Sunday, August 29, 2010

Solomon on the Couch

Lesson One
Study Reference Ecclesiastes Chapter One

Most like everyone else, when the name of Solomon is aired, the human mind takes a whirlwind ride through the individual’s ranks of fantasy. I am intrigued by the life of King Solomon, but for some dark and uncommon reasons. For the most part, people seem to be drawn to the life and style of Solomon because of his wealth, his grandeur, or his wisdom of life. To this very day Solomon is celebrated among all peoples and nations. Solomon is seen as powerful, mysterious, and precocious. As we will begin to study Solomon, we will soon discover the inner workings of a well meaning but troubled young man with a lot of time on his hands. We might find attempting to walk in his father’s footsteps was part of his undoing. Solomon’s life has intrigued more people than myself. Many have written volumes on him and many have I read but, for the most part, seem to be eluded by Solomon’s seemly wealth and vivaciousness. Apart from the blessings of Almighty God, it seems Solomon’s amiability led a life of boyish desires coupled with a young man’s virility.

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Ecclesiastes 1:1

At the beginning of the first chapter, Solomon directs his readers to the authority given to him from God. The words of the title of Preacher have a spiritual connotation of gravity and driven concern for the welfare of others. Solomon has aspired himself to be a preacher, but why? It seems when one becomes incapacitated with insult and injury one begins to convey to others around to please listen to reason. In part this seems to be the motive because of the terrible price to be paid by ignoring the facts and the number one rule of the universe, “what goes around comes around”.

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
Ecclesiastes 1:2

It is disconcerting that with this authority he begins with a note of pessimisms, despair, concluding with the bizarre negative equation, “All is vanity”. The real question is why? What happened to this aspiring young King to turn him to ponder the dark side of life? Let’s face the truth, Solomon had it made beyond compare. He was the ‘golden boy’ of all Israel. His father, King David, had set the stage of life for his beloved son. All Solomon had to do was but follow thru to be successful with God and man. This all is recorded in the Book of I Kings beginning with chapter one and verse 28.

By the end of his life Solomon had all the wealth a man could muster in his life. We have all heard of the notorious mines that produced untold wealth. Over a period of time Solomon had all the beautiful women a man could gather in order to keep the alliances of close neighbors and a territory to rule that God himself handed to him on a silver platter. Let’s face it; Solomon didn’t draw a sword for forty years. Wow, that in itself is amazing! It seems that America cannot go without some kind of war scenario for more than ten years at a time. But something seriously had backfired in Solomon’s life.

“What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”
Ecclesiastes 1:3

Solomon began writing with serious doubt of his own existence. What’s the use he exclaimed! It is a waste of time and energy he continues to bog himself down with self pity and a sense of unworthiness. But why is this? Why is he so discouraged and bitter about life?

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11

To give further reasons to be discouraged with his life, Solomon goes into detail about how the inner workings of the cycles of the earth are compared to a man’s life. Yes, there is no doubt Solomon obtains carnal wisdom of the workings of science, math, and astrology, but there are places that those things tend to be left behind. I feel if one would look a little closer at Solomon, the consensus would conclude that Solomon had obtained a worldly or carnal edification of matters instead of spiritual insight. This is evident by just looking at Solomon’s achievements. Solomon seemly had focused on the temporal, while in contrast; his father David had acquired a Godly fear and reverence for matters of spiritual content. David’s reverential fear of God came by hardship and dry seasons of the soul without answers that could only come from the Creator himself. This seems to be the line drawn in the sand, the point of departure between Solomon and his father. With this writing, Solomon was expressing a season of spiritual drought that had crept upon him that was beginning to takes its toll.

After a while and given a little time, Solomon exclaims that even a man can be predictable as the seasons! To a certain degree, and given the license, mankind is predictable but, this can all be changed with the proper instruction from a higher and more reliable source than what we have here on earth. God encourages all of us to obtain wisdom and the only way to do this is to fear God in the very beginning. There are those who never experience the fear of God in their lives, but blessed are those who have! Maybe this is what Solomon is lacking in his life? As we read and discover for ourselves, Solomon does not possess the fear of God that his father had concluded with as King David exclaimed in the Psalms.

“I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. Ecclesiastes 1:12-16

In these next verses we can see what Solomon has attested to be fact by discovering the calculation of toil and labor with disciplined observance. Solomon claims to have obtained wisdom but complains of complications adjoining the conclusion of matters. He seems to give into exhaustion by admitting there is no sound reason to continue on. How can a man of his stature become so anesthetized and claim to have wisdom that cannot see beyond dismal circumstances? One would think with Solomon’s unfathomable resources that much could be accomplished resulting in a resounding joy of accomplishments. While the nation of Israel reveled in their King’s deeds, Solomon on the other hand neglected to celebrate along with them as having accomplished something of grandeur together. Sure, the country as a whole celebrated the building of the Temple as a national accomplishment. But, I feel Solomon didn’t share his father’s dream about his father’s personal goals being accomplished by the Golden Boy. This is the deluge that was flooding uncontrollably in Solomon’s mind. I perceive that after the fact of the Temple’s completion, Solomon began to waiver and flounder with no other direction but from his pagan wives with the insatiable whims of their pagan gods.

