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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ecclesiastes 5 Rich Man Poor Man

However you look at it you have to wonder about our lesson author or editor. This week the lesson for Sunday begins with the following:

However much Solomon in Ecclesiastes, as in Proverbs, focused on practical living and moral injunction, he did so always with an awareness of the reality and presence of God. Here, too, in these lines, Solomon expresses not only the reality of God but the closeness of God; that is, God cares how you approach Him, God cares how you talk to Him, and God cares about you paying your vows to Him. Solomon's God, the God of the Bible, isn't the God of deists, some distant deity who created the world and then left it to its own devices. If so, we would truly have reason to despair.

Here the lesson study guide acknowledges that the writer of Ecclesiastes always writes with an awareness of God yet just last week the Lesson study stated:

Lesson 5 Sunday

Solomon is, again, looking at life from a worldly perspective, from "under the sun." These words, though, are somewhat interesting when you consider who is writing them: the king himself

Or this from Sunday January 14

Solomon, old and bitter, had lost his way; hence, all the knowledge and wisdom he acquired meant little to him. In contrast, the wisdom he talks about in Proverbs is a wisdom centered on a knowledge of God, the source of all true wisdom and knowledge. This point is brought home even more powerfully when Solomon links knowledge and understanding with God as the Creator (Prov. 3:19), which proves again how the foundation of all knowledge and wisdom begins with Him. Notice, too, that this wisdom isn't just abstract theological concepts regarding the nature of God or the limits of omnipotence. Instead, in these verses in Proverbs we can see a practical element. True wisdom will be reflected in how we live our lives. Solomon, as he lost his way, lost the true wisdom he once had, and he found, instead, only the worldly kind, the kind under the sun. Hence, in his mind it all became vain, meaningless, even a source of pain.

The first quote in this post is actually true, the next two are the manipulations of the lesson study guide to for whatever reason to portray the book as that of a bitter old man talking about life apart from God. I hope the lesson study guide can carry on with the view from this lesson that “he did so always with an awareness of the reality and presence of God.”

From Tuesday’s Lesson:

He would be appalled, for sure. The Lord has provided more than enough of everything for human beings here. Though the causes of poverty are complex, there's no doubt that greed, corruption, and covetousness have made it a lot worse.

No question, those who have made themselves rich through the exploitation of the poor will find themselves face to face with an angry God.

Has God really provided more then enough for everyone? How has he made such provisions? Last quarter we read of the story of Joseph who took from the people of Egypt their grain and stored it and then sold it when famine came; selling to those from other countries also. What happened to the Lord’s provision? What is more likely is that God has supplied the raw materials to provide for life but random natural events can prevent the ability to provide necessary food. On top of that man can destroy his environment. For instance overgrazing and deforestation can destroy the productivity of the land. Then there is overpopulation, something that can lead to insufficient food as well as cause one people to invade the territory of another people with the result of wars.

Poverty is indeed complex and it is far more then the rich exploiting the poor. In the larger scheme of things it is the cooperation between people that produce economies that benefit all of the society. Even the luxuries are made by people who need employment.

The first verse of Ecclesiastes 5 is important to the theme of the book, listen and think and develop wisdom:

1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

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