Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rules of Interpretation Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum

There are four basic rules of interpretation which are keys to understanding the prophetic
The first is called The Golden Rule of Interpretation:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take
every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate
context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate
clearly otherwise.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Flow and Highlights of Ecclesiastes

David Q. Santos

Philosophers of all ages have sought to answer the most basic of questions that have ever been asked by mankind. These questions cut through the all ages in order to find meaning and fulfillment to fleeting and futile existences. Solomon, the wisest man ever to live (1 Kings 10:23), made similar investigations into the futility and vanity of life. He recorded his investigation in the book of Ecclesiastes. His search took him through many patterns of thought that have been and continue to be parts of philosophical discussion even today.

Philosophical debates, as well as Solomon’s inquiry, are essentially epistemological in nature. For Solomon, the answers to all the philosophical questions of mankind are a dichotomy of wisdom on Earth versus Heaven. Solomon’s inquiry has four primary divisions. The Bible Knowledge Commentary divides Ecclesiastes this way;

I. Introduction: The Futility of All Human Endeavor (1:1-11)

II. The Futility of Human Achievement Empirically Demonstrated (1:12-6:9)

III. The Limitations of Human Wisdom Empirically Demonstrated (6:10-11:6)

IV. Conclusion: Live Joyously and Responsibly in the Fear of God (11:7-12:14) [1]

The first division of Ecclesiastes (1:1-11) is divided into three sections. The first is the book’s title which is found in chapter one verse one. The second section is found in verse two which describes the theme of the book. The final section in verses three through eleven provides the initial thesis to Solomon’s view of life “under the sun” (a phrase that Solomon uses 29 times in 27 verses).[2]

Verse one introduced the author of Ecclesiastes. This verse gives three specific details of the author. He is the son of David and currently is the king in Jerusalem. Also, he is called “Preacher.” Other Bible translations may render “Preacher” as “teacher.” Preacher is the Hebrew word is “Qohelet” (קֹהֶלֶת). Qohelet “refers to one who convenes and speaks at an assembly.”[3] Qohelet in this instance is used like a proper name. Carson state that “The Hebrew of Teacher is Qohelet, which is a Hebrew participle. It has a meaning (like the English name Baker).”[4] The Preacher’s identity is easily surmised to be Solomon. He is a king who is ruling over all of Israel (Ecc. 1:12) ruling from Jerusalem “as only three men were: Saul, David, and Solomon…”[5]

The theme of the book is identified in verse two. The Preacher declared that “all is vanity.” Vanity is the Hebrew word “hābal” (הָבַל) which can be understood as a breath or vapor. Hābal, in the context of Ecclesiastes especially, carries the sense of nothingness or perishable. The concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (CHALOT) adds to these definitions that its use in Ecclesiastes 1:2 that the hābal Solomon is describing is “his empty life.”[6] The theme of this book is emptiness of life. This is further stressed by Solomon’s continued and repetitive use of hābal in this verse and throughout the book. It occurs five times in this verse alone with 36 other instances in 31 verses in the entire book.

The final section of this first division is contained in verses four through eleven. This section provides proof of Solomon’s thesis. The key assertion is summed up in the commentary on the world; “there is nothing new under the sun” (v. 9). Prior to this statement Solomon provides his evidence; expressing the reality of a fleeting existence. He illustrates his assertion with naturalistic examples that all have observed. Even as generations of mankind pass by the world continues to operate much as it has for thousands of years (at least since Noah’s flood). The sun rises and goes down, rivers flow, and the wind blows; all while these generations go and come.

Solomon has presented his thesis which states that life is vain, futile, and fleeting. His thesis stated, he begins a series of inquiries as to the nature of life on this world. The second division of Ecclesiastes begins this inquiry. This division covers chapter one verse twelve through chapter six verse nine. In this division he discusses the futileness of human achievement. This division is broken into two sections. The first is Solomon’s personal experiences and observations of the failures of human achievement (Ecc. 1:12-2:17). The second section demonstrates this futility in an empirical fashion (Ecc. 2:18-6:9).

