Seeing Through a Glass Darkly

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 8:1-17, Hebrews 11:13-16
Lesson: 9
Solomon realizes that a healthy fear of God brings hope into an otherwise hopeless existence.
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Good morning, and welcome to "central study hour," coming to you from Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church here in rainy California, Sacramento this morning. We're so glad that you're joining us for another Sabbath school here. Last weekend, I was in spokane, Washington visiting some-- a co-worker who was getting married.

And I met so many wonderful people who are part of our Sabbath school family. And the westlin family in Washington this morning, I just want to give you special greetings from here, from your family at central church. Pull out your hymnals. We'll turn to 532. "Day by day" is a request from edward from melbourne, australia, talisha from new providence, bahamas, alise from the u.

s. Virgin islands, carol from antigua and barbuda, max from queensland, australia, gordon from wireman, florida, lorna from seal, barbados, charles and samantha from barbados, nadia from jamaica, joe from british colombia, Canada, chiwell from barbados, jezreel from Phillips, New York, steve and sophia Daniel from london, united kingdom, kristen bell from jamaica, dave hutchinson from manitoba, Canada, annabelle from the Philippines, sophia and steve from london, and andrea from jamaica. This is a popular song this morning. Let's sing all three verses, 532... [Music] Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for bringing us here this morning to worship you as a family, a church family; those that are here and of course those that are joining us from across the country and around the world.

We thank you so much for each and every one of them. And I pray to you father, this morning, that we will keep our eyes on you, and that we will never lose sight of what you've done for us. We have so much to be thankful for. We live in a country that has so much and there are so many people that have nothing. And father I pray that we will use what you've given us to help others, to reach others, so that one day soon we can all be in heaven together with you.

Be with our speaker this morning as he brings us a lesson study. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you, debbie and singers. Welcome, friends, both members and visitors here at Sacramento central.

And I want to welcome again the extended class. We know we have people who are watching this live right now on the internet at the website. And then of course the better part of the country and the world is watching a delayed version. We study the lesson weeks in advance here at Sacramento central, so we can get the closed captioning on the lessons and get it edited and get it sent out to the networks. And we want to thank the networks for carrying our study.

We have a free offer. And it's a book by yours truly called "assurance: justification made simple." And if you dial the toll-free number you see on your screen, it's 1-888-study-more is the acronym, and ask for offer number--it's like the jet--727. And we'll send that to you. We're continuing in our study. Now we're on lesson number 9 in the book of Ecclesiastes, the great book of wisdom, written by Solomon.

And most scholars agree he was the author. Today we're on lesson 9, but it's dealing with chapter 8 of Ecclesiastes. We're gonna try and cover all of chapter 8 today. And the title of the lesson, actually it doesn't come from Ecclesiastes, it comes from 1 Corinthians 13, "seeing through a glass darkly," seeing through a glass darkly. Now, in Bible times, glass was not as clear as it is today.

Now they can make glass that is several inches thick and you can't even see it. It's so clear. It's so pure. In Bible times, glass was still something of a primitive art. And most glass had a little of the natural brown color in it.

And they couldn't get it perfectly rolled and flat so that it wouldn't obscure things. And you'd look through a glass and it would be a little shaded with a natural color. And it would be a little bit, kind of like some bathroom windows you see that are a little obscured and you could sort of see through it, but you couldn't see clearly. And sometimes our picture of God is obscure. So having said that, why don't we go ahead and get into the lesson.

Oh, we have a memory verse. I knew I was forgetting something. Memory verse is Ecclesiastes 8:12, 8:12. And if you would say this with me, you ready? "Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him." One of the themes that is explored in Solomon's study is, why do good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people? And so he addresses that with this verse. Alright, let's get into our study.

And I'd like to have somebody volunteer to read for me just the first verse of Ecclesiastes 8. Who would like to, well we've got several volunteers. Alright adam, well let's start with mike up here. We'll work our way back. "Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed.

" Okay, first part of that, "who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing?" Do some people have the gift of interpretation? Well, when it comes to interpreting dreams, who comes to your mind as somebody that had the gift to interpret dreams? Daniel. Who's the first one? I think Joseph is the first one that's recorded that had the gift of interpretation. He did it for of course the two servants that were in prison with him. He did it for the pharaoh. Daniel had that gift.

Is Daniel also called wise? Is Joseph also called wise? After Joseph interpreted the dream for the King, and they said, "who's gonna manage the Kingdom and get ready for this famine?" They said, "who we gonna find wiser than this?" And so what does the Bible say is the beginning of wisdom? Who said that? Solomon--said God through Solomon, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Now, some people have the gift of interpretation. You know, among the tribes of Israel, there were the people of asher and issachar. And they were sort of known for their wisdom. And I'm trying to remember, I think it was the tribe of asher, it said, "they knew what Israel ought to do." They just, there was a people that had a lot of wisdom. And then it goes on to say in this verse, "a man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed.

