Dead Flies and Snake Charmers

Dead Flies and Snake Charmers

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 10:1-20
Lesson: 11
Among other things, Solomon now makes the point that a single mistake can ruin an otherwise spotless record of service.
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Good morning, welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church here in Sacramento, California. I'm so glad that you're joining us for another "central study hour." We're excited to be here and I know that you are too, those of you who are tuning in from across the country and around the world, listening on the radio, watching 3 weeks delayed on the various television networks, or watching live on the internet at saccentral.org. We're so glad that you are joining us this morning.

Last week, I was in chicago. And I want to let those of you know in the chicago area that if you ever get really fed up with how cold it is out there, come and visit us here at central church, 'cause we would love to have you. And we love to have visitors. We have so many people today that are joining us from all over the country and around the world. And we're excited that we're gonna sing some requests this morning from more people who are part of our Sabbath school family in various places.

Turn in your hymnals to 579, "'tis love that makes us happy," 579. And this is a request from felicia sue from singapore, denise cow from quebec, Canada, jay cox from New York, New York, and samu from saquatch--no. How do we say that elisa, in Canada, the state? Saskatchewan, Canada. That's right, 579. We'll do the first, second, and third verse.

.. Those of you who have song requests, and I know that you do, because this last week we got 60 requests over the internet for favorite songs, so that was pretty exciting, so I know that you have them. So go to our website at saccentral.org, and click on the music link. And send in your requests and we will do our best to sing those on an upcoming Sabbath. Our opening song this morning is for someone who is very special, because she's having her 90th birthday.

And that is edda may ramey. And today, when this broadcasts on the 17th, it's her birthday. So from her family and friends, edda, happy birthday. And we're gonna sing your favorite song, "when the roll is called up yonder," 216. We'll sing the first, second and third verse.

.. Thank you, Joel. Joel is on the piano this morning. Ludmilla and David on the violin and viola. And at this time, let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, we are so glad to be here this morning. And we just pray that we'll be ready for that day when the "roll is called up yonder," that we will be there on that sea of glass. And we can spend eternity in heaven with you and with our loved ones and our friends. I pray that we will each be ready for that day. I thank you so much for edda who's having her th birthday and I pray that you'll be with her and bless her and give her health.

And I pray that you will be with her family as well. And thank you so much for our speaker who's going to bring us a lesson study this morning and each person that's here. 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. Amen.

Morning, good to see you. And I want to thank our musicians. Glad somebody had a 90th birthday. That's one of my favorite songs, "when the roll is called up yonder." Welcome to our friends who are studying with us. You know, periodically I travel from Sabbath to Sabbath.

Sometimes I'm here; sometimes I'm not, and very thankful that all of our pastors are good or excEllent teachers. We're a very unusual church in that they have so many different gifts. But when I travel, I meet people everywhere. And sometimes I'm in remote places. And people say, "you know, we don't have a church nearby.

" Or sometimes folks because of their health, they can't get to church. And they say, "Sabbath school at central is our Sabbath school." And some of 'em also tap into the church service, because they're both streaming live. And so I want to just thank you for the nice comments and words that people send in. We'd love to hear from you. If some of you are isolated, and you can't get to a church, we would invite you to go to the Sacramento website.

It's saccentral.org. And you could sort of become one of our online members. We try to stay in touch with these people and minister to them. And just go there and let us know. And you need to be part of a family in some capacity.

We'll try to do what we can for you. We're continuing our study in the book of Ecclesiastes. And even last week as I was at another little church up in the hills preaching, some folks were saying, "boy, this has been a depressing and a difficult book." I haven't found it that way. I've actually found it an edifying book. There's great wisdom in there.

I like it when people tell the truth. Even if the truth is tough. And he deals with some tough truth. I like that in the book. What Solomon's doing is he's basically reviewing some of the folly of this life.

And he's culminating by saying how much better it is to serve God, and so that's a good thing. Now this week, we're in chapter number 10. We're gonna do all of chapter 10, by God's grace I'll cover it all as well as I can. And the lesson title, it's in lesson 11, chapter 10 we're covering of Ecclesiastes. Lesson 11 in the study guide, title is "dead flies and snake charmers: more life under the sun.

" Isn't that a cheerful title? See that's nothing wrong with that. We have a memory verse. And it's Ecclesiastes 10:1, this is the new king James version. Please say it with me here at central. You can say it who are watching.

