- David Fairchild
- Apr 3, 2005
- Series: Ecclesiastes
Solomon now finishes this great work of wisdom from his heart of repentance. Solomon sticks his dismount by telling each of us how to find true and lasting wisdom, which we know blossoms into joy.
Each week I offer a prelude to where we’re going in our study so that you can keep your ears open for clues to this difficult work. This week, I’ll simply say- buckle up, put your helmet on, and if this is your first visit to Kaleo it may be your last.
1-WISDOM IS FOUND IN THE WISE
Verses 9-10- In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
2-WISDOM IS FOUND IN PAINFUL CORRECTION
Verse 11- The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.
3-WISDOM IS FOUND IN THE STUDY OF THE RIGHT BOOKS
Verse 12- But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.
Here it is- this is the big dance- are you ready? Listen carefully if you want to be wise…
4-WISDOM IS FOUND IN THE FEAR OF GOD
Verse 13a- The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God…
Fearing God doesn’t mean you simply parrot the term “reverential awe” and that sums the subject up nicely. I want us to understand what this means and live it!
We should search the scriptures from Old to New Testament to discover what the Bible has to say about this subject.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
What we should notice is when the Bible speaks about a subject on several dozen occasions, we should be wise and investigate its claims. For example: The Bible speaks of our love to God, His name, His law, and His Word, a total of 88 times. This is the sum total of both the Old and New testaments, counting every verse that speaks of man’s love toward God. This breaks down to 45 references in the Old and 43 references in the New Testament.
Since man’s love toward God is mentioned so many times in the Bible, it is pretty obvious that this is important to God that we love Him personally and also love His name and His law. The fact the God had to tell us to love Him 88 times reveals that He is concerned that we do so.
Secondly, the Bible speaks of our trusting in God, His name, and His Word, 91 times. This breaks down to 82 times in the Old and 9 times in the New Testament. We shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that because it is mentioned so many times in the Old Testament, that it is not really important today, we must understand that the New Testament assumes what the Old Testament has already established. So, the New Testament assumes such virtues as trusting in God because it was clearly taught in the Old Testament.
When we come to the subject of the fear of God, the Bible speaks of it 278 times! I am referring to all of the places in Scripture where it speaks of men fearing God, His name, His Law or His Word.
In the Old Testament there are 235 references to the fear of God. In the New Testament there are 43 references to the fear of God, which, by the way, 43 is the same number of references as man’s love to God.
We will see from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible proclaims that the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life and those who drink deeply of it shall have blessings of God in this life and in the life to come. However, those who reject the fear of the Lord will end up in the ways of death.
We really have to be biblically ignorant to think that we shouldn’t fear God. “Behold the kindness and severity of God (Romans 11:22).”
Think about the stories from Scripture-
Genesis 3- God gives Adam and Eve warning to not disobey Him or they will die. Adam and Eve take it upon themselves to test the limits of God’s word by believing a slithering serpent instead of God and find that God wasn’t joking and the wage for their sin is death.
Genesis 6- God is so sickened by the sin of mankind, that all their deeds and hearts were continually wicked, that He wipes out every person on earth except for Noah and his family.
Genesis 19- A few chapters later, man repopulates the earth and what do we see in Sodom? The men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked (Gen. 13:13), so God rained down fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah until all that was left was smoke that came up like that out of a furnace. Everyone that was left in the city was killed.
Exodus 11- We’re given the story of Pharaoh and his insistence to disobey the command of God by not letting God’s people go. God sends plagues upon Egypt and then after sending multiple plagues, God sends a mist that comes into the land of Egypt and kills every firstborn throughout the land.
Acts 5:1-11 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. 7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?" And she said, "Yes, that was the price." 9 Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well." 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
Romans 3:18 "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."
1 Corinthians 11:30- In the church of Corinth, men and women were taking communion in an unworthy manner and not confessing their sins before God, not considering what it represented, and God was making them sick and killing them. Can you even imagine coming forward to take communion and you dip the bread in the cup and take it in your mouth and God strikes you dead? The next guy has to step over your body to take communion because you’re dead from dishonoring God and not esteeming His holiness.
I believe one of the main reasons for you and I not fearing God is because we don’t really see Him as a holy God.
The word “holiness” is often used as a way to describe moral purity. Though there is nothing wrong with this, this is not the main intent of the word. The secondary meaning is that which refers to personal righteousness and purity. The primary meaning of the word means “separate.” That which is holy is that which is other, different than something else.
When the bible speaks of God’s holiness, it refers to God’s transcendence to show that God is higher than anything in the realm of creatures. God is different than any creation.
