A Study of Ecclesiastes 8:1
Most preachers do not bother with the Old Testament, for they do not understand it.
And even less do they understand the Prophecy of Ecclesiastes.
This is a sign of the great apostacy, the famine of the preaching of the Gospel that will come upon all the world in the last days.
And so, if your church preaches only from the New Testament, watch out; it may be the sign of apostacy.
But God is much wiser than we are and God included the Prophecy of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
And God did that for a good reason: To teach us how to interpret the spiritual meanings of things in the Bible, and to see the Gospel also in Ecclesiastes, and to teach us the greatness of God from the pen of a man of whom we did not expect great things because of much sin in his life.
Solomon was the hand that God used to write these Scriptures.
Ecclesiastes was written very much like Proverbs, but a little more coherently.
In Proverbs almost every verse is a separate parable.
In Ecclesiastes many verses can be taken together, but they are also written in parabolic form so that we have to really search for the truth, and the real meaning is hidden from those to whom God did not intend to reveal the Gospel.
The name Ecclesiastes is the Hebrew word Qoheleth, which means “The Assembly-speaker,” or simply “The Preacher.” Solomon is here the Preacher, for we read in Ecclesiastes 1:1, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.”
And since the preacher is speaking we should remember that the sentences that follow are addressing spiritual matters.
Some people read Ecclesiastes and Proverbs as if these are wise sayings on how to live.
That is the carnal view, and that is not at all the intent of these prophecies.
We must interpret them as parables, for they were written as parables.
The name “Proverbs” means “Parables”; they were never intended to be understood only in their literal, or historical, or ethical meaning.
The Gift of God (Ecclesiastes 8:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Matthew 7:24, Matthew 13:11)
The wise man does NOT refer to Solomon, but to some other wise man.
Who on earth is considered wise in the sight of God?
Anyone who has received from God the wisdom unto salvation, the wisdom of knowing the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ whom He has sent, is considered wise in the eyes of God.
But mark well that this is a wisdom that is only given by God. It is a gift of God’s grace.
No one grows this wisdom by his own initiative, for the Lord Jesus said in John 6:44, “No man CAN come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.”
Let us remember that salvation is by grace alone, “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9), which means, “lest any man should boast that he has made such a good decision to follow Jesus.”
Let us now read the first seven verses and sense the context.
We read in Ecclesiastes 8:1-7,
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.
Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.
Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.
For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
What does this mean?
At first sight it looks like gobbledygook, and as you know, gobbledygook is turkey language, and we do not understand turkey language.
However, when we find in this passage
1. “the king’s commandment”
2. “the oath of God”
3. “he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him”
4. “who may say unto him, What doest thou?”
5. “the misery of man is great upon him”
We sense that the gist of this passage refers to the Almighty power of God upon this earth, and that God does what He wants in the kingdom of men.
Can you see that God in this chapter refers to His sovereignty?
And that is indeed so.
Shall we now bring in the wisdom from the New Testament to shed some light on the words we read here in the Old Testament?
Remember that the New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.
Please turn to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 1:18 (2X).
We find here in 1Cor 1 the contrast between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom that is from God.
The subject matter is the preaching of the cross.
To the world the preaching of the Gospel is foolishness, but to God it is the key to unlock the power of God unto salvation, for God ordained that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Salvation comes by hearing the Gospel with your carnal ears, and at the same time the spiritual hearing comes from a spoken word from God. Just like God spoke in Genesis 1:11 and the world came alive, so God speaks and makes a dead soul come to life.
We read in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25,
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:19
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1 Corinthians 1:21
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1 Corinthians 1:22
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
1 Corinthians 1:23
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1 Corinthians 1:24
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:25
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The world, by their own wisdom, knew not God. But God, sending out His preachers with the true Gospel, saved them whom He made to believe.
Therefore, the remnant chosen by grace, of both Jews and Greeks, proclaimed the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Who are the wise men in this passage?
The wise men are those who preach Christ crucified.
The wise men are those who have become saved and have become witnesses for Jesus.
The wise men are those whom God ordained unto salvation from before the foundation of the earth.
This is the wise man referred to in Ecclesiastes 8:1.
Let us see some more proof of this conclusion.
The Lord Jesus told us a parable in Matthew 7:24 where He said,
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:”
The wise man here refers to someone who is saved, and the Rock represents the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wise man built his theology, his confidence, his understanding of salvation, and his whole life upon the Lord Jesus Christ, in full assurance of what Christ has done for him.
The wise man is a sinner whom God has transformed into a saint.
The wise man has dedicated his whole life to serving the Lord Jesus until the end of his life.
And what has God given the wise man?
In addition to making him “Born Again”, Christ has given the wise man.
1. The dedication to serve Him.
2. To love Him.
3. He Has given him faith as a result of salvation.
4. An understanding of the Bible.
5. An understanding of the parables in the Bible.
6. An understanding of how to apply these parables to our daily life.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 continues by saying, “Who knoweth the interpretation of a thing?”
Again, it is only the elect, the saints, who shall receive from God the wisdom to interpret the Scriptures.
