Great Apostasies of the Bible

Vanity Of Vanities

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Pr. Stephen Bohr


Series Code: GAB

Program Code: GAB000002

01:11 Shall we bow our heads for prayer?
01:15 Father in heaven, what a blessing it is
01:17 to be in Your house.
01:20 What a blessing it is to have Your holy word.
01:24 And Father, we realize that our puny human minds
01:30 cannot understand the deep things of God.
01:34 And for this reason we ask You today
01:37 for divine wisdom as we open Your holy word.
01:42 We ask that it will not return unto You void.
01:46 We thank You for hearing our prayer
01:47 for we ask it in Jesus name, Amen.
01:53 I invite you to turn in your Bibles with me
01:55 to 1 Kings Chapter 3, 1 Kings Chapter 3.
02:02 Today we're going to study the story of Solomon.
02:09 And basically we're going to see in our study
02:11 that the life of Solomon had three distinct stages.
02:18 The first stage of Solomon's life
02:21 is the early years of his reign.
02:24 The second stage is a sad stage of his life.
02:28 It's when he went astray from the way of the Lord.
02:33 And the final stage is when he is an old man
02:37 and once again he returns to the ways of the Lord.
02:43 So you can consider Solomon's life
02:45 like two mountain peaks and in the middle a valley.
02:50 But praise the Lord that he started out on a peak
02:53 and he ended up on a peak as well.
02:57 1 Kings 3:5 describes
03:00 how God appears to Solomon in an evening dream
03:06 and God actually offers Solomon
03:09 anything that he wants before the asking.
03:16 It says there "At Gibeon
03:18 the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night,
03:23 and God said, 'Ask! What shall I give you?'"
03:31 Now if God gave you that option what would you ask for riches,
03:38 money, a nice home, a brand new car,
03:46 a full scholarship to go to school?
03:50 If God had said to you ask Me for whatever you want
03:53 and I will give it to you what would you ask for?
03:58 Well, Solomon's request would be considered strange today.
04:05 Notice 3: 7-9.
04:09 "Now, O Lord my God,
04:13 You have made your servant king instead of my father David,
04:19 but I am a little child,
04:22 I do not know how to go out or come in.
04:27 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people
04:30 whom You have chosen, a great people,
04:33 too numerous to be numbered or counted.
04:38 Therefore give to your servant an understanding heart
04:45 to judge your people,
04:48 that I may discern between good and evil.
04:53 For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"
05:01 Solomon asked God for wisdom,
05:05 for understanding to distinguish
05:09 between right and wrong, to judge correctly.
05:16 And we're told in verse 10
05:18 that what Solomon asked for pleased God.
05:25 It says there, "The speech pleased the Lord,
05:30 that Solomon had asked this thing."
05:36 Does anyone lack wisdom,
05:39 ask from God who gives it abundantly.
05:43 And so Solomon asked God for wisdom,
05:46 the ability to distinguish between right and wrong
05:49 to judge God's people,
05:50 because he considered himself a child.
05:52 And so now God is gonna say
05:55 I am going to give you what you ask for,
05:58 ask and you shall receive.
06:01 Notice verses 11 to 13, "Then God said to him,
06:07 'Because you have asked this thing,
06:12 and have not asked long life for yourself,
06:16 nor have asked riches for yourself,
06:19 nor have asked the life of your enemies,
06:23 but have asked for yourself
06:24 understanding to discern justice,
06:28 behold, I have done according to your words,
06:33 see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart,
06:41 so that there has not been anyone like you before you,
06:45 nor shall any like you arise after you.'"
06:51 You have asked for a wise and understanding heart
06:54 to discriminate between good and evil,
06:56 to judge correctly
06:58 and I have given you what you have requested,
07:03 what you had want.
07:05 But you know what's interesting?
07:07 God not only gave Solomon what Solomon asked for,
07:12 He also gave Solomon
07:14 what he could have asked for and didn't.
07:18 Notice what we find in verses 13 and 14,
07:23 God says, "And I have also given you
07:27 what you have not asked, both riches and honor,
07:34 so that there shall not be anyone like you
07:37 among the kings all your days."
07:42 It makes me think of that verse
07:44 that we all know, probably by memory.
07:48 Matthew 6:33 we don't even have to look it up.
07:52 It says, "But seek first the kingdom of God
07:57 and His righteousness,
07:59 and all these things shall be added to you."
08:04 Solomon asked God for wisdom first
08:07 and God said not only will
08:09 I give you the wisdom that you asked for
08:11 but I'm also gonna give you riches
08:14 and honor as the added things.
08:17 You see, when we put our priorities in the right order,
08:21 God not only asks us or gives us
08:24 what we ask for
08:25 but He also gives us what we don't ask for,
08:29 the added things.
08:31 And believe me the wisdom
08:34 that God gave to Solomon was unbelievable.
08:39 Notice what we find in 1 Kings 4:29-34,
08:44 and the wisdom that God gave Solomon.
08:47 It says there, "And God gave Solomon wisdom
08:51 and exceedingly great understanding,
08:55 and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.
09:01 Thus Solomon's wisdom excelled
09:03 the wisdom of all the men of the East
09:06 and of all the wisdom of Egypt.
