Ecclesiastes 11-12

Ecclesiastes 11-12

Chapter 11: We Know Not the Works of God

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

I find it interesting how fast people can denounce God and say He does not exist! Some people believe that we know everything and that God never has, and never will exist. We as humans do understand a lot about the world, but there is so much that we are still learning… the reason? Because God knows all and we know very little.

Because life has no guarantees, we should seize available opportunities and not play it safe. Even though life is uncertain, it doesn’t mean that you should let it pass you by. Don’t wait for conditions that many never exist. We should enjoy every day but remember that the afterlife is eternal.

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

I find it very interesting how we are supposed to follow our heart and do what we want… after all we get one life on earth to live, right? So we need to make it the best one we can! But God warns us that we are still to be held accountable for what we do, so YES we do have agency and we are encouraged to explore the world and learn, but we must know that our desires and our passions are within the bounds… the LORD sets!

Chapter 12: After Death and the Plan

                “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

                Everyone will return to God as a spirit and the body will be turned into dust, until of course the resurrection.

                “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether or be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14)

Solomon concludes the book by giving his antidotes for the two main ailments that he talked about. People who lack purpose and direction in life should fear God and keep his commandments first. The people who think that life is unfair should remember that God will go back and look and everyone’s lives and make his judgment.

It is interesting that it says there is not end to many books… this means that the Bible is NOT the ONLY word of God! The Book of Mormon, if read diligently and prayed about earnestly can be manifest as truly Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 11-12

Proverbs 11-12

Chapter 11: We Need to Save Souls

The works of good vs. the works of evil and their respective rewards are contrasted in this chapter.

“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.” (Proverbs 11:9)

                Those who have no knowledge or very little knowledge will easily become a hypocrite. However, the righteous will overcome the hypocrite with knowledge.

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor; but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.” (Proverbs 11:12)

Someone who is uneducated and completely lacking any class or wisdom will hate his neighbor, but the man who is righteous, with knowledge and class will just hold it inside.

“…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30) When it really comes down to everything in this life, the most important thing is to save your soul and the souls of those around you. Spread good will and be GOOD to everyone around you. Do as Jesus would.

Chapter 12: The Way of the Fool is Right… in his OWN EYES.

This chapter opens up with the simple “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” (Proverbs 12:1) Essentially this is saying that those who love knowledge and instruction love criticism, because they know it will make them better. Those however who hate criticism and don’t want to be corrected are like savages and beasts.

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is a rottenness in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4) I think this is a great verse, first we learn that women and men should be “virtuous, which is defined as: 1. with moral integrity: having or showing moral goodness or righteousness and 2. chaste: not having sexual intercourse with anyone except a partner in marriage, especially a husband.

So we learn that we need to be morally clean and have sex only in the bounds of marriage. If a woman is morally clean and generally a good person, a man should seek her out and desire those traits. When found, that man should hold his wife to high esteem and consider her precious and of great worth. However if a woman (or man for the ladies) comes a long and is not one of those things, then it really is like a rotten cancer that has no place in that person’s life.

In this chapter we also learn of the value of animal life; “A righteous man regardeth the life of the beast…” (Proverbs 12:10) Does that mean that we can’t kill animals? No, we most certainly can… if it is for food. In modern scriptures we read; “For behold the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment , and that he might have in abundance.” (Doctrine and Covenants  49:19) So like this Proverb states, we should regard the life of the animal and only kill when it is necessary.

Finally this Proverbs ends nicely with a great reminder to those who like to hear their own voice… “A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness” (Proverbs 12:23) Those who claim to know it all and keep talking like they know it all will eventually (if not immediately) spew foolishness from their mouths.

Job 23-24

Job 23-24

Chapter 23: After Trials, We are Refined

Job answers his friends, yet again; “Even to day is my complaint bitter… and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:2-4). The wisdom and counsel of Eliphaz and others was of no relief to him, and just made his mental and spiritual agony worse. Job felt separated from God. He had found comfort and solace in God in previous times, but in this catastrophe he felt he could not find God.

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-9)

Job explains to his friends that he indeed did look for God, but felt that He could not be found anywhere! Job tried with all sincerity to find God, but felt that God remained hidden. Even so, Job knew that God was still watching him, even if he couldn’t see or feel his presence. Job understood that even without seeing God, he knew that God was there and that what he was doing was for his own good. Job knew that this was a trial, even though he hated it and was suffering greatly deep down Job knew that this had to be, so that he would come forth as “gold” or in other words come forth stronger and more refined.