Ready? "Dead flies putrify the perfumer's ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor." Now we'll delve more in detail into that verse when we get to it. And it's not very far away. So let's go ahead and get right into the study, starting with-- this is Ecclesiastes 10:1. And what I'm gonna do is something I did before, is I'm gonna ask various class members to read different verses in Ecclesiastes 10. Then I might bring in some other verses.

That way you don't have to flip all over the place and not know where I'm at. You'll know that your assignments are in Ecclesiastes . And then I can jump all over the place 'cause I've got them printed out. Alright, let's get some hands. Who would like to read for me verse 1? It was just our memory verse.

Birdie's here. And obviously, some of you be ready for verse 2 and the other subsequent verses. And go ahead and read that for us one more time. "As dead flies give perfume a bad smell; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor." I heard one time at the hershey factory that they make chocolate in these enormous stainless steel vats. And for some reason somehow a little rodent got into their sanitary factory, crawling on the rim.

And one of the workers spotted that it lost its footing on the smooth surfaces and plopped off into this enormous vat. And that's in your chocolate, no. What do you think they had to do with that whole vat when they discovered that? It just ruined the whole thing. They had to just--i don't know where you put old chocolate. What did they do, put it in the river? But they had to basically scrap the whole thing.

Ointment is made to give off a pleasant, inspiring fragrance. And a fragrance is the opposite of stench. But a dead fly introduces decomposition and something that would have been fresh and fragrant, now begins to ferment. And it gives off a stink: one dead fly. Solomon is saying this because a person might be known for their wisdom, their integrity, their reputation, they could have done everything right, and then they do something really foolish.

And what do people remember? We've had presidents in the past that in many respects did some great things, and then they just said something and nobody could forget that one thing they said or that one thing they did. And their whole presidency and history stunketh because of that fly that got in the ointment. It's important to protect your reputation. You too. A good reputation is priceless.

It's very hard to build up and very easy to lose. All it takes is a fly. And so I think this is one of the points that he's making here. Adam clarke says, "any putrification spoils perfume. And so a foolish act ruins the character of him who has the reputation of being wise and good.

Alas, alas, in an unguarded moment, how many have tarnished the reputation, which they were many years in acquiring?" A fly is like a moment in a lifetime. And that one fly can destroy a whole vat of precious perfume. And I just thought it would be a good time to also look at the story of mary, we think about perfume, in John 12:3, and this story is in all the Gospels. "Mary takes a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, and anoints the feet of Jesus, and wiped" them with-- "wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.

" This ointment that mary gives to Jesus, mary's a type of the church, it's talking about the fragrance of Christ. Have some made the fragrance of Christ smell by taking the name of "Christian," and not living like one? Some of us because of our inconsistency have made Christianity stink. Pardon me friends. And I'm including myself. The truth of Christ is fragrant.

It is his reputation is perfect. Some of us by taking his name have hurt his reputation. Amen? I just thought before we leave this point, it's a very valuable point that we don't want to be those dead flies in the ointment that mary gave to Jesus. Alright, who will read for me verse 2? Got a hand right here. Thank you, tim.

"A wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart at his left." Now here the writer of Ecclesiastes is not saying that he's unfamiliar with human anatomy, because your heart, while it is generally centered, it is on what side more than the other? It's a little more on your left side, which could be prophetic, because biblically right represents truth and favor; left represents carnal and that which is evil. And our hearts have kind of shifted to the left, haven't they? So he's not talking about anatomically where the heart is here. In the Bible, the right hand represents good, favor, truth; the left hand represents deception, carnal, sin. The shepherd in the great judgment, Matthew 25, it says that he separates the sheep from the goats. And the goats, of course, represent the lost.

The sheep represent the saved. What side are the goats on? The left. The sheep are on the--? I can't prove it, but when Jesus died on the cross, it says he died in the midst of two thieves. One was saved by faith; the other was lost. Which side would you guess that the faithful thief was on? Can't prove it, but I just always see him on the right side.

And it's gonna really upset me if I get to heaven and find out I was wrong. Matthew 6:3, "but when thou doest thine alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Why does Jesus say that? It says if you're doing good things from the motive of love, that's your right hand. Don't let your left hand, your carnal nature be bragging about it and trying to capitalize and get earthly rewards. Don't let your left hand, your carnal side, capitalize on what the good part of your heart and your nature is doing. And so when he says there in verse 2, "a wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart at his left," he's talking about what are the motives? A wise man is motivated by what is just and noble and true and good.

And that is the criteria for what he's doing. Where the fool, he might do right things, but he's doing them for the wrong reason. His heart is at the left hand. It's like the difference between Jacob and esau. Jacob wanted that spiritual blessing.

