The Book of Ecclesiastes Bible Study Chapter 11 Part 1

Let’s read Eccl 11: 1-5. 

In this chapter King Solomon challenges us to see if we really are making right, proper, G-dly decisions. Wisdom is not found in just understanding G-d’s Words, but wisdom is also being willing to apply them to our lives – to put them into practice – Matt 7:24-27

v1: Cast your bread upon the waters: If we did this to bread there would be nothing left of it – it would be eaten up by the fish, or it would dissolve and disintegrate. 

  • Many days: An abundance of days. Many scholars see this as at the end of the age.

Note: In Hebrew there is no punctuation, but within its context this verse should be understood as a question: If someone cast their bread upon the waters would they find it? The answer is: No, they would not. Bread (synonymous with life) has a very special status in Judaism. According to tradition it is forbidden to handle bread in a disrespectful way – so it would never be thrown into the garbage. Life, like bread, should be treated with special attention or dignity. If we pour our lives (resources etc) into things that are going to dissolve or consume it (ie into the wrong locations) are we going to find much of our life leftover after much time? NO! What are we doing with our lives, with the resources that we have?  Are we investing them in a way that at the end of days we will find life?

Col 3:3-4 tells us that our lives are hidden in Messiah, and it is only when He is manifested that we (as believers) will be manifested with Him. If we have not cast our bread upon Messiah (so to speak) then we will have nothing to show for it when this present kingdom transitions into the Kingdom of G-d. 

v2: Seven…also to eight: Numbers are important in the Scripture. If we don’t understand them Scripturally then we cannot deal with them properly. The number 7 relates to holiness or sanctification (ie the purposes of G-d).

  • Give a serving to seven: We need to give our lives (the portion that has been given to us) to the purposes of G-d. 
  • Also to eight: The number eight is a Kingdom number. It is a number related to redemption or restoration. If we want G-d to move in our lives to redeem and to restore us (to give back to us our wasted days – Joel 2:25) we need to become Kingdom minded.
  • Evil: The attacks of the enemy. Those things that are contrary to G-d’s will. In this world the enemy attacks us. There is however safety in obedience – in giving our lives (our portion) to the purposes of G-d – to holiness, to sanctification, to the things that belong to the Kingdom of G-d. Living in the character of the Kingdom not only protects us but it also prepares us for the future (we don’t know what the future holds – how the enemy will attack, the obstacles we are going to encounter etc). We prepare for this unknown (by us) future by investing our lives in the purposes of G-d, the will of G-d and in the Kingdom of G-d. He knows the evil we are going to encounter and if we are living IN Him He can direct our paths and cause us to be more than overcomers! (Roms 8:37)

v3: Rain: Biblically rain is seen as a blessing. G-d is going to move in this world to bless. Are we going to be in the right place to receive His blessing when it falls?

  • A tree: In the Hebrew mindset a tree falling is seen as a curse. In this context…the place that G-d curses there that curse will be or will remain. 

Note: What is our response? To ask G-d to bless us? To ask G-d to protect us from the curse? That’s not what this Word of G-d is instructing us to do. We need to be wise enough to go to where the blessings are falling and to move away from where the curses are. We need to have our lives redirected. 

v4: The wind: In Biblical times seed was sown/scattered by hand. Seeds were not sown when it was windy, as the seeds would not fall in the right places due to the windy conditions. There were signs to say it was good to sow seed, but there were also signs to say it was not good to sow. 

  • The clouds: Likewise, harvesting was not done on a cloudy/rainy day as the rain had the potential to spoil the crop. There were also signs for and against harvesting the crops. 

Note: We need to be functioning within G-d’s perfect timing for our lives if we want to be a fruitful people. In v3 we learnt that we need to be in the proper position for blessing, in this verse we learn that we need to be sensitive to G-d’s timing in order to reap the blessing. With our own intellect we cannot work out this timing – but we need to be hearing from G-d and allowing Him to direct us as to the where’s and the when’s. Just like there are times to sow and times to reap physically it is also true for us spiritually. 

v5: The way of the wind: We cannot control or perfectly anticipate the wind. We don’t know if it is going to blow one way or the other. Likewise, based upon human intellect, we cannot anticipate how the Spirit is going to move. We need to be hearing from G-d – have ears that are sensitive to Him (Rev 2:7, Rev 2:11 etc). If we are not sensitive to the Spirit we are going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Poor timing in our lives will lead to us feeling frustrated. 

  • How the bones grow in the womb: Ultrasounds have cleared up some of this mystery today, but there is still a lot we don’t understand about the growth of a baby in its mothers’ womb. 
  • You do not know the works of G-d: Left to ourselves we cannot know what G-d is up to – where He is working and where He is not working. When we do not know what G-d is up to, life will seem very futile for us. We need G-d’s revelation. We need Him to speak to us, to guide us, to direct us, to illuminate His purposes, His plans, His decisions in our lives.
  • All things: Things of the Kingdom. James 1:17. It is only through G-d’s Work in our lives that we can experience fullness of life. He doesn’t only go to work in our lives but He goes to work through our lives so that His will can be accomplished, through us, on earth. 

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