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Lowell Brueckner

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Ecclesiastes 4


Chapter 4

1.  Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 
2.  And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 
3.  But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. 
4.  Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 
5.  The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh. 
6.  Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. 
7.  Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 
8.  one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, "For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?" This also is vanity and an unhappy business. 
9.  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 
10.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 
11.  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 
12.  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 
13.  Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 
14.  For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 
15.  I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king's place. 
16.  There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind. 

 A news crew, complete with a cameraman and interviewer, crowded the room of an old man on his bed. He said repeatedly, “Go away, get away!” Yet he was cordial and kind to his visitors, prompting the interviewer to ask, “Who do you want to go away?” It is clear to me that he was accosting unseen beings, who had accompanied him for decades and were now claiming his soul. Charles Templeton was the mentor of a young preacher by the name of Billy Graham. 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-22


Eternity in the heart

9.   What gain has the worker from his toil?
10.  I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 
11.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 
12.  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 
13.  also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man. 
14.  I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 
15.  That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. 

The purpose of this book is to provoke the reader to think and to rightly assess his life and actions. Too many go through the motions of life with no regard to the purpose, for which they live. They tend to be mechanical, functioning like a machine, habitual and routine. The practice of preaching is designed to disturb the sleeping conscience and warn the soul of the startling speed, at which he is hurtling towards his destiny. The question, with which this section begins… “What gain has the worker from his toil”… is directed towards the individual to cause him to sincerely consider, if there is any real purpose in his actions (v.9). The answer is not given, but it is assumed that there is no real profit in that for which the bulk of the world’s population is involved. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


Chapter 3


1.  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
2.  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
3.  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
4.  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
5.  a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
6.  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
7.  a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
8.  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 

An honest study of Ecclesiastes destroys a certain falsified Christianity, based on human goodness and compassion. An old friend of mine referred to this as “The Bleeding Hearts Club”. He categorized its members under a banner of external “saintliness”, who revel in the gentle breeze of tender speech, peaceful tolerance and a trusting acceptance of all. They are appalled at every evidence of anger, voices raised in protest and the severity of discipline. They all but eliminate the exposure of sin from their conversation and eternal punishment from their creed. Their love covers a multitude of sins, without any blood sacrifice whatsoever.

Many over-simplify God, in order to fit Him into their mentality. They think that they understand him and are scandalized by the entrance of a manifestation from the presence of God that differs from their concept. They exclaim, “God would never do that!”  They claim to have learned that the Creator is always involved in the positive and good. They find it difficult to accept a Sovereign, who can be angered, capable of hate and involved in casting people into hell. I very clearly recall the confession of one lady Bible-teacher: “I cannot believe that my god would cast anyone into hell.” (I purposely neglected to capitalize the “g” in god. I believe she was an idolatress, who had created a false god in her mind.)  

Ecclesiastes 2:12-26


The World of Intellect and the Lack of It

12.  So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 
13.  Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 
14.  The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 
15.  Then I said in my heart, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?" And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 
16.  For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 
17.  So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. 

We turn with the preacher, as he takes the whole field of wisdom, including knowledge and the intellect, into consideration. At the other end of the spectrum is the lack of wisdom, a state of insanity and foolishness. First, he takes into account something which he has already presented to us, which is the law of basic sameness; nothing is new under the sun. He sees that the following king, regardless of his intellectual efforts, cannot bring about anything that can really be called progress. He will come back to this principle in verse 18.