Lifestyles Of The Rich And Restless (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

You can fly to Israel and visit the historic Pools of Solomon about 2 miles from Bethlehem. They’re an amazing feat of civic engineering. With a capacity of more than 75 million gallons, they fed the aqueducts supplying Jerusalem with water off and on for more than 2,000 years.[1]

Some argue that these pools are not the ones discussed in Ecclesiastes chapter 2, but Josephus said they were, in fact, built by Solomon. Why did he build them? Naturally, Jerusalem needed water. On top of that, tradition states that it was a place where Solomon’s many wives would bathe and that the king would pass by the spot while riding in his chariot.

But the real reason is in our text. He built it for himself. He hoped this project might give him satisfaction. It was one more desperate attempt to discover meaning in his life. A reason for living.

Tonight, we’ll see the many avenues he took in his pursuit for meaning. We’ll see that he lived “the good life” to an extreme no one could ever approximate. But no matter how much he had, how far he went, how good it felt, it was never enough. Day after day he woke up empty and unfulfilled.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 – I said to myself, “Go ahead, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy what is good.” But it turned out to be futile.

At the start of his experiments, the Teacher tries a variety of personal pleasures. Personal is the operative word. Everything we’ll read tonight was for self. He uses the word “I” 21 times in 11 verses. Not to mention the me’s, myself’s, and my’s. “I said to myself” is the opening phrase.

He decided to live a purely hedonistic lifestyle.[2] Self-indulgence. Self-fulfillment. Unrestrained luxury and experience. All the promises made to us on casino billboards, in cruise vacation brochures, and junk mail with the words “one lucky winner…” all those things the Teacher did for himself. And he did it all without even going into debt!

Now, the pleasure pursuits weren’t all necessarily sinful.[3] The term pleasure can mean simply joy or gladness.[4] But we see that his efforts were physical, temporal, and personal. Under the sun.

As usual, he gives us the bottom line up front: It turned out to be hevel. Smoke. He was surprised to find out how hevel a life of pleasure is. Where it says, “but” there, it means, “Behold!”[5] “Take a look at this!” We don’t expect this outcome. In fact, we still have a hard time believing it today, no matter how many times we’re told it’s true. We think maybe we know how to beat the system. We don’t.

Ecclesiastes 2:2 – I said about laughter, “It is madness,” and about pleasure, “What does this accomplish?”

They say laughter is the best medicine…but better keep taking your insulin. It’s not that the Teacher is against laughter – laughter and whimsy are great things. But can you feed a family with laughs?

You can love a good joke, but imagine if your favorite comedian told a great bit, everyone cracks up, then once the crowd is quiet again, they told the exact same joke. No one is going to laugh a second time. We’d be confused because there needs to be a new joke. That first laugh is gone.

Man’s humor can really help in day-to-day circumstances. We love to laugh. But, it cannot solve the basic problems of life.[6] It improves experience but doesn’t give meaning to existence.

Ecclesiastes 2:3 – I explored with my mind the pull of wine on my body—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to grasp folly, until I could see what is good for people to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

The Teacher left the laugh factory feeling more crazy than content, so he ditched comedy and gave chemicals a try. He became a great expert on wine. Later we’ll see he didn’t just imbibe, he founded great wineries, too.

He wasn’t blacking out every night. We see the caveat that his mind still guided him with wisdom. But he experimented with intoxication, different states of mind through chemical agents.

Have you heard of 2021’s Best International Picture winner Another Round? It’s about four friends who embark on an experiment where they will maintain a certain blood alcohol level throughout the workday. In fact, there have been scientific studies on constant “micro-dosing” of alcohol.[7] An article I read on it suggested a few positive effects, though you have to watch out for addiction, cancers, digestive diseases, “and other health and social harms to both the drinker and others.”

The Teacher asks, “is this good? Will this do for me what I want it to in the long run?” He references the brevity of life and the fact that we’re all headed toward death. So, is this a meaningful way to live out my life? He’s trying to grasp an answer, but the hevel drifts away with his buzz.

Comedy and chemicals weren’t the solve he longed for, so he turned next to great civic endeavors.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 – I increased my achievements. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I constructed reservoirs for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees.

Everything here is in the plural.[8] When the Teacher built, he built a lot and he built big. Palaces, storehouses, fortresses, halls, chariot cities.[9] Orchards and gardens and reservoirs to water them.

But it wasn’t for his people, not primarily. See what he says in verse 4? “I built and planted…for myself.” He’s going to use that phrase five times in these verses.

Now this is interesting: The word for “parks” is the word from which the Greeks got “paradise.”[10]

We can see what he’s doing: Building a fruitful garden paradise with every comfort and fortification possible. He wants to solve his spiritual angst by constructing the perfect society. He wants to get back to Eden – back before the world was ruined by sin, hounded by death, full of thorns.

The problem is: He wants to jump back into Genesis 2 without doing anything about Genesis 3. There’s nothing the Teacher can build or design that fixes the problem of sin. He wants Eden, he wants that perfect, harmonious creation, but refuses to deal with the problem of the heart. Instead he wants to build his way out of sin. He’ll make his own kingdom and maybe that will be enough.

And you know what? His efforts yield a lot of earthly success. The groves flourish. The palaces sparkle. The chariot cities make other nations tremble in fear. But the Teacher’s utopia won’t list. It’s just another failed attempt by mankind to create an ideal society without God. It’s a long and sorry list. Brook Farm. Soul City. Drop City. Silkville. Fordlandia. Jonestown.[11]

Right now tech billionaires are moving forward with their plan for a new utopian[12] city between San Francisco and Sacramento, one that will be affordable and sustainable and walkable. They say it will “open up a new path for the state.”[13] The leader of the effort says, “I’m going to make this happen no matter what!” They’re calling it California Forever. So far, they’ve bought $800,000,000 of land.

Solomon’s utopia was greater than any of these other attempts. The physical results were impressive: Extreme wealth, great production, impressive development. But hevel always wins under the sun. The more he built, the more he needed to build it. You plant a grove, well now you need a reservoir to water the trees. The pools of Solomon are still surrounded by a grove of pine trees today, by the way.

Where would he get the labor he needed for his garden paradise?

Ecclesiastes 2:7 – I acquired male and female servants and had slaves who were born in my house. I also owned livestock—large herds and flocks—more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.

Apparently people weren’t lining up to volunteer for the Teacher’s building project. Instead, he had to enslave thousands of people. It was his dream, not theirs.

Utopia was populated with slaves.[14] But where there are slaves, there are hungry bellies. Now he needed flocks and herds to maintain the workforce. Of course, the more cattle he had, the more people he needed to manage the cattle. From the human perspective it looks like greatness and power, but in reality is a never-ending cycle that can’t be satisfied. Hevel.

Solomon had a huge number of servants, slaves, and livestock. At the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem we’re told he sacrificed 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. At one point we’re told how much food his court ate every day. Given the menu, there would’ve been thousands of workers and servants in the lunch line.[15] An astonishing, productive society.

The point is that Teacher did work on a scale unlike anything we’ve ever known, but it wasn’t enough. His heart still ached. And as soon as buildings went up, they started to break down.

His pools were magnificent but now are completely obsolete. Worse, since 1993 at least 6 people have drowned in the pools.[16] It’s hevel. Our best efforts plagued by time, death, and chance.

Ecclesiastes 2:8a – I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.

How do you get the treasure of kings? Either through war or threat of war. Kings don’t typically want to part with their treasures. So we’ve gone from comedy to chemicals to civics to control, now to conflict. Solomon generally experienced peace on every side, but he also actively developed Israel’s arms. In fact, he became an arms dealer to the Hittites and Arameans.[17]

Whimsy wasn’t satisfying. Neither was work or weapons. So how about wealth? Maybe that would be the thing. But he was still empty. He was still looking for the answer.

Ecclesiastes 2:8b – I gathered male and female singers for myself,

Maybe entertainment! A waltz or a symphony or a big, lavish show. Maybe he could be exhilarated by the spectacle of performing arts. But once the curtain fell, he felt the same as before.

Ecclesiastes 2:8c – and many concubines, the delights of men.

He had tried pleasures of the mind, pleasures of stature, the pleasure of power, pleasures from the finer things of life. Now he went to pleasures of the body.

Solomon, of course, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. As with all these pursuits, he went to a further extreme than anyone else possibly could. But his heart was never bettered for any of it.

Ecclesiastes 2:9-10 – So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom also remained with me. 10 All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles.

These were not quick projects. It took him thirteen years to build just his palace. In these verses, he has briefly described decades of pursuits. He did become great. There has never been a greater earthly king. He gave himself everything he wanted. He was Howard Hughes without the insanity and J.P. Morgan and Jeff Bezos and Gustave Eiffel and Ernest Gallo.

He’s honest about the fact that he did experience a lot of moments of pleasure. He felt the buzz. He felt the exhilaration. He felt the pride and the delights. He says here, “I lived ‘the good life.’”


Ecclesiastes 2:11 – 11 When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.

“Considered” literally means, “when I faced the facts.”[18] When he took a look at all he experienced, all he could say was I have laughed. I was buzzed. I was excited. But none of the physical pleasures or pursuits solved his need. Nothing was gained. A lot was spent, but he was still empty.

The experiences of pleasure or the accomplishment of great human feats cannot ultimately satisfy. They cannot give us ultimate meaning. They cannot do anything about the problem of death. We have such a hard time believing this to be true, no matter who tries to tell us.

Jim Carrey: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that that’s not the answer.”[19]

Leonardo DiCaprio: “I’ve been very lucky to have achieved a lot of the things that I dreamt of achieving…but, at the end of the day – and I truly believe this – it is not about achieving great wealth or success. Because they don’t bring happiness ultimately. They really don’t.” [20]

Tom Brady: “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘… It’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” When the interviewer asked him, “What’s the answer?” Brady could only say, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew.”[21]

All these fellows feel the same way the Teacher felt because all of them made the same mistake: They all forget the spiritual. Oh, they may say they do transcendental meditation or try out different religions or philosophies, but none of them are taking the right medicine for what ails them.

At the start of this chapter, the Teacher said, “I’m looking for what is good.” Where can he find it?

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, [the Lord] has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

The answer for your life is not whimsy or work or wealth or wine or women. It’s withness with God. God Who made you and loves you and calls to you and has put eternity in your heart so that you would seek Him, find Him, and be in a forever relationship with Him. California forever? No, it’s koinania forever! Fellowship and communion with God your Creator and Savior and King.

Now, as Christians, we tend to think we can beat the system. We’ll have a relationship with God and all these other things. Sometimes we try to pursue both. We allow ourselves to put too great an emphasis on wealth or on personal pleasure or on finding our identity in the work we do. But we can only have one Master. There can only be one king in your heart.

