HUSH YOUR MOUTH & USE YOUR SOAP! ~ ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 5
As I begin to read Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, right off, my spirit is reminded of so much scripture and I think…how am I going to fit all this in one blog? So, I pray that the Lord will give me what HE wants me to write.
1. Walk prudently when you go to the house of God – remember that your place of worship is God’s house. Behave with respect as if you are standing before the Lord Himself – because you are. Remember you are standing on holy ground…Exodus 3:5
2. Draw near to hear – remembering always that when you are in God’s house, you are there to hear God’s will and to learn so that when life presents the unexpected that you know how you are to behave. You “hear” from God on a personal level, taking what you “hear” into obedience.
3. Rather than to give the sacrifice of fools – God had much to say about our sacrifices. First, I want to relay a story from I Samuel, then a message from God, delivered by His prophet, Isaiah…
In Samuel I, Chapter 15, the Lord charged Samuel to anoint Saul as king and to send Saul into battle to punish Amalek for what he did to Israel. The Lord’s instructions were to destroy all men, women, children and livestock – sparing none. Apparently, Saul did not listen very well and this is what he heard: ‘Spare King Agag and let your people do as they determine is right…’ You think???
So, Saul attacked the Amalekites, intending to do God’s will as he has “reasoned” is God’s will. He spared King Agag and his men plundered the best of the livestock. Afterward, Saul went to Carmel to make a monument for himself. Hmmm….naughty boy worshiping himself?
When the Lord told Samuel what Saul had done, Samuel was grieved, so he went looking for Saul. When he caught up with him, Saul was well pleased with himself because he believed that he had done the bidding of God. Samuel confronted Saul about the livestock. First Saul lied, and then he blamed “the people” for taking the livestock, saying it was for sacrifice to the Lord.
So Samuel said:
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
I Samuel 15:22
And, just so, did God’s favor for Saul come to a sad end – over because of disobedience. Sacrifices do not please the Lord. It is your obedience that pleases the Lord. And partial obedience is the same as disobedience. You can’t do things according to the joint will of you and the Lord – nope. You cannot please the Lord if you partly obey Him and the rest is your own will.
In Isaiah, Chapter 1, Isaiah relays God’s call to repentance. It is too lengthy to write here, so I hope you will read the whole chapter. In Isaiah 1, God recounts the rebellion of His people as a sinful nation, backslidden, brood of evildoers and corrupt. A people who have forsaken the Lord. God says the whole head is sick. He could have been saying the same in the 21st century – probably IS saying the same thing! But, as interesting as that is, I want to move into what the Lord has to say about sacrifices.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your
sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of
rams and the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.
When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts?
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity
and the sacred meeting.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.”
And, there I will leave it – for the Holy Spirit to speak to you personally while I hope that you read the rest of Isaiah, Chapter 1.
4. For they do not know that they do evil – quite simply stated is because they did not first seek the Will of God.
Next, Solomon speaks of the words we speak. Here again, my spirit is flooded with much scripture about the mouth… You see, I had much to learn about the mouth and what I learned is another whole blog. So, pardon me if I, once again, share what the Lord is giving me to share. Maybe later on I will write about the mouth….
Solomon speaks of vows. His language is in the form of a warning. Solomon tells us to not be hasty when making a vow before the Lord (as all vows are) and to let our words be few..he says a fool’s voice is known by his many words… He urges that IF you make a vow to God, that you do not delay to pay it because God has no pleasure in fools. He goes on to say that it is better to not vow than to vow and not pay.
While you think about that, I will relay a little story found in Judges 11. The people of Ammon made war against Israel. Jephthah, commander of Gilead, made a vow to the Lord…
And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said,
“If You will indeed deliver the
People of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my
House to meet me, when I return in peace
from the people of Ammon,
Shall surely be the Lord’s,
and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
If you know this story, you know that Jephthah was successful in the defeat of the Ammonites. When he returned to his house at Mizpah, his daughter, HIS ONLY CHILD, came out to meet him “with timbrels and dancing”….happy to meet her beloved father who was returning from battle. This story did not have a happy ending, but if you want to read it, the end of the story is found in Judges 11:35-39. How foolish was Jephthah’s vow? And, remember… God isn’t even pleased by burned offerings! All God wants from us is obedience… If God had told Jephthah that He required Jephthah’s daughter, it would be one thing, but God did not… Jephthah made a very unnecessary vow.
