God Made Man Upright? What Happened?

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:1-29, Luke 12:41-48
Lesson: 8
Solomon turns his attention to religion and explores how character compromises lead only to further compromises.
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Good morning and welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church. We are so glad that you've joined us here in the sanctuary. And we would like to welcome those of you who join us on television, on the radio, online, welcome to our church and to "central study hour.

" I want to share a verse with you this morning taken from Psalms 113. It says, "praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, all you who are his servants, praise his name! Blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever! From the sun's rising to its setting may the name of the Lord be praised. the Lord is ruler over all nations, and his glory fills the heavens." We want to praise his name this morning. Hymn number 229 is "all hail the power of Jesus' Name." This is a request from clifton garote from Oklahoma city, Oklahoma, wallis riggs from stillwater, Oklahoma, Christine welcome from east end, cayman islands, victoria watson from ile-ife, nigeria, nikita thompson from nassau, bahamas, florida, David ayuba from Maryland, rollie donato from colton, California, jemule cascuncad from laguna, Philippines, rayona persad from georgetown, guyana, and rosalee nelson from mandeville, jamaica. Thank you for this request.

We want to praise Jesus' Name this morning with hymn number 229. We're gonna sing the first, second and fourth verses... Amen. We want to thank you for all of your hymn requests and invite anyone who has a hymn request to please go to our website at saccentral.org. And you can make your requests there.

Our next hymn is 508; 508 is "anywhere with Jesus." And this is a request from rollie donato from colton, California, abayadun adessagoon from ogun, nigeria, rose kaboose from Philippines, violet fuller from Kingston, jamaica, elizabeth Philippe from bridgetown, New Jersey, Daniel camanzie from arlington, Texas, marge randlep and Ellen randlep from harjumaa, estonia, poaki catoa, brian, Joshua, James, and elizabeth, from tatau, tonga, Karen henry from york, united kingdom--that's the home of pastor mike thomson--bula bencosi from saheti, eastern cape, south africa, nono neuimbi from manchester, united kingdom, prince and natasha from iheme, owings mills, Maryland, and tembo Timothy from copperbelt, zambia. Thank you for requesting hymn number 508, "anywhere with Jesus." We're gonna sing verses one, two, and three... Amen. Please bow your heads with me. Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for this beautiful Sabbath morning.

We thank you so much that we can trust in you to take us anywhere and everywhere we go. We pray that you would go with us now as we go through your Bible this morning. We want to please you, Lord, and we pray that you would teach us. Teach us what we can do to make you happy, to please you, Lord, 'cause we love you. Heavenly Father, please be with Pastor Doug now as he shares the message with us.

We love you. In Jesus' Name. Amen. Our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug Batchelor, our senior pastor here at Sacramento central church. Thank you very much, jenny, arlene, song singers.

Welcome friends. Good to see our friends here who are studying with us at Sacramento central, and those who are studying via the various networks that are carrying our study time across the country, and of course by satellite around the world. It's just a delight to be able to study with you. We are continuing our study in Ecclesiastes. Today we're dealing with lesson number 8 that focuses on chapter number 7.

Before we get to that though, again we like to highlight a book that we're offering for free to anybody who would like to ask for it. The book we've been offering the last few weeks is called, "teach us to pray." If you've not requested this, then call the toll-free number that you see on your screen. For those on radio, that's -788-3966. And ask for offer number 717. We'll just send it to you if you ask for it, "teach us to pray.

" We have an awful lot of material to cover in chapter 7. The title for--it's chapter 7 of Ecclesiastes, lesson number --and the title for today's lesson is "God made man upright? What happened?" Long title. And we have a memory verse. Memory verse is Ecclesiastes :29, if you would please take your Bibles and turn there I'd invite you to say that one with me. Ecclesiastes 7:29 is our memory verse.

Are you ready? "Lo, this only have I found: that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions." I guess the idea that man was made upright flies in the face of evolution, doesn't it? It says we slowly, "God made us as amoeba, but we eventually learned how to walk upright." God made man upright. Amen? Started out that way, but something happened. To some extent, we believe in evolution, but we believe in it in the other direction. We believe man was made in God's image, and he's been going downhill from there. So man has been not going from monkey to God.

We've been going from God to monkey. It's really what's been happening. Isn't that right? And man has become more and more degraded over the centuries. Anyway, you know what i-- this lesson is so long. This chapter's a little longer than the others.

So I'm not gonna start out as I've done before just by reading through it all. I'm gonna take it by verse, verse by verse, just as we begin. And so let's go to verse number 1. I've got some verses I'll ask you to read. And Ecclesiastes 7, this is that book that Solomon writes sort of in reflection towards the end of his life.

