.


Mankind seems unable to handle a rise to leadership or to places of authority. Unregenerate man may have the best intentions but once they reach a position of authority they usually turn into self serving, arrogant, corrupt leaders. They become puffed up with pride, others fawn on them, they get too high an opinion of themselves. Then they begin to feel entitled and their selfishness begins to work it's way into their decisions so that they get what they want for decisions they make. It may be money, sex, favors, gifts but they think, "Why not?" As they say, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

So, King Solomon, knew how politicians and kings come and go. And we've seen it too. It is the way of natural man. It should NOT be the way of Christians. Christians are not superheros. We are still human beings and we struggle with our evil human nature so I'm ashamed to say it does happen sometimes when Christians graduate to a leadership position. It can be a powerful temptation. But we are suppose to live our lives differently. We should hold ourselves accountable to others, we should be above corruption and bribes. And we should rule in the best interests of the poor and working class who have no other voice but us. God is watching our every move and we should ultimately be accountable to Him.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 Be very careful when you go to worship God. It is better to listen to God than to give sacrifices like fools. Fools often do bad things, and they don't even know it. (2) Be careful when you make promises to God. Be careful about what you say to him. Don't let your feelings cause you to speak too soon. God is in heaven, and you are on the earth. So you need to say only a few things to him. This saying is true: (3) Bad dreams come from too many worries, and too many words come from the mouth of a fool. (4) If you make a promise to God, keep your promise. Don't be slow to do what you promised. God is not happy with fools. Give God what you promised to give him. (5) It is better to promise nothing than to promise something and not be able to do it. (6) So don't let your words cause you to sin. Don't say to the priest, "I didn't mean what I said." If you do this, God might become angry with your words and destroy everything you have worked for. (7) You should not let your useless dreams and bragging bring you trouble. You should respect God.

King Solomon is warning people not to take going to the temple, in his case, or the church, in our case, lightly. Many people go to church for basically 2 reasons: 1) It makes them feel better about themselves and they think that being a good person who goes to church will get them into Heaven; and/or, 2) It's a good social club; a social network; the adults can make business contacts; a place where the family can make friends, have child care and participate safely in fun activities. The church can teach their children good values and hopefully keep them out of trouble. But how does that fit with Christ's teachings? Jesus makes it plain that when you become a Christian, it's a conversion that is life altering.

John 3:3-7 (Easy-To-Read Version) Jesus answered, "I assure you, everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born again cannot be in God's kingdom." (4) Nicodemus said, "How can a man who is already old be born again? Can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?" (5) Jesus answered, "Believe me when I say that everyone must be born from water and the Spirit. Anyone who is not born from water and the Spirit cannot enter God's kingdom. (6) The only life people get from their human parents is physical. But the new life that the Spirit gives a person is spiritual. (7) Don't be surprised that I told you, 'You must be born again.'

2 Corinthians 5:15-18 (International Standard Version) He died for all people, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for the one who died and rose for them. (16) So then, from now on we do not think of anyone from a human point of view. Even if we did think of Christ from a human point of view, we don't think of him that way any more. (17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and - look! - all things have become new! (18) All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

Becoming a Christian means that you have accepted that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and you have realized you are a sinner who needs a Savior and salvation is only through accepting Jesus' sacrifice. He is the one and only way to salvation. It also means that you have accepted Him as the Lord of your life. Once you have sincerely repented and asked Christ to be your Savior and Lord, then you are "born again". This means a brand new spirit is put within you and the Holy Spirit moves into your heart to begin training and helping and growing your new spirit. This is a life change! This is NOT to be entered into lightly. God knows your heart and knows whether you are sincere or not. You can't play games and fool God. So many people call themselves christians but they really aren't true believers. They are in it only for as long as they get something out of it. It's a very shallow attempt, much like wading on the edge of the ocean. There is no real depth. I call it "cultural christianity". Just because they grew up in church or in a family that gave lip service to God doesn't mean they have been saved. Even attending church and getting baptized doesn't mean you are saved and a true believer in Jesus Christ. People are good about making a show of religion without the true conversion that marks a real Christian.

