Ecc 10:9-10              The Wisdom that Evades the Wicked               5/6/2012        

·        Parables (Luke 24:27, Eph 1:3-6, Jer 17:9)




#1.       Moving Stones (Ecc 10:9-10, Deut 19:14, 27:17)




·        Cleaving Wood (Ecc 10:9, Isa 44:9-20, Gal 3:13)




#2.       Idolatry (John 6:44, 6:29)




·        Rewards of Idolatry (Ecc 10:9, Ezek 14:1-5, Rom 9:31-32, 10:3, Rev 2:9, 3:9)




#3.       Sharpen Your Iron (Ecc 10:10)




·        But Wisdom Is More Profitable in Giving Success (Ecc 10:10, Matt 11:19, Luke 7:35, Prov 8:32-36, Hos 14:9)




#4.       Summary (Ecc 10:9-10, Rev 22:15)




·        Parables (Luke 24:27, Eph 1:3-6, Jer 17:9)

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ecclesiastes, Ecc 10:9, (2X). We have here a chapter filled with independent parables. You could also say that it is a chapter filled with proverbs, but the word “proverbs” really means “parables.” Today we will focus only on one of those parables, which is hidden in verses 9 and 10. Indeed, God’s message is hidden in the Old Testament, and we must dig to find it. Here is the principle: “The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.” It means that the Gospel plainly stated in the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, and the messages hidden in the Old Testament are in the New Testament revealed. This is how the entire Bible hangs together as one whole. Some people consider the scrolls of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as just a series of practical sayings of Solomon. Is this a possibility? No! This is not possible. We have to consider that God placed these wise sayings in the Bible, which is God’s message to mankind for the purpose of saving some. The Bible is a spiritual Book, and we must look for spiritual messages from God concerning Christ and concerning salvation. Can we find confirmation of this principle? Yes we can! The Lord Jesus said in Luke 24:27,

Luke 24:27, “And beginning at Moses and ALL the prophets, he expounded unto them in ALL the scriptures the things concerning himself.” We should not ignore these statements of our Lord Himself.

What is this parable about? This parable is about the wisdom unto salvation which is a gift from God, and God gives this wisdom only to His elect children. God withholds this information from those who are not His elect, and that is why the non-elect are the wicked, for the heart of man is basically wicked. That is why the wicked cannot understand the Gospel of salvation, and the wicked cannot understand the Bible, for to them the Gospel consists of a series of unintelligible parables. This is fundamentally God’s plan before He created the first speck of dust. We can read this in Eph 1:3-6, as God’s unconditional election, and it is confirmed throughout the whole Bible. God says in Jer 17:9,

Jer 17:9, “The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Therefore the non-elect will conceive all kinds of wicked devices and lies, because they lack the wisdom of God. The title of the present message is, The Wisdom that Evades the Wicked (2X), since God has not given them the wisdom unto salvation. This entire chapter, Ecc 10, breathes an atmosphere of the sins of the wicked, and the recompense for their sins.

From the context we see that verses 9 and 10 belong together. The personal pronoun in verse 9 is continuing in verse 10. The beginning of verse 9 is continuing on the theme of the previous verse. That theme was “Wicked men shall receive what they deserve.” That is how verse 9 begins, but then the focus shifts to the man who splits wood. What is so wicked about splitting wood? Again we cannot rely on the KJV translation, and neither can we trust the translation of J.P. Green’s Interlinear. We have to look at the meaning of the individual Hebrew words. We read in Ecc 10:9-10,

#1.       Moving Stones (Ecc 10:9-10, Deut 19:14, 27:17)

For your information I will include in the transcript all the Strong’s Concordance numbers so that you can search it out for yourselves, and I will also include all the parsings of the Hebrew verbs, which are somewhat like the English tenses. I encourage you to go to our website to check out those numbers, and to see the text in its entirety. We read in Ecc 10:9-10,

Ecc 10:9  Whoso removeth <05265> (8688) stones <068> shall be hurt <06087> (8735) therewith; and he that cleaveth <01234> (8802) wood <06086> shall be endangered <05533> (8735) thereby.

