We take a look at Spiritism and Human Relations
CUT TO: EXT TEMPLE COURT A open air market place is being held in a temple court. They are selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. We see Nicodemus standing there admiring the business being done. Jesus walks up with his disciples. He is carrying a whip made out of cords. He drives out the merchants, sheep and cattle from the temple area. He scatters the coins of the money changers and overturns their tables.
JESUS Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!
NICODEMUS What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?
JESUS Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.
NICODEMUS It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and your are going to raise it in three days? Jesus walks off. Nicodemus becomes infuriated.
NICODEMUS (CONT’D) This man is dangerous, I better follow him. Nicodemus walks off following Jesus. CUT TO: EXT.
PATH TO A RIVER BANK Jesus is walking down the path toward the river. At the river bank John the Baptist is baptizing people in the water. Nicodemus is following at a distance. When John sees Jesus coming toward him he says:
JOHN Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.
JOHN (CONT’D) I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me. ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” At the top of the river bank, Nicodemus had stood and watched. He appears to be impressed. Jesus walks back up the path with Nicodemus following at a distance. CUT TO: EXT
PATH TO A RIVER BANK As he follows Jesus away they meet a government official. Nicodemus thinks that the official is looking for him, so he rushes forward. But the official goes directly to Jesus.
JESUS Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.
OFFICIAL Sir, come down before my child dies.
JESUS You may go. Your son will live. The official rushes off. And Jesus continues down the path with Nicodemus following at a distance. CUT TO: EXT
Ecclesiastes Book Overview
|Purpose:||To spare future generations the bitterness of learning through their own experience that life is meaningless apart from God|
|To Whom Written:||Solomon’s subjects in particular, and all people in general|
|Date Written:||Probably around 935 b.c., late in Solomon’s life|
|Setting:||Solomon was looking back on his life, much of which was lived apart from God|
|Key Verse:||“Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person” (12:13).|
The molded bunny lies in the basket, surrounded by green paper “grass.” With Easter morning eyes wide with anticipation, the little boy carefully lifts the chocolate figure and bites into one of the long ears. But the sweet taste fades quickly, and the child looks again at the candy in his hand. It’s hollow!
Empty, futile, hollow, nothing—the words have a ring of disappointment and disillusionment. Yet this is the life experience of many. Grasping the sweet things—possessions, experience, power, and pleasure—they find nothing inside. Life is empty, meaningless—and they sink into despair.
Almost 3,000 years ago, Solomon spoke of this human dilemma; but the insights and applications of his message are relevant to our time. Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s written sermon, is an analysis of life’s experiences and a critical essay about life’s true meaning. In this profound book, Solomon takes us on a reflective journey through his life, explaining how everything he had tried, tested, or tasted had been “meaningless”—useless, irrational, pointless, foolish, and empty—an exercise in futility. And remember, these words are from one who “had it all”—tremendous intellect, power, and wealth. After this biographical tour, Solomon made his triumphant 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” (12:13, 14).
When Solomon became king, he asked God for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:7-12), and he became the wisest man in the world (1 Kings 4:29-34). He studied, taught, judged, and wrote. Kings and leaders from other nations came to Jerusalem to learn from him. But with all of his practical insight on life, Solomon failed to heed his own advice, and he began a downward spiral. Near the end of his life, Solomon looked back with an attitude of humility and repentance. He took stock of his life, hoping to spare his readers the bitterness of learning through personal experience that everything apart from God is empty, hollow, and meaningless.
Although the tone of Ecclesiastes is negative and pessimistic, we must not conclude that the only chapter worth reading and applying is the last one, where he draws his conclusions. In reality, the entire book is filled with practical wisdom (how to accomplish things in the world and stay out of trouble) and spiritual wisdom (how to find and know eternal values). Solomon had a very honest approach to life. All of his remarks relating to the futility of life are there for a purpose: to lead us to seek fulfillment and happiness in God alone. He was not trying to destroy all hope, but to direct our hopes to the only one who can truly fulfill them and give our life meaning. Solomon affirms the value of knowledge, relationships, work, and pleasure, but only in their proper place. All of these temporal things in life must be seen in light of the eternal.