This is not to say that true Christians are sinless and without fault. We can backslide and make messes. But a true Christian is one with a heart for God; experiences true repentance whenever they get off on the wrong track; and, trusts Jesus to get them through this life and into eternity. Our faith can be so weak but He never is weak. A true Christian may get faint but even when he/she can't hold their hand up for help, God will reach down and grab that hand and hold on. Just like King David sinned with Bathsheba and compounded his sin by having her husband murdered. But God was able to get to his heart through the Prophet Nathan and King David truly repented and ran back into his Father's arms! We, Christians, can do some awful stuff in our humanity but if we turn to our Savior and pour out the evil gunk in our lives and beg His fogiveness, He is there to forgive and help us up. If the Holy Spirit is within us, then the Holy Spirit is working on our sinful hearts and teaching us new ways to live. The more we listen and obey the teachings of the Holy Spirit, the stronger and better a person we become.

But, to get back to the worldly and natural man... religion is often used to trick ourselves and others into believing we are wonderful people. It's good for the image. Much like Presidents of the United States are photo-opped as they attend church, it's good for their image. But as soon as the rubber meets the road, the shallow christians (with a little "c") are out for themselves and God and His church will be dropped from their lives. Their religion is only skin deep.

Luke 8:11-15 (Contemporary English Version) This is what the story means: The seed is God's message, (12) and the seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But the devil comes and snatches the message out of their hearts, so that they will not believe and be saved. (13) The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don't have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up. (14) The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they are so eager for riches and pleasures that they never produce anything. (15) Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.

So King Solomon is warning people if they come to the temple (or church) they should do so as true believers who are prepared to meet God. Church is not a social club (although we naturally form social groups and relationships within church), nor is it a service organization (although we should be about loving and serving others). We don't pay our tithes as though we are paying dues. We aren't members of a country club full of activities and sports (although we have many activities and sports as a way to reach out to others). It's a place where we go to meet God, commune with Him, learn about Him, praise/worship Him, repent before Him, and where we serve Him by serving others. The fellowship with other believers is suppose to be a way to strengthen our faith and for us to help other believers when they go through hard times. It's also a place where we are active in reaching out to the unsaved and drawing them in to meet God and get saved.

King Solomon is warning people that if they make promises to God, they should mean them. Church is not a place to "play christian". We shouldn't go down the aisle and get on our knees unless we are serious about meeting with God. God isn't fooled by our games. God can see right through our motives and knows if our heart is for real. You may fool the preacher, you may fool your spouse or parents, you may fool your best friend or the Youth Leader... but you haven't fooled God! You may even fool yourself for awhile, but God is never fooled. And if you think you can make promises to God and it not be sincere, you are heading for a world of hurt.

When we come to church, we should be coming to meet God first and others second. It's His House, not ours. We should ready our hearts before we go in the door. The King James Version says, "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God." Matthew Henry's Commentary says that "keep thy foot" may have several meanings. One is the Middle Eastern practise, at the time, of washing one's feet when you entered someone's home. Another meaning may be that of Moses when God told him to remove his shoes for he was standing on "holy ground" at the burning bush.

"Schindler says that hence (because of this text) the Jews had before their synagogues an iron fixed in the wall (which we call a 'scraper'), on which they cleaned their shoes before they went into the synagogue". - Matthew Henry.

All of these refer to some type of preparation. We should be cognizant that we are entering God's House and our hearts should be humble and penitent. Our feet are the instruments of walking and we should walk (behave) according to His Word which is "a lamp unto our feet". What God tells us to do, we should be willing to do. Where He tells us to go, we should be willing to go. Where He shines a light in a dark place of our heart, we should be willing to repent.

Matthew 6:33 (Easy-To-Read Version) What you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need.