Esau wanted his beans and he wanted 'em right now. He was carnal. And so, and Paul makes that distinction. "The ancients used to call things wise and prudent, the right hand; and foolish things, the left hand." Alright, let's go on. It's under the section, "more evil," in your study guide.

Someone read please, verse 3, I'm sorry, Ecclesiastes 10:3. Do I have a hand? Got a hand right here. And we'll hand out verse 4 in just a second. "Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool." Have you ever noticed that--ha, I gotta be careful what I say here. I don't believe in luck.

I believe that God is on the throne and there's spiritual forces at war. And that everything that happens, there's a purpose for. And God can use every minute event. I don't really believe in luck. But I've met people who seem unlucky.

Do you know what I'm talking about? And I think the reason they seem unlucky, they seem accident prone and disaster prone, and they're always followed by calamity, is because the way they process decisions in life is a foolish process. And because they have a foolish criteria that they use in making their decisions, they're often followed by calamity. Their walk is a stumbling walk. And as they go in the way, it just seems like, because of the process they use, unbiblical guidelines and criteria, they're just stumbling all along the way. And it doesn't take them to go very far before you know that rather than a wise person, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," they're the other extreme.

Alright, someone read for me please verse 4. I saw a hand over here. Thank you, tim. "If the Spirit of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; for consolation pacifies great offences." Now as I studied this verse, I found that there's a couple of different ways you could look at this. If you are on the spot because a ruler, employer is upset with you, continue to stay there and do your job well.

And eventually they'll get over it. That makes me think of one boss I worked for. I worked in a logging shop. It was a logging company, but my job was in the shop working on logging trucks. And we worked 16 hours a day in the summer 'cause it's a seasonal job.

And that boss--i guess I can say his name, but I won't--that boss, he would come in and fire everybody in the shop about once a week. And then he'd hire 'em. They'd just, everybody knew, just come back the next morning. And you just went the next morning, you come back, you'd be back at your post, you'd be working again, he'd come growling through and he wouldn't say anything, 'cause he knew he couldn't afford to fire everybody. But you know, just stay at your post.

His anger will subside. And I think of that when I see this. Once he fired me one time too many and I didn't come back. I just got tired of the humiliation. But really, when I looked into it here, there's another way this can be interpreted.

If a ruler loses his temper against you, don't erupt. When it says, "stay at your post," it means understand or respect your station. Humble yourself. Allow him to have his fit of anger. Stay at your post, meaning your station, that he is over you, and let him vent.

And then you can go on with your job. And so it's also talking about humility here in this verse. Alright, maybe someone now will read verses 5-6 for me, Ecclesiastes 10:5-6. And got a hand right here. Tim, go ahead and pass the microphone down for me.

Maybe on this side, we'll get someone who will be prepared for verses 7-8. Alright, go ahead. "There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. For I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth." One of the follies that Solomon observes, now this never happened in this life, but he had seen it, is people who are wise, people who are dignified, suddenly they are at a low station, while people who are fools, servants, all of the sudden they're exalted to positions of greatness. He says it's "an evil.

" It's "an error." "Folly set in great dignity." Can you think of some examples in history of people who somehow were exalted to positions of great importance and dignity that really didn't deserve to be there based on their abilities? I'm not just talking about in the throne, but many times it's happened in the throne, especially in monarchies. Just because you've got a wise king and a wise queen does not always guarantee you their children will be wise. One of the reasons for the french revolution is because a couple of very selfish, spoiled imbeciles ended up on the throne and they lived in total decadence. And the people said they just couldn't tolerate it anymore. And having people like that with all this power and all this wealth and all this decadence that don't care about the people, it just created rebellion.

So it happens in monarchies, 'cause there's never a guarantee that the young person that gets to the throne is gonna be the wisest choice. But it's also--it happens among employees. Sometimes people get promoted. How many of you have heard of this, it's a dynamic in corporate structure called "the Peter principle?" Let me see your hands. Peter, I see a lot, yeah, let me explain what that is.

And I'm gonna give you the layman's generic version. When people do well at their job, they might start out in a corporation in the warehouse doing very simple things. And they do well and gradually they get promoted. And pretty soon they're managing the warehouse. Next thing you know, they're in the executive offices and they're doing well and they keep getting promoted.

And it seems they get promoted until they get to the place where they don't do the job well. You promote them until you've promoted them to a place where they can't handle it anymore. And it happens many times. Someone is doing very well. And you say, "well, they're doing well.

