Precept upon Precept or a Precious Cornerstone?

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 25-28

Isaiah 28:10, 13 says, “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little…And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

This is a favorite scripture of many pastors and Bible teachers. They say this is how we are to learn the Bible. We get a little bit at a time by continuous study. And idea here, and idea there. Once piece of wisdom builds on another piece wisdom. This is how you build the foundation of your understanding of the Bible.

However, to my knowledge, those two verses of scripture are never quoted anywhere in the New Testament.

Isaiah 28:16 says, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation.”

This too is a favorite scripture for many Christians. We know it speaks of Jesus as the foundation stone, the precious cornerstone of the house of God because the New Testament quotes it often.  It is cited by Paul in Romans 9:33. It is quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 2:6. Jesus alludes to it in Matthew 21:42. And, Luke records Peter quoting it in Acts 4:11.

Do you think there might be a reason one of these passages is never quoted in the New Testament while the other is quoted or alluded to four times?

Do you know that one of these verses is linked to salvation and never being put to shame while the other refers to falling backward and being broken, snared, and taken?

Do you know that these two passages of scripture in Isaiah 28 are actually used in contrast to one another?

Do you know that one of these passages is spoken by those drunk with wine and scoffers while the other is spoken by the Lord?

Do you know that the Hebrew words for precept, line, and little in Isaiah 28:10, 13 have negative connotations?

You could not know any of this without the context of the entire chapter of Isaiah 28.

This is a perfect example of people taking something that sounds good – precept upon precept – and ripping it out context while taking the literal meaning for something that should be practiced by Christians.

Ironically, these people are doing exactly what Isaiah 28:10, 13 are meant to show Christians should not do when read in their proper context.

Isaiah 28 starts off talking about “the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower of its glorious beauty.” The is crown will be trodden underfoot and this flower will be done away with. This is put in contrast with verse 5, which says, “In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people.” “That day” refers to the crucifixion of Jesus. For the remnant, Jesus is a crown of glory instead of the proud crown that the drunkards of Ephraim wear. And, Jesus is also a diadem of beauty for the remnant instead of a fading flower like the drunkards of Ephraim have.

Verses 7 and 8 tell us that the drunkards of Ephraim “reel with wine” and “stagger with strong drink.” Even the priests and prophets reel and stagger. In fact, they “reel in vision” and “stumble in giving judgment.” In other words, the are drunk on their own pride and understanding. Therefore, they cannot see and understand clearly.

Verse 9 then asks who these priests and prophets are able to teach. Why does it ask that? Because their understanding “is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (verse 10)

Verse 11 and 12 then says that by a people of strange lips and a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to the drunkards of Ephraim, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose.” The people of strange lips and foreign tongues refers to the Gentiles that the Lord will use to speak to the nation of Israel. God will use them to tell the drunkards of Ephraim wearing their proud crowns who live by precept upon precept, line upon line, and here a little, there a little exactly how they are to get rest.

But the drunkards of Ephraim, the proud, the nation of Israel will not listen. “Yet they would not hear. And the word will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon, line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.”

See, precept upon precept, etc. is what the word of the Lord becomes when we are proud and refuse to hear what God is saying. When that happens, we go and fall backward. We are broken, snared, and taken.

Knowing the Hebrew words for precept, line, and little in Isaiah 28:10, 13 makes this even more clear.

The Hebrew word for precept is tsav. It means can mean an injunction, commandment, or precept. But, it means a human command, something that is nothing, worthless, vanity, and destruction. Tsav means an idol. It means mocking mimicry and unintelligible speech. Formally, tsav means “blah-blah.”

Tsav is used just nine times in the Old Testament. Eight are found in Isaiah 28. The only other use is Hosea 5:11 where it is translated filth. One meaning of the number nine is judgment.

Therefore, for the drunkards of Ephraim, the word of the Lord is blah-blah upon blah-blah, blah-blah upon blah-blah.

Does that sound like a good thing? Does that sound like the way we are to learn scripture?

The Hebrew word for line is kav, which means a cord for measuring. In order for a cord to properly measure, it has to have a fixed length. It has to be unchanging. In, Isaiah 28:10, 13 kav, line, is used as a syllable imitating prophetic speech, perhaps even senseless speech. These two verses are the only times the word kav, line, is used in the Old Testament. But, I think we are to understand it as taking something literally (hence the meaning a measuring cord with fixed length) but losing the meaning of it.

Therefore, for the drunkards of Ephraim, the word of the Lord is literal upon literal, literal upon literal or senselessness upon senselessness, senselessness upon senselessness.

Again, does that sound like a good thing? Does that sound like the way we are to learn scripture?

The Hebrew word for little is zehayr (I may not have spelled that correctly). It means a little amount of something, i.e. a small amount of instruction, so ignorant and unlearned. It is only used five times in the Old Testament, four in the verses we are looking at and once in Job.

Therefore, for the drunkards of Ephraim, the word of the Lord is so little here and there, it such a small amount of instruction, that is ignorance here and ignorance there.

