BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday December 1, 2013
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
(Pursuing GOD as our greatest goal)
Ecclesiastes 11:1-10 & 12:13-14
One of the key points that Solomon continues to make in the book of Ecclesiastes is that, as human beings we are, for the most part, ignorant concerning GOD’s sovereignty, providence, and control over our existence, time, and the function of all creation in general. However, when we become aware of the greatness of GOD, we should not let that knowledge lead to “gross inactivity” and “a giving up on life”, taking on an attitude of, “What’s the use in trying”.
GOD still blesses us with “wills that are free”, or a “freedom of choice”, and life’s circumstances are dictated by those choices, and not by some “personal pre-destined path that we are forced by GOD to go down, whether we want to or not”. It is in that light of understanding that one must approach his or her study of this “divine”, but also, “humanistic” book called Ecclesiastes.
Here is chapter 11 Solomon begins by advising us on the benefits of giving. However, Solomon is not suggesting that, by doing so, we are putting GOD in our debt, or putting another person into our debt. That would be “lending”, not “giving”. And while some lending can be good, we can’t lend to GOD, and giving to someone in need is always better than lending. Our generosity should always come from the heart, and not from “selfish motives” such as self promotion, trying to compete with others, or giving expecting something in return (Vs.1-2).
In verses 3-6 we see a somewhat peculiar analogy being used by Solomon, of “clouds” and “trees”. Here he imparts wisdom, seemingly to the farmer, but upon closer examination we see that this advice can also be applied to anyone’s trade. It is a reminder to remain diligent in plying our trade, or, even in our approach to any of life’s many situations.
Even though a farmer can’t always rely on the proper amount of rainfall that is needed to water his crops, and sometimes gale force winds capable of uprooting trees can thoroughly destroy the crop that he has sown for later harvest, he still must not give up on his work. A fallen tree can still be used for firewood to keep him warm when the days grow cold (v.3).
None of us can afford to wait on perfect conditions before we begin to act on a task. As mere humans, we have no earthly idea what GOD may choose to do regarding the weather, or anything else. GOD’s ways are as mysterious as the intricacies of a child being formed in a woman’s womb, and is as unpredictable as the wind (Vs.4-5). That is why it is best not to put all one’s eggs into one basket, but rather, we would be better off planting a variety of crops, or investing in a variety of ventures, and we never know which ones will be fruitful, and just maybe, they all will (v.6).
In Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8, Solomon, for the most part, urges us to rejoice in our youth, through “responsible living”. In fact, this passage can actually be divided into three sections;
· The first section, 11:7-8, is a call for us to enjoy life, even in the view of impending death. In this section, Solomon writes metaphorically of light and darkness, as elements of life and death. He encourages his readers to enjoy life as it comes, because life, like the pleasant light of the sun, should be enjoyed before the coming darkness of “night”, or “death”. The grave, in Old Testament understanding, was called one’s eternal home.
· In the second section, 11:9-10, Solomon warns that our enjoyment of life should begin in our youth, because youth gets away from us quickly. However, he also warns, that our enjoyment should be resigned to responsible living, because ultimately, everyone is answerable to GOD, and all of us will have to make an account to GOD, for the deeds done in our lifetimes.
· In the third section, 12:1-7, Solomon stresses the importance of the responsible enjoyment of youth, because old age is a time of increasing decay and corrosion of one’s physical body that, ultimately, culminates in death. Solomon brilliantly uses this description of death to motivate responsible living in our youth. It is, in effect, a reversal of Creation, as our spirit returns to GOD, who gave it, and we are in the end, judged by HIM.
In Ecclesiastes 12, verses 12-13 Solomon concludes the book of Ecclesiastes with these thoughts and admonitions for all that are wise enough to accept them. We find here in this passage, perhaps the first sign, or inkling, that its author is clearly aware of GOD’s special revelation in Scripture. And even now this final verse may only refer to the “moral nature” and “knowledge” that GOD innately places in every human being. Here Solomon states:
“There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting! Here is my final conclusion: Fear GOD and obey HIS commands, for this is the duty of every person. GOD will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad” (NLT).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website