“Ok, then I guess we can’t laugh or have a good time or if we’re paid well, we must not be spiritual.” No. What we’ll learn later in Ecclesiastes is that we’re supposed to enjoy life – not just in the house of worship, but at meal times, too. We’ll learn that these are gifts God gives us as we walk with Him. Because it is His delight to give us joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength! And God does gift some believers with a great deal of earthly resources so they can enjoy them and so they can bless others. God wants you to laugh. He wants you to enjoy your food. He wants you to enjoy intimacy with your spouse. He wants you work with excellence at your job and to bless your efforts.

Do we trust Him enough to say to ourselves, “Ok, self, this is not about me, me, me, I, I, I, my pleasure, my comfort, my dreams. This is about me walking with God. Withness with Him. His purposes, His priorities, His provision.” That is what is good. That is what fulfills. That is answer the Teacher and Tom Brady and Jim Carry and DiCaprio haven’t discovered yet, but we have. And so, let’s live with the Lord in faithfulness and service and humility and trust and enjoy the fullness of that withness.


2 Robert Alter   The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary
3 James Smith   The Wisdom Literature And Psalms
4 Iain Provan   The NIV Application Commentary: Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs
5 The NET Bible First Edition: Notes
6 Duane A. Garrett   The New American Commentary: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs
8 Philip Ryken   Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters
9 1 Kings 7, 9,   2 Chronicles 8
10 David Hubbard   The Communicator’s Commentary: Ecclesiastes, Song Of Solomon
14 Provan
15 Walter Kaiser Jr.   Ecclesiastes: Total Life
16 Dima Srouji   Solomon’s pools: A patient Framework Awaiting Its potential
17 1 Kings 10:29
18 Eaton
19 2005 December 16, The Ottawa Citizen, Carrey’s been busted, Continuation title: Carrey—Being rich not the answer by Jay Stone

You Can Take The Jew Out Of Zion, But You Can’t Take Zion Out Of The Jew (Isaiah 62:1-12)

“You know you’re from San Bernardino if…”

It’s a FaceBook Group I joined with 5K members. I’m also on, “You might be from Hanford if you…” Almost 16K members on that site. Why would little Hanford have three times the membership? Because the murder rate in Berdoo is 23 per hundred thousand.

I’m thinking of starting a site for Riverdale. I’ve got to work out the name. So far I’ve got, “You can’t prove I’m from Riverdale because…”

Believers are part of a city group: Jerusalem.

In the Bible, in the letter written to the Hebrew Christians, Abraham “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (11:10).

The writer continues, describing the life of the believer as a journey of faith towards the city. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland… a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (11:13-16).

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1You Can Have “I Won’t Hold My Peace” Excitement About Jesus, and #2 Jesus Has “I Won’t Hold My Peace” Excitement About You.   

#1 – You Can Have “I Won’t Hold My Peace” Excitement About Jesus (v1-5)

  • Right out of the gate, Isaiah promises, “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest.”
  • Then in verses 6&7 we read, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, And give Him no rest…”

The Lord challenges us to examine ourselves in light of the revealed future. Are we excited about where we are going? If we are, we won’t be able to “hold our peace” about it; and there is no time to “rest” along the way.

At the time he wrote, Isaiah’s time on Earth was getting short. In an apocryphal document titled, The Martyrdom of Isaiah, the prophet addresses King Hezekiah and predicts, “by Manasseh thy son, and through the agency of his hands I shall depart mid the torture of my body… by his hands I shall be

sawn asunder.” This is alluded to in Hebrews 11:37.

Isa 62:1  For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns.

“Zion” refers to both a hill in the city of Jerusalem and to the city on the hill. It is also synonymous with the nation of Israel.

Isaiah is showing us Jerusalem after the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (aka, The Great Tribulation) in the one thousand year Kingdom of God on Earth.

He is not going to “hold his peace” means he will talk about future Jerusalem constantly. The remainder of his book does just that.

He promised not to “rest.” Do you remember when it was popular to call Christians ‘pew potatoes’? (It’s a variation of ‘couch potato’).

How many of you had Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head for a toy? How many of you had them before 1964? You would know if you did because for the first 12 years Mr. Potato Head was offered as separate plastic parts to be affixed to a real potato (or other vegetable). Due to complaints regarding rotting vegetables and new government safety regulations, Hasbro introduced the plastic potato body in 1964.

“Rest.” I dare say most of us, as believers, get too much rest when it comes to our work & walk with Jesus. If you want to immediately anger me, tell me about a pastor who is taking a Sabbatical.

But having said that, let us agree that it is too easy to judge others:

  • Somebody who attends every meeting of the church may be may be carnal.
  • Those who seem less involved may have a full prayer closet.

In Romans 14:4 we are told, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

Tom Bodett promised, “We’ll leave the light on” at his chain of Motel 6’s. If Isaiah had made advertisements, he’d have said, “Look for the lamps of righteousness & salvation.”

Isa 62:2  The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name.

Bible “righteousness” can refer to doing what is right. Mostly we think of it in conjunction with salvation. A sinner believes God. He then “puts it into your account as righteousness” (BBE). You are not actually righteous; you still sin on account of your mortal body. God declares you righteous because Jesus died in your place. You are thereby justified. God remains just and is the justifier of sinners.

Thanks to Ezekiel, we know Jerusalem’s future name: “And the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE” (48:35). (Jehovah Shama).

(Sounds like the start of a “Who’s on first?” skit. Where are we going? There. Where? Can’t you Hear? We are going There. I feel like this is going Nowhere. Are we There yet?).

“There” will be many Gentile nations on Earth during the Millennium. It appears they will be monarchies. Wait a minute! What happened to democracy?

Theocracy overrules democracy (and our republic and any form of government man has attempted). In the future, that is. Not now.

Isa 62:3  You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God.

The “crown” is worn by a king. The “diadem” or “turban” is worn by a priest.

  • As to the crown, the nation of Israel was unconditionally promised that a descendant of David would sit on the throne in Jerusalem forever.
  • As to the turban, Israel will be a kingdom of priests, ministering to Gentiles who make pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Do you ever play the game of asking a child which hand the candy is in, and making them choose? God’s version is that either hand, anytime you pick, opens to a blessing.

Isa 62:4  You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights in you…

According to one source, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. I don’t think that count includes everything in the modern age.

  • “Hephzibah” means something like, My delight is in her.
  • “Beulah” means married.

He is describing a last-minute rescue of Israel, motivated by His deep & abiding love for her. The LORD has a very particular set of skills. He will save the Jews.

  • Israel is referred to as the wife of the LORD (Isaiah 54:6).
  • The Church is called the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7).

Though these two references are similar, they are not the same. The Church is never called a wife. The Bride of Christ (or just bride) is always used in reference to the (primarily Gentile) Church of the New Testament. These are the ones who have been saved since Pentecost and remain until the Church is removed from Earth at the Resurrection & Rapture.

One commentator explains, “These two references reflect the two-part nature of God’s plan of redemption for the world. Salvation comes to the Jew first, but the Gentiles are also given opportunity through their association with Israel and the promises made to that nation. Both groups are ‘wedded’ to the Lord in that both are included in a single covenant given to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ.”

Isa 62:5 (CEV) Your people will take the land, just as a young man takes a bride. The LORD will be pleased because of you, just as a husband is pleased with his bride.

Sometimes the mention of marriage, brides & the bridegroom is a simple illustration. Life in the future Millennial Jerusalem will be joyous, like marriage as it was meant to be. Israel will be so thoroughly cleansed and purified of her sin that she will be looked upon as a virgin. Just as a groom rejoices over a bride, so will God rejoice over them. This is a way of saying, “The honeymoon never ends!”

The Bible says “Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Over the period of his life walking with God, he went through many cities on Earth, but in the end knew exactly where he was going – Jerusalem.

You have exactly that same testimony to share.

You don’t know where you’re going on Earth; not really. Let God lead. Eventually, we get to Jerusalem.

People are leaving California. They get pretty excited about it:

  • No more unaffordable vehicle registration; in fact, they pay you in the state you are going to, because they can’t wait to have Californians.
  • You can buy 10 houses with acreage and a lake for the price of a one-bedroom California home that has a communal neighborhood bathroom.
  • You can fish & hunt simultaneously, without a license, using mortars or shoulder mounted missiles – which are sold in any mini-mart. They give every Californian a bump stock as a welcoming gift.

That’s all good, but let’s get & stay excited about the Lord’s coming.

#2 – Jesus Has “I Won’t Hold My Peace” Excitement About You (v6-12)   

Do you set reminders? God does!

They are called “watchmen” by Isaiah.

Isa 62:6  I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,

Most likely these “watchmen” are angelic beings:

  • They have a 24/7, 360 ministry.
  • They make their announcement to the LORD, not to the Jews.
  • It isn’t wrong to suggest they’ve constantly been making this announcement from at least the 7th century – even though Jews were dispersed from Jerusalem for centuries and there were no towers.

The Talmud is the collection of rabbinical writings compiled in the 5th century BC. Jews consider it authoritative. These watchmen are identified as angels in the Talmud.

What do they say to the LORD?

Isa 62:7  And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Is Jerusalem established as “a praise in the Earth?” Hardly! We are seeing maybe the greatest outpouring of hatred for the Jews to ever occur at once.

When Jerusalem is established as “a praise in the Earth,” it will mean that Jesus has returned and is ruling over the Kingdom of God on Earth.

God doesn’t need angelic watchmen to remind Him of His promises to Israel. Whatever else might be going on, in Heaven or on Earth, there is, for lack of a better word, an atmosphere of expectation that the Lord is going to finalize the redemption & restoration plan He announced in the Garden of Eden. It may seem delayed, but be assured there are angels who keep it at the top of the agenda.

Isa 62:8  The LORD has sworn by His right hand And by the arm of His strength: “Surely I will no longer give your grain As food for your enemies; And the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine, For which you have labored.

Isa 62:9  But those who have gathered it shall eat it, And praise the LORD; Those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.”

It is a basic tenet of government that those governed are free, and protected, to enjoy their own labors. The Millennium will be such a time for Israel.

Isa 62:10  Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples!

Isa 62:11  Indeed the LORD has proclaimed To the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.’ ”

When citizens knew that their King was coming, they’d prepare for it, working night & day if needed. Working joyfully, I might add.

Israel’s King did come! Jesus was “salvation” to Israel. He was their Savior. He would have rewarded them with the fulfillment of the covenants God made them over the centuries. The “work before Him” of redeeming His creatures & restoring His creation would have commenced.

Sadly, Israel was not prepared – even though they were warned to be. I’m talking, of course, about John the Baptist announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, and then presenting Jesus as the King.