And the first verse, "a good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth." Alright, there's a lot right there. Let's start with the first part: "a good name." Now a good name is something about, has something to do with a resurrection or a reputation rather is what I meant to say. Last night I was watching a testimony video, it was an interview of evangelist cd brooks, a founder of "breath of life." And he was telling the story about when his father sent him off to college, had ten children, and he was the youngest. And sometimes by the time you get to the youngest, there's not a lot left for college. And as he went off to college, The Father opened up his wallet and just reached in and took whatever change he had, and said, "here.

" It wasn't much. He says, "I haven't got much to give you. I wish I could give you more. But I've given you a good name. Take care of it.

" A good reputation is worth something. And when you become a Christian, you get your father's name. You get a new name. You remember when Jacob wrestled with God? His old name was Jacob, which means trickster, con artist, bamboozler, deceiver. And he demonstrated that too, didn't he? Deceived his father, deceived his brother, even deceived laban a little bit.

But God gave him a new name when he came back into the promised land. And he wrestled with the angel there. And he gave him the name Israel, "overcomer, prince with God." And the Lord tells us that he gives us a new name. Matter of fact, why don't I have someone read for me Revelation :17, in the seven messages. Where are microphones? Got jim has one here.

And pancho has one here. If you're willing to read, Revelation 2:17, why don't you put your hand up? And they'll bring you the microphone. Roy seems to have it over here. We've got other verses we're gonna give out. And this is in the messages to the seven churches, it gives some warning, it gives some challenges.

And then there's some promise. And this is a promise given in chapter 2:17. Roy, go ahead. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.

And I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." A God promises to give us a stone with a new name in it. All of us get a new name. For one thing, we get a new reputation. Now in the Ten Commandments, what is the third commandment? "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Oh, by the way, a little bit of trivia. Some people have said, "you don't really need to keep the fourth commandment, because the fourth commandment is the one commandment in the new testament that's not repeated.

" That is a myth. It is totally untrue. The fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment, is found many times in the new testament. But where in the new testament do you find the third commandment? Word for word you don't find it. Closest you get is the Lord's prayer, "hallowed be thy name.

" Timothy says "the name of the Lord should not be blasphemed." "Do not take the name of the Lord in vain." When you hear that commandment, what do people typically think of? "He's using God's name in vain." What does that often mean? They're cursing, and God's name is being used in the curse, often in the context of a bar or something. But really, what does it mean to take the name of the Lord in vain? That I don't believe was the original mandate. That certainly includes it. When a woman gets married, she takes her husband's name, gets a new name. Not too many women can say they got married and became a Batchelor, but my wife can say that.

She wasn't one of these liberated women that doesn't want to take her husband's name. Ask me how I feel about that. But when you take that name, when we're baptized it's like marriage to Christ, and we take God's name. Then when you live for the devil, are you taking his name in vain? You're supposed to be a new creature. And so this is really what it's talking about.

He's giving us a new name. And then it says in the second part of that verse, "and the day of death better than the day of one's birth." Why does he say that? Well, through the book, he's talking of course about some of the trials of life and the travails of life and the struggles of life. And when a person dies, especially if they're saved, that's a time really when they lay their armor down. Now we're gonna talk in the next few verses about funerals. I went to another funeral this week.

Happens frequently. This was a very, a very sad funeral in that a comparatively young mother died. We help take her son to school and bring him home each day. Wonderful Christian lady died of cancer, a thousand people at the funeral. And you have mixed feelings.

Let me tell you why. Nobody there doubted her eternal destiny, good Christian woman. You're grieving not so much for the woman, because if a Christian dies, what is their next conscious thought? It's the resurrection. So the day of their death is better. The day of the birth, they're getting ready to go into battle for the next 3 score and 10 years.

When a Christian dies and they lay their armor down, I've been at some funerals of old saints that passed away, and nobody should be frowning. Because while you might miss them, think about them. They're next conscious thought: glorified body, joys forevermore, paradise, bliss, eternal life for the Christian. That's why Paul says, "we do not sorrow as others that have no hope." Now he also says, "the day of death better than the day of one's birth," because God is the author and the finisher of our faith, isn't he? And you may in life get a bad start. You may trip during the race.

But the important thing with God is a good finish. And if you have a good finish, then the end is better than the beginning. Alright, let's continue here. And it goes a little deeper into this theme of mourning. And matter of fact, I don't think there's been too many funerals I've not read this.