Solomon begins his inquiry into the vanity of life by expressing his own experience and observation of the futility of human achievement. The beginning of this inquiry is broken into four points. The Bible Knowledge Commentary divides this section in this fashion,

1. Futility of human achievement shown by personal investigation (1:12-15)

2. Futility of human wisdom (1:16-18)

3. Futility of pleasure-seeking (2:1-11)

4. Futility of a wise lifestyle (2:12-17) [7]

Solomon begins his God ordained task (Ecc. 1:13) of examining “all that is done under the sun” (Ecc. 1:12). He initially concludes that “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecc. 1:12) After further examination he determined that increasing knowledge only brings sorrow. Even pleasure to the point of not “withholding my heart from any pleasure” and all labor contained “no profit under the sun.” Solomon expressed that wisdom was superior to foolishness; and yet both the wise and the foolish would come to the same end. (Ecc. 2:14)

This second section provides an empirical examination by Solomon. Rather than just expressing his own observations he brings evidence to bear on his inquiry. He divides this section into four main points as described by The Bible Knowledge Commentary

1. Labor’s fruits may be squandered by someone else (2:18-26)

2. Labor cannot alter God’s immutable, inscrutable providence (3:1-4:3)

3. Labor is often motivated by inappropriate incentives (4:4-16)

4. Labor’s fruits may sometimes not be enjoyed (5:1-6:9) [8]

Solomon examined the reality of the fruits of labor. He soon concluded that enjoying these fruits will become vanity. Even the food that God has given is grasping at wind. (Ecc. 2:26) In contrast to God’s immutability stands man’s short fleeting existence where he strives to achieve and accomplish-gathering knowledge and goods under the sun. But Solomon found that all things have a time. Matthew Henry commented on these points. He wrote

…we live in a world of changes, that the several events of time, and conditions of human life, are vastly different from one another, and yet occur promiscuously, and we are continually passing and repassing between them, as in the revolutions of every day and every year. In the wheel of nature (Jam. 3:6) sometimes one spoke is uppermost and by and by the contrary; there is a constant ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning; from one extreme to the other does the fashion of this world change, ever did, and ever will. [9]

In the third division of Ecclesiastes Solomon deals with the limitations found in the wisdom of mankind. (Ecc. 6:10-11:6) Solomon described this problem in three sections. In the first section Solomon described futility between God and this world. The Bible Knowledge Commentary summarized Solomon’s dilemma writing,

Solomon introduced his discussion on the limitations of human wisdom by reverting to two themes he had used earlier to demonstrate the futility of human toil, namely, the immutability (1:15; 3:14; cf. 1:9) and inscrutability (3:11, 22) of divine providence. Solomon said that the nature and essence of everything that exists, including people, was foreordained long ago: whatever exists has already been named (“calling by name” parallels “creating,” Isa. 40:26) and what man is has been known (“knowing” parallels “setting apart” and “appointing,” Jer. 1:5). Furthermore Solomon said it was useless for a person to argue (no man can contend) about what is foreordained because God who had done it is too powerful for man. [10]

In the second section Solomon continued to explain the divide between man and God. Man is not capable of understanding God’s plans. He concluded this division by explaining that while God does know the future plans; man does not. Therefore, man cannot criticize God and must continue in good works not knowing the future.

Solomon’s concluding division provides a contrast of life under the sun with life that is lived for God and with Godly wisdom. This division has two sections with the main theme being living in the fear of God. (11:7-12:14)

The first section gives an exhortation to follow God in life. Solomon broke this section into three points. The Bible Knowledge Commentary describes them,

1. Enjoy life because the darkness of death is coming (11:7-8)

2. Enjoy life in your youth, remembering that God will judge (11:9-10)

3. Live responsibly in your youth for old age and death are coming (12:1-7) [11]

In this final section Solomon gives his concluding thoughts. He summed up all of his experiences and the conclusions of his observations of life. He first concluded that all is vanity. But at this point of the book it becomes clear that everything under the sun is vanity. Everything done for earthly means is vanity and will pass away. Solomon’s conclusion; “Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:13-14)

Jesus explained that men should not seek to lay up treasures on earth. Instead they should “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Mt. 6:20) Solomon discovered what Jesus would teach to His first century followers. This simple and yet profound understanding that the things of this world are fleeting and perishable but the things of heaven are eternal.

