Evil Under the Sun
Vol: 162 Issue: 28 Saturday, March 28, 2015
Wisdom is something all of us seek, but few of us find when we’re looking for it. According to the Bible, King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. But King Solomon is also the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, in which Solomon strives to explain the nature of life, only to conclude that he cannot.
“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
Although Solomon was gifted with God-given insight and discernment, or wisdom all through his life, he was still in search of understanding as his days on earth dwindled down to a perilous few. The Book of Ecclesiastes can be divided in four main parts:
- The Futility of all Human Endeavor
- The Futility of all Human Achievement
- The Limitations of Human Wisdom and;
- The Conclusion: Live Joyously in the fear of God
Solomon, at first blinded by the seeming futility of life despite his wisdom (“all is vanity”) reached his final conclusion only after he attained a measure of understanding:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
The Scriptures tell us that wisdom plus instruction equal understanding and that ‘understanding’ is the senior of the three attributes.
Psalms 111:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.”
Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 3:13: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.”
Proverbs 8:5: “O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.”
Do you see the progression? When one seeks wisdom through instruction, the Bible promises the result will be understanding. But what is the difference between wisdom, which Solomon always had, and understanding, which came to Solomon only later in life?
Solomon outlines the progression of spiritual learning. It begins by seeking the source of wisdom. Having identified the source of wisdom, one must prepare to receive instruction; in other words, have a teachable spirit.
Wisdom plus instruction, when properly applied, will then yield understanding.
Let’s break this down a bit further. Many people learn to drive by seeking instruction from a skilled driver. The instructor, if he is worth his salt, will impart certain wisdoms; keep your wheels straight when waiting to make a left turn until you are ready to move, for example.
But if you don’t know why that is a wise move, it is probable that you will forget it as soon as you’ve passed your driver’s test. If your instructor is any good, he will impart his wisdom together with instruction, which will lead to understanding.
If your car is rear-ended while you are waiting to turn, if your wheels are already turned, you will be pushed into an oncoming lane of traffic and probably get hit again.
Once you know why, you are far less likely to forget what. Because wisdom plus instruction yields understanding.
As we progress in our walk with the Lord, we learn that the source of all wisdom is Scripture. The Bible says that the ‘fear’ [respect] for the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.
That is to say, without respect for God’s Word AS God’s Word and therefore infinitely wise, instruction will be useless and understanding will never come.
Like the guy who gets mad when he gets a ticket for rolling through a stop sign. To his mind, the cop is ‘picking on him’. He never makes it to the point of understanding — and he probably gets a lot of tickets.
“And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:9)
We miss much of what God has planned for our lives. Instead of applying Scripture to our lives, we apply the wisdom of the world, best expressed as ‘live and learn.’
That will eventually yield some measure of worldly wisdom, but by itself, it won’t bring us to the next level, that of understanding.
Many Christians start out eager for instruction and seeking wisdom. But then they reach a point where they feel they’ve learned all they need to know.
Paul refers to them as ‘milk’ Christians — baby Christians not yet able to digest ‘the strong meat’ of the Word of God.
Think back to the guy who got mad because he saw his ticket as evidence the cop is picking on him. Now think about the last time you had a discussion with somebody over some element relative to Bible prophecy for the last days.
Take the Tribulation, for example. The Scriptures teach that there will be saved Christians on the earth during the reign of Antichrist.
From there, it is easy to conclude those Christians are part of the Church. Having reached that conclusion, any instruction to the contrary becomes a point of contention over the timing of the Rapture.
Putting the Church into the Tribulation Period means spiritualizing and allegorizing the rest of Scripture instead of seeking understanding. Scripture teaches that the Christian in the Church Age cannot be overcome by the enemy. (1st John 2:14,4:4)
But the same Scriptures teach that during the Tribulation, the antichrist is not only empowered to make war with the saints, but ALSO to overcome them. (Revelation 13:7)
How does one seek to understand what appears to be such a glaring contradiction?
“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (Proverbs 8:33)
The purpose of the Tribulation Period is two-fold; in the first, it is the ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’.
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7)
Note that Jeremiah says that “Jacob” [the children of Israel] will “be saved out of it.” They will be saved OUT of the Tribulation, by the Promise of God — as Jews.
During the Church Age, individual Jews are saved by grace through faith and become Christians. At the end of the Tribulation, Scripture says that ALL Israel will be saved, but by sight, rather than faith alone.
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
The Church plays no role in Israel’s national redemption during the Tribulation. The Church is in heaven and the 144,000 Spirit-filled Jews of Revelation 7 carry the Gospel, primarily to the Jews.
The second purpose of the Tribulation is to bring judgment on a Christ-rejecting, unrepentant world.
“Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (Revelation 9:21)
By definition, Church-Age Christians have already repented — they have no role to play in the Tribulation.
The Tribulation Saints are saved through the Spirit-dwelt 144,000 Jews empowered as evangelists by the seal of God (Revelation 7). They are overcome by the antichrist, and are either killed or accept his mark.
During the Church Age, salvation is open to all men. They need only to accept Christ and they are forgiven, their crimes erased, and they are washed in the Blood of the Lamb and spend eternity with Christ.
The Church Age and the 70th Week of Daniel are in different dispensations. During the Church Age, salvation is unconditional. During the Tribulation, there is no redemption for those who take the Mark of the Beast, according to the Word of God.
The Scriptures provide both wisdom and instruction. But one must be teachable to combine the two and come up with understanding.