The Lord Jesus spoke about this when He spoke in parables to the multitude.
The Lord said to the disciples in Matthew 13:11, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”
This is a surprise to many.
Parables are given by the Lord not to explain certain principles, but to hide the Gospel from those whom the Lord never intended to save.
That is also the reason why the Lord dictated many of the Old Testament prophecies in parables.
For example, when we go through the Prophecy of Isaiah we are totally inundated by parables.
And so we see that the first half of Ecclesiastes 8:1 speaks about salvation, and about the elect to whom God gives salvation and to whom God gives the privilege to understand the message of the Bible.
Then the second half of Ecclesiastes 8:1 speaks about the results of salvation.
The Face of the Wise Man (Ecclesiastes 8:1, Matthew 11:28-30, Matthew 12:29-30, Matthew 10:34-36, Genesis 6:1-6, Matthew 24:37-39, Mathew 24:12)
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness (lit: “strength”) of his face shall be changed.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 says that when we have received the wisdom unto salvation it makes our face to shine, so that the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts is visible to all the saints.
We should not underestimate this power of God in the process of making us “Born Again,” and in the process of sanctification, which is the process of making us grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.
When we have become aware of our saved condition, suddenly all our heavy burdens are lifted, like the Lord Jesus promised us in Matthew 11:28-30.
There we read,
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
What are the heavy burdens that we suffer under before our salvation?
1. These are the burdens to perform according to the law of God.
2. The burden to live a life as a child of God even if we are not.
3. The burden to have a smiley face even if we are hurting inside.
4. The burden of fear that we can lose our salvation any time.
5. The burden of uncertainty about our salvation.
6. The burden of fear of death and Hell at any time we are driving a car.
…and so on and so on.
But when we have become “Born Again” the Lord Jesus said that we lose all these burdens, and we have taken His yoke upon us.
What is His yoke?
Before AD 33 His yoke or His burden was to pay for the guilt of all the sins of all the elect of God.
We cannot do that.
But after AD 33 all this was done, and now His yoke is to care for the welfare of all the saints throughout history, and to be our advocate before the Father on behalf of all the saints.
This is presently His burden.
The Lord Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.”
How do we do that?
We participate in activities that are aimed at bringing the Gospel to the lost, so that God works through faith that comes “by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
God’s methodology is that “many are called, but few are chosen.”
The Gospel must go out into all the world, “many are called,” and those who are of the elect will be drawn irresistibly to believe the Gospel, “few are chosen.”
And when we are engaged in such activities, we find that it brings rest to our souls, for we have done what God says is our first priority in this life.
And in the process of doing that we are learning the Gospel more clearly than ever before.
This all comes by the grace of God.
And we shall also find that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Is it an option for those who have become saved to witness for the Lord?
Can we say, “I will postpone this till later when I am retired, but now I am too busy; I have to make a career.”
Let us see what the Lord says about that in Matthew 12:29-30, and there we read,
Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
Look at the words, “And then He will spoil his house.”
How does the Lord Jesus spoil the house of Satan?
He sends His ambassadors to bring the Gospel to the unsaved, and then the Lord saves His elect.
This is how the Lord spoils the house of Satan.
And consider now a paraphrase of the words of verse 30:
He that is not with Me in this process of spoiling the house of Satan is against Me; And he that gathereth not with Me to gather all my elect sheep around Me, shall be scattereth into all the false gospels, for they show by their actions, or lack of action, that they are not saved.
This is not a comfortable message, is it not?
I never intended to bring you only comfortable messages.
It is a solid fact that all those who have been truly saved must be witnesses for the Lord Jesus; If we do not do that we do in fact not love those around us, and we are at peace to send them to Hell.
It means that we actually do not believe that Hell is so terrible, and that is a sign that we are not saved.
Let us now return to Ecclesiastes 8:1 where we read, “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine.”
It is a joy to be in the presence of such a person, for he or she radiates the peace and love of God to all the saints.
The wicked are not aware of this change in the person who has become saved, for they do not know what salvation is.
The wicked will accuse the saints of all kinds of evils that are totally unfounded. Even Your children may accuse you. That is why it is so important that we are not unequally yoked with unbelievers, for that is a recipe for tension and war within the home. And when we speak of those who radiate the love of God in their home, we also must speak of those homes where there is a spiritual war going on.
Where a man and his wife are equally yoked God is the invisible third party in the home and there is peace.
But these last days there is war in most homes. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-36,
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Now here is a hidden message that I do not want you to miss.
Let us turn to Genesis 6. Why Genesis 6?
Because I want you to see the importance of unequally yoked marriages, which lead to war within the home. And the war within the homes can lead to divorce, and divorces lead to remarriage after divorce, which the Lord characterized as adultery. The scourge of the 20th and the 21st century is that divorce and remarriage after divorce is spreading like wildfire all over the world.
But divorce is only a symptom of unequally yoked marriages. God writes about unequally yoked marriages in Genesis 6:1-6
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
What was the trigger that caused God to destroy man upon the earth?
