Today we finish the study of Ecclesiastes. As Solomon concludes his dissertation that explains what he has learned by godly wisdom by seeking out everything possible in the world, he reminds us that all is vanity outside of the presence of God. Our strivings, our desires, our actions, our knowledge are all laid to waste if they are not done within the will of God.
9 In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. 11 The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. 13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
As much insight as I think I have found by going through these writings of Solomon, I feel like his end statement is the most important and impactful. There are a few points he makes in just these few sentences:
True wisdom comes from God.
Jesus is the source. This is what John meant in the first words of his epistle: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. Solomon talks about wise men and men who elegantly orchestrate the sayings of wise men, but they are just repeating and utilizing what has been handed down by God Himself. Remember what Solomon repeated through Ecclesiastes? There is nothing new under the sun. This includes words and knowledge. It already has been because God said it is. I think this gives us, especially me, a humility check as we begin to understand that what I think I know isn’t really mine anyway, so I shouldn’t get a “big head” about it. It’s not my knowledge, it’s God’s knowledge that He has gifted me with. Will I be wise to put it to good use?
Book knowledge only goes so far.
I touched upon the limits of earthly knowledge in my final thoughts when I did my 10 part series on biblical contradictions. We tend to make knowledge our god, or even think of ourselves as gods because of our supposed knowledge. I love how Solomon sums up all the literature on the earth into one conclusion: be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The world is chock full of books! We read them for different reasons but 1) we can only read so many in a lifetime and 2) that which we get out of them is but a snippet of the grand truth of God. I mentioned the beginning of the Gospel According to John in my previous section and here I will quote the end of his book: 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. This statement has always seemed strange to me because surely we could write the actions of any man on earth and contain it within only some books in the world, even if you went into intimate detail; and Jesus only lived for 33 years! Some may think this insinuates his eternal actions (like dying on the cross), but this doesn’t contain the whole picture of what John is saying. In the beginning of the story, John starts off by proclaiming the eternal deity of Jesus Christ: the beginning and end of all things. Therefore, Jesus’ actions (as referenced in this verse) refers to all that God has done, not mere man! Even if all these things were documented, it wouldn’t be possible to document it all! So why then do we focus so much on book knowledge instead of focusing on the one true source of all knowledge?
God’s will is sovereign, so therefore we should be careful to keep Him in first importance in every area of our lives.
The condition of our soul is not about how good we are. In Matthew 23, we find Jesus calling out the scribes and Pharisees, those who contained all the knowledge of God’s will by memory yet were still missing the point: 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. It is not from the outside in that we are transformed, but the inside out. It is not our goodness (or badness, for that matter) that makes us worthy or unworthy of God’s righteousness or subject to His wrath. Rather it is our faith, trust, belief, and obedience to Him that matters eternally. Our actions are but a result of our inward “heart condition”. We can do as much good as we want but if our motives are wrong, if we do it for recognition or approval from God, then we might as well have done whatever we wanted. If we keep focusing on what we bring to the table, we will forever miss that it is never and has never been about us!
Solomon’s worldly experiment guided by God’s wisdom has resulted in the realization of our purpose as humans: to worship, honor, and be in relationship with God. God has given us instruction on how He designed us to live and has also warned us what will happen if we live out of that design. Knowing that we would and do live outside of that design, He has given us a way to be reconciled back into that design. Again, it’s not about us behaving properly, but realizing that we cannot behave properly without first being reconciled back into relation with God. It is through the development of your relationship with God that you are able to function the way you were created to function in the first place! It saddens me how much we fight against this and live burdened and enslaved lives and yearn for joy and happiness but never find it because we are constantly focused on ourselves.
Solomon tells us you can read all the books you want about it, but you’re just going to get worn out because what Christ did for us on the cross is more than any book can explain. You will never truly know until you choose to enter into that relationship with God and try it out for real. You can study and memorize the bible all you want but it won’t save you unless you utilize godly wisdom and act on it. This was Solomon’s message. This is my challenge to you. When the Apostle Paul writes to the Church at Corinth, He discusses the wisdom of God in chapter 1, 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. It is foolishness because nobody uses the knowledge God has given us! People simply read it and don’t act on it and therefore never experience the fullness and wonder of God.
What’s holding you back?
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