WHERE DO WE FIND WISDOM FOR LIVING?
By Ernest O'Neill
Where Do We Find Wisdom for Living?
By Rev. Ernest O'Neill
You could probably realize it yourselves, but this is an amazing book here. It contains some of the most beautiful writing in the whole world. You see where a lot of the song writers got their good lines from and it’s a book in the Old Testament called Ecclesiastes. And those of you who know a little about Greek philosophy know that it really comes out of that background and yet it’s from a higher source than that.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 is some of the most beautiful literature in the world. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.”
And really the cadences are beautiful and none of our English poetry is better than that. It’s the same if you’ve ever looked at the love poem just a few pages later. It’s the Song of Solomon chapter 4:1. "Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like the halves of a pomegranate, behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an arsenal, whereon hang a thousand bucklers, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle that feed among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will hie me to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. You are all fair, my love; there is no flaw in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon."
So some of the most beautiful lines that exist in literature, exist in this book and then you probably know that it’s not famous just for its literature, but for its wisdom. I mean it has more good directions for everyday common sense situations than probably any other book, and you will get it there in Proverbs 6:6 and of course it gets to the heart of what we all face in slothfulness. Proverb 6:6, "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her food in summer, and gathers her sustenance in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a vagabond, and want like a armed man. A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers. My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”
So it’s literature and it’s wisdom -- and then you and I have shared how it’s better history than any other history we have for the period from 1500 B.C. to about a 100 A.D. Remember how we mentioned that there are Latin and Roman historians like Tacitus and Pliny and Sallust and Jewish historians like Josephus who cover especially that period, the first 100 years of our era, but none of them are reinforced by the number of manuscripts that this book is reinforced by. When you look at Tacitus, you are dealing with maybe about 20 or 25 ancient manuscripts. When you look at this book [the Bible], it has 4000 ancient Greek manuscripts. So in an amazing way it’s not only literature, it’s not only wisdom, but it is better history than we have any other place for that period of time.
And of course one of the people that these books talks about in the last part is Jesus of Nazareth. It describes how he was a man who lived a sinless, perfect life, who had power over the forces of nature and power to heal diseases and to raise people from the dead, and how he explained to us that he was really the son of the Creator of the world, and he was going to leave the earth when he died and then come back to assure us that he was speaking truth and that’s exactly what he did.
And when he came back, he said something even more remarkable about this book and I’ll show you where it is loved ones, it’s in Matthew 5:17 and this is what Jesus of Nazareth who has shown himself more than any other man to be the son of the Creator of the world said about this Bible. Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." And Jesus said this book has actually the commandments of our Creator in it. This book is actually written by our Maker and it shows us what our Maker thinks and it shows us the way he wants us to live.