Lord, your hand of discipline is too heavy on me, there is absolutely no negotiation!
I was a Christian since a child, and was called by the Lord into full-time ministry. With an innocent heart I entered seminary for four years of theological training, and then served at a church for a while. But afterwards, owing to my faltering faith, I turned wayward instead of following Christ and retreated from the path of serving Christ.
Satan is the most diligent evil one in trying to pull man away from God. In the book of Job it recorded how Satan used all kinds of tricks to frame Job up in order to make him stay away from God and not revere Him. Not only will Satan send disasters, but he will give whoever follows him material abundance in order to win their souls. Therefore after I left the church, I profited wealthily and prestigiously, these catalyzed my waywardness from God. When I could control everything with my own hands and lead an admirable life, I totally forgot about God. I did not care about the price when shopping, and I enjoyed the best stuff in my living. Since 1996 I immigrated to the States to do restaurant business, I have bought 14 new cars; this was absolutely off the tangent; all because I indulged too much in my carnal desires.
An “Out of the Blue” Storm
Before November 3, 2004, my whole life was under my plan and I still have lots of big dreams and perspectives to develop my career to the utmost peak. I did not realise that I was trapped by Satan and was heading toward the perishable path. Even man could plan ahead, God is in control! On November 3, 2004, with a carefree attitude I went to see my doctor for my body check-up report. The doctor requested my family members to go with me, so my sister accompanied me. The result was scary; there was a tumor of 8 cm diameter in my liver, after MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and biopsy, those were proved to be cancer cells. According to the images, there was possibility of other small cancer cells growing within the liver. Based on the medical precautions in the States, any liver tumor that was smaller than 5cm could be operated and could be scheduled to have liver transplant, but my situation was not promising, because for an 8 cm liver tumor, it was considered as high risk and no specialist would perform the operation nor do the liver transplant. Regarding the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, according to the doctors, they would not have much effect on me anymore. So the doctor proclaimed that I only had 6 months to live. I saw myself walking to the end of my life journey, no operation, and no other medical help could give me hope nor heal me.
The God Who Never Forsakes Me
It seemed like God’s hand pushed me to a corner. I knew this was out of God’s chasing love, because the Lord disciplines those He loves. I knew I had to face God and dealt with our relationship, so I went home quietly, asked God for forgiveness, and a phrase uttered in my heart, “Be prepared to meet the Lord, your God!” God did not grant any healing methods, and He did not even give me chance to bargain, it’s non-negotiable! I could only come humbly before God, reminiscing my waywardness in the past ten years; I bowed before God and repented, knelt before His gracious throne and asked for mercy. I vowed to God that in my remaining time, I would purposely live my life for Christ, and dedicated myself to the Lord. May the Lord use my remaining flicker to light up those who were still in the dark. God is faithful; He has accepted me as His child and has raised me up, just like the Bible said, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
I need to thank God and He used this incident to give me a wakeup call. Although I do not have much time left on earth, He had already granted me eternal life, and let me live with Him forever. I would like to bear witness for Him, we should respect God seriously! May all brothers and sisters offer your lives to the Lord and live for Him, right now! (Author: Brother William Ng, at the age of 42, went to be with the Lord on March 7, 2006)
Your Initial Response
Please read Ecclesiastes 12:1. How would you apply this Bible verse to your life journey at this moment?
1Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—
2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain;
3when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim;
4when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint;
5when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets.
6Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well,
7and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 12:1–8 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Put a question mark next to a difficult word or phrase.
3 Circle all the words that are related with time.
4 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come.” What are the immediate responses of young Christians? Pay no attention at all or resolve to make well use of our time to serve the Lord? What are the immediate thoughts of senior Christians? No regret or regret? If we had a humble and teachable heart, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, we are able to benefit from this statement.