“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined” (Job 23:11)

                Even after being accused of sin and abandoning God, Job proudly and boldy tells his friends that he has indeed kept the ways of God and had been and is continuing to be righteous.

Chapter 24: The Wicked Often Go Unpunished

“Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?” (Job 24:1) This is a fairly difficult verse to understand, but we might look at it in a different way; “Since God knows and will judge everything, why are the godly kept in the dark about His ways?” This also adds more application to the question of why God allows the prosperity of the wicked.

Other translations of the Bible read; in the NIV “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? The New Living Translation says “Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?”

“Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them” (Job 24:12)

Why does God permit suffering? Job goes on to explain a little bit about WHY, but I want to share a little more insight into this question;

WHY does God PERMIT SUFFERING?

In the Book of Mormon we can find a story about a man named Jacob, Jacob was the first born of a man named Lehi. The story goes that Lehi (who was ancient prophet in Jerusalem) received divine inspiration to leave the city, before it was destroyed. Lehi and his family depart into the wilderness and while on their journey they encounter many hardships. Lehi explains to his first born son that “…God…shall consecrate thine affliction for thy gain” (2 Nephi 2:2), he goes on to explain a little about the plan of salvation (and the free gift of Salvation), agency and the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. But the most important part for us to understand take from this story is that there is opposition in all things.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not… righteous could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad…” (2 Nephi 2:11)

Lehi knew that in order to have good, we must also have bad. Sometimes people wonder, why do commandments exist? I would respond that they exist for the very purpose that laws exist, for our protection. For if you “…shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness… if there be no righteousness there be no happiness… no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery… if these things are not, there is no God… if there is no God, we are not, either the earth…” (2 Nephi 2:13)

So, why does God permit suffering? I would argue that we live in a world of good and evil, for our own understanding. If we have never felt joy, we cannot understand it. However, if we feel pain and then feel joy we can truly understand what joy is, while at the same time learning what pain is. “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself…” (2 Nephi 2:16). God gave us agency, and part of that agency means that we can truly act for ourselves, which means people can do bad things to others. If God were to interfere, we would not have agency.

With this agency, we can choose to be free and to “…choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of  all men, or to choose captivity and death according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27)

But we know that God wants only the best for us, “Adam fell that men might be’ and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25)

We are meant to enjoy this life, learn from it and repent of our wrong doings, while still in the flesh.

Job continues to say that those who commit these atrocious acts of murder, robbery or who commit adultery and all other manner of wickedness will see the morning and to “…them even as the shadow of death…” (Job24:17). Those who are wicked may be prosperous in this life, but in the end, when the morning comes, the judgment will befall them.

At times, we may fall on our knees in despair, and even usher up a prayer… “Heavenly Father, I hope you know, I am having a hard time”. Have you ever felt this way? I know I have, maybe you feel that God has abandoned you, or that He is nowhere to be found. The truth of it all? God is there. He is always there. Sometimes we are left to suffer, that we might know the joy, and we can feel the everlasting glory of his light.

Job 19-20

Job 19-20

Chapter 19: In the flesh we will see God

Job laments his comfortless affliction.

“How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?” (Job 19:2)

Job answered Bildad with a familiar complaint, that his friends were unsympathetic tormentors of his soul. Job was steadfast in his refusal to agree with his friends that he had caused his crisis by some remarkable sin and refusal to repent. Job insisted to his friends that he was not a guilty victim before a God.

“Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!” (Job 19:23-24)

Job seemed to have no sense that his own personal tragedy and drama would indeed be written in a book, to be for the benefit of countless others through succeeding generations. His words and life were indeed written with an iron pen and lead, forever!

               “For I know my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-26)

Not only are verses 25-26 “Scripture Mastery” scriptures, but show the brilliant faith in Job’s otherwise dark and bleak background of crisis and suffering. Perhaps as he considered that future generations would indeed look at his life and words, it stirred him to a triumphant proclamation of faith.

Chapter 20: The inheritance of Good and Evil

Zophar answers Job and describes his turmoil.

“…my thoughts cause me to answer… Knowest thou not this of old… That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds” (Job 20:2-6) 

Zophar insisted that Job’s defense in the previous chapters made him anxious and caused turmoil within him. Zophar explained that whatever good or triumph the wicked seem to enjoy, it is all quickly passing. It is only for a moment, and the wicked man will perish forever.

Zophar argued that though the wicked man might enjoy things for a while, God surely brings His judgment against him so that all can see.