The worship of the Old Testament was certainly a “hands-on” religion! Several times, beginning in Leviticus three, God tells the worshipper or sometimes the priest to “lay his hand” on the animal to be sacrificed before dealing the death-blow (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13 4:4, 24, 29, 33). Reading these passages made me pause and think about why God thought it necessary to say, “lay your hand on this animal and then kill it.”
Laying a hand on something produces a connection that is not felt in any other way. It is one thing to have an animal killed for you, or even to watch it done from a distance. It is a different thing entirely to actually touch the animal, realize it has life in it, and know that in a moment, you will take its life. Our society is very much “hands-off” when it comes to preparing animals for meals. I know many who enjoy the food they eat but become squeamish, and some become visibly sick when discussing the finer points of “food processing!” This aspect of getting your meal from the pasture, or woods, to the table is something that they cannot contemplate. When I read a passage like Leviticus 3, 4, or other similar passages, I think how these people would cringe and even wretch if they had to stand at the altar and touch their cow, lamb, or goat (Lev. 3:1, 7, 12) and then take its life and continue the process of offering it to God!
Why touch the animal? Why not just have the animal sent to the priest and let them do the “dirty work?” It is not stated in this text, but may I suggest that actually touching the animal before its death brings a personal aspect to the offering that might not be realized in any other way. This animal that belonged to you, that you raised and kept healthy (Lev. 3:1), must now die for something that you did! You must touch it! You must look into its eyes, and you must hear the last gurgling sounds as its life ebbs away before you. This animal had its blood poured out and sprinkled around the altar (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13) because you wish to have peace with God once more!
We know that we are no longer subject to the Old Law (Heb. 9:15-17, 10:9). Yet, a Lamb was offered for our sins (Jn. 1:29). His blood was poured out (Jn. 19:34; Heb. 9:14) that we might have salvation (Matt. 26:28; Lk. 19:10). No, we were not there to actually touch Him as He died, but we need to think about this event and make it personal. Realize that Jesus was not there because of His sins but because of ours (I Pet. 2:22). Realize that His death was the death of the innocent! Just as the animal in the Mosaic period was innocent, so also Christ was innocent when nailed to the cross – even Pilate said so (Matt. 27:23-24)! If one’s emotions are stirred at the thought of an animal dying, how much more ought we be stirred when we allow the crucifixion of Christ to fill our minds!
In your mind and with the eye of faith, see yourself laying your hand upon the thorn-pierced head of Christ. Look into His eyes and tell Him He has to die so you can be cleansed! Yet, unlike the animals who suffered unwillingly, it was Jesus who went willingly to the cross (Jn. 10:18; Titus 2:14)! He knew exactly what He was doing and why (Jn. 18:36-37)!
We do not know the mental attitude of those people in the Old Testament following the peace offering, but we can know our attitude toward Christ when we understand He fills that place in our lives today. “He is our peace” (Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 1:20)! What will you do now that you know Christ is our peace offering? Will you give your life to Him (II Cor. 5:14-15)? Will you obey His will and be saved (Mk. 16:16)? How could you refuse?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Song of Solomon 1:3 contains the Shulammite’s words when she says her future husband’s name is “as ointment poured forth” (KJV). Other versions record this as his name is, “as perfume running out” (ASV), “spreading perfume” (CEV), “sweeter than the best perfume” (ERV), “perfume poured out” (ISV), and “the finest perfume” (NET).
In the immediate context, is this not the way of those in love? To mention his name (or her name) is to mention something that warms the heart and excites the senses. Just as sweet as perfume is the name of this person to the one in love. The context of Song of Solomon 1:3 concerns those not yet married. The excitement and thrill of those “dating” or “engaged” are wonderful to experience and witness in others. At the same time, who says such passion and delight must end with the passing of years? Husbands and wives, how does the name of your spouse sound to you today? Is it still as sweet or sweeter than when first mentioned years ago? If not, why not? May the excitement and joy at hearing your beloveds name continue as long as you live! May the “perfume” and “sweetness” in the name increase as the years continue. No doubt, this would be the intention of the Shulammite, and it ought to be our intention today with our beloved spouse.
In this verse, I also see an application that can be made to the Christian and Christ. After all, Christ’s name is better than all names. His authority is higher than all authority (Matt. 28:18; Acts 4:12). He is “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Indeed, the sound of His name to us ought to be better and sweeter than all perfume. Paul states that at the name of Christ, “every knee” will bow (Phil. 2:10). His power is greater than anything of man’s devising (Col. 3:17). Therefore, we need to turn to Him for comfort, strength, and salvation. Let us also look to Him in anticipation to one day hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23)!
How is this a possibility for us? It is possible when we believe in Jesus as the Son of God (Jn. 8:32). He is more than a mere man, more than a prophet, more than a religious leader. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (I Tim. 6:15)! He is the Son of God who loved us and died as a sacrifice for our sins! Believe in Him, repent of your past sins (Lk. 13:3), confess His wonderful name as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). When we do this, and we live for Christ, truly, His name will sound sweeter than all, and will be better to us than any perfume, for we recognize that it is Christ who is our Savior, who loves us, and who wants us to be with him in eternity in Heaven! What a beautiful thought and what a beautiful name!
- 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
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (II Pet. 1:2). Read this verse again carefully because I don’t know of any two things more sought-after in this world right now than grace and peace. Grace (put simply, unmerited favor) and peace (lack of hostile feelings toward another or toward you) are things that soothe the soul of man. We clamor for this in a world where many are hostile and uncaring. Look around, and in the US, rioting seems to occur daily right now. Police departments are threatened with being “unfunded” (This has already happened in some cities. Think about the consequences of no police protection in an area.) and many atrocities are committed by people claiming to be “oppressed.” Our social media is often filled with those who seem more ready to “bite and devour” (Gal. 5:15) than to love and understand. Yes, there are those still willing to talk and work out differences, but this rarely happens in a “tweet” or a Facebook message. This is something that happens one-on-one when we can face one another and talk and understand our differences.
Why the lack of grace and peace? I thought we were “enlightened” and above petty differences! Have we not grown beyond the petty bickering and the turmoil of the past? Without God, the answer is no (Jer. 10:23). Man continues to sin (Rom. 3:23), and he remains in his downward spiral so long as he refuses to acknowledge God and His truth (Jn. 17:17).
In contrast, grace and peace are “multiplied” (not merely “added”) “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (II Pet. 1:2). What a concept! When we strive to know God and strive to learn what Christ taught us while on this earth, this is when grace and peace are multiplied to us! How much time are YOU spending in God’s word? Availing yourself of the knowledge found in Scriptures will multiply grace and peace for you. Rejecting it will not bring grace and peace of any kind.
Haven’t we spent enough years NOT reading God’s word? Why not take some time (30 days perhaps?) and read God’s word daily. Then be amazed at how you are benefited by the knowledge of God and Jesus when you apply it to your life.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs