Israel My Glory: In Depth: Ecclesiastes
Money can buy almost anything, but it can’t buy the satisfaction our souls crave. King Solomon learned this lesson and shared his wisdom in Ecclesiastes. Solomon teaches about injustice, oppression, wealth, and the key to a meaningful life—crucial subjects with answers our world is desperately searching for today.
Chris digs into Peter Colón’s Israel My Glory magazine article “No Satisfaction” to discuss these heavy topics. By drawing comparisons to the issues of Solomon’s time to our current issues, Chris explains why Ecclesiastes holds critically important truths that can guide us in our daily spiritual lives. Stay tuned to hear his encouraging conclusions!
Click Here to read Peter Colón’s article, “No Satisfaction.”
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me as our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We have a great show for you today, but before Chris comes, I'd like to encourage you to visit our website, foiradio.org. On our site, you will find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East. And while you're there, you can support our ministry by clicking on the Donate button to help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Again, visit us at foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Today is our Israel My Glory in depth episode. And we do this every two months when we release our new issue of Israel My Glory. And this issue is called Life Under the Sun. This is not about planning your vacation for next summer. This is actually about the Book of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament. We're going to be walking through it with our new and most recent issue of Israel My Glory.
Now, before we get to that, though, we want to thank all of our listeners on the radio. We thank you so much. We're on 500 stations around the United States and Canada. We thank our listeners so much. But we've got some exciting things going on in the podcast world as well. And so, Steve, you and I are going to do a little test right now, because if you simply go to your device, your cell phone, or your home hub, all you got to do is say, "Play The Friends of Israel Today podcast," and it will turn on for you. So, I thought we'd give it a try right now. What do you think Steve?
Steve Conover: Let's do it.
Chris Katulka: All right. Why don't you go get started? You're on Google right now.
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Welcome everyone. This is our Israel My Glory In Depth episode. Every two months, we feature our latest issue of our award winning Christian publication. And I was recently on the phone with our editor-in-chief of the magazine, Lorna Simcox, who's been on the program before, and she told me some fabulous news about our magazine. Israel My Glory, one third place at the Evangelical Press Conference. And it won for best in class Christian magazine. Now, you might be saying, "Chris, third place? Third place?" Well, let me just say this, first and second place we're tied between Christianity Today and World Magazine, which are just, in my opinion, in a league of their own. So, when I say that Israel My Glory is an award-winning Christian magazine I mean, it's an award-winning Christian magazine.
So, congratulations to Lorna for her hard work, managing and editing Israel My Glory. Congratulations to JD for his design work that he does on the magazine. Congratulations to the writers who make Israel My Glory, that award-winning magazine. And congratulations to you, our audience. I mean it, without you the magazine would mean nothing. We have such a dedicated base of readers and supporters of Israel My Glory. So, let me say this, if you've never received, and you're hearing about Israel My Glory for the very first time, if you've never received an issue of our award-winning magazine, now is your chance to get a one year free subscription. That's six issues. If you love Israel and the Jewish people, and believe God is at work in Israel, and if you believe God has a future for Israel, then you should be receiving Israel My Glory. Later in the program, we'll share how you can receive your one year free subscription to our magazine, Israel My Glory.
Now, the latest issue of our magazine is all about life under the sun. And like I said earlier, this is not planning for vacation. I know everyone's probably anxious to actually have a vacation. Coronavirus ruined that for a lot of us. But you know what coronavirus has shown us that life under the sun is hard. It is. This is what I love about the scriptures is that the scriptures are so honest about life. Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon himself. And the scriptures are amazing because in some chapters of the Bible, you experience the most amazing words to describe who God is in the heavenly places. You read about the moments Moses had at the Burning Bush talking to God. And you're filled with awe when Elijah's faith in the Lord is tangibly seen when God consumes the sacrifice. You envision what it was like to be one of the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus revealed His glory to them. And you think of the moment when the Apostle Paul was knocked off his horse by Christ's presence, and he was saved.
