Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 - Joy and Judgment

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10
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.

Message:  Joy and Judgment

Time: The Book of Ecclesiastes does not directly identify its author. The conventional belief is that the author is indeed Solomon. The book was likely written towards the end of Solomon's reign, approximately 935 B.C. It is a book of perspective whereby the speaker reveals the depression that inevitably results from seeking happiness in worldly things. Most every form of worldly pleasure is explored by the Preacher, and none of it gives him a sense of meaning. He accepts that life is brief and ultimately worthless without God and advises the reader to focus on an eternal God instead of temporary pleasure.

What the Lord is Saying: I don't know what it is about these Spring months of the year, but I notice my time in the Word really seems to diminish as compared to the Fall and Winter months. I continue to walk through chapter 11 of Ecclesiastes. Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 11 spoke of serving and giving our all to serve. But we can't secure ourselves from zero failures. We must remember God is in control. We can trust God for outcomes. We are not all-knowing creatures, we come to God with humility anchored in the fact that He knows it all. And - rejoice in the years of life that I have and do not focus on the years of life after the grave. The days of darkness, as in the days of life, will be many. Both type of days are futile or unpredictable. In review:
1. Do my best
2. Life is unpredictable
3. God knows it all, not man. 
4. Rejoice in the years of life that I have
These are the themes I have seen thus far. Now as I look at verse 9 and 10, I see Joy and Judgment. 

First Glance
To the young man, as you age and grow - rejoice. Allow your heart to be pleasant, especially as you prepare to be a man. Follow the impulses of your heart and desires of your eyes, yet know that God will judge you for your actions. 

Now, that is an odd sort of verse there. Be pleasant; follow the impulses of your heart. Follow the desires of your eyes. Yet, know God will judge you for your actions. Remove grief and anger, put away pain. Childhood and old age are fleeting (passing swiftly). 

Solomon speaks to young man, as I have seen. Young men are the most impressionable people. Plus, they are hit with the greatest of temptations in life. I am dealing with that right now, as I watch my youngest son, Derek, in those years. He is 16. My oldest retreated more to his world, of computers, but I know still struggled with different demons. He has such a strong inclination toward things that are out there, different from mom and dad, and is thus, so against restraint and counsel. This is why these words are so important, because of the position the young man is in.

But, I am a little vexed by these words. The preacher states be of good cheer, follow your heart, follow the desires of your eyes - but know this - God will bring you to judgment for all these things.

Again, backing up, looking at the context, I see words that encourage enjoyment in each day. Verse 8 - if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all. But he also says in verse 6 - Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening. Enjoy, but work hard. The reality is that days of darkness, for they will be many.

How does this all fit together? Rejoice in your days; work hard; do not be idle; there will be days of darkness, yet follow your heart realizing you will be judged.

Again, I think the subject matter is a little vexing and perhaps intended to be a little puzzling. The Preacher here continues to cover a lot of ground, a lot of thoughts. But he concludes his writing with these words in chapter 12, verse 13-14: The conclusion, when all has been heard: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Yes, we are to pursue life and consider all that it offers as it states in verse 9 - follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes; but, as we do, we must realize that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. Thus, I feel the conclusion in this is to be careful. If God will bring us into judgement for all these things, then I am to have sound judgment. 

My last son sleeps now in our house. He is 16 and as I think about this words I think about some of the things he is experimenting with in life. I think of things I experimented with in life as well. And I wonder, the experience is not the problem, but rather it is the indulgence in that experience that is often the problem. We can learn much from these experiences. My hope and desire with my children has not been to just put them in a box and restrict their enjoyment and choices to things, but it is to allow them to make choices, but then to see that with those choices there are consequences. I guess I just didn't realize it was my job always to show them consequences. I was hoping for natural ones. And yet, I must remember, God has given each person a conscience, the ability to understand good and evil. That conscience always has the ability to draw him back in.

Promise: I'm continually reminded of these words -- "Be Careful." I think that is a sentiment I find int the Book of Numbers and it applies here as well.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the truths of Your Word. Help me to be more anchored in those truths, in all seasons of the year. I pray that me and my family are always doing in our best in whatever activities we are involved in. Remind us that we can always trust you, even though life is unpredictable. You know it all. Help us to enjoy our days, rejoicing that each day is a gift from you. Lord, in the world we have many choices as to how to live our lives. I pray Lord that we all, me, my family, friends and others, choose you. What a wonderful world this would be, if this was so, for all. Yet, the reality and the truth is many choose alternate ways. For my children, help them in their choices, sometimes trying out new things, looking to see if life has enjoyment in these things and through it all, help them to conclude that you are the author of life. Help them to return to you. Help them to return to truth. It is easy for me to sit in judgment, but what concerns me the most is not trying things out, but it is indulging in those things, to the point that it hampers life. Lord, make us wise and wise followers of You.

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