" Alright, let me read a verse for you here. Exodus 34:35, "and whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him." Can you think of somebody else's face who lit up in the Bible? Jesus? Where does it say Jesus' face lit up? It does, I'm just asking you. It actually says he, the whole person, lit up. When Judas came to arrest him, and he said, "I am he," they all fell backwards, probably 'cause his glory shone though him on the mount of transfiguration. But what about steven? Before he was stoned and he prayed, what does it say? His face was illuminated 'cause he saw heaven open.

And they saw his face shining. It says that Moses' face shone. It also says God's face shines. What was the blessing that the priests were to give to the children of Israel? You ought to know this one by heart. "the Lord bless you and keep you.

the Lord make his face to shine upon you." Have some of you seen your parents scowl when you do something wrong? That's the opposite than a shining face, isn't it? Have you ever seen the approbation and the beaming of a proud parent? Don't you all cherish that when you do well, and they go, "ah, that's my boy?" You know, they're just, they're beaming, smiling from ear to ear. When it says, "have his face shine upon you," it means may the favor and the blessings of God be upon you. Well, what is it that made Moses face shine? When did his face shine? What caused it? What made steven's face shine? You've probably heard me refer to this before, but it's an illustration that works. They've got this green goo, this plastic stuff, that you can impress on clock Numbers and on toys that you expose it to the light, and I guess it's got a little bit of--probably got radioactive material in it-- and you turn off the lights and it glows for a while. To this day I think steven still has some stars that we stuck on the ceiling around his light, so when we'd turn off the light at night he had this little artificial, plastic galaxy up there.

And as long as it's exposed to the light, for a little while afterward, it shines. And then it gradually fades. And it needs fresh exposure to shine. Well evidently, people that came away from talking to God were beaming. I think when the apostles came down from the mountain, Peter, James and John, after Jesus was on the mountaintop, their faces were shining seeing the glory of God.

And that comes from exposure. And here Solomon compares it with wisdom. God gives wisdom to those that abide in his presence. Alright, let's go to verse 2. We got a lot of verses, so I could say more, but let's keep going.

Who's got verse 2? Maybe someone on this side, right here. Ecclesiastes 8:2. "I counsel thee to keep the King's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God." Alright, first of all, right there on the surface you wanna keep the King's commandment. Who is our king? the Lord. Does he have a commandment? Are the commandments of Jesus different than the commandments of God? Haven't you met people that teach that? They say, "well, you know, we don't go by the old covenant, the commandments of God, that's you know, the law, that's works.

We go by the commandments of Jesus. They're grace." My Bible says Jesus is God. And my Bible says all things that were made were made by him and that would include the Ten Commandments. And the same finger that wrote on the dust of the temple floor, for that woman caught in adultery wrote the Ten Commandments. And so Jesus is the one who wrote the Ten Commandments.

So when it says keep the Ten Commandments, that's basic. You keep the King's law, right? But you know what it also meant? You read the rest of this verse here, "for the sake of your oath to God." Now, when you're baptized, you make a covenant with God. But it goes beyond that. Whenever a new king was coronated, the people made an oath to keep the word of the King. We're not gonna read all of these, but you can jot 'em down and look 'em up if you'd like.

When David was chosen king, he got an oath from the people. You know why? 'Cause the King had been from the tribe of Benjamin, now it was going to the tribe of judah. And he says, "you're choosing to make me king." He says, "are you gonna make an oath before God that you'll recognize me as king?" And the people made an oath. You'll find that in Samuel 5:1-3. When joash was made king, Kings 11:17, the people swore allegiance to him.

And Solomon--why did Solomon want an oath from the people that they would recognize him as king? Because his brother who was still alive, adonijah, tried to make himself king. And so they'd extract a vow from the people. And so it'd say, "look, you've made an oath to the King to obey His Word." We do that pretty much at baptism. That's what our baptismal vows are. I remember--you know we don't do it very often anymore.

Here at central church, everyone that's baptized, we review the baptismal vows. How many of you, let me see your hands, before you were baptized, you went over a series of baptismal vows? Let me see. There's 13 vows that are stated on--there summarized on the back that sort of summarize 27-- well, it used to be 27; now it's foundational teachings. And there's a good book that you can read on the--i think they haven't updated the book, but it was "a 27 fundamentals." I take that back. I think they have updated the book.

