Ecclesiastes 8 (Bible class talk)

Another bible class talk, this time on Ecclesiastes 8.

Introduction

Please come with me to Ecclesiastes chapter 1:

Ecc 1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David (Solomon), king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, …vanity of vanities; …all is vanity.
3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

It would appear that Solomon wrote these words towards the end of his life. Looking back with all the wisdom he had been blessed with, yet chosen to ignore.

The word “preacher” or Qohelet כהלת in the Hebrew, is a very interesting word. In order to bring out the full context to the book, lets briefly have a look at this word. We first find it at the very core of our hope – the promises to our father Abraham:

Gen 28:3 And El Shaday bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be for an assembling (Qahal קהל) of peoples;

We find it again when the promises are repeated to Jacob in Gen 35:11 & 48:4, where El Shaday promises “a nation and a gathering (Qahal קהל) of nations shall be of thee”. For of Jacob came a united nation, Israel, composed of 12 “nations” – the 12 tribes.

So there would be an Assembly of people, of the seed of Abraham, and this is exactly what we find in Exo 12, the first time the children of Israel are described as an assembly. Speaking of the passover lamb, we read in verse 6…

Exo 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly (Qahal קהל) of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

So from the death of the Passover lamb, Israel become an “assembly”, a Qahal קהל, or in the Greek, an Ekklesia – called out ones.

Acts 7:38 This is he (Moses), that was in the Ekklesia (called out ones) in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us

There were two assemblies called at Sinai: the first, when the people called themselves together upon A’hron, to force him to make them the golden calf; the second, when Moses calls the people together to hear the words of Yahweh. This is a stark reminder that assemblies and committees called by man never lead to anything good. It is only THE assembly, the Ekklesia gathered at the call of Yahweh, and based on his precepts and principals that have any value, for it is founded on the promises to Abraham.

Coming back to Ecclesiastes then, Solomon is the “assembler” – one who is gathering together the ekklesia. Solomon was the son of David, it was supposed to live up to the promises concerning the son of David. If he had kept in the way of Yahweh, his rule would have been preserved forever. Solomon had not lived up to what was required of him, and giving into the seduction of his wives, had allowed the gathering of the children of Israel based on the idolatrous practices of the nations around. And now pricked in his conscience, gathers the people to set them on the right path once again.

Who is as THE wise Man?

Now let’s come to our chapter,

Ecc 8:1 Who is as THE wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the strength of his face shall be changed.

In the Hebrew the question is who is THE wise man? …this is Solomon, “for he was wiser than all men…” (1Kgs 4:31). And who better to reveal the interpretation of the thing, but he has indeed experienced all these things – and the futility of them all.

Yet Solomon was only a type of the greater son of David, Christ who by his wisdom put to shame the wise of his day at the age of 12. Wisdom maketh his face to shine, there is an outward beauty that can be seen by one who manifests wisdom in their lives. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness” (1 Cor 3:19 ), and those who are truly wise get their wisdom from the heavenly Father.

What greater example do we have than the first begotten of the father, the one who could say he who has seen me, has seen the Father – at his transfiguration, “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matt 17:2). Likewise, albeit with lesser glory, all those who are sons and daughters of the most highly, do manifest his character in their lives – an example to those around them. Those who will be raised from the dust of Abraham to be made stars, Kings of the sun’s rising, giving light to the world of the future age.

Psa 67:1 Elohim be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine WITH us; Selah.

The Hebrew here is shine “with us”, and not “upon us” as the A.V. has – it is a reference to the multitudinous Immanu-el, those who will be the Cheruvim of the millennial age, dwelling in the midst of the children of Israel.

Psa 67:2 That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
3 Let the people praise thee, O Elohim; let all the people praise thee.
4 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

Change of face

Solomon continues “and he will change the strength of his face” or perhaps even “and he will change his face to strength”. This is a difficult phrase to translate in the Hebrew and could be translated a few different ways.

It could be talking of the softening of our response towards other as we become wiser – knowing that we are all struggling with the flesh in one way or another. And this is a great exhortation to us all… we should love each other and learn mercy! [see article on mercy here]

Alternatively it is talking of the strengthening of the face of Yahweh’s messenger, against those who oppose them. And although the word for strength is different, the words in Ezk 3 seem appropriate:

Ezek 3:8 Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.
:9 As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
:10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.