Again, does that sound like a good thing? Does that sound like the way we are to learn scripture?

Perhaps, many pastors and Bible teachers really need to look at this text before they keep telling people this is the proper way to study the Bible. Because studying the Bible this way will cause one to go and fall backward, to be broken, snared, and taken.

In fact, it is the exact opposite way of how we would want people to study the Bible.

But, Isaiah 28:14 says, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers.” See, the people live precept upon precept, the drunkards of Ephraim with their proud crowns, are actually called scoffers. Isaiah tells them to listen up.

Why are they to listen up?

Verse 15 says, “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death and Sheol, w have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter.”

How have they made a covenant with death?

By taking the word of the Lord as precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a littler. They have treated the word of the Lord as blah-blah, something to be mocked, quoting it literally but not living it, and unintelligible speech.

Then verse 16 says, “Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: “Whoever believes will not be in haste.”‘”

God is telling the drunkards of Ephraim that instead of their covenant with death brought about by their understanding of the word of the Lord as precept upon precept (blah-blah), line upon line (taking it literally with no understanding), and here a little, there a little (ignorance here and there), they need to come to the stone, the tested stone, the precious cornerstone, and the sure foundation. For if you believe in him, then you will not be in haste, you will not be shamed, and you have salvation.

In a different way Jesus told this to the Jews. In John 5:39-40, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

Did you notice that Isaiah said those that go precept upon precept, etc. have made “a covenant with death?”

Where else do we see the scriptures referred to as death?

Second Corinthians 3:4-8 says, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory.”

(The rest of 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 is worth reading in regards to Isaiah 28 as well.)

Look at what Paul is saying and consider Isaiah 28. His confidence is in Christ, the precious cornerstone. Christ is his crown of glory. Paul knows that there is nothing sufficient in him, unlike the drunkards of Ephraim who have a proud crown of their own. The drunkards of Ephraim have their own glory.

Paul is a minister of the new covenant, Jesus Christ, the precious cornerstone. His ministry is of the Spirit. Paul’s ministry is in contrast to others who have a ministry of the letter. Those who have a ministry of the letter, taking everything literally and producing ignorance, have a ministry of death. Hence, the drunkards of Ephraim have, those who have the ministry of the dead letter, have made a covenant with death through their ministry of death.

Paul even says that those who have a ministry of the letter – precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little – have a ministry whose glory is fading. Remember Isaiah 28 says that the drunkards of Ephraim have a fading flower, a glory that is passing away. However, Paul has a ministry of continuing glory because it is a ministry of the Spirit, of Christ, of the precious cornerstone.

So, let us forsake our treating the word of the Lord as precept upon precept (blah-blah upon blah-blah), line upon line (a dead letter literal interpretation with no understanding), and hear a little, there a little (ignorance everywhere).

Instead, let us come to the precious cornerstone, Jesus Christ. His Spirit gives us life. He gives true understanding. It is through Jesus, and him crucified, that the veil is removed so that we can truly know God and his salvation.

Two Stewards: Whom God Sets Up Replaces He Who Rests Himself

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 20-24

Isaiah 22:15-25 contains a prophecy of two stewards. The first is Shebna. One possible meaning of Shebna is “who rests himself.” One who rests is one who rules. A king rested, or ruled when he sa down on his throne. Shebna was a steward of the household, but, given his name, it could be that he ruled the household in his own strength and self. And, it could be that he had an overinflated view of himself since he was making himself a tomb in the high place, which was often reserved for royalty.

But, Shebna was to be replaced by Eliakim. Eliakim means whom God sets up or God will establish. God was going to take the robe, sash, and authority from Shebna and give it to Eliakim. Therefore, one who God set up was to steward the household instead of one who was stewarding it himself.

Verse 20 says, “In that day I will call my servant Eliakim.” So far, we have seen throughout Isaiah that the phrase “that day” typically refers to Jesus’ crucifixion.

Verse 22 says, “And I place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” Jesus uses these words to describe himself in Revelation 3:7, which says, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”

Therefore, we can see Eliakim as a shadow of Jesus. Jesus is the one whom God sets up to be the steward of the household instead of us, Shebna, who try to rest ourselves.

What is the household that Jesus is the steward of?

Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

We, the saints, the believers, the church, are God’s household. Notice that everything in God’s household, the whole structure, is joined together and is built together in Christ. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in verses 23 and 24 that Eliakim, Jesus,  would be like a peg in a secure place and throne of honor on which the whole honor and every vessel of God’s household would hang.

Colossians 1:17-18 says, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.”

Jesus is the one God has established to steward his household. Jesus was given the authority to rule the church. Therefore, he is the head. Further, this means that we are not the steward of the church. Man, Shebna, the one who rests himself, is not the ruler of the church and does not have the authority of the household. Instead, many must give way to Jesus and let him have the authority that is rightfully his.