1 Who is the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 12:1)?
2 What is the meaning of remembering God (Ecclesiastes 12:1)?
3 What are the meanings of the figures of speech in verses 2 to six?
4 What is “meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 12:8)?
King Solomon not only was wise, but he had unique understanding of life. Under the sun, to him, the monotony of life, the vanity of wisdom, the futility of wealth, and the certainty of death was the reality of life. As he did not want people to live in vain, he recorded the awakening ideas in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
By referring to the context of Ecclesiastes, “remember” has the following reminders: first, as godly people revere God, thus they should keep His laws faithfully and serve Him responsibly; second, owing to the fact that God is the Creator, and we are His creatures, let us affirm that He is the origin of life and everything we own belongs to Him. “The days of trouble” (NIV) is an indication of physical difficulty, injury, pain, deprivation and suffering of elderly people. In simple terms, Solomon reminds young people to treasure life and follow God’s will in their lives before old age comes.
According to the Jewish religious literature (the Midrash, the Talmud and the Targum), the sun, the moon and the stars, are symbols of a human face. Conclusively speaking, these ancient writings remind young people to remember God before old age comes, for they will lose the radiance in their countenances, becoming dull as a result. Christian scholars offer the following explanations: first, the eyes begin to fail, for instance, glaucoma produces the cloudiness of vision; second, clouds represent troubles that are small setbacks in youth but big disasters in old age; third, the sad, darkened countenance of an old person; fourth, brightness symbolises sweetness and richness of life, and the gloomy clouds represent the days of darkness.
“When the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop,” indicating that the hands which protect the person, and the legs that support the body, have become weak because of old age. “When the grinders cease because they are few” is a description of seniors with few teeth. “And those looking through the windows grow dim of,” that is, the deterioratingeyesight of senior people.
There are various interpretations regarding to “when the doors to the street are closed.” A scholar states that due to the loss of teeth, the lips sink in; this is the first view. A scholar deduces that it means the deteriorating of hearing of elderly people. Owing to poor hearing, the sounds of grinding fade; this is the second view. “When men rise up at the sound of birds,” indicates that elderly people wake up easily or suffer from insomnia. “But all their songs grow faint awakened up,” that is to say, the vocal chords are impaired, thus the voice is weak.
“When men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets,” that is, old people have lost the adventurous spirit. The blossoms of almond tree are white in color; “when the almond tree blossoms” is an indication of white hair covering the whole head. “And the grasshopper drags himself along;” the author uses a humorous way of expressing that an elderly person finds even a tiny insect such as a grasshopper a burden. Perhaps, owing to bad joints, old people walk with difficulty. The literal translation of “and desire no longer is stirred” can be translated as “and the caper berry shrivels up.” It can be interpreted in both ways: first, even caper berries (aphrodisiacs) fail to stimulate old people, meaning that they have lost their sexual desire; second, shriveled caper berries have lost their sexual stimulation, that is, old people are like shriveled caper berries, having no capability of reproduction. “Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets,” an expression of stating that old people are going to be laid to rest soon.
In regard to the many interpretations of verse 6, the following are some viewpoints of some Bible expositors: First, there are two pairs of expressions in verse six, both symbolise death. Second, the first figure is that of a lamp hanging by a cord which is severed, causing the bowl to drop and be broken. This drop obviously ruins the lamp. The second figure is the destruction of the pitcher and the apparatus associated with a well, thus losing water supply. Second, “the golden bowl” means the cranial cavity, and “before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well,” can be interpreted as the human circulatory system, that is, the breakdown of systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Third, the silver cord is the human spinal marrow, and “the golden bowl” is the human brain. The meaning of the pitcher and the wheel in the second half of this verse is identical to its first half, they both mean death. Fourth, the silver cord is the chain, the pitcher the bucket, and the wheel the pulley, the equipment for drawing water.
This verse speaks of the origin of humankind; the human body is from the ground, and the human spirit is originated from God. No people can refuse to die when death dawns on them. The author lets the readers know the human bodies are mortal, and the human spirits are immortal.
King Solomon concluded that life under the sun is meaningless (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Life is monotonous, wisdom is vain, wealth is futile, and death is certain; as humankind live in such a meaningless state, thus we must obey the Lord’s will with reverence while we are still young.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Death will dawn on everyone one day and no one can escape from it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
2 Memorise Ecclesiastes 12:1.
1Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
3 Resolve to obey God’s Law and serve Him faithfully.
4 Owing to the fact that life is short, we must try not to be at enmity with others, and treasure those who are dear to us by our side, spending the rest of our days with them enthusiastically.
5 Money is just a temporal matter, and it does not have eternal value; thus, believers should have a right perspective on wealth.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.