Ecc 10:10  If the iron <01270> be blunt <06949> (8765), and he do not whet <07043> (8773) the edge <06440>, then must he put <01396> (8762) to more strength <02428>: but wisdom <02451> is profitable <03504> to direct <03787> (8687).

What is so wicked about moving stones, or about cleaving wood? I refuse to interpret these verses as if they were just some practical safety rules or some practical rules in handling stones or in cleaving wood. These are not warnings to warn us for heavy stones to roll on to our feet. God placed these words in the Bible for the purpose of teaching us something about the Gospel of salvation, and it is in this direction we must look for an answer to these questions. And so, we need to find the spiritual meaning of the words God has placed here. And so, we are back to basics. We need to find the spiritual meaning of these Hebrew words. The first thing we see is:

Ecc 10:9  Whoso removeth <05265> (8688) stones <068>. Stones were used to indicate the boundaries of someone’s property. To move these stones, or to remove these stones, with the Hebrew parsing (8688) which implies the Hiphil tense, means to cause them to be moved to a new place, either by doing it himself, or by having his servants do it for him. He causes them to be moved. The person who is doing this is stealing land. He has moved the boundaries of his neighbor’s property, and that is a great offense. A person’s property is his inheritance given by God, as declared through Moses or through Joshua, and this property stands as a symbol for his inheritance in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Put a sticker here in Ecc 10:9 and please turn to the Prophecy of Deuteronomy, Deut 27:17 (2X). And so, to defraud a person of the property representing his inheritance spiritually symbolizes to deny this person a salvation in the New Heaven and the New Earth. God has much to say about this sin. For example, God says in Deut 19:14, “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.”

These words, “which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it” can refer both to their inheritance on this earth as well as their inheritance in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Furthermore, God says in Deut 27:17, “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.”

Look at this now. Here in Deut 27 is a passage where moving a neighbor’s landmark is listed together with idolatry, and adultery, and incest, and bestiality, and murder, and so on. And thus, moving a neighbor’s landmark is not an incidental sin, but a very grievous sin. On the practical side: How does anyone defraud his neighbor the inheritance in the New Heaven and the New Earth? He does that by proclaiming to him a false gospel, a gospel of works. The principle that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” does not only apply to the New Testament time but it applies to the Old Testament time as well. Now turn again to Ecc 10:9. We read in the first half of Ecc 10:9,

Ecc 10:9  Whoso removeth <05265> (8688) stones <068> shall be hurt <06087> (8735) therewith;

What does it mean that he “shall be hurt <06087> (8735) therewith”? The primary meaning of the word “hurt <06087> (8735)” is “grieved”, and the parsing (8735) indicates that it is the Niphal tense, which means “passive”, and it is “Imperfect”, which means that his grief will be inflicted without end. Here we see the first indication of the penalty for this sin of moving the boundaries of someone’s property, strongly indicating that it refers to the torment of hell, which is grief without end.

·        Cleaving Wood (Ecc 10:9, Isa 44:9-20, Gal 3:13)

Let us go on to the second half of Ecc 10:9,

“and he that cleaveth <01234> (8802) wood <06086> shall be endangered <05533> (8735) thereby.”

Why is cleaving wood such a terrible sin that it is listed together with removing his neighbor’s landmark? The primary meaning of the word “wood <06086>” is “tree <06086>”. Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 44:9-20 (2X). By the way, this “wood”, which in the Hebrew as well as in the Greek can also mean a “tree”, also refers to the wood on which Christ was crucified. That is why Christ is spoken of in Gal 3:13 as one who has been hanged on a tree. This act of cleaving a tree is a wicked act, not because it refers to cutting down the cross, but because it refers to the making of an idol. An outstanding example of such idolatry is found in Isa 44:9-20. We read in:

Isa 44:9 (2X) They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

10  Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

11  Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.

