Yahweh would not accept these gifts (Mal 1:9-1:10)

“‘Now implore

The favor of God!

Thus,

He may be gracious to us.

The fault is yours.

Will he show favor

to any of you?’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Oh!

That someone among you

Would shut the temple doors!

Thus,

You would not kindle fire

Upon my altar in vain!

I have no pleasure in you!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will not accept

An offering

From your hand.’”

Yahweh wanted them to implore God’s favor, so that he might be gracious to them.  However, it was their own fault.  Why should Yahweh show favor to any of them?  They might as well shut the doors to the Temple, because they have lit fires on his altar in vain.  Yahweh was not pleased with these priests.  He was not going to accept any offerings from their hands.

Some will remain (Ezek 6:8-6:10)

“But I will spare some.

Some of you

Shall escape

The sword.

Among the nations,

They will be scattered

Through the countries.

Those of you

Who escaped

Shall remember me

Among the nations

Where they are carried captive.

They will remember

How I was crushed

By their wanton hearts

That turned away

From me.

They will remember

That their wanton eyes

Turned after their idols.

Then they will be loathsome

In their own sight

For the evils

That they have committed,

For all their abominations.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.

I did not threaten

In vain

To bring this disaster

Upon them.”

Yahweh was going to spare some of these Israelites from his sword of death. They would escape scattered among the various nations and countries. Those that escaped would remember Yahweh in their captivity countries. They would remember how Yahweh had crushed their reckless hearts and eyes that turned away from Yahweh to their idols. They would become despicable in their own eyes. They would realize that they had committed evils and abominations. They would then know that Yahweh had not threatened in vain about this disaster that came upon them.

Blindness (Lam 4:17-4:17)

Ayin

“Our eyes failed.

We were forever

Watching vainly

For help.

We were

Watching eagerly

For a nation

That could not save.”

Despite the fact that the people of Jerusalem were watching in vain, their eyes failed them. They were looking for help, but none came. They eagerly watched for country after country to help them, but no one could save them. Either they were blind or other countries were blind to them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin in this acrostic poem.

The plight of Jerusalem (Jer 4:30-4:31)

“You!

O desolate one!

What do you mean

That you dress in crimson?

Why do you deck yourself

With ornaments of gold?

Why do you enlarge your eyes

With paint?

In vain,

You beautify yourself.

Your lovers despise you.

They seek your life.

I heard a cry

Like a woman in labor.

I heard a cry

Of anguish,

Like one bringing forth

Her first child.

This was the cry

Of the daughter Zion

Gasping for breath.

She was stretching out her hands.

‘Woe is me!

I am fainting

Before killers.’”

Jeremiah took on desolate Jerusalem that put on crimson dresses and golden ornaments. She painted her eyes to make them look larger. She was ready to party, but she beautified herself and gussied up in vain. In fact, her lovers wanted to kill her. Jerusalem was also like a woman in childbirth labor pains, much like a woman giving birth to her first child, which is always more difficult. She was gasping for breath. She stretched out her hands, realizing that she was fainting before her killers. Jerusalem was about to go down also.

Enjoy life (Eccl 9:7-9:10)

“‘Go!

Eat your bread

With enjoyment!

Drink your wine

With a merry heart!

God has long ago approved what you do.

Let your garments always be white!

Do not let oil be lacking on your head.

Enjoy life with the wife

Whom you love!’

All the days of your vain life

Are given you

Under the sun.

That is your portion in life.

That is your toil at which you toil

Under the sun.

Whatever your hand finds to do,

Do it with your might.

There is no work in Sheol.

There is no thought in Sheol.

There is no knowledge in Sheol.

There is no wisdom in Sheol.

That is where you are going.”

Qoheleth wants you to enjoy life now. Eat your bread and drink your wine. Enjoy them with a merry heart. God has already approved of what you are doing. Wear white garments with oil in your hair. Enjoy your life with your beloved wife. All the days of your life are in vain. All your work is in vain. Just do the best that you can with all your might. Where you are going, there will be no work, thought, knowledge, or wisdom. You are all headed to Sheol, the shadowy underworld of death.

Dreams (Eccl 5:7-5:7)

“With many dreams

Come vanities.

With many dreams

Come a multitude of words.

But you should fear God.”

Dreams are useless, like most everything else. Even dreams with a lot of words are in vain. This is opposed to the view that God spoke to people in their dreams. Instead Qoheleth wants you to fear God and everything will be all right.

 

 

The vanity of hard work (Eccl 2:18-2:23)

“I hated all my toil

In which I had toiled under the sun.

I must leave it to

Those who will come after me.

Who knows

Whether they will be a wise or foolish?

Yet they will be

Master of all for which I toiled.

I used my wisdom under the sun.

This also is vanity.

So I turned about.

I gave my heart up to despair

Concerning all the toil of

My labors under the sun.

Sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom,

Toiled with knowledge,

Toiled with skill,

Must leave all to be enjoyed by another

Who did not toil for it.

This also is vanity.

This is a great evil.

What do mortals get from all the toil?

What do mortals gat from the strain

With which they toil under the sun?

All their days are full of pain.

Their work is a vexation.

Even at night

Their minds do not rest.

This also is vanity.”

Now Qoheleth addressed the problem of hard work. What is its value? He had been a hard working wise man, but he would have to leave all his work to those who would come after him. There was no telling if they would be wise or foolish, but still they would be in charge of all his things. He then realized that with all his wisdom under the sun, everything that he had accomplished was in vain. He then fell into despair, much like Job. He would not enjoy the fruit of his hard work. He had worked with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he had to leave the results of his work to be enjoyed by those who would not work hard. This is the problem with parents who work hard to see their children succeed, only to have them dissipate their life away. This painful useless work is a great evil. He wanted to know if there was a reward for this hard work. This work was nothing but a painful troubling vexation that kept him from sleeping at night. Hard work was useless, in vain, vanity itself. This is a very strong indictment against hard work.