Our Father who is in Heaven…

Bible Open to the Lord's Prayer with a Pink Rose on the Page.Is this simply a prayer recited by many, under varying circumstances or might there be more to these words then fits our eye? We find this prayer in Matthew 6 and again in Luke 11. The disciples were being instructed by Jesus. We have in these two book and chapters a record of Jesus’ lesson(s)… and more. There is so much in this discussion with Jesus’ disciples many simply overlook or don’t take for the same value as the Lord’s Prayer which itself is within the same chapter(s).

The lessons and advice is very pointed but we seldom get beyond the Lord’s Prayer. Why? It is too obvious. We want what fits our lives but not what goes against our preferred lifestyle, attitudes and way of worship; or secular lives. We repeat the prayer out of habit or in our form of worship but seldom listen to what is being recited. Words, words and words, but meaning? Content? Context?

Before going on, this author must put out front that this article applies first to him, then to his potential readers.

The circumstances (Luke 11): Jesus had just finished praying and “one of his disciples said to him. ‘Lord, teach us to pray’” (ESV; 11:1). This is a chapter break in Luke, but in Matthew the same request does not come until after a brief explanation of when, how and what to pray.

Jesus also gives a comparison with how NOT to pray. In Matthew 6:5 Jesus tells his disciple(s) that hypocrites pray for the purpose of being observed and/or heard by others. This verse ends with (ESV) “Truly I say to you, they have received their reward.” What reward? Not an answered prayer but being observed by others as pious and some sort of wonder for the loud and open prayer (in the church or on the street corner).

In Matthew a couple of verses prior to the Lord’s Prayer, there is a lesson that serves well with which to connect. Verse one states, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will *have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. *Echō ou misthos (Greek) loosely translated means: God will not be beholding to give a pat on the back for his or her praying yet alone listen to or answer their prayer.

JIV NOTE: To avoid writing a sermon instead of an article as intended, I will return to my original purpose for writing today; the opening title “Our Father who is in heaven.” The word “our.”

John 4:24 states: (ESV) “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit….” When one understands this verse in John, it might make one look differently at the opening two words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father” Let me explain. God the Father is a spirit. He created us and blew breath and spirit into our being. All creation is from him so regardless of one’s denomination or seminary, if any, he fathered all spirits too.

God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them… Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 1:1-3, 1:26-27 & 2:7 (WEB). I like how Ian Johnsons connects breath and spirit:

Although the Hebrew (here) rendered “breath” is a different word from that rendered “spirit” in (Genesis) 1:2, both have similar underlying meanings, and in Psalm 104:29-30 the same word rendered “spirit” in Genesis 1:2 is translated both “breath” and “Spirit” in the same context: “when you take away their breath (rûwach), they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit (rûwach), they are created…” ian4christ41@yahoo.com

This means God is the father of every spirit he creates, “created in his image,” a spirit included. Right? Where is this logic wrong; if wrong? By accepting the body, mind, soul, and spirit as all-inclusive, “for by none other is anything created that is created we are like God in image even when not of or following God. My proof is not my education and knowledge twisted into theological theories, but is based upon scripture. (Colossians 1:16)

(NIV) “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

This is tough to swallow if denominationally or as a seminarian indoctrinated to separate these created parts; a soul/spirit of a believer and the soul/spirit of a nonbeliever. We are all created by him and the soul he puts into us with our first breathe (or at conception?). The only difference is the destination of the soul; eternity with God or without God. This being so, then the Lord’s Prayer or “Our Father…” is universal. He is the father to all souls and spirits.

Now before my evangelical brothers erect a 4th cross with me on it, stop and reason as Isaiah instructs us in Isaiah 1:18, “Come, let us reason together…” (KJV). There are but two destinations in the eternity all will experience; i.e. one with God and one without God. There is no neutral third option. The Lord’s Prayer is inclusive of all created humans (OUR FATHER), so where in the prayer is there any differentiation? We know God is Holy and Holy is his name (just like Jim is my name). “His kingdom is coming” first for a 1,000 year reign with Christ on the throne in Jerusalem and king of all nations, then in 1 Corinthians 15:24 Jesus hands the Kingdom over to the Father.