12  The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.

13  The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.

14  He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

15  Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

16  He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:

17  And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

18  They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

19  And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

20  He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Can you see here how ridiculous this man is? One part of the tree he burns to cook himself a meal, and the other part he cuts with an axe, and brings that part of the tree to a craftsman who then shapes it into the form of a man, and then he falls down to it and worships it. Do not think that this can only come to pass in ancient times when people were simple minded. This is the nature of man.

#2.       Idolatry (John 6:44, 6:29)

Mankind likes to design his own god in the image of man, without asking if there is perhaps a Divine revelation in existence which describes God as He truly is. If you would ask the man on the street who God is you will hear a thousand different descriptions what God is like. Today the Bible is still the best seller of all times all over the world, but people are still ignoring what God says in the Bible. Is it possible that mankind does not understand the words God inspired to be written? Can we see that the many Bible versions have contributed to this confusion? For example, the notion that we will become sons of God if we reach out to God and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior is a doctrine that was invented by man, but this is not at all the language of the Bible. This is a teaching that gives glory to man, but not to God, and therefore it is a doctrine spawned by the devil himself. But this is the teaching that occurs in the newer translations of the Bible. What does God have to say about that? The Lord Jesus said plainly in John 6:44, “No man CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” In other words, no one can even come close to salvation without the Father drawing this person to the Lord Jesus Christ. Any attempt to generate a salvation plan whereby we would accept the Lord Jesus as our savior is simply an act of creating a god who does not exist. Nevertheless, presently millions of people are falling down before this imaginary god, and worship it.

Another example is this: The notion that God rewards those that do good works with salvation is a self-help gospel that gives only glory to man, and therefore it is a gospel that was conceived in the mind of man, and now most of mankind is bowing down to this fabricated god. Do they not know that they are worshipping Satan when they do this? The Lord Jesus flatly contradicts this in John 6:29 where we read, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” In other words, Our believing unto salvation is the result of the work of God, but it is not our act of believing on the Lord Jesus. Our act of believing is simply the result of the prompting by God the Holy Spirit to believe on the atoning work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf. We must always remember who will receive the credit for the work that is done. The credit must always go to God, for we were created to glorify God and to glorify God through Christ. We were not created to reap any credits for ourselves. We were created to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and to thank Him for all the blessings that He has poured upon us, and for the blessings that He is going to pour upon us. Think of the enormous blessings of eternal life He will pour upon us in the New Heaven and the New Earth, that we will inherit His throne, and what a great insult it would be if we insist that we have earned part of these blessings ourselves. That is why we read in Isa 44:20, “a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul.” Those who practice idolatry have been deceived.

·        Rewards of Idolatry (Ecc 10:9, Ezek 14:1-5, Rom 9:31-32, 10:3, Rev 2:9, 3:9)

What are the rewards of idolatry? Let us return to the second half of Ecc 10:9 where we read,

“He that cleaveth <01234> (8802) wood <06086> shall be endangered <05533> (8735) thereby.”

We have seen that this refers to the making of an idol from the stump of a tree. What does it mean that “he shall be endangered <05533> (8735) thereby?” Actually the word endangered <5533> can just as well be translated “impoverished” instead of “endangered.” Is a person impoverished when he makes an idol? That is indeed the case. He has become poor in his soul. He has traded with the Devil his eternal inheritance for a worthless idol. These days people are too sophisticated to make an idol of wood or stone, but they make an idol in their head. If they hold on to a concept of God that is not true to the Bible then they have in fact created an idol in their heart. God speaks about this in Ezek 14. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ezekiel. Ezek 14:1. In Ezek 14 God speaks about those of the elders in Israel who have concocted a self-help gospel. They were not satisfied with the true Gospel that God has designed. Instead they believe that they are saved because they are sons of Abraham, and they obey the laws of God. We read in Ezek 14:1-5,

Ezek 14:1-5, “1 ¶  Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.

