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Archive for the ‘Ecclesiastes’ Category

The Appropriate Time

Scripture: To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

 

Observation:  Season. Literally, “an appointed time,” from a root meaning “to determine,” “to decree.” A season is therefore not merely a convenient time, but a decreed time. God has ordained certain seasons for the various natural phenomena (see Lam. 3:37; cf. James 4:15).

Time. From a common Hebrew word for “time,” often signifying the beginning of a period of time.

Purpose. From a Hebrew word whose root means “to take delight in,” “to have pleasure in.” The noun, therefore, basically means, “that in which one takes delight,” a vocation or an avocation. This same noun is translated “pleasure” in Isa. 58:3, 13; Mal. 1:10, and “delight” in Ps. 1:2; 16:3. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (1073). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  Dr. Scott Stanley, marriage researcher from the University of Colorado in Denver, speaks about the changes that have occurred in the last seventy or so years.  Before the 1960’s, the normal order of events for most people was that they would date, then get married, and then have sex.  When the 1960’s came, and with the sex liberation, the order of things changed so that many would date, then have sex, and then got married.  In the late 1990’s and into the beginning of the 21st century there’s a new pattern that is being set by many couples; they now meet and have sex, from that experience they decide if they want to date, and then they either choose to live together or proceed to marry each other.

While there is no such thing as “dating” in the Bible, God’s word reserves sexual intimacy for marriage – not before, and not outside the boundaries of this sacred union.  Even the Song of Solomon, a beautiful description of how the married relationship, describes the order of events as God planned for a couple.  Three times (SS 2:7, 3:5, 8:4), Shulamith, the bride, expresses her advice to her young friends, “do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

         When God says there is an appropriate time for everything He also means for sexual intimacy.  Rushing to have sex before marriage makes the relationship more complicated, clouds the judgment, and often does not help the couple to make the correct decisions concerning their individual future, much less their future as a couple.  In fact, often premarital sex leads to, as Stanley calls it, “sliding into cohabitation,” by which he means that most cohabiting couples don’t sit down to talk about the reasons they have for moving in together but simply slide into that arrangement a little at a time.  Unfortunately, much research shows that people in cohabiting relationships often don’t marry the person they are living with, many experience higher levels of physical abuse than married couples, and they have a much higher probability of divorce if they choose to marry.

Follow the order of events prescribed in the Bible.  God, your designer and creator, knows what is best for you and your future.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, in Your wisdom You have given us a pattern for our happiness.  Helps us to follow the path that leads to a long, healthy relationship.

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Twogetherness

Scripture: Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT)

Observation: Two are better. Two workmen engaged in cooperative effort can often earn more than double the wage of a single person. The word translated “reward” is the common Hebrew term for wages. It is used of servants (Gen. 30:28, 32, 33), of soldiers (Eze. 29:18, 19), and of the hire of animals (Zech. 8:10). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (1078). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: In the book of Genesis, God told Adam and Eve that the two of them should become one; after all, the two had come from the one. That is what marriage is all about. Togetherness becomes “twogetherness” when two “me’s” join together, submit to one another, and become one “us” As a result, you become stronger, closer, produce greater results for the couple and for the family, and are less lonely, less stressed, less efficient.
It’s undeniable what you two can accomplish in your marriage when you work together. Among many things, you help each other in your weaknesses and benefit from each other’s strengths. Our text for today reminds that “two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. (Ecc. 4:9-12).
What areas will help you to maintain a strong, healthy “twogetherness?” First of all, and above all, your individual relationship with God. If both of you enjoy a strong spiritual experience, as you are drawn closer to Jesus in the process you will come closer to one another. In addition, I would suggest you should look for agreement on at least the following:
1. Commitment to your marriage
2. Communication
3. Conflict resolution
4. Finances
5. Decision-making
6. Goals for the future
7. Child rearing, education, and discipline
8. Household roles and responsibilities
9. Sexual relationship
10. Honesty and Openness
11. Spiritual, Physical, and Emotional Health
12. Relationship with the extended family/in-laws
Keep your marriage “twogether” for the long haul.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, bless us so that as we maintain our individuality we may live in unity and “twogetherness.”

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Scripture: Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 (NKJV)

Observation: The author of Ecclesiastes, believed to be King Solomon, thinks about what loneliness is and what it does. The context suggests that he is describing someone who is so consumed by his work, he is incapable of making or keeping close relationships. Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, once wrote, ‘What makes loneliness an anguish is not that I have no one to share my burden, but this: I have only my own burden to bear.’1
Solomon then highlights the effects of such loneliness by contrasting them with the joys of having someone by our side (v. 9). In some cases a person cannot work alone, for they need “another pair of hands.” An ancient Jewish proverb says, “A friendless man is like the left hand bereft of the right.” Success is something to be shared.
Solomon also speaks of the warmth of human relationships. His picture is very practical (v. 11). This can obviously be seen as a reference to marriage, but it must be noted that travelers often slept together on cold nights. Towards the end of his life, Solomon’s father, David, slept with the virgin Abishag simply for the warmth of her body.
The last verse of this series focuses on protection (v. 12). For travelers at that time, it was advisable to have someone with whom to travel. Lone travelers were easy prey to robbers. . . Like in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37).

Application: Success is meaningless when it becomes all consuming. Think of the politician or businessman who rises to the top of his profession, only to realize that he has lost his family in the process, or a person consumed by his hobbies to the extent where the family is pushed out. George Eliot described a best friend as “a well-spring in the wilderness.”
From the marriage point of view, God designed that man should not be alone and thus created an equal companion for Adam. One of the goals or purposes of marriage is the companionship, the friendship that two people can offer each other. For the unmarried, friendship is also important and we must seek such company, not just for our benefit but in order to be of benefit to someone else’s life. One of the interesting things, though, is that many live with the marital fence close to them and they imagine the grass would be so much greener on the other side. Some who are married wish they could be single, and some who are single wish they would be married! What these passages should teach us is the value of true friendship. In marriage, your spouse should be your best friend. If unmarried, treasure the true friends in your life.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, thank You for the gift of friendship and companionship. Bless us with that true friend in our lives.

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