Archive for the ‘Ecclesiastes’ Category

Note: This is a guest post somehow I miss scheduling for when I am overseas.  This is by our dear brother Josh Niemi.  Sorry Josh!  He is an author of the book Expository Parenting and the website can be found here.  The book’s Facebook page can be found here and he also tweets here.

When Education Lacks a Telos (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18)

What’s the point of education?

For many, the answer is purely materialistic: learn so you can have a good career; get a good career so you can make a lot of money; make a lot of money so you can buy and do a lot of “stuff.” Obviously, this perspective is fraught with danger. With self-indulgent consumerism as the ultimate pursuit, ethics are often just an obstacle to be overcome.


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Army Ant Death Circle

Point: Many in our world today are going through life without a purpose or following God’s purpose.  I thought a fitting illustration of what people are like can be gleamed from Army Ants.

Picture: Animal behaviors fascinate me.  Earlier today I read of a phenomenon known as Ant Death Circles or Death Spirals.  Here’s a description of it over at NPR:

This is a species of army ant, Labidus praedator. These ants are completely blind so they get about by sniffing trails left by the ants in front of them. They, in turn, leave chemical trails of their own. The system works smoothly when everybody’s going in a straight line in one direction…

But when the lead ants start to loop, bad things can happen (and remember we humans loop too, we can’t hold a straight course over long distances without external points of reference). If the ant-in-front loops and intersects with its old trail, the whole crowd then turns in on itself and everybody gets caught in the endless circle.

Eventually these Army Ants walking in circles would die from exhaustion.  Here’s a short video and explanation from an expert:


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I got a tract sometime back from someone who followed Harold Camping’s Family Radio.  Camping’s group is behind the false prophecy that the world will end on May 21st, 2011.

It is a strange to think that Camping would make a prediction like this that goes contrary to the Word of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:36:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

It was a point important to Jesus that He repeats Himself in Matthew 25:13:

Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

What is even more strange is that Family Radio is aware of these verses since they have produced a tract titled, “No MAN KNOWS THE DAY OR THE HOUR?” in response to Jesus’ clear teaching. The tract states,

However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible.

As to how Camping and his followers came to this accurate knowledge is not stated.  Camping believes that Ecclesiastes 8:5 teaches how true believers today will know in their hearts the true timing of Christ’s return.  Ecclesiastes 8:5 states

The one who keeps a command does not know bad matter, and a time and judgment the heart of the wise knows (Personal translation from the Hebrew)

It is odd that Camping would turn to Ecclesiastes 8:5 to find support for “true believers” able to know the date of the end of the world.  This is not supported by the context.  For one thing, Ecclesiastes 8:5 and Ecclesiastes 8 says nothing about the timing of the end times.  Secondly, this verse is pulled out of a context in Ecclesiastes that talks about the limitation of human knowledge, especially when it comes to the future.  Note what Ecclesiastes 8:7 ask rhetorically, in the context which talks about man’s limitation (cf. verse 8 which discuss limitation of man’s power):

For no one knows ‘what will be?’ for what will be who tells to him?

Ecclesiastes 8:5 is probably not a good proof text in light of the context for Camping’s eschatological agenda.  The verse itself, if it has any bearing to knowledge of the end times seems to be consistent with the spirit of Jesus’ teaching that man does not know the future.

The tract goes on to assert,

Therefore, since it was not God’s plan to open anyone’s understanding of many truths of the Bible until very near the time of the end of the world, it is only now that exceedingly important Biblical truths are being understood.  The Bible tells us that this was going to happen.

Note that the last sentence in the quote says the Bible tells us this was going to happen.  The burden of proof will be on Camping to offer a verse that teaches his specific assertion that truths such as “the time of the end of the world will be discovered in the Bible when the end time gets closer.”

Those who are confused should take Jesus’ warning seriously.  I have talked to a gentleman who have talked to me in fear thinking May 21st, 2011 was really the end.  He lived his life seriously, suddenly all the truths of Christianity that I ever told him became important.  Sadly, it takes the fear of God’s coming back soon to wake him up about his moral life.  THE truth also need to told that Jesus’ point of how the time and hour is unknown means that He can come back any moment even earlier than May 21st, 2011.  ONE’s LIFE should change knowing that any moment the End can begin.  It should lead people to true repentance to God, which include submitting to what His Word says instead of what His Word did not say.

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Purchase: Amazon

This work is a wonderful conscious observation of modernism and postmodernism beyond pop Christian critique of postmodernism of Postmodernism’s epistemological project. Readers will enjoy the wordsmith of the author Peter Leithart, as he paints an illustr…ative picture of Modernism and Postmodernism, offering food for thought concerning the cultural history of Western civilization itself from the Renaissance period onwards today. Each chapter argues about the fleeting “vapor” like nature of human experience apart from God, what Solomon describes in Ecclesiastes as life “under the sun.” His observation of modernism as man’s attempt to control thing in his or her hand was eye opening for myself. While noting that there are difference with the current climate of postmodernism from modernism, the author also argue that there are some continuity between modernism and postmodernism, claiming that postmodernism is really modernism’s “vapor’s revenge” that exposes modernism’s PR claims about itself are not truly what it is in reality. Throughout the book the author critiques what he calls the trinity of Modernism: control, freedom and progress. View from this perspective, Leithart’s book contributes towards a Christian critique towards the Modernist’s worldview which has not totally left the scene altogether in today’s world. Leithart brings balance to the Christian discussion about Modernism and Postmodernism, seeing how modernism has indeed produce good things (who can imagine technological advance as totally wicked), while also seeing postmodernism as a state of reality today, which offer true critiques of modernism’s failures. Leithart is not uncritical of Postmodernism however, and does argue from Solomon in Ecclesiastes that those who are Postmodernist at times do not find the solution in the Transcendent God. Which brings up the major issue that I have with this book: For a work titled “Solomon and the Postmodern,” I wished the author could have brought Ecclesiastes and Solomone more in the book. References to Ecclesiastes or to Solomon in general probably made up less than five percent of the book. Having presently interacted with the first half of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew and other exegetical materials, one can see that Leithart was familiar with relevant resources on Ecclesiastes and interpretative decisions (which I must say, I agree with concerning his definition of Havel as “vapor” and “shepherding the wind” than “chasing the wind”, etc), one must realize that Leithart could had Ecclesiastes do more of the “speaking” in the work. The author was capable and skillful in bringing in Postmodernist’s materials into the conversation in the book (love seeing his footnotes!), surely he was capable of making Solomon alive and “speaks” to the issue (which I believe Solomon does). Certainly then will the book live up to the title of “Solomon among the Postmoderns.”

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Dr. William B. Barrick, Old Testament professor at The Master’s Seminary, has uploaded the PDF for the book of Ecclesiastes

Word has it, that he is currently working on a commentary on this book as well.

On another note, I think it would be an enjoyable project for a synthesis on great exegesis be done on this book by someone well verse in Presuppositional apologetics and awareness of contemporary philosophy to apply it to a whole host of contemporary worldview and isms.

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