Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part VII: Advice On Living This Life In View Of Man's Limitations To Find Meaning In It
D. Living With Our Inadequate Understanding Of God's Punishments
(Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. We generally believe that to obey God brings His blessings where to disobey Him brings His discipline.
    2. However, in practice, as we view life from our LIMITED human perspective, it appears there are exceptions to this rule of divine retribution.
    3. Solomon relayed the difficulty this enigma presents us and provided insight into living wisely in view of its reality in Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 with 12:13-14:
  2. Living With Our Inadequate Understanding Of God's Punishments, Eccles. 8:1-17 with 12:13-14.
    1. On the one hand, Solomon noted a wise man can avoid trouble from a human king, Ecclesiastes 8:1-9:
      1. Solomon claimed a wise man generally knows how to avoid deeds that bring trouble upon himself, 8:1.
      2. In particular, Solomon relayed how a wise man realizes a human king has great authority over his subjects, and so the wise man obeys the king to his avoidance of the king's wrath, Ecclesiastes 8:2-4.
      3. Conversely, when one disobeys a king out of a lack of wisdom and hence lack of insight into doing the king's will, he invites the king's wrath upon himself, 8:5-9; Bib. Know. Com., O.T., p. 996-997.
    2. However, Solomon noted even a wise man who might know how to avoid a human king's wrath can not understand how and why the Sovereign God distributes His justice upon men as He does, Eccles. 8:10-17:
      1. God sometimes appears [to man] to punish or respond to sinners and righteous men in uneven ways, a fact that is puzzling to us as God's subjects, Ecclesiastes 8:10-14.
      2. Thus, instead of trying to "figure out" such enigmas, and thus to "figure GOD out," the best way to respond to this challenge is to avoid trying to solve the problem we have about God's retributions and enjoy what pleasures God sovere ignly supplies us in life, Ecclesiastes 8:15.
      3. After all, we are not capable of discerning the mind and motives of our infinitely superior Master, Almighty God, Ecclesiastes 8:16-17.
    3. Finally, Solomon's conclusion to the book of Ecclesiastes directs us to wise insight in view of our limited comprehension of the way God rewards the righteous and punishes the sinful, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
      1. Where Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 teaches God's ultimate goal in arranging the events of our lives is to lead us to fear Him so that we obey Him, we see God dispenses His retributions in humanly insolvable ways as revealed in Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 to urge us not to disrespect Him by taking Him for granted over fully understanding His retributions; God keeps us "off-guard" so that we respect and obey Him implicitly!
      2. After all, God will evaluate us in eternity based on how well we respected and heeded Him, something that "figuring God out" neither accomplishes nor promotes due to our sinful tendency to disrespect what is known when given the insight; God's evaluation will test all we think and do, be it evil or good; thus, we must respect and heed God in humility, Ecclesiastes 12:14.
Lesson: (1) Though we may be able to discern with OUR wisdom how to function under a HUMAN ruler so as to avoid his punishment, we can NOT understand God's ways due to what APPEARS to US to be the uneven way He deals out punishment and blessing to the wicked and righteous respectively. (2) This FACT puzzles us so that we SHOULD REACT to it by RESPECTING God as our SUPERIOR; that RESPECT leads us to HEED Him, the ULTIMATE purpose God has FOR us in this life. (3) May we thus RESPOND to what we do NOT understand about God's retributi ve activity toward man, and DO so by RESPECTING Him as our SUPERIOR that we might OBEY Him WITHOUT QUESTION!

Application: (1) Due to the sinful tendency WE have to disrespect and thus disobey a party WERE we to UNDERSTAND FULLY how and why he DISPENSES rewards or punishment to his subjects, God responds to sinners and the righteous as WE see it in UNEVEN ways that PUZZLE us. That way we are left FEELING INFERIOR to a MENTALLY and POWERFULLY SUPERIOR God so that we revere Him and unquestionably do His will, cf. Exodus 20:20. (2) So, in view of the inexplicable ways we see God apply His retributions, may we REVERE and so HEED Him WITHOUT QUESTION!