I think the book of Eclesiastes must be pretty concerned right now. Because it is about to lose the title of “Jeff’s favorite book of the old testament” to the book of Isaiah. I am sure, if you’re a book of the Old Testament, there is nothing more important than having the high regards of some random dude who lives in Massachusetts.
In seriousness, I was moved by several things in Chapter 41. I decided maybe I’d share. This chapter begins with God declaring some of the things he’s done. God often does this: reminds his listeners and readers who he is and what he’s done. I wonder if this is a challenge for an all knowing intellect. An exhaustive list of what God’s done would be endless. It’s kind-of an absurd task, I think, for God to narrow this down.
At anyrate, there’s kind-of an interesting thing in verse 3:
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
4 Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the LORD -with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.”
5 The islands have seen it and fear;
the ends of the earth tremble.
They approach and come forward;
6 each helps the other
and says to his brother, “Be strong!”
7 The craftsman encourages the goldsmith,
and he who smooths with the hammer
spurs on him who strikes the anvil.
He says of the welding, “It is good.”
He nails down the idol so it will not topple.”
I think what I find so interesting here is there’s a warning that hits home to me. I think God is saying, “Look, you all can think you’re up to something great. You can all pat yourselves on the back, and tell each other that you’re doing good things. But if I’m not there, you can’t do it.”
Those final couple lines are funny, in a scary kind of way. Even today we have our idols. And we tell ourselves all sorts of things can achieve greatness. (Money, wealth, fame, etc.) The idea of an idol that can’t even hold itself up is so great. The implication is, “Sure, knucklehead. You’re going to tell me that this idol can create out of nothing; it can change hearts and change lives; it can impact the world around you. You’re going to claim all these things, and yet, the stupid thing won’t even stand up straight without the craftman nailing it down.
The part that really impacted me, though, the part that just found me where I think I needed to be found, happens a little later. I read this on my last day of my old job. If you know me in the real world, or have read any recent posts here, you’re probably sick of my whining about the situation… But my point here is how comforting those words are:
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
13 For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,
O little Israel,
for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel”
17 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set pines in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,