Egypt, Assyria, and Israel in That Day

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 15-19

In Isaiah 19:16-25, there is an interesting confluence of Egypt, Assyria, and Israel “in that day.”

Why does verse 24 say, “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth?” Both Egypt and Assyria held Israel in bondage and slavery. How will the three be together? What does it mean that the three will be together.

First we must recognize the phrase “in that day.” While I’ve been reading through Isaiah, I have already written about “in that day” a couple of times – That Day Sin Was Taken Away and That Day: The Preservation of Life and Inheritance. “That day” refers to the day that Jesus Christ was crucified.

Therefore, it is interesting that the phrase “in that day” occurs six times in this passage where Egypt, Assyria, and Israel come together. The number six has several meanings in the Bible. One meaning of the number six is work. The creation account says that God completed his work in six days. Israel was told work six days and the seventh was to be a sabbath. So, we can see the six in that day’s of this passage as Christ’ work on the cross, which freed us from our slavery to the idols and the powers that were in control of the world.

A second meaning of the number six is man. Man was created on the sixth day. So, the six in that day’s of this passage represent Christ’s work for man and in man.

Romans 6:3-6 says, “Do you now know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Colossians 2:11-12 says, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

The six in that day’s of Isaiah 19:16-25 are a picture of these two passages from Romans and Colossians. In that day Christ was crucified. This was his work to free man from idolatry and sin. When we are baptized, when we participate in Christ’s crucifixion and death, we die too. We die, not in the sense that we stop breathing, but we die in the sense that our old man, the man of sin, the old self, is crucified, done away with, put off.

What is the result of this baptism into Christ’s death?

We are no longer enslaved to sin. We are raised into the newness of life. We are united with Christ in his resurrection. We are raised from the dead.

In 19:24-26, Isaiah says it this way, “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.'”

Egypt is really Mizraim, which means double distress or double stronghold. It has the idea of being shut in. Egypt here represents the body. Egypt was the first to hold God’s people in bondage. Prior to the work of Christ, we are hold in bondage by our bodies, the lusts of the flesh. Our flesh rules us.

But, “in that day there will be an altar of the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt.” The altar of the Lord is our heart in the midst of our body. “The Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them.” Or, as Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Assyria here represents the mind, will and emotions. Even when God’s people were freed from the bondage of their bodies, there was still the bondage of the mind, the will, and the emotions. Assyria is our reasoning of our minds based on the world and not the Spirit. Therefore, in addition to being delivered from the bondage of our bodies, the lusts of the flesh, we need to be delivered from the bondage of our minds, the lusts of eyes (the eye is symbolic the gateway to the mind in the Bible).

In verse 23, Isaiah says, “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.”

What does that mean?

In that day, when we are crucified with Christ, our mind and our body beging to work together to worship the Lord. Remember in Romans 12:1 Paul said that it was reasonable service to worship the Lord with the sacrifice of our bodies.

But, how are we to do that?

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

But, in that day, there will be a third – Israel. Israel is symbolic of the spirit man. In that day, when the body and mind are freed from the bondage to sin and idolatry, the third part of our being, Israel, the spirit man, truly comes in. Then, the body, mind, and spirit – Egypt, Assyria, and Israel – are working together.

Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless as the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

When Egypt, Assyria, and Israel – the body, mind, and spirit – come together in us through the work of the God of peace, then we have the newness of life, then we have the resurrection of Christ.

Jesus in the Oracle Concerning Babylon

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 12-14

While reading through these chapters this morning, the Spirit impressed upon me a few places we can see Jesus in the oracle concerning Babylon.

Isaiah 13:2 says, “On a bare hill raise a signal; cry aloud to them, wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles.”

In 5:26, 11:10, and 11:12, Isaiah uses the same Hebrew word for signal in clear reference to Jesus. I wrote about the two in chapter 11 in A Signal for the Peoples. Therefore, it seems quite likely that the “signal” in the beginning of the oracle concerning Babylon is Jesus. Jesus is raised up on the cross on a bare hill, Golgotha, the place of the skull.

From here he cries aloud to all those that are in Babylon. Revelation 18:4-5 says, “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.'”

In this oracle concerning Babylon, Jesus is crying to out to the people in Babylon to leave her and come into the gates of his holy city.

Isaiah 13:6 says, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come.” I believe if you study the references to “the day of the Lord” you will see they relate to Jesus’ resurrection, his second coming, and our final and complete redemption and resurrection.

Notice carefully that the day of the comes “as” destruction. The day of the Lord is like destruction, but it is not actual destruction. This is because Satan is the one who kills, steals, and destroys (John 10:10) and not Jesus (see my post Who Says I Destroy – God or Satan?)

So what does it mean that the day of the Lord comes as destruction?

We know that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) In other words, we are wrestling against the ideas, opinions, and thoughts that are against God.

Therefore, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

The day of the Lord comes “as” destruction because it is a spiritual destruction of our vain imaginations and ideas of who God is not a literal destruction of cities and peoples.