I always think it's a wise thing to read. Ecclesiastes 7:2, and I'm gonna read through verse 4. "Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

" In the middle of the week sometimes people will lay aside their work and they'll come to a funeral. And I always read this. I tell them, "three times it says better, better, better." How could it be better to be at a funeral? What's good about that? Well you know I kind of think that most people go through life with an illusion that we try to not think about death, especially in our culture. Someone dies, you quickly cover 'em up, usher the body away, hide it, put flowers around it, surround it with platitudes and pleasantries. Don't refer to the dead.

Don't refer to the corpse. Refer to the departed, the deceased. And we've got all these sweet ways of referring to it. But the fact is from the time that you first cried and you entered this world, you're on a conveyor belt. And you can't stop it.

And you're going to die. We're all terminal. Maybe you haven't gotten the doctor's report yet. Let me give it to you now. You're terminal.

We don't like to think about it. It's not pretty, is it? But it's good to think about it. Why? 'Cause so many people live their lives as though this is it. And they forget this life is to prepare for death that you might die well. If you die well, you're home free.

And people don't like to think about it. But when you come to a funeral, you've got to think about it, unless you just go in sort of in a dream world and leave that way. And so it's better. "Better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting." And the house of feasting people, they forget the purpose of life, don't they? In the house of mourning, you re-calibrate your compass. You say, "hey, I'm on that conveyor belt.

I need to be ready." And it's good to do that. That's better. Oh let me, let me, this, I caught this just yesterday. I was reading the news. And I guess it happened, what's today, the 3rd? This was reported yesterday.

And in florida it says here, "good advice for anyone considering to fake their death, don't go to your own funeral." True story. Alica mattrea of new port richey, florida began to tell her friends in her choir at a catholic church, she said she'd been diagnosed with cancer, years old. And eventually she stopped going. She was telling them about her struggles and the reports and things were progressing. And eventually she stopped going, but she kept phoning the people.

And this went on I guess for about a year. Finally, she had someone call supposedly, ostensibly, saying that allison was now in the hospital. Then another nurse called--they all sort of sounded like allison--and told other people in her church choir that she's now in hospice. And then someone called claiming to be her sister, saying, "well, her body's being shipped north where the family is, but they're having a memorial service locally." And so this catholic church has this memorial service for her. And someone who looked an awful lot like her, claiming to be her sister, was there.

Pretty soon they started calling the memorial homes and there was nobody by this name who had died. Sheriff's department checked it; nobody had died. Pretty soon, sure enough they found out she faked the whole thing, so she could go to her own funeral and hear what people were gonna say about her. Planned it for a year. I remember, speaking of teddy roosevelt, his daughter said, "he was a little bit proud that he wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral," the center of attention.

And this person actually wanted to attend their own funeral and hear what people are gonna say. But she was found out. And so she, she dealt with that all by saying, "well you know, I've got this thing. I knew I had to leave. And I've got this emotional problem with separating from people.

And I thought this would make separation easier." Interesting, interesting. Well, the Bible says, "better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting." The house-- "the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." Some people live for parties, one party after another. And they, you turn into airheads living like that, because you really forget what the purpose of life is. Someone read for me John--no, I tell you what, Amos 4:12. Someone read Amos 4:12.

While you're finding that, hold your hand up if you have that. I'll read John 11:33-35. "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the jews who had come with her weeping, he groaned in his spirit and was troubled. And he said, 'where have you laid him?' They said, 'Lord, come and see.' And Jesus wept." One time in the Bible here where it records the shortest verse, "Jesus wept." What--who died? Lazarus died. Why was Jesus weeping? For Lazarus? It says, "when he saw his sisters weeping, he saw the jews weeping, he wept.

" I think Jesus wept, not for Lazarus; he was getting ready to raise Lazarus. That would have been cause for rejoicing. I think Jesus wept for all those who mourn the loss of somebody. And even when he was weeping with mary and Martha, were they about to be rejoined with Lazarus? So why was he weeping for them? I think the Lord was basically commiserating with all of those who have grieved the loss of someone they loved. Alright, someone have Amos 4:12? Did we give that away? Yes, over here.

"'Therefore thus will I do to you, o Israel; and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, o Israel!'" Ominous words, "prepare to meet your God." Now is that just something you do when you get a terminal report? Or is that something you should think about every morning? I don't want to be somber. I don't want to be morbid, but I do think that people sort of live in a dream world. And we forget that Jesus said, "whoever seeks to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life, he will find it." Doesn't the Bible say, "if you're gonna come after Christ you must die daily?" Take up your cross daily. Is it morbid to think about death or is it smart? It's smart.

