Saturday, June 11, 2022

Problem: No Comforter

Bobservations Column

Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we open up the fourth chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon again ventures into his own thoughts and conclusions about life on this earth. One phrase stands out early in the chapter: “They had no comforter...”

The New Testament describes The Comforter, and His role in our lives: to teach us all things, and to remind us of whatsoever Jesus has said. You will find the description in John 14:26, and the Comforter is there identified as the Holy Spirit of God.

While the English word “comforter” is translated from the Greek word “parakletos,” the word is also translated later on scripture as “advocate” in First

John 2:1, and there it is Christ Himself as the advocate for Believers. The versatile application of the word lends itself to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit being One (John 14:16, 18, 20, and then 26). “I will ask the Father to send you another comforter… "I will come to you” is a promise for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to come and be with us. (Immanuel: God with us; Isaiah 7:14)

It goes without saying that an advocate is someone who comes along side to advise us, and to guide and comfort us in trials. It is most comforting to know, and to have an assurance that we, as Believers, are not alone in this world, ever!

This same “parakletos” took on the form of a dove coming down and alighting upon Jesus when He was baptized by John, and He is the same parakletos that will indwell our hearts when we ask Jesus to send Him. In the passage that tells us of John baptizing Jesus, we find all members of the Trinity present in those verses (Matthew 3:16,17).

Solomon’s words remind me of Paul’s teachings in Corinth in Acts 19:2. While teaching the church there:

“he said to them: Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Did Solomon know nothing about the Holy Spirit, in spite of God blessing him with His wisdom? The prayers of his father David reveal something different, as we shall read in our Reading for this morning.
“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” - Deuteronomy 6:4,5

Today's Audio Message:
Ecclesiastes 4:1-16 - "Problem: No Comforter"

This chapter continues with the theme of finding meaning in a broken sinful world. It begins by analyzing how the strong take advantage of the weak. It’s an issue and question that people still explore today. In fact, Solomon concludes, like Job, that in many situations it is better to be dead than to suffer through life. This is especially telling considering that in chapter 3 he explored the uncertainty of what happens after death.

Solomon's examination of the apparent anomalies and contradictions that confront our lives every day continues in Ecclesiastes 4. Walter Kaiser, an Old Testament Bible scholar, describes the progression of thought from chapter 3 to chapter 4 as follows:

· Unrighteousness is in the halls of justice (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17).

· Men and beasts can be alike (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21).

· People can be oppressed (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3), rivalrous (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6), and isolated (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12).

· Popularity is temporary (Ecclesiastes 4:13-16).

In other words, people long for comfort, but oppression reigns. We long for rest, but competition saturates. We need companionship, yet isolation consumes. We long for permanence, but everything in this life is of a limited duration.

People fill their thoughts and plans with themselves as they constantly work out how to navigate the world in a way that will give meaning and happiness. The Holy Spirit is our divine advocate and teacher (John 16:5-15). He applies God's Word to our lives. We must arm our minds with the Word of God and bolster ourselves through Christian companionship.

We who are in Christ will never be without a comforter. One of Jesus’ most precious promises to His disciples was: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16, KJV). The “Comforter” promised to us is the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is with us, leading us, guiding us through any adversity that we may face in this fallen world.

For those in the world today without the gift of the Holy Spirit (who is given to all God’s children), the oppression of men can be unbearable. The responsibility is upon us, who have the Comforter, to be comforters to the oppressed who do not have the Comforter. May the comfort of the Holy Spirit overflow out of our lives upon those who need His comfort: that they, through the comfort we give, may find life bearable; that they themselves may seek the comfort of the Holy Spirit by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

In conclusion, we find that obedience to God is greater than achievements, and along the same line relationships are greater than accomplishments. People place great value in their own accomplishments, yet they are never truly satisfied. In the end, there is very little gained. From a Biblical perspective, our relationship with Christ is far more important than anything we obtain in this life, for only He can truly satisfy our deepest needs.   

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