09:10 For he was wiser than all men than Ethan the Ezrahite,
09:16 and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda,
09:20 the sons of Mahol,
09:22 and his fame was in all the surrounding nations.
09:26 He spoke three thousand proverbs,
09:30 and his songs were one thousand and five.
09:35 Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar three of Lebanon
09:39 even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall,
09:43 he spoke also of animals,
09:45 of birds, of creeping things, and of fish."
09:50 In other words he not only became wise
09:52 in the things of God,
09:53 he also became wise to lecture our nature.
09:57 He saw the inner most workings of nature,
10:00 he understood God in nature.
10:03 And verse 34 says, "And men of all nations,
10:08 from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom,
10:13 came to hear the wisdom of Solomon."
10:19 Wow, wiser than the men of all of the nations.
10:24 God certainly gave Solomon what he asked for.
10:28 Notice chapter 10 and verses 23 and 24,
10:31 amplifying this point
10:33 about the wisdom that God gave to Solomon.
10:36 It says there in verse 23 of chapter 10,
10:41 "So King Solomon surpassed
10:45 all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom."
10:51 Now notice this, "Now all the earth
10:54 sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom,
11:00 which God had put in his heart."
11:04 Can you imagine, everyone on earth
11:07 at that time wanting just to see
11:10 because the word presence here can be also translated face,
11:14 actually people from all nations
11:17 wanting to just see the face of Solomon.
11:22 Amazing, what God gave this king.
11:27 But the question immediately surfaces,
11:31 what exactly is the wisdom that Solomon asked for?
11:38 What is wisdom?
11:41 Yes, it's the wisdom to know how to judge correctly,
11:45 but more specifically what is the wisdom,
11:48 what is the definition of wisdom that Solomon asked for?
11:54 There are several texts
11:55 in the writings of Solomon himself
11:59 that explain what that wisdom is.
12:03 Notice Proverbs, chapter 9 and verse 10,
12:07 Proverbs 9:10,
12:09 we know at least the first part of this verse
12:13 but many times we forget the second part
12:15 which is an explanation of a first half.
12:18 It says there in Proverbs 9:10,
12:21 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
12:27 Which means that if you don't have the fear of the Lord
12:29 you don't even have the beginning of wisdom.
12:31 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"
12:34 and then notice the last half of the verse,
12:36 it says, "And the knowledge of the Holy One
12:39 is understanding."
12:40 So you can interchange wisdom and the fear of Lord.
12:47 Now, go with me to Proverbs 8 and verse 13, Proverbs 8:13,
12:53 what is this fear of the Lord which is the same as wisdom?
12:57 It says, there in Proverbs 8:13, "The fear" listen to this,
13:02 "The fear of the Lord is to," what?
13:05 "Is to hate evil" pride and arrogance
13:12 "and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate."
13:16 What is the fear of the Lord or wisdom?
13:19 It means to hate what? It means to hate evil.
13:23 Notice Job 28: 28,
13:27 now Job was written by Moses but it's a same thought,
13:30 it says there in Job 28:28,
13:33 "And to man He said, 'Behold,
13:37 the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom'"
13:41 and now we have the explanation
13:43 "And to depart from evil is understanding.'"
13:49 Do you see that the fear of the Lord which is wisdom
13:51 is the same thing as departing from evil
13:54 which is understanding?
13:57 Notice also Psalm 111: 10,
14:01 Psalm 111:10,
14:05 it says there, "The fear of the Lord
14:08 is the beginning of wisdom."
14:10 and now notice,
14:13 "A good understanding have all those
14:17 who do His commandments."
14:20 What is the fear of the Lord?
14:22 What is wisdom? It means to hate evil.
14:25 And it means to do what? To do God's commandments.
14:31 In a nutshell the biblical concept of wisdom is
14:36 that wisdom is the divine gift
14:40 that gives man the capacity
14:42 to distinguish between good and evil
14:46 and to choose the good and to reject the evil.
14:52 In other words, the ability to discriminate
14:54 or distinguish between good and evil
14:57 and the capacity to choose the good and to reject the evil.
15:04 You know it's interesting to notice
15:05 that immediately after this episode
15:07 where Solomon asked God for wisdom
15:09 and God gave him wisdom plus the added things.
15:12 A case came before Solomon
15:15 which demanded the wisdom that God had given to him.
15:19 It says, in 1 Kings Chapter 3 the two mothers
15:22 came to the king for judgment,
15:25 one of them have rolled over on her baby at night
15:28 and it suffocated him and while the other mother was sleeping
15:32 she took the other mothers live baby
15:35 and put it next to her and her dead baby
15:37 she put next to the other mother.
15:39 And now they came to the king for the judgment
15:42 so that the king would decide
15:43 to whom the baby belonged, the live baby.
15:47 Now how would you have decided,
15:49 there were no DNA tests back then, folks?
15:53 The king had to exercise wisdom in judgment.
15:56 Deciding who was right and who was wrong,
15:58 what was good and what was evil?
16:00 And so the king he says to his soldier,
16:03 come here bring your sword,
16:04 I want you to cut this baby in two pieces
16:07 give half of the baby to one of the woman
16:09 and half of the baby to the other
16:11 and problem solved.
16:15 And the mother, the real mother of the child said
16:17 no, no, don't do it, don't do it.
16:21 Give the baby to the other mother,
16:24 even though it wasn't hers.
16:27 But the other mother said no, cut him in half
16:29 and give us half and half.
16:33 The king knew that only a mother's heart
16:35 would be willing to give up a baby to preserve his life.
16:40 So we have an example of him,
16:42 employing the wisdom of God
16:44 to distinguish between good and evil,
16:46 between right and wrong in judgment.
16:50 But the wisdom that God gave Solomon was conditional.
16:55 Notice 1 Kings 3:14,
17:00 it says there, "So if you walk in My ways,"
17:04 notice there's a big if there,
17:06 "If you walk in My ways,
17:09 to keep My statues and My commandments,"
17:14 which is wisdom we notice,
17:15 to keep the commandments to reject evil,
17:17 that is wisdom.
17:19 "So if you walk in My ways,
17:20 to keep My statues and My commandments,
17:23 as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."
17:29 Do you know that God actually gave Solomon
17:32 a way to retain his wisdom?
17:35 Do you know that when a king of Israel began
17:37 reigning or began to rule,
17:41 they were given a copy of the book of the law
17:44 which is the book of Deuteronomy
17:46 which is an amplification of the Ten Commandments
17:49 in real life situations,
17:52 and the king was to carry this with him
17:54 all the days of his life,
17:56 he was to read from it everyday
17:59 and when special difficult cases
18:01 came before him he was to consult
18:04 the Book of Revelation which was his wisdom.
18:08 Notice how this is found in Deuteronomy 17:18-20,
18:13 God gave Solomon a way to retain his wisdom
18:16 it was by consulting the Lord
18:19 understanding the way of the Lord,
18:20 understanding the scriptures of the Lord.
18:23 In other words, keeping intoned with the Lord,
18:26 it wasn't his riches,
18:27 it wasn't his power, it wasn't his fame.
18:30 Notice Deuteronomy 17:18-20, "Also it shall be,
18:37 when he sits on the throne of his kingdom,
18:40 that he shall write for himself
18:41 a copy of this law in a book," it's the book of Deuteronomy.
18:45 "From the one before the priest the Levites."
18:48 In other words there was an original copy
18:50 he was read, he was to copy it.
18:52 "And it shall be with him
18:55 and he shall read it all the days of his life,
18:58 that he may learn to fear the Lord his God
19:01 and be careful to observe all the words of this law
19:04 and the statues that his heart
19:07 may not be lifted above his brethren
19:10 that he may not turn aside from the commandment
19:12 to the right hand or to the left,
19:14 and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom,
19:17 he and his children in the midst of Israel."
19:20 In other words, the wisdom was contingent on reading
19:25 and assimilating the message of God
19:27 as it was found in the book.
19:31 Unfortunately, the life of Solomon
19:35 had a second very sad stage.
19:40 You see God had warned Solomon
19:43 and the kings of Israel of two grave dangerous.
19:49 Number one, trusting in riches,
19:56 and number two,
19:57 forming unholy alliances with world links.
20:05 Notice Deuteronomy 8:18 and this book which Solomon
20:09 would have had because he copied it,
20:11 it says there in verse 18,
20:13 "And you shall remember the Lord your God,
20:17 for it is He who gives you power to get wealth,
20:22 that He may establish His covenant
20:24 which he swore to your fathers,
20:26 as it is this day."
20:29 In other words, remember that it's God
20:31 who give you riches don't focus on the riches.
20:35 By the way immediately
20:36 before Solomon went astray from the Lord,
20:40 we find a statement about his yearly income.
20:45 1 Kings 10:14, 15.
20:49 Notice what the yearly income of his kingdom was,
20:52 immediately before it speaks about his apostasy.
20:57 It says in 1 Kings 10:14,
21:00 "The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly,"
21:05 this is a very interesting number,
21:07 "that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred
21:09 and sixty-six talents of gold."
21:16 Interesting,
21:19 and in that's only the tip of the ice berg,
21:21 "Besides that from the traveling merchants,
21:23 from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia
21:26 and from the governors of the country."
21:29 He was definitely rich.
21:33 But immediately after this we are told that he came
21:35 to depend upon his riches
21:39 and its one thing that led him astray
21:41 from God material possessions and richest.
21:45 The other thing that led Solomon astray
21:48 were his unholy alliances with the surrounding nations.
21:53 Notice 1 Kings 11: 1- 5,
21:55 by the way in the Book of Deuteronomy
21:57 the book that he would have carried around,
21:59 God forbade the kings of Israel
22:01 from following alliances with the nations
22:03 and for marrying the women from other nations.
22:07 So Solomon would have had that in his book
22:10 that he carried around, that he copies from the original
22:12 that the Levites had.
22:14 It says in 1 Kings 11:1-5,
22:17 "King Solomon loved many foreign women,
22:23 as well as the daughter of Pharaoh,
22:25 women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians,
22:29 and Hittites from the nations of whom
22:33 the Lord had said to the children of Israel,
22:35 'You shall not intermarry with them,
22:39 nor they with you.
22:41 Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.'
22:45 Solomon clung to these in love.