These are supernatural moments that can be seen all throughout the scriptures. But when you read through the books of the Bible, like Job and Ecclesiastes, you're reminded that life is hard. And that life just kind of continues on. There's a routine to life in the good, in the bad, in the moments of joy and in the moments of suffering, there's nothing new under the sun. And, honestly, this is why I love the scriptures. God knows our joy, and God knows us in our sufferings as well. God reveals His glory to us through His son, Jesus Christ. And He also keeps us grounded in His Word. He keeps us grounded to serve Him while we still have breath here on Earth.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is a fresh reminder that life is hard. It's beautiful, but it's also sad. And the world is full of good, but it's also full of deep, dark, evil and injustice, which brings me to the issue of injustice. Listen to what Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes Chapter 8 Verse 9. "While applying my mind to everything that happens in this world, I have seen all this." Friends, sometimes one person dominates other people to their harm. And this came to mind earlier this year, when I saw Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. This is what I wrote about in the editorial for our recent issue of Israel My Glory. He was face down, he was detained and he was breathless.
Now, listen, I know that this is a sensitive subject and I will tread very, very lightly and respectfully. I've seen all the footage that's been made available. And, like many Americans, I think we've all kind of come to the conclusion that something was just wrong. Now, listen, I believe in due process, so I never make a final judgment on videos that go viral on the internet because there's always a backstory. Well, Officer Chauvin, in my most humble opinion, went too far with George Floyd, and George Floyd lost his life. Look it, let's be honest, the crime didn't meet the punishment.
Before I continue, let me just say, this is not an editorial against law enforcement. Let me be loud and clear, actually, as loud and clear as I can be. The men and women who patrol our streets serve 24/7 protecting and serving all of our communities. These men and women deserve our utmost respect. Regrettably, the social justice media got involved by elevating radical voices on the left, who wish to dismantle entire police departments because they believe the institution that upholds law and order is racist to the core, which the idea alone is absurd. We need more law enforcement, not less.
Floyd's death, however, did reveal a broader issue in my mind. Namely the abuse of power. On May 25th, 2020 Officer Chauvin lorded his position of power and authority over his duty to protect and serve. In any circumstance, the abuse of power will always produce. This is what Ecclesiastes is talking about. It will always produce injustice. Someone always suffers when authority goes unchecked. For the progressive left, their ideology is their religion and in their own self righteous, pseudo-enlightened sophistication it's their duty to do things like destroy monuments and statues in some attempt to cleanse American history of its former sins. When the reality is, this idea of the abuse of power is an age old scourge that can be found in every country, among every race and every institution all throughout history because it's sin.
And folks, sin has no identity politic. I'm going to be honest with you. The scriptures are full of concern for curbing corrupt power and maintaining godly justice. For instance, the entire book of Leviticus was written to educate not the Levitical priesthood. It was actually written to educate the common Israelite on proper worship. But Leviticus actually, if you think about it, provided the checks and balances needed to prevent priestly abuse of power. Moses detailed the sacrificial portions that were allotted to the Lord, the sacrificial portions that were allotted to the priest and also to the worshiper. And if those allotments weren't detailed, just think about this because remember when you sacrifice something on the altar, you're giving something of yourself. You're giving your livelihood. You're giving your goods to the Lord to offer up to Him.
So if a priest, if you didn't know how much to give from the Book of Leviticus, a priest could easily cheat the system. A priest could easily cheat the worshiper, taking whatever amount he wanted for himself, thus abusing his authority. And it actually happened throughout the Old Testament. It happened during the intertestamental period between the Old Testament and New Testament. It even happened into the New Testament that there was an abuse of priestly power. The Old Testament prophets, even whose words give great hope for Israel's future, were also incredibly quick to judge Israel's ruling elite for their corruption and their injustice towards those who couldn't help themselves.
During the Prophet Amos' ministry, Israel experienced an age of prosperity. The rich in Israel became richer and the poor became targets of economic, legal, and even sexual exploitation. We actually talked about this in a series we did on the Book of Amos. In response to such an injustice. God said this to the Israelites, "For three transgressions of Israel and for four, I will not turn away its punishment." Israel will be judged ultimately for their injustice. Even Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees for their abuse of power, their neglect of matters of law concerning justice, mercy, and faithfulness. As it says in Matthew 23:23.