Ezekiel as the typical son of Man, enacted the role of Christ to his people, looking forward to the time when Christ was strengthened by his father against the apostate leaders of his day. The will of Yahweh will be fulfilled, and if we are doing his will then we will be preserved, our faces strengthened

Preserve the mouth of the king

Back in Ecclesiastes 8, the second verse I have completely re-translated.

Ecc 8:2 I command you, preserve the mouth of the king; upon these words rests the covenants of Elohim

Upon the words of the king, the greater Solomon, are the covenants to the fathers of old built. The word Shamar שמר, is the word meaning to preserve as in a flock, or to tend as in a garden. It is first used in Gen 2:15 “And Yahweh Elohim took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”, bringing our minds to the restoration of the Garden of Eden in the Millennial reign of Christ. When the second Adam will preserve the words of the king, tending the anti-typical populous garden of Israel.

David writes concerning this king, and of this pleasant time in Psalm 45:

Psa 45:1 My heart is bubbling over with a good matter: I speak of the things which I have formed concerning THE King: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 Thou art by far the fairest of the children of Adam: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore Elohim hath blessed thee for the Ohlam.

By him, the foundation of the future world is laid, and upon him is the house built – the covenants of the Elohim of Abraham and his posterity realised.

Confess our faults and accept our position before Yahweh

Back in Ecclesiastes,

Ecc 8:3 Go not out from his faces in trembling: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.

Solomon counsels, there is no point in running from Yahweh and there is certainly no point in taking a stand in a position of evil. Whatever he pleases will happen, the best thing to do is accept it. If we have problems that we fear, things we are afraid to face, we should not run from the faces of Elohim… or worse, contend that in our fault we are right! Confess our faults before him and accept our failings, submit to him and he will help us grow.

Yahweh will do what he delights to do. Joshua after spying out the land of Israel says:

Num 14:8 If Yahweh delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.

It is Yahweh’s good pleasure to bring Israel into the land. Further more, Paul to the Ephesians says:

Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

It is Yahweh’s good pleasure to bring about a multitudinous family – one flesh with his son

Fear Yahweh

Ecc 8:4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?

We must not question the ways of Yahweh, but accept them. If we do not understand them, then we should seek them out… but they are just and righteous whether we understand them or not.

Prov 1:7 The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom and correction… but fools despise.

If we reverence the Father and accept his judgements then we are in the right frame of mind to begin: to understand his ways, to learn the wisdom of how and when to act, to be corrected of our many faults. And it is a slow, life long process, and yet we may take comfort in the words of Psalm 33,

Psa 33:18 Behold, the eye of Yahweh is upon them that fear him, upon them that patiently wait for his mercy

The word patiently there is first used of Noah waiting for the flood waters to subside – with the hope of the rest after the judgments of Yahweh are complete.

Right Judgement and right time

Ecc 8:5 A preserver of a commandment shall experience no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.

One who is preserving the commandment of the king, Christ, will not experience an evil thing. Or in the words of the spirit through the mouth of Paul – “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

To the wise, nothing that happens to them is evil, but part of the refining process purging the dross from our characters. The wise understand both why things happen and why they happen when they do.

Ecc 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, 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 of war, and a time of peace.

Wisdom is not just about understanding what to do, but knowing when is the right time to do it.

Patience and trust in our heavenly Father

Ecc 8:6 Because to every desire there is time and judgment, therefore the evil of man is great upon him.
7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him what shall be?
8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

let us be patient and wait for the grace of our father, trusting in him. It is he, and he alone who can tell us what shall be. Let us put our hope and our trust in him, for “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3).

Hab 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Wickedness does not prosper

Ecc 8:9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: …

Notice the constant reference in Ecclesiastes to the state of things under the “Sun”. The Sun is used throughout scripture as a symbol of Yahweh, giving light to the earth – in contrast to the apostate Sun of the false religion of Babylon the great, which gives only a semblance of light, and yet is touchable darkness.

All flesh is under the watchful eye and majestic power of the true “Sun”, as shown in Psalm 19.

Ps 19:4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
:5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
:6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

And this Sun will indeed soon come as a bridegroom to fetch his bride, how beautiful are his feet upon the mountain tops. He will rise we healing in his beams, and command the earth in uprightness and truth.

