Today’s Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7; Psalm 47:1-9; Proverbs 22:16
Ecclesiastes continues today with the teacher noting the oppression that takes place all over the world and how the oppressed have no one to comfort them (Ecclesiastes 4:1). That is especially sad since there are plenty of believers all over the world who have received comfort from God so that we may comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). There will always be oppression this earth. But there is no reason for there to be a lack of comfort.
Its a sad commentary on the world when it would be better to have never been born (Ecclesiastes 4:3).
God did not design us to spend our lives alone. We were designed for relationships with other people (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12a) and for relationship with God (Ecclesiastes 4:12b). We can achieve higher levels of productivity with others as also receive strength and encouragement.
Fame is fleeting. Most people who become famous are only famous for a short while. A few are well-known for decades. But ultimately they too will be replaced by someone newer and younger (Ecclesiastes 4:16). Fame is meaningless.
Wealth, which often accompanies fame, is likewise meaningless (Ecclesiastes 4:10-11). We often hear about famous athletes or celebrities who lost millions and millions of dollars. Even if a person manages to hold onto their money, their riches will often control them rather than the other way around. Better to have just enough with God, who provides, than more than enough without Him.
We obviously have to earn money to purchase necessities in life. But all that we produce and sell will pass away (Ecclesiastes 5:16). Most things break down within a few years and end up in a dump. Everything else will not make it to eternity. There is no point in living to work. Rather, we should work to live. Which is not to say that we cant work for God in our jobs – even secular ones. We can and should. Everything we do should be with furthering God’s kingdom in mind just as we learned yesterday in 2 Corinthians.
Ecclesiastes 6:9 really spoke to me today. I have a habit of envying what others have. I don’t live in a nice house or drive a new car (mine is over 12 years old). I don’t have a lot of money or a lot of Twitter followers. But I have what I need. And most of all I have Jesus. He makes up for all the things I don’t have (and don’t really need anyway).
Remember, people who lived before Christ rose from the dead had no understanding of an afterlife. Life on earth was all there is. The writer of Ecclesiastes writes from this perspective which explains his pessimistic outlook. If there is no chance of life after death then certainly all the injustice and frustration we go through in our lives just for fleeting moments of joy are not worth it.
God commands us against putting ourselves in positions where we will have to compromise our faith in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Some ways believers can do this is by marrying an unbeliever or entering into a business partnership with an unbeliever. Any situation where the world has more influence over us than God’s word is a danger zone that we should avoid.
This does not mean that we can’t have non-believing friends. Of course we should. But if the relationship gets to the point where we are doing things we should not do or, even worse, denying our faith in Jesus, then that is a relationship that is not good for either party.
The other day we read how the bodies of believers are like clay jars into which God places Himself as the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are a holy temple where God dwells (2 Corinthians 6:16) and therefore we should be separated from evil. If we are then God will walk with us throughout our lives (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
Notice that not only can our flesh be defiled by the world but also our spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1). Our attitude toward sin, or our own pride can make our spirit unclean. Hanging around with the wrong crowd will affect our spiritual life. If it does we need to approach God in humility and with confession of our sin so that our spirit can be cleansed.
Many audacious men have tried to conquer and rule the world. All have failed. Even the antichrist – who I believe is on the horizon – will fail. Only God is the ruler over all the earth (Psalm 47:7-8). Someday Jesus (who is God) will reign over all the peoples – Jews and Gentiles alike (Psalm 47:9). We’ll read more about this later in the year. This period of time is known as The Millenium – Christ’s 1,000 year reign on the earth.
Ecclesiastes spoke about oppression today; so does Proverbs. Those who oppress will reap the consequences of their actions. If not in this life, then in the one to come (Proverbs 22:16).
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