"I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom
all that is done under the heavens.
What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
What is crooked cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.
I said to myself,
'Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me;
I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.'
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly,
but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief."
- Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
"I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
The More You Know, The More Miserable You Are
Solomon gave himself wholly to study and teaching. Solomon felt God had called him to this task. He even introduces himself as the king in past tense. Solomon had moved on to the grandest pursuit of all, the pursuit of knowledge.
Now, after an extended time in this capacity in study, research and teaching the first thing Solomon says in the form of introduction about this venture is that it is a crummy, worthless career choice.
Solomon concludes that:
1. He cannot get to the information he needs in order to answer the questions that he has.
2. God is doing what he wants. All our study and the little bit of understanding we gain is not going to change a thing.
Solomon’s career as a researcher and teacher is hopelessly summed up in a proverb in Ecclesiastes 1:15:
"What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted."
What he intends to be saying is:
If God has twisted it, then the problem cannot be resolved. If God has not revealed the information, you are not going to find the answer.
Sure, advances can be made in science, technology, mathematics and all other fields. But, eventually, in every field, you are going to reach the point where you can go no further. And then, all you have are more twisted problems and more unanswerable questions.
“The more knowledge, the more grief!” – Ecclesiastes 1:18
But, I will also concede that the Lord's ways and the Lord's knowledge are beyond my reach.
I will pursue truth and live by faith.
New International Version (NIV)
The Exile Symbolized
12 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.
3 “Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious people. 4 During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. 5 While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. 6 Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the Israelites.”
7 So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched.
8 In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, did not the Israelites, that rebellious people, ask you, ‘What are you doing?’
10 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This prophecy concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites who are there.’ 11 Say to them, ‘I am a sign to you.’
“As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives.
12 “The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. 13 I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. 14 I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword.
15 “They will know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. 19 Say to the people of the land: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. 20 The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
There Will Be No Delay
21 The word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? 23 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. 24 For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. 25 But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
26 The word of the Lord came to me: 27 “Son of man, the Israelites are saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’
28 “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
New International Version (NIV)
A Promised Ruler From Bethlehem
Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders,
who will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrians when they invade our land and march across our borders.
The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man.
The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue.
Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed.
10 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will destroy your horses from among you and demolish your chariots.
I will destroy the cities of your land and tear down all your strongholds.
I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells.
I will destroy your idols and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.
I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles when I demolish your cities.
I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.”
The Lord’s Case Against Israel
6 Listen to what the Lord says:
“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.
“Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.
“My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.
My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Israel’s Guilt and Punishment
Listen! The Lord is calling to the city— and to fear your name is wisdom— “Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.
Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, and the short ephah, which is accursed?
Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?
Your rich people are violent; your inhabitants are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully.
Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins.
You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword.
You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.
You have observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab’s house; you have followed their traditions. Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations.”
What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave.
The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains. Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets.
Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire— they all conspire together.
The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day God visits you has come, the day your watchmen sound the alarm. Now is the time of your confusion.
Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips.
For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
Israel Will Rise
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.
The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.
In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
The earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants, as the result of their deeds.
Prayer and Praise
Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest, in fertile pasturelands. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days long ago.
“As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.”
Nations will see and be ashamed, deprived of all their power. They will put their hands over their mouths and their ears will become deaf.
They will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground. They will come trembling out of their dens; they will turn in fear to the Lord our God and will be afraid of you.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
'Wow, this is so complex, forget about understanding this, this had to be an intelligent designer at work.' And that’s fine but it’s not science and you can’t do anything with it.
Response: Straw-man argument. The history of modern science rests on the backs of scientists who believed in Intelligent Design. Complexity in nature did not lead them to say 'forget about understanding this,' instead it drove them to understand it further because they believed the more the learned about nature, the more they were learning about the designer. Mendel, the father of modern genetics, was a monk!
- Proverbs 14:14