2  And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

3  Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

4  Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

5  That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.”

In this chapter God identified the sin of creating false concepts of God as plain idolatry. How do we know that this is what the elders of Israel have concocted in their heart? God tells us in Rom 9:31-32 and in Rom 10:3 that this was the popular doctrine prevailing in the nation of the Jews. We read in Rom 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Rom 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Ezekiel preached the true Gospel to them, but they did not want to abandon their preconceived notions of a salvation only for the sons of Jacob. What are the rewards of their idolatry? God speaks of them as “The Synagogue of Satan” in Rev 2:9 and in Rev  3:9. Therefore we must study the Scriptures carefully so that we will not arrive at false concepts of God. We must harmonize all the words of the Bible, for God is not a liar. If we find that certain verses in the Bible do not harmonize with our concept of God, we should certainly change our concept of God. We do not want to worship idols which cannot save, and we certainly do not want to be condemned for hanging on to impotent idols which do not represent God.

#3.       Sharpen Your Iron (Ecc 10:10)

Let us now finish this parable in Ecc 10. Please return again to Ecc 10:10,

Ecc 10:10  If the iron <01270> be blunt <06949> (8765), and he do not whet <07043> (8773) the edge <06440>, then must he put <01396> (8762) to more strength <02428>: but wisdom <02451> is profitable <03504> to direct <03787> (8687).

This verse is still speaking of the same man of Ecc 10:9 who was cutting part of a tree for the purpose of making an idol. The iron <01270> in verse 10 refers to the axe head. Symbolically, If the man does not sharpen the edge of the axe head, then he must exercise more strength to cut the wood. Now, why did God put this in the Bible? Is God concerned about axe heads, or is God concerned about using logic in the labor of cutting trees? No! God is not concerned about how stupid we are in our labors to build idols. But God would be pleased if we sharpen our mind by listening to His instructions through God the Holy Spirit. We need to find the spiritual meaning of this sharpening of the axe head. What is in view here? The axe is the man’s tool. The man must sharpen his tool. But verses 9 and 10 speak about the man building an idol to satisfy his spiritual needs. He is using his mind, his tool, in a stupid way. And now God says, “Sharpen the tools that you use when you begin to understand who God is.” Do not use your mind in a stupid way for then you only generate more labor. In other words, “When you end up in idolatry you end up in having to work harder for the idol you have created, for all the false gospels are works-gospels.” And the understanding that is forming in your mind is actually the wisdom given to you by God the Holy Spirit. It is not your own effort of sharpening of your mind. That is basically the meaning of the first half of Ecc 10:10.

Now the question is, “How do we sharpen our minds?” We do that by studying God’s Word, the Bible, and by studying various study-helps such as a concordance, or a Bible dictionary, or an Interlinear Bible, or a computer program, and so on. Since the Bible translators were fallible men, we do not have a perfect translation in our hand. It follows that we must check out the work that the translators have done. We do not take their work for granted. God did not write the Bible in an easy to understand fashion. And more importantly, we need to understand the parables in the Bible, for the Bible is not just a historical Book; it is not a Book containing many stories we must memorize like loose sand; it is a spiritual Book, with many stories that are connected to each other, so that the Bible becomes one coherent whole. It is essentially one story with many facets, and this one story focusses on glorifying God and His righteousness. Sharpen your understanding of the true Gospel; discuss it with others who believe as you do, meditate on it and meditate on salvation totally by grace and what the consequences are of this principle, for this brings glory to God. And then we are confronted with the contrast in Ecc 10:10. What is the contrast? We read in Ecc 10:10,

·        But Wisdom Is More Profitable in Giving Success (Ecc 10:10, Matt 11:19, Luke 7:35, Prov 8:32-36, Hos 14:9)