Psychologists over the last several decades have catalogued for us phobias that man has. Fears that man is consumed by. There is acrophobia which is the fear of heights, there is arachnophobia which is the fear of spiders, agoraphobia which is the fear of going outside, and several others which we at times laugh and make fun of.
One of the strongest phobias and most difficult to overcome is xenophobia which is the fear of strangers or foreigners. These people have a fear of people that are different and have different customs. The supreme form of xenophobia which we have is the fear of the living God because he is so different than us, so other than us, higher than us, holy.
Psalms 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
Psalms 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
The reason we don’t fear Him is because we don’t stand in awe of Him. But the God we service is a holy God.
Leviticus 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
This seems as if God is a God of arbitrary wrath and capriciousness. It seems as if His anger flares up for no good reason. As if God is unjust in His judgments.
Here are these young priests doing something they shouldn’t be doing, experimenting, goofing around with “strange fire” and without warning, God strikes them dead. Can you imagine Aaron’s response to His two boys being struck dead by the God he serves. I know this is crushing to you Aaron, but anyone who dares to presume to minister in my name without reverence, I will see to it that I am treated as holy. Aaron said nothing in response, which was wise.
2 Samuel 6:3-7 They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. 4 So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. 5 Meanwhile, David and all the house of >Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. 6 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. 7 And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.
The Tribe of Levi was set apart for God for the priesthood and education of God’s people. Within that tribe, each family was given a specific task, the family of Kohath, which is Levi’s offspring, was given a specific task and that task was to take care of these sacred objects and treasures. These kids were taught from childhood. The one thing they knew from childhood that they were not supposed to do..ever…was to touch the ark of the covenant. They were in a hurry and were trying to carry it down, and Uzzah assumed that his hands were less polluted than the dirt. Nothing about the dirt would desecrate God, the earth did exactly what it was supposed to do, turn into mud when God sent rain, dry and harden when God’s sun shined upon it. The dirt obeyed God, but God struck Uzzah dead for his presumption in touching the throne of God. The hand of man was not supposed to touch what God made holy.
Exodus 3:4-6 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." 5 Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6 He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Job 40:1-14 Then the LORD said to Job, 2 "Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it." 3 Then Job answered the LORD and said, 4 "Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 "Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more." 6 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said, 7 "Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. 8 "Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? 9 "Or do you have an arm like God, And can you thunder with a voice like His? 10 "Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity, And clothe yourself with honor and majesty. 11 "Pour out the overflowings of your anger, And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. 12 "Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him, And tread down the wicked where they stand. 13 "Hide them in the dust together; Bind them in the hidden place. 14 "Then I will also confess to you, That your own right hand can save you.
This was the great man who was the most righteous in all the land and when He was confronted with the holiness of God, all he could do was to put his hand over his mouth.
What about the righteous prophet Isaiah?
Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."
We know from John 12:41, that this is none other than Christ in all His Kingly royalty sitting upon His thrown. Then John, when He is exiled to the island of Patmos, is given a similar vision in more detail.
Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."
Revelation 15:4 "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED."
In our human experience there is something about the holiness of God that attracts us. But there is also something about His otherness that repels us, that frightens us, that causes us to look away. On the one hand we are fascinated, and on the other hand we are terrified. We are drawn to Him and yet we are traumatized by His holiness.
In the New Testament we are taught by Christ that we are to pursue this God and desire His holiness. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray Jesus said to them when they pray they are to pray like this- Our Father, who is in heaven, “HALLOWED IS YOUR NAME…” The first thing the disciples are to petition God for is that His name would be considered Holy. Holy is His name.
The real mystery of iniquity is not that Holy God would punish a profane, rebellious creature. The real mystery is that God would be patient and allow His creatures who commit high treason against His throne. The real mystery is that God would have any desire to save anyone and bring an unholy, defiled person into fellowship with a holy and perfect God.
When God is feared and revered as Holy. When God is seen for who He truly is, from His own self-disclosure, His creature who is brought into fellowship with Him by His own undeserved grace, obeying God is not burdensome.
5-WISDOM IS FOUND IN OBEYING GOD
Verse 12b- …and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
This applies to every person, even those that don’t fear and honor the Holy One. Man is separated from God because of His defiled nature, and because of His sin against a perfect and holy God. It isn’t for getting a question wrong on a multiple choice test of gods, it is because God’s commands are broken and His throne is sinned against by those He made out of the dirt and breathed the breath of life into purely from His good grace.
