Written thousands of years ago, still relevant today
Ecclesiastes 10-11 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor. 2 A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. 3 Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. 4 If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.
5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like an error which goes forth from the ruler— 6 folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble places. 7 I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.
8 He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. 9 He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. 10 If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. 11 If the serpent bites before being charmed, there is no profit for the charmer. 12 Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; 13 the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. 14 Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him? 15 The toil of a fool so wearies him that he does not even know how to go to a city. 16 Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness. 18 Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks. 19 Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything. 20 Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.
11 Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. 3 If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies. 4 He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. 5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.
6 Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.
7 The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. 8 Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.
9 Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 10 So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.
In today’s text, the Bible validates that although it was written thousands of years ago, it is still relevant to comment on today’s culture and society. It says: A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. It says: Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. Certainly there has never been a time when the foolishness of people has been more evident and on public display. Not only is it evident as people walk down the streets, but they also post their foolishness on social media. People are entertained by ridiculous scenarios created on TV, which are then called reality. Our society and culture has esteemed and chosen foolishness over wisdom.
The text says: He who digs a pit may fall into it. We see this playing out in our political situation. The deeper the pit is dug to capture one man, the more people who are against him continue to fall in and be caught in it. There is a principle behind the accusations and judgment. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” The truth is that the standard of judgment is not only a consequence, but it is also often the motivation. People tend to judge others by the way they know themselves to be. A liar believes all others are also liars. A cheater judges others as cheaters. A thief justifies his actions, believing everyone steals. Jesus instruction isn’t that we should not judge at all. In verses 3-5 He says: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” To see clearly and judge rightly we must first look at ourselves not through our own distorted perspective, but rather in truth, through the lens and perspective of the only absolute truth, God’s perspective, revealed through His word. If we will judge by God’s standard we will see that what it says in Romans 3:23 is true: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The psalmist says it this way in Psalm 14:1-3: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. The result or the answer though is not to feel judged or condemned and so judge others the same way. Jesus Christ will be our judge and He also is the one who was judged in our place. We are no longer judged by our own works or actions, but rather through Christ we are judged through the lens of grace. Having been judged by grace, grace should also be our standard of judgment. Those who have not received or those who have rejected grace are unable to give grace to others. They instead, choosing to continue to accept and embrace their own sin, judge in acceptance and tolerance of the same sins in others.
The text says: He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. We have far too many people in our society who are watchers and not enough who are sowers. We will reap what we sow. If all that we do is watch, there will be nothing to reap. We have too many people, who although they have little understanding, speak opinion as fact. The text says: The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. Many people today prefer to remain in darkness. Their eyes and their perspective are skewed by the darkness they choose. Light dispels darkness and causes us to be able to see clearly. Jesus is both the Son and the Light. In the end, at the restoration of all things, when the kingdom of heaven and earth become one, Revelation 22:5 says: There will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. We don’t need to wait. We can have the illumination of God and the Light of Christ now. Having that Light, Jesus then says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
The choice is for each one: Left or right, foolishness or wisdom, dig a pit for others and be caught ourselves or lift others up, judge by our own standards or judge by God’s standard of grace. We each can choose darkness or light, to do good or evil. We must choose whether we will watch or sow, but we will reap from what we do.
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’