But a good, solid, Bible-study material. And there are vows. When people get married, are there vows? Yeah, you're making promises in the presence of God. A lot of people don't take their marriage vows seriously anymore. And let's face it; some people don't take their baptismal vows very seriously.

But when they made a vow to the King, does a king expect you to keep your promise? Yeah, there'd be consequences. Alright, who's got verse 3? We'll kind of waffle to the right and left, anyone maybe over here? Hold your hand up. Microphone, quick, quick, quick, quick. Okay. Verse 3, "be not hasty to go out of his sight.

Stand not in an evil thing, for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him." When you're in the presence of the King and the King is speaking, don't look at your watch. That is very bad form. When the King is speaking, let the King speak. Do not be hasty to go out of his sight. Now this could be misinterpreted, but when a preacher is preaching, he's supposed to be a vehicle through which God is delivering His Word.

I'm not gonna miss this opportunity to remind you, do not be hasty to go away from the King's voice. When the King is speaking through his messengers, listen to what he has to say. I think that's important. People will sit 8 hours a day and watch television with all the dribble. And they come to church, they'll listen to the Word of God and they get restless.

I don't think our king appreciates it when we seem impatient to get out of his presence. Don't be hasty to go from his presence. And the second part, it says, "do not take your stand for an evil thing." If you are guilty, do not be defiant in refusing to admit your guilt. Do not take stand for evil. Do not defend wrong, but recognize your evil.

There's a lot of examples in the Bible where people acknowledge their guilt before the King and he showed them mercy. But if you're caught lying in the presence of a king, or if you're caught defending an evil cause, there's swift judgment for that. And Solomon, he's an example of that. When his own brother, adonijah tried to take the Kingdom from him, when he first came to Solomon, he said, "I'll show you mercy if you prove yourself to be a worthy man." When he confessed and he tried to be a worthy man, he showed him mercy. Later on, he tried to conspire again by marrying David's ex or widow, abishag.

Solomon found out what he was up to and...pppt. I don't think he was beheaded, but he was killed. Alright, who's got verse 4 for me? Over here, pick somebody, pancho, right up here, dale on the front. "Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say unto him, 'what doest thou?'" Alright, that's absolute power there in the presence of a king. There's power, influence, and authority.

And you know what backs all that up? The sword. the King doesn't just have a big mouth. He's got a police force. And he's got an army to back it up. And so you can't question the King.

Well, I suppose if you're friends you might very delicately question the King. But in many countries, the King's word was law. You remember when they got darius to sign a decree. And they said three times in Daniel 6, "according to the law of the medes and the persians, which alters not." Can't alter it. Can't question it.

You know why, is in Bible times, the Kings found it worked to their advantage to let the people think that they were Gods. Now, most of the Kings I think knew, unless they were real megalomaniacs, they weren't Gods. But they wanted the people to think they were Gods. The caesars, they told the people they were Gods. The pharaohs let the people believe they were Gods.

Many cultures of the world, they treated them like divinity. Even our last century, the emperor of japan was treated like a God. And they found that they didn't get their word questioned very often when they were treated that way. Now, does our king have power? We're talking about the earthly Kings, but I think we ought to make some comparisons between the heavenly king. Yes he does.

And it should not be challenged. Someone read verse 5. Got a hand over here. Microphone? Okay, go ahead andrew. "He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; and a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment.

" Alright, first part of that. Does the King protect those who cooperate with him? Yeah, in most kingdom. It works against the King to hurt your friends, to hurt your supporters. You wanna support your supporters, at a minimum. You don't--hey, you know, the laws of the government provide peace and protection for those that cooperate with those laws.

It's usually the lawbreakers that are worried about soldiers banging on their door; or the irs. But those who are cooperating with the King, they're protected. That's in most kingdoms, in most judgment. But is it also true with our king, "he who keeps the King's command will experience nothing harmful?" If you've got to fear, you don't want to fear man, you want to fear God. Jesus said, "fear not him who hurts your body, but he can't hurt your soul.

" A man might hurt your body, but he can't touch your soul. And so if you are pleasing the King of the universe, nothing permanently harmful can happen to you. If you are in the middle of God's will, there is nothing in the world that can hurt you with any hurt that will last. Yeah, the devil could torture your body. He can make things unpleasant.

But he can't hurt you with anything permanent. Nothing harmful. That's a good promise to underline. "He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful. And a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment.

In other words, you may not see good and bad come right away to those that do it. The good may not receive instant reward and blessing. The bad may not receive instant punishment. But a wise man knows it's gonna happen. Time and judgment will occur.

