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You Can See It…

June 1, 2011

Every so often, I find myself being drawn to certain historical figures. I’ll hear a name, and then begin to do some reading, and I will spend a great deal of energy and time finding out everything that I can about that person. Recently for me, that person has been a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian in Germany at the time that the Nazi party took control and began the systematic destruction of human life and the slaughter of truth and reason. While there is not enough room in this context to expound on his story, he met his untimely end on the gallows just weeks before the Allied liberation of the concentration camps. He was executed as a member of the July 20 plot…the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was a man who understood the reality of evil in spite of the sovereignty of good.

Read through Ecclesiastes 4. We will focus in on just a few portions today, but I think it will serve you well to see the entirety of this passage.

I love how Solomon begins with the words, “Again I saw.” This is first person testimony…he isn’t sitting there allowing his imagination to run rampant…he isn’t asking his subjects what they think of the world…he is affirming that what comes next has been observed first hand. And, just like Bonhoeffer (and even you and I to a certain degree) he observes the terrible evil and oppression that poison this world and makes the pronouncement that those being oppressed had no one to comfort them. They are powerless against the evil, and verse 3 says, “Better is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.” We can see this evil in our own day. We can go and visit Auschwitz and see the evil that took place, we can see airplanes crashing into buildings and buildings crashing to the ground…or we can see today, the continuing oppression and genocide taking place on the African continent. We are not blind to these things…we just seem unaware sometimes. Solomon is effectively saying, “Pay attention.”

Verses 7-11 present another reality that is not only intrinsic but also tangibly observable. The theme of these verses is simple…man was not meant to be an island unto himself. Even when things start to get uncomfortable….particularly when things start to get uncomfortable…we must be able to rely on the people around us. This goes back to the reality that man was born out of relationship…and created for relationship…it is in the design. In Genesis 2:18 we see, not man, but God make the decree that, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Man didn’t request it…God took action and manifested it in His sovereign will. In Proverbs 17:17 we see the words, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Again, this is by design…there is a legitimate reason that you feel drawn to help, and to heal, and to sacrifice for your fellow man…it is all rooted in the design of God…embrace that.

Something interesting happens in verse 12. After all of the talk of two being better than one, we get these words, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Do you see what happened there? Two became three…there was no explanation…no transition sentence, or thought…he just makes that statement. I can’t help but think that in the context of this book at large, the implication here is that the third element of that analogy lies where we find our hearts longing…it lies somewhere beyond the sun. The threefold cord is completed by the Creator. It is on His strength that we all find power…it is in Him that we find true life.

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