Isa 62:12  And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

There is a lot of evil ‘name-calling’ against God’s chosen nation. It won’t permanently end until the Lord, Jesus, is ruling from Jerusalem.

You can recognize it when someone is genuinely excited to see you, either every time or after a long time. For one thing, they don’t duck down the aisles at Save Mart.

Jesus is described in the Gospels and elsewhere as being genuinely excited to be with us. I think one strong example should be enough. The Revelation of Jesus Christ closes out God’s story of redemption and restoration:

  • Jesus returns in chapter 19. He returns with us I might add.
  • Chapter 20 – We are assured that the 1000 year Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is a reality.
  • Chapters 21 and 22 are dedicated to showing us as much of eternity as we can stand as human beings in our mortal bodies. Those chapters are filled with excitement and anticipation. Like being told that there won’t be any temple in eternity because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

Twice in chapter twenty-two Jesus let’s us know, “Behold, I am coming quickly.”

An excited Holy Spirit joins with an enthusiastic bride to respond, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (v17).

If that’s not enough to convince you, Jesus shouts out, “Surely I am coming quickly.” To which we exclaim,  “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

A.W. Tozer said, “Let us be alert to the season in which we are living. It is the season of the Blessed Hope, calling for us to cut our ties with the world and build ourselves on this One who will soon appear. He is our hope – a Blessed Hope enabling us to rise above our times and fix our gaze upon Him.”

Prophecy Update #789 – Ballot Bot

The Bible is estimated to be 25%-35% prophecy. It’s very specific prophecies have thus far been 100% accurate.

There is much Bible prophecy that is yet unfulfilled. For example, beginning in chapter four, everything in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is future to us. That is why we are called futurists. We believe that these yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies will be fulfilled in a physical, literal, global, apocalyptic context.

It makes sense that the world would be moving in the direction that the prophecies predict. Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

  1. We are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news. Sensationalism about the future is detrimental.
  2. We’re not saying the things we report are the fulfillment of prophecy. We’re saying that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in the build-up to the future Great Tribulation.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, in the future, we read about a fascinating and terrifying “image.” A man we call the False Prophet oversees the making of this “image,” which by its description seems to possess sentient life.

“[The False Prophet] causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship [the Antichrist], whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. [He tells] those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the [Antichrist]… He was granted power to give breath to the image… that the image… should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image… to be killed.”

What could animate this “image,” rendering it sentient and deadly? Artificial Intelligence.

I was sent an article this week titled, AI candidate running for Parliament in the U.K. says AI can humanize politics.


An artificial intelligence candidate is on the ballot for the United Kingdom’s general election next month.

“AI Steve,” represented by Sussex businessman Steve Endacott, will appear on the ballot alongside non-AI candidates running to represent constituents in the Brighton Pavilion area of Brighton and Hove, a city on England’s southern coast.

Endacott is the chairman of Neural Voice, a company that creates personalized voice assistants for businesses in the form of an AI avatar.

He said the idea is to use AI to create a politician who is always around to talk with constituents and who can take their views into consideration.[1]

Another source reported that AI Steve can chat with 10,000 people at once.

Will AI power the image? We’re not saying that. We are simply pointing out trends you’d expect from your reading of prophecy.

In His incarnation, Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom promised Israel had come. When the Jewish leadership rejected Jesus as their King, Jesus went to Heaven. The physical kingdom on earth went on standby.

We live in the Church Age. It began on the day of Pentecost fifty days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It precedes the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, more commonly known as the seven-year Great Tribulation.

The Tribulation will not begin until something fantastic happens. The Lord said He would return for us, the Church, raising the dead in Christ, then catching up, rapturing, believers who are alive when He comes. He promised His Church Age believers, “I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10).

The resurrection and rapture of the church is always imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!



Oh, A Wise Guy, Eh? (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18)

I found a fun list this week: The Dumbest Research Studies Of 2016.[1] One found “a healthy diet helps you live longer.” Another discovered “most of your Facebook friends aren’t really your friends.” My favorite was, “Spiderman doesn’t exist.” Researchers at Cambridge have conclusively determined that it is “virtually impossible for a normal sized human being to have the characteristics of Spiderman.”

Tonight the Teacher invites us into his lab where he has been running incredibly important experiments for a lifetime. As researchers often do, he gives us the abstract up front: Hevel, hevel, everything is hevel. His work has left him frustrated and still full of questions.

His research project wasn’t dumb – he was asking the questions every human being wrestles with at some point. In fact, this is maybe the must needful study ever conducted.

And his problem wasn’t that he was out of his depth. In our verses tonight, the Teacher gives his credentials and reveals his methodology, showing the impeccable quality of his research. He’s not just a hobbyist trying to divert himself. He’s capable and well-funded – fully qualified.

On top of that, he’s driven by desperation. Like all people, he has a need for meaning and purpose. To his credit, he’s unwilling to simply ignore the problem. Instead, he dedicated his life to finding the meaning of life. And what he found is that these answers elude us, like smoke in the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:12 – 12 I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes never specifically names Solomon as the writer, though it’s obvious the book wants us to assume it is Solomon speaking.[2] Many modern commentaries say it’s definitely not Solomon – that it’s some later writer, after the exile, who is writing a “fictional royal autobiography.”[3] The problem with that idea is that if the Teacher is not Solomon – if he’s just some guy doing a thought experiment or speaking from his own theoretical philosophy – then his findings can’t be trusted. Do you want a pilot who never really went to flight school?

He was the king over all Israel (not a divided kingdom) in Jerusalem. That alone narrows it down to Solomon, not to mention the other clues in the book.

Solomon speaks with credibility.[4] As king he had total ability, complete privilege, all the funds necessary, to explore these questions to the fullest possible extent and then some. So if there was anyone out there who had the time, the resources, the knowhow, the freedom, and the capability to get to the bottom of these questions, it was him.

Ecclesiastes 1:13 – 13 I applied my mind to examine and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied.

Twice tonight, the Teacher will explain that he “applied his mind” in these pursuits. Your version may say heart instead of mind. Linguists tell us the Hebrew phrase is, “I gave my heart…the whole self”[5] to finding these answers – to finding the meaning of life.

This wasn’t just a weekend whim. It wasn’t like one of those scenes where the spoiled prince shows up to the battlefield in pristine armor while everyone knows he’ll never do any real fighting. The Teacher was disciplined and purposeful. He was “deliberate, not dabbling.”[6]

He said he was going to examine and explore wisdom, which here could be defined as “the art of success.”[7] He did it more than anyone who came before or after him. But his study left him frustrated and unfulfilled. He described all his intellectual pursuits as “miserable tasks” – heavy bags God puts on us to weigh us down and waste our lives. Wow.

How could the Solomon of Proverbs say such a thing about wisdom? In Proverbs 3 he said, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom.”[8]

It’s because the wisdom of Proverbs 3:13 is not the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 1:13. Notice, the wisdom here is “under heaven.” Philip Ryken writes, “The kind of wisdom the Preacher had in mind was not divine wisdom but human wisdom—the very best that human beings have ever thought or said. The question is, how far will such wisdom take us? Will it lead us in the way of life everlasting? Will it help us understand why everything matters?”[9] The answer, the Teacher finally realized, is no.

He wanted to understand the meaning of life, he wanted to get his hands on success, fulfillment, achieving purposes that would make life worth living, but his mistake was made in the very first step. He gave his heart to self: Self-fulfillment, self-actualization, self-determination, self-purpose.

The problem is: You are not made for self. You were made for God’s purposes. You belong to Him. When we divorce ourselves from God’s purposes, then the result is what the Teacher says here. “All my wisdom and exploration was a miserable frustration, a lousy job, a hopeless task.”[10]

The other Psalmists may not have been as smart as Solomon, but they understood how to find the fulfillment we all long for:

Psalm 84:5 – Happy are the people whose strength is in [the living God], whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

God made us, He bought us, He loves us, and He has purposes for us to discover and walk in. When we walk with God and fulfill His purposes, life is full of fruitful multiplication. When we wander away from God and reduce our lives to “under the sun,” then no matter what we do, in the end it will become frustrated misery. That’s the bottom line of the Teacher’s studies.

Ecclesiastes 1:14 – 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.

The Teacher doubles down again. It won’t be the last time because he’s run the numbers. He knows we’re not going to make it. We sense his exasperation because he knows we don’t want to believe what he’s found. But he looks us in the eyes and says, “I’ve been to the end of the road. Everything you’re trying to do apart from a relationship with God is like trying to shepherd a flock of wind.”[11]

Ecclesiastes 1:15 – 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

This is the first of two little proverbs the Teacher will share with us tonight. This one points out two harsh realities in life.

“What is crooked cannot be straightened.” Under the sun, some problems will never be solved. There will never be a human government totally free from corruption. There will never be a society with total fairness and equality. There will always be deficits and potholes.

“What is lacking cannot be counted.” One of the reasons why we can’t ultimately solve every problem is because we are working with insufficient information.[12] There’s always something we don’t know, something we can’t anticipate, something the defies our human logic.

My favorite example of this proverb is what is called the Cobra Effect. When the British ruled India, they were concerned about the number of venomous cobras in Delhi. So, the government offered a bounty for every dead cobra. That should lead to the eradication of cobras and the problem solved, right? Wrong! What it led to was an explosion of cobra breeding. When the government figured out people were breeding cobras, they said, “Ok, we’re not going to pay you anymore.” So then all these cobra ranchers thought, “Well…I don’t want to have a bunch of cobras at my house anymore, they’re dangerous!” And many of them just turned the cobras loose, leading to a great increase in the wild cobra population![13] It’s hevel. That’s what the Teacher is talking about.

Ecclesiastes 1:16 – 16 I said to myself, “See, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped wisdom and knowledge.”

It’s not a brag, this is simply a statement of fact. We’re talking about the GOAT when it comes to knowledge and understanding and intelligence.

The Teacher is a very careful researcher. He said, “Ok, here’s the problem I want to solve. I’m going to plan, I’m going to assess everything I see, I’m going to evaluate my methods and audit myself.” He’s not some absent-minded professor. He’s fully aware of everything going on and his part in it.

After his initial failure in verses 13-15, he goes back to the drawing board and starts again.[14] He’s checking his methods and his tools and his calibration to make sure he’s getting true results.

Ecclesiastes 1:17 – 17 I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.

He started with pursuing earthly wisdom, but the results weren’t what he hoped. So, he said, “Let’s go all the way to the other end. Since my pursuit of human wisdom left me miserable, maybe I’ll find peace and happiness at the opposite end in madness and folly.” And we’ll see all these different avenues along the spectrum he took trying to find what he was looking for.