And this is one of the central themes that you find here in this study. Alright, chapter 8:6-7, let's read the two together. Who's gonna read? Maybe someone over here, verse 6 and 7. Have you read yet, roy? Go ahead. "Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.

For he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him when it shall be?" Now, he's still playing off the theme you find in verse 5 where he talks about, "if you obey the King, nothing harmful will happen." But he's delving into: what if you disobey? It may not happen right away, but there will be a time and there will be a judgment. Because for every matter, there is a time and a judgment, though the misery of man increases greatly. Do wicked people--let me give you a scenario here that will help you understand. There's a lot of people in the world who believe in God. They believe in heaven.

They believe in hell or the lake of fire. They believe that there's a judgment day. But they're not serving God. How much peace do they have? Wouldn't you agree there's a whole lot of people out there that know that someday there's a pay day? But they're still not living right. Do they know when that day's gonna come? Every day that comes by they know that statistically they're getting closer to that judgment.

Are they miserable? Doesn't it say right here that "the misery of man increases greatly." Why is it increasing? 'Cause he knows the day is coming, but he doesn't know when. I've had evangelistic meetings before where people come and they hear and they listen. I meet 'em at the door. I said, "does that make sense?" "Yes, it does." They look troubled. And I'll say, "well, you know, are you gonna take your stand? You gonna follow the Lord? You gonna accept the truth?" And "well, you know, I can't right now.

I'm praying about it." And I've actually told people more than once. I say, "well, I'm gonna pray for you. I'm gonna pray that you're miserable until you do." I mean, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna pray for them that they're happy while they're in rebellion? Do any of you with children want your children to be at peace while they're disobeying? Or do you want them to have a conscience? And you want them to repent. And so I've prayed before that people who know they're out of God's will would be miserable and the misery would increase until they do something about it. Some of you ought to be praying that way for your kids.

You've been praying all wrong. You're asking God to bless 'em and they're living a lost life. You ought to pray, "Lord, make 'em miserable." If you can save 'em for eternity, isn't that the ultimate goal? I mean, are you gonna ask God to surround 'em with velvet in this life so they can be buried in a velvet coffin and then wake up in the wrong resurrection? No, you pray that they're distressed. And the Holy Spirit, a gift of the Spirit is conviction. And I think that's what Elijah did when he prayed that it would not rain.

Why did he pray it wouldn't rain? Was that a good prayer or bad prayer? Was that a loving prayer or a mean prayer? It was a loving prayer. He wanted to bring the nation to repentance. And he knew it wasn't until they were miserable in a famine that they would turn to God. And so now, I can see it now; we're all gonna go home from church and pray that everyone will be miserable. Whatever it takes, Lord, for people to be saved.

Amen? That's the bottom line. Alright, now we're going on to verse 8. Who's next? Got a hand right here, David? "No man has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the day of his death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it." Alright, now that word there, wind, is spirit in most translations, because they're often interchangeable. And it's basically saying no one has power over the Spirit.

You can't keep your life in you. Just like Jesus said, "the wind blows where it will. You can't control it." From the time you are born--i know, I don't want to be morbid, but the book of Ecclesiastes is a little morbid, so I need to teach it--but from the time you're born, you are on a conveyer belt towards the grave. Now, here's the good news. You can slow the conveyer belt down.

You can help forestall judgment by living good, by eating healthfully, and doing what you know is right. You can prolong your days. You can speed the conveyer belt up. You know, one of the problems back in the days of henry ford, and bless his heart for inventing the conveyer belt and manufacturing the factory where they had--what's the other word, the manufacturing line? Assembly line, thank you very much. You got that assembly line and the workers all learn their one task of, you know, tightening up the lug nuts on the wheel as it went by.

And he just, the faster that assembly line, conveyer belt, went the more money he made. And so henry ford was always wanting to speed up the line. And even, you know, in the '30s and '40s when it was a lot more technologically advanced, they keep trying to make the line go faster and faster, because the company made more money when they did that. And if anybody had the audacity, they had an emergency stop switch for the line to stop the assembly line, because something wasn't right. If someone ever pressed that emergency stop, everybody stopped.

They better have a real good reason. And so everybody was afraid to stop the line, because they thought, "well, I'll be in big trouble." And so quality began to dive. They let all these things go because, "I'm not stopping the line, makes the company mad when you stop the line." And it was a very interesting dynamic. Well, they got where the line would actually slow down for different sections that needed more time and others could speed it up. And they sort of broke it up that way.

Our lives aren't quite like that. They say that you're allotted a certain number of heartbeats. Now, there's a few exceptions to this, but most animals, they're lifespan can almost be equated to the heartbeat. Elephants live a long time. Their hearts also beat very slowly.