His ‘will’ is currently being done in heaven. At the time Jesus hands the Kingdom over to God the Father, his ‘will’ is being done on earth as it is in heaven but only “…after he (King Jesus) has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24b.) Now we get to the differentiation of saved and lost; born again and not; eternal life with Jesus or with Lucifer.

(JIV NOTE): Some denominations try hard to claim that the kingdom is not Christ’s rule but that of God the Father alone. Taking 1 Corinthians 15:24 for its word, it is only after all dominion and authority and power is destroyed. If this is gospel (pun intended) then we must remember that Lucifer is yet to be released at the end of the millennial reign “but for a short time” (Revelation 20:7). This means all dominion, authority and power (competition to God) has not yet been destroyed. Christ is on the throne for 1,000 years ruling with an iron scepter (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; Psalm 2:9). For additional millennial information read the article “What Life Is Like During the Millennium.

Yes, Jesus is talking to his disciples, at least the one who called the question of “teach us to pray.” However, one must also realize God does hear the prayers of the sinner seeking forgiveness. Dig a sentence deeper into the Lord’s Prayer… “Forgive us our sins (depts; trespasses) as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” Oh, oh! Is this not the sinner’s prayer too? Forgive us (me) our (my) sins…? It sure is!!! How did the Lord Jesus Christ begin this prayer lessen; by saying, “OUR FATHER.”

The Father is spirit and we must pray to him in spirit. He is the father of all creation. “All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” Now the clincher that certainly includes this writer: “forgive us as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

Full of Forgiveness - Cupped female hands emerging from panoramic deep space blue background with the word Forgive floating above surrounded by a relevant word cloud and copy space on right sideHow do you forgive; with reservations included; a grudge; giving the silent treatment; getting historical instead of shouting with exclamations? I know all too well how many times I have heard and was once captive to the statement, “Yah, but you don’t understand what s/he did, said to or about me.” Yes, I went to that school too. But then, I didn’t write the Word of God. Since this forgiveness fact within the Lord’s Prayer is so clearly stated, how can we claim dominion over sin if we harbor a sin against another? How can we expect God’s forgiveness?

Might this be from the religious school of modern day thought in America; “if it fits, keep it; if it doesn’t try to make it politically correct.” As Detective Kenda puts it in his TV series Homicide Hunter, “MY, my, my… now you have my attention.”

jStark3Rev Dr. Jstark

November 2015

 

Will History Repeat Itself?

It first ended in France. Might history repeat itself?

Sometime around 622 c.a. a political and fervent religious influence in the Middle East was spawned. It founder’s ideas were rejected by his home town. He moved then eventually brought his dedicated followers back to his home town; on horses and armed. Many battles ensued until he established himself as a regional leader and spiritual prognosticator. He dies shortly after conquering his former home town.

His successor is his father-in-law. Even though he leads this movement for only two years, his footprint in the sand is established by incredible military victories in The Battles of Uhud, Trench, Khaybar, Hunyan and Tubak. Wikipedia: “Though the period of his (conquests) was not long, it included successful invasions of the two most powerful empires of the time….”

This political, military and religious establishment conquers the Middle East and northern Africa. Assassinations and the sword spread their influence out of Medina with Damascus, Syria then Baghdad eventually becoming its power center.

This political, military and religious force eventually marched on Europe. They would have marched clear through Europe had it not been for King Charles Martel of France. Historian-author Henri Pirene noted, “In less than 200 years (from its birth in Mecca) the Mediterranean was completely in the hands of Islam and its northern coast was what was left of the Roman Empire, ….” Eventually Turkey (Ottoman Empire) dominated Islam.

Battle : Christians vs. Arabians - 8th century

In the 8th century, Charles Martel of France stopped the 1st Islamist invasions of Europe. In 1683 the great Polish warrior, King Jonas (Jan) Sobieski, broke the siege of Vienna marking the end of the 2nd Islamic invasions of Europe. In view of current news from France, will it begin again with the French? Will there be a third invasion or has it already begun?

jStark3

 

The Millennial Reign

What happens during the Millennial Reign of God and Jesus?