They do that job well. Let's give them a more difficult job." And they keep getting promoted until they get stuck in a job they don't like and they don't do it well. And you'd be surprised; that dynamic happens an awful lot. Occasionally there are people who, because they're relatives of somebody who might be a ceo of a company, and nepotism, they get promoted to a place where they got great responsibility, a big budget they're managing. They don't know what they're doing.

It's because of a favor. Some people have been appointed to positions, politicians run for office. And when they finally get into power, they owe people favors. And they'll put someone in a position where they have absolutely no skills in that position. You know, a lot of people that are made ambassadors in foreign countries by the u.

s. Were supporters of a president when they run for office. I'm talking about all parties do this. They hand out favors. They hand out positions to people.

But when it talks about "princes walking," while poor people are riding, you know what comes to my mind? It's actually a different twist on our Scripture. How many remember when haman in the book of Esther, he came into king ahasuerus, and the King said, "what shall be done for the one the King delights to honor?" Haman thought, "oh, he must be talking about me." And he says, "get the King's best royal horse, his battle stallion, and put your best robes on him, and put your crown on his head, and then get to one of the princes to walk before him, and say, 'thus shall it be done to the man the King delights to honor.'" And haman thought, this is gonna be done for me. And haman's come in to ask that mordecai, who is you know basically a captive jew, be hung. But the King had been awake that night reading the Chronicles where mordecai saved his life. And so the King says, "that sounds like a good idea.

I want you to do everything that I just said." And haman's beaming, "yeah, yeah." He says, "do it to mordecai." And so here, haman, who is the prime minister, he's at the King's right hand, his chief advisor, he now walks and mordecai rides. And there is a major reversal there. But God, of course, was getting ready to promote mordecai. You know in that verse we just read, it says, "folly is set in great dignity, while the rich sit in a lowly place." He's talking about sitting. Let me read a verse to you with that in mind.

"When you are bidden of any man to a wedding," Jesus is speaking here, "sit not down in the highest room, lest the more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; and that he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, 'give this man place,' and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit in the lowest room, that when he that bade thee comes he may say to thee, 'friend, go up higher.' Then you will have worship or honor in the presence of those who sit and meet with thee. For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he that humbles himself will be exalted." I don't remember all the details, but in my youth, prior to my conversion, gotta qualify that, I went to some sporting event. And I went with a few buddies. And there were box seats on the, on the--oh, what do they call that? The 50-yard line, right down front.

And we came in and we had some seats in the nosebleed section. And we thought, "hey, you know, those seats are often empty, because they're reserved year-round. Nobody will know. Let's just go down there and let's take those seats." And so we tipped down there. And I'm sure we didn't look like we owned box seats.

And we sat ourselves down and tried to look like we belonged there. And then the stadium filled up. And there's open seating up at the top, and that's where we were. And pretty soon someone came along, and they said, "can I please see your seat tags?" And we said, "oh, um, ub, oh. Oh, you mean this isn't our seat?" And he said, "no, you're gonna have to go back to the open seating.

" Well at this point, even the best of the open seats were gone. And we were back where, you know, all you could see is someone's hairdo. And it made me think about, you know, when you try to exalt yourself, take the chief seats, and you don't belong in those box seats, you're gonna get humbled. So we know what that means. Alright, who's gonna read verse--now I think I left out verse 7.

Somebody read verse 7 for me. Right here, got a hand. Pancho, hold your hand up so he can see ya. Thank you. "I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants.

" Thank you very much. I want you to go ahead and read verse 8-9, because we already did that one really. "He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits wood may be endangered by it." Alright, thank you very much. "He who digs a pit, will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent.

" Now first of all, let's look at the Spiritual ramifications of that. What is a serpent sometimes represent biblically? Satan. The first symbol you find in the Bible, of course, is the devil possessing the serpent. It never actually says in Genesis, "and the devil possessed the serpent," but later in the Bible we become aware of that through other prophecies. The law of God is like a wall, it's like a hedge that God has set about us.

A matter of fact, if you read this verse in other translations--some of you look at Ecclesiastes 10:8, where it says, "and whoever breaks through a wall," how many of you in your, does your version say a hedge? Ah ha, see. That word "wall" and "hedge" can be translated either way. The law of God is compared to a hedge of protection for God's people. You remember in the book of job, satan says to the Lord, "why, I can't touch job because you've set a hedge about him." And through his consistency and his obedience, he was protected by the Lord. Those that break through that wall, they're in danger.

Now what's sort of denoted in this--and that wall, we're not sure if it's a hedge; it's a wall. It could be either. And that's why translations say both. We're not too sure. One thing I know, you do find snakes in hedges.