Mice, you ever hold a little mouse in your hand? Its heart is going, brrrr! Just racing like that, well they only live 2 years. They use up their beats. Ellen white talks about those who use up their vital force. You've heard the expression, "burning the candle at both ends." So there's things you can do to slow the conveyer belt, or assembly line down. You can speed it up, but you can't get off.

It's like some soldiers, you serve your term and then you're released, you're mustered out. We were very thankful when Daniel did his 4 years in the marines. He's out now, praise God. Of course, he's still I think a emergency call up for the next few years if something calls for that. But there's an ultimate release where you're out and you're out for good.

But in God's war of life, you're always in. You don't--you can't get out of that battle is what he's saying. "And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it." Some people say, "look, I'm just gonna give myself up to wickedness and try and enjoy life. And maybe I can save myself by making enough money, by protecting myself." There is no way you can protect yourself from justice. The story in the Bible that comes to mind when I think of that, ahab knew he was wicked.

He gave himself to wickedness. And he thought, "I can be wicked and I can still have life." And even after Elijah the prophet came to him and said, "you knew you weren't supposed to kill naboth." Several prophets came to ahab and warned him, prophets of God. He knew they were prophets of God. Finally, micaiah the prophet of God comes to him and says, "don't go to battle with the syrians at ramoth-gilead, because you'll die there. The children of Israel will be like sheep on the hills without a shepherd.

" And he knew what that meant. And he said to jehoshaphat, "I told you micaiah never says anything nice about me, but I tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna thwart the prophecy. Instead of repenting and listening to the prophet, I'm gonna go on with my wickedness, but I'm gonna, I've got a plan. I won't go into the battle.

I'll stay on the outskirts of the battle and I will cover myself from top to bottom with armor. I will tell jehoshaphat to wear the Kings robes and go into battle. And they'll go after him. So nothing will happen to me. I'll take every precaution.

" How many of you know what happened? It's an interesting verse. It says that a certain soldier shot an arrow at a chance. We don't even know if it was one of his own soldiers. It doesn't even say. An arrow went flying through the air-- I've always got this vision that this arrow went into the air and it deflected off a crow or something, ricocheted off some bird and then came back down, fallen straight down.

And it says it found a crack in the joints of ahab's armor and hit a vital artery and he bled to death. "Wickedness will not deliver those who are given over to it." It doesn't matter how many precautions you take. You can take out life insurance; it's really death insurance, isn't it? No such thing. Alright, somebody-- let me see here. Oh, I was gonna read.

And it says, "there is no release from that war." David kind of summed this up the best. And Solomon heard this. Kings 2:1-2, "now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying--" Solomon's the author of the book we're studying-- "I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man." David's saying, "I'm on the conveyer belt. I can't get discharged from this war. Everybody who's ever lived before me has gone this way.

" Well, there was at least one, two exceptions at this point. One exception: Elijah hadn't been born yet. Who was that? Enoch. Only one person so far had gotten off the belt. Oh, by the way, there is good news.

This is a general statement, but there will be some who live and remain unto the second coming who will not taste death. But the only ones who do not taste that death must first die to self. So at least there's one death everyone faces, right? Okay, what did I say? Number 9. Who was last? We're back on this side? Okay, you have it? Ecclesiastes 8:9. "All this I have seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.

" When one man rules over another sometimes authority brings corruption. There was a book that was written by rudyard kipling in 1888. And it was called, "the man who would be king." It's something of a classic, short story. Talked about historical fiction. It's based on two british soldiers that go up in the azerbastan, I forget.

One of them stans off there, near afghanistan. And they find this primitive people. And somehow because of their finagling, they have people make one of these british soldiers Kings. And he starts off becoming king to deliver them from their enemies because these two soldiers understand war so much better than these people. And they love 'em to begin with, but little by little, power corrupts.

And the power that one of these soldiers gets over the people, at first what seems a blessing ends up being a curse; a curse to him, a curse to his friends, a curse to the people. It's not God's plan initially that people should rule over each other. That kind of rule of mortals over one another is a result of sin. Even the authority that you find between husband and wife in a marriage changed because of sin. Isn't that what it says there in Genesis? It wasn't his original plan.

And so, but these things have happened as a result of sin. James 3:1, "my brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." Does anyone have a different translation of that? I think I just read to you from the King James or the new king James version, but some of 'em say something to the effect that "don't try to be ruler over others, do not be many teachers." The thought or the theme of this is with additional responsibility, there's additional temptation that you might abuse the authority and the power. With the additional authority is additional accountability for those that you teach or that you lead. You know, when I was young and started a family, I was so flippant and dumb about the responsibility of having kids. You know, so many of these young people, they get married and says, "yeah, let's have ten kids.