Anyone here know when they're gonna die? You got the date scheduled? Unless you're planning suicide, I hope not. By the way, just in case, I always like to say this, suicide is about the dumbest thing you can do. Because some people commit suicide thinking they're gonna, their circumstances in life are unbearable, so they're gonna improve things by removing all their options. For a suicide, in most cases, they awake in a lost condition, and there are no more options. Things are really bad.

So if you think about suicide for improving your circumstances, it doesn't work. Does it? All it does is permanently seal bad circumstances. But Christians, we die daily to self. And that's when you begin to live. So it's not morbid to think about death.

It's actually a smart thing to do, get ready for the life that never ends. Alright, enough about death. Let's go to chapter 7:5, "it is better," notice how many times you hear the word better, better, better, better, "it is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear The Song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool." I don't know if you've ever put some green thorns in a fire, but they don't burn quietly. They pop and crackle.

And it's sort of a harsh, unpredictable sound. But it doesn't communicate any thought. It's just noise. And the laughter of fools is just empty noise. But if you are rebuked by a wise man for something, and you take it to heart, you can be a better person because of that.

Some of the most profitable spurts of growth in my life, and there's plenty to come I hope, have been when some friend honestly, without venom, rebuked me for bad behavior. That's a sign that you're growing. And you all need friends like that, that will make you accountable. That is of much more value than going to the house of feasting and have people just cackling like burning thorns, telling jokes, and goofing off. And you don't grow in that environment.

Sometimes it's the harsh things that make us grow. Now these next few verses have so much in them, that I'm gonna go all over the place. We're still in chapter 7. Verse 7, "surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason, and a bribe debases the heart." Another translation of that verse, and I think this is the new American standard version says, "extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart." The love of money a lot of people have lost their integrity. And then he goes on to say, "the end of a thing is better than its beginnings; and the--" now we already talked about that.

Jesus Christ, it tells us in Hebrews 12--matter of fact, someone look at that-- Hebrews 12:2, who wants to read that for me? You didn't know I was going there. When you find it, hold your hand up, Hebrews 12:2. Someone else Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:8. Who has Hebrews 12:2? Somebody? No volunteers? Which one you got, Hebrews 12:2? Alright, he's got the microphone for you. We're talking here about the end of a thing being better than the beginning.

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Amen. Jesus is the author and finisher, meaning that he will forget--he'll finish what he's begun. I've started a few books I haven't finished. But Jesus finishes the books he's started if you'll let him continue to write on your life. Amen? Someone have Revelation 1:8? Did I see a volunteer? Got a couple hands right there.

Hold your hand up, whoever is closest. "'I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending,' saith the Lord, 'which is and which was and which is to come, the almighty.'" Amen. The alpha and the omega. That is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and the last letter, the beginning and the end. In the beginning of Christ's life, what did it look like? Did he come as a lion or a lamb? Where was his suffering, the beginning or the end, first coming or second coming? First coming.

So was the end of a thing better than the beginning? His second coming he comes like a lion, right? Is he suffering physically there? No. He's coming victorious. He came looking like he was defeated the first time. Alright, let's move on here. He then goes on and says, "the patient in spirit," I'm still in verse 8 I believe, "the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

" Alright, let's talk a little bit about patience. There's a lot in the Bible to talk about that. Someone one time said, "a delay is better than a disaster." Someone once prayed, "dear God, grant me patience right now." Have you heard that before? Does the Bible talk about, "here is the patience of the saints. Here are those that keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ?" "Eternal life is given to the patient." I just read that one to you in Revelation 14:12. Someone read Hebrews 6:12.

Alright, y'all wake up, get ready here. I'm gonna give out several verses. Hebrews 6:12. Someone else Matthew 24:13. Someone else Romans 2:7.

Someone else James 5:11. We're gonna spend a minute talking about patience. Alright, Hebrews 6:12. Which one do you have, David? Hebrews 6:12. Okay, go ahead, read that.

"That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." How important is patience? "Through faith and," what? We know how important faith is. Without faith, it's impossible to please God. Patience is right up there in good company. It says, "through patience inherit the promises." Why do we need patience, do we need patience for God? Or do we sometimes need patience for ourselves? I wrote a song that I will not sing for you right now. But it's called, "be patient with me, o God I pray.