Isaiah 14:4-8 says, “You will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased! The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers, that struck the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution. The whole earth is at rest and quiet, they break forth into singing.'”

Who is the king of Babylon? Who is the oppressor?

Ultimately, spiritually, the king of Babylon, the oppressor, is Satan, just as Revelation reveals.

Satan is the one that held the staff of the wicked.

Satan wielded the scepter of rulers.

Satan struck the peoples in wrath.

Satan ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution.

None of this was God. And, none of this will be God. This is not how God’s kingdom has worked, is working, or will ever work.

Then how was the king of Babylon defeated? How was oppression stopped? How was insolent fury brought to an end? How did the Lord break his power to rule? How did God stop Satan from ruling the peoples in wrath and in anger with unrelenting persecution.

Jesus, God’s son, died on the cross.

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to an open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Through the cross, Jesus disarmed Satan, the king of Babylon, ruler of nations and spiritual authorities. Through the cross, Jesus took away Satan’s rod and scepter, his power of death, so that Satan could no longer rule us in wrath and unrelenting anger through the fear of death.

This is just a glimpse of Jesus in the oracle concerning Babylon. I’m sure we could find him in other places too.

A Signal for the Peoples

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 9-11

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” – Isaiah 11:1

Jesse is listed in both the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. Therefore, Jesus is a shoot of Jesse’s stump. And, Jesus, the branch, would bear fruit. Jesus would bear fruit because the fullness of the Spirit would be upon him. Notice that in verse 2 there are seven aspects of the Spirit upon Jesus:

  1. of the Lord
  2. of wisdom
  3. of understanding
  4. of counsel
  5. of might
  6. of knowledge
  7. of the fear of the Lord.

In Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3, after Jesus was baptized, the Spirit descended upon him like a dove. The number seven signifies spiritual perfection. And so, Jesus’ ministry was marked by spiritual perfection.

Therefore, as Isaiah 11:3 says, Jesus did not judge by what his eyes saw or his ears heard. Rather, Jesus judged by the Spirit with righteousness and equity for the poor and meek. Hence, two of the first three statements of Jesus’ first sermon (Matthew 5:3, 5) are “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

If with righteousness and equity is how Jesus judges, then what form does Jesus’ judgment take?

Isaiah 11:4 says, “And he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he kill the wicked.” It’s that which comes from Jesus’ mouth and on his breath that strikes the earth and kills the wicked. In other words, it is Jesus’ word, not a literal rod or sword, that strikes the earth and kills the wicked.

And, therefore, it is not a literal killing of the wicked. Instead, Jesus’ word kills the old man. Jesus’ word separates soul from spirit. Jesus’ word destroys strongholds of the mind, lofty opinions, and every argument raised against the knowledge of God. As Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

What is the result of Jesus’ word that separates soul and spirit from which no creature can hide?

It is just as Isaiah 11:6-8 says. The wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the young goat, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, the nursing child and the cobra – all enemies of one another – shall no longer hurt one another but lie down together. There will peace. Enemies will be loved.

Isaiah 11:9 says, “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” The holy mountain is God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom will cover the earth. Therefore, the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. And, when you are full of the knowledge of the Lord you know that there is no hurting or destroying in God’s kingdom.

When will all of this take place? When will the root of Jesse shoot forth?

Isaiah 11:10 says, “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.”

“In that day.”

There is that phrase again that Isaiah is so fond of. See my posts That Day Sin Was Taken Away and That Day: The Preservation and Inheritance of Life for more on the meaning of the phrase “that day.”

In his crucifixion, Jesus would as a signal for the peoples. This wasn’t just any old sign. The Hebrew word for signal means a flag, a standard, or an ensign. In other words, something raise on a pole. It was when Jesus was raised on a pole, hung on a tree, that he became a signal for the peoples. Paul said in Romans 15:12, “And again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.'”

Further, Isaiah 11:11 says, “In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people,

  1. from Assyria,
  2. from Egypt,
  3. from Pathros,
  4. from Cush,
  5. from Elam,
  6. from Shinar,
  7. from Hamath,
  8. and from the coastlands of the sea.”

When was the first time God extended his hand?

In the exodus when God brought Israel out of Egypt by his mighty hand. So, “that day,” the day Jesus was crucified, God would extend his hand a second time to deliver his people from the world. Jesus’ crucifixion would be a second exodus.

And, notice that the second time God extended his hand he would recover his people from eight places. Eight is the number of new beginnings. “That day” there would be a second exodus and new beginning.

Also, notice that verse 10 applies to the Gentiles and verse 11 to Israel. Then verse 12 says, “He will raise a signal for the nations and will  assemble the banished of Israel and the gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Here again in this verse the nations, or the Gentiles, are mentioned first then Israel. Or as Paul said in Romans 11:25, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers:  a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

Indeed, Jesus, the root of Jesse, is a signal. For the peoples, for the nations, for the Gentiles. Then for Israel.