Police officers, listen, they are forced to make life altering split-second decisions. Circumstances on the streets can turn on a dime. But for that moment in Minneapolis, Officer Chauvin had nine minutes to use his power to preserve life, not take it. Positions of power and authority can be used for good, or evil.
As Christians, the Apostle Paul draws our attention to the One who has been given all authority and power, Jesus Christ. And Paul actually calls us to have the same mind as Christ. Listen to what he says in Philippians 2 Verses 6-11, just listen to this, "Who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation taking on the form of a bond servant and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted him, giving him the name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father."
Do you hear what Paul is saying? Though Christ was in the presence of God, in the form of God, He emptied himself and came in the likeness of men so that He could use His position of power to serve and to give life. And, for that reason, God exalted Him.
I speak to all Christians of all races and all backgrounds. How are you using your position of power in your homes, as fathers and mothers? In your schools as teachers and administrators? In churches, as pastors, and deacons, and elders? And in your communities, and at your jobs? Are you wielding your authority like a baton? Or are you modeling Christ's servant leadership?
Think about this for a moment, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords stepped down to wash the feet of His disciples. That's who we've been called to be. The injustice we witnessed in Minneapolis isn't the first, or the last time power will be abused. But, for the church, we can show the world what God has required of us. To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Now, before we continue, I want to share with you, you can read my editorial in our recent issue of Israel My Glory, Life Under the Sun, all about Ecclesiastes. We literally walk you through chapter by chapter through Ecclesiastes with authors, such as Steve Herzig, David Levy, Peter Colón, Harold Summers, and Tom Simcox. We walk you through Ecclesiastes 1 through Ecclesiastes Chapter 12. And we look at the issue of what it means to serve God, knowing the pain and the suffering that comes from living life on Earth, as a human dealing with the issue of sin.
You know, what's also great about Israel My Glory? Is that not only are we teaching you biblical truth, it's a fantastic series on Ecclesiastes. But we're also connecting you to the reality of what's happening in the Middle East from a biblical worldview. The reality of what's going on in the Middle East, and what's going on in Israel. We connect you to the news that's happening in Israel, what most mainstream media won't talk about. We're connecting you to the real issues that are happening with the Israeli people, and how God is really at work in Israel. So, I want to encourage you to get your one year free subscription to Israel My Glory, that's six issues. And you can do that really simply. Steve's going to share, in a moment. But I want to just remind you that if you've never subscribed to Israel My Glory before, this is your opportunity. Steve, how can our listeners get their one year free subscription to Israel My Glory?
Steve Conover: Yeah as Chris said, if you have never subscribed to Israel My Glory, you can get a one year subscription at no cost to you. Visit us at foiradio.org, that's foiradio.org. And we'll have a link on our homepage. Or you can call our listener line at 888-343-6940 and someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Again, for a free one year subscription to Israel My Glory Magazine call 888-343-6940. Or visit us at foiradio.org. In Canada, call 888-664-2584. Again, in Canada, call 888-664-2584.
Chris Katulka: I want to highlight one of the articles in Israel My Glory, Life Under the Sun, Ecclesiastes. It was written by Peter Colón. And Peter uses Rolling Stones to describe the Book of Ecclesiastes in his article, which is titled No Satisfaction. And if you know The Rolling Stones you know where we're going with this. No Satisfaction, it's interesting. He writes, "In the 1960s, the English rock group, The Rolling Stones shot to stardom with a song titled (I Can't Get) No Satisfaction. And this thought could easily be considered really the entire theme of the Book of Ecclesiastes." And it's true, the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, almost seems to give Mick Jagger all the material for their song. Solomon can never seem to get satisfaction.
But he comes to this conclusion, Solomon does, in Ecclesiastes. He comes to this conclusion that life apart from God is hopeless, like chasing the wind. It's unsatisfying. It's meaningless. Colón in his article, points out three specific areas from Ecclesiastes that deal with the futility of life when we try to do life apart from God. And it's something that we just talked about in the earlier segment, the injustice of oppression, the mockery of casual worship, and ultimately the uselessness of wealth without enjoyment.
So, first let's look at this concept of oppression and the injustice of it. And let's be honest, the world is filled with injustice and oppression. Just listen to what Solomon writes in Chapter 4 Verse 1. He says this, "Then, I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun, and look, the tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter." Oppression is seen today among two groups of people, the Jewish people who have endured horrific oppression for millennia. And, today, Christians. Christians are the most persecuted oppressed group in the world today. According to opendoorusa.org, the world watch list the top 10 oppressors of Christians are India, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, and communist, North Korea, which still really, it ranks as the worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.
The truth is the scriptures never promised that Christians would never face persecution or oppression. In fact, it actually says that we would deal with persecution regularly because of our identity with the name of Jesus Christ. Look, even Jesus was oppressed. Remember, Isaiah 53, "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearers is silent. So he opened not his mouth," Isaiah 53:7. So, Peter Colón in his article reminds us that unlike most of us, Jesus suffered willingly. He suffered on our behalf as a final sacrifice for sin. He also rose from the dead because He's God.
The author of Hebrews writes, "But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." Hebrews Chapter 2 Verse 9. See, Jesus understands what it means to be oppressed, which is why He is a sympathetic advocate for us with the Father. And why we can cast all of our cares on Him, because He cares for us. Again, this is why Solomon is driving us back to where true satisfaction can be found. In a world that is drawing us away from the Lord, it's important to know where our satisfaction can be found, especially as oppression, and persecution are on the rise.
The Israelites were commanded to love God with all their heart and to keep His commandments. It says this, "And now Israel, what does the Lord, your God, require of you, but to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in his ways and to love him. To serve the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul." God doesn't want us to merely perform religious rituals. He wants us to love Him. And loving Him means obeying Him. King Solomon saw how the casual worship being offered in the Temple, he warned the Israelites. He said, walk prudently. This is Ecclesiastes 5:1, "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God. And draw near to hear rather than to give to the sacrifice of fools. For they do not know that they do evil."
Peter writes that Bible scholar, John Gill from the 18th century, explained what it means to actually walk prudently, and to fear God. Gill says this, "To walk in the ways He directed. To be under in awe of His majesty. Fear of offending Him. And a reverential affection for Him, such as children have to a father." See, really the Hebrew word for here is sh'ma, which literally means to hear, but it emphasizes the need to respond in obedience to what you're hearing, which is the reason Jesus speaks at Matthew Chapter 11 Verse 15. He says, "He who has the ears to hear, let him hear." The idea that God's Word permeates the mind and the heart, providing understanding, and generating a response. And that's why James writes, "Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
And finally this, "The uselessness of wealth without enjoyment." Ecclesiastes 6 Verses 1 and 2. "There is an evil which I have seen under the sun," Solomon writes, "And it's common among men. A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God has not given him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction." Solomon was dealing with the popular view of equating wealth with happiness. And look it, that happens today. What Solomon dealt with 3000 years ago is an issue that man still deals with today. Prosperity apart from God never satisfies. It's not wrong to be rich. It's wrong to be rapacious. Do you know what re rapacious means? It means to be aggressively greedy.
I want to end with a quote from Peter Colón here that I think best defines Ecclesiastics. He writes, "Ecclesiastes is an inspired confession of failure and pessimism. When God is exalted, when man lives under the sun, and forgets the larger part, which is always over the sun. The eternal, the abiding things. If you want to know what a man of great privilege, and of great learning, and great wisdom can come to read this record of a man who has put God out of count in his actual life. Life is futile, if we don't fear God, which involves loving Him, first and foremost, keeping His commands and loving one another. Without God we'll get no satisfaction. But with God, we can find hope and contentment, no matter what we do."
I really want to thank my colleague, my friend, Peter Colón for this excellent article in Israel My Glory. And I also want to encourage you to sign up for Israel My Glory, so that you can read it yourself.
Steve Conover: Thank you for being with us today. Chris, what can we expect next week?
Chris Katulka: Next week, we're going to be looking at the rapture of the church. And I'm very excited about this because there's actually a really amazing aspect to the rapture of the church, with the specific word that's used. And that's why I want our listeners to come back because we're going to draw some more concepts out about the rapture.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. And one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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