I remember back in the ‘60’s, a story I read about a woman who begged God to let her son live and if God would let him live, then she (the mother) vowed to eat frogs for the rest of her life. I thought about that vow a lot over the years. In the news article, they reported that the boy lived and the mother was living on a diet of frogs. I have wondered many times over the last 45 years, or so, how long did that woman keep her vow to God and eat nothing but frogs??? As a teenager, I saw the vow for what it was….foolish. But, what happened? Curiosity sent me to Google, but I couldn’t find any reference to a mother eating a frog diet. (Hey…it was worth a try…I love to Google…) Whether she continued with her diet of frogs or not is not important here. What is important is that we must be careful in what we vow to God or to each other, for that matter. Consider carefully before vowing anything and do not vow often….
It also reminds me of how I was raised. In my mind, a vow and a promise are the same. My parents did not tolerate any nonsense when it came to promises. My sisters and I were taught the importance of a promise. We were taught that we should be careful of what we promise and make no promises without first considering if we could, or would, or wanted to do what we were about to promise. With that said, I can assure you that if you receive a promise from one of my sisters or me, we will fulfill that promise as quickly as possible and as promised, even if we no longer want to do as we promised. Or, as we say in my family…You must keep a promise - even if it hurts…
Solomon cautions us to not allow our mouth to cause our flesh to sin. If we make a vow or a promise that we do not keep, it would have been better for all if the vow had not been made to start with. To break a vow is to cause our flesh to sin. How much better it is when vows are not made unnecessarily or in haste?
Beginning in verse 8, Solomon abruptly changes his topic to labor and money. First he says we should not be surprised when we see government oppressing the poor, and denying them justice and their rights. Solomon goes on to say that every government official is protected by higher officials. He concludes this short portion of scripture by saying that the profit of the land is for all and that even the king depends upon the harvest. Solomon follows up with his conclusions about money:
1. If you love money, you will never be satisfied.
2. The richer you are, the more money you will need.
3. A working man sleeps a sweet sleep.
4. Worries about money keeps the rich man from sleeping well.
5. It is a terrible thing to save money so that you can leave an inheritance to your children, then to lose it all through misfortune.
6. You enter the world with nothing, labor your whole life and then leave the world the same way you entered – with nothing.
7. Whatever you gained while in life is left behind when you die. You can’t take it with you!
8. We get to live our lives in darkness, grief, sickness and anger.
9. What profit has he who has labored for the wind?
Once again, Solomon concludes that it is better to eat and drink and enjoy what he has worked for; this is man’s fate. If God has given a man wealth and property, and allows man to enjoy them, he should be thankful and enjoy what he has worked for because it is a gift from God.
It is with no little sadness that I dig up a memory to share with you. When I was a child, there was something said often that some would not understand, but that I understood well. It was this…”Don’t use that. I am saving it for good.” This meant that something was being saved to use on a future day for some special event – that imaginary, bright, happy day in the future that would be worthy for use of the item being saved. It was my Mom who always said that – all through her life. I encouraged her to use her possessions – to enjoy them. She did not. Mom died last November, leaving personal property in three states. It was my sad task to sort and make disposition of the Florida property. Even sadder was the discovery of boxes packed up for a better day – once new items grown old and dusty, rusty, yellowed or spotted with age – still in original packaging – never used.
I found a little Christmas soap that was given to Mom by her small great granddaughter a few years ago. I remember also receiving my own little Christmas soap. The soap had a delightful fragrance and every time I washed my hands with that soap, I smelled it, I lingered, enjoying every moment, and I smiled while thinking about my little niece and her wonderful gift of love. I ENJOYED that little soap and when it was gone, I continued to enjoy the memory. I knew Mom was “saving” her soap, so I encouraged Mom to use her soap and enjoy it as I was doing. I told her that the soap would lose its fragrance after a while…to use it and enjoy it. Sadly…she never enjoyed that little Christmas soap. The soap was spotted with age and smelled badly…And I was extremely sad as I gently laid the little gift of love in the trash can.