" And it's just a little song, I might teach you someday." But so often my prayers are saying, "Lord, be patient with me." 'Cause you feel like your progress isn't, you're not getting anywhere. But you gotta believe he's "the author and finisher of your faith." Did somebody find Matthew 24:13? Brad, right here, microphone, pass it down quickly. And then i--what did I say was next? Romans 2:7 will be next. Go ahead, brad. "But he who would endure to the end shall be saved.

" Does patience and endurance have something in common? We must be patient. We must endure to the end. Don't give up. Romans 2:7, any volunteers for that? Tim has it right here, Romans 2:7. "Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.

" "By patient continuance," you remember Jesus tells a-- "patient continuance in doing good--" you remember Jesus tells a story. He ends his discourse on the second coming in Matthew 24, by saying, "who therefore is a faithful and wise servant, whom when his master comes shall find so doing, giving his fellow servants their meat in due season? But if that wicked servant says in his heart, 'my Lord delays his coming,' and begins to eat and drink with the drunken, and to beat his fellow servants--" and this is a loose paraphrase, sorry-- "the master of that servant will come at a day when he is not looking for him that he is not aware of." And it almost sounds like when the children of Israel were at the bottom of the mountain, and they said, "Moses delayed his coming," and they got tired of waiting for him, and so they made the golden calf and got into all kinds of trouble. They needed patience. And it's talking about being patience. "Eternal life is given to those who by patient continuance.

" How many people do you know who start well as a Christian, they get baptized, they've got the best of intentions, but they get discouraged along the way? They lose patience, maybe waiting for God or even with themselves. They don't see enough progress; they give up. It's not worth it. I'll never make it. Don't give up.

Don't give up. James 5:11, I also handed that out. I got a hand over here, James 5:11. "Behold we could them happy which endure. We have heard of the patience of job and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.

" Notice the connection again. "He that endures, happy is him that endures." And he connects endures with patience. And whose patience is he talking about? Patience of? Job. Was he tried? Did he give up? No, you're gonna be tried and the devil wants you to throw in the towel. Hang in there.

Don't get discouraged. Don't give up. Now I could say a lot more about patience. You know... I'll read you a poem.

"There once was an oyster whose story I tell, who found that some sand had slipped under his shell. Just one little grain, but it gave him such pain, for oysters have feelings, although they're so plain. Now did he berate the working of fate, which had led him to such a deplorable state? 'No,' he said to himself as he lay on his shelf, 'if I can't remove it, I'll try and improve it.' So as the years rolled on as years always do, he came to his ultimate destiny: stew. But this small grain of sand, which had bothered him so, was a beautiful pearl all richly aglow. Now this tale has a moral, for isn't it grand, what an oyster can do with a morsel of sand? What we couldn't do if we'd only begin to enrich all the things that get under our skin.

" Someone said, "a pearl is a garment of patience that enclosed an annoyance." That's a--you get that? "A pearl is a garment of patience that enclosed an annoyance." As you endure, your character, little by little, imperceptibly is becoming refined. And you may not see progress, but God is, he's putting that iridescent casing around you and making a jewel. So don't give up. Now the second part here, I'm still in Ecclesiastes 7:7-8, "the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." Notice the contrast between the two. It's telling us the proud are the category, I'm sorry, the patience are the category of the saved; the proud are in the category of the lost.

What was the devil's chief sin? Pride. He was destroyed by his pride. Alright, I've got a number of verses that deal with this. Someone look up Proverbs 27:2, also written by Solomon, Proverbs 16:19, Proverbs 27:2, Proverbs 16:19. Any, hold your hands up if you're willing to read some of these verses we got here.

Got a hand over here. And while you're passing the microphone, Jesus said in Matthew 23:11-12, "but he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, he who humbles himself will be exalted." The proud are the ones who are destroyed. Alright, do we have our verse there, Proverbs 27:2? "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips." You know it's really interesting in conversation how people as gracefully as they can insert self-praise into their conversation. And sometimes folks have learned--i mean it's very unbecoming for people to just start to trumpet their accomplishments.

But I've noticed that human nature, in order to be polite, we have interesting ways of inserting our praise into discussions. And sometimes it's in roundabout ways through association. Or someone will relate a story and we feel like we gotta top it. But what does that all spring from? Pride. People are insecure about their standing and are trying to raise their perceived value.

And so they talk about their accomplishments and their wisdom. I was thinking about saying something I'm not gonna say. Mark--what did I say? No, Proverbs 16:19 is the next one. Did someone have that one? "Better to be of a humble spirit with a lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." "Better to be of a humble spirit with a lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." What were the disciples arguing about just before the last supper? You can read about this, Mark 9:33-34. Jesus said, "'what were you talking about along the way?' But they kept silent, for on the road they disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.

