Old Testament: Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14
Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14 The Meaning Of Life
Today we finish up Solomon’s take on “life under the sun.”
In chapter 10, Solomon makes observations on the absurdities of life. A fly can mess up all the best efforts of a perfumer (v. 1). Stay cool if your boss gets mad at you. It could calm him down (v. 4). Sometimes fools end up in places of authority (v. “folly,” v. 6, “fools,” Living Bible). It’s better to work smart than work hard sometimes (v. 10). “Money is the answer to everything,” verse 19 probably doesn’t actually mean money is the answer to everything. There may be some sarcasm and a slap to the rich who solve everything with money. Poor people have to trust the Lord. Verse 20 could be the source of the saying, “A little birdie told me.”
In chapter 11, “Cast your bread on the waters and after many days it will return to you” doesn’t mean give your money to televangelists necessarily. You could just end up with soggy bread. The meaning is that you spread around your wealth generously, when you need help from others they will want to respond (Prov. 11:24). (Check out today’s NT blog below for more on giving and devotional for today What’s In Your Wallet?.)
McGee says this chapter is about the “do-gooder” who likes to travel down the middle on everything. They like to play things safe. But God says that kind of a person who is neither hot nor cold will get “spewed” out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). He would rather have disciples that are on fire for Him (cf. Rev. 3:15). To play things safe, you can spread your money around in different investments (v. 2). If someone just watches the wind, he will never plant crops (v. 4). Things won’t ever get better, if you are just looking from an earthly perspective (v. 8c). Enjoy your youth while you can but don’t have too much fun because there will be a judgment day (v. 9-10) and it won’t last forever.
In chapter 12, Solomon brings everything to a conclusion. Solomon again tells young people to enjoy their youths. He then writes a clever paean to old age with metaphors for everything in the body that can break down (v. 3-4). Here’s how it breaks down:
watchmen = arms, hands
mighty men = legs
grinding ones = teeth
windows = eyes
doors on the street = ears
arising at sound of birds = not being able to sleep
daughters of song = weakened voice or possibly ears
afraid of heights = broken hips?
almond tree blossoming = white hair
grasshopper drags = decreased mobility
caperberry is ineffective = sexually impotent
mourners = at a funeral
silver cord broken = leading to death when the pitcher drops and wheel at the cistern no longer work
Conclusion: All life is futile (v. 8). But remember this is the perspective “under the sun.”
The point of Solomon’s writing is to lead people to the One Shepherd (v. 11). In our age we know the One Shepherd as Jesus but to Solomon, He was known only as Yahweh. Don’t tell anyone in college or grad school that the studying of many book leads only to “weariness of the body” (v. 12). If all we do is accumulate a lot of knowledge and don’t submit to God, it is all worthless. It is “fear of God” that makes life meaningful (v. 13, cf. 5:4–6; 7:17–18). “Fear” in this context means to give God His proper reverence and praise. It is shown by “obeying His commandments,” not the least of which would be to trust His Son for salvation.
Life “under the sun” without God is worthless. Life lived without God will ultimately be judged (v. 14).
There you have it. The meaning of life in twelve chapters!
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Mite-y Woman
I used to get in trouble with my church when I said “tithing” is not in the Bible. They would show me verses that spoke of tithing. Tithing simply means giving ten percent of income. But ten percent of gross or ten percent of net. And what about if you’re in business. Do you tithe all the profit or just the profit that isn’t put back into the business? It gets so complicated when one is legalistic. What if you don’t have ten percent to give and still pay bills? Should a rich person just give ten percent if he still has a million left over? Is he off the hook?
Paul writes two full chapters on giving to the Corinthians and guess what? Tithing isn’t mentioned once! But if you really want to give ten percent and you feel good about that consider
1) Abraham gave ten percent after he basically had just won the lottery and became filthy rich (Gen. 14:20),
2) Jacob basically bribed God with a tithe only if God blessed him (Gen. 28:20-22, notice the “if” in verse 20)
3) the Hebrews gave 23.33 percent a year (three different “tithes,” check out Ryrie on Mal. 3: 8, “Two tithes were required:an annual tithe for the maintenance of the Levites (Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:21) and a second tithe brought to Jerusalem for the Lord’s feast (Deut. 14:22). Every third year, however, the second tithe was kept at home and used for the poor (Deut. 14:28)
4) if you had two coats, you were to give one away: 50% (Luke 3:11)
5) the widow put everything she had in the offering (“two mites,” approximately two cents): 100% (Mark 12:42-4)
Now we are ready to see what Paul said about true Biblical giving.
Paul commends the believers in northern Greece for giving even beyond what would have been reasonable (vv. 1-4). They were able to do this by first giving themselves totally to the Lord (v. 5). Titus was sent to enable the Corinthians to participate in the giving. Paul’s appeal is marked by a lack of the hype and sensationalism so often characteristic of present day appeals.
The Corinthians’ model was to be Christ who was rich but became poor for their sakes (v. 9). The result was that they had become rich spiritually. The Corinthians were the first to give generously to other churches. Paul hopes they will continue with the same generosity (v. 11).
Here is the New Testament rule in a nutshell: give proportionately to what you have, not according to what you don’t have (v. 12, so much for “tithing”!).
The idea was that poor people wouldn’t be strained but so that there would be “equality” in giving (v. 14a). They may be in need in the future and other churches would be able to help them (v. 14b). Paul uses the Israelites’ supply of manna in the wilderness as an illustration. They all had what they needed though some were able to pick up more manna than others (v. 15, cf. Exod. 16:16-18).