In his quest for purpose, for fulfillment, to discover the meaning of life, the Teacher was willing to go a lot of places. But where didn’t he go? He didn’t go to prayer, the way Nehemiah did. He didn’t go to praise, like David did. He didn’t go to God’s Word the way the Psalmists did. He went down human avenues – each of which made great promises, but ultimately left the Teacher only hevel. Trying to shepherd smoke.

Ecclesiastes 1:18 – 18 For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases.

Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell wrote, “We have found that the men who know the most are the most gloomy.”[15] That comes from a paper they wrote with other scientists and intellectuals in an effort to save the humanity from nuclear war.

Their big “answer” was this line: “Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”

But any 90 second study of humanity, whether through history, sociology, anthropology, or personal experience will show that “answer” is empty. Humanity is defined by selfishness, violence, greed, opportunism, jealousy, stubbornness. Humanity is obviously never going to renounce war on its own. Humanity not only must have laws dictating what is acceptable, but we must have those who enforce the laws since there are so many people who do not want to obey the laws.

The Teacher was the wisest person to ever live – at least when it comes to wisdom under the sun. But that wisdom is not enough. In fact, that wisdom is so inferior it will one day be destroyed.

In 1 Corinthians Paul quotes Isaiah where God says:

1 Corinthians 1:19 – 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.

What we need is something better than wisdom under the sun. So God offers His wisdom instead. And in the New Testament we discover that God’s wisdom is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:24-25 – 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

You see, the Teacher is trying to carry a load that is too heavy for him. He’s nowhere near strong enough to lift this burden of finding the meaning of life, of ultimate purpose, of true fulfillment. It’s too much, it’s too heavy, and it’s bolted to the bedrock of the earth. All his efforts are like herding cats – shepherding smoke. And he realized it was a meaningless, miserable, hopeless task.

But then God comes along and says, “You don’t need to shepherd the wind. Why don’t you let Me shepherd you?” When we are shepherded by God and follow Him, He not only leads us into the purposes He’s designed for us but also to contentment and fulfillment – green pastures and still waters. And, along the way, He straightens what is crooked for us! Check this out:

Psalm 5:8 – Lord, lead me in your righteousness because of my adversaries; make your way straight before me.

God does what “can’t” be done! He does the impossible on our behalf.

Hebrews 12 tell us that, as we submit to the Father, our tired hands and weakened knees are strengthened and the paths are straightened for our feet.[16] He doesn’t weigh us down with misery.

Instead of being a frustrating misery, life becomes full of fruitful multiplication. There are still difficulties, still hardships, still things that don’t make total sense to us, but God gives us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, firmness instead of hevel. Real purpose. Real meaning. Real fulfillment found in Jesus Christ, Who offers us life everlasting, life more abundantly, a life full of holy delight, glory and joy.

I came across a website this week: This fellow has been living in Hawaii since the 80’s and now defines himself by challenging others to go live there, too. His about page says, “I’ve been living the dream…[are you] ready to live the dream?”

In one eye-catching article titled, “What IS The Meaning Of Life? Fun? God? [Money]?” he wrote:

“I guess I’m on a quest for the meaning of life. I’m 42 and it’s time I figured it all out. I’m giving myself until December this year, then I’ve got to have the answer.

I’ve said in the past that fun is the entire meaning of life…but having fun most of your life doesn’t prepare you for the future at all.

Some people live their lives for God. Whatever god they choose is irrelevant. Gods have nothing to do with the meaning of life except that if they created this world and gave me life then they must have had some idea for human beings in mind. They must have had some sort of point to creating us. They must have had some idea how our time living could be best spent.

What affects me is the nagging question about why I’m going through this life as I am. What is the point of me going through this life?

For myself I’ve found various meanings of life. Some last me one or two years, some 10. Right now I’m more interested in the ultimate meaning of life – one that might be shared by everyone. Is there such a thing?

The meaning of life is living in Hawaii with family and friends… that’s it!”[17]

I wonder what someone living through the Lahaina Fires on Maui thinks about that? Or why Hawaii has a higher suicide rate than 26 other states?[18] Or why, on average, 12 people move out of Hawaii every single day?[19] There has to be more than sun and sand.

There is. It’s life in Christ. A life offered to anyone anywhere. One we get to experience day by day as we walk with Him.


2 Choon-Leong Seow   Ecclesiastes
3 Douglas Miller   Ecclesiastes
4 Duane A. Garrett   The New American Commentary: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs
5 The NET Bible First Edition Notes
6 David Hubbard   The Communicator’s Commentary: Ecclesiastes, Song Of Solomon
7 Hubbard
8 Proverbs 3:13
9, 14 Ryken
10 NAC
11 Robert Alter   The Hebrew Bible: A Translation With Commentary
12 CSB Study Bible: Notes
15 Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell   The Russell-Einstein Manifesto
16 Hebrews 12:9-13

The Man From U.N.C.T.I.O.N. (Isaiah 61:1-11)

If you want to start a church it will set you back $198.00.

That is the price of The Church Planting Guide, published by StartCHURCH. “This easy-to-follow guide will take you week-by-week for 20 weeks through the process of starting your Church on a solid foundation.”

  • Week 1 is dedicated to naming the church, logo development, inviting Board Members, defining the spousal role, creating a vision, and writing a Mission Statement.
  • By Week 3 you will finalize the Church Board, draft & file the Articles of Incorporation, obtain your Federal Employee ID number, and create your Corporate Records notebook.
  • By Week 8 you have started fundraising in what they describe as “an atmosphere of generosity.”
  • Week 11 is rest, ‘cause you’re going to be exhausted from all the paperwork. 
  • Week 18 you start writing your first sermon, develop a children’s ministry, and choose your worship team.

In our text, we will see Jesus StartKINGDOM.

Even if one existed, the Lord would not have had the funds to purchase a guide book. It isn’t an exaggeration to say He had zero material resources. He had nothing the Jews would recognize as important & necessary to start their Kingdom on Earth.

What and Who Jesus did have is identified as the anointing of God the Holy Spirit.

We – the Church – don’t make an appearance in this chapter. That is to be expected. We are a mystery revealed in the NT.

We can glean a few things about anointing because the NT says that we, too, have God’s anointing:

  • The apostle John said to us, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (First John 2:20).
  • The apostle Paul wrote,“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God” (Second Corinthians 1:21).

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1You Are Anointed To Be Like First Coming Jesus, and #2 You’ll Be Anointed To Be Like Second Coming Jesus.

What is the anointing?

Apologist & author Don Stewart breaks it down Scripturally as well as anyone. I’ll cut right to his conclusions:

  • It is God who anoints the believer with His Holy Spirit. We do not anoint ourselves. Thus, it is entirely a work of God.
  • This anointing of the Holy Spirit remains forever with the believer. It never leaves those who receive it.
  • The purpose of this anointing of the Holy Spirit is that the believer might be taught of God. He anoints us to teach us His truths so that we can please Him by doing the work of the ministry.
  • We find that the Holy Spirit anoints the believer in spiritual discernment and the understanding of the Word of God. In fact, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be the Teacher of those who believed in Him.

Some see the anointing of the Spirit as another way of saying the believer has already received the Holy Spirit while others think it is for a special ministry that the Spirit of God has in the life of each believer. It is  both.

I’ve been talking a lot about Jesus. Where is He in this chapter? I’ll let Him tell you, by way of the Gospel of Luke.

Luk 4:16  So [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

Luk 4:17  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:



Luk 4:20  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

Jesus was reading Isaiah 61. He abruptly stopped in the middle of verse two. Perhaps the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him because this was odd. Why stop mid-verse?

These words were troublesome for the Jewish scholars. How could the same person “proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,” And “the day of vengeance of our God?” Isn’t that contradictory?

As tension built in the Synagogue, “He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (4:21).

If Scripture was being “fulfilled,” it meant that the words Isaiah wrote 700yrs earlier were about Him. Jesus of Nazareth was claiming to be the Servant in Isaiah. No wonder that the Jews “were filled with wrath,” and attempted to throw Jesus off a cliff.

Isa 61:1  “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me…

Our analysis of anointing was accurate and informative, but it seems a little sterile for something so intimate as a Person indwelling us.

Dr. Michael Svigel reminds us, “A lot of modern biblical commentaries and systematic theologies do nothing for my love of the Word of God, or the God of the Word. Their intricate analyses and critical exegesis function like a complex machine that spins gold into straw.”

I do not want that to be true of our discussion of God the Holy Spirit. It will be if we are not humble to realize we are not immune from reducing Him to straw.

It has been my armchair observation over these past 40 years of pastoring that dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s anointing is too easily ignored in favor of, well, just about anything else! We had a good laugh at StartCHURCH. It isn’t sarcasm from The Babylon Bee. It is a methodology being promoted as biblical.

The Bible is a supernatural book, and the Holy Spirit is a supernatural Person. One commentator, using the word “filled” in place of anointed, said, “We are not filled with an influence; we are not filled with a sensation; we are not filled with a set of ideas and truth; we are not filled with a blessing, but we are filled with a Person… and its very essence is the indwelling life of Jesus Christ Himself.”

Jesus could not have accomplished His mission on Earth without the anointing of God the Holy Spirit. What does that say about us? “God does His work by the operation of the Spirit. We should not attempt to do ours by the power of trained and devoted intellect.”

Isa 61:1  “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Isa 61:2  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…

This is a gracious offer by ‘First Coming’ Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth promised to the nation of Israel. It was “the acceptable year,” it was exactly the right time.

The things He would do after anointed (some listed here) would prove He was their Messiah.

Isa 61:2  … And the day of vengeance of our God…

Geno was teaching about the power of punctuation in the Bible. The comma between “the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God…” has so far spanned twenty centuries. On one side is the Lord’s First Coming; on the other, His Second Coming – after the Church Age & after the Great Tribulation.

You do know that Jesus is returning, don’t you?

The delay was a result of the nation of Israel officially rejecting the King’s offer to establish the Kingdom.

Isa 61:2  … To comfort all who mourn,

Isa 61:3  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

The mourning, the ashes, the heaviness – those are conditions in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (aka, the Great Tribulation). The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is necessary in order that spiritually blinded Jews will recognize their Messiah, Jesus. It’s awful, but not as awful as eternal separation from God in conscious torment.

These are beautiful descriptions of conditions in the future Millennial Kingdom. After all the centuries from the Garden of Eden until the Second Coming, “the Lord’s will” will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

There are five things listed here that Jesus did in His First Coming. We shouldn’t try to do them so much as to realize we are doing them led by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is normal and orthodox to point out that God the Holy Spirit is a Person. I want to remind us that He is a very complex person. We will never fully enjoy His indwelling if we only make lists of the things He can do, and then put them into what we feel is the logical, rational order of how He does them.