Those who use religion/church to "score points" with others are wasting their time. Don't make any commitments to God that you aren't sincere about. Solomon is saying not to say anything that commits you if you don't really mean it. Don't raise your hand at the altar call unless you really mean it. Don't go forward and pretend to pray. Don't give a testimony if it's not for real. It's better to keep your mouth shut. Respect and fear God for He knows what is really in your heart!

As you read this, if you realize that I'm describing you, then make a choice for Jesus Christ! I urge you to give your heart to Him in all humility and sincerity of heart. He is so worth it! You don't have to clean yourself up and then get right with God. Because you can't "clean yourself up". Your sin is the very reason to go to God. Jesus forgives and cleanses us and then instills the Holy Spirit in our hearts so that our new spirit can begin to grow. You can be born again and have the Holy Spirit to help you. Give Him your whole heart!

Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 (Amplified Version) If you see the oppression of the poor and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in the state or province, do not marvel at the matter. (Be sure that there are those who will attend to it) for a higher (official) than the high is observing, and higher ones are over them. Moreover, the profit of the earth is for all; the king himself is served by the field and in all, a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields.

Natural and worldly men will use government to their own advantage. We shouldn't be surprised when the unsaved use government to enrich themselves and misuse their power to the detriment of the weaker and more vulnerable. Solomon says here that those corrupt government officials are being observed and even if they don't do something, God is watching over all. He sees the oppression of the helpless and will bring righteous judgement in His time. But Solomon is also saying that it would behoove all of them, even the king, to allow the common people to cultivate their fields in peace. Because prosperous workers make good tax payers.

I've oftened wondered how much people can take of taxation and government oppression before they revolt. We will take a lot for the sake of peace but there will come a tipping point where people can no longer take it. For instance, the more we are taxed, the less we have for ourselves and our families. The more money we make, the more we are forced to pay the government via taxes. We can decide at some point that it's no longer profitable enough for us to work and give all of our money to the government. So we quit. Then we are living "on the dole" as it were. The government becomes our provider and we are totally dependent on it's good graces. The government can raise taxes one too many times. The working middle class is the "goose that laid the golden egg". The government can kill the goose with overtaxation and oppression and then those government officials and leaders will have no more golden eggs to steal. The goose is dead! I.e. no more working, money-making people to tax. There would be no more investors because any investment is taxed until there are no profits. Where is the incentive to work or invest? But do you think America's congressmen and women, or the President, or the state and local governments and governors are thinking about that? Many are only interested in lining their pockets and making out like a bandit in the here and now with little thought to how their rapacious greed is killing their means of income. They are killing the goose that lays their golden eggs. And America isn't the only government with corruption. It's even worse in other countries. Solomon is saying it would be in the best interests for them to take care of the working class golden goose and the investing class of golden geese. It's only commonsense.

As Christians, we should "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and pay our taxes honestly. We should be good citizens and obey our country's laws. God's laws always come first and if our government were to require us to disobey God then we must choose to obey God first and always. We should be involved politically and vote according to our values. If we are voted into office, then we should be scrupulously honest. We should be praying before every vote and doing our best to do what God would have us to do. We should remember that government is suppose to help and protect the masses who are vulnerable. We are not to take advantage of them but to serve them.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-17 (Easy-To-Read Version) Those who love money will never be satisfied with the money they have. Those who love wealth will not be satisfied when they get more and more. This is also senseless. (11) The more wealth people have, the more "friends" they have to help spend it. So the rich really gain nothing. They can only look at their wealth. (12) Those who work hard all day come home and sleep in peace. It is not important if they have little or much to eat. But the rich worry about their wealth and are not able to sleep. (13) There is a very sad thing that I have seen happen in this life. People save their money for the future. (14) Then something bad happens and they lose everything. So they have nothing to give to their children. (15) People come into the world with nothing. And when they die, they leave with nothing. They might work hard to get things, but they cannot take anything with them when they die. (16) It is very sad that people leave the world just as they came. So what does a person gain from "trying to catch the wind"? (17) They only get days that are filled with sadness and sorrow. In the end, they are troubled, sick, and angry.