Man cries out “that’s not fair!” We have no idea the difference between justice and mercy. God is never obligated to give mercy to a rebellious creature. Mercy is an intrusion and should never to be expected or it is not mercy. God is both merciful and just. If God was not just, He would cease to be a good God.
Some of you don’t think you are a pretty good person and haven’t broken God’s commandments. You think God judges on a curve, or that compared to other people you’re not that bad. The problem is that God doesn’t make judgments for your eternity based upon comparing you to other people. Even the wicked can find someone more wicked than themselves.
But since some of you believe that you haven’t broken God’s commands, let’s take a look at them and see. By His standard of moral perfection, do you pass the test?
ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'
Many of you may assume that you have not broken this command. Let me ask you this- Is God your overwhelming passion and are you consumed with desires for His presence without end? Having another god is basically that which you worship or give your time, life, love and passions to that are not the One, True, God of the bible.
Having “no other gods” means that all others are false and only He is true. No other “god” should ever be before this Holy God. This is not just a command to have God as the one who rules over all your other gods you worship. This is the exclusive relationship wherein God is the only God you worship. Has there ever been a time where you didn’t worship God alone?
TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself an idol--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'
This is essentially idolatry. It means making any image whether physical or in imagination, which would be placed higher than God. An idol is simply something that we worship with time, money, energy, resources, affections and passions that takes greater importance than the true God. Have you ever done this in your life?
THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.' for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Have we ever dishonored God’s name by swearing to God then not performing what we swore, taking his name lightly or irreverently, or using it as a curse word?
FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'
Have we ever treated the Lords day as just another day? Do you work on the Lord’s day as if there is nothing special about it?
FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.'
Have you ever dishonored your mom and dad? Spoken to them with disrespect?
SIX: 'You shall not murder.'
Now you think you’re off the hook, right? You think “I have never murdered someone.” But Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.
SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.'
I have never committed adultery! This one I certainly haven’t broken, right? Jesus said Matthew 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.'
I have never stolen anything! Really? Have you ever borrowed something and not given it back? That’s stealing, irrespective of the value. Whether it is a pen or $100, makes no difference.
NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'
Have you ever told a lie about someone? How many lies do you have to tell to be considered a liar? Just one.
TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour's.'
Have you ever been jealous of what someone else has? Cars, clothes, money, house, looks, body? That is coveting what your neighbor has.
How did you do on the test? James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
If we want true justice, God would wipe each of us off the face of the earth this moment and deal with us according to His perfect justice. God’s grace and mercy should be amazing to us and treasured because we see His holiness, His perfection and otherness, and it makes grace profound.
Paul tells us in Philippians, that Christians are “to work out their salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
1 John 1:5-6 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
1 John 2:3-4 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 2:28-29 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Solomon now sticks the dismount by teaching us about judgment…
6-WISDOM IS FOUND IN REPENTANCE
Verse 14>- For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Solomon concludes Ecclesiastes with a warning about judgment, and so we shall briefly examine what the rest of the Bible has to say about judgment.
Some of you don’t like the fact that God judges. God is no one to screw with! Do you have any idea who you are messing around with?
If you don’t know Christ, you are worshipping the false God, and you have picked a fight with the real God. If you think God is going to wink at your sin when He had the courage to pour out His wrath upon His own son on the cross, He will have no problem with the likes of you.
Many of you think because you sin and don’t receive immediate judgment, it means that His judgment is negated.> But His judgment is coming. And what does this verse say He is brining into judgment? All things!!!!!
We live in a culture that despises any notion of judgment, because to judge presumes that someone is right and someone else is wrong. Since the opening pages of Genesis people have wanted to be their own god, to decree what is good and what is evil and trust in themselves; alternately, if we embrace the facts that we are the creation and God is the creator, and that we belong to God, our lives will begin to get straightened as we stop fighting and acknowledge Him as the ruling authority in our lives.
The Bible mentions a number of judgments, a few of which are listed below:
The curse was a judgment upon human sin (Genesis 3:15-24).
At the cross sin was judged in the death of Jesus (I Peter 2:13-24):“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
Upon death everyone will stand before God for judgment (Hebrews 9:27):“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…”
At the end of time non-Christians will be judged for their degree of sinfulness and sent into eternal hell (Revelation 20:11-15).
At the end of time, Christians will be judged for their degree of sinfulness and sent into an eternal heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10):”
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
In this life, if we judge ourselves we will spare ourselves painful judgments from God (1 Corinthians 11:31): “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.”
Lastly, this reverential obedience to God that Solomon is compelling us toward is the end that wise people seek. In Christ’s love, we find the means to that end (I John 4:9-10): “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-11 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.