Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 comments: Solomon's warnings about worship

1 ¶  Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3  For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

Solomon warns the faithful to be careful of their attitude when engaging in religious worship. It must be remembered that Solomon’s religion, the religion of the Jews, was a physical, temporal thing that revolved around a building, the temple, where worship was maintained, where God would meet with man. There was a sacred place set apart by God. The worship was physical revolving around hundreds of standards set down by God in the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews. The house of God in this context is a physical location.

Numbers 17:4  And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.

2Chronicles 7:1 ¶  Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. 2  And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house.

There are no sacred spaces in Christianity except in the believer’s heart. The Bible-believing Christian does not come to the church building to meet with God. He has God’s Spirit residing in him and his or her body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

The three parts of God abide in us by the Spirit which He has provided.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The house of God in that context then is not a physical location as in one place where Christians meet. The definition of the house of God then is the family of God, the body of Christ. When the church, the called out believers meet together, wherever it is, there is the house of God.

Here is an Old Testament definition of house as family or dynasty.

Exodus 1:21  And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

Genesis 46:27  And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Now, in the New Testament.

1Timothy 3:15  But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

1Peter 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Notice Peter says, “us,” not it. We must remember that we set the church building apart, a building that did not exist in the physical world when the New Testament was lived and written, and it is special to us because we meet there to worship God. We can call it the house of God and talk about going to church rather than meeting with the church but we must always be careful of what we are thinking and also we must not confuse new believers with error based on the convenience of thought. Wherever the church meets, in a church building or  a store front or even in a home, there the house of God is.

It is not uncommon for us to say, “let God come down and walk among the pews,” but we must be aware that if God is not already in us then we are as lost as a goose in a horse race. More than walking among the pews (pews were a medieval creation) I would rather have God fill me with His Spirit which already abides in me.

Solomon says for those Jews of his day that when they go to the temple they should be more willing to listen than to speak rashly and foolishly, as that is evil. They were to come with an open heart and a closed mouth. This is applicable today in many ways. We should come to meet with the church with our minds attentive to what God wants to give us through the worship and the sermon. Face it, you often sit in front of the preacher with your mind filled with almost anything but what he is saying. We should ponder and consider what we hear and pray for guidance from God and not be too quick to speak and promise and demand.

Jesus Himself warns of repetitive, long-winded prayers that sound like so much pagan drivel. Before He gives His disciples an example, a model prayer, He says the following;

Matthew 6:7  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

It is very disturbing to hear what is supposed to be a heartfelt appeal to or praise of God sound like a sermon to the congregation. Jesus spoke directly while speaking reverentially to God the Father without sounding like a lot of Christians sound, like a politician making an appeal for votes or an employee pleading for a raise or time off from work.

Solomon points out that we often have dreams because our minds are filled with unfinished business and the prayer of a fool sounds much like the confusing dream we have in the night, littered with so much mental rubbish. Sounds like he’s heard some really long-winded prayers that left him wondering what the point was. They may have been spoken because the king was present and the priest or petitioner wanted to sound spiritual to impress him. It didn’t work. Many Christians do the same today.

No comments: