The Pain of Breaking God’s Laws to Secure Your Future Jun10


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The Pain of Breaking God’s Laws to Secure Your Future

So much spiritual suffering in this life is a result of the future we desire grating against the future God desires. Often we see ourselves as victims or view our pain as “the hand life dealt us.” But Solomon tells us that much pain in life is self-inflicted. This is good news because it means it’s curable. I don’t know about you, but I never pass up an opportunity to save myself some pain!

Here is a brief exposition of Ecclesiastes 8:1-9. Trust me—this passage is a weapon you’ll want in your spiritual arsenal.


Ecc. 8.

v. 1 Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face(the furrowed brow of concentration) to beam (That “ah-ha!” moment).

We all like the “ah-ha!” moment when wisdom brings clarity to a sin-tangled situation. Here is Solomon’s “Ahaa-wisdom”: Just as man is a citizen under an earthly authority (king), he is also a citizen under a heavenly authority (God). And just as there is suffering for breaking the king’s civil laws, there is suffering for breaking heavenly laws.

Society is filled with people smarting under the sting of self-inflicted unlawfulness. Because they selfishly want to secure their own paradise, many make foolish financial and relational decisions. They find themselves buckling under the weight of penalties—penalties for late credit card payments, traffic violations, unpaid child-support, missed mortgage payments, etc. Had they made wise, responsible decisions they would be enjoying a completely different experience under the laws of the “king”. So it is with the Christian under the divine King.

First, the earthly authority:

v.2  I say, “Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God.”

In I Sam. 8,  Israel demanded a king. Samuel warned of the heavy taxation and oppression of such power,  but the people insisted. They took an oath before God to obey this king. The church also has an oath to obey government (I Pet. 2:13).

 v. 3 “Do not be in a hurry to leave him.  Do not join in an evil matter, for he (king) will do whatever he pleases.” v.4 Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, “What are you doing?”.

The point is simple. If you are in a hurry to leave the king’s presence and disobey his laws, he will punish you, however he sees fit. That’s the sovereign right of a king. No one can hold him to account. He’s the king, and you’re the law-breaker.

v.5 He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Study the king’s “policies and procedures” and obey them. Don’t find out that it’s illegal to drive without a license by getting pulled over. Be wise and inform yourself of the king’s laws and you’ll stay out of trouble.

v. 6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him.

This king (Solomon) has allowed the liberty and enjoyment of many pleasures and good things in his kingdom. But they must be enjoyed in their lawful “seasons” and parameters. Yes, even if troubles are heavy upon you, law-breaking is not justified because you had a bad day. Neither is disobedience to God justified because we are in a spiritual drought.

Consider these practical examples:

-There’s s time to kill (3:3), but not when your neighbor’s leaves blow into your yard.

-There’s a time to speed (rushing a trauma victim to ER), but not when you’re late for work

-There’s a time to keep secrets, but not when you know of ongoing abuse.

-There’s a time to yell “fire!”, but not in a crowded movie theater when you want to clear the room so you can sit closer.

-There’s a time to bring down corrupt business through exposing crimes (Planned Parenthood), but not by committing defamation and shutting down your local mechanic’s shop because he failed to fix your car at an agreed time.

-The law also allows the liberty of sexual intimacy, but not prostitution; prescribed pain killers after surgery, but not for feeding an addiction, etc.

Solomon is simply saying that under a good king there are pleasures to be enjoyed in life. And those who find themselves suffering under this king only do so because they are trying to secure a future path of pleasure and self-will that collides with the king’s laws.

Now, Solomon transitions from the earthly king to the heavenly king.

v.7 If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen?

Verse eight will tell us that verse seven is speaking to the subject of authority. Knowing the future is an attribute of God that, on rare occasions, he gave to prophets in the past. To know the future is to have extreme authority. If there was a man today who  exhaustively knew the future, the nations would war just to have him under their power. But God has intentionally not given man the capacity to know the future (7:14). This is a theme in Ecclesiastes. To not know the future precludes one’s ability to create their future.

v. 8 No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war (a soldier can’t just decide to go home during battle), and evil will not deliver those who practice it.

As nonsensical as it is to control wind, discharge oneself from war, or be blessed/protected by evil, it is equally absurd to know and control your future.

Here’s the point. Just as an earthly citizen experiences pain (v. 9) when, in the selfish pursuit to secure a more pleasurable future, he breaks the laws of the land, so, too, does the saint under God’s laws. How many people who confess Christ, experience the trouble of life (v. 6) and violate God’s laws to secure their future. They divorce themselves out of a rocky marriage (Matt. 19:9; I Cor. 7:12-13). They abandon their church family, or run away to avoid conflict instead of resolve conflict (Matt. 5:24). They justify the pleasures of lust because they are stressed. They accumulate for themselves ear-tickling preachers because “this is what I need right now” (II Tim. 4:3).

Such people break the laws of God in order to cash in on unlawful, spiritual forms of pleasure they believe they deserve. They are attempting to force God’s hand and get the future they want. But if they are truly children of God they will begin to feel the misery, discontentment and spiritual estrangement of His chastening. They will feel the pain of a life grating against the laws of God.

Solomon brings it to a close.

 v.9 All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt (punishment).

As Solomon examined why people under good authority generally suffer, he found it was due to their resistance to that authority. Trust God and obey his laws. Be careful that you are not justifying disobedience to his Word. In doing this you will avoid the troubles of chastening and experience the joys and blessings of a good and gracious King!