22:49 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses,
22:52 and three hundred concubines,"
22:55 that's a thousand, folks.
23:00 Wow, and many of these he did not live with,
23:03 they were just because of alliances with other kings
23:06 they gave the king their daughters.
23:10 And of course, Solomon reasoned he said,
23:12 see if I form these alliances with these nations,
23:15 these nations will come and contact with Israel
23:17 and they will be converted to God.
23:20 I can even adopt some of their customs of these nations
23:24 and that will make them feel more comfortable with Israel
23:28 and then we can share with them the God of Israel.
23:31 And he felt the same about these women,
23:33 if I bring these women into Jerusalem
23:36 they're going to come to knowledge of the true God
23:38 and they're going to accept the true God.
23:40 Well, the fact is that it worked the other way around.
23:46 It says then "And he had seven hundred wives,
23:48 princesses, and three hundred concubines
23:51 and his wives turned away his heart.
23:54 For it was so, when Solomon was old,
23:57 that his wives turned his heart after other gods,
24:01 and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God,
24:04 as was the heart of his father David."
24:09 There's an interesting comment by Ellen White
24:11 in Prophets and Kings, page 53
24:13 which I would like to read you about
24:16 what happened with Solomon.
24:19 She says as inclination
24:22 gains the ascendancy over reason.
24:28 We preach a whole sermon on that.
24:31 "As inclination" that there is impulses
24:35 "gained the ascendancy over reason,
24:37 self-confidence increased."
24:40 Look at all my riches,
24:41 look at all my power, look at all my fame.
24:46 "and he sought to carry out
24:47 the Lord's purpose in his own way.
24:51 He reasoned," listen to this,
24:54 "he reasoned that political and commercial alliances
24:58 with the surrounding nations would bring these nations
25:01 to a knowledge of the true God,
25:04 and he entered into unholy alliance
25:08 with nation after nation.
25:11 Often these alliances were sealed by marriages
25:14 with Hittites princesses, the commands of Jehovah
25:17 were set aside for the customs of the surrounds peoples.
25:25 Is it just possible that today the same could happen with us
25:29 in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
25:32 that we begin adopting worldly music
25:35 and worldly entertainment and worldly practices
25:40 and perhaps even adopt certain things into our schools
25:44 because we feel that they were,
25:46 that these things, adopting these things
25:48 will make our church more popular
25:51 and attract people to our church?
25:54 I believe that is not only a possibility
25:56 but it is happening.
25:59 You see God said be not unevenly yoked with unbelievers.
26:05 Don't adopt their practices, don't adopt their customs,
26:10 don't become linked with them.
26:13 Yes, you'll reach out to them in evangelism
26:16 but do not allow them to infiltrate you
26:19 with their customs and their practices.
26:24 And so Solomon gradually slid into apostasy.
26:30 The apostasy didn't happen over night.
26:34 It was a slow, gradual almost imperceptible process
26:41 where he lowered his God and he forgot the source
26:45 of his wisdom and prosperity.
26:49 Same thing happened to Solomon
26:50 as what is described in the book,
26:52 Creeping Compromise by Joe Crews.
26:57 Solomon later referred to this as little foxes
27:01 that spoil the vines
27:03 letting down the God in little things,
27:06 things that were considered insignificant.
27:09 Lowering the standards just a little bit
27:11 to make the world links feel comfortable
27:14 within the realm of the remnant.
27:19 I like the way Ellen White describes
27:20 this gradual sliding into apostasy.
27:23 Prophets and Kings, page 55,
27:26 this is how she describes it,
27:28 "So gradual," I want you to notice the terminology,
27:32 "So gradual was Solomon's apostasy
27:37 that before he was aware of it,
27:39 he had wandered far from God.
27:43 Almost imperceptibly" you noticed the word gradual?
27:48 Now, she says, "Almost imperceptibly,
27:51 he began to trust less and less" not all overnight,
27:56 he trusted and then didn't trust overnight, no.
27:59 It says, "He began to trust less and less
28:02 in divine guidance and blessing,
28:04 and to put confidence in his own strength.
28:08 Little by little
28:11 he withheld from God that unswerving obedience
28:14 which was to make Israel a peculiar people,
28:17 and he conformed more and more
28:22 closely to the customs of the surrounding nations.
28:26 Yielding to the temptations incident to his success
28:30 and his honored position,
28:32 he forgot the Source of his prosperity."
28:38 Do notice the expressions gradual,
28:40 almost imperceptibly, less and less,
28:42 little by little, more and more.
28:46 Apostasy does not happen over night.
28:49 It happens as a process
28:51 while we start lowering the standards,
28:54 lowering the bar that God had established
28:58 and eventually were so far out there
29:01 that we don't even realize it until many times it's too late.
29:08 Solomon had a tremendous change in his life.
29:12 Allow me to read you, in fact he became a hedonist,
29:16 he became a playboy if you please.
29:21 He adopted the philosophy of life,
29:22 "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die."
29:27 He said so himself.
29:30 Notice how Ellen White describes
29:32 Solomon in the second stage of his existence.
29:35 This is Prophets and Kings, page 58,
29:38 she says, "From being one of the greatest kings
29:40 that ever wielded a scepter, Solomon became a profligate."