That Day: The Preservation and Inheritance of Life

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 4-8

In yesterday’s post, That Day Sin Was Taken Away, I wrote about the phrase “that day” and its connection with the crucifixion of Jesus, which put an end to man’s pride and haughtiness, destroyed idolatry, and took away sin.

But, the phrase “that day” continues to show up in today’s reading. A casual reading of the verses containing “that day” shows that they virtually everyone of them somehow refers to the crucifixion of Jesus and the effect of what happened on that day.

In today’s reading, the most obvious reference of “that day” to Jesus is found in Isaiah 4:2, which says, “In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.” Jeremiah 23:15, 33:15 and Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12 all allude to Jesus as the branch.  In John 15:1-11, Jesus stated that he was the true vine, or the branch, that all other branches get life from. Jesus spoke the words “I am the true vine” the night before his crucifixion, revealing to his disciples that they would receive life from his death and their joy would be full

In fact, the phrase “that day” occurs 45 times in the book of Isaiah. “That day” occurs 44 times in the first 39 chapters and only once from chapters 40 to 66.

What is the significance of these numbers?

The chapter divisions of the Bible are not original. Therefore, they should not be used in interpretation. But, even without the chapter divisions, one can notice a shift in the tone, style, and theme of Isaiah between the 39th and 40th chapters.  Some scholars call these two sections first and second Isaiah. Others think of the first 39 chapters of Isaiah as relating to the Old Testament (coincidentally our Bibles have 39 books in the Old Testament) while the last 27 chapters relate to the New Testament (coincidentally our Bibles have 27 books in the New Testament).

So, in a sense, we have 44 uses of “that day” in the “Old Testament” of Isaiah. The number 44 could be thought of as 4 x 11. The number four symbolizes creation. The number 11 symbolizes disorder and chaos. Therefore, the first 44 uses of “that day” could be seen as the creation falling into complete disorder and chaos.

Paul speaks to the disorder and chaos that creation is suffering from in Romans 8:20-22. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

But, “that day” is meant to deal with, to undo, and to restore creation from the disorder and chaos it is suffering under.

And, it is the 45th use of “that day” in Isaiah that reveals exactly what happens on “that day” that will restore all of creation to its original very goodness. For “that day,” used for the 45th time, occurs just once in the “second” part of Isaiah that reminds one of the New Testament, a new exodus, and Jesus.

Where is the 45th appearance of “that day” in Isaiah?

Isaiah 52:6 says, “Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that is I who speak; here I am.” Then, in verse 7 Isaiah launches into a song. And, in verse 13, we have the beginning of what has been deemed the song of the suffering servant. This song spills into chapter 53 (see why the chapter divisions are not really important?) where we find one of the most dramatic and striking prophecies of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Why is the number 45 significant?

It explicitly occurs three times in the Bible, but I will mention just two.

The first is found in Genesis 18:28. The context is that Abraham is having a discussion with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is asking if God will destroy the righteous with the wicked. Abraham starts by asking God if he will spare the city if he finds 50 righteous. God says yes. Then Abraham says, “‘Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And he [God] said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.'” So, here we have the number 45 linked with the preservation of life.

The second occurrence of the number 45 is in Joshua 14:10, which says, “And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness.” These are the words of Caleb. Notice how the number 45 is linked with the preservation of Caleb’s life by God.

But, what was the word of Moses? It was regarding Caleb’s inheritance in the Lord. Therefore, verses 13-14 say, “Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.” So, in addition to the preservation of life, the number 45 has to do with inheritance.

So, “that day,” the day of Jesus’ crucifixion is about the preservation of life and inheritance. And, “that day” is for all of creation, not a limited group of people who happen to believe the right thing. This is why John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Here we see the preservation and inheritance of eternal life (look through the New Testament uses of inheritance and you will see it is connected with eternal life) for the whole world.

Ephesians 1:11-14 says, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

The Holy Spirit was given after “that day” Christ was crucified. The Holy Spirit seals us, which is to say he preserves our life. And, the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of inheritance. He is the guarantee that we will receive eternal life.

 

Some will say, “But there are those that will be burned up in the fire. Even the earth and the heavens will be burned up.”

But, does the burning, God’s fire, imply destruction? Or, is God’s fire cleansing, purging out evil, and restoring life?

Go back to Isaiah 4:2. I quoted this passage above as one about “that day” Jesus was crucified. Notice what verses 3 and 4 say.

“And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.”

First, the word burning there also means purging. Second, what is the spirit of judgment and purging for? Is it for destroying people? No, the spirit of judgment and burning is for washing away filth, the removing of sin, and the cleansing of bloodstains, the removing of violence from our ways. It’s sin that is judged, burned, and purged. It’s not people that are destroyed by fire.

Because “that day” is about the preservation of life for the world, all of God’s creation. This is why he gave his son, Jesus. To save the world, not condemn it.

That Day Sin Was Taken Away

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 1-3

“In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, and the veils.” – Isaiah 3:18-23

What does this have to do with Jesus?