And you do find snakes in walls. So either way it works. In Proverbs 26:27, also written by the same author, "whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him." In other words, if you're going to roll a stone to hurt somebody, or if you're digging a pit to trap somebody, you will be thrown in the pit that you dig. I think it's interesting that when Solomon rebelled against his father and wanted to kill his father, he tried to set a trap for him. Solomon, when he--I'm sorry, absalom, absalom.

Absalom, when he died was cast into a great pit. Haman built gallows to hang mordecai. In the end, what does it say happened? Esther 7:10, "so they hanged haman on the gallows he had built for mordecai." Be careful when you are tempted by the devil to try to trap or set someone else up for a fall. God doesn't like when people who are followers of Christ attempt to trap someone else. Judgment is the Lord's.

We should not be involved in the revenge business. Some of us have tried to destroy someone else by gossip. It'll backfire. When you do something to try to harm somebody else, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." As they say on the streets, there is a loose translation for the words of Jesus. It's "what goes around, comes around.

" What you do to others, will be done to you. And so be very careful. You dig a pit; you may fall in the pit that you dig. And it works positively too. If you are determined to "bless those that curse you, great is your reward.

" God will bless you. If you do good things for those who are unkind to you, God will remember that. Whatever you do ricochets. It's like a boomerang. And so that's a principle in life that you'll find is generally true.

So when it talks about, "he who digs a pit," and it's talking about breaking through a wall. That could be a wall that's protecting someone else's vineyard. The Bible talks about putting a hedge or a wall around the vineyard, so you could steal something from someone else. Or you break down someone's wall because you want to move a border to get more property yourself. Or you break down someone's wall, so that an enemy can come through and access their goods, but when you do something like that to harm somebody, it's gonna backfire on you.

I think it's interesting; there's this verse in Amos 5:19, "as if a man did flee from a lion," it's talking about when someone's under the curse of God, he flees from a lion, looking for safety, gets away from the lion, and "a bear meets him." Ha, you know you've talked about going from the frying pan into the fire. It's sort of that picture. "Or he goes into a house," he's running now from the bear and he gets into a house, "and he leans his hand against the wall to rest, and a serpent bites him!" Notice there again the wall and the serpent. Alright, let's move on here. Someone please read for me--oh, wait.

You know, I think I left, yeah, no, we still got that. Did, did--you read verse 9 for me. "He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits wood may be endangered by it." Both of these are in the context of tearing down a home. The homes then were made of wood and stone. And it's saying that, you know, there's more chance that you're gonna get hurt if you are trying to ransack, or break through someone else's home.

Verse 10, "if the ax is dull, and one does not sharp--" oh, I was gonna let you read that, too late. "If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success." I remember, i, sometimes, I wonder if I should tell you these things because you're perceived idea of how bright I am is gonna be damaged. But when I first moved up into the hills and got involved in country living, I barely had ever used a handsaw, let alone a chainsaw. And of course, you gotta heat your wood and keep from freezing by firewood. So you've gotta cut firewood.

I remember talking to old timers that says they used to cut all their firewood with a crosscut saw, before the days of chainsaws. Some of you know those folks? And he talked about how fast you get two people on a crosscut saw; it was amazing how quick they could cut wood, even like that. But I wasn't gonna do that. I wasn't that much into country living. So I went and I bought a used chainsaw.

I still remember it was an echo chainsaw. I don't even know if they make chainsaws anymore. And ha, I think the first thing I learned is that if you don't mix the gas, you burn up the engine. And so I think I wrecked my first one pretty quick, because I just poured gas in it. And it ran for about 5 minutes, just burn up the engine.

Then I got another one and learned how to mix the oil and the gas, but I didn't know anything about sharpening a chainsaw chain. And I remember the first few times I tried to cut. I had a log on the ground and I cut into the log and I ran the nose of the saw into the dirt, just a little bit. But that's all it takes. And it wasn't sharp anymore.

And I was amazed how quick it cut for the first 30 seconds. But then for some reason, after that, it just wasn't working. And I think I would have cut faster, I mean I was trying so hard to cut with that thing; I was pushing down on the saw. And it's revving. And the log almost caught on fire, because I was putting so much friction on it.

Smoke is coming out of the log. It's not cutting anything. And I even used the back and forth motion, like the old saw, trying to get it to cut. I thought, what is wrong with this thing? And I went to a friend of mine who was a little more seasoned in country living. And he just laughed at me, he said, "man, doug, that thing is so," he said, "you may as well not start it if it's gonna be that dull.