29:47 What is a profligate Pastor Jenson?
29:52 Degenerate, could use that word, right?
29:56 She continues saying,
29:58 "Solomon became a profligate the tool and slave of others.
30:05 His character, once noble and manly,
30:09 became enervated and effeminate."
30:15 You know what that word means, right?
30:19 "His faith in the living God was,"
30:21 now listen to this, "His faith in the living God
30:24 was supplanted by atheistic doubts.
30:30 He even to the point where he is doubting the existence of God,
30:34 she continues saying, "Unbelief marred his happiness,
30:39 weakened his principles, and degraded his life.
30:43 The justice and magnanimity of his early reign were changed
30:47 to despotism and tyranny."
30:53 So happens when step by step you abandon the standards
30:57 that God has established in His holy work
31:01 it eventually leads down the road to ruin.
31:05 And so Solomon adopted a playboy philosophy,
31:08 he lived for pleasure and for comforts.
31:12 He did not deny himself absolutely anything.
31:17 His philosophy by his own admission
31:19 was "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die."
31:24 Let's read some verses where Solomon describes
31:28 his philosophy of life during this period.
31:31 Ecclesiastes Chapter 2,
31:33 all of these will be from Ecclesiastes,
31:35 Ecclesiastes 2:8,
31:38 notice how Solomon is describing his life.
31:40 You know, it doesn't really sound like
31:41 someone who is committed to God,
31:43 it almost sounds like a humanist.
31:47 He says, "I also gathered for myself
31:50 silver and gold
31:53 and the special treasures of kings
31:55 and of the princess.
31:57 I acquired male and female singers,
32:00 the delights of the sons of men
32:02 and musical instruments of all kinds."
32:05 In other words, now he is into music
32:08 and he's into dancing, he's into partying
32:12 as we're gonna see in a moment.
32:13 Notice 5:18, he says this, "Here is what I have seen.
32:21 It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink,
32:27 and to enjoy the good of all his labor
32:29 in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life
32:34 which God gives him, for it is his heritage."
32:39 So according to him what is the philosophy of life?
32:42 It is fitting to eat and drink
32:45 and to enjoy the good of all his labor
32:48 in which he toils under the sun.
32:51 Ecclesiastes 8:15.
32:54 This doesn't even sound like a Christian.
32:56 It doesn't even sound like somebody committed to God.
32:59 He says, "So I commanded enjoyment,
33:03 because a man has nothing better
33:05 under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry,
33:11 for this will remain with him in his labor
33:13 all the days of his life
33:15 which God gives him under the sun."
33:19 In 2:10, 11, Solomon describes
33:24 even more vividly his philosophy.
33:27 Ecclesiastes 2:10, he says, "Whatever my eyes desired
33:34 I did not keep from them," did you notice that?
33:42 "Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them
33:46 I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
33:50 for my heart rejoiced in all my labor,
33:53 and this was my reward from all my labor."
33:58 And then notice what he says,
33:59 "Then I looked on all the works of my hands
34:02 that I had done and on the labor
34:05 in which I had toiled
34:06 and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
34:11 There was no profit under the sun."
34:15 Eat drink and merry for tomorrow we die,
34:18 don't deny to your eyes anything that is enjoyable.
34:21 Have a good party all of the time.
34:25 That doesn't sound like a Christian philosophy of life,
34:28 should it even be in the Book of Ecclesiastes
34:32 a book that is found in scripture.
34:35 How far did Solomon actually go from God?
34:40 In Review and Herald February 8, 1906
34:44 we find this remark by Ellen White
34:46 about Solomon's apostasy.
34:49 She says, "Solomon's apostasy was so complete,
34:54 his heart became so hardened in transgression,
34:59 that his case seemed well-nigh hopeless."
35:09 You know, Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs
35:13 as one who knows what it's like to live out in the world,
35:19 what it means to be a humanist,
35:22 what it means to have that philosophy
35:24 eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.
35:28 He's not some philosopher speaking from an ivory tower.
35:31 The Book of Proverbs all of the counsels
35:33 that we have are the voice of experience,
35:37 his experience.
35:39 He knows what he's talking about,
35:41 because he says I went through this myself.
35:45 I thank the Lord that the life of Solomon
35:49 had a third stage.
35:51 Wouldn't it be depressing and sad
35:52 to have the life of Solomon
35:54 and in this condition of apostasy against God?
35:59 We're told that when Solomon was an old man
36:03 he had wasted the best years of his life
36:07 when he could've served the Lord.
36:10 At the end of his life he came back to God.
36:15 God is relentless.
36:17 You know, God doesn't give up on anyone.
36:19 This is one of the lessons
36:20 that we should learn from the life of Solomon
36:22 is that God will pursue us through the end.
36:27 Let's talk a little bit about
36:28 the third stage of the life of Solomon.
36:32 There's a very interesting book in the Bible
36:35 which perhaps many people don't study very much,
36:38 it's the Book of Ecclesiastes.
36:41 Do you know that this was one of our last books
36:43 to be accepted as part of scripture
36:45 in the Old Testament canon by the Jews?
36:48 There were three books that they left
36:50 till the very last to accept this part of biblical canon.
