Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"As human beings we need to know our place ..."

Day #202

Scripture Reading:  Ecclesiastes 7 - 8 …

Human wisdom is limited, it's as simple as that.  Solomon writes, "Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?  No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death" (8:7-8).  Much of the Bible is written to put us in our place … to help us understand that we are NOT God, but that there IS a God who created the world and everything in it and HIS wisdom, power and understanding ARE unlimited!

People who know God find rest in Him and know that His ways are best.  In Chapter 7, Solomon says, "A good name is better than fine perfume" (7:1).  And how do you get a good name?  By living according to God's commands.  Doing so brings joy!  In verses 2-4 of Chapter 7, Solomon seems to be saying that it is better to be sad than happy!  How can that be?  Remember that Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:3-4). Both are expressing the truth that living in this world that is broken by sin moves those who know God to grieve, to recognize the horrible consequences of sin and to long to be free from the bonds, from the limitations of this life.  Pretending that all is well when it isn't is foolishness.  Carried to the extreme this would lead to despair, but Solomon is pointing out that taking life seriously is important.  Laughter is good medicine and joy is the fruit of the Spirit, but seeking happiness in the pleasures of this world is the pursuit of fools.

The next few verses contain some of Solomon's proverbs.  He points out some of the contrasts and apparent contradictions you and I experience in living life.  He is describing how some people think as they debate what is right or wrong, good or bad.  Man's wisdom, you will remember, is limited.  "The man who fears God will avoid all extremes" (7:18).   Joy is found in knowing God and serving Him in this world, knowing that eternity lies ahead!!

If your hope is in the Lord and you know He is with you, if you rejoice in His love and forgiveness and know that you have eternal life waiting for you, and if you know there is a purpose for everything that happens and that God is faithful to provide all you truly need, that He will never leave or forsake you … then you have “joy in the Lord” every day!

Solomon writes, "All this I tested by wisdom and I said, 'I am determined to be wise' - but this was beyond me.  Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound - who can discover it?" (7:23-24).  People will believe almost any theory scientists come up with today, even though they change their minds and their theories continually.  Solomon concludes, "This only have I found:  God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes" (7:29).  How true that is!  The schemes of mankind know no end.  We continue to explore the universe GOD made to discover where we came from and how this world began, when God has already told us!

So Solomon asks, "Who is like the wise man?  Who knows the explanation of things?" (8:1).  Centuries later, Paul asks the same question in I Corinthians 1, as he quotes Isaiah 29:14, where God says, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."  And then the question:  "Where is the wise man? ... Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … (I Corinthians 1:20).

He arrives then where he always does … at obedience.  Remember Jesus' words at the end of His Sermon on the Mount as He explains that the foolish man builds his house on the sand, while the wise man builds his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24).  Solomon tells those who read his words to "obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God" (8:2).  Surely, he is writing about One greater than himself, the king of Israel.  If Solomon understood one thing it was that there was a King who was greater than He was!

Remember, human wisdom, knowledge and understanding is limited.  We need desperately to understand our "place," lest we boast in our own wisdom and forget how much we need God.  There is something worse than being lost … it is not knowing you are lost!  If you don't know you're lost, if you boast in your own wisdom and power, you will never seek God or know Him.  What could possibly be more tragic than that?

Solomon witnesses injustices and evil in the world, yet he says, "I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God" (8:12). KNOWING God leads to a life lived with and for God as His Spirit lives within us.  Without the knowledge of God there is only "living death."  "Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow" (8:13).

Having seen what God had done and was doing, Solomon concludes, "No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun.  Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning.  Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it" (8:17).  With the explosion of knowledge at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, mankind cannot answer the simplest of questions:  "Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  Where are we going?"  The Bible begins with God and ends with God.  Solomon declares that wisdom begins with God and ends with God!  Each successive decade reveals people of all ages drifting farther and farther away from the knowledge of God as they seek wisdom in the theories and philosophies of men.  

Pray that God would reveal His wisdom to you and to those whom you know and love, as well as to others.  Testify to His greatness and to the truth of His Word.  Be an instrument in God's hands to declare His Name to the nations.  When you know your place and come to God through faith in Jesus Christ you discover the life you've longed for … the life that brings certain and lasting joy and peace … life lived in the presence of your Creator.  It's a good thing to know your place!!

"O LORD, my God, Your wisdom is so far beyond the supposed wisdom of mankind.  I thank You, Father, for Your Spirit and for the wisdom You have revealed in Your Word.  Teach me to know You, to love You and to serve You, that I may find my joy in You and finally enter Your presence by Your grace through faith in Your Son.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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