You may as well just rub it against the log or hit the log with it, because it's not gonna cut anything." And he sharpened it for me. And he said, "look, I'm not gonna keep doing this." He says, "don't touch the dirt." Matter of fact, he said, "make sure and clean the dirt off the log before you saw the log." And slowly I learned how to sharpen my own saw. And boy, I'll tell you, it makes a lot of difference. By the way, in case you want to know, I am really good with a chainsaw now, after about 30 years, and splitting firewood. I sharpen my maul.

Sharpen your ax. Boy, it saves you a lot of energy. Now what's the point? When I was younger, I thought, you know, all I've gotta do is get the basics of the Gospel. And I can get out there and I can teach and I can preach. And all you need is just the basics.

And without education it takes a lot more effort to do things. How many of you have wasted endless hours trying to put something together, 'cause you refuse to read the instructions? Especially men. I'm a man. It's a sign of weakness to read the instructions. It'll mean I don't know all.

But you know, I've gotten over my pride now. And I've found you can save a lot of time by at least perusing the instructions. You're sharpening the ax. A little wisdom, what Solomon is saying, a little education, a little wisdom, a little thought, planning, you sharpen the ax and boy, a project goes a lot better if you spend just a few extra minutes in sharpening the ax. Ben franklin put it something like this.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And just put a little time into planning. Put a few more years into education. And you might think, "I don't want to spend two years in college. I'll waste two years of my life.

" Well yeah, the other 70 years are gonna be a whole lot nicer. You're gonna enjoy 'em a lot better because of that two years you put into education sharpening the ax. Sometimes I meet young people and a lot of folks know that I got into the ministry, by the grace of God, through the backdoor. And I did take some theology at our schools, but I didn't finish the way I should have. They were very good to me.

And gave me a degree later. But some people think that that means I endorse going through the backdoor. No, God was just good to me. It was stupid. I was in a hurry.

I thought I knew everything. Education is very important. Now God can teach people other ways. I'm not denying that. The Holy Spirit can teach people.

But if you've got a file, and you're gonna be cutting wood, sharpen the ax. Take the time to sharpen it. And it'll make everything go a lot better. Go to a good school; get a good education, that's very important. But boy, education.

I wish that I could have known years ago about the Bible what I know now, because I've studied. I'm in the commentaries and I'm trying to educate myself and make up for all those years that I didn't sharpen the ax. Problem is, when I was young and my memory was good, I didn't know anything. Now I'm studying, but my memory won't hold onto it. So do it while you're young.

Amen? Alright, Ecclesiastes 10:11, someone gonna read that for me? Ecclesiastes 10:11. I see a hand way back there. You may, go ahead, hold up your hand so they can see you. And maybe I'll get someone on this side while we're waiting. Somebody verse 12, Ecclesiastes.

I got a hand back here. Tim, hold your hand up again. Thank you very much. Alright, does someone have verse for me? Yes. Eleven, right? Yes, please.

"Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better. The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself." Okay, let's start with the first part of that in verse 11. "A serpent may bite when it is not charmed." This is again a place where the scholars sort of divide on that word, "charmed." That word "charmed" can mean, "hiss." In other words, a serpent may bite without hissing first to warn you. And that's true. Some people think rattlers always warn you.

No, they don't. If you step down right on top of a rattler when you're walking down the trail, and I've put my foot down right next to a rattler that just had eaten something, and I'm so thankful that he didn't strike me. But he didn't rattle and let me know that he was near. In other words, you gotta be careful where you step, because that snake in the grass may not warn you. And it's not just rattlers that rattle.

Do you know a lot of snakes will wag their tail in the grass and create a hissing or a rattling noise? Or they might even hiss before they strike, but they don't all do that. And so watch your step as you go, because you could be stepping on a snake. And they don't always warn you in advance. So that's part of that warning. And he goes on to say, "the babbler is no different.

" If the word here means "charmed," rather than meaning "hiss," what it's saying there is sometimes you've got to listen to a person who's babbling and just appease them, even though what they're saying isn't worth listening to. You know what I'm talking about? I won't go into detail, but we've probably all been on the phone with people that just wanted to talk and didn't have anything to say. And because you're a Christian, you want to be polite. Or maybe they're upset, and you've just got to let them vent. And so you're charming, as it said there.

In verse 12, it said--did I give someone else verse 12? I forget. Yes, right back here. "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up." "A wise man speaks good things in favor of the characters of men. He is not the babbling detractor. He speaks well of civil magistrates and rulers in the state and those in positions of religious instruction.