LATTER DAYS – NO MORE WAR

What is “that day” that Isaiah speaks of in Isaiah 3:18?

In Isaiah 2, Isaiah speaks what he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. What he sees shall come to pass “in the latter days.” This is in the latter days of Judah as a nation.

In the latter days “the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains.” In other words, God’s kingdom will be established, and it will be the greatest kingdom. People from every nation will come to the mountain of the Lord to learn his ways. The ways the people will learn when they come to God’s kingdom are specifically identified – “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Note that this happens in the latter days, or before that day.

THAT DAY – MAN IS HUMBLED AND BROUGHT LOW

Isaiah 2:11 says “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” This is a summary of what has been stated in verses 6-10. Jacob, God’s people, Judah, was rejected because they were:

  1. full of things from the east
  2. full or fortune tellers like the Philistines
  3. filled with silver
  4. filled with gold
  5. filled with horses
  6. filled with idols

Six is the number of man. Here we see the fullness of man in his idolatry and sin, summed up in haughty looks and lofty pride, that will be brought low and humbled in that day when the Lord alone will be exalted.

What is “that day” the Lord alone will be exalted?

Philippians 2:5-9 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”

Here Paul identifies “that day” as the day Jesus was crucified as it was on that day that God exalted him. It is on that day that we Jesus, the son of God, crucified, executed on the cross, by our own hands, revealing the extent of his love by forgiving us, that we are humbled and brought low.

A DAY – AGAINST ALL THAT IS PROUD AND LOFTY

In Isaiah 2:12-16, Isaiah says that Lord has “a day” that is against

  1. all that is proud
  2. all that is lofty
  3. all that is lifted up
  4. all the cedars of Lebanon
  5. all the oaks of Bashan
  6. all the lofty mountains
  7. all the uplifted hills
  8. every high tower
  9. every fortified wall
  10. all the ships of Tarshish
  11. all the beautiful craft

Ten is the number of orderly perfection, and 12 is the number of governmental perfection. Therefore, 11, being one more than 10 and one less than 12, symbolizes disorder and chaos. Verse 17 links all that is raised up against the mountain of the Lord, the kingdom of God, in the latter days to man’s haughtiness and lofty pride that will be humbled in that day that the Lord is exalted.

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to an open, by triumphing over them in him.”

Here Paul identifies “a day” with “that day” in which all that was against God and his kingdom is nailed to the cross. The rulers and authorities were put to an open shame as God triumphed over them in Christ. These rulers and authorities are “the idols [that] shall utterly pass away” in Isaiah 2:18.

Second Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Here, Paul identifies all that is against God and his kingdom is not of the flesh. Rather, they are the arguments, ideas, opinions of man raised against the true knowledge and revelation of God. On “that day,” when Jesus was on the cross, all that was against God, all the idols, passed away.

THAT DAY – RELIGION IS CAST AWAY

Isaiah 2:20 says, “In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship.”

Idols are the physical representation of the unseen that man uses to worship.  Mankind makes their own idols. Silver speaks of redemption. Therefore, mankind makes its own idols of silver, meaning that mankind seeks redemption through its own means and ability. And, gold speaks of the divine nature. Therefore, mankind makes its own idols of gold, meaning that attempts to be like God in his power, thinking that “equality with God [is] a thing to be grasped.”

Mankind seeking his own redemption his own divinity is the very definition of religion. But, in that day, mankind will cast it away.

Colossians 2:20-23 says, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations – ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used – according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity of the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

Here Paul calls the man made idols of silver and gold “self-made religion,” the elemental spirits of this world. But, if you died with Christ, that is, if you participated with him in “that day,” then you have cast away the idols, the elemental spirits, the self-made religion, and set your sights on the things above where Christ is seated.

THAT DAY – EVERY SIN IS TAKEN AWAY

This brings us back to the passage, Isaiah 3:18-23, that I quoted at the beginning of this post. But, let’s look at it again.

“In that day the Lord will take away

  1. the finery of anklets,
  2. the headbands,
  3. and the crescents;
  4. the pendants,
  5. the bracelets,
  6. and the scarves;
  7. the headdresses,
  8. the armlets,
  9. the sashes,
  10. the perfume boxes,
  11. and the amulets;
  12. the signet rings
  13. and nose rings;
  14. the festal robes,
  15. the mantles,
  16. the cloaks,
  17. and the handbags;
  18. the mirrors,
  19. the linen garments,
  20. the turbans,
  21. and the veils.

These 21 items, items that were often used as idols or in some form of religious worship, are taken in “that day.”

What is the significant of 21 items in this list?

The number 21 is the number of distress brought about by the fullness of sin. In reference to time, 21 is a period of distress.

Jacob’s time of distress in serving Laban was 21 years (note it was three periods of seven) brought by his sin in grasping the birthright of his brother Esau.

Read carefully and you will note that for many of the patriarchs that the 21st time their name is mentioned has to do with distress or the end of distress.