36:52 One was Esther because it doesn't mention
36:54 the name of God.
36:55 Another was the Song of Solomon
36:57 because it's kind of erotic in some places
37:00 and the third is the Book of Ecclesiastes
37:04 because you read Ecclesiastes
37:06 and it appears to be pessimistic.
37:10 It breathes existential pessimism and desperation.
37:14 It doesn't seem to have the philosophy of the life
37:17 that the rest of the Old Testament has.
37:19 And therefore the Jewish scholars
37:22 who were under divine guidance
37:24 determined the Old Testament canon weren't sure
37:27 whether Ecclesiastes should even be in scripture.
37:31 In fact the key word in this book is the word vanity.
37:34 It's used over 35 times in this small book of 12 chapters.
37:40 The word vanity simply means vapor, or breath.
37:46 How many of you have ever tried to grab a vapor?
37:50 How many of you have ever tried to grasp a breath?
37:55 By the way the name Abel is the same Hebrew word.
38:00 The name Abel means breath or vapor.
38:06 The life of Abel evaporated
38:09 and it appeared like there wasn't gonna be
38:10 any justice although we knew--
38:12 we know that there was going to be and there will be.
38:17 The Hebrew word hebel translated vanity
38:22 means something temporary, something transitory,
38:25 something that is empty, something illusory,
38:29 something that has absolutely no substance.
38:35 And the word is used over 35 times
38:38 and it's interesting to notice how Solomon uses it,
38:41 when he uses it, it doesn't appear to square
38:43 with the Christian philosophy of life.
38:47 Notice Ecclesiastes 1:1, 2.
38:50 Let's read several verses, where he speaks about vanity
38:55 and you tell me if this sounds like
38:56 a Christian philosophy of life.
38:58 It says there, "The words of the preacher
39:01 the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
39:05 'Vanity of vanities,' says the preacher,
39:07 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'"
39:11 Would you agree that all is vanity?
39:15 Would you agree as Christians that all is a vapor
39:17 and all is meaningless and all is empty?
39:20 Of course not.
39:22 Notice 1:14, Solomon says,
39:25 "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun
39:29 and indeed all is vanity, and grasping for the wind."
39:33 In other words, he's saying life is empty,
39:35 life is meaningless.
39:37 I've seen what life is like, it's like grasping for the wind.
39:40 How many of you have been able to grab the wind?
39:44 Ecclesiastes 2:11, Solomon says,
39:49 "Then I looked on all the works of my hands
39:51 that my hands had done
39:53 and under labor in which I had toiled
39:56 and indeed all was vanity and grasping for wind,
40:00 there was no profit under sun."
40:03 He says I looked at life and life was meaningless,
40:06 empty, a vapor.
40:10 Life was absurd.
40:14 That doesn't sound like a Christian philosophy of life.
40:17 And then in verse 17
40:18 we're told that Solomon actually contemplated suicide.
40:23 It says there in verse 17,
40:25 "Therefore I hated life because the work that was done
40:31 under the sun was distressing to me,
40:33 for all is vanity and grasping for the wind."
40:38 You read Ecclesiastes it's a book of pessimism,
40:41 anxiety, depression and desperation.
40:45 According to many portions of the book
40:47 life is meaningless and absurd.
40:52 It does not square with the rest
40:54 of the Old Testament and the meaning of life.
40:59 Notice Ecclesiastes 8:14, 15.
41:04 Here Solomon once again describes things in a way
41:06 which you know don't really make sense
41:09 within a Christian lifestyle, a Christian worldview.
41:13 It says there, "There is a vanity which occurs on earth,
41:17 that there are just men to whom it happens
41:19 according to the work of the wicked,
41:22 and again there are wicked men
41:24 to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous."
41:28 Notice the righteous suffer evil things
41:31 and the wicked suffer good things
41:33 or reap good things.
41:38 He says, "I said that this also is vanity."
41:45 So what does he do as a result?
41:46 He said, "So I commended enjoyment,
41:50 because a man has nothing better under the sun
41:53 than to eat, drink and be merry,
41:56 for this will remain with him
41:58 in his labor all the days of his life
42:00 which God gives him under the sun."
42:03 In other words, because life appears to be absurd
42:05 let's live it up and have fun.
42:09 That sound like a Christian philosophy of life?
42:13 Absolutely not.
42:14 You say why in the world
42:15 do we have Ecclesiastes in the Bible?
42:17 I'll explain why.
42:18 You see, in Ecclesiastes Solomon is describing his life
42:23 separated from God.
42:26 He's writing in his old age
42:29 and he's saying this is the way that I looked at life
42:34 when I went astray from God
42:35 during the second stage of my life.
42:37 He's looking back at his old age.
42:40 By the way do you know that he wrote the Book of Proverbs
42:42 and he wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes
42:44 when he was an old man, and he had returned to God?
42:48 He did not write those early in his reign.
42:52 You see, he is showing what a life
42:54 separated from God is like.
42:56 It is meaningless, it's empty, it's worthless,
42:59 it's like grasping for the wind.
43:03 But I praise the Lord that Solomon doesn't end his book
43:07 with pessimist and emptiness and meaningless and anxiety.
