Poets, Volume 5 of Immerse: The Reading Bible | Book Review

The Hebrew Bible divides itself into three sections: Torah, Nevi’im (“Prophets”), and Ketuvim (“Writings”). Immerse: The Reading Bible largely follows this order. Beginnings is identical to Torah, the first five books of the canonical Bible. It divides Nevi’im into Kingdoms … Continue reading Poets, Volume 5 of Immerse: The Reading Bible | Book Review

Review of ’40/40 Vision’ by Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty

Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty, 40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2015). [Note: This review originally appeared at InfluenceMagazine.com.] An 80-country survey asked respondents, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?” People in their 40s were least satisfied, with 46-year-olds being unhappiest. I am 46 years old. Needless to say, I read Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty’s new book with keen interest. The forties are the decade when men and women experience midlife crisis. They are halfway through their lives equidistant from the start of their … Continue reading Review of ’40/40 Vision’ by Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty

Wealth, the Problematic Gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:8–20)

In Ecclesiastes 5.8–20, the Preacher lists three problems with wealth but then, surprisingly, concludes that it is nevertheless a gift from God.[1] The first problem with wealth the Preacher identifies is the unholy nexus between wealth and oppression. Verses 8–9 are notoriously difficult to interpret because the Hebrew underlying them is enigmatic. The English Standard Version translates them as referring to corrupt government officials who oppress the poor, but are protected in their injustice by their bureaucratic superiors. This is probably the best reading of the text, and it highlights a perennial problem with government. In the words of Lord … Continue reading Wealth, the Problematic Gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:8–20)

Mean What You Say, Then Do It (Ecclesiastes 5:1–7)

One of the great things about being a minister is the ability to officiate at weddings. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to lead a young couple—and a few not so young—in vows of lifelong love. Of late, older married couples have begun to ask me to renew their vows as part of the celebration of their fiftieth anniversaries. Presiding over such ceremonies is both a joyous and solemn experience. The joy is self-evident; the solemnity requires some explanation. Marriage—if the vows are any guide—is a very serious commitment. I ask the bride: “Will you have this man … Continue reading Mean What You Say, Then Do It (Ecclesiastes 5:1–7)

Better Than (Ecclesiastes 4:1–16)

Ecclesiastes 3:22 declares, “there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.”[1] We Americans bristle at the notion that we have been assigned some lot in life with which we must simply make do. If we do not like our current situation, we change it. Ours is a country of self-made men and women. And yet, there are some things that no amount of self-making can undo, such as the facts that everything under the sun eventually goes “Poof!” and that we all die. Admittedly, neither life’s ephemerality nor our personal … Continue reading Better Than (Ecclesiastes 4:1–16)

Using the Time God Has Given (Ecclesiastes 3:16–22)

If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, then why is the world wracked by so much evil? Surely God knows what is going on down here. Certainly he has the power to change it. And we can be absolutely certain that he desires to do so. That being the case, why do we experience so much suffering and pain? Ecclesiastes 3.16–22 asks and answers this question, but its conclusions are surprising.[1] The Preacher opens with a simple observation: “I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even … Continue reading Using the Time God Has Given (Ecclesiastes 3:16–22)

What Do We Get from Our Toil? (Ecclesiastes 3:9–15)

What gain has the worker from his toil? Every Monday morning, millions of Americans ask themselves that very question as they once again start their workweek. It is a legitimate question. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, what do we really gain by working hard? A paycheck, a sense of satisfaction at a job well done, a measure of self-esteem, slight changes in the way the world works? These are all good things, but they are not permanent things. They are hebel, “vanity,” things that go “Poof!” At the end of their lives, most … Continue reading What Do We Get from Our Toil? (Ecclesiastes 3:9–15)

The Whole Duty of Man (Ecclesiastes 12:9–14)

Before you watch or read today’s Daily Word, please read Ecclesiastes 12:9–14. Today, we conclude our study of Ecclesiastes with, fittingly, a meditation on “the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:9–14 is a summary of all that the Preacher has tried to teach us in the previous eleven-and-a-half chapters. His lessons can be summed up simply enough: “Fear God and keep his commandments.” By what authority does the Preacher sum up our whole duty in this way? It is not by means of prophetic authority, for the Preacher does not claim to be a prophet. It is not by means … Continue reading The Whole Duty of Man (Ecclesiastes 12:9–14)

Are You Prepared for Death—and Life? (Ecclesiastes 12:1–8)

Before you watch or read today’s Daily Word, please read Ecclesiastes 12:1–8. In Ecclesiastes 12:1–8, the Preacher calls you to worship God now, while you can, before advancing age and declining ability rob you of the power to do so. He does this by painting a vivid portrait of the negative aspects of aging. (We should always remember, of course, that aging has many pluses: the joy of a life well lived; the wisdom of experience; the pleasures of a lifelong companion, children, and grandchildren, to name just a few. But the Preacher’s focus does not fall on the positives, … Continue reading Are You Prepared for Death—and Life? (Ecclesiastes 12:1–8)

Young at Heart (Ecclesiastes 11:7–10)

Before you watch or read today’s Daily Word, please read Ecclesiastes 11:7–10. Several years ago, I taught the Open Bible Class, a Sunday school class for senior citizens. Now, I must admit that I had a few preconceptions about seniors when I first began teaching them. I thought they were, like, you know, “old.” And they were. The class has its fair share of eighty- and ninety-year-olds. What I did not expect, however, was the lesson I learned from close contact with those wonderful people: Just because you are old does not mean you have to act like it. A … Continue reading Young at Heart (Ecclesiastes 11:7–10)