Read Ecclesiastes and learn about life. Hear the stern warnings and dire predictions, and commit yourself to remember your Creator now (12:1).
|1. Solomon’s personal experience (1:1–2:26)
2. Solomon’s general observations (3:1–5:20)
3. Solomon’s practical counsel (6:1–8:17)
4. Solomon’s final conclusion (9:1–12:14)
|Ecclesiastes shows that certain paths in life lead to emptiness. This profound book also helps us discover true purpose in life. Such wisdom can spare us from the emptiness that results from a life without God. Solomon teaches that people will not find meaning in life through knowledge, money, pleasure, work, or popularity. True satisfaction comes from knowing that what we are doing is part of God’s purpose for our life. This is a book that can help free us from our scramble for power, approval, and money, and draw us closer to God.|
|Searching||Solomon searched for satisfaction almost as though he was conducting a scientific experiment. Through this process, he discovered that life without God is a long and fruitless search for enjoyment, meaning, and fulfillment. True happiness is not in our power to attain because we always want more than we can have. In addition, there are circumstances beyond our control that can snatch away our possessions or attainments.||People are still searching. Yet the more they try to get, the more they realize how little they really have. No pleasure or happiness is possible without God. Without him, satisfaction is a lost search. Above everything we should strive to know and love God. He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy.|
|Emptiness||Solomon shows how empty it is to pursue the pleasures that this life has to offer rather than seek to have a relationship with the eternal God. The search for pleasure, wealth, and success is ultimately disappointing. Nothing in the world can fill the emptiness and satisfy the deep longings in our restless hearts.||The cure for emptiness is to center on God. His love also can fill the emptiness of human experience. Fear God throughout your life, and fill your life with serving God and others rather than with selfish pleasures.|
|Work||Solomon tried to shake people’s confidence in their own efforts, abilities, and wisdom and to direct them to faith in God as the only sound basis for living. Without God, there is no lasting reward or benefit in hard work.||Work done with the wrong attitude will leave us empty. But work accepted as an assignment from God can be seen as a gift. Examine what you expect from your efforts. God gives you abilities and opportunities to work so that you can use your time well.|
|Death||The certainty of death makes all human achievements futile. God has a plan for each one of us that goes beyond life and death. The reality of aging and dying reminds each individual of the end to come when God will judge each person’s life.||Because life is short, we need wisdom that is greater than this world can offer. We need the words of God so we can live right. If we listen to him, his wisdom spares us the bitterness of futile human experience and gives us a hope that goes beyond death.|
|Wisdom||Human wisdom doesn’t contain all the answers. Knowledge and education have their limits. To understand life and make right choices, we need the wisdom that can be found only in God’s Word—the Bible.||When we realize that God will evaluate all that we do, we should learn to live wisely, remembering that he is present each day, and learn to obey his guidelines for living. But in order to have God’s wisdom, we must first get to know and honor him.|
Everything Is Meaningless
2 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless!”
3What do people get for all their hard work? 4Generations come and go, but nothing really changes. 5The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. 6The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. 7The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea. 8 Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
9History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t already exist long ago? 11We don’t remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
The Futility of Wisdom
12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done in the world. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind. 15What is wrong cannot be righted. What is missing cannot be recovered.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” 17So I worked hard to distinguish wisdom from foolishness. But now I realize that even this was like chasing the wind. 18For the greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.
1 I said to myself, “Come now, let’s give pleasure a try. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2“It is silly to be laughing all the time,” I said. “What good does it do to seek only pleasure?” 3After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. While still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I hoped to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.
4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who lived in Jerusalem before me. 8I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!
9So I became greater than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. And with it all, I remained clear-eyed so that I could evaluate all these things. 10Anything I wanted, I took. I did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work, an additional reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.
4A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. 7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
8“All is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless.”
9 Because the Teacher was wise, he taught the people everything he knew. He collected proverbs and classified them. 10 _ Indeed, the Teacher taught the plain truth, and he did so in an interesting way.
11 A wise teacher’s words spur students to action and emphasize important truths. The collected sayings of the wise are like guidance from a shepherd.