43:13 He ends his book in a majestic way
43:16 by appealing to the young people
43:18 on the basis of his own experience.
43:20 Notice Ecclesiastes 8:11-13,
43:26 "Because the sentence against an evil work
43:30 is not executed speedily,"
43:32 that is because the sentence against an evil work
43:35 is not executed right away,
43:38 "therefore the heart of the sons of men
43:40 is fully set in them to do evil."
43:42 So you say, you know,
43:43 evil isn't punished so we might as well practice evil.
43:48 Though-- then he says this,
43:49 "Though a sinner does evil a hundred times,
43:52 and his days are prolonged,
43:54 yet I surely know that it will be well
43:59 with those who fear God, who fear before Him.
44:03 But it will not be well with the wicked,
44:05 nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow,
44:10 because he does not fear before God."
44:13 Now he's talking sense.
44:16 He's saying now I'm telling you,
44:18 what life is truly about.
44:22 And when he reaches the end of the book
44:24 he's actually going to use a little bit of irony
44:27 with the young people.
44:29 Notice Ecclesiastes 11:9,
44:33 he's speaking almost with sarcasm here.
44:36 He says this,
44:41 "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
44:45 and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth,
44:50 walk in the ways of your heart,
44:53 and in the sight of your eyes."
44:56 You know what he's saying to the youth?
44:58 He's saying be yourself.
45:02 Do your own thing, live it up, have fun like I did.
45:10 He's speaking with sarcasm by the way, folks.
45:14 He continues saying,
45:16 "But know that for all these things
45:19 God will bring you into judgment.
45:24 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
45:28 and put away evil from your flesh,
45:32 for childhood and youth are vanity."
45:34 In other words, they are dangerous
45:35 in childhood and youth is what he is saying.
45:39 And then comes the famous words,
45:43 he says, youth, yeah, live it up follow your heart,
45:46 follow your eyes, but God is gonna bring everything
45:49 at the judgment someday, remember that.
45:52 And so now he counsels the youth,
45:54 he says, remember now your Creator
45:57 in the days of your youth.
46:00 Before the difficult days come,
46:03 by the way that's when you become old.
46:07 Before the difficult days come and the years draw near
46:11 when you say I have no pleasure in them.
46:14 In other words, when you look back like me,
46:15 and you'll see your life and you say
46:17 I have no pleasure in this life.
46:21 Folks, Solomon is not some philosopher
46:23 speaking from an ivory tower.
46:27 His is the voice of experience.
46:31 He's describing his own bitter life alienated from God
46:34 and he's counseling the youth not to go down the same road.
46:39 He's saying there a life centered in pleasure
46:41 and alienated from God may appear desirable and fun.
46:46 But in the end it will bring bitterness,
46:49 depression and meaningless to life.
46:54 And of course Solomon ends his book
46:58 majestically in chapter 12 and verses 13 and 14,
47:02 where it says, if you've missed my point up till this,
47:05 up to now, he says, now let me give you a summery
47:08 of everything that I've said in the book.
47:12 "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.
47:16 Fear God and keep His commandments.
47:20 For this is man's all.
47:26 For God will bring every work into judgment,
47:30 including every secret thing whether good or evil"
47:36 And the book ends.
47:39 He's ending with the definition of wisdom,
47:42 fear God and keep His commandments
47:45 for this is the whole duty of man
47:46 for God is going to bring every work into judgment.
47:52 Like to read a statement from the book
47:54 Prophets and Kings, page 80,
47:57 where Ellen White describes the latter life of Solomon
48:00 after he returned to God,
48:01 she says, "Solomon's later writings reveal
48:06 that as he realized more and still more
48:09 the wickedness of his course,
48:12 he gave special attention to warning the youth
48:16 against falling into the errors
48:19 that have led him to squander
48:21 for nought Heaven's choicest gifts.
48:25 With sorrow and shame, he confessed
48:27 that in the prime of manhood,
48:30 when he should have found God his comfort,
48:34 his support, his life
48:36 he turned from the light of heaven
48:38 and the wisdom of God and put idolatry
48:41 in the place of the worship of Jehovah.
48:44 And now, having learned
48:47 through sad experience the folly of such a life,
48:51 his yearning desire was to save others
48:54 from entering into the bitter experience
48:57 through which he had passed."
49:02 You know youth that would be a good idea
49:03 for you to read the book of Proverbs
49:07 and the Book of Ecclesiastes
49:11 because there's a lot of wisdom
49:12 there of one who has been there and done that.
49:19 You know today the youth are lured
49:22 by so many temptations of the world.
49:25 You know, oh, it's so good to get out there
49:28 and party and have fun.
49:29 Listen, folks, Solomon's has been there,
49:32 he's experimented with it and he tells you,
49:34 that's not the way to go.
49:36 Will we learn from the voice of experience?
49:41 One of the greatest writers of the 20th century
49:43 was Ernest Hemingway.
49:46 He was born in 1899 in Illinois.
49:50 His parents were devoutly religious people.
49:54 In fact, they were very, very involved
49:58 in the first congregational church.
50:01 But Hemingway early in life parted
50:04 from the religious ways of this family.
50:07 He became a news reporter, and then a writer.
50:11 He married four times,
50:14 and was never happy with any of his four marriages.