1 Timothy 6: 6 [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied). But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. For the love of money is a root of of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs. (Amplified Bible)

Crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crescit.
“The love of money increases, in proportion as money itself increases.”

In The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Gollum, originally known as Sméagol, was a creature of Hobbit origin. But he became a sneaking, hideous, vicious monster over the years because of The Ring! He virtually crawled and sniveled his way after The Ring. The name Gollum was derived from the disgusting gurgling, choking cough he made. At the time of his death, Smeagol was about 589 years old, a remarkable age for a creature that was once a Hobbit, but he had been deformed and twisted in both body and mind by the corruption of the Ring. His chief desire was to possess the Ring that had enslaved him, and he pursued it for many years after he had lost it. To me, it seemed as if The Ring symbolized SIN. Whenever one would put the ring on their finger, they became transparent. I.e. they blended in with the world. This power was very tempting. But if they became obsessed with The Ring and it's power, they became monstrous. Gollum was hideous but he seemed pathetic and harmless at first.

But his obsession with The Ring made him greedy, covetous, sneaky,

devious, cunning, lustful, etc. He would do anything to get The Ring. He called The Ring his "Precious". He would snivel about his "Precious". And he would turn vicious in a heartbeat in order to get what he wanted.

That is the way people are when they become obsessed with their sin. It makes them into monsters. They want what they want and don't get in their way. Whether it's money, power, sex, fame, drugs/alcohol, a person, a promotion, a job, whatever. It becomes their "Precious" and they will do anything to get it and keep it. They think it will make them happy but, instead, it makes them into Gollums. It may look pretty but it has an evil influence that will destroy us. Sin does that to us.

James 1:14-15 You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.

It looks pretty. It makes us feel like we belong in the world.
John 15:19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as it loves its own people. But I have chosen you to be different from those in the world. So you don't belong to the world, and that is why the world hates you.

God doesn't want us to join the majority and live in sin. He calls us out of the world. When we accept Him as our savior, then we are spiritually born again and we now are citizens of Heaven, sons of God. That Ring, or the power of Sin, has been nullified in our new lives. It is no longer our "Precious". Jesus has broken it's power and we can live free of our sin now. Unfortunately, we are still human beings and that sin can still tempt us but we don't have to be enslaved to it, we don't have to be obsessed with it, we don't have to be monsters like Gollum. We can walk upright and in freedom!

King Solomon is saying that it's better to have a little and lead a simpler life with much contentment than it is to always be striving for more and more. For those people, what they have is never enough. All the problems of great wealth keep them up at night. What is the end result? You can't take it with you and your heirs get it all. Don't let money make you into a Gollum or a Scrooge.

Some people call it being thrifty and frugal. If you are thrifty and frugal it can be a virtue because you are being a good steward of what God has bestowed on you in blessing. But it can just as easily fall into being parsimonious, cheap, stingy, closefisted, penurious, penny-pinching, niggardly, tight. We all know the Charles Dickens Christmas Story of Ebenezer Scrooge. He had wealth but it didn't make him happy. He lived a miserable life and made those around him miserable with his stingy ways. He couldn't be generous to himself or others. The only joy in his life was counting his money.

In the Amplified Bible, verse 17 says, "All his days also he eats in darkness [cheerlessly, with no sweetness and light in them], and much sorrow and sickness and wrath are his."