“And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:17-18

At this juncture, I perceive Solomon divulges the secret of his demise. He admits offhandedly, he made an irresponsible decision. He takes the wrong turn at the juncture of wisdom and madness, hand in hand with folly. Those are two roads, separate and different roads to travel. To leave wisdom is to follow madness and folly, but it is impossible to travel the two together. He was precise about one thing; it is vexation of spirit to depart from wisdom to experience folly. On the other hand, to leave the road of folly and place one upon the road of wisdom is to experience sheer joy and exuberant delight, the path of righteousness. From a man of considerable stature, Solomon mixed a lethal concoction of strong drink, foolishness, and a burlesque attitude towards the complex matters of state. When he gave himself to strong drink mixed with matters only to be attended by sobriety and wisdom, the tragic train wreck resulted in Solomon’s mind and heart. Thus, the summation of futility and foolhardiness to proceed any further was the only conclusion to be announced.

I have come to a conclusion of my own choosing that Solomon was writing without consideration of the magnitude and majesty of Almighty God. It seems to me if Solomon had ever once realized how great God really is and how small man is, this writing would have never taken place to begin with. Solomon was overwhelmed because he had unconsciously placed himself on the same plateau as God. Wealth and prosperity possesses the tendency to intoxicate a man past the point of self sufficiency. Yes, he was a great man beyond compare, but, nevertheless, Solomon was just a man, a natural man wallowing in self pity. No doubt, now it is foreseeable to understand Solomon had blinders on to prevent him from seeing the whole picture, the big picture that includes one being able to understand Almighty God, Jehovah, is the most important being in the universe. It would pay us well to take note that anything that takes our eyes off or away from God, His Son, Jesus, and His magnificence, has in itself become the curse that leads to our very demise. Therefore, Solomon became intoxicated with unnerving license and maneuverability, but completely unable to control his fear of disappointing his constituants, further accompanied by the pressures of too many wives and their false gods. Little did Solomon realize, that the wisdom that he attained wasn’t the same as what God endues to a man or woman with the precept of reverence and fear. Yes, God did answer his prayer to be able to know right from wrong, but that prayer fell short without Solomon obtaining the fear of the LORD that accompanies wisdom. This is the ingredient that makes wisdom so precious and sought after by mortal man. In short, what wisdom Solomon attained was perverted with whims of fleshly desires and thereby squandered by a foolish young man.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Expendable Children?

It was Friday after 4:00 PM and on my way home from work when I decided to turn down a side street when I came up upon a little girl playing with her bicycle. The closer I got to her the more I noticed how small and petite she was. I was amazed that she would be playing in the street by herself. I began thinking to myself that there is no way possible I would allow my little girl playing street like that. I began to think how devastating it would be to lose a child just by simple negligence. The more I thought about it the more downcast my heart became. I began to think of my children, my daughter and son, and my three grandsons; all are so precious to me. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to lose one of them. That is one experience I hope and pray never happens to me.

I began to think upon the Scriptures in the book of Genesis were Adam and Eve had lost a son, his name was Able. I contemplated how hard it must have been on Eve, the mother of all living. She had lost her eldest son by the hand of another son who had gotten mad and jealous of him. Adam and Eve both had to deal with a death for the very first time. After losing Able, they tried to comfort themselves by having another son, his name was Seth. I'm sure there was no comfort to be found no matter how many children they decided to have. They would always have empty place in their heart for their son Able and as long as they lived they would be reminded because there would always be the empty chair at the supper table.

When Able was born into this world he was an individual and could never be replaced. In our society today we don't realize the importance of a child's individuality. The truth is we are all unique. We all are irreplaceable no matter how we look at it. Yes, someone can step up to your place, but they cannot replace you. The world will have you to believe that you can be replaced and I have heard it said by parents that they could replace their children if they wanted to. If we really think about that statement, we will realize it is just a lie to smooth over the guilt and hurt.

Psalms of David describe his existence and his birth in this manner.

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” Psalms 139:1-18

As we read this Scripture we can attest how important the individual really is. David exclaims that he is fearfully and wonderfully made. But not only that, God has made him conscious of his own individuality. When we study the Bible we will come to realize how important every individual and every soul is in this world. God doesn't make people just to be making people. He brings people into this world by divine purpose even though we might not be able to see at the time. To us, some children might look like an accident; even so, God doesn't make mistakes. We make the mistakes and God alone can take our mistakes and makes something wonderful from it. Children are a gift of God no matter how they come into this world. When that same child leaves this world, his mark is indelible, never to be repeated again, irreplaceable.

“Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalms 127:3-5

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Ever Happened to the Sabbath Saturday Day of Rest?

As far back as I can remember I am brought to mind that my family and I have always observed Sunday as the Lord’s Day. I was brought up to believe that Sunday was the Sabbath and it was to be revered as the holiest day of the week by observing it in church somewhere. I find myself writing about this subject on Sunday morning at 4:00 am. It wasn’t until about eight years ago the Holy Spirit of God began to move in my heart and mind about the truth of the matter. I have discovered that if you keep asking God for the truth, sooner than later it will be revealed thru diligent study and prayer over the Bible.

I just knew in my heart that something was amiss because I kept reading for myself the account of the Bible in the Book of Genesis.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3

You might be saying to yourself, but this is Law and we are not under the Law, we are under grace. No doubt, you would be correct in part of this assumption. First of all, it is God’s Law of Creation. We cannot null and void what God has placed in motion such as the Moon and the Sun and the planets in orbit, no more can you and me null and void the command of God to observe the holiest day of the week, the creation day Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. The Word of God was given to Adam and Eve and was passed down through the generations. Secondly, there is no other day of the week that was sanctified or set aside and blessed by the creator to be a Holy Day. This command of Almighty God has been in place thousands of years before the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This Holy command has never been annulled by Jehovah God, nor I doubt, will ever be.

You might be thinking just now, if this be true, who changed this Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday? This is a very good question to answer. It is my practice to refrain from pointing fingers, but in this circumstance of revealing the truth of matters, I will have to leave what I practice for a few moments. The truth of the matter is that the creation day command of keeping the seventh day of the week, the Holy Sabbath Day, was changed by Pope Pius V. Yes, the Roman Catholic Pope took it upon himself to be Vicar and change the Holy Command of Jehovah God. This next statement is from the Roman Catholic Counsel.

2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ: 107 Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.108
2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."110
{Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church published by Liguori Publications, English translation copyright 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference Inc.}

So we see that the Roman Catholic Church took it upon themselves to change the times and Laws of the Creator to fit their wishes and whims. Who then are we to follow, the traditions of men, or the commands of God?

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Daniel 7:25

"If every Lord's Day is to be observed joyfully by the Christians on account of the resurrection, then every Sabbath on account of the burial is detestably Jewish. In fact all the disciples of the Lord lamented on the Sabbath, bewailing the buried Lord, and the Jews exulted. But sadness reigned for the fasting apostles. In like manner we are sad, saddened by the burial of the Lord, and rejoice with them in the Lord’s resurrection. Neither in fact is it proper to feast [on the Sabbath] as the Jewish custom observed by the Jews." {Source: Cardinal Humbert quoting Pope Sylvester I (A.D. 314-335)}

The Catholics are adamant only to mention this was a tradition of the Apostles which is correct. But, upon careful study of the Book of Acts, we can surmise for ourselves that the Apostles would never break the Sabbath Day to accommodate anyone, but rather added another day, the first day of the week to the Sabbath Day of rest. We have to remember that these Apostles where Jews themselves and brought up by their families to honor and revere the Holy Sabbath Day. I am convenience that none of these men would dare go against the command of God, much less the old Law of Moses. But they found a way to proceed with the work of our Saviour with the guidance of the Holy Spirit by adding the first day of the week to commence the works of our Lord. If we would take careful notice, we could see that the Apostles always observed the Sabbath Day by teaching and preaching in the Synagogues.

“And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.” Acts 18:18-21

Upon careful study we can see that the Sabbath was always observed by the Apostles and commenced to extend the Holy Day by coming together to collect alms and offerings for the poor of other locations.

“And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:6-7

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality (alms and offerings) unto Jerusalem.” 1Corinthians 16:1-3

Thought the Apostles kept the Sabbath Day, the first day of the week, Sunday, was never said or expounded as a Holy Day of rest. In fact, the Apostle Paul used Sunday to commence the work of the Lord by carrying the monies collected from other fellowships which would be in violation of the Holy Sabbath Day of rest. We can also see through the help of the Scripture that the Apostles would never start out on a journey on the Holy Sabbath Day.

This excuse of the Roman Catholic Church to use the assumed approval of the Sunday as being the Lord’s Day is a violation of the Holy Command of Jehovah God. No one or no church has the authority to change the Creation Law set aside, sanctified by Almighty God. Unfortunately, this has happened and there will be judgment forth coming.

Finally, we have the example of our LORD to remember.

“For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day. And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:” Matthew 12:8-9

I encourage Christian’s everywhere to read the Scripture for yourselves and allow the Holy Spirit of God to guide you into all truth. The truth can set you free!