(Note: If you have not read part 1 of this article, please read it first. It will help you to understand the applications I am making in this article. - JMJ)
After completing the article this morning, my mind continued to think about Solomon’s writing. As is common for me, my mind doesn’t seem to “shut off” easily! (ha) After writing about the Shulammite woman and her requesting that her love not be stirred up or awakened “til he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:4, 8:4), I began thinking about another application. As I stated in an earlier article, I am not convinced that Song of Solomon is a type/antiype of Christ, nor a “Messianic” song. I do think, however, that there are several places where applications can be made to Christ and the church when we consider the fact that God used the husband and wife relationship to describe this spiritual relationship (Eph. 5:22-33). I am always willing to study with anyone on this if you believe Solomon definitely had Christ in mind in this song.
Having said this, please go back and reread what the Shulammite said. I believe this is one of those verses where an application to Christ and the church can be made. The text in Solomon’s Song said she didn’t want her passions stirred until the time was right and proper. It is not that the passion itself was wrong, but it could be expressed in the wrong way if the time (before marriage) was not right. This statement caused me to think more about “timing” and how God has His timetable for things. Is it not fascinating to consider that an eternal being is concerned with time and has a “timetable” of His own?
I know God doesn’t count time as we do (II Pet. 3:8), but I also know things have happened at the “right time” with God! Think about the birth of Christ. Jesus Christ came to this world “in the fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4). He did not get here too early or too late. It is the same with the church, Christ’s bride. The church came into existence in the “last days” (Isa. 2:2-4). In other words, at the right time, when the right king was in power (Dan. 2:44-45), and when things had come to fruition as God wanted (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21)! In the case of God and His plan for Christ and the church, no one was going to “stir up” anything to change God’s plan. When the time was right, it happened perfectly!
We could include the fact that when God works providentially, then He is working things out at the right time. This was true with people like Joseph, Ruth, Naaman’s maid, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham, Esther, and a host of others. It is also true today. God has ways in which His will is going to come about. When this happens, it happens at the right time, regardless of whether or not it was our time!
When we think about the end of the world, remember Christ will return for His bride (the church). When He does, it will be at the right time. No man knows when this will be, but again, this eternal being, our Father, has said Jesus will come “as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2; II Pet. 3:10), and when He does, He will return for His bride, and this world will end (Rev. 19:6-21). It is on God’s timetable and not man’s. No one will “stir up” God’s passions and make Him send Christ too early or too late!
Some try to guess as to when the Lord will return. It seems some have made predictions about His return almost since the time He left (Acts 1:9-11; I Thess. 4:13-5:11; II Pet. 3; Acts 5:36-37; Matt. 24:4-5; etc.)! Does anyone remember the bulletin boards and bumper stickers that were out some years ago that said, “If the Lord doesn’t come soon, He will owe an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah!”?
Let’s stop whittling on God’s end of the stick and realize that God won’t be “stirred up” but will make sure things are done right on time as He has always done. Let us, in the meantime, prepare for the Lord’s return by being saved (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16) and remaining faithful to Him as a faithful bride would (Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58). Let us spend time on earth growing (II Pet. 3:18) and maturing in the Lord that we will be ready for Him when He arrives. Let us prepare to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The Preacher wrote to an innumerable company of young people (including us) and stated, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct” (Ecc. 10:10, KJV).
Other versions state this passage as:
- “If you don't sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you'll know what to do” (Common English Version).
- “If your ax is dull and you don't sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead” (Good News Bible).
- “If an ax is blunt and the edge isn't sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success” (“God’s Word”).
- “If an iron axhead is blunt and a workman does not sharpen its edge, he must exert a great deal of effort; so wisdom has the advantage of giving success” (New English Translation).
The point of this proverb is to remind people that preparation goes a long way in bringing success. We have heard the statement about folks having to do things “the hard way.” How true this is! Some are convinced that if the ax is not cutting well enough, the answer is to hit harder! Solomon says the wise person plans ahead to sharpen the ax, and then the work goes easier.
In this section of Ecclesiastes, we see other examples of Solomon telling us that preparation is critical (Ecc. 10:11a, 15, 18). Remember, if we don’t take time to sharpen the “ax,” we’ll work harder than necessary to get the work done. Preparation, planning, or forethought, makes our lives much easier! The fool doesn’t see this. The fool strolls blindly through life and then wonders why bad things befall him (Ecc. 10:14-15). The wise understand that we are the result of our decisions!