It was that they began to be unequally yoked, for “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”
The result was that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
What did the Lord Jesus say conditions would be near the end of time?
We read in Matthew 24:37-39:
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
In other words, look at the conditions that existed during the days that Noah was building the ark. Such will be the conditions at the time that Christ will come again.
And why did the Lord specifically pick out “marrying and giving in marriage” in Matthew 24?
Is it not because this will be the trigger of very great wickedness in the earth?
In other words, not only homosexuals will abound, like in the days of Lot, but also unequally yoked marriages will abound like in the days of Noah. This assures us that we are presently living near the end of time. These are the conditions that are upon us. So, let the buyer beware.
It will be very difficult for a godly man to find a godly woman who is not already divorced while her husband is still living.
And it will be very difficult for a godly woman to find a godly man who is not divorced while his wife is still living.
We must never contemplate marrying a divorced person under any circumstances and we must never contemplate marrying an unbeliever!
This is a recipe for sin to multiply upon the face of the earth, because man will find all kinds of excuses. In an unequally yoked marriage the unbeliever is a messenger of Satan. It is a dangerous situation, for this is the stage where negotiations with the devil will be taking place.
And then what will we do?
This is what the Lord Jesus was warning us for in Matthew 10:34-36.
This choice that we have to make concerning loving someone more than Christ is especially pressed upon us when we have or if we seek an unequally yoked marriage.
And these words apply especially near the end of time when unequally yoked marriages will grow to be more abundant and tension and strife in the homes will increase, and because iniquity shall abound the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
Do not contemplate marrying an unbeliever. God is not saying that we may make our marriage our evangelism ground, for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
Who can bring a righteous man out of an unrighteous situation?
The Strength of His Face (Ecclesiastes 8:1)
“The boldness (Lit: The strength) of his face shall be changed.”
What is this talking about?
It speaks about the stubbornness of man. The stubbornness of natural man is expressed in his face. His face says his mind is made up; he is not going to change his beliefs, no matter what the Bible says. The natural man is in the clutches of Satan, and Satan will not allow any thoughts arise in the heart of the natural man that may lead him to believe the Gospel. The natural man will be drawn to believe false gospels, works gospels, for he is drawn to evil rather than good. And once he is in false gospels he will reject anything that may lead him to the true Gospel of the Bible. The Devil will make sure of this. And this is reflected in the boldness of his face, or better the strength of his face. The strength of his face reflects his hatred of the true Gospel and his hatred of the messengers who bring the true Gospel. The strength of his face reflects the total depravity of the natural man. He will not believe that he is still unsaved and is on a slippery slide into Hell.
But when God speaks about “The strength of his face shall be changed” God speaks of a change that occurs in the man.
What change is God referring to?
What is the change that is at the forefront of the mind of all those who have become adopted as sons of God?
It is the change that God the Holy Spirit causes in the people whom God makes them “Born Again”, or better “Born From Above.” It is a total change of heart that is caused by God the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those whom God elected unto salvation before the foundation of the world, and these are the ones for whom the Lord Jesus Christ paid for their sins on the cross almost 2000 years ago. God does that to every one of His elect by His irresistible grace. God will draw to Christ whomever He will and no one can resist His will. We can apply these words to Saul of Tarsus: his mind was made up, he was going to rid the world of this heresy that was called “the way”, and he was going to catch people in Damascus who believed that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and he was going to bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem to be tried. His hatred and his determination could be seen in the strength of his face. But then God stepped in and Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus as a bright light; so bright that His appearance was brighter than the sun at bright daylight; so bright that it struck him down to the ground; so bright that Saul could no longer see, and he was led by the hand into Damascus. The result was that the strength of his face was changed, from hatred for the church of Christ to repentance and a determination to give his life to Christ as restitution for having persecuted the church for so many years. His hatred for the cause of Christ was changed to a love and reverence for Christ. Here is a crystal clear example that the strength of his face was changed.
But who changed him?
Can anyone make himself “Born Again” or “Born From Above?”
Of course not!
Only God can make us “Born Again.”
And was Saul of Tarsus an exception to the rule?
We too are made Born Again by the power of God alone. And so, we must examine ourselves if we too have been Born From Above.
Can we detect within ourselves if the signs of salvation have been wrought within us?
Is there a love for Christ in our heart; a love that is greater than our love for anything else in the world?
And, you see, this is a love that must be present especially in these troubled times when we expect Christ to come at any moment.
And if we find that our zeal for Christ needs much to be improved, what are we going to do about it?
Can we do something about it?
We can read the Bible more often at home. We can pray to the Lord to help us. We can volunteer for service in the church. These are all things we can do to show the Lord that we indeed are seeking Him.
I am not saying that we can twist the Lord’s arm to save us, but is it not a fact that the process of God drawing us is through these kinds of actions?
These are not dead works. These are works whereby we show our earnestness to serve the Lord. These are only dead works if we are hypocrites who are trying to buy fire insurance. But I am sure that we are not stupid and are trying to deceive the Lord.
By Alfred J. Chompff