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Ecclesiastes (13) Don't argue with God

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posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:02 PM
The book of Ecclesiastes tends to be neglected.
I must admit that I’ve been neglecting it myself.
So I come to this book with no preconceptions, except that a book found in the Old Testament must be intended to have a spiritual meaning. The people who compiled the canon were not in the business of collecting an anthology of “Hebrew literature.

The main theme of the early chapters has been that natural life and human life in the natural world do not go beyond a series of cycles of alternating events. Any apparent changes are discovered to be stages within these cycles, while the overall system itself does not change.

It is “vanity” for humans to look for anything beyond these things in the natural world, trying to transcend the system on their own. It is better, and the gift of God, for them to find their enjoyment in the world as it is, maintaining themselves in the way which God has provided.

Nevertheless, God has “put eternity into man’s mind”, in such a way that eternity cannot be known completely. Thus man is made aware of something greater than himself. “God has made it so, in order that men should fear before him.”

It seems that this nearly completes the central message of the book. Much of what follows looks like an assortment of “footnotes” under the general heading “other flaws noticeable in human life when God is disregarded”.

Ch6 vv7-12

This chapter and the last have been about different kinds of waste. Words are wasted because expended uselessly in various ways. Toil is wasted because it fails to bring prosperity, in various ways. Prosperity is wasted because it is not enjoyed, for different reasons.

V7 “All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.”
This is a variant of ch5 v10; “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money”. But this appetite for food is not just about excessive greed. It is simply not possible, physiologically, to eat meals in such a way that one will never need to eat again. Just as no sleep will satisfy our need for sleep for the rest of our lives. Our physical needs are designed to be recurring, so there is nothing to be gained by trying to satisfy them absolutely.

V9 “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.”
In other words, be satisfied with what you see in front of you, instead of looking around for something else. This is the equivalent of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

These two verses have a common theme of “Don’t keep on looking for more than what God has given you”, which makes it all the more intriguing that v8 has been brought into the same theme, as it were, by being inserted between them.

V8 “For what advantage has the wise man over the fool?”
This is an echo of ch2 v15; “What befalls the fool will befall me also; why then have I been so very wise?” I suggested at the time that this was about human wisdom, rather than the “knowing the righteousness of God” wisdom which is discussed in Proverbs. Placed in this context, the question seems to be saying that “wisdom” is another area where we need to be satisfied with what God has given us, rather than yearning for more.

There follows a parallel question about the advantage of the poor man who knows how to conduct himself in company- “walk before them” in the AV. This looks like a different form of human wisdom, viz. learning the rules of etiquette as part of social climbing. Whatever may have been the Israelite equivalent of knowing that a duke should be addressed as “Your Grace”, and that you should tilt your soup bowl, if at all, away from yourself instead of toward yourself. (And Nancy Mitford says it is “Non-U” to call a napkin a “serviette”.) In other words, another version of “wanting to go beyond what God has given you.”

The remaining verses of the chapter are marked by the way the writer appears to be using oblique language to avoid mentioning God by name, which later becomes a common practice. For example;

V10 “Whatever has come to be has already been named.”
In other words, God always knew, and has determined, what would happen.

“It is known what man is.”
That is, God knows him, and knows that he is less than God.

“He is not able to dispute with one stronger than he.”
We have already seen several echoes of passages in Job, and trying to “dispute with someone stronger” (i.e. with God) was precisely Job’s fault.

So this verse reaffirms the unequal relationship between God and man.

V11 “The more words, the more vanity, and what is man the better?”
Another version of the proverbs already quoted in ch5 v3 and ch5 v7. In this context, the “vain words” will be those spent in disputing with God.

Here is an example of a statement having a basic meaning when taken in isolation, and a more specialised meaning when incorporated into a longer passage. This happens a lot in James.

V12 “For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his life?”
God knows. Man doesn’t. So let God make the decisions.

