November 4th – An Essential Cold Shower



There is one book in the Bible which is the antidote to all those zealous religious devotees, of all kinds of faith, but who cherish false expectations of God. Religiousness which looks for the wrong results, such as assuming that if you do the right ritual, either churchy or new age, that God is bound to give you what you want. Such ideas of religion confuse their assurance of God’s favour with the ‘feel-good factor’, and end up thinking that they own God! It is not one religion I mean, but all attitudes towards God, wherever they arise, which entertain purely selfish ideas of God.
We can debate such expectations endlessly, but eventually all wrong expectations of God need a great bath of cold water to be dumped on them. The Bible book which does this is called Ecclesiastes.It has been described, not so much as a meal, more a purgative. Ecclesiastes yearns for the Christian gospel, the good news which reveals not only who God is, and what he is like, but offers hope to sinful people. In short, the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is truly a part of God’s self revelation in scripture, but it is one piece in a vast jigsaw puzzle: underlining the vital principle that no one Bible book contains the entire Bible truth. The whole of scripture is the interpreter of scripture, and part of that picture is the Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes.Its purpose is to debunk superficial religiosity.
It does it in a simply brilliant way. The preacher, who speaks in the book (forgive me, but I prefer to call him “the Interviewer”), speaks the mind of King Solomon. Now that is pure genius. He was, of all the world’s people, the one person who had everything a human being could ask for. He was fabulously wealthy, embarrassingly powerful, and yet wise with it. Every luxury, every desire over which humans fantasise, he could have. He had intellect, health, wealth, the finest food and drink, the greatest music, art and all his aesthetic tastes were gratified.He could indulge his sexual appetite any time he wished: he was a leader, a builder, and a lover. Surely of all humans he had everything a man could desire. What was Solomon’s verdict on living his life? “Hebel Hebelim”, as the Hebrews put it, – vanity of vanities – emptiness – wind – (one American scholar calls it ‘flatulence’).
He could get no satisfaction, and he wasn’t the last one to discover that. He explored everything we humans call fulfilling, and he remained unfulfilled. He searched for happiness, found a mirage: for meaning and found monotony: for satisfaction and found emptiness: and for reality and found the wind.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless!Everything is meaningless.”What does man gain from all his labour at which he toils under the sun?… All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. … there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 3, 8.
A Prayer:Lord Jesus, living bread, without whom we starve, breath of life, without whom we cannot breathe, and living water, for want of whom we shrivel: to you alone do we turn in our need.
Now read Ecclesiastes Chapter 1.

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Thought 4 The Day

One single fact opposing all wit and argument is that no one ever repented of being a christian on his death bed. (Hannah More)

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