I have often wondered what it is going to be like during the Millennial (1,000) Reign following the Tribulation. Let me begin by telling you there are many hints of how we will live during these years, what will happen to us, how long life expectancy will be, if work is still required, will there be families, children, animals? Let’s begin by understanding something that Isaiah 55:8 tells us:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”

The meaning is too obvious. We need to take God and the Word of God at its word without trying to make God into something that fits our ideals. We need to understand that he makes us into something he wants. After all, if we created god then it/he is useless for eternal or even current needs or events. But God created us. That being so, he is the potter and I (we) are the clay. The clay pot does not tell the potter what we wish to look like; what shelf we want to be on; do we get a window view; or if am I going to be a tall, short, round, skinny or a corpulent pot. We are what we are so let’s get past that. What we need to know is our purpose. That is to worship the Lord God almighty, make Christianity a way of life not a religion, and realize our destiny is determined by our acceptance or neutral or flat out rejection of HIM.

Let’s avoid for now the discussion of the Tribulation (pre-post-or mid), plan of salvation, or any preaching. Let’s simply review the facts as the Bible tells us per what life will be like during the Millennial Reign of King Jesus.

Understand that this will not be a totally inclusive blog per life in the Millennial, but it will be inclusive of enough references to give us a great idea of what it will be like during the Millennial Reign.

Wikipedia defines the Millennial *Reign as:

*Often identified as Kingdom.

Millennialism (from millennium, Latin for “thousand years”), or chiliasm in Greek, is a belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which “Christ will reign” for 1000 years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state (the “World to Come” of the New Heavens and New Earth).

Theopedia describes the Millennial Kingdom as: (http://www.theopedia.com/millennial-kingdom)

…the thousand-year reign of Christ specifically mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6. This is usually seen as the same Messianic Kingdom anticipated by the Old Testament prophets.

Let’s first realize the 1,000 years will not be spent on the beach, in churches, standing around the Throne of God in Jerusalem or flying about the universe with a pair of angel wings. All but the last are possible but not the norm for life during the Millennial Kingdom. Recall, or learn for the first time, this reign of Christ in Jerusalem will come out of and at the end of the Great Tribulation. The pre-Tribulation time will be as “the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37). It will be wise for the reader to read through to verse 39. This is the world situation leading up to the beginning of the 7-year tribulation and the Apocalypse, Day of Reckoning, Armageddon or Day of Destruction as so many movies, books and discussions have and continue to be based upon. But this is not a written monologue of pre-tribulation events.

Mankind, along with some strong assistance from Satan, will have all but been eliminated by wars, disease, starvation, murder when Christ returns to the Mount of Olives and proclaims himself King of Kings and ruler of the world. Yes, there is a little thing called Armageddon at this point in history and yet to be played out, but this article is about life for those who survive and enter the Millennial Kingdom.

Skipping past the resurrection of some of the dead, the return of those who were (will be) in the Rapture prior to the Tribulation period, and those Christians and Jews killed during the Tribulation we get to our goal; life during the Millennial Kingdom and reign of Jesus Christ ON EARTH. It is not my intention to explain why some of these prophecies have what is known as plural or dual points in history and that which has yet to happen. We are going to simply look at life during the Millennial Kingdom; ”thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth (millennial kingdom) as it is (already) done in heaven.”

Here is the setting: Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem; an area now known as the West Bank. He declares himself King of the world then must defeat the combined forces of the King of the North (Antichrist: Europe or the resurrected Holy Roman Empire), the king of the South (Islam?: Middle East and Africa) and the forces from the north and east:*China and Russia? These forces will gather together to invade and eliminate Jerusalem/Israel (Joel 3:2; Zechariah 14:2; Matthew 24:29; Revelation 20:8) but only after having fought amongst themselves (Matthew 24:7). Continue reading

The Earth Was Without “form and void”

(Genesis 1:2 – The Gap proven)gapaha

How might God (Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit) create something that is less than excellent when in its original created form? When we read the second verse of Genesis 1 in the Holy Word of God, we can easily ask this question, but not easily conclude. We will likely be left conjecturing if doing anything other than reading a few words as a devotional or in one of our races to “read through the bible” in a year. This is why it is critically important to STUDY the Word of God; not just read it. To “study through the bible” requires dedication and certainly more than a year.