50:18 He began drinking early in life
50:22 and in the 1940's according to those
50:24 who knew him he was obese, had high blood pressure,
50:27 and was deeply depressed.
50:30 He began hearing voices in his head.
50:34 For several years he lived in Cuba and also in Key West
50:37 where you can still visit some of the sites
50:40 that he made famous.
50:42 According to those who knew him best
50:46 he frequented the bars in Key West
50:50 and lived a profligate life.
50:52 In fact some of his writings are so up seen
50:55 that they still have not been published.
50:59 Those who knew him best describe him as unhappy,
51:03 vulgar, and an alcoholic.
51:09 Yet he started in a religious environment in the home
51:14 but chose to go astray.
51:17 In 1952, Ernest Hemingway
51:20 wrote that famous book The Old Man and the Sea
51:22 which would give him the noble prize
51:26 for literature in the year 1954.
51:30 I'm gonna tell you in a few moments
51:31 a little bit more about that book by the late 1950's
51:35 he suffered severe depression,
51:37 which led him in 1960 to be hospitalized in the Mayo clinic
51:42 where for two months he received
51:43 electric shock therapy for depression,
51:46 and he was released in 1961
51:49 but his depression got worst.
51:55 You see folks, I believe that the book
51:57 The Old Man and the Sea is simply
51:59 a symbolic autobiography of Ernest Hemingway.
52:04 Hemingway I don't know whether you're aware
52:07 was fascinated with the Book of Ecclesiastes.
52:11 In fact, he wrote a novel called The Sun Also Rises,
52:15 which title is based on the Book of Ecclesiastes.
52:19 And his life was pessimistic,
52:22 like much of the content of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
52:25 May be he didn't see those passages
52:27 where you had a discussion of fearing God
52:31 and returning to God.
52:33 The story of the Old Man and the Sea is of a Cuban--
52:37 Cuban fisherman named Santiago.
52:40 His body is tattered and scared by years of fishing.
52:45 He's gone out now for 85 days
52:47 and he has not been successful in fishing anything.
52:51 His fellow fishermen say,
52:53 they scarf at him and they say,
52:56 oh, you're too old to fish, you're all washed up.
53:01 One day though the solitary fishermen Hemingway
53:08 goes out to see in his boat.
53:10 Suddenly he hooks a giant Marlin
53:12 such has never has been seen in those waters
53:16 and then begins the struggle of the old man
53:19 with the sea and with the fish.
53:24 He begins to imagine what it will be like
53:25 to exhibit this fish, his trophy
53:28 to his fellow fishermen to show that his existence
53:32 has finally culminated with success.
53:37 The old man struggles against the fish and the sea
53:40 he cuts his leathery hands on the fishing line,
53:43 the sun beats down mercilessly on his sweaty brow
53:47 his muscles generally strong and firm begin to ache,
53:51 but the old man continues his relentless battle
53:55 with the sea and the fish.
53:58 Finally, after several days the battle is over.
54:01 The old man wins, but the Marlin is so large
54:05 that the old man must tie the marline along side his boat.
54:11 Then the sharks attack, and began to eat the fish.
54:16 The old man with desperation takes out a knife
54:19 and begins thrusting at the sharks.
54:22 For a short time the sharks leave but then they return.
54:26 The old man now uses a club to beat the sharks away,
54:30 for a while they leave but once again they come back.
54:35 The old man with almost indescribable frenzy
54:39 takes a stick with which he steers the boat
54:43 and he hits the sharks.
54:46 This time the sharks do not leave,
54:49 they finish their banquet.
54:52 The man who a few short hours
54:55 before had victoriously proclaimed
54:58 that he was gonna show his trophy
55:02 when he came to the shore has nothing left.
55:08 His fishing expedition
55:10 which appeared to be a success has now ended in bitter defeat.
55:17 But the old man reaches the beach
55:19 all that is left of the fish is the skeleton.
55:23 All the struggle the bloody hands, the aching muscles,
55:27 the spent energy the toasted skin has all been for nothing.
55:31 The struggle has ended in despair
55:34 emptiness and meaninglessness,
55:37 all that remains is tragedy and defeat
55:40 and the story ends with the old man
55:42 lying by the sea.
55:47 Sad, with no meaning in life.
55:54 Hemingway lived his own novel.
55:59 He didn't return to the God of his parents like Solomon.
56:03 He remained at stage two,
56:06 on July 2, 1961 Hemingway took out his favorite shotgun,
56:12 put it to his head and pulled the trigger
56:18 and committed suicide.
56:22 His life had ended like the life of the old man,
56:26 in sorrow, depression, emptiness and despair.
56:33 And this is the way in which the lives of those will end
56:38 who chose foolishness instead of wisdom,
56:42 the world instead of Jesus.
56:46 For what shall I profit a man,
56:49 if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?
56:55 Let us not go after illusory riches
57:00 and those things which perish
57:03 but let us focus on the wisdom that is from above.
57:07 Let us focus on the heavenly kingdom
57:09 which will never end
57:12 and let us remain faithful to God
57:15 and dedicate our strength and our energies to Him
57:18 as we live in this world and prepare for eternity.


Revised 2014-12-17