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 This is what I have seen: it is good and fair for a man to take meat and drink and to have joy in all his work under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; that is his reward. Every man to whom God has given money and wealth and the power to have pleasure in it and to do his part and have joy in his work: this is given by God. He will not give much thought to the days of his life; because God lets him be taken up with the joy of his heart.
Whatever good is got by labour is the gift of God. We cannot take our next breath without realizing that it is a gift of God that we can breath, that our bodies are working and that there is oxygen in the air for us to breath. We should also realize that our ability to work, the health we enjoy that allows us to work, the experience and education we bring to the job are all blessing from God. The job would not be there for us if it weren't for God. If we didn't have a job we would not have the money that provides for us. So, we must realize and be thankful to God for our work. We must also learn to keep a balance in our life, even concerning our work. Many people become workaholics and lose out on a lot in life. Others are too lazy and can't or won't keep a job. King Solomon is saying that we should keep things in balance. It's good to work but it's also good to enjoy the fruit of our labors and be content with our lot in life. God, alone, directs the paths of His People. If we are Christians and we are trying to live the way God would have us to live, then we should learn to be content where we are on our life's journey and trust God for our future. Don't become greedy for gain but trust God. Don't become lazy and entitled but trust God. Don't become a complainer and always desiring more but trust God. Don't become a boaster and arrogant but trust God. In all things, and in all situations, learn to trust God.

Phillippians 4:11-13 I am telling you this, but not because I need something. I have learned to be satisfied with what I have and with whatever happens. I know how to live when I am poor and when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of how to live through any kind of situation--when I have enough to eat or when I am hungry, when I have everything I need or when I have nothing. Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do.

Ecclesiastes 6:1-3 I have seen another thing in this life that is not fair and is very hard to understand. (2) God gives some people great wealth, riches, and honor. They have everything they need and everything they could ever want. But then God does not let them enjoy those things. Some stranger comes and takes everything. This is a very bad and senseless thing. (3) A man might live a long time and have 100 children. But if he is not satisfied with those good things, and if no one remembers him after his death, I say that a baby who dies at birth is better off than that man.
In King Solomon's day, we have read that it was a time of great prosperity and peace. Yet, King Solomon observes that having wealth has not made anyone happier. If we are blessed by God with wealth and riches, we should enjoy it and be thankful to Him and generous in His service. If we are poor but have God, we are far better off than those who don't have God. I would rather have God and be poor than to be without God and be the wealthiest person in the world!!! Someone who has as much as he could ever wish for will still be unhappy and miserable if he doesn't know Jesus Christ has his personal savior. Money won't make you happy or solve all your problems.

In those ancient days, having many children was considered very important. A woman who could not have children was considered to be, at best, a sad thing and, at worst, downright cursed. Things have certainly changed today. Now, it's almost totally reversed. But, having progeny to carry on the family name or the family business, or to inherit the wealth, or to inherit the family land and home, etc. is important to most people. Many parents work hard to save for their children's education or future only to find that their children have been so spoiled that they don't appreciate what their parent's have done for them. How many young people don't appreciate college but waste it partying and drinking and failing their expensive classes? Or they don't appreciate what they inherit and squander it on drugs or bad living? I happen to know a man whose father died suddenly. His father had saved and tried to make good investments with his money but his son had become a drug addict. The father hadn't been in the grave long before his son had cleaned out his home, his bank accts and sold his father's house just to get money for his drug habit. He even cheated his sister out of her part. Within a matter of a few months, it was all gone. His father would turn over in his grave if he knew. I'm sure, while he was alive, he would have used his money to enjoy himself more or to give generously to those who would appreciate it but he saved it and it was for naught. A big waste. The father could have given that money to a charity and gathered treasures in Heaven.

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Ecclesiaste 6:4-6 It is senseless when a baby is born dead. The baby is quickly buried in a dark grave, without even a name. (5) The baby never saw the sun and never knew anything. But the baby finds more rest than the man who never enjoyed what God gave him. (6) He might live 2000 years. But if he does not enjoy life, then the baby who was born dead has found the easiest way to the same end.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, whether with much or with little, if you are saved and a child of God, then you have something to be thankful about. Learn to be content in your situation and to give thanks and trust God. King Solomon says that no matter how much wealth a person has, or how long a life he lives, it is a wasted effort if you do not love God and enjoy God's blessings. In the old days, a stillborn baby was buried. Many times the headstone only says "Infant, son of So and So". It doesn't even have a name. I recently saw a large headstone for a couple. On the back of the headstone were the names of 9 children who had died as infants. Five had names and four were only listed as "Infant". I'm sure the children were buried there but they just had the one large stone for the pitiful family. It's so sad for a baby to be stillborn or miscarried. We think, "There was so much potential and so much of life it could have experienced." We often wonder, "Why God?" King Solomon is saying that a stillborn or miscarried child who dies before taking a breath makes more sense than a rich man who lives many years and has many children but who lives miserable without God. The effort of a joyless, godless life is a waste. It would be better to have died in the womb. Why go through the effort of living, working and dying?