Sadly, this is the limit, content without context, of far too many so-called Bible studies; i.e. read a few verses then have a surface discussion of only the obvious, then share several “my opinions” without additional bible support of those personal opinions. Usually the discussion just reiterates or echoes the obvious. In the above example from Genesis 1:2 the discussion question would be something like… “what is form and void? What does it mean to be without?” This is a discussion type that usually takes a group of would-be bible studies to the land of nowhere. To get the rest of a bible passage we venture into STUDY; sometimes word-by-word study.

Too often one assumes that every verse or passage in the Bible is sequential without even considering that there might be a gap (time lapse) between them. Has any of us ever told a story or relived an incident in life and left out details within our sequence of events? What about the part that is left out? Might it influence or change one’s conclusion?

Example: Where were you? Answer: I was at the store. Missing or the gap in this store venture… “I also stopped over to see _____, then grabbed something to eat at a quick stop.” Would any of this additional information left out of the original change or influence YOUR analysis or conclusions of the events? Of course it would. Would the summary of “I was at the store” be the truth? Yes! It is a summary, but not an unabridged review of events.

Realizing this human example may be weak, it does make the point that additional information would help with a better conclusion. The Bible does not record every event in every historical discussion within its pages. That would require volumes; an entire library, not one bound book called the bible. This is also why 11 Timothy 2:15 tells us:

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (NIV)

Let’s now apply study and show ourselves approved of correctly handling the word of the truth; the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Let’s also realize that there was a time people didn’t understand algebra, calculous or physics (Hebrew or Greek). That is, until s/he takes the time to “STUDY” and grow his or her knowledge one piece of new information at a time.

Genesis 1:1 states that “God created the Heavens and the earth… in the beginning.” This slight detour is not part of this blog, but it is part of this thought and study process. What does “in the beginning” mean to you? What does God and author of this Holy Spirit inspired book, penned by Moses, intend it to mean? It certainly doesn’t mean the beginning of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are eternal.

First, the heaven being referred to in this verse is shâmeh in the Hebrew; the skies and universe above and within our sight; telescope and Hubble space craft included. It means the beginning of when earth, the heavenly bodies we can see that surround us today were created. This all had a beginning. It will also have an end if we study the bible books of Revelation, Ezekiel, minor Prophets, Daniel, Matthew, Luke and other scripture.

Matthew 24:25 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (NIV)

Now that we better understand the words “in the beginning” and the “heaven” in Genesis 1:1, let’s increase our awareness and understanding by offering convincing knowledge of why there is very likely a GAP between 1:1 and 1:2.

a focus on Genesis 1v1, that God created.

We communicate via words be they written or spoken. Even signing is a form of words and communication. The Bible is written for us to study and understand. One does not walk into a foreign language class and immediately understand without background and study of that language. This is true of the Bible; we must examine it; not just read it and express opinions without something to back up the opinion.

The creation of earth in a perfect state and before v2 that tells us it “was without form and void,” requires a bit of bible searching. Let’s go to Job 38. Job is being challenged by God himself. One question God asks of Job is (38:4) “where were you when I laid the foundation?” This questioning continues through verse 6. Then in Job 38:7 we get proof that the earth was originally created as a site to be seen: “…while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” In Job 38 God is talking about the creation of our known universe and the heavenly bodies were amazed. This simply does not fit with “without form and void” as we find recorded in Genesis 1:2.

The Hebrew helps our understanding much better than do most translations: Morning stars (bôqer kôkâb) are the elite princes or angels of heaven; “sang together and *all (kôl) the angels shouted for joy.”

Not hidden but often missed is additional insight(s) into the heavens and earth of Genesis 1. First, in Job 38:7 the heavenly beings are rejoicing over the laying of the foundation and creation of the earth. If this creation was little more than dull, void, and without form, why would the prince angels and angels of heaven SHOUT with joy (amazement)? Second, the word “all” in this passage is kôl in the Hebrew. kôl according to Strong, #3605 means: the whole; any (totally inclusive). Therefore the angels and the prince angels mentioned have to be the entirety of God’s angelic creation. This also points out that Lucifer and his 1/3 of the heavenly stars (angels) he pulled with him when cast out of heaven were still amongst the heavenly bodies; not yet cast out of heaven [to earth]. On a graph it would look like the following:

God creates earth – all the angels rejoice and are amazed – Lucifer, an angel, is part of “all”

Logically and without one earning a degree in theology, we can conclude that God’s perfect creation in Genesis 1:1 somehow became a waste land in v2. Who might have an interest in wasting it? The answer is too simple but explains much. Lucifer, the “morning light and most beautiful of prince angels,” became Satan once he rebelled against God. He claimed that the earth was his domain when he tried to tempt Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:1-11) by offering him the world’s kingdoms if he would only bow and worship him (Satan). He roams to and fro upon the earth seeking whom he may devour (Job 1:7; 2:2). He wants to destroy anything beholding to or created by the God-head.

What Satan destroyed between verse 1:1 and 1:2 God redesigned beginning in verse 3 by “shedding light” upon this now formless void. The 2nd verse of Genesis 1 begins, depending on the translation being read, with words like: the [ESV], and [KJV], now [NIV], when [ISV], and etc. Let’s go directly to the Hebrew Old Testament; i.e. the Tanakh. It reads (v2): (reading left to right – translated Hebrew)… והארץ(earth) היתה(became) תהו(desolate) ובהו(empty)

“Earth became desolate, empty”…

Note a couple of things. There is no prefixed word like now, the, when, etc. in the original text of the Tanakh. Also the second word is “became.” This suggests earth in verse 2 is not what it was created to be in verse 1 when all of heaven rejoiced. Something happened between verse 1 and verse 2. JIV (Jim’s Introspective View): Satan was cast out of heaven to earth and he promptly made a mess of God’s creation; a vindictive attitude toward even his own creator.

Here us how the Summarized Bible puts it… (cut and pasted from e-Sword)

“Gen. 1 (v2) is not a history of the original creation, but of a reconstruction following a cataclysmic judgment which had befallen the original creation.

  1. Gen_1:1 Original creation.
  2. Gen_1:2 Its destruction.
  3. Gen_1:3 and on, Reconstruction.”

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary puts it this way:

…the earth was without form and void — or in “confusion and emptiness,” as the words are rendered in Isa_34:11. This globe, at some undescribed period, having been convulsed and broken up…

One might easily dismiss researching this topic on his or her own as it is “too complicated.” The same argument is given for only reading and not studying any scripture. All that means to this author is that one is not interested enough to do the work. This brings us back to 11 Timothy 2:15… right? Christianity is not a religion. It is a way of life and how can one determine or be convinced s/he is doing this without reading the manual?

jStark3

Rev. Dr. Jstark
November 12, 2015

Ecclesiastes Chapter Two

Copy right to the author-Posted with his permission Gene Whittum

Copy right to the author-Posted with his permission
Gene Whittum

Solomon ends chapter one with a confession: Verses 12-18 “I, Koheleth, was king in Jerusalem over Israel. (13) I set my mind to study and to probe with wisdom all that happens under the sun.—an unhappy business, that, which God gave men to be concerned with! (14) I observed all the happenings beneath the sun, and I found that all is futile and pursuit of wind: (15) A twisted thing that cannot be made straight, a lack that cannot be made good. (16) I said to myself: “Here I have grown richer and wiser than any that ruled before me over Jerusalem, and my mind has zealously absorbed wisdom and learning.” (17) And so I set my mind to appraise wisdom and to appraise madness and folly. And I learned—that this too was pursuit of wind: (18) For as wisdom grows, vexation grows; To increase learning is to increase heartache. (from Jewish Publication Society 1982 Kethubim, The Writings)

underthesunSolomon again acknowledges that in spite of his having great wisdom and immense wealth and authority, life “under the sun” is futile and vain. The past cannot be changed and nothing can be added to life already lived. We cannot manipulate history or the mistakes of life.

Chapter two continues his pursuit of the meaning of life and the substance that makes it worth living. His experiments toward that goal begins with thoughts of merriment and pleasures (which includes wine and all that goes with it. Verse 3 NIV).
His conclusion comes quickly in the passage. “Laughter”, I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” He apparently did not take these indulgences to extremes but was still able to note that he “wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven (the sun) during the few days of their lives.” (verse 3 NIV)

His testimony continues with further examples of his attempt to find satisfaction in life “under the sun”, without reference to the God Who is above the sun. However, he will later interpret every aspect of his life theologically, acknowledging that there is a God, and that we cannot take liberties with Him. There are many inherent implications with reference to God and His sovereignty over His creation. The world has an obstinate resistance to the meaning of life apart from God.

