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Problems Under the Sun

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Better to approach in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they ignorantly do wrong.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1)

In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon points out several challenges we face “under the sun:” oppression, greed, and loneliness. In fact, the book to this point has been a long list of some of the meaningless we face in our time on this planet. But he starts to answer some of these challenges in chapter 5.

Solomon begins his answers by telling us that we should let God be God. The lessons we can learn from life and the enjoyment we can find in life cannot begin to fall into place until we first find our place. God is God and we are not…and the sooner we learn that fact the better.

Solomon says the place we learn this best is in the house of God. Figuratively speaking he is talking about guarding our steps as we enter God’s house – thoughtfully, meditatively, prayerfully, and reverently in heart. When we head to church, we should have hearts and minds prepared to learn from him and to worship him.

But I can’t help but think that Solomon may have been somewhat literal here. Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, and it is said that he added a few architectural changes to his design. To enter the Temple, worshipers must go up a large flight of stairs, signifying entering God’s holiness.

But rather than the traditional rise and depth of the steps into the Temple, Solomon made each step different. Some were narrow, some deep, some short, some tall. He did this, it is said, so that no one would ever be “comfortable” going into God’s presence…I guess you might say he added this feature to force worshipers to “guard their steps.”

Now, of course, things are a little different. We know through God’s continuing revelation of himself in the Bible that God doesn’t dwell in houses built by human hands. The Holy Spirit now resides in us – the church – the people of God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”

So, if you look around and don’t like the meaninglessness you see under the sun, you can change things. Start with yourself. Start with your own relationship to God.

Join us Sunday for my message from Ecclesiastes 4-5, “Problems Under the Sun,” and let’s talk.

Hope to see you then!


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