" They were already haggling in their midst about which of them would have the highest office in the new kingdom and position. "Proud of," what did spurgeon say? "We should never be proud of face or race or place." Pride, proud of spirit. Now, the operative word, in my opinion, in Ecclesiastes 7 is wisdom. Notice it says better quite a bit, but it also says wisdom even more. I think you're gonna find wise or wisdom 13 times in that one chapter.

Notice what brings real wisdom. Proverbs 12:15, "the way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise." Proverbs 11:2, "when pride comes," here we are talking about pride again, "when pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom." Can you teach a proud person? They know everything. Can God learn anything? I just want you to think. Does God ever learn anything? You afraid to answer? It's not a trick question. Think about it.

Does God know everything? Can a person who knows everything learn anything? Yeah, I just thought I'd get you to think about that. That was free. It has nothing to do with-- it has to do with wisdom. Proverbs 15:33, "the fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility." You notice that it's humility connected with wisdom again. Alright, let's get back to our chapter 7.

We're reading through this here. Verse 10, we're in Ecclesiastes :10, "do not say, 'why were the former days better than these?' For you do not inquire wisely concerning this." Have you ever had anyone talk about, "boy, those were the days. Those were the good old days." I very rarely heard somebody say, "these are the good old days." I have heard it. Matter of fact, I've thought to myself, there have been episodes in my life when I've thought, someday I'm gonna look back on this age, or this phase in my life, and say, "these were the golden years," and you know just all the blessings. And sometimes we're always thinking the good old days, but you know they had their problems in the good old days.

It's amazing. I've heard people talk about the depression, and say, "those were the days." And I thought, well, I bet if you had asked people back then they wouldn't say that. So sometimes we don't recognize what the good old days are. Verse 11, notice again, "wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun. For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but excEllent knowledge is that of wisdom gives life to those who have it.

" "But the excEllence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those that have it." Again wisdom, wisdom, wisdom. It's the operative word you're gonna find in this chapter. Is an inheritance a good thing or a bad thing? An inheritance given suddenly to those who have not learned to work is frequently not a good thing. I have seen many times people suddenly come into a great windfall and they have not learned how to work or to manage. If you're not faithful with pennies, you as certainly not be faithful with dollars.

And if you're squandering quarters, you'll squander hundreds. So sometimes people quickly come into money and it is not good for them. And they lose it quickly. You've probably heard the expression that "a fool and his money will soon be parted." But when a wise--did Solomon get an inheritance from David? Probably one of the greatest inheritances next to rehoboam, which was Solomon's son, that any king could get, came from David. David had accumulated incredible wealth that he had acquired, mostly for the temple.

But he had this incredible vault filled with treasure that he had accumulated. But he gave it to a wise son, who then used it to build up the house of God. Some people have inherited great sums of money and it's just been frittered away. And it's tragic what happens. It says, "money is a defense.

" It's sad, but true, that sometimes when a poor person is convicted of some crime, and they can't afford good legal defense, they're thrown in the slammer and they throw away the key. A person with means who can hire the best of attorneys, haven't we all seen this happen? Sometimes it doesn't matter what the offense is, they can just about get away with murder. Money becomes a defense. When I was, I guess I can tell you this now, 'cause both my parents have departed, using that kind word. My mother and father got into a custody case several times during my brother and my life, they fought over my brother and i.

One day, my father-- my mother had put my brother and I in summer camp. Without telling my mother, my father flew up in a small plane, kidnapped us from summer camp, took us from New York to florida. Then there was another of many custody battles. And my father, of course, had more money than my mother, but my mother had rich friends. And she got one of her rich boyfriends.

We got down there in florida, and they actually brought us in, my brother and i, I'm 7 years old. And they're asking us about our parents, and it was terrible to put kids through that. Afterward, we ended up going with my mom. And I couldn't figure it out, because my father had told me, he says, "you're coming with me. I've paid off the judge.

" He should have never told a 7-year-old that. But later, when we're driving away with mom, and frankly my brother and I wanted to be with mom at that point, we said, "how is it that, how is it that we're with you? Dad said he paid off the judge." She said, "yeah, but we paid him more." So the judge actually took bribes from both sides. But my mother's boyfriend paid the judge more. And so the defense came to whoever had the most money. Isn't that sad? You remember what it says in the Bible with Samuel was a good judge.

But when did they start asking for a king? The Bible says Samuel's sons took bribes. And the people said, "we're not getting justice anymore, because whoever had the most money had the best defense. That's what Solomon is talking about here. And keep in mind Solomon lived after Samuel's sons. Keep going here.