“For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?”
God could. Man can’t work it out for himself. That is, only God knows the future, and only God can decide how to make things work out for the best. Trust in God.

We may connect this theme (vv10-12) with the previous theme (vv7-9) on the premise that striving for more food, more property, more wisdom, instead of being content with what God has given us, may in themselves be ways of “arguing with God”. Indeed, the same could be said of wasting toil, wasting words, and failing to enjoy what God has given, the previous themes of these two chapters.

So these last three verses may be seen as the climax and summary of a longer argument, showing the general principles which underpin the earlier stages.

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:07 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Well, in that case. I am God.

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:09 PM
a reply to: NightVision
Now you are arguing with the other person who claims to be God.

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:16 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

You've made this exact thread before?

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:20 PM
a reply to: Joneselius
This is the thirteenth thread in a series, so I've made twelve previous threads with "Ecclesiastes" in the title. Please see profile for the predecessors (over the last twelve weeks).
I think you've better check all the others, to see if any of them are identical to this one. Read them carefuly, just in case.

edit on 27-11-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:35 PM
So this seems to be a position in conflict with many of the parables that Jesus taught which were couched in the language of prosperous people using prosperous people to illustrate his point.

Now, I understand that the parables were teaching about spiritual wealth and have layers of meaning to them, but there is also the surface lessons too. Would Christ have used wealthy and prosperous examples in His parables if such a thing were wrong, and at some point when you become prosperous, it is because you have worked industriously and diligently to earn what you have. You have effectively striven for more.

Again, I think it comes back to putting God at the center of your life whatever else you are doing with it. My contention with wealth and the difficultly with it isn't so much that it may exist, but that there comes a point where it becomes the false idol and addiction displacing God.

Because I guess I'm at a point in my life where I have returned to rigorous physical training because it is a thing I always enjoyed doing when I was younger, and now that my son is older and I am physically capable, it's time for me to do something to please myself. But is it wrong to train and aspire to get better? Or do I wait for God to bless me? Is the training "arguing with God" to seek to improve my physical ability and performance?

I hope not because I am thoroughly enjoying the process and chance to do it again, and I'm glad that God has given me the health and well-being to be able to once again enjoy myself.

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 05:45 PM
a reply to: ketsuko
I'm not sure the difference is so great, because the passages here are reproaching the seeking of extra wealth, more than those who possess it already. Did Jesus not urge people not to be anxious about food or clothing? Wasn't there a parable about a rich man storing up goods for himself and forgetting about anything else, including God?

I think the emphasis in Ecclesiastes is about doing everything with reference to God, being conscious of him, so he's going to be rebuking those who try to obtain more for themselves instead of paying attention to God.

edit on 27-11-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 07:17 PM
Nice thread!

This is from one of my online Bible studies:

When one understands the overall viewpoint of Ecclesiastes, the big-picture, its message becomes clear. Solomon was given great amounts of wisdom by God; however, Solomon began to trust more in his own wisdom than he did God’s guidance. Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s evaluation of life lived according to a wisdom that is not guided by God’s gracious presence. At least twenty-six times in the book of Ecclesiastes the phrase “under the sun” appears. This phrase indicates a life lived for this world; a life that does not have God as its focus, but lives for some other thrill, accomplishment, experience, or goal.

Message of Ecclesiastes?

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 10:09 PM
What made you write this ? very interesting, do you have a reference or source for this incredible analysis?

posted on Nov, 27 2020 @ 10:10 PM
a reply to: Joneselius

i like your signature & picture, same happens to me, do you know if its a browser thing?

posted on Nov, 28 2020 @ 12:18 AM
a reply to: Brozufil
If you don't frequent the theology sub-forum much, you may not realise that I've been posting a weekly thread once a week since 2010. What made me choose Ecclesiastes, quite frankly, was that I was running out of books of the Bible that I had not touched on already.