In Ecclesiastes 10:10, we are reminded that foolishness will make us work harder than we need to work. If a man takes the time to prepare for his work and do what is necessary, his work goes faster and easier. I am reminded of the old statement: “Work smarter, not harder.” I used to think that was a silly statement, because how can you work “smart” without also working “hard”? I have since learned better and see the wisdom in the statement. It is truly a reflection of Ecclesiastes 10:10!
The spiritual application of Ecclesiastes 10:10 is quite simple. Are we going to listen to the wisdom of Solomon? There is an eternity of “hardship” that awaits the unprepared (Matt. 25:41-46; II Thess. 1:6-9)! If we want a peaceful and joyous eternity in the presence of God, then let us prepare and do the work now (II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15)! Someone said, “A soldier is not wasting his time when he is sharpening his sword.” How much time do we spend sharpening our “sword”? In other words, how much time do we spend with the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) and learning what God wants us to do while on earth (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15)? How much time do we spend purposely preparing our souls for Heaven by spending time in prayer (I Thess. 5:17)? How much time do we spend living Philippians 4:8-9; Matthew 7:12-14; and Mark 16:15-16?
Our lives are much harder with a dull ax! Wisdom says to sharpen it! What will you do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
A phrase found 29 times in the book of Ecclesiastes is “under the sun.” Solomon used four other synonymous terms in his book as well. These are “under heaven” (3x), “upon the earth” (1x), “see the sun” (1x), and “behold the sun” (1x) in this short book.
These terms help us to understand the focus and emphasis of the book. Solomon contrasts life “under the sun,” i.e., our earth-life when we look solely at the physical side of things, with the spiritual reality when we live life for God. Foy Wallace once said of this book that Solomon contrasted, “earthly vanity with eternal verity.” The point being that when we look at life as merely, “We’re born, we live, we die,” there is little reason to have hope.
Yet, when we look at life through the lens of spiritual truth and service to God (Ecc. 12:13), we see something far different. We have a reason to wake up every day! We have a reason to live and endure suffering at times. We have an endless hope awaiting us rather than a hopeless end!
How our world needs to hear this news today! There are multitudes today who see life only as, “We’re born, we live, we die.” Some people say they want to make this world (earth) a better place for their children. This is kind. Yet, they do not make any preparations for their souls and the eternity they will face (Ecc. 9:10-11, 12:13-14). What good is it if we have a clean earth and dirty souls? What do we profit if we gain the whole world and yet lose our souls (Matt. 16:26)?
Have you read Ecclesiastes in a while? Have you ever read it? Let these words be the motivation for you to read this book and see the great contrast that lies here. Solomon’s words in the book are not random statements. They have a context, purpose, and meaning (Rom. 15:4)! Let us get serious and get our priorities straight! Ultimately, this is what this book is about -- an older man, the “Preacher” (Koheleth, 1:1-2, 12, 7:27, 12:8-10), calling the generations of young people to him to instruct them on what is most important.
Don’t let Satan distract you with what happens “under the sun.” Listen to the Lord, and focus on those things that are beyond the sun (Col. 3:1-4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In the context of II John 11, we learn that whoever teaches false doctrine does not have fellowship with God (II Jn. 9). At the same time, it is not right for those who hear the false doctrine to accept the person and act as if nothing is wrong (II John 10). If someone bids “Godspeed” (KJV) or “Greets” (ASV, Darby, ESV, NET, RV, etc.) the false teacher, this person is just as guilty in the eyes of God. Other Bible versions use the terms, “participates,” or “sharing” for “partaker” in II John 11. I think this helps us understand what John was teaching. Not only is it wrong to teach false doctrine, but it is also wrong for those hearing false doctrine to stand by and allow it to be taught without opposition (II Jn. 10-11)!
The apostle Paul showed us the right response when he said that when Judaizers came in to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,” they gave place “no, not for an hour” (Gal. 2:4-5)! Later, Paul would withstand Peter “to the face, because he was to be blamed” for the hypocrisy he perpetuated (Gal. 2:11). Paul would also write (by inspiration) a warning similar to John’s to the Romans. After listing the sins the Gentiles had committed through the years, he ends chapter one by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32). In other words, not only did the people committing the sins deserve death (Jas. 1:15), but those who approve of what is done (applaud, ISV; consent, ASV; delight, Darby) deserve the same punishment! This sounds like John’s warning in II John 11.
The stand taken by Paul and John while they lived, and encouraged in their epistles (Rom. 1:32; II Jn. 9-11), serves at least two purposes. One purpose is obvious, and that is to save those who are affected by false doctrine, including myself! Remember, to bid “Godspeed” means I am also partaking (II Jn. 11)! If I do not take a stand, or if I bid “Godspeed” to a deceiver, then many more will be deceived. The second purpose is closely linked to the first. This is that by standing, we are also trying to win the soul of the false teacher. When we stand opposed to someone because of his false teaching, we need to make sure and check our attitude. Is our response motivated by hatred of the person or the doctrine? There is a difference! If I am trying to win an argument, I very well may lose the soul. If I am trying to win someone’s soul, I will win the argument by default. What John shows me is that I not allow what some call “love” to silence my tongue! I must speak! I must warn!
Sadly, we live in a time when men are afraid of confrontation. We have a society that recoils at the thought of standing for the truth, but ironically is quick to criticize and belittle anyone who does! We are told that retreat is courageous. This is wrong. Christians in our time who claim to wear the armor of Christ (Eph. 6:11-19), tend to forget about the sword. Yet, the sword is a part of our armor! The sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) is not a defensive but an offensive weapon. With it, we take the fight to the enemy (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12)! The sword is not for cleaning your fingernails, or picking your teeth! With the sword of the Spirit, we stand against “the wiles of the devil” and do not give submission, “no, not for an hour”!
When we read II John, we learn that we do not give “Godspeed” (greet, participate, or share) with false teachers as if to “go along and get along.” Remember, souls are at stake, and they are too precious to leave to the “wolves” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31)! At the same time, standing against the wolves who teach false doctrines may open their eyes to the truth. This is our goal -- to bring lost souls to the Father (Jas. 5:19-20). When we do not partake or share with false teachers, we will cause them to stop and consider what they are doing. No, not everyone repents at this, but folks need to know where we stand. Let them be warned in love and truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11). Let us stand with a pure conscious, knowing that false teachers will face God in judgment, having at least been warned. Who knows, but you are in the kingdom “for such a time as this,” and your warning might save a soul from death? One thing is certain: silence in the face of false teaching and pretending nothing is wrong will do nothing to remedy the situation, nor will it save a soul. It only makes things worse!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
After warning people about the deceivers and antichrists that were rampant in the first century, John warned that some might lose what they had “wrought” (KJV) or “worked for” (NET, ESV, CEV, ISV, etc.) as Christians. This short verse encapsulates what every Christian needs to do in order to remain faithful and see Heaven one day. II John 8 says, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
“Look to yourselves” in this verse means examine yourselves (II Cor. 13:5). Don’t assume that everything in your life is “fine.” Don’t think there is nothing in your life you need to change or correct. In this context, John tells Christians to look to themselves and make sure they are not deceived (II Jn. 7). In like manner, you need to look into the “perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25) like you would look into a mirror, and make the necessary changes. “Look to yourselves,” and make sure men do not deceive you. “Look to yourselves” and make sure you are growing closer to God daily (Jas. 4:8). “Look to yourselves” and make sure you tell others about the truth of Christ (II Tim. 2:2). “Look to yourselves” and make sure your thoughts, words, and deeds agree with what God says (Phil. 4:8-9). No one can do this for you. It is a responsibility each Christian must accept.
Why take the time to examine ourselves? It is so we won’t lose what we have worked for, or “wrought.” In other words, it is possible to lose what we once had! The mental gymnastics some teach when they say, “If you lost it, you never had it, if you have you can’t lose it, if you lose it, it wasn’t yours” has no basis in Scripture at all. It contradicts II John 8, and many other passages.
Let us examine ourselves and make sure we do not lose what we have worked for that we might receive that “full reward.” The “full reward” is a home in Heaven! John (the elder, v. 1) wanted his children to remember God’s promise and remain faithful. The apostle Paul had the same concern (II Cor. 11:3).
Satan works overtime to tempt Christians to return to his kingdom. He wants us to be deceived, be frustrated, and be overwhelmed with the affairs in this life so that we quit the Lord. When we yield to those temptations, our sin results in death (Jas. 1:15) and losing the reward we have. Please make sure and beware of Satan’s devices (II Cor. 2:11). His goals are the opposite of God’s!
Friend, read II John 8 once more. Decide that you will do God’s word and be faithful to His teaching (I Cor. 15:58). You will never regret making the decision to avoid deceit and follow God’s truth!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs