Ecclesiastes 3: God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time — but he’s left us in the dark.
One of the famous parts of Ecclesiastes is his “a time to plant and another to reap” section in which he lists all the opposites of life and decides they all have their proper place. The writer is impressed by all God has done in the world, but frustrated that he can’t understand the meaning of it all. I played golf with a fellow who had a long pre-shot routine that he went through every time he hit the ball. He shuffled his feet a specific way, waggled the club for what seemed to be an eternity, and then stood frozen over the ball before finally hitting his horrible slice. I wanted to shout out, “Just hit the ball!” No doubt, he needed some golfing lessons, but even I could see that he was over-thinking his golf swing. He had himself tied up in knots and it created, not an athletic, fluid golf shot, but a poor shot and a frustrated golfer. Solomon is frustrated that, after all his thinking and considering, he can’t understand all God does. He decides that “there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life.” That isn’t a ticket to living an immoral, God-ignoring life, but it’s a reminder that life is a gift of God and if we over-think it we, like my golfer friend, will spend way too much time out in the weeds rather than enjoying the beauty that has been freely given to us.
Take Away: Life is a gift meant to be enjoyed.
Tag Archives: freedom
2Kings13: It didn’t make any difference: They didn’t change their lives.
Jehoahaz takes his father’s place on the throne if Israel but there’s no religious reform. Instead, he continues down the path of God-ignoring idol worship. As happened during the time of the Judges, God allows the enemies of Israel to come in and dominate them. For years the people are miserable in this sorry state of affairs. Finally, Jehoahaz humbly comes to God confessing his sins and the sins of the people. In his mercy, God answers, raising up a warrior who drives the invaders out. Of course, this results in a great revival of Jehovah worship. At least it should have. Without missing a beat they continue their idol worship with hardly a tip of the hat to God. Once again, I see here the mercy and patience of God. No question, he wants to care for us and to bless our lives. Also, there’s the truth that mere human freedom is not the ultimate need of man. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in freedom and thank God for it. However, the greatest need of humanity is not for liberty. Rather, the need is for changed hearts. Otherwise, everything else is just window dressing.
Take Away: Everything else comes up short when compared to the transformation the Lord brings to lives.
Playing “let’s make a deal” with God
Jeremiah 34: The army of the king of Babylon has pulled back…but not for long.
One of the many acts of rebellion against God committed by Judah is that of making slaves of their fellow countrymen. God forbade this from the very beginning of their existence as a nation, even as they came up out of Egyptian slavery. With things falling apart as Babylon’s army’s about to take the city of Jerusalem King Zedekiah frees all the salves. It appears that he’s playing “let’s make a deal” with God. In fact, the Lord seems to agree to the deal. Nebuchadnezzar withdraws his army and for the time being Jerusalem is spared. At this point Zedekiah does a stupid thing. He reneges on freeing the slaves. Those who have been set free are put back into slavery. The result is quite predictable. Once again Jeremiah comes forward with a message from the Lord. He says God’s going to set Zedekiah free in the same way: free to face war and destruction; to face the wrath of God expressed through a foreign king. Nebuchadnezzar will return to Jerusalem to finish what he started. I don’t think it’s ever wise to make deals with God. Sometimes, I think God sees us as we see a child who promises to keep his room clean the rest of his life if we let him stay up to watch a favorite TV show. We know the child can’t keep his side of the deal. In general, though, God expects us to keep our word. Zedekiah should have stayed with his move to make things right. In failing to do so, he became, not only a law-breaker once again, but a liar too.