" I'm quoting right now from John gill I believe. "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious." There is no virtue in being crude. Sometimes we tend, in our culture, kids in particular, they look upon those who are rough and crude as, you know, they kind of idolize them. There's no virtue in that. I used to think being blunt and rough with people meant it was cool.

And you get a little older and you realize that there is great value in being kind and being gracious and speaking well and not necessarily saying everything you think. Speaking of words, notice the next few verses. Verse 13, verse 14, we're talking about words. Matter of fact, why don't I get someone to read verse 13 and 14 for me, I got a volunteer? I got a hand right here. Ecclesiastes 10:13-14, please.

"The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also is full of words. A man cannot tell what shall be and what shall be after him; who can tell him?" You know, this sounds a little bit like, or very much like, what Solomon says in chapter 5. He has so much to say about words and speaking carefully. "Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and you upon earth: therefore let Your Words be few." Where is it? It's Proverbs. And I don't remember the verse where it says, "even a fool is counted wise when he is silent." I have sat in many committees and board meetings where I didn't think I was worthy to have a place at the table. And I thought, "I'm gonna fool everybody here into thinking that I am intelligent by not saying anything, or make them think that I know what they're talking about by having sort of inquisitive expressions. But don't say anything. The multitude of words is usually evidence of a babbler.

I had a conversation with somebody recently. And I'm just wording it like that so nobody will know who I'm talking about. The conversation was a long conversation. And I'm a person who likes to be pithy and to the point. You can't say pithy when you've got one of these microphones.

I like people just say it; get to the point. I love folks that are full of one-liners that just summarize what you want to say and say it. And after this conversation that must have been half an hour, I walked back into the kitchen where Karen was. And she says, you know, "what was that all about?" And I summarized the whole conversation in one sentence. This person had a multitude of words.

And they just, you just wonder, why did it take so long to say something? I could say exactly everything they wanted to say in one sentence. Let Your Words be few. Most of us get into trouble because of too many words. Isn't that right? Jesus said, "brood of vipers," Matthew 12:34, "how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Why would somebody talk so much without saying anything? Could it be pride and they like to just hear themselves talk? Give a child a karaoke toy. You know what I'm talking about? One of these little microphones where you can record yourself and then play yourself back.

And here I am exhibit a of one who is enchanted by the sound of their own voice. But we are all sort of enchanted with the sound of our own voice. We like to hear ourselves. And I remember when our kids first got, figured out how to record and tape themselves and play it back. Karen had one of these little, digital recorders where you could press it, it'd record it, then erase it, play it again.

They walked around the house for hours talking and then listening to themselves, talking and then listening to themselves. Then they'd say all these goofy, incoherent things and babble. And they thought it was so funny. And they just babble and listen to themselves. Do we ever grow out of that completely? Forgive me.

I don't want to be hard on you, but Solomon says a lot about "don't be a babbler." Babblers live in Babylon. Amen? Alright, who has verse 15? Ecclesiastes 10:15, got a volunteer? Right here. "The labor of fools worries them, for they do not even know how to go to the city." For a fool, a lot of work is harder because they don't approach it with wisdom. For one thing, they don't even know how to get to the place of work, even though the road is wide to the place of the city, they can't find it. So they're meandering.

Have you ever seen young people take what they call a "lazy man's load?" Some of you ever heard that expression before? I remember just yesterday asking nathan. I said, "okay, take the garbage cans back in." Steven's on a class trip and so something that steven might normally do, nathan's doing. And so we've got these two great, big plastic bins. One's recycled stuff; one's you're regular garbage. And normally I don't try to carry, I'm a grown man, I don't carry both of those things at one time.

They don't fit through the gate. You have to drive over the plants. You can't, too big. Nathan tried to haul them both back so he wouldn't have to make two trips. He tried to haul them both back.

Course he's only 10 years old. You get wiser with age. He's bumping into the house. He's knocking over the hedges. He's crashing through the gates.

And he's struggling with these two big plastic bins. A little wisdom will tell you it's quicker to just make two trips. And you don't destroy everything in the way. So it's just talking about the practicality of wisdom makes the ax sharper again. Verse 16 and 17, let me read this for you, because we're running out of time.

"Woe to you, o land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Blessed are you, o land, when your king is The Son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength and not for drunkenness!" Oh, there's a lot there. First of all, it's not saying in the Bible that every young king was a bad king. Can you think of some examples of young Kings that were good Kings? Two of them, they're names begin with "jo." Josiah, joash. Began to reign, one 7, one 8 years of age. And you know what? They were very consecrated.

