I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Every Man, Woman and Child

ARE WE LIVING UNDER GOD'S POWER?





In the book of Ecclesiastes, which literally means a preacher, Solomon warns generations not to make the same tragic error as he experienced. Solomon, one of the wisest yet most unsatisfied individual tries a futile attempt to gratify his own satisfaction. The biggest regret is a lifetime of squandering God’s blessing for his own personal pleasure rather than God’s glory.
We see Solomon returning from the broken and empty cisterns of the world, to the Fountain of living water; recording his own folly and shame, the bitterness of his disappointment, and the lessons he had learned.

Those that have taken warning to turn and live should warn others not to go on and die. He does not merely say all things are vain, but what the world offers and everything under the sun is vanity, meaningless, in comparison to what God has for us.

 In chapter 4 we see his assessment on the oppression he witnessed. This is the state of being kept down by unjust use of force or authority. Solomon saw their tears and how they had no comforter. The power was on the side of their oppressors and they have no comforter (4:1). Solomon remembers how earthly living can be so disheartening as to make nonexistence preferable. And I declare that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun. (4:2-3). Did you catch that? It is not frequent, but if we reflect long enough, there have been times in our life that we felt hopeless and unenthusiastic.

It is interesting to ask what came first Ecclesiastes or Proverbs? Solomon seems like a different person in this book than in Proverbs. In proverbs he is all fired up right out the gate! “Do what is right and just and fair,” “let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance,” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Isn’t interesting that Ecclesiastes came before Proverbs. Ecclesiastes is a warning that shouts “Don’t, I’ve tried and came up short!” Solomon pretty much covers everything from pleasures (ch. 2), Time (ch. 3)… Random thought, I think of the phrase so prevalent in our culture “Time will heal” Errrr wrong, and we have Solomon to thank. Solomon also touches on advancement (Ch. 4), and riches (Ch. 5). 

I am impressed how Solomon never said these things are wrong or bad, just that they are meaningless. In a matter of fact, most of the topics he covers are good things, because God made it (Gen 1) and said they are. But when we make good things ultimate is when they become vanity. When we shift our focus from the Creator to the created it leads to a downward spiral. Solomon lived most his life in idolatry. Here, nearing his end of his life he is shouting out TURN BACK! This letter was toward his kingdom, to avoid walking through life on the path of human wisdom and strength. OK Jeff, we get it, where is our application how do we turn back? I am so glad you asked because Solomon tells us how he did…

Ecclesiastes 8:2-8
Obey the King’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the King’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for He will do whatever He pleases. Since a King’s word is supreme, who can say to Him, “What are you doing”
Whoever obeys His command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him. 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 the power over the day of His death.”

Jesus describes the book of Ecclesiastes in one illustration! Jesus just gets done talking about trees that bear either good or bad fruit. The reap and sow principle is key in view of experience. When we are under God’s power we yield fruit and blessing, when we are under our strength we are humbled. Isaiah put it this way, “The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” Jesus concludes with “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the Rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the Rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

So we are left with a choice, to persevere on the Rock, or jump in with those who will eventually drown if they don’t get out. Will we remain pleading with arms reached out to those wading in the water to become secure in our hope the true Rock Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4)? OR are we going to give up and jump in with them and become tired, wearisome and eventually drown? If we respond and live our lives to God in OUR power it is evidenced by either our “Doing” (Legalism / law) or our justification toward sin (License / hyper grace). If we respond and live our lives UNDER God’s power we are living out the true gospel and it transforms us.