|Volume 19 Number 11 November 2017||
“The wise man’s eyes are in his head…” (Ecclesiastes 2:14). This is certainly one of the interesting statements made by Solomon. At first we might respond “of course they are in his head! Where else would they be?” However, Solomon was saying more than a given physiological fact. Notice some significant truths.
Wise men have prepared their minds so that their eyes can see. In Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman crying out in the streets, looking for someone to listen to her (1:20-33). In Ecclesiastes, Solomon said he “set his mind to know wisdom” (1:17). Wisdom comes from study, learning, observation and experience. Wise men and women become wise because they use their lives to learn. Today’s world seems to be dominated by fools. Numbers abound of those who have not prepared their minds. Therefore, they are blind.
Wise men use their eyes to prepare for coming events and problems. Solomon noted that wisdom will not keep one from death (1:16). Therefore, he needs to live in such a way that recognizes this inevitable end. Equally, a wise man “knows the proper time and procedure” (8:5). He is certainly aware of the pitfalls of not knowing the world environment around him—including the social, economic and political environment. Wisdom today enables one to see that dishonesty and deceit will not ultimately help the deceiver. Wisdom allows him to see that riches will not provide the happiness or peace that he needs, but can bring destruction (1 Timothy 6:7-10).
Wise men use their eyes to choose the right path. Solomon “saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness” (2:13). He noted that “the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors” (7:12b) and that “a wise man’s heart directs him toward the right” (10:2a). The world must not be the standard-setter for the wise man. He knows better than to be “conformed to the world” (Romans 12:1-2). The wise see beyond the supposed “foolishness of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18) and see in it the wisdom of God. They also see the manifold wisdom of God in the church (Ephesians 3:10).
Wise men use their eyes to see that they will never know it all. Solomon, who was blessed with divine wisdom, recognized this truth (8:16-17). When men think they “have arrived” and that they no longer need God’s council, direction and wisdom, they are fools (Jeremiah 10:23). Wise men turn to God, study His Word and prepare for Judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Paul asked “where is the wise man?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). He could have asked, “Do you have eyes in your head?” Let’s hope we do.
When Jesus was born, there was angelic praise: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14)!
Seven-hundred years before Christ was born, it was prophesied that He would be called “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Paul said that Christ “Himself is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:14). Even a superficial glance at Scripture associates the name of Jesus with peace. Yet, Christ Himself said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). Even more striking is Matthew’s record of Jesus’ similar statement, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (10:34).
How can He be the author of peace and a source of division at the same time? There are those people who oppose all religions, including Christianity, as ideological causes of violence. Could it be true? Please consider these thoughts.
Christ Brings Peace with God
Those who follow Christ faithfully can have the peace that they have overcome their sins. Nothing pounds a man’s soul more than the knowledge of doing wrong. Though many do not admit this even for years, the guilt creates problems. Societies from the beginning of time have sought some kind of God for some kind of redemption. Moral systems have been turned upside down and evil called good, and good evil, but men have still sought some kind of forgiveness. Micah pictured guilty men wondering how many animals they should offer for their sins, and even asking if they should give their firstborn children (a thought heinous to God) (6:6-8).
Christ, though, brought freedom from every ungodly, pagan system. He brought freedom from even the tutorial (Galatians 3:24-25) Mosaic Law’s sacrifices. He offered Himself “once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). Those obedient to Him experience salvation (Hebrews 5:9). Understanding that faith is inclusive of obedience, Paul’s statement in Romans 5:1 is most consoling. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Those Christians who give their anxieties to God, then, experience the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Christ Brings Peace between Groups of Men
Jew and Gentile (and by extension—all races and classes of people) are brought together in the church of Christ (Ephesians 2:14-17). They are all “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Indeed, the Gospel was designed so that men from every national, racial, and socioeconomic background could come together to be united in the kingdom of God. Americans, Russians, Iraqis and Chinese are brethren in God’s family (Mark 3:31-35; Hebrews 2:11-12). Where the church is functioning as it should, such barriers as race, wealth and nationality are overcome by the precious blood of Christ.
The Disobedience of Men Spurs Division
Indeed, Christ brings division in families when some obey and others do not obey the Gospel. Five in one house would be divided, He taught (Luke 12:52-53). Christians bring persecution upon themselves simply by living righteously (1 Peter 3:13-17; 4:12-16). What is persecution except a sharp division between people of the human race? Early Christians were falsely labeled as haters of mankind because they would not approve of the immorality of a corrupt, idolatrous society. That charge seems to be making a comeback.
Rest assured, Christ never, ever authorized attacks or any use of violence by Christians individually or by the church collectively. He desperately wants peace, and He commanded His people to submissively pursue it, as much as depends on them (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14).
Christ’s Principles Bring More Peace
Even among those who might not be New Testament Christians, inasmuch as Christ’s principles are practiced, there is more peace. He taught a selfless, giving, sacrificial love, even towards one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He taught men to treat others as they want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Those two principles alone bring peace—peace that oppressed, humble people so desperately crave.