The KJV reads, “But wisdom <02451> is profitable <03504> to direct <03787> (8687)” which does not make sense at all. The literal translation from the Interlinear Bible says, “But wisdom <02451> is an advantage <03504> giving success <03787> (8687),” which comes closer to making sense. The last word <03787> (8687) has been correctly translated in the interlinear as “giving success.” But the second word does not mean “advantage.” The KJV has translated this word <03504> as: profit 5 times, excelleth 2 times, excellency 1 time, profitable 1 time, and better 1 time. Therefore we find justification in translating this part of Ecc 10:10 as follows, “But Wisdom Is More Profitable in Giving Success.” But what does this mean? Remember the context. Here was a man who was cutting a tree to make an idol. In other words, here was a man who was shaping his false gospel, hoping that through worshipping this idol he would be saved. But paraphrased God says, “If you receive wisdom as a gift from God you will have received something that gives you more success.” This route is more profitable than the route of carving out your own idol. Wisdom is always a gift from God, and God is the Giver of everything good. The Lord Jesus had something to say about this same subject matter in a slightly different way. We read about this in Matt 11:19 and in Luke 7:34, where the Lord Jesus said the same thing twice. Please turn to the Gospel of Luke, Luke 7:34 (2X). The Lord said in Matt 11:19,

Matt 11:19, “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”

What does this mean, “Wisdom is justified of her children?” Who are the children of wisdom? They are the children of God who have been “Born Again”, who have received the wisdom unto salvation from God. These are all the elect children of God. They are the evidence that they have been justified in the sight of God, which is the opposite of what their enemies were thinking. Please turn now to the Gospel according to Luke, Luke 7:34-35,

Luke 7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!

Luke 7:35  But wisdom is justified of ALL her children.

And now the emphasis is on ALL the children of wisdom. By this the Lord indicated that ALL the elect will be given this measure of wisdom, by which we can see that every one of the elect shall be saved. Furthermore, what is this wisdom from God pointing to? It points to a lifestyle which indicates that God is in their life. This is why the Lord Jesus refers to eating and drinking in Luke 7:34. And this is also why Prov 8:32-36 refers to the same thing: It is the lifestyle of a saint. We read in Prov 8:32-36

Prov 8:32 ¶  Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.

Prov 8:33  Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

Prov 8:34  Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Prov 8:35  For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

Prov 8:36  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

The same truth is summarized in Hos 14:9, and there we also read about the lifestyle of the saint:

Hos 14:9,  Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

This then is how “wisdom is more profitable in giving success”, and this is exactly what the Lord Jesus referred to when He said, “wisdom is justified of ALL her children.”

#4.       Summary (Ecc 10:9-10, Rev 22:15)

Let us now review the whole parable.

Ecc 10:9  Whoso removeth <05265> (8688) stones <068> shall be grieved <06087> (8735) therewith; and he that cleaveth <01234> (8802) wood <06086> shall be impoverished <05533> (8735) thereby.

Ecc 10:10  If the iron <01270> be blunt <06949> (8765), and he do not whet <07043> (8773) the edge <06440>, then must he put <01396> (8762) to more strength <02428>: but wisdom <02451> is more profitable <03504> in giving success <03787> (8687).

We began with the moving, or the removal of stones which was the sin of stealing property. The penalty for stealing property will be grief without end, which refers to condemnation in hell. Next, the cleaving of wood refers to cutting a tree for the purpose of making a wooden idol. What is idolatry? Idolatry is creating an impotent idol from a material, such as wood or stone, but creating a false concept of god in your mind is also idolatry, for this also is a god who cannot save. The only God who can save people is the sovereign God of the Bible who has declared that no one can come to Christ except the Father draw him. This means that without election no one can be saved.

The rewards of idolatry can be summed up in Rev 22:15, where we read that idolaters are left outside the New Heaven and the New Earth, where all the unsaved are subject to the torments of hell.

Rev 22:15, “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”

Therefore, sharpen your iron, sharpen your skills in Bible study and in understanding what the true Gospel is, for many deceivers have gone out into the world, and have already deceived many. The great falling away is in full swing. Pray for the wisdom that comes from God, and pray for the evidence through which we can recognize if we are children of God. And pray that we may be pulled out of the lifestyle which characterizes an unsaved condition, but do not be deceived by the holiness people who claim that you must lead a sinless life.

Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be saved? No! That is false.

Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus. That is correct.

Find the evidence that you are in Jesus, for this will make you deliriously happy and blessed.

AMEN.                        Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.