It does not happen every time, but I love it when a “hush” seems to overtake my surroundings as I begin doing my Journey Notes. This morning I entered into that “hush” gratefully as I began my praises to God for, “Good sleep” and “Joy in You.” I am still reading Ecclesiastes, written thousands of years ago yet continually challenging as it reflects, almost eerily, on life as we experience it today. This morning I was startled as I read these words from chapter eight:
“As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.” (verse 8b)
I grew up with an understanding of how “no one is discharged in time of war.” My dad was called to serve in the Marines when the Korean War started, leaving my mother with a two year old (me) and seven months pregnant with my brother. Several years ago I transcribed the letters Dad wrote to my mom as he crossed the Pacific Ocean in a ship headed for Korea. With almost every letter sent, my dad wrote with the hope that the conflict would be resolved so they all could turn around and go home. When he arrived in Korea in December of 1950, he suffered severe frostbite on his feet and legs. He continued to write with the hope that it would be over soon so that he and his buddies could return home. Living in pup-tents, constantly “on the line” as they fought up and down the rugged terrain of Korea, Dad served as an advance machine gunner with the 5th Marines. Finally accepting he was in Korea for the duration, Dad tried to watch over the younger guys serving with him. Years later, there were many times when we stayed up through the night, as he talked about the terrors of war and his many friends who “didn’t make it home.” When the fifty year anniversary of the start of the Korean War was celebrated, I cried, grateful that my dad was returned to us.
What caused me to gasp when I read verse 8 was the tie-in of being suddenly taken into war with being imprisoned by wickedness-stating that it “will not release those who practice it.” The spiritual reality is that those who battle against God (the epitome of wickedness) are in spiritual bondage to the sin they serve. Reading further, Ecclesiastes identifies the root of that bondage and their fate:
“Because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.” (Verses 12 & 13)
Adam and Eve hid from God when they sinned, but even then, an attitude of arrogance came through loud and clear when God questioned them about their sin. Adam’s response: “It was the woman YOU gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12-emphasis mine.) Even during what we perceive as “peaceful” times, a spiritual war is being waged as men serve themselves rather than their Creator.
How can we be on the winning side of this spiritual battle? Psalm 111:10 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” To “fear God” is to:
- Admit our arrogance and our need for forgiveness for going our own way.
- To trust only in the One sent to redeem us.
- We are freed from the “wickedness” referred to in Ecclesiastes 8, no longer bound by the burden sin places on us.
- The “freedom” that Christ won for us has divine purpose: We are freed to live for, love and serve God with glad hearts! That gives us a place to stand as we hold fast to Christ in confident faith. Ka-Pow!
Like I said . . . it is nothing less than breathtaking!
All to His Glory!