The second half of the verse reads,

Ecc 8:9 …there is a time wherein one man hath dominion over another to his own hurt.

The word dominion here is used exclusively, outside of Ecclesiastes, to describe the dominion of the wicked over Yahweh’s people. Firstly in Nehemiah of the selfish and oppressive leaders of the post exile remnant:

Neh 5:15 But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of Elohim.

Secondly:

Esther 9:1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)

In both cases, the oppression both from within and from without, turned out to be to their own hurt. From within the wolf like leaders of the people were cast from their positions, just like the apostate leaders pre-exile; likewise later the scribes and Pharisees of the time of Christ, saw him come with power and great glory to cast them from the political heavens. Very soon we will see the religious leaders of modern day Judaism cast from their positions of authority – along with their oppressive traditions of men which make of none affect the word of Yahweh – and replaced by the righteous leadership of Christ and the saints.

And from without, those who stood up with Haman were themselves subdued by those they sought to subdue. Likewise the Assyrian, the Roman and soon the Gogean confederacy. Israel and Judah will go forth as fire amongst the stubble and the wicked will go up in flames as the chaff of the threshing floor driven in the wind.

Ecc 8:10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.

The wicked are allowed to have the upper hand for the purging of the holy people.

Isa 4:4 When Adonay shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

Yahweh will bring down the northern invader once again with “hooks in their jaws”. Yet though they “plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (Dan 11:45).

Ezk 39:1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith Adonay Yahweh; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
2 And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith Adonay Yahweh.

11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon–gog.
12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.
13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith Adonay Yahweh.

They set themselves up against Yahweh and against his anointed, yet shall be driven from the holy place, they be buried and forgotten of Jerusalem they once trodden under foot. The pride and pomp of man… it is vanity!

When we see the evil of this world and it pains us to watch the hatred with which Israel are treated, let us remember the words of Psalm 37,

Psa 37:16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of El; then understood I their end.

David saw the plates made from the censors of Qorah, Dathan, and Abiram tacked to the alter of incense…

18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

The wicked will not prosper in the end.

Suspended sentence

Ecc 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

Brethren and sisters, we need to examine ourselves and speedily correct our faults – lest our flesh harden our hearts to evil.

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
:6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

It is easy to sit back an look at others to see their faults, everyone has faults. But let us turn the sword of the spirit on ourselves, first clearing our own eye, washing our garments daily in the spirit word. When the time comes, we stand before our Lord on our own two feet, and it is only by his mercy that any of us will be accepted.

Ecc 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear Elohim, which fear before his faces:
13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before Elohim.
14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

We know the end brethren and sisters, nether the wicked or the righteous can be determined by the length of their days. Our father has a set purpose with us, and that is our lot… we are as but grass which wither away, as clay in the hands of our loving potter. It truly shall be well with those who reverence the Father and the faces of the Cheruvim and the work that they perform on his behalf.

Be happy with our lot

Ecc 8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which Elohim giveth him under the sun.

There is no better thing than to eat, drink and be happy… all of these things can be done in excess, but all are a blessing from our father. In these natural things we consider the spiritual,

Isa 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness

We should eat and drink of the body and blood of our Lord, that we may have life within us.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Let us be happy with our lot, giving praise and thanks to Yahweh every day of our lives. Though life is often a struggle, we must try not to let it get to us…

1Pet 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

A lovely summary of the matter is found in Psalm 128. Where we find a symbol of Christ and his family dwelling in their rest.

Psa 128:1 A Song of the ascents: Blessed is every one that feareth Yahweh; that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth Yahweh.
5 Yahweh shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

Oh how we long for that day.

Wisdom of this world is foolishness with Yahweh

Ecc 8:16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)
17 Then I beheld all the work of Elohim, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

The “Wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor 3:19). The ways of Yahweh are so far above our ways, the depths and breadth of his word is testimony to this. We cannot even begin to hope to understand the creation and the contents of the universe… and Yahweh rolled it out as the curtain of a tent (Psa 104:2).

Conclusion

Let us seek wisdom then, that we may be prepared as kings and priests of the future age. Knowing what to do and at what time it must be done. Let us put our trust wholly in our father, striving to walk in his ways… patiently waiting for his grace. When we may sing of his praises…

Psa 150:1 Praise ye Yah. Praise El in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise Yah. Praise ye Yah.

Amen