The litany of accomplishments given in verses four to nine would stagger most of us. Solomon admits that in this pursuit, his wisdom stayed with him. His conscience is apparently becoming seared while he includes huge gardens, trees, parks, slaves, herds, flocks, gold and silver, entertainers and a harem. His conclusion, again, is that it was all “meaningless, a chasing after the wind; and nothing was gained under the sun.” Vs 11)

He turns next to “consider wisdom, and also madness and folly”. Solomon’s book of Proverbs provides a great deal of information regarding madness, folly and wisdom. He seems to clamor after these ideas in a way that only Solomon could. It is a severe attempt to investigate these seemingly opposite pursuits and everything in between. Folly and wisdom are far apart; there are several words to describe a fool in the book of Proverbs, the most serious being ‘nabal’,a total fool, described in I Sam 25. He was the man whom David encountered and who later died. David then married his widow, Abigail.

(The first chapter of Proverbs describes wisdom, what it is, and how to attain it—an important chapter to begin one’s understanding of wisdom. Verse seven states that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” The “beginning” means the “chief part”, and without a “fear of the Lord” wisdom will not be forthcoming. For instance, the chief part of music is notes; the chief part of math is numbers and the chief part of writing is the alphabet. Without these, there would be no music, math or writing).

Solomon delved into madness, folly and wisdom in the manner in which he approached every other venture to define and decipher life and its meaning. He apparently became some sort of “fool” in order to limit and interpret madness and its connection to life “under the sun”. The results were that “wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness”. (verse 13) This contrast will be seen later as he continues his probe of life.

In verses 14-16, he recognizes another truth regarding wisdom and folly, namely, that both the wise man and the fool, while walking in their separate and distinct values of life, have the same fate. The outcome for both is death, which is something that he talks about in future considerations of ones journey “under the sun”. Note the number of times he uses the phrase “under the sun” in chapter two.

He ponders a further question when he asks: “What then do I gain by being wise?” Is there any advantage to being wise? (vs 15c). He says to himself, “This too is meaningless”. Is there any advantage to being wise when one considers the ultimate end of life? Is it worth it?

His next reflection involves being remembered beyond death and a concern with respect to all of the toil he put into the accumulation of “stuff”. Who will he leave it too? What kind of a person will inherit it? Will he be a wise man or a fool? He undoubtedly assumes that the one who assumes ownership will also face the same problems but without the wisdom and wealth that he had. It turned out that the one who did inherit the throne from him did turn out to be a fool (I Kings 12). His lament was that he hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was, “grievous to me.” (vs 17. “All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.” (vs 23).

Kohelet’s conclusion comes in verses 24 and 25. Remember that “God” is mentioned some forty times in the book. Ecclesiastes is the journal of one man’s journey through life in a most honest and brutal way. He is living “under the sun” but his goal is to see the God of eternity who is “above the sun”. There is, to the fool, a canopy above the earth and to him he is living in a closed universe, without any reference to the God Who is above the sun. Solomon, in the next verses, begins to poke holes in the canopy above the sun so as to reveal the Deity who alone has the answers to the challenges of life.

He writes: “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work”, as opposed to the prior “chasing after wind” in one’s toil. He continues: “This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness . . .”

The message to us today is the same. Rather than hating life and toil and the work of our hands, we are given the hope, through Christ, of a relationship with the God Who is above the sun; above the circumstances that tend to discourage and defeat us. We do have hope. He is answering the question of the book which is: “Is there any meaning to the time that I spend in this world?” which we mentioned earlier. He has begun to show that by the eternal, discernible fixed course of all earthly things, and the experience of the empty and unsatisfactory striving of earthly wisdom and selfish gratifications, there can be a God-fearing enjoyment of life. We can gladly accept the blessings and present good of life because the results of our striving are not of our own making, it is a gift of God.

As one progresses though Ecclesiastes, it will become more apparent that it is not a discourse of despair and gloom. The treatise begins with very dark colors but begins to brighten as one progresses through the teaching. Chapter three begins to put the debate of life on a different plane and introduces more encouraging truths about life.