Like Isaiah 3:18-23, Paul lists 21 things in reference to “the last days”, “But understand this, that in the last days there come times of difficulty. For people will be

  1. lovers of self,
  2. lovers of money,
  3. proud,
  4. arrogant,
  5. abusive,
  6. disobedient to their parents,
  7. ungrateful,
  8. unholy,
  9. heartless,
  10. unappeasable,
  11. slanderous,
  12. without self-control,
  13. brutal,
  14. not loving good,
  15. treacherous,
  16. reckless,
  17. swollen with conceit,
  18. lovers of pleasure
  19. rather than lovers of God,
  20. having the appearance of godliness,
  21. but denying its power.”

The last days that are times of difficulty are full of distress.

Paul does the same thing Romans 1:28-31, which says, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled

  1. with all manner of unrighteousness,
  2. evil,
  3. covetousness,
  4. malice.
  5. They are full of envy,
  6. murder,
  7. strife,
  8. deceit,
  9. maliciousness.
  10. They are gossips,
  11. slanderers,
  12. haters of God,
  13. insolent,
  14. haughty,
  15. boastful,
  16. inventors of evil,
  17. disobedient to parents,
  18. foolish,
  19. faithless,
  20. heartless,
  21. ruthless.”

Here again when Paul is describing the fullness of sin and distress he lists 21 things. Surely, this is not a coincidence.

But, what does this have to do with Jesus?

Luke 2:41-42 says, “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went according to custom.” It was at this time that Jesus’ parents unknowingly left in the temple. Then, in verse 49, Jesus said, “Why were you looking for me? Did you know know that I must be in my Father’s house?” So, at age 12 was the first time that Jesus announced he was about his Father’s business.

But, at what age did Jesus die?

33.

How long was Jesus about his Father’s business?

21 years.

This was a time of distress. But, ended in “that day” that Jesus was crucified on the cross, which removed the fullness of man in his haughtiness and pride as well as removed all idols and self-made religion. “That day,” the day Jesus was crucified, 21 years after he announced he was about his Father’s business, sin was taken away.

The number 21 is 3 x 7. Three is the number of divine perfection. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection. At the end of his 21 years of doing his Father’s business, Jesus was crucified, taking away sin and ushering in a new creation that was divinely and spiritually perfect.

What a glorious day is “that day.”

May the Scent of Our Breath Be Like Apples

TODAY’S READING: SONG OF SOLOMON 5-8

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how the woman, the bride, the church, of Song of Solomon saw her beloved, Jesus, as an apple tree amongst the trees of the forest. I showed how the apple tree represented Christ on the cross. And, the woman asked her beloved to refresh her apples. In other words, the church is refreshed by the fruit of Christ on the cross.

The word apple was used twice in the first four chapters. And, the word apple is used twice in the last four chapters.

In Song of Solomon 7:8, the man, the bridegroom, Jesus, said, “Oh may…the scent of your breath [be] like apples.”

Then, in Song of Solomon 8:5, the woman, the bride, the church says, “Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.”

So, the word apple is used four times in the book. Many, many times throughout scripture when we see something used four times or a list of four three of things will be similar and one will be different. And, that’s the case with the word apple in Song of Solomon. Three times the woman speaks the word apple. And, one time the man speaks the word apple.

In 7:8, when the man, Jesus, speaks the word apple, he is speaking to his beloved, the church, saying that the scent of her breath should be like apples. Again, in yesterday’s post, I wrote about how Jesus is a word fitly spoken like apples of gold in a setting of silver, which speaks to Christ on the cross. Therefore, we can understand 7:8 as Jesus saying that the church’s breath should have the scent of apples, or the words that the church speaks should have the aroma of Christ and be about him crucified.

Second Corinthians 2:14-15 says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance of life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

First Corinthians 1:22-23 says, “For the Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”

First Corinthians 2:2 says, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Paul heard the word of Jesus that the scent of his breath should be like apples. And, Paul lived to make the desire of his Lord reality in his life.

Having been bid to have the scent of her breath in like apples, in 8:5 the woman, the church says that “under the apple tree I awakened you.” So, it is under the apple tree, under the cross, in the cross, that the church awakened Jesus.

Awakened Jesus?

Well, the Hebrew word used for awakened here can also mean raised. So, perhaps what she should understand is that the woman, the church raises Jesus up for the world to see when she is under the apple tree, under the cross. For, it is when her breath is scented with apples that she speaks of Christ crucified, that she lifts Jesus up, that a praise of her Lord is on her lips.

And, it is this lifting up of the Lord from under the cross that will draws people to Jesus.

His Shadow Is Fruit Sweet to the Taste

TODAY’S READING: SONG OF SOLOMON 1-4

“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” – Song of Solomon 2:3

Jesus said every book in the Bible, all the law, wisdom, and prophets, spoke of him. That means even the Song of Solomon speaks about Jesus. The verse above is a prime example.

