#Ecclesiastes | #Rