Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

Those Walking in Darkness and Death

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. –Ecclesiastes 9:5, ESV

Today is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther igniting the Reformation movement away from the Roman Catholic Church.

This means it is also Halloween.

And you know what? Halloween can be fun.

Yes. There is a lot of paganism in the history of this day.

Yes. This is a high holiday for many Wiccans and other pagans, attempting to connect with spirits and even demons.

Most people today do NOT participate in that.

While over the next few days many cultures either worry about or celebrate deceased loved ones visiting this world, Ecclesiastes 9:5 reminds us that the dead have no real concern for this world.

Either they are headed for destruction and railing at God, or they are with Christ and worshiping Him.

We try to show we are not afraid of death by dressing up as (un)dead things and people, and we sometimes claim we are remembering the dead. At best we are remembering a shadow, only the best or the worst of someone. In truth, the memory is just that: a shadow.

And most people – if they are honest – are afraid of death. Some want to be reunited with lost loved ones, but they rarely know what they are wishing for.

This is starting to get long, so let us remember:

  • the fear of death is misplaced,
  • the memories of the dead are never perfect,
  • and the afterlife will be nothing like any of fully expect (if it all correct).

Instead, it is:

  • the fear of the Lord that gives us hope for the afterlife;
  • and the dead may not remember much of this life, but the Lord forgets our sins if we are found in Christ and brought into everlasting life.

And instead of getting caught up in the where and why of the history of Halloween, may we focus on sharing the truth of Life with those in this world who are still walking in darkness and death.

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Reflections of Reality

Proverbs 27:19

“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” – ESV

A Little Complicated

Today’s proverb, especially in the King James Version, is not for the casual reader. The wording is complicated, to say the least. But even when we look at other translations, the truth of this proverb, like a flower in mid-bloom, is never fully revealed.

It seems that verse 19 is an extension of verse 17, but it takes “iron sharpeneth iron” to a deeper level, “where one is to seek out and discern good advice, but also to heed the counsel of one’s heart (as well as pray!).”[1]

There are evidently several ways to interpret this passage. The New American Commentary explains: “Some take it to mean that one sees one’s inner self reflected in the face of a companion; and others, that one comes to self-understanding by introspection.”[2] However, the explanation of this proverb may be no more complicated than the need to see ourselves for who we really are.

Exposing Reality

A friend once had some things happen that caused him to react in a very fleshly, un-Christian way. Because of the circumstances that led to his angry response to an obvious injustice, I was not going to judge him or think less of him in any way; I might have done the same thing had I been in his shoes.

But that evening, after reading Proverbs chapter 6 in preparation for the next day’s Sunday school class, my friend called me on the phone to apologize for his actions. Then, the next morning in class, as we talked about how reading the Bible exposes who we really are, my friend said, “But sometimes what I see in the reflection is not really me.”

mirrorAh, but that’s not so!” I replied. The fact, I explained, is that when we peer down into the water of God’s word, the reflection we see is the only accurate reflection available. While other mirrors show us what we want to see, the Bible reflects our reality.

“But that’s not who I want to be…I’m not that way,” he said. “Oh,” I replied, “but that is who you are…who we all are…The heart is wicked and capable of all kinds of things, and God’s word reminds us of that.”

The Point

So what’s the point? Is there any hope? Sure there is! It is only when we are able to reflect on who we really are, when we can see ourselves face-to-face, than we can move beyond the pretenses of our own pride and self-righteousness.

But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” – Colossians  3:8-10 NLT


[1] Rowland E. Murphy, Proverbs, vol. 22, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 209.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 220.


Listen Up, Recruit!

Proverbs 4:10

“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.”

While pondering this verse, an image of older, more experienced men came to mind; men who have “been there and done that.”

The policeman

Street weary, he is wary of a new partner to train. He knows the rookie has been taught self-defense, state laws, patrol procedures, arrest techniques, and how to drive a squad car. But what the old cop also knows is that experience can’t be learned in a classroom.

“Listen, son,” the policeman says, “and pay attention to what I tell you; and you just might see retirement.”

The soldier

Only 22, in 6 months he has seen more than 6 lifetimes of pain. A new recruit, straight out of boot camp, is sent to fill a vacated spot. The young sergeant can tell the recruit is fit, equipped, and ready to defend his country. But the veteran also knows the terrain, the trails, the smells, and the sounds that are unique to his battlefield.

“Listen up, boy!” the vet growls. “If you want to live to read your first letter from Mom, pay attention to what I tell you.”

Solomon

“Listen to me, oh my son; take hold of what I am telling you.” Can you hear the warning in his words? Do you sense he knows something his son does not? Is it possible Solomon has walked down roads his son has not yet traveled? Yes, and more than likely it was he who recorded his experiences in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Wisdom calls out to us. The message is clear: listen, and live.

Self

Yet, self has to have its own way. It chooses what feels good and cries out, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” Self says, “I’ll do it my way.” And with no view toward the future, self concludes life is too short to be burdened by the warnings of old fools.

So, black bands continue to be place on badges; helmets still get placed on the butts of rifles; and parents still find themselves living longer than their children. Oh, that we would listen to the voice of wisdom.

 


Reflections of Reality

Proverbs 27:19

“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” – ESV

A Little Complicated

Today’s proverb, especially in the King James Version, is not for the casual reader. The wording is complicated, to say the least. But even when we look at other translations, the truth of this proverb, like a flower in mid-bloom, is never fully revealed.

It seems that verse 19 is an extension of verse 17, but it takes “iron sharpeneth iron” to a deeper level, “where one is to seek out and discern good advice, but also to heed the counsel of one’s heart (as well as pray!).”[1]

There are evidently several ways to interpret this passage. The New American Commentary explains: “Some take it to mean that one sees one’s inner self reflected in the face of a companion; and others, that one comes to self-understanding by introspection.”[2] However, the explanation of this proverb may be no more complicated than the need to see ourselves for who we really are.

Recent Exposure

Recently, a friend of mine had some things happen that caused him to react in a very fleshly, un-Christian way. Because of the circumstances that led to his angry response to an obvious injustice, I was not going to judge him or think less of him in any way. I might have done the same thing, had I been in his shoes.

But that evening, after reading Proverbs chapter 6 in preparation for the next day’s Sunday school class, my friend called me on the phone to apologize for his actions. Then, the next morning in class, as we talked about how reading the Bible exposes who we really are, my friend said, “But sometimes what I see in the reflection is not really me.”

mirrorAh, but that’s not so!” I replied. The fact, I explained, is that when we peer down into the water of God’s word, the reflection we see is the only accurate reflection available. While other mirrors show us what we want to see, the Bible reflects our reality.

“But that’s not who I want to be…I’m not that way,” he said. “Oh,” I replied, “but that is who you are…who we all are…The heart is wicked and capable of all kinds of things, and God’s word reminds us of that.”

The Point

So what’s the point? Is there any hope? Sure there is! It is only when we are able to reflect on who we really are, when we can see ourselves face-to-face, than we can move beyond the pretenses of our own pride and self-righteousness.

But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” – Col 3:8-10 NLT


[1] Rowland E. Murphy, Proverbs, vol. 22, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 209.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 220.