In this verse, the woman says that her beloved stands out among all the other young men like an apple tree among all the trees of the forest. Therefore, the question we need to answer is how does the apple tree stand out from among all the other trees of the forest?

The Hebrew word for apple is used just six times in the Old Testament. The first time it is used is in Proverbs 25:11, which says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” This verse is a wonderful picture of Jesus on the cross.

According to John 1:1, we know that Jesus is the word. He is the logic and the reason for creation.

Jesus, the word, was fitly spoken. To speak is to declare. So, Jesus, the word, the logic and reason for creation, was declared. Jesus was declared fitly. This verse is the only time the Hebrew word translated fitly is in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word literally means the proper time and/or the proper way. Since the word is used just once in scripture, it reveals to us that there was one singular time and one singular way that Jesus, the word, the logic and reason for all creation, could be spoken.

What was this proper, singular, time and way for Jesus to be declared?

I think we all know the answer, but let’s look at the second part of the proverb.

A word fitly spoken is like apples. Apples, of course, are produced by a tree. So, the proper, the singular, time and way for Jesus to be declared was from a tree. In other words, the one and only time and way Jesus was truly declared to us was on the cross.

Jesus, the word fitly spoken, is not like just any old apples. No, he is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Gold speaks of divinity and silver speaks of redemption. Here we see Jesus, the word fitly spoken, as the son of God according to his divine nature on the cross, the place of redemption, a setting of silver.

This is how Jesus stands out from all other men.

The son of God.

The divine man.

The reason for all creation.

Revealed the only time and the only way.

On the cross.

All of this gives context to what the woman says in the second half of verse 3, “With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

This speaks to sitting in the shadow of the cross and tasting the sweet fruit of the cross. Obviously, we cannot do either of these literally. So, what is this speaking about?

The Hebrew word for shadow also means protection. When we sit in the shadow of the cross we are under God’s protection. First Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” And, Ephesians 1:13 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” God’s seal, his shadow or protection for us, is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word shadow in Song of Solomon 2:3 has a gematria value of 120. The number 120 is linked to the pouring out of the Spirit in the temple of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 5:12-14 and into the disciples on the day of Pentecost in Acts 1:15 and 2:1-4.

Jesus’ fruit that is sweet to our taste is the fruit of the Spirit. We get to taste this fruit when the Spirit resides. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

When we sit in the shadow of the cross of Jesus, the word fitly spoke, and taste of his fruit, apples like gold in a setting of silver, we truly get to taste real love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Identifying What Is Under the Sun as Vanity

TODAY’S READING: ECCLESIASTES 9-12

In today’s post, I want propose an idea based on the totality of the book of Ecclesiastes and some of the key phrases that are used in it. There phrases help in identifying the meaning of Ecclesiastes. The following is my proposal:

The Preacher came to identify all that is under the sun as vanity so that the God in heaven would be feared on put back on his throne, which is found in our hearts.

(For the meanings of the numbers 29 and 34, I want to give credit to this paper.)

IDENTIFYING THE PREACHER

As I mentioned in my first post on Ecclesiastes, Preacher, or qoheleth in Hebrew, is used seven times in Ecclesiastes. The uses are spread through the book in a way that remind one of the seven feasts of Israel. The seven feasts of Israel reveal Jesus. Therefore, we are to see Jesus as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes. The number seven speaks to spiritual perfection throughout the Bible. Therefore, we are to the Preacher as Jesus who came to bring spiritual perfection.

IDENTIFYING UNDER THE SUN

In the Hebrew, the phrase “under the sun” occurs 29 times in the book of Ecclesiastes (one time it is translated as “beneath the sun.”) The number 29 is the number of departure. Therefore, all of man’s toil, everything he does, under the sun has departed from.

IDENTIFYING VANITY

The word vanity or vanities occurs 34 times in the book of Ecclesiastes. The number 34 is the number of identification. The Preacher identifies all that man does under the sun as vanity.

However, the first occurrences of the word vanity in the book, which are also the first the uses of vanity by the Preacher, come in a group of five. Five is the number of grace. Could it be that the Preacher, Jesus, has come to bring grace to all that man does under the sun that is vanity?

The last occurrences of the word vanity in the book, which are also the last uses of vanity by the Preacher, come in a group of three. Three is the number of divine perfection. Could it be that the Preacher, Jesus, has come to bring divine perfection through grace to all that man does under the sun that is vanity?

IDENTIFYING THE PLACE OF THE PREACHER’S WORK

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 says, “Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.”

Jesus teaches all people wisdom and knowledge by the Holy Spirit. Jesus certainly weighed and studied kingdom of God and arranged many proverbs, or parables, about it with great care.

But, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes is said to have written these words of truth. We have no record of Jesus ever writing anything? Or, do we?

Second Corinthians 3:2-3 says, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

So, I propose that we could read Ecclesiastes as Jesus, the spiritually perfect preacher, coming to bring divine perfection through grace to all that man does under through that was once vanity by teaching us the wisdom and knowledge of God in heaven by writing his words of truth on our hearts.