Being filled with the Word of God is not the same as being filled with the Spirit of God. The person who proves that to us is Jesus. Could there be any human more filled with the Word of God than Jesus Christ? If we had any doubt, we see Him wielding it in His desert temptings by Satan.

Nevertheless, Jesus was not ready to embark on His ministry until the Spirit’s anointing.

This is off-topic, but we need to acknowledge Jesus did no healings, no exorcisms, no raisings from the dead for His first 30 years on Earth. Sure it would have temporarily benefited many people. But in the long run, Jesus came to be the Savior of the world. And His heavenly Father had a plan for that. Part of that plan was for people to look upon Jesus’ life and understand the vital part that the Holy Spirit played. He was anointed and Bam! For 3 ½ years He did so much that it could never be compiled in books.

The remaining verses of chapter sixty-one transport us to life on the Millennial Earth. It is after the Second Coming. Though not told here, the Church will return with Jesus, having been resurrected & raptured 7yrs earlier.

Isa 61:4  And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

Isa 61:5  Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, And the sons of the foreigner Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

Before we go on, I should explain who these “strangers” and “foreigners” are. At His Second Coming, Jews who survive the 7yrs will all be saved by looking upon Jesus and repenting. There will also be multitudes of saved Gentiles who have endured til the end. These and their children born during the thousand years are the Gentile “strangers” and “foreigners.”

These Gentiles will serve the Jews. Not as slaves or anything weird like that. It will be a blessing.

Isa 61:6  But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, They shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, And in their glory you shall boast.

  • Just as the descendants of Aaron performed priestly service for all the people of Israel, so in the future all the people of Israel will perform priestly service for the nations.
  • Just as the priests used to live from all that the people of Israel brought them, tithes and sacrifices, so Israel as a whole will live from all that the nations will bring them.

Isa 61:7  Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.

We are privileged to be alive in the time that God has reestablished the nation of Israel, after centuries of dispersion. It is obviously a first step to fulfilling the promises of a double portion and everlasting joy.

Isa 61:8  “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

God will reverse the injustices forced upon Israel through the centuries. His love of “justice” will be on display.

Twice a day, everyday, morning & evening, two lambs were to be sacrificed in the Temple. The nations who troubled Israel, dispossessing them, robbed them of their burnt offering. The last burnt offering would have been sometime in 70AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple.

Isa 61:9  Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, And their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”

This verse describes how the Gentile nations will look upon Israel with admiration and awe. Stop and contemplate that while thinking about the antisemitism currently sweeping the globe.

Future Israel chimes in:

Isa 61:10  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

I am in love with this verse. It has become my go-to for explaining salvation. It’s also great for funerals.

Heaven has a dress code. The Bible presents humans as dressed in filthy rags. We need a robe, the “robe of righteousness,” to get into Heaven. When we believe God, Jesus takes upon Himself our filthy garments and freely gives us the robe of righteousness.

Isa 61:11  For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

If you were asked to describe conditions in the future Kingdom… Righteousness & praise springing up as the fruit of the nations would do it.

Tony Stark gave Peter Parker an Amazing Spider-Man suit. Most of its power, however, was locked-up. Only as Peter matured would he earn more of its abilities. He had to deserve the suit.

Don’t think of the anointing of God as if it is locked-up, waiting for you to do something to earn it or deserve it. If you believe that, you will end up in one of two camps:

  • There are those who are not interested in a full experience of the suit. They immediately subordinate the anointing of God the Holy Spirit to their own wisdom of walking in obedience to God’s Word. They equate the word of God and the Spirit of God as one in the same. Maybe not in their doctrine, but in their practice for sure.They gleefully limit God the Holy Spirit, talking about the cessation of the Holy Spirit’s power and manifestations.
  • On the other end, there are those who are convinced that the suit does require hacking. They seek experience after experience because they believe it is the way to unlock the Holy Spirit. Their experiences get weirder and weirder, farther and farther from genuine.

You already have His anointing to live the Christian life. You can receive particular ‘anointing’ for specific tasks.

How should we then live? Be hospitable!

As a Person who indwells us, we are encouraged to show hospitality to the Holy Spirit by holding three things in our minds:

  1. Yield to Him.
  2. Don’t grieve Him.
  3. Don’t quench Him.

Prophecy Update #788 – Bunker Or Bust

Has anyone counted the number of prophecies in the Bible?

J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1817.

How many remain to be fulfilled? It is estimated between 300 – 500. For example, we consider the Book of the Revelation as future prophecy from chapter four to the end.

We shouldn’t have to point out that, since the Bible is over 25% prophecy, we ought to be looking hard at what is coming.

I came across an article titled, The latest billionaire trend? Doomsday bunkers with a flammable moat.

Here are excerpts:

As you have probably noticed bunkers have become the ultimate status symbol among the 1%. Look, for example, at Mark Zuckerberg… [He] has been constructing a 5000-sq-ft underground shelter on his 1400-acre compound in Hawaii… The compound will be completely self-sufficient with its own food and water supplies. The price tag for the entire project is over $270m.[1]

The founder of Facebook isn’t the only billionaire building gigantic compounds in Hawaii:

  • Oprah Winfrey purchased a 163-acre estate in Maui back in 2002, and has bought further plots of land since then.
  • Larry Ellison, the co-founder of tech company Oracle, purchased almost all of the Hawaiian island Lanai in 2012.
  • Two years ago, the billionaire Frank VanderSloot purchased a 2,000 acre ranch just south of Zuckerberg’s.

Why is this trend interesting? In the Revelation we read,

Rev 6:15  And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,

Rev 6:16  and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

While you consider that, another article I read suggested something else. “These tycoons might seem to be “prepping” for a familiar 20th-century style apocalypse, but they’re not. They are seeking to create entirely self-sustaining ecosystems, in which land, agriculture, the built environment and labor are all controlled and managed by a single person, who has more in common with a medieval-era feudal lord than a 21st-century capitalist.”

Students of Bible prophecy have long pointed to Revelation 6:6, “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine,’ ” as a prediction that famine will drive common people to become enslaved to the rich.

Are these bunkers and compounds the fulfillment of one or both prophesies?? We’re not saying that. We can’t say that. We can say that this a trend we expect from a plain, literal reading of the Bible.

There is a lot of stage-setting going on in terms of the Bible’s prophecies. Things like global government, global commerce, a personal ‘mark,’ social credit, apostasy in the church, the exponential growth of human knowledge, the elimination of cash, etc.

Most significantly, the Bible predicted that the nation of Israel would be born in a day, that Jews would return there from their dispersion all over the Earth, and that Jerusalem would be at the very heart of global tension until every nation stands against her & God intervenes to save her.

The unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible will be fulfilled to the letter. We are most definitely seeing the stage being set for the 2nd Coming of Jesus.

Jesus promised to resurrect & rapture His Church. He said, in fact He promised, that He would do it before His Second Coming, and before a time of Great Tribulation would come upon the whole Earth.[2]

The resurrection and rapture of the church is presented as an imminent event. It could happen anytime. Right now, for example.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, get ready, stay ready, and keep looking up.

Ready or not Jesus is coming! 


2 The Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:10

Stuck Everlasting (Ecclesiastes 1:2-11)

A 2021 study across a dozen countries and over 14,000 individuals found that 75% of people feel stuck professionally. 8 out of 10 said they’re ready to a make a change, but the vast majority say they can’t because of the obstacles they face. The researchers went all over the world, talking to C-suite executives, managers and employees alike, ages ranging from 22 to 74.[1]

Do you ever feel stuck? You’re not alone. Even the king of Israel felt that way. He tells us so in this book. We have just set out on a quest for meaning and purpose with this expert guide that Ecclesiastes calls The Teacher. This book is the travelogue that he uses to show us some harsh realities and challenge us to wrestle with what really matters. We’re told this book is a pointy stick – a cattle prod that drives us out of complacency into truth, despite how uncomfortable that may be.

In these lessons, the Teacher speaks to us from the perspective of a humanist or a secularist[2] – “not necessarily denying God’s existence but trying to make sense of life as though God were optional.”[3] What he has discovered is that people don’t only feel stuck, they are stuck. In this world, human beings are trapped in a system that ultimately leaves us unfulfilled and forgotten. Buckle up: Tonight’s text does not take us along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, this route is a drive through the Nevada desert, and the gas gauge is on empty.

Ecclesiastes 1:2 – “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”

We covered this verse last time, but we want to hear the opening line of the Teacher’s speech and we also should remind ourselves of what it means. “Futility” (your Bible may have “vanity,” or “meaningless.”), is the Hebrew word hevel. It refers to a puff of smoke.[4] It can be something that is toxic or something that is uncontrollable or absurd – something that’s here for a time and then disappears. You can’t grab smoke. You can’t build with it or on it. It’s there but we can’t hold onto it.

The Teacher isn’t just a pessimist. Through these chapters, we’ll discover he knows more than us, has experienced more than us, and has considered more than us. Derek Kidner rightly notes that Solomon (the author and Teacher of Ecclesiastes) was the “most brilliant and least limited of men.”[5]

The bottom line of his many studies was that everything is hevel. In the Hebrew that is the first and the last word of the Teacher’s lecture. He uses it 38 times in 12 chapters.

Ecclesiastes 1:3 – What does a person gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun?

If the Teacher stopped by for a visit at your job or in your classroom or while you were mowing the lawn, he might say, “What are you working on here?” And then you’d show him the sale you just closed, the paper you just finished after an all-night edit, the sprinkler system you finally got working just right. And he’d say, “Does any of that matter? How will that help you when you die?”

You see, after conducting all his research, the Teacher discovered three problems that plague every human life: Time, death, and chance. No one escapes them.

The Teacher says that, in the end, one day, you are going to die. And on that day the businesses you built, the degrees you earned, the awards you won, the relationships you maintained, the milestones you reached, none of those things will profit you as you lie in your casket.

The Pharaohs were buried with their treasure, but it no longer belonged to them. It belonged to the sand. And then later to the archaeologists who came and helped themselves to it. Every now and then you’ll hear about someone like Sandra West being buried in their Ferrari.[6] But that car will never drive again. No matter what we attain for ourselves in this life, none of it can profit us.

That word profit means what is left over.[7] It’s a word the Teacher will use ten times. He’s obsessed with finding a profitable life. He’s looking for advantage. He’s looking for net positive. He’s looking for a reason why. And he’s the only Old Testament writer who uses this particular word.

He’s also the only one to use this phrase “under the sun.” We see it 29 times in this book.[8] We talked about this last time: This phrase cracks the code of Ecclesiastes. Under the sun is the field of study. The Teacher is talking about the mortal human experience, disconnected from eternity. Under the sun life is hevel. We seem to be trapped in an absurd, meaningless, transient haze.

To begin proving his thesis, the Teacher draws our attention to the natural world.