Ecclesiastes 6:7 People work and work to feed themselves, but they are never satisfied. (Easy-To-Read Version)
Ecclesiastes 6:7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 6:7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not filled. (Literal Translation)

We will work and work but we can only consume so much. For instance, I can make a huge dinner but my physical stomach will only take in so much. After that it's a waste. We may be able to make millions of dollars but how much do we really need to have a comfortable life? I can only physically be in one place at a time so how many houses, mansions, penthouse apartments can I possibly and realistically use? I can only drive one car at a time so what sense does it make for me to have a fleet of cars when they are rarely if ever used? I can only wear one suit of clothes at a time so what good does it do for me to have luxury, huge walk-in closets with so many clothes and shoes that I can't possibly wear in a life time? I watch these "Hoarding" TV shows and these people are spending their time, money, effort, energy and mental anguish to the detriment of all others, to hoard stuff. Sometimes it's garbage and sometimes it's expensive clothes and shoes, furniture and food that soon turns into garbage. Those people can't possibly wear all those clothes or wear all those shoes. If they changed clothes every 15 minutes they still wouldn't be able to wear them all. The hoarded food rots in refrigerators and cabinets and freezers and coolers. They have no space to even walk through because of their greedy hoarding! Even the TV show, "Extreme Couponing" often shows people who are merely hoarders of food and "bargains". I'm not saying that all those who use coupons are out of balance. Many use it and donate the supplies to family members or charities when their inventory reaches a high. But many just like to hoard. They create walls of shelving and take up whole rooms for their inventory. Many times it's for stuff they don't even like, won't be able to eat before the expiration date is up, or is bad for their health. for instance I watched one overweight couple gleefully filling up their grocery carts with every candy bar the store had because they had "coupons" that made the candy free! They didn't care about other customers who might like a couple of candy bars. They didn't need the calories themselves so why did they buy a shopping cart full of candy bars? Unless they intend to give it out at Halloween or donate it to their church's Fall Festival, it was a sinful waste! These things don't fill up the empty hole in our hearts. We were born with a God shaped hole and money or things will never fill that place in our hearts.

Ecclesiastes 6:8-9 In the same way a wise person is no better than a fool is. It is better to be a poor person who knows how to accept life as it is. (9) It is better to be happy with what you have than to always want more and more. Always wanting more and more is useless. It is like trying to catch the wind.

Natural desires are still returning, still pressing; a man may be feasted today and yet hungry tomorrow." - Matthe Henry Commentary

Num 11:1-8, 18-19, 31-34 One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The LORD heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire. (2) When the people begged Moses to help, he prayed, and the fire went out. (3) They named the place "Burning," because in his anger the LORD had set their camp on fire. (4) One day some worthless foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, "We don't have any meat! (5) In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic. (6) But we're starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna." (7) The manna was like small whitish seeds (8) and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers....(18) As for the Israelites, I have heard them complaining about not having meat and about being better off in Egypt. So tell them to make themselves acceptable to me, because tomorrow they will have meat. (19) In fact, they will have meat day after day for a whole month--not just a few days, or even ten or twenty. They turned against me and wanted to return to Egypt. Now they will eat meat until they get sick of it...(31) Some time later the LORD sent a strong wind that blew quails in from the sea until Israel's camp was completely surrounded with birds, piled up about three feet high for miles in every direction. (32) The people picked up quails for two days--each person filled at least fifty bushels. Then they spread them out to dry. (33) But before the meat could be eaten, the LORD became angry and sent a disease through the camp. (34) After they had buried the people who had been so greedy for meat, they called the place "Graves for the Greedy."

