Tuesday, November 15, 2016

on the way to the Way

The Word for today:
Ecclesiastes 1, 2
mark this: Ecclesiastes 1:14-18
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Compared to the rest of the Bible, Ecclesiastes is dimly lit. In its pages we behold some of the back alleys and dark prospects of scripture.
In Ecclesiastes we are seeing by natural light--under the sun. Most of the rest of the Bible is illuminated by supernatural light--the Light of the World.
Ecclesiastes is a transitional book for those, like this writer, who emerge from deep darkness with eyes unable to adjust all at once to the Truth. Today I hope to convey a personal testimony--a tribute to this unlikely book which has been so instrumental in the salvation of my own soul.
For it was via the dark alleys of Ecclesiastes that I first approached the Light.
More than anything else, the one thing that prompted me to seek something other than life as I knew it was a nagging sense of the pointlessness of it all...a pervasive sense of the emptiness and the meaninglessness of life (in general) and of my life (in particular.)
In that frame of mind I "happened" upon a book called Ecclesiastes. And what to my wandering eyes did appear but a book that was all about...the pointlessness of it all.
So--after dissing his act unmercifully just one year ago, when the pages of this blog were turning through the book of 1 Kings--I extend the following note of gratitude and esteem to Solomon.
This Bible student owes Solomon a great debt. When I first read Ecclesiastes, I considered it to be the most modern book I had ever read. Nowhere had I seen a more fitting description of our contemporary age than in the writing of this man who lived 3000 years ago! It is a book instrumental to my belief that the Bible is inspired, prophetic, a miracle. Ecclesiastes' ability to capture the tone and texture of life in the modern world is as inspired a display of sustained "prophecy" as there is in the Bible.
Over time, I've come to feel indebted to all of Scripture's authors, but back when I was looking around -- with a mind attuned to this world -- God met me on the ground where I stood, the only ground I knew, and provided a writer who called the tune of our times better than any modern writer could approach.
That's when I began to hold the Bible in awe, but it wasn't anything compared to the awe I felt when I came across the indescribable character in the book of Matthew...
Is it any wonder, then, that I harp on the church's need for all 66 books of the Bible. Because it is very likely that unless I had encountered the neglected book of Ecclesiastes, the church would stand one member short today.
So you never know the way to the Way until you get there. There's a soul out there -- maybe yours, maybe your child's -- who will find the Way through the pages of Nahum, or in the 14 verses of 3 John, or (perish the thought!) on his way through Judges.
But I hope it's not Judges. The alleys are even darker there.

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