Verse 13, "consider the work of God; for who can make straight that which he has made crooked?" Have you ever seen when a tree is young, you can bend it and you can shape it. But then as it grows, however the tree is bent, that's how it grows. If it's got a knot in it, it'll grow with a big old knot in it. Some people, they wait until too late in their lives to try and straighten things out. You've gotta make your decision for Jesus when you're young.

Once the concrete sets, it's a lot harder to do the work, isn't it? By the way, that sounds like that verse, "can a leopard change his spots?" "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" And you could add to it, "who can make straight what is crooked?" It's like trying to straighten out a river. Verse 14, "in the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other." Someone read for me Matthew 5:45, the day of prosperity and the day of adversity, Matthew 5:45. When you find it, raise your hand. You know life is full of mountains and valleys, isn't it? I remember a story in the Bible where during the battles with ahab and the various Kings. Ahab had a very small army and he had to fight against the very big syrian army.

Yeah, go ahead and give them the microphone. I'll call for that in just a second. And in this battle, God said that the syrians said, "we're gonna win, because their God is the God of the mountains and our God is the God of the valleys." And God sent a prophet to ahab. He says, "even though you're a wicked king," I'm paraphrasing, he said, "I'm gonna give you victory, because the syrians think that I'm only the God of the mountains. They need to know I'm also the God of the valleys.

" And there is, there is a metaphor, there is another message in that phrase in that God is not just there with us on the mountaintop. God is with us in the valleys. He's there in the days of adversity. He's there in the days of prosperity. You remember when Jesus was on the mountain and he was shining like the sun? And Moses and Elijah are there, and the glory of God, and the voice of The Father.

You know what happened right after he came down the mountain? The devils appeared. He ran into a boy who was demon-possessed. Jesus was with Peter, James, and John on the mountain. Jesus was with Peter, James, and John in the valley, on the mountain with God; in the valley with the devil, in the days of prosperity; in the days of adversity. In case you didn't know it you're life is usually a series of mountains and valleys.

Some of you think, "I haven't seen a mountain in a long time." They'll be mountains. They'll come back. Sometimes they're not high mountains. Sometimes they're little hills and valleys. But there are cycles in life.

Amen? We've all got our ups and downs, good days and bad days. And God is just, he's there when you can see him. He's there when you can't see him. Alright, who has that verse for us in Matthew? Go ahead. "That ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

" Jesus gives blessing and trials to everybody. He is a loving father. Amen? If this idea that if you have enough faith, you'll never have problems; Bible doesn't teach that. If you have enough faith, you'll never have reverses; Bible doesn't teach that. There will be ups and downs all through a person's life.

There'll be adversity and there'll be prosperity. Learn how to rejoice in the times of prosperity. By the way, if you're thankful for the blessings that God gives you, he is more inclined to follow with further benefits. Be grateful for those days. That's why it says, "be joyful in the times of prosperity.

" Some people, it doesn't matter even how prosperous they are, they're still complaining. Ecclesiastes 7:15, "I have seen everything in my days of vanity." Remember Solomon's an old man. "There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in wickedness." Now this sounds like the book of job, where it's saying that the big dispute in the book of job is why do bad things happen to good people? And why do bad people seem to sometimes be blessed? Who was the longest living king of Israel? Actually he's the King of judah. Who's the longest living king in the old testament? Not longest living, I should say longest reigning. The longest reigning king was manasseh.

Good king or bad king? I mean the way some people think manasseh would have been struck with lightening by the time he was 20 years old. Wicked king, you look at what he's doing, making his children pass through the fire, killing the prophets including Isaiah, all these terrible things. But he repents in his old age and God saves him. God was patient with him because he knew he was gonna repent. And he gave him time.

So sometimes we don't understand--and why? Sometimes you've got Godly people in their youth, they die young. Some of the great missionaries died in their 20s. And you think why did the Lord let that happen. Well because of their zeal and their dedication others were inspired, and those countries were entered, and a great work was spawned because of their faithfulness, even though they died young. And you say, "why did that evil come upon them in their youth? God knows what he's doing, doesn't he? And so sometimes we, we don't understand it.

Next verse, verse 16, and this is a very interesting verse, "don't be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself?" What does he mean? Can you be too righteous? Oh yeah. He's not talking about genuine righteousness. He's talking about the counterfeit. Did the pharisees manufacture this artificial righteousness? Where they went around, they prayed to be seen of men. They gave to be seen of men.