Whoopee!" You know. And they have no idea. I mean, it's like, "let's go buy a puppy." They don't-- "baby? Yeah, I'd like a baby. They're cute." They have no idea what an eternal responsibility it is to have little humans. And you must guide their souls and train and do everything you can do to mold them to be like Christ, even though they are born with this propensity to be like the devil.

And the attitude at which some parents go into having kids. Now, I'm not trying to talk you out of it, maybe a little bit. At least think about it, because whenever people have authority over other people, you are accountable to God. And I'll tell you know what I've told you before. You pray for your pastors, because I tremble.

It is a terrifying responsibility to know that you stand up and you're praying that God is gonna speak through you. And I tell the Lord all the time, I say, "Lord, anytime you want me to step aside and so something else, I'm willing." Because, and I'll be happy if I just know it's God's will. But so far I haven't been released. Because it is a scary thing to know that you give an account for the souls. That's why Paul said, "I'm innocent of the blood of all men.

" He knew that you have the blood of the others on your hands if you're not faithful. See what it says here? "There are those where one man rules over another and it can be to their own hurt." So don't clamor for positions of responsibility. Don't clamor for positions of power and authority, because God needs people in those positions, but you are more accountable. Amen? Was that true? Yeah. Sometimes it works to their own hurt.

Alright, verse 10, anybody want to read that? I think we're back over here. Got a hand here. Hold your hand up so adam can see you. I always am a little inpatient trying to get the microphone to the people. They do the best they can, because I want to get in as many verses as I can in the study.

New international version. Okay. "Then too, I saw the wicked buried, those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless." Alright, in verse 10, he's talking about who being buried? The good or the what? The wicked. But they're coming and going from the place of holiness.

Are there sometimes wicked people that come and go to church? In the parable of the good samaritan, "this man falls among thieves," and it says, "a priest goes by." He's coming from Jerusalem, the place of worship, a priest goes by and later a levite goes by. But do they help the man? So you wonder how much holiness they got from going to the place of holiness. There are a lot of people doing a lot of things in the name of the Lord that don't know the Lord. And it says that their memory is quickly forgotten. And they do not receive an honorable departure.

They're not memorialized. Now, there's a couple of examples that I pulled here. If you look in Jeremiah 22:18-19, one of the Kings, jehoiakim, who was one of the Kings of joash, or josiah rather, it says here in verse 18, "therefore thus says the Lord concerning jehoiakim The Son of josiah, the King of judah: they shall not lament for him, saying, 'alas, my brother!' 'Alas, my sister!'" That's how they used to mourn when they lost somebody. "They shall not lament for him, saying, 'alas, master!' Or 'alas, his glory!' He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem." Here he had been in a position of great authority and responsibility. And the King used to lead the people to the temple of the Lord, but he was a wicked king.

And so he was infamous in his departure. There were others in the Bible, absalom, was thrown in a pit, a pile of stones, where just a bunch of rocks were thrown on top of him, like achan. In 2 Kings 9:35-37, I'll give you another example. Was jezebel religious? Oh yeah, she was very, she was very jealous for the prophets of asherah and the prophets of baal, her prophets. But was she wicked? It calls her wicked.

So they went to bury jezebel. She had gotten thrown out of a window just outside the city walls. "But they found no more of her than the skull," sorry that's not--i shouldn't laugh, I'm sorry, "than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands." Someone brought out to me one time those are the places of sin. Where was Jesus pierced? Hands, feet, the thorns on his skull. "Therefore, they came back and told jehu.

And he said, 'this is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the tishbite, saying, 'on this plot of ground at jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of jezebel; and the corpse of jezebel shall be as refuse on the face of the field, in the plot of jezreel, that they shall not say, 'here lies jezebel.'" No memorial; name is left in infamy, even though she ostensibly was religious. Alright, let's keep going here, verse 11. Still have some more we could talk about. Where are we? Somebody got a hand? Hold it up. Hold up your hand so they can see ya, and you can read Ecclesiastes 8:11.

"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of The Sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily." Now in civil government, it is very important as a deterrent to crime that soon after an offense, the punishment comes. My wife has appropriately gotten after me before, because sometimes the boys will do something to misbehave and days later I'll say, "you remember 3 days ago, when you did," such and such. I said, "because of that, today you can't do this." And she says, "why you waiting so long?" She says, "they don't even remember what it was." That you gotta deal with it and especially when they're young. If you gotta 10-month-old toddler, and they're trying to stick the screwdriver in the outlet, and you slap their hand the next day, they're not learning anything. There needs to be a quick association between the bad behavior and the punishment.