I haven't studied the book properly previously, as I say in the OP in this thread and the earlier members of the series, I felt the only way to tackle it was to plunge into it in detail, looking at a portion week by week, so that an overall picture could emerge. I don't have any other source, except that on particularly tricky points I might consult an copy of the old ICC commentary.

edit on 28-11-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 28 2020 @ 12:36 AM
a reply to: ColeYounger
I think I disagree with their analysis. The impression I'm getting from previous chapters is that the writer is rebuking every kind of activity that doesn't have God at the centre of it. When he calls wisdom "vanity", which is his usual position, |'m pretty sure that he means human wisdom. So he would be the first to say that wisdom is useless without God. He is actually trying to teach the point on which these people reproach him.

The observation about "under the sun" proves my point. It doesn't always mean "life not focussed on God". It simply means "human life", because the writer has not been told about any life after death. If you look at the statements in detail they are either "Life under the sun is vanity, because not focussed on God" or "Life under the sun must be focussed on God".

The people who originally collected Ecclesiastes among the sacred books obviously agree that the book has a spiritual message. Otherwise they would have left it out.

posted on Nov, 28 2020 @ 12:50 AM
a reply to: Brozufil
P.S. Since you seem to have just discovered me, and since you have added me as a Friend (thank you) which alerts you to future threads, you may like to browse this "Index" of my older material;
Ten years of Bible threads and other stuff
edit on 28-11-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 06:17 AM

a reply to: DISRAELII haven't studied the book properly previously
You haven't Studied any of them properly. No right Division, no revelation from the Holy Ghost teaching you to compare properly. You wrongly unite scriptures using a plethora of Bible Translations not believing any of them to be the Preserved words of God. ALL JW worldliness.

You still fail to see the spiritual lesson the Preacher King is trying to get across. You came close but just having God in the center does save or get one to heaven

BTW,The writer is the son of David the man after God's own heart. He knew all about life after death, he knew all about heaven and hell and when a man "goeth to his long home." To think other wise is to ignore a vast amount of Scripture, but of course you are not indwelt with the Holy Ghost (standard JW denial) so what is to be expected.

I my self will no longer give spiritual understanding or application to your poor fleshly worldly Bible commentaries. I do not want to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever in Jesus Christ, who does not have the godhead indwelling him, and having you claim we have the same goals.

edit on 11/29/2020 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 09:41 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Wow, I am very grateful for you response and the Index link, I was in the process of "printing" a few threads for easy reading later. Thank you for taking of your time to help your brothers and sister, I appreciate it very much!

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 11:18 AM
a reply to: ChesterJohn
I will try to explain just once more why the conversation broke down.

The problem is that your avatar really is you. That hostility and aggressiveness towards everybody in sight, that sense of authority and command, it all comes through in evey word you post.

Of course I understood from a fairly early stage that you were compensating for something, and I thought I could guess why you needed compensation. We are told to bear with one another's weaknesses, and so I did do my best to pull my punches even when you were getting insufferable. The trouble is that you over-compensate. As a result, you come across as proud and arrogant, quite incapable of accepting other Christians as your equals and dealing with them on that basis. Using your own kind of language, you are "not a nice man".

You appear to believe that you stand alone in your authority and rightness. Be alone, then, if that is your preference. It was not in my agenda either to keep you or to send you away. I only wished that you could learn how to behave better.

It is still my earnest recommendation that you should stop talking long enough at least to sit still and listen to God and hear what he might have to say to you. Spend some time in honest reflection and self-examination, because I'm sure he doesn't want you to be like this.

edit on 29-11-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 11:57 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

I'll try to explain it one more time. the avatar is there is fool the mind and it has done a great job on you. You see once you see it your mind is prejudiced in a way that you cannot hide who you are. While I am hidden by it.
edit on 11/29/2020 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 11:59 AM
Another path, but yeah don't argue with the Lord.
Or He might just show you his universal form (as Krishna did with Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita).

See chapter 11, especially verses 20-35.

edit on 29-11-2020 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 11:59 AM

posted on Nov, 29 2020 @ 12:00 PM

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