It's almost like that verse where Jesus said, "unless you become converted like a little child, you'll not enter the Kingdom." They had simple faith, dedication, consecration. And they were devoted to God at a very early age. It's not condemning those that are young. Notice it's two parts: "woe to you, when your king is a child and," that's a continuation of the sentence, "your princes feast in the morning!" In other words, they think life's a party. They got all this power.

They got all this money. And they're just gonna live a decadent life like it's a party. I talked to you already about the french revolution where they just went from one banquet and one gay party to another. And they were squandering the resources of the people. "Woe to you, o land," when people abuse those positions of responsibility and power and wealth for their own selfish gratification.

That's what it's saying. By the way, "when your king is a child," do you think that's only talking about age or can that be talking about attitude? Could there be some Kings that are children at 50? Put the people in the positions of rulers that just are immature. And you can have some Kings that might be 16 years old and might be very wise for their years. "Blessed are you, o land, when your king is The Son of nobles." What that means is he's been trained; he has been educated by nobles. Alexander the great was a very brilliant man.

Of course he was taught at the feet of aristotle. So being not only the King of a macedonian, Phillip, he was surrounded by nobility that taught him and educated him. And so being The Son of nobles means you've been educated, you've been disciplined, you've been trained. And notice the rest of this: "and your princes feast at the proper time." You notice is there a prohibition against feasting here? The word feasting there doesn't mean a drunken feast. It's talking about potluck: plenty of food, eating, fellowship, nothing wrong with that.

One is feasting at the proper time. Is there anything wrong with doing that? They're not doing it for drunkenness. Have you heard the expression, "do I eat to live, or do I live to eat?" Do you eat for strength or for drunkenness? Is eating a sensual experience for you and you're eating for the sake of the food, or are you just thankful that it does taste good, but you're eating for strength? When you choose what to eat, do you choose it based on the quality of strength you will get from that food, or do you do it based on drunkenness? What will it taste like? Now how many of us want the good, healthy food to taste good? Nothing wrong for that, but what should be your first criteria when you're picking what you eat? Is it good food? The older I get, I've found the more careful I am to eat for strength and not for drunkenness. I hope the food that is good will taste good. But I've found--and usually it does.

It's a lot better when you pick what you're gonna eat for strength, makes ya--and at the proper time. Some people eat all day long one meal. They're on the "see-food" diet. They see food and they eat it. There's a proper time to eat.

I'm not boasting, but I try to eat two meals a day. I feel I'm much better off when I do that. And on Sabbaths it's a little different, some days I don't even eat breakfast. But this morning, I had an apple and some trail mix on my way to church. I eat in my car and brush my teeth when I get here, just so you'll all know I'm ready to meet you at the door.

But and then, you know, because we have potluck, normally, I'm on a different schedule. And I find if I stay on my schedule, I'm healthy. Sometimes I don't accept invitations as often as I could to people's houses. You know why? For health reasons, because quite honestly if you're eating at different people's houses, different food at different hours all the time, it's hard to maintain health. And so you gotta measure that.

I know one itinerate preacher that said he destroyed his health and his wife's health because they were just eating different food at different houses every day. And they just had no regularity in the time or the substance. And you know what else is a problem? Now I'm just bearing my soul. You all turn your collars around. Okay, I'll confess, is that when the pastor comes over, folks feel like they've got to impress him.

And so instead of having the one or two things that would be plenty, they feel like they gotta have 20 different dishes. And they want you to take a little bit of everything. And you feel like you gotta comply. And so you eat 20 different things and you smile, 'cause you're gracious. And you go home and--just want you to think about, someone say, "amen.

" Does that make sense? We feel like gotta impress the pastor and so you say, "I know how to make 50 great dishes. I'm gonna make them all for Sabbath lunch." And I would have been happy with beans and chips. So you just eat for strength, not for drunkenness. I really hit that hard enough 'cause I've run out of time. "Because of laziness the building decays; and through idleness of hands the house leaks.

A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry: but money answers everything." Oh, I could have spent a lot of time on that. People say, "follow the money." Last verse I wanted to cover this: "do not curse the King, even in your thought; do not curse the rich even in your bedroom: for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight might tell the matter." You ever heard the expression, "a little bird told me?" It might be talking about carrier pigeons they used back then. We've run out of time. I want to remind our friends, I don't think I mentioned our free offer that we have today. It's called, "assurance.

" Just send for it. We'll send it to you. Offer number 727, it's "assurance: justification made simple," by yours truly. And call the number, -788-3966. God bless you, friends.

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