You understand? Even with, forgive the analogy, but even with training pets. I mean, they've gotta know right away that the reward or the punishment was in connection with the behavior quickly. You can't have too much space. But because God is merciful and he is long-suffering and he bears with us, people's hearts are "fully set in them to do evil." "the Lord is long-suffering," it tells us, 2 Peter 3. I mean, think about what the alternative is.

If every time people sinned in their behavior, suddenly a lightening bolt like a taser came from the sky and zapped 'em. First of all, most of us would be walking around all the time with our hair standing up. And suppose God zapped us every time we thought something we shouldn't think. Some of you would be going like this all through church... Right? I mean, then if you did obey the Lord, why would you be obeying him, because you love him or you're afraid of the shock? So God doesn't go around zapping people all the time as soon as they disobey or plunking them with some heavenly gavel on the head.

He's patient. But the downside of his not wanting us to be motivated by fear--i mean, let's face it; some animals are trained based on fear and punishment. You know, they associate that. And it's not very pleasant. God doesn't want to train us like you train a seal to, you know, balance a ball on his nose.

He wants us to serve him because it's the right thing to do, it's the wise thing to do, it's the good thing to do. And so because of that, "the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." Because God is patient, we presume on his patience. I went and did a little study. Do you know what the average time is on death row in North America? Eight years and ten months is the average. You know how many people have died of old age in America on death row? A lot.

We are very patient. And because of that, there are million Americans in prison. Because we are so patient, and a matter fact there should be more than that, but the prisons are overcrowded so they release people who really ought to be there. But because they're--i mean, prison is an awful place to be. I don't want to make it sound like it's a country club, but compared to some countries, I have been in prisons where they've got tv.

I was in a prison one time doing ministry and they wouldn't come to my services. And I asked the proprietor, I said, "why isn't anyone coming to the Bible study?" He says, "well, they're protesting." I said, "why are they protesting?" He said, "the tv's broken. We haven't replaced it. So they're not participating in any prison activities. And that would include your Bible study.

" And you know, they get three meals a day. And you know, it's not great. I wouldn't want to be there, but years, 20 years on death row. You've murdered 12 people and 20 more years of life, while you do appeal after appeal. Now, go to the middle east.

How long after sadaam hussein, the president, former president, was convicted before-- I was shocked. I opened the paper one day and they had hung him. I said, "wow." I mean, I wasn't paying close attention I guess, but I thought that there'd be years of appeals. And in russia, I don't know, maybe they've changed things, but when I was there, if you were convicted on death row, they might give you a few days to say good-bye and write a letter. And then they took you out back and they used one bullet.

And nobody ever complained about it being inhumane. And in our country, you gotta actually have a medical to make sure you're healthy enough to be executed. Did you know that? It's because--it's called inhumane. Well, there's nothing good about being executed. I'm sorry.

I don't mean to venture off into politics, but let's face it; "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." If there was swift retribution--now, I'm glad God is patient with us, but with governments, they can't operate that way. But there's a risk every now and then that someone innocent might be punished. Well, do the best you can to ascertain innocence and guilt. And once you've made your decision, then deal with it. But if you're always second guessing, "the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil.

" And you end up with a culture where people do not respect law. That's what he's saying. Solomon knew what he was talking about. Amen? Verse 8, rather 8:12-13; now, this was our memory verse. Someone over here I think we're ready for.

Got a hand back-- hold your hand up. Hold it up so adam can see you. Keep it up. Keep it up. Here.

Not only do they have to see you, the cameras gotta know where you are. "Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are a shadow, because he does not fear before God." Everybody say, "amen," and then I'll tell you why you're saying it. Amen. Amen.

This is the verse, if you underline in your Bible, you have any underlining in this chapter, please underline this verse. 'Cause what Solomon is doing is he's asking a lot of rhetorical questions about the apparent injustice that you see in life. But he summarizes here with a very important statement, all the things that don't make sense. But then he says, "but surely I know." Oh, praise the God for something certain in the book. What is it that he knows? "It will be well with those who fear God, who fear before him.

" I'm glad he closes the book of Ecclesiastes that way too. It says, "in spite of all these questions I ask about things in life that we are looking through a glass darkly; we don't understand. There's some things I know." And one thing I know is why it might look like a sinner does evil a hundred times, and he seems like he's blessed. And you go, "why? He's doing such wicked things and his life is prolonged." There are some people in the public eye that, I won't mention any names, but there's some people that like have programs and articles and they just, they're just wicked. And they're constantly blaspheming.

