ECCLESIASTES-SERIES NR 8
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9 & 10
Theme: See what cannot be seen
There was once a small city which was surrounded by a powerful hostile army. The city only had a small number of inhabitants. It was absolutely logical that the city would be compelled to surrender to the enemy.
A very poor, but wise man lived in the city. Nobody ever listened to him though. It was impossible that such a poor man could tell them anything useful. But, now they suddenly listened to him. Now that the situation was absolutely hopeless. Because, this enemy was going to annihilate them. Fear for their lives. Now they listen to the wisdom of the poor man.
This poor man knew of a way to get rid of the enemy. They did exactly what he told them to do. And what happened? The enemy departed! Miracle of miracles! And afterward – the weeks and months that followed? Once again they despised the poor man. They only listened to him when they were desperate. But, in reality he meant nothing to them, because they looked only at the external. What really mattered to them was the outward appearance. That which is at hand!
I did not suck this story out of my thumb. The Holy Spirit had it recorded in Ecclesiastes 9. Because in Ecclesiastes 9 & 10 the Spirit wants to show how we as humans reason about life, but how the Lord totally change us to begin looking at life a different way, from a faith perspective.
THEME : See what you cannot see
1. Unbelief is to see what you can see
2. Belief is to see what you cannot see
1. Unbelief is to see what you can see
Ecclesiastes 9 & 10 bring us to the point that the book Ecclesiastes (actually the entire Bible) wants to make. WHAT TRUE WISDOM REALLY IS. Nothing to do with being clever/intelligent.
True wisdom is: To look at life from the perspective of what the Lord has to say about it. If you have no wisdom, then you only see that which you can see. By nature our hearts work that way. It happens by itself. We do not need practice for it. That is how unbelief works. You stare yourself blind at what is right in front of you. That which you see/feel/experience/think AND that which is happening around you/ what the majority of people do and see, that is what settles the matter. Like the people of that small city, who wanted nothing to do with that poor man because he was poor. Because what was visible settled the matter. That which you can see is important. That is what the whole world – in which we live every second – puts the emphasis on. That is what the world focuses on!
Chapter 10 explains that by way of a number of illustrations. It contains a number of proverbs – that seem unconnected – but that actually draw pictures of exactly what the outward realities of life are. Unbelievable how topical it is.
Verses 1-3 > It is much easier to destroy than to create. By one small false step, a lifetime of good can be wiped out.
Verses 4-5 > Capriciousness and moodiness and weakness of people in important positions. Wrong people are appointed. The wheel turns.
Verses 8-10 > How important it is to look ahead at the consequences of what you do now.
Verses 12-14 > The two kinds of people that there are: the wise and the foolish. What people say/ words show whether they are wise or foolish. Your words reveal your heart.
Verses 16-20 > Simply practical politics. The influence of people in government positions. The role money plays. The 6th sense such people has in order to seek out their opponents. The fact that some of them are weak, foolish and lazy and misuse God’s gifts. Others again, have dignified wisdom, and many gifts besides – even though they are young and unknown.
Indeed it shows us that today’s realities of life have been the same throughout the centuries.
The point however is: for the person who does not look at life with faith-perspective, these visible/external realities are what settle matters. That which is visible, that is what you see. But that constitutes unbelief!
Why, do you think, did the Jews have our Lord Jesus crucified? Why did they hate Him so intensely? It was (among other things) because outwardly He did not gratify their expectations of what the promised Messiah should be. He grew up in a despised little town: Nazareth. And, He came from a despised part of the country: Galilee. His father, Joseph, did not have any status. He was an ordinary man. That is why the people say in Matt 13: “Where did this man get this wisdom? Is He not the carpenter’s son?” And then it says in verse 57: “And they took offense at Him”.
In chapter 2 of his letter, James warns against this very thing. To his readers he says: “You are sinning in the church when you differentiate between people on the basis of outward things: A rich man enters the assembly and you give him a place of honour. And when a poor man enters, he is given merely standing space”.
Can you see how it is with a person who lacks wisdom? You imagine that you see life clearly, when in fact you see everything distorted. You look at LIFE as such, in a wrong way. Because you are staring at what your eyes can see and your senses perceive. Then it seems to you as if there is no difference between believers and unbelievers (9: 1-4). Then it looks as if everyone has the same destiny. Then it looks as if it is in vain to serve the Lord. What good is there in serving the Lord if believers and unbelievers have the same fate? Then it is better to live a careless life. To do everything that your heart and desires dictate.
If you take a look around you, it looks as if there is no life after death (9: 5-10). Then it looks as if everyone, believers and unbelievers, are lying in their graves and have no more life. Because all that your eyes see are people who died and disappeared from earth. They do not know what happens on earth any longer. After a while even their names are no longer mentioned. They are forgotten. Indeed who can show proof that there is a life with Christ after death?
No, everyone just go to the grave. THAT IS THE WAY IT LOOKS IF YOU ONLY SEE WHAT YOU DO SEE. Then there is only one solution: Live life for the moment. Live for enjoyment and pleasure. Do whatever you think will work for you. Live for yourself. That is unbelief: To only see what you see.
2. Faith is to see what you do not see
That is the great message of the book of Ecclesiastes. True wisdom is to look with different eyes at that which you do see. To look at everything around you through the lens of that which the Lord reveals about it in His Word. To see a different world around you WHILE you look at this world. That is how the Lord changes a person’s heart. Because not one of us has this wisdom by nature. We have no ability for it. The Lord changes a person on the inside. He gives you the wisdom of faith. The Bible calls it REBIRTH.
And this wisdom is much stronger than any human strength or weapon. It is not a sissy that is relying upon this wisdom. It is the strongest weapon. Because, human strength and weapons can not safeguard your life. When you die, human strength means nothing/zero. And just look at how uncertain everything in life is.
Eccl 9: verses 11-12. Look at our daily life: The fastest athlete does not always win the race. Nobody can be sure who will be the winner ahead of time. The strongest army can lose a battle. The cleverest person can live in poverty and misery. Disaster can strike and overnight takes everything away from you. Some day something could happen that will permanently change your life.
VERSE 12. Fish that are enjoying the water, can suddenly be caught in a net. Birds that are flying carefree in the air, can suddenly be caught in a snare. That is how life is: You may think you are clever, then adversity that you did not expect, can overtake you…
Then it suddenly matters a great deal whether you have Biblical wisdom, or not. Whether your life is hidden in Christ or not. Then it is very important NOT to see what can be seen. Then you must already be experienced to see what you cannot see.
Do you know, that is how one should read Ecclesiastes 9 & 10. If you read it carefully you will see: Between the lines there is something concealed: You must look carefully : There is written: If you simply look at life as you see it, then you will not be able to keep pace/be equal to/get the better of it. You must learn to live out of the Lord’s free gift to you. What is that? To see HIM. Then you can truly enjoy the life that your eyes see. That is true faith/wisdom: To live this life to the full, while you look beyond life and SEE THE LORD’S PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE… Humanly it is impossible, but the Lord gives it to His reborn children as a free gift, again and again…
To say it in New Testament language: The Holy Spirit works a thirst and a desire inside of you to give yourself over to spiritual things: the Word, prayer and so forth.
And by way of these means, He works the faith in our hearts to see what we can not see, and what we can see not to see. Strangely enough, the more powerful the Spirit works, the more the longing and desire grow – the hunger to see the unseen – and the more we experience that the seen doesn’t satisfy our hearts.
Years ago I heard the testimony of a lady who had gone blind and how that horrible experience contributed to her spiritual growth. Because – she said – after my eyes had stopped seeing the seen, my spiritual eyes began to perceive the unseen.
In Hebrews 11:27 we read how Moses prevailed and persevered – like one seeing the unseen.
Hebrews 11 is packed with folks who saw the unseen. That is what faith is = a Holy Spirit given trust = it sees what the physical eye fail to see. Please go through that list of names in Hebrews 11 and you will see what I mean.
Verse 1 > Faith is the assurance and conviction of things not seen. Verse 3 > We have not seen how God had created everything out of sheer nothing – but still we know it for certain. Verse 6 > We have never seen God – but we are absolutely sure that He exists. Verse 7 > Noah built a huge ship on dry ground while he couldn’t see or prove the future flood > Verse 8 > Abraham left his land and people on the basis of God’s promise because he was looking forward to the city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God (verse 10). Verse 11 > Sarah was past the age to have children, but she considered Him faithful who had promised. Verse 19 > Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac although he couldn’t understand why he had to do it, but he considered that God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead.
True wisdom is to see the invisible. Only on the basis of the testimony of Scripture. To SEE in such a way that the unseen becomes the major reality in your life.
Translated by Marthie Wilson