Work Cited

Carson, D. A., New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).

Cone, Christopher, Ph.D Th.D, Life Beyond the Sun: An Intoduction to Worldview & Philosophy through the lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009)

Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996).

Holladay, William Lee, Ludwig Köhler and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. (Leiden: Brill, 1971)

Hughes, Robert B. and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001)

New King James Version, The. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).

Walvoord John F., Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, vol. 1, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-)


[1] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, vol. 1, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-), 978–979.

[2] The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982). All Scriptural references and quotes are based on the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

[3] Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 243.

[4] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).

[5] Christopher Cone, Ph.D Th.D, Life Beyond the Sun: An Intoduction to Worldview & Philosophy through the lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009), 21.

[6] William Lee Holladay, Ludwig Köhler and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 76.

[7] Walvoord, 978–979.

[8] Ibid, 978–979.

[9] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996).

[10] Walvoord, 991.

[11] Ibid, 978–979.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Resurrection Sunday Message 2013

Listen or download the MVBC Resurrection Sunday Message using the link below.

Sermons from the Book of James

James 1:1-8 7/4/2010
James 1:9-18 7/11/2010
James 1:19-27 7/18/2010
James 2:1-9 7/25/2010
James 2:5-26 8/1/2010
James 3 8/15/2010

More will be added soon.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Errors in the Bible? ~ Bible Prophecy Today

Errors in the Bible? ~ Bible Prophecy Today

Healing from Homosexuality

We often feel helpless, in situations. We want guidance. We know we should turn to the Bible; but sometimes we forget. We know we should trust our Savior; but sometimes we get ahead of ourselves – or we get a little too "into" ourselves. This is a common experience for all Christians, myself included.

We are commanded by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, to love Him – and, to love others. Simple commandments; but, we forget these too. Then, lest we should begin beating ourselves up for perceived failures, we can recognize that we are under grace, thus no longer condemned by Jesus. We let go, we slip back under His yoke...and, we love some more.

This is the Christian life.

In today's perilous times, people find themselves riled up by the forces of darkness and evil around us. We hear something that makes us sad, which leads to a bit of anger, which leads us into a foolish argument – which we are advised, by the apostle Paul, to avoid. Thus, we "engender strife," when we could – simply – love.

Does love mean we agree with everything? God forbid. Does love mean we don't feel when people are hurting themselves? God forbid. God's love is as great as His justice, His recognition of right and wrong.

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The Biblical Cities Of Tyre And Sidon

This article was first published in the Fall 2002 issue of Bible and Spade.

The names Tyre and Sidon were famous in the ancient Near East. They are also important cities in the Old and New Testaments. Both are now located in Lebanon, with Tyre 20 mi south of Sidon and only 12 mi north of the Israel-Lebanon border. Today each is just a shadow of their former selves.

Sidon, called Saida today (Arabic for “fishing”), was named after the firstborn son of Canaan (Gn 10:15) and probably settled by his descendants. The northern border of ancient Canaan extended to Sidon (Gn 10:19). Later, Jacob spoke of it as the boundary of Zebulun (Gn 49:13) and Joshua included it as part of the land promised to Israel (Jos 13:6). Sidon was included in the inheritance of Asher, on its northern boundary (Jos 19:28), but it was not taken by that tribe in conquest (Jgs 1:31, 3:3). Settled from the beginning as a port city, Sidon was built on a promontory with a nearby offshore island that sheltered the harbor from storms.

Twenty mi south of Sidon, in the middle of a coastal plain, Tyre (called Sour in Arabic today) was constructed on a rock island a few hundred yards out into the Mediterranean (Ward 1997:247). In fact, the city took its name from this rock island. Tyre comes from the Semetic sr (Hebrew Sor, Arabic Sur, Babylonian Surru, Egyptian Dr,) meaning rock.

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