Ecclesiastes 1:4 – A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

It’s not just that times passes. Time and death have partnered together. Generations die.[9] Another one is born, takes the place of the previous one, time passes, then they die, too.

“The earth remains forever” makes us scratch our heads. An evolutionist might say, “Well now we know that the sun will run out of fuel in a couple billion years, and that will be that.” A Bible-believing Christian would say, “We know the earth isn’t going to last forever, so what’s this about?”

The point the Teacher wants to get across is that this world in locked into a perpetual cycle that you can’t break out of. Linguists explain that what he said there is more like, “The earth remains as ever,”[10] or, “the world always stays the same.”[11] There’s never going to be a day where we wake up and the earth decided to spin the other way or not spin at all – a sort of planetary casual Friday.

Ecclesiastes 1:5 – The sun rises and the sun sets; panting, it hurries back to the place where it rises.

The average American will live just shy of 29,000 days.[12] It begs the question: How many sunsets do you have left? The truth is, we don’t know. Because not only are we trapped in a system plagued by time and death, but chance is in the mix, too. You may have had your last sunrise. If you’re not a Christian, you should think about that tonight. But every time our sun completes his trip across the sky, we’ve got one less sunrise coming our way. You’re going to die one day. I’m going to die one day. And, the morning after, the sun will still rise. That’s the cycle. That’s the system.

Ecclesiastes 1:6 – Gusting to the south, turning to the north, turning, turning, goes the wind, and the wind returns in its cycles.

Solomon really was an ingenious discoverer. It seems he knew something of the circular jet-streams of the wind.[13] In one part of the world, the wind blows from north to south. In another part east to west. We’re meant to notice the monotonous, seemingly purposelessness of these activities.

We can chuckle at how even when we think figured out how to harness the power of a force like the wind, so often it ends in a big pile of hevel. CNN published a story last year whose headline began: “Wind energy has a massive waste problem.”[14] Another report pointed out that hundreds of thousands of birds are killed by wind turbines every year.[15] We think we’ve fixed things, we think we solved a problem and we just create 10 more. Why? It’s hevel. Chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:7 – All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.

I have a bad habit of starting to fill a water pitcher on the sink and then turning to do something else. Five minutes later I realize I’ve forgotten all about the pitcher and now I have a pool in my kitchen. Not so the oceans. They’re never full.

Israel’s famous Dead Sea is land-locked. No outlet. Every day for thousands of years the Jordan has flowed into the Dead Sea, but it’s never full.[16] The cycle never ends.

Ecclesiastes 1:8 – All things are wearisome, more than anyone can say. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.

I’m sure many of you have a favorite piece of music. More than a favorite, a piece that moves you or arrests your attention. Maybe you’ve even heard it performed live, at decibels so loud your head hummed afterward. But, after hearing it, you aren’t done hearing music. What’s next in the queue?

You might find yourself saying, “I’ve seen enough,” but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to see anymore. You just want to see something else.

The human experience under the sun is wearisome. We are worn out, like the sun. Oh sure, some people are more cheery about it than others, but tell anyone that it’s once again time for their dental visit, or that they have to go renew your license, and they’ll feel like the Teacher in no time.

A person may distract themselves, but they can not deliver themselves from the realities of this world. The hardships. The unfairness. The goals you couldn’t quite reach. Time, death, and chance.

But as we consider these things, we realize this is a human problem. The sun isn’t depressed about its job. Did you know that western lowland gorillas almost never sleep in the same bed twice?[17] They make a new bed for themselves every day. But no gorilla is out there going, “This again…”

But humans are different. We are restless. We feel unfulfilled, stuck, frustrated with the workings of life. Why is it that the earth remains and I do not? Why is it that the meaningless life of a gorilla seems to cause him no worries? Meanwhile I work and strive and struggle just to make it to the end where I die and that’s it? The system we’re in doesn’t seem to match the hopes, the aspirations, the needs we have in the deepest parts of our hearts. It doesn’t seem to match what we’re made for.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 – What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us.

Wait! I have an iPhone. Solomon never had an iPhone. No, but he’s not talking about tools and devices. He may not have had an iPhone, but he had other means of communication, of entertainment, of distraction.

Even the laws of physics back up what the Teacher says in these verses. The law of the conservation of mass says that matter cannot be created or destroyed. The atoms that comprise our universe are fixed. This is a significant blow to the secular theory of the Big Bang, by the way.

Devices may be new, but the problems of life are the same. The pursuits of life are the same. Every generation that has ever lived has struggled to break free of the chains of time, death, and chance. But we can’t do it. We’ve tried inventions, we tried different kinds of societies, we’ve tried all sorts of cultures with all sorts of values. The cycle is always the same. Nothing new.

Ecclesiastes 1:11 – 11 There is no remembrance of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no remembrance by those who follow them.

At work or at school, there was someone who sat at your desk before you and there will be someone sitting there after you. You may make a mark on your company or your community, but, given enough time, one day you will be thought of for the last time. That’s what the Teacher says from his secular, “ground-level” perspective.[18] Life under the sun.

Someone might protest, “What about Alexander the Great? What about Hammurabi? What about Shakespeare?” We still remember their names, though it profits those men nothing. Give it time. Who among us can name any of the great Incan Emperors? California’s first senators? The only three runners in human history who have won two gold medals for the marathon? Can you name your own great-great-great grandmother?

Physical accomplishment or attainment or accumulation are not enough. Legacy is not enough. Humans have a need for something more. Why do we care about the meaning of life? Why do people feel stuck or unfulfilled? It’s because you are a human and humans are made differently. The Teacher will explain that God has placed eternity in our hearts.[19] That’s the difference. This life, this world with its perpetual cycle, cannot ultimately satisfy. We yearn to break out of the cycle of repetition and disappointment and hevel. We long for something new.

If you’re not a Christian, you may not feel the weight of this reality, but it is true all the same. That yearning lurks in your heart. Some are brave enough to say the quiet part out loud.

Pink Floyd sang,

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Maybe you’re more of a U2 fan:

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

Those same respondents who felt stuck at work – 75% of them said they’d be willing to make life changes based on robot recommendations! Human beings are desperate to break free. But we can’t. We’re looking for meaning. We’re looking for answers. We’re looking for help. We desperately need to be saved out of the hevel of life.

And so, God broke into our system. Jesus came from heaven – above the sun. In some ways He spoke like the Teacher. He once asked a very Ecclesiastes-like question: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”[20] But where the Teacher came to the conclusion that everything is hevel, Jesus said, “I have door number 2.” And He offers us a way out of the chains of time, death, and chance. Out of a life where nothing ultimately matters into a life where everything matters.

God reveals that when we enter into a personal relationship with Him, when we become His children, His servants, His friends, we receive eternity. Even after this earth finally passes away, we will endure.[21] And in that personal relationship, God does new things in your life and in this world.

He makes us new creations and establishes a new covenant with us. He gives us a new heart and new songs so we can walk in newness of life. In the end, He will bring us to live in a new heaven and a new earth.[22] This earth, with all its trouble will pass away and all things will be made new. This world is only here so God can have a backdrop to reveal His love to people and offer them real life with real purpose and meaning – a life that lasts forever. A life that isn’t forgotten by time, swallowed up by death, or ruined by chance.

Then, as we walk in the newness of life, God tells Christians, “Ok, your mind is going to be set on things above, not on things on the earth. You live in this world, but you’re not defined by this world, not trapped by this world, not bounded by this world.”

Now life is no longer hevel. For the unbeliever, nothing matters. The Teacher will prove it from every perspective. For the Christian, everything you do matters. Every experience, every circumstance, every situation, every single thing we do every single day has eternal weight because it is done unto the Lord. Your labor is not done in vain, it’s profitable. Your future is secure. Your purpose fulfilled because God Himself walks with you to make something new out of your life.

This is the exchange offered to us through Christ. Freedom. Help. Answers. A future. Grace for today and hope for tomorrow. More than a legacy – eternity. One filled with rest and joy and rewards and glory.


2 Derek Kinder   A Time To Mourn & A Time To Dance: The Message Of Ecclesiastes
3 Tim Chaddick   Better: How Jesus Satisfies The Search For Meaning
4 Greg Parsons   Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming the Book of Ecclesiastes
5 Kidner
7 Warren Wiersbe   Be Satisfied
8 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs
9 Choon-Leong Seow   Ecclesiastes
10 Seow
11 The New Oxford Annotated Bible
13 Ray Stedman   Is This All There Is To Life? Answer From Ecclesiastes
16 Philip Ryken   Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters
18 James Smith   The Wisdom Literature And Psalms
19 Ecclesiastes 3:11
20 Mark 8:36
21 Psalm 102:25-28
22 2 Corinthians 5:17, Jeremiah 31:31, Ezekiel 36:26, Psalm 98:1, Romans 6:4, Revelation 21:1

When You Can’t See The Moon ‘Cause You Outshine The Sun, That’s Agape! (Isaiah 60:1-22)

Have you heard of the Day the Earth Stood Still? How about the Decade the Moon Disappeared?

It’s not a movie. For several years during the Middle Ages, the moon ‘disappeared.’ As Adrian Monk would say, “Here’s what happened.”

The 1257AD eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Samalas was catastrophic. An immense amount of volcanic ash and aerosols spewed into the atmosphere, spreading across the globe, significantly affecting visibility. The moon seemed to ‘disappear’ for a period of years.

The Greek word for ‘moon’ is selene. Selenology is the study of the moon.

Isaiah was a ‘major prophet’ with a minor in selenology. He mentions the moon eight times in his book, including twice here in chapter sixty.

Isaiah had a specialization. We see it in portions of verses three & four, “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Then you shall see and be radiant…”

Radiant is something we can get excited about since Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). And in Ephesians 5:8, we read, “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

Don’t forget Peter, who said, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (First Peter 2:9).

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 See Yourself As Radiant, and #2 See The Lost As Photophilic.

Think of Billy Crystal saying, “You look radiant!”A commonly used illustration to describe believers is to say that we reflect Jesus the way that the moon reflects the light of the sun. One commentator put it like this: “Our lives can reflect the light of Jesus much like the moon reflects the sun. The moon is not a source of light, it only reflects light from the sun. In the same way, Jesus is the only source of truth and light in our lives. All other things are just a reflection of Him.”

True. But we need to be better spiritual selenologists and take it a step further:

  • Reflecting bounces-back light from an external source.
  • Radiating emits light from an internal source.

Do Christians have an ‘internal source’ to emit light? We sure do! When you believe Jesus and receive salvation, you are gifted with the permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. You’re ‘lit’ in the unseen realm. On Earth you might have a glow, a spiritual glow, either often or sometimes.

