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
E. Living With The Uncertainty Of What Will Occur In Our Futures
4. Adjusting To The Fact Business Venture Is Risky Due To Our Ignorance Of The Future
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. No one knows all about his future, so no one can plan well enough to avoid all future adversity in his life.
    2. In view of this ignorance of the future, Solomon was aware we might err when it comes to managing our business investments, hurting our returns unwisely, so he offered advice in view of eternity as follows:
  2. Adjusting To The Fact Business Venture Is Risky Due To Our Ignorance Of The Future.
    1. In view of our ignorance of what will go well in future ventures, Solomon offered us some advice, 11:1-6:
      1. Factor One - Invest aggressively, Ecclesiastes 11:1a.
        1. Solomon's reference to sending off one's bread on the waters is "A metaphorical expression taken from the grain trade of a seaport town, illustrating the successful prospects of a bold business venture," Ryrie St. Bible, KJV, ftn. To Ecclesiastes 11:1.
        2. The phrase, "upon the face of the waters" is used of the ride of Noah's ark upon the giant flood waters of volatility and risk (Genesis 7:18).
        3. Hence, God urges us to invest aggressively in volatile ventures to expect a good return.
      2. Factor Two - Invest long-term with this aggressiveness in volatile ventures, implying it takes more conservative investing in the shorter the investment term used, Ecclesiastes 11:1b:
        1. The latter half of verse one is introduced by the Hebrew word, key, rendered "for" that shows the reason for making a bold investment: "for" or "because" after many days, an aggressive investment gives good returns ( cf. Kittel, Bib. Hebr., p. 1226; B.D.B., Hebr. & Engl. Lex. of the O.T., p. 471ff).
        2. The word "gain" is used in Gen. 26:12 of Isaac's hundred fold gain, implying a prosperous venture!
      3. Factor Three - Invest with proper diversification to minimize losses and maximize profits, 11:2-3:
        1. Since one can not discern where or when calamity will occur, one needs to diversify his investments (ideally into seven or eight widely differing directions) so most of them will succeed, Eccles. 11:2.
        2. Solomon described the total ignorance of and solemn reality of the loss of some of what is invested, so we need to accept loss as par for the investing course, and diversify to minimize its effects, 11:3!
      4. Factor Four - Do not try to outguess or time the market -- it is futile to do so for gain, Eccles. 11:4-5:
        1. Fear and greed tempt the investor to try to time the market or guess which venture will succeed, but doing so only hurts returns in the long-term as guessing enhances risk of failure, Ecclesiastes 11:4.
        2. We can not guess what God will do to affect the markets, so we must invest systematically, 11:5!
      5. Factor Five - In view of our total ignorance of the future's boom and bust business events, we must systematically add to our investments to maximize our profits and minimize our losses, Eccles . 11:6:
    2. Coupled with the final conclusion, Solomon offered the following comprehensive advice:
      1. In God's eyes, the ultimate purpose of man is to respect so as to obey God in this life, for we will give an account for doing as much in the eternal state, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
      2. As applied to business ventures in this life, since we know adversity as well as prosperity will occur in ventures to which we are exposed, and since we do not know how, when or where each one will occur, God suggests we invest boldly with diversification for the long-term and let Him handle the rest; after all, it's not the money we make or lose, but our respect and obedience toward Him that matters most!
Lesson: In view of our inability to know WHAT ventures will succeed or fail, and in view of how destructive being preoccupied with either result can harm our walk, GOD calls us to invest aggressively for the long-term in a diversified way and regularly add to these investments without worrying about how our investments will turn out; rather, our focus should be on how well we respect and obey Him!

Application: Greed and fear, two drives that threaten to control an investor due to his ignorance of the future and thus harm his walk with God must be SKIRTED by sticking to (1) God's investing plan: i.e. to (a) invest aggressively (b) for the long-term (c) with good diversification and (d) regularly add to the investments. (2) Then, we can focus on respecting and obeying God for our eternal accounting to Him!