12 But, my child, be warned: There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!
13 Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. 14God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
- Wisdom for the Leaders (25:1–31:31)
These proverbs were collected by Hezekiah’s aides. The first section was written by Solomon, and the next two sections were written by others. While we all can learn from these proverbs, many were originally directed toward the king or those who dealt with the king. These are particularly helpful for those who are leaders or aspire to become leaders. The book ends with a description of a truly good wife, who is an example of godly wisdom.
More Proverbs of Solomon
1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, collected by the advisers of King Hezekiah of Judah.
2 It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.
3No one can discover the height of heaven, the depth of the earth, or all that goes on in the king’s mind!
4 Remove the dross from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith. 5Remove the wicked from the king’s court, and his reign will be made secure by justice.
6 Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great. 7It is better to wait for an invitation than to be sent to the end of the line, publicly disgraced!
Just because you see something, 8 don’t be in a hurry to go to court. You might go down before your neighbors in shameful defeat. 9So discuss the matter with them privately. Don’t tell anyone else, 10or others may accuse you of gossip. Then you will never regain your good reputation.
11 Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket.
12 Valid criticism is as treasured by the one who heeds it as jewelry made from finest gold.
13 Faithful messengers are as refreshing as snow in the heat of summer. They revive the spirit of their employer.
14 A person who doesn’t give a promised gift is like clouds and wind that don’t bring rain.
15 Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.
16 Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much of it, or it will make you sick!
17Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.
18 Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.
19 Putting confidence in an unreliable person is like chewing with a toothache or walking on a broken foot.
20Singing cheerful songs to a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing someone’s jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in a wound.
21 If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. 22You will heap burning coals on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.
23 As surely as a wind from the north brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!
24 It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.
25 Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty.
26 If the godly compromise with the wicked, it is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.
27 Just as it is not good to eat too much honey, it is not good for people to think about all the honors they deserve.
28 A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.
Hezekiah’s story is told in 2 Kings 18–20; 2 Chronicles 29–32; and Isaiah 36–39. He was one of the few kings of Judah who honored the Lord. By contrast, his father, Ahaz, actually nailed the Temple door shut. Hezekiah restored the Temple, destroyed idol worship centers, and earned the respect of surrounding nations, many of whom brought gifts to God because of him. It is not surprising that Hezekiah had these proverbs copied and read, for “in all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow the law and the commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful” (2 Chronicles 31:21).
Proverbs 25:6, 7
Jesus made this proverb into a parable (see Luke 14:7-11). We should not seek honor for ourselves. It is better to quietly and faithfully accomplish the work God has given us to do. As others notice the quality of our life, then they will draw attention to us.
It is often difficult to find people you can really trust. A faithful employee (“messenger”) is punctual, responsible, honest, and hardworking. This person is invaluable as he or she helps take some of the pressure off his or her employer. Find out what your employer needs from you to make his or her job easier, and do it.
Most churches, missions organizations, and Christian groups depend on the gifts of people to keep their ministries going. But many who promise to give fail to follow through. The Bible is very clear about the effect this has on those involved in the ministry. If you make a pledge, keep your promise.
Lying about someone is vicious. Its effects can be as permanent as those of a wound. The next time you are tempted to pass on a bit of gossip, imagine yourself wounding the victim of your remarks with a sword. This image may shock you into silence.
Proverbs 25:21, 22
God’s form of retaliation is most effective and yet difficult to do. Paul quotes this proverb in Romans 12:19-21. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus encourages us to pray for those who hurt us. By returning good for evil, we are acknowledging God as the balancer of all accounts and trusting him to be the judge.
To compromise with the wicked means setting aside your standards of right and wrong. No one is helped by someone who compromises with the wicked.
Dwelling on the honors you deserve can only be harmful. It can make you bitter, discouraged, or angry, and it will not bring you the rewards that you think should be yours. Pining for what you should have received may make you miss the satisfaction of knowing you did your best.
Even though city walls restricted the inhabitants’ movements, people were happy to have them. Without walls, they would have been vulnerable to attack by any passing group of marauders. Self-control limits us, to be sure, but it is necessary. An out-of-control life is open to all sorts of attacks by the enemy. Think of self-control as a wall for defense and protection.