I haven’t forgotten that we are studying Isaiah. Isaiah wrote in the 7th century BC to the Jews in the southern kingdom of Judah. About 150 years after Isaiah was silenced by being sawn in two by his own people, Jerusalem and the magnificent Temple were destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews were taken captive and remained in Babylon for 70yrs.

It is common for Isaiah to jump centuries ahead to the Great Tribulation, to the Millennial Kingdom that follows it, and into Eternity. The basic outline of future events to hold in your mind is this:

  1. Jesus came to Earth, God in human flesh, preaching that the material, stick & stone Kingdom of Heaven that was unconditionally promised to the nation of Israel was at hand.
  2. The Jewish officials formally rejected the offer. Jesus was violently put to death by Roman crucifixion.
  3. Jesus rose from the dead, then ascended into Heaven.
  4. The Church Age began. It is the wonderful time in which we live. Gentiles & Jews can receive the Lord and He gives them the permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.
  5. At any moment, Jesus will return in the air to resurrect the deceased believers of this Church Age. There will be living believers when He comes. They – we – will be raptured, i.e., changed in a moment & receive our resurrection bodies.
  6. While we wait in Heaven to return with Jesus, a 7yr period of intense trouble on Earth prepares the nation of Israel to receive Jesus as their Messiah when He returns.
  7. He returns and all Israel is saved. The Kingdom of God on Earth is inaugurated, lasting 1000 years.

Isa 60:1  Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Isa 60:2  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.

The “darkness” is Isaiah’s one-word summary of the Great Tribulation. We like to call it, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. Isaiah is consistent with Revelation 8:12, “Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.”

Has this happened? No, it has not. It will.

Isa 60:3  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isa 60:4  Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

Isa 60:5  Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

This has never happened in Israel’s history. It is going to happen, on the Earth, tangibly – not allegorically.

Bible prophecy is under siege from a most unlikely opponent: Believers! Matt Chandler of The Village Church believes that over the last 150 years, the book of Revelation has been “hijacked” by being read as a prophecy of End Times events. While reading through Revelation, Chandler said he was struck by the parallels between the struggles of the early Church and the modern day, particularly regarding the spiritual and emotional challenges he witnessed in his congregation post-COVID19. 

COVID was tough. The masks… the distancing… the social isolation. But it was that way for everyone – believers and nonbelievers. It wasn’t persecution.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think COVID can be compared to any of the plagues & devastations of the Tribulation.

The Revelation holds out incredible hope & comfort to every generation. It promises you a blessing just for reading it. End of the day it is future prophecy.

Isaiah’s audience was heading into the worst of times. How did the LORD encourage them? He gave them hope in the 7th century by revealing what would happen to their descendants over 2700 years in their future!


Jesus is the greatest Comforter. He gave us God the Holy Spirit & calls Him Comforter. It He used future prophecy to comfort…

The lost are photophilic. It means to be attracted to light. In this case, the light of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

We are of the conviction that God is the Savior of all men – especially those who believe. Jesus draws all men to Himself by being lifted up on the Cross. All a person need ‘do’ is look to Jesus, crucified in his or her place, and believe. God so loved the world that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. You will live forever. Eternal life, however, has more to do with you coming to life and sharing in the life of Jesus.

The remaining verses are not directly for the Church. God is addressing the nation of Israel.

Don’t tune out knowing that these are promises to Jews, not to youse.

  • You can meditate upon how unfaithful and disobedient the Jews were & rejoice in God’s mercy in saving them.
  • You can look to them and see prophecy after prophecy fulfilled, encouraging you in the future promises & prophesies that God has made us.

Isa 60:6  A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.

Isa 60:7  All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house.

Isa 60:8  Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?

Isa 60:9  For the coastlands shall hope for Me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because He has made you beautiful.

The Earth’s nations come to Jerusalem with gifts & good news. They see Jews as “beautiful.” There is an “altar” and the LORD has His “beautiful house.”

This is future; this is tangible; this is the Millennium.

Isa 60:10  Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you.

Isa 60:11  Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.

Isaiah gives a cogent summary of the history of Israel: “In my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you.”

Isa 60:12  For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

One of the ‘I never knew that’ things we’ve learned from Isaiah is that although the Kingdom of God on Earth will be utopian, it will not be perfect. It can’t be perfect because humans will be born during the Kingdom who will reject salvation. There will therefore be “nations” “utterly laid waste.”

Isa 60:13  The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

Isa 60:14  The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

You might read this and say, “See – the City is allegorical. Believers are the City.” No, no, no, no. No. We’ve encountered this before. The example we use is from the MCU. Captain America is proud of his Brooklyn heritage. Cap (that’s what we call him) learns that Spider-Man is from Queens. He calls Peter Parker “Queens” when addressing him. Same here – you can call Jews “the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

Isa 60:15  Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age,

Isa 60:16  You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Isa 60:17  Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver; instead of wood, bronze, instead of stones, iron. I will make your overseers peace and your taskmasters righteousness.

Isa 60:18  Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.

Millennial conversation: “Hey, Gene, what are you gonna do today?” “I want to go to the Gates called Praise. I here David is going to be there with his stringed instrument band introducing new choruses.”

Isa 60:19  The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

This doesn’t mean that the sun and the moon will disappear in the Millennium. They may be unseen because the Lord, & us, outshine the sun.

Isa 60:20  Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.

Beyond the thousand years, “The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk in its light. The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it” (Revelation 21:23-24).

Isa 60:21 Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.

Another amazing thing we have learned, reinforced here, is that from the moment Jesus returns, and all Israel is saved, every Jew born in the Millennium will be saved! Not so Gentiles born for one thousand years. Multitudes remain lost and they perish forever.

Isa 60:22  The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it.

I take this to indicate that the nations who follow the Lord in the Kingdom will prosper and take that prosperity into Eternity.

Photophilics are drawn to us. I should say they are drawn to Jesus who has brought us into the kingdom of light, to radiate Him.    

I know that many of you (I hope all) have had the experience of your family or friends noticing when you were, as Thumper was, twitterpated! You were smitten, overcome by romantic feelings.

The believers in Ephesus started-out with this radiant love. Forty-years later, after only one generation, the Lord penned a love letter to them. He accused them of “leaving” their “first love.”

I saw a meme online this week that captures some of this. A husband is about to go out the front door to his house. His wife has taped a note to it. It says, “This isn’t working. I’m leaving. Goodbye.”

The husband stares at the door, then the note, then to door. He starts fooling with the deadbolt. It works just fine!! He shrugs it off, oblivious.

If there was a note from Jesus posted on your door…what would He say?

People have come up with ingenious ways of writing to each other and encoding a hidden message. I see something like that in chapter sixty. If we isolate some of the words & phrases that lean towards romance, it sounds like this:

My Beloved,

My glory is risen upon you. My light shines brilliantly upon you, illuminating every shadow and guiding your path. My glory will be seen upon you, radiating through your actions and your love, making you a beacon to the world. You are my chosen, and through you, the world will see My love and My power. You shall become radiant, reflecting My eternal light and love. Your beauty will be like the morning sun, spreading warmth and hope to all who see you. Your radiance is My presence within you.

Coming soon,

Prophecy Update #787 – Curses, Foiled Again

“You will not escape the wrath of Allah.”

On December 12th 2023, moments after cursing Israel with those words in a session of the Turkish Parliament, Minister Hasan Bitmez collapsed. He died two days later.

“If Israel makes another mistake and attacks Iranian soil… it is uncertain if anything will remain of that country.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made that remark on April 23rd of this year. It was the first day of the Jewish Feast of Passover. On May 19th, President Raisi, the Foreign Minister, and six other passengers and crew died in a helicopter crash. Two other helicopters landed safely.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? These are likely biblical judgments upon those who cursed Israel.

The Bible accurately predicted that the nation of Israel would be born in a day; that Jews would return there from their dispersion all over the Earth; and that Jerusalem would be the epicenter of geopolitical tension

The prophet Jeremiah talks about Iran attacking Israel and suffering defeat. [1] Identifying coastal Iran by an ancient name, Elam, he writes, “For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies And before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger,” says the LORD; “And I will send the sword after them Until I have consumed them” (49:37). We can’t say when, but this will happen.

The Book of Enoch is unnecessarily controversial. The book itself includes a passage indicating it is not Scripture. It is, however, a true pre-flood history & post-flood prophecy.

Tradition teaches that Enoch passed his book and other books to Noah, who preserved them in the Ark. Noah then passed Enoch’s book on to Shem, who preserved it in the city of Salem. Eventually it was passed down to the tribe of Levi for safe keeping. It was then preserved up to the time the Essenes buried it, along with other ancient texts, to be found in the 20th century among the Dead Sea Scrolls.[2]

In chapter 55 of Enoch he talks about certain wicked angels who were incarcerated. In chapter 56 Enoch writes, “And in those days the angels will return and come to the kings of the east along with the Medes and Persians [Iran]. They will stir up these kings, so that a spirit of unrest will come over them, and they will rouse them from their thrones, that they may break forth as lions from their lairs, and as hungry wolves among their flocks. They will go up and tread underfoot the land of His elect ones [Israel] and the land of His elect ones will be before them a threshing-floor [Temple Mount] and a highway. But the city of my righteous [Jerusalem] will be a hindrance to their horses, and they will begin to fight among themselves. And their right hand will be strong against themselves, and a man will not know his brother, nor a son his father or his mother, till there be no number of their corpses through their own slaughter their punishment will not be in vain. In those days the mouth of Sheol will open, and they will be swallowed up in it. Sheol will devour and destroy the sinners in the presence of the elect” (56:5-8).

Is Iran currently being roused by these wicked angels? It would explain a lot!

We are most definitely seeing the stage being set for the 2nd Coming of Jesus.

Jesus promised to resurrect & rapture His Church. He said, in fact He promised, that He would do it before His Second Coming, and before a time of Great Tribulation would come upon the whole Earth.[3]

The resurrection and rapture of the church is presented as an imminent event. It could happen anytime. Right now, for example.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, get ready, stay ready, and keep looking up.

Ready or not Jesus is coming! 


1 Jeremiah 49:34-39
2 Dr. Ken Johnson’s commentary on Enoch
3 The Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:10.

The King Who Rains (Psalm 72)

In 1955, the king of Thailand travelled through the largest region of his kingdom. It was dried by drought. Crops were failing. The people there suffered from chronic poverty and malnutrition, even though they faithfully gathered each year to shoot homemade rockets into the sky “to ask the

weather god to release the monsoon upon the earth.”

