Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #5 (Ecclesiastes): Vows To God (The Sacrifice of Fools) To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching The Gathering Connect.
The Sacrifice of Fools Galatians 6:7-8, 1 John 1:8-10, Ecclesiastes 5:1-9
When a politician tells their public that they pray for their arch enemy every day and then proceeds to attack him in every way— they are a fool. When a priest says he loves God and then sexually abuses an altar boy— he is a fool. When an evangelist says that he has come to serve and then fills his pockets full of money, his house full of treasures and his garage full of cars— he is a fool. When a believer goes to church and participates in all the Christian activities and yet doesn’t change a thing in any of their actions— they are a fool, because God is no fool. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows he will reap in return (Galatians 6:7).
As we begin reading chapter five of Ecclesiastes, the “teacher” reflects on the meaningless activities of religious phonies. Why do they lie about their love and respect for God when they are only using “faith talk” to promote themselves? Do they really believe their own lies or is it just that they have no respect or fear of God (Romans 3:12)? There is a recognized syndrome today called False memory syndrome (FMS) that describes a condition in which a person’s identity and relationships are affected by memories that are factually incorrect but that they strongly believe. Psychiatry calls this confabulation. A memory error defined as the production of fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted thoughts or memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive. These defenses are actually being used successfully in our courts today. Do some people exhibit FMS or confabulation regarding their piety? Apparently so, but this will not be a good case defense on judgment day. We may deceive even ourselves, but God will not stand by and allow any man to call Him a liar (1 John 1:8-10).
The “teacher” gives us sound advice: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.” The purpose in going to “the house of God” (aka Church) is to listen and learn! If you are here for any other reason today then you are bringing the sacrifice of a fool. Even your pastor is here to learn! I spend hours learning from God what I condense and teach to you. I also hear from God through worship, prayer and talking to my congregation. None of us should ever dare come into this place thinking that “I am something special—listen to me, look at my gift, watch me, I have a position, love me!” We are all here to listen, give praise and worship God! If you are here for any of those reasons and you do not know that you are doing wrong, then listen and learn…you are doing wrong!
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
The “teacher” continues by giving his readers a solid lesson in how to listen and learn in the house of God:
- Don’t be quick with your mouth: We who lead in the church, in business, in politics, and in family & parenting need to shut our mouths and just listen sometimes. In fact, if you have difficulty listening then you should especially shut your mouth and listen to God’s instruction.
- Don’t be hasty in your heart: In the words made immortal by Elvis Presley, “Wise men say only fools rush in”. The Bible teaches us to think before we act and to “count the cost” before we make a decision even when following Jesus (Luke 9:23). Once we make a decision our word is to be our bond. “Anything more comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:37).”
With these points firmly planted in our minds we are to come to God to learn His word and direction for our lives. God is exalted (in Heaven) and we are not! He is creator and we are the creation (on the earth). Let us not think too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3)! A dream comes (or goals are achieved) when there are many cares ( or much care has been taken), and many words mark the speech of a fool. Ecclesiastes 5:3
Let us not be those “Christians” who bring the sacrifice of fools to God’s house. If we aren’t learning and applying anything from His word to our living then even offerings, worship and service is meaningless. Let us fulfill our vows to God or not bother to make them in the first place. For He will hold us to our promise. Don’t hate the “messenger” for this truth or argue your case with the one who brings the Word. Just receive it! Too much dreaming (or goal setting) and words— especially hasty ones, used in prayer and talking, show folly in the heart, low thoughts of God, and careless plans of our own making. If we “fear God” our relationship with Him will not be meaningless and we will not bring the sacrifice of fools into His house.
Riches are Meaningless Ecclesiastes 5:8-17, Luke 16:13-15
The “teacher” writes on with timeless observation that the poor are oppressed, officials are ruthless and kings reign— all because of the pursuit of money. The lover of money never has enough, nor do the consumers who consume what they sell to get it. Evangelist David Wilkerson once said: “If money is such a blessing then why did God heap so much of it upon the damned?” The pursuit of money has killed more people than all the wars in the world put together…actually most wars were fought for money! In summation, everyone comes without anything (naked) from the womb and departs this earth in the same way. So living for the love of money is like “eating all your days in darkness with great frustration, affliction and anger”. Why else would Queen Elizabeth I have groaned these last words before her death: “All my possessions for a moment of time”, but then what did that say about her Protestant Faith?
Jesus told the money loving religious Pharisees that they could not serve God and money. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight (Luke 16:13-15). One could certainly say that the Pharisees made the “sacrifice of fools”. They were so blinded by their love for money and pride that they couldn’t see God standing right in front of Him— in fact they crucified Him!
“Be Good” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, Luke 18:18-19, Micah 6:6-8
The summation of the “teacher” is “to be good”. Jesus made it clear that only God is good (Luke 16:13-15) which brings us back to our need for Him. When we “fear God” and keep ourselves from making “the sacrifice of fools” we can appreciate what God has given and accept our lot in life. Rather rich or poor or somewhere in-between we must glorify Him. We were made for this reason and this alone is the only sacrifice that God requires of us (Micah 6:6-8).