Today: [Ecclesiastes 11] Are You Preparing for the Apocalypse? In chapter 11 of Ecclesiastes Solomon discusses strategies of preparation in light of what we see coming upon the earth. He makes the observation that we don’t know what is coming upon the earth and therefore should make preparation lest we be found wanting in the midst of crises. What is different about Solomon’s statements in this chapter is that he stresses something that is almost unheard of in the “prepper” community. He states that we should consider giving and generosity – “giving a portion to seven, and also to eight” as a hedge against catastrophe. If you are one who has considered the need for potential preparation for apocalyptic events this chapter will be most enlightening to you.
[Ecc 11:1-10 KJV] 1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. 2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. 3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty [themselves] upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. 4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. 5 As thou knowest not what [is] the way of the spirit, [nor] how the bones [do grow] in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. 6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both [shall be] alike good. 7 Truly the light [is] sweet, and a pleasant [thing it is] for the eyes to behold the sun: 8 But if a man live many years, [and] rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh [is] vanity. 9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these [things] God will bring thee into judgment. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth [are] vanity.
In chapter 11 of Ecclesiastes Solomon makes the effort to put context to life and a give us a comprehensive wisdom that will not only serve us in our youth, but throughout our lives. Verse 1 tells us to cast our bread upon the waters in expectation of recompense. Throughout the scripture giving and generosity are always met with an anticipation of compensatory blessing. The picture Solomon gives is that of casting bread on the water. That may seem futile and wasteful but Solomon promises if we do so there will be reward to us. To the natural mind it doesn’t make sense to expect reward for giving. Jesus however, in teaching about giving frequently connected it with the idea of reward.
Verse 2 goes on to exhort us to give a portion to seven and also to eight as a hedge against calamity coming upon the earth. There is a very active movement in the western world among those who feel the need to prepare for an imagined apocalypse coming upon the earth. People stockpile freeze dried food and build bunkers thinking that will be their protection. What about giving? What about giving and generosity as a strategy of preparation in advance of world-wide difficulty that may be ahead in our day? This is what Solomon is saying but this is the opposite spirit that we see in the strategies of preparation and stockpiling for expected apocalyptic events ahead. Of course many who do stockpile would say they will give a portion of their supply to others when the difficulty comes but that is not what Solomon is suggesting. Do we have an example of this in scripture?
In the early church giving and generosity was characteristic of the activity that took place among the fledgling faith community.
[Act 2:44-45 KJV] 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.
This was not just some random act or an isolated thing that was done out of an emotional response. This was a pattern of activity that continued for some time among the believers in Jerusalem:
[Act 4:34-35 KJV] 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid [them] down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Let us remember that this was taking place at a time of military occupation. The Romans ruled with great brutality during these decades. As a result zealots rose up and inciting the people during this time threw off Roman rule and drove them out of Judea for 10 years. Then Caesar sent armies to the city and destroyed the temple, with the blood running ankle deep in the heart of the city. In the midst of the beginning of all of this the young Christian community was operating in radical generosity and giving just as Solomon suggests in our chapter. Because of this they were preserved and even prospered as the scattered throughout the known world preaching the gospel.
What is to be our response in all of this. Depending on who you ask, there are many experts and analysts who believe we are standing at the threshold of global calamity of unprecedented dimensions. Are we to build bunkers and stockpile food and generators? Do that if you must but if you value the instruction of scripture be sure not to leave the other undone.
In verse 4 Solomon warns “he that observes the wind will now sow and he that regards the clouds will not reap…” This is reminiscent of what Jesus said in Luke 17:20, 21 that the kingdom doesn’t come with observation. If you allow yourself to become preoccupied with what is seen taking place in the world around you – then you are excluding yourself from what is not seen of the things of God that are available to bless and prosper you and advance you in the kingdom regardless of what is happening of the troubles of the earth that may affect you.
He that observes the wind will not sow. Who is the wind? In both the Old and New Testament the word for “spirit” used to describe the Spirit of God is a “blast of wind”. Many people are watching for what God is going to do in their lives. I hear this many times where people will say “when God moves in my life I will give and be generous to support the move of the Spirit…” This sounds spiritual but in fact is nothing more than rank unbelief such as Thomas demonstrated. Thomas refused to risk his credulity until he put his fingers in the wounds of Jesus. Jesus reproved Thomas for this thinking:
[Jhn 20:29 KJV] 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.
I have a dear friend of years passed who longingly and with great passion waited to see a move of God come into the earth. He was a man of means and capable if he chose of great generosity but he constantly did as Solomon warns against. He said “when the move of God comes I will empty my bank accounts and give in support of revival when it manifests…” He waited and waited watching all the things going on around him that God was doing. He was regarding the wind and observing the things of God without participating because it wasn’t touching his life yet. In due time in the midst of happenstance this man despaired of life and committed suicide, never having seen take place what he longed to see. As Jesus warned – the kingdom doesn’t come with observation. Jesus said blessed are those that have not seen yet believed. That word believed means “to make a commitment…” Over and over when Jesus dealt with people he said “sell what you have and give…” Out of the 10’s of 1000’s who heard Jesus preach only a handful, 12 in fact actually took him up on the offer but they became the catalyst of change that shaped the course of human history right down to our day.
Verse 4 also says that he that regards the clouds will not reap. Clouds in many scriptures represent people. In other words many times people do give and then they watch to see what the ministry or ministers to whom they give do with the contributions. Again this seems like just good stewardship but always bear this in mind – you are not giving to man you are giving to God. In the Old Testament the tithe was called the “devoted thing”. The Hebrew renders this “dedicated to destruction”. Just as Jericho was to be a first fruits to God and totally destroyed God was making a point that in reality once we have given we are not to get invested in trying to control what happens next. Achan did this and kept back something for himself. He died and his whole family was destroyed as a result. The part and portion that you give to God is dedicated to destruction, like the water from the well behind enemy lines that was brought to David and instead of drinking it, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord because it was considered a holy thing.
Throughout my lifetime I have seen many hardships and difficulties in the area of supply and finance. For the most part I was a giver and made an effort to be a faithful supporter of ministry and ministries I was connected with. Then there came a day that God drew me into a strategy of giving that was not bounded by a certain amount or some comparative measure that I thought was prudent to give in view of my other obligations. A prophet came forth and prophesied to me that God was showing me how “money moved by the Spirit…” Since that time we have dedicated ourselves to giving a portion to seven and to eight as Solomon said. In other words we have opened our hand. We make it our determination to give to those in need. We give personally and we give sacrificially to the poor. We give radically and deeply to ministry portion as well and we teach the same to others. In the midst of that obedience, that joyful obedience the supply of God has been abundantly evident. What about your life? Are you bounded and limited in finances? Is debt a difficulty for you? Are you concerned about what may lie ahead? Step out in faith and choose to radically alter your giving strategies and see what God produces in your life in response to His word.
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