And they're cursing God. And they go on for years. And you think, "oh man, if I was in charge, good thing I'm not God for a day, because I'd have my taser, and go: bzzzt--these people. And you think, "why does the Lord--so patient?" And he let some of these people stay. Why did idi amin die of old age? And pol pot from the cambodian, the genocide, millions of people died at his hands.

And he died slowly of old age, had cancer actually. And you think, in spite of these questions we might ask, underline that verse: "surely I know it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked." They might die of old age in this life. And it might look like they were blessed, but it isn't over yet. In the end, it is not well with them.

And it will be well with the righteous, even though it looked like the righteous sometimes they eek out a meager existence. And they struggle through their lives, and they die of a lingering sickness. And you go, "why?" It will be well with them. And you notice he says, "surely I know it will be well with them." So Solomon is looking beyond the things we can't understand in this life. What is he looking at? He's looking for the final reward.

It will be well. I'm so thankful for that verse. Can you say amen? Someone read verse 14. We're back I think over here? Do you got a volunteer? Going, going, tim, go ahead. "There is a vanity which occurs on earth: that there are just men, to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous.

I said that this also is vanity." Alright, this is going back to the big conundrum that Solomon's dealing with: why do good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people? Again, this is the dialogue you find in the book of job. Psalm 37:1-2, "do not fret," don't worry, don't be anxious, "because of evildoers, nor be envious against the workers of iniquity." Ah, I won't ask for a show of hands, but I bet you've had your moments where you've seen some of the rich and famous who you know are wicked. And you've seen their mansions and their beautiful vista and their fancy cars and their servants and you've thought, "ah, must be nice." You know they're wicked, but in your heart you're thinking, "oh, how would I like to have my own island with a mansion. That'd be nice. Private jet.

" Come on, fess up. No, don't raise your hand, just half way. Anyone? Come on, you've had those thoughts? Any honest people here? You've seen the wicked prosper sometimes. You've seen the limos pulling up to the spectacular events, and you thought, "boy, I'd like to be there." You've seen 'em laughing and smiling at the roulette wheel with lots of money staked up and thought: must be fun to have all that money and just be able to treat life like a party. If you've got any carnal components in your life, you've had your fleeting moments.

And by the way, don't say, "oh, Pastor Doug, that's never appealed to me." If that isn't it, there's something that's appealed to you. Right? Because you've all got the thing. Having the unlimited shopping spree credit card at nordstrom's, come on. It is everybody here. There's something.

"Do not be envious against the workers of iniquity. For they will soon be cut down like the grass, and wither like the green herb." He's saying it's temporary. And you go to verse 12 and 13, this is Psalms 37, "the wicked plots against the just, he gnashes at him with his teeth. the Lord laughs at him, for he sees that his day is coming." God has a perspective. He knows while it looks like the wicked is prospering now, while it looks like their lives are prolonged and they're blessed and they've got all these good things going, judgment day is coming.

And it's not that God is up there wringing his hands and laughing fiendishly, "ha, ha, ha." It's just saying that it's kind of a metaphor. God knows something they don't know. They will answer for what's happening. And you know there are times that we have been terribly mistreated maybe by the wicked. And you might find some comfort.

There are those Psalms in the Bible where David says, "you know, my enemies, their day is coming." And so I find comfort in knowing, though it may not look like it's happening in this life, there is justice in the end. I don't have time to read all of Psalms 73, but you might go to Psalms 73. Let me see if I can read verse 1-12. "Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are of a pure heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.

For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as a necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish for.

They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore his people return here, as waters of a full cup they are drained by them. And they say, 'how does God know? And is there any knowledge in the most high?' Behold, these are the unGodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I've increased, I have cleansed my heart in vain," I'm reading psalm 73:13, "and I've washed my hands in innocence.

For all the day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning." He's saying, "look, I'm trying to live a holy life. I'm trying to live a Godly life. And look at how they're prospering in this world." But notice the first verse; "truly God is good to Israel, to such as are of a pure heart." Don't be distracted by the apparent blessing of the wicked. It is temporary. It doesn't last.

In the end, it's like Solomon said here, "it will not be well with the wicked, but surely it will be well with those who fear God." You've gotta believe it. Do not make your determination based on what you see. There's a lot of things we don't understand. There's a lot of vanity in this world. Today we're looking through a glass darkly.

Amen? Don't forget, we've got the gift book that we'll give you a free copy of. And it's called, "assurance." Call the number on your screen. We'll be happy to send this to you for free. Just ask for it. Please continue to study your Bible.

We're gonna be going into Ecclesiastes 9 in our next study. And it's gonna be a really important study, a lot of good, important proof text and truths that are there. So until our next study together, God bless you, friends, and we'll look forward to seeing you.

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