They fasted to be seen of men. They prayed long prayers for people to hear. And so that's what he's talking about being overly righteous. For one thing, when you tout your righteousness, that's pride, and you're inviting God to remove the cloak and to expose you. That's why he's saying, "do not be overly righteous," because God may prove to embarrass you.

"Why should you destroy yourself?" Do not be overly wise. Don't be many masters. You'll receive the greater condemnation. When we say we know everything and we're overly righteous, you're just asking God to knock you off your pinnacle. Then he says in the next verse, "do not be overly wicked.

" You can be a little wicked, but not too wicked. Is that what he means? "Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: why should you die before your time?" Alright, how many people are a little wicked? Let me see a show of hands. Come on. Let me read you a verse. I'll let someone else read it for me, Jeremiah 17:9, Jeremiah 17:9, somebody? You know where the book Jeremiah is, 17:9? Alright, I'll read it if nobody's gonna-- oh, you got it, tim? Go ahead.

We'll take a repeat reader here. "'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?'" Whose heart? Every heart. "The heart." The human heart. So how many hearts have wickedness? Everybody's heart has wickedness. So when he says "overly wicked," are there some people who beyond the regular carnal problems that we all struggle with, are there some people who give themselves up to wickedness? And what happens to them, that you might be destroyed before your time? There are some people who basically are struck down: ananias and sapphira.

Right in the presence of the Holy Spirit, they lie in God's face. Nadab and abihu, they get drunk and walk in front of the shekinah glory. I mean, you know, aaron sinned, but not like his sons. There are varying degrees. Sin is sin.

But are there varying degrees of sin? There has to be. You know why? There are varying degrees of punishment. And so if everyone is rewarded according to their works, there are varying degrees of sin; there are varying degrees of punishment. "Do not be overly wicked. Why should you die before your time?" You know, in--i think this is barnes commentary, this is what he says in regard to that, 'cause it's a difficult verse.

"Do not multiply wickedness. Do not add direct opposition to Godliness to the rest of your crimes. Why should you provoke God to destroy you before your time? Perdition will come soon enough if you will turn your foot from your sins and avoid it finally, yet keep out of it as long as you can." There's already enough wickedness in the world we fall into. So don't head into it. And don't encourage others in wickedness.

I knew I wouldn't get through this. Ecclesiastes 7:18, "it is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all." That's connected to the former verse. Verse 19, "wisdom strengthens the wise," there's wisdom again, "more than ten rulers of the city." The best thing you can do to gain strength is what? Wisdom. It's like the first verses in Proverbs. Then you read in verse 20, "for there is not a just man on the earth that does good and does not sin.

" How many have sinned? Does Paul refer to this when he said, "all have sinned." All have done wickedness. There is no just man, no not one. All are guilty of sin. Solomon is saying that and referring back to the earlier verse again. I like this, and I'll probably have to close with this.

Verse 21-22, "also do not take heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others." Loose translation: don't become distracted or upset over gossip that you hear people may say about you. Everybody gossips. Don't take it to heart. Don't let it trouble you so much, because people don't necessarily mean everything they say.

Sometimes people just talk to hear themselves. They don't mean malice. Have you gossiped about others that you may even like? That's what he's saying? Yet some people have just become so just destroyed and upset about other people who have spoken about them and what they've said. And it just tears them apart. Solomon says, "don't take heed to many words spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you.

" There's a lot of chatter. There's a lot of background buzz. And you can't be distracted by it. You've heard me say this before. When you're on tv and you're teaching like this, you make a lot of mistakes, you get a lot of advice.

Some of it's very nice. Some of it is not so nice. Some of it is very mean. I can't take to heart everything people say. For one thing, I've seen rumors on the internet that I was dead.

I've seen other rumors that I was a jesuit infiltrator. I mean, you know, you can't take all that stuff to heart. You're gonna hear all kinds of kooky things. And you've gotta learn to say, look, you live for God. Let other people gossip.

Amen? And what typically happens, it's like throwing mud. If someone's gossiping about you and you become preoccupied trying to remove it and process it, you just make it worse. You live for God. "Don't pay much heed to many words spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you." You move on. And don't you gossip, 'cause he also said, "you yourself know that you've cursed others," meaning you've talked about others.

Our time is up. We wanna remind you about our free offer. And it's the book, "teach us to pray." For our friends who are watching, we'll send it to you for asking. And if you're listening on radio, that phone number is 866-788-3966. That actually translates into 866-study-more.

And we'll send you this. Ask for offer number 717. God bless you, friends. Thank you for studying with us. We hope this has been edifying.

And God willing, we'll work together, study together again next Sabbath.

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