The situation was dire, so, the king started developing a plan. In 1969, after 14 years of research, the Royal Rainmaking Project was a go. A fleet of aircraft distributed dry-ice flakes over the tops of clouds. The government says that it started raining within 15 minutes. The Project continues today. In 2019, they conducted over 1,600 rainmaking operations throughout the kingdom.[1] Sadly, as of 2020, Thailand was still experiencing drought – the worst in 40 years.[2]

Psalm 72 is a song about a great kingdom and a great king. His reign is unlike any we’ve seen. There is a perfect harmony between God and sovereign and citizens and even nature. Who wouldn’t want to live in this kingdom under this king?

Above verse 1 we see the words, “Of Solomon.” We assume that means “by” Solomon, but it could also mean “for Solomon,” or “concerning Solomon.” There’s a little bit of confusion because this Psalm is the only one to also have a postscript. The last verse tells us, “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are concluded.” It’s possible he wrote this song for his son. It’s possible they worked on it together. And some scholars think it may have been used at Solomon’s coronation.[3]

That makes sense because in this song we see an ideal king and an ideal kingdom. One commentator calls it “A vision for government.”[4] And it’s quite a vision. We’ll see it’s so great that no human king could ever live up to it.

Psalm 72:1-4 – God, give your justice to the king and your righteousness to the king’s son. He will judge your people with righteousness and your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring well-being to the people and the hills, righteousness. May he vindicate the afflicted among the people, help the poor, and crush the oppressor.

Rulers sometimes pick up a nickname. Ivan the Terrible. William the Conqueror. Cautious Cal. John Adams was referred to as “His Rotundity.”[5] The king of Israel should always have “the righteous” after his name. Righteousness is the theme of this opening stanza. It should define the nation of Israel and the man on the throne.

Sometimes we use the word “righteousness” and we think, “Well, that means not being bad.” The word means implies a standard. We talk about meeting standards, a standard of living, standard time, the gold standard. The king of Israel must conform to the standard given to him by God.[6]

Solomon prays at his coronation, “Lord, give me Your justice and Your righteousness so that I can rule the people and judge fairly so that the whole kingdom overflows with well-being.”

Today, government policies are often conformed to the result of polls – skewed polls. Or shaped around selective data – statistics that reinforce certain ideas or perspectives. But the ideal kingdom is one where God’s righteousness and kindness are the standard.

The song has just begun, but already Solomon cannot live up to the ideal. No human king could be so righteous the mountains work with him in blessing the people. No king has been able to help every suffering person in his kingdom and always judge fairly in every case. The ambition of this first stanza are higher than any human government has ever been able to achieve.

Psalm 72:5-7 – May they fear you while the sun endures and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May the king be like rain that falls on the cut grass, like spring showers that water the earth. May the righteous flourish in his days and well-being abound until the moon is no more.

The king of Psalm 72 is a king who rains in nourishment and benefit and provision on his people. In reality, where does every government get the money it has? It has to take it from the people. That’s one of the reasons why God didn’t want Israel to have a king, originally. When they said, “We want a king,” God sent messengers to tell them, “No you don’t. He’ll tax you. He’ll take your land. He’ll take your sons and daughters. He’ll take your labor.”

But here we see what God wants for His people. His desire is that the king would nourish them and help them to grow. The poor, the afflicted. Those with less access than others. In this song, the blessing is for all of them, for all the people and it was meant for every generation.

It begs the question: If this was God’s intention, why isn’t there a son of David sitting on the throne in Israel right now? If the moon still shines at night, why isn’t there a Davidic king in Jerusalem?

Most of you know why things are the way they are. Israel not only rejected God’s way of doing things, they rejected God. After centuries of patience and mercy and trying to bring them back, God allowed judgment to fall on the nation of Israel. But,He hasn’t given up on them. His promises, His intentions, His affection for them persist. He still guarantees that, one day, a son of David will sit on the throne and Israel will experience the righteous blessings described in this song.

Solomon was a great man who started with a lot of promise. When God appeared to him in a dream and said, “What do you want Me to give you,” Solomon said, “Give me the wisdom so I can lead this great people!” He had care and affection for his subjects. But, we know that ultimately he failed to live up to this stanza, too. Just after he died, the people of Israel came to Solomon’s son and said, “Hey, your dad worked us to the bone. He put a harsh yoke of labor on us.”[7] He wasn’t a refreshing rain to them, but a heavy weight.

Psalm 72:8-11 – May he rule from sea to sea and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth. May desert tribes kneel before him and his enemies lick the dust. 10 May the kings of Tarshish and the coasts and islands bring tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. 11 Let all kings bow in homage to him, all nations serve him.

May he rule from sea to sea! We’ve been hearing a chant recently: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Of course, the meaning is, “Let’s kill all the Jews who live in Israel.”

Notice the difference in the way our God does things. First of all, His intention is to establish a righteous and wonderful Kingdom that covers the whole earth and He has the power to do it. It is His right because the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. But in His grace, when He sets up His forever Kingdom, He will allow nations to still exist,[8] and He will allow them the freedom to obey or disobey.[9] Now, disobedience will bring consequences, but this is a God grace, not genocide. A God Who invites, Who welcomes, Who makes a place for those who want in.

In this kingdom, though Israel will always remain distinct, we see that Gentiles will be grafted in.

Solomon did expand the territory of Israel up to the Euphrates river.[10] But he definitely didn’t live up to this stanza. The friendships he made with Gentiles didn’t make him more righteous. In fact, it was his practice of marrying foreign wives, some for alliances, that drew his heart away from God.

Psalm 72:12-14 – 12 For he will rescue the poor who cry out and the afflicted who have no helper. 13 He will have pity on the poor and helpless and save the lives of the poor. 14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious in his sight.

Ronald Regan famously said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Sadly, the people God installs to protect others often become the ones who do the oppressing, who cause the affliction, who commit the violence.

The throne of Israel was supposed to protect the weak. All government is supposed to because God’s heart is to help the weak. It is His delight to use His infinite strength to rescue. To save. He is the Redeemer King, Who uses His own wealth, His own resources, to pay for your freedom. To pay for your future. He left His throne Personally to come down and save you. As far as I know, the King of Thailand didn’t fly any of those planes, let alone empty his vaults to save his starving people.

A few weeks ago I was at a Christian graduation ceremony and the main speaker talked about how important it is that you work to be a part of the Kingdom of God. He referenced the parable of the Pearl of Great Price and said, “Do whatever you have to to gain the kingdom of God.” And I was so disappointed because, no! No, YOU are the pearl! You are the treasure and God is the One Who gave everything to have you![11] You are precious in His sight. Your life matters. Your future matters. He has such plans for you and He spares no expense in accomplishing what He desires for you.

You may ask, “Well, if that’s true, why am I suffering? Why don’t I feel protected or provided for or sheltered?” Psalm 72 doesn’t promise that you’ll never suffer or struggle. What it tells us is that the Great King will save, will show pity, will redeem. You are His and He loves you and He will not forget to accomplish His plans for your life.

Of course, Solomon didn’t live up to this stanza either. No king could care this much. It’s impossible. There isn’t enough time. There isn’t enough money. There isn’t enough power for a human king to help every suffering person in his kingdom.

Psalm 72:15-17 – 15 May he live long! May gold from Sheba be given to him. May prayer be offered for him continually, and may he be blessed all day long. 16 May there be plenty of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains. May its crops be like Lebanon. May people flourish in the cities like the grass of the field. 17 May his name endure forever; as long as the sun shines, may his fame increase. May all nations be blessed by him and call him blessed.

During the time when David and his sons were king, if the nation of Israel honored God and went His way, they would be materially blessed. The crops, the weather, the economy, all of those things would be miraculously good. That was God’s promise to them.

Sadly, the hearts of the kings turned away from God and the people followed. Solomon didn’t live up to this stanza. At the end of his life, he no longer loved the Lord. Solomon’s son didn’t care about the people at all. And the kingdom split into two nations and it was downhill from there.

Instead of flourishing, theirs was a history of fracturing. But, their failure is not God’s failure. In fact, the Lord faithfully preserved a remnant. He extended centuries of mercy and help and deliverance and forgiveness again and again and again, even when the nation was unfaithful.

Now, God has a great plan for your life. That plan is for growth and progress as you walk with Him. His plan is that the whole world would be blessed by His grace.

There in verse 17 we hear again the promise He made all the way back in the time of Abraham – that “all the nations would be blessed.” That’s His desire. More than desire, that is His work. A work He is still accomplishing and will complete and we get to participate in.

Psalm 72:18-19 – 18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does wonders. 19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; the whole earth is filled with his glory. Amen and amen.

Solomon was a great man – the wisest to ever live. But as the song comes to a close he and David and everyone else acknowledge that it is God alone Who does wonders. It wasn’t the throne of Israel that gave wealth or power or greatness, it was the God Who established the throne.

And so, as the coronation ceremony ends, they recognize that they needed someone greater than Solomon. Someone Whose name would be above every other name. Someone Whose glory would fill the whole earth. Someone Who could live up to the ideal.

“Amen and amen” – Let it be true, yes, let it happen!

It was a long wait with a lot of let downs over the centuries. But then something amazing happened. In Matthew 12 a descendant of David shows up and He says this, “Look, something greater than Solomon is here.”[12] And He told them, “The Kingdom is at hand! The Kingdom you’ve been waiting for. That perfect, wondrous, ideal Kingdom from Psalm 72.”

But what was the response? The leaders of Israel rejected the King. The Romans nailed Him to a cross. And so, the ideal Kingdom was put on hold. It’s not an allegorical Kingdom. We don’t build it ourselves. We’re waiting for that moment, announced in Revelation 11, when it happens – when the Kings comes again for the last time and: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”[13] When the whole earth is filled with the righteous, gracious, perfect glory of God.

Psalm 72:20 – 20 The prayers of David son of Jesse are concluded.

The prayers were concluded, but the plan continues. God’s plan for this world, God’s plan for your life is continuing. The Root and the Offspring of David is alive and He loves you and invites you to accept Him as King – to enthrone Him in heart heart while we wait for His earthly throne to be established.

We still have a vision for government. It’s the vision shown to us in Bible prophecy like the Revelation, the end of Ezekiel, the book of Isaiah. We know the King Who lives up to every stanza of Psalm 72. The One Who will accomplish this ideal. And so, each day we can crown Him in our hearts and pray, “Your Kingdom come.” Knowing one day it will and all will be right and good and wonderful because the King Who rains will bless us with His grace and power and righteousness forever and ever, amen.


1 Suvat Chirapant   The King And The Cloud – The Story Behind The Royal Rainmaking Project
3 C. Hassell Bullock   Psalms, Volume 1: Psalms 1-72
4 John Goldingay   Psalms, Volume 2: Psalms 42-89
6 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 5.
7 2 Chronicles 10:3-4
8 Micah 4:2
9 Zechariah 14:17
11 The Bible Knowledge Commentary
12 Matthew 12:42
13 Revelation 11:15