Psalm 106:15 And He gave them what they asked, but sent leanness into their soul.

We want to avoid the "leanness" of soul. The "soul" here means our human nature, who we are, our personality. This soul got its wish (it's desire for meat to satisfy it's appetite), and with it, its own punishment ...death. God had been feeding them with food from Heaven, manna. But they despised God's provision and complained. They insulted God by looking down on what God had provided for them to eat. If you went to a lot of trouble and expense to have a dinner party and the guests came in and turned their noses up at what you had worked so hard over, you would feel insulted. They insulted God. So God gave them the meat they wanted. In fact, He gave them so much meat that they virtually gagged on it and died with it still in their mouths.
What does this teach us? Be careful about complaining and whining. God has made provision for you. He, in His infinite wisdom, has you right where you are for His purposes. To complain about your station in life or to complain about the blessing he has given you in insulting to God. Some people will whine because their car is 7 yrs old and has 100,000 miles on it when maybe they should be thankful that they have a car at all and that it runs and gets them where they need to go. Some teenager may complain and whine that they don't have the latest fashion when they should be thankful that they have a closet full of clothes and have something clean and decent to wear when many have no clothes or shoes. Some man will complain because he don't have a bass boat to fish in when he should be thankful that he doesn't have to fish in order to put a meal on the table. His family has plenty to eat and is not starving on some garbage dump in a third world country! When you put it in perspective, it makes you ashamed to complain because you don't have a bass boat to go fishing in. Some woman might whine and complain because she doesn't have a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood when she should be thankful that she has a warm/cool, safe roof over her head to begin with! How many people in this world would give their right arm for a decent roof over their heads? Sometimes part of our spiritual growth is to learn to be content and thankful in the situation God has placed us and to learn to trust Him in it. When we've learned that lesson, God may see fit to give us a better car, bigger house, a new boat or those expensive clothes. But if we insult Him with our complaints, we are flirting with disaster. He might really let us see how bad things can get so we will be thankful the next time. I don't want to have to live in a tent under a bridge just so I will learn to be thankful for a small house.

Ecclesiastes 6:10-12 Everything that happens was decided long ago. We humans know what we are like, and we can't argue with God, because he is too strong for us. (11) The more we talk, the less sense we make, so what good does it do to talk? (12) Life is short and meaningless, and it fades away like a shadow. Who knows what is best for us? Who knows what will happen after we are gone? (Contemporary English Version)

Ecclesiastes 6:10-12 That which has been is named already, and it is known that he is man. And he is not able to contend with Him who is mightier than he. (11) For there are many things that increase vanity, and what is man the better? (12) For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? (Modern King James version)

From the very beginning, Adam and Eve had to learn that we are merely human and God is God. Every human being struggles with this but we learn that we aren't God! We are not capable of being God! We are totally incompetent to play God! We do not have His power, knowledge, wisdom or abilities. We cannot be God. Stop trying to struggle with this and accept it. If everyone did everything I said (which they won't), I would still make a mess of things because I'M NOT GOD! I don't know what is best! I don't know all the variable involved in every situation in the world! I can't change things and do miracles because I don't have the power of God! I'M NOT GOD! Quit trying to be God. Quit trying to be the Holy Spirit in someone else's life. Quit trying to "save" someone or yourself. We have a limited time on this earth and we waste so much of our time struggling. Like toddlers, we struggle against our faithful and loving parent who is merely trying to get us to rest so we can play some more later. God is our faithful and loving parent. We can stop striving against Him and struggling and fighting Him and let Him be in control. He is doing what is best for us. It may not be what we want for the moment but we will soon see that He was right if we just stop the struggling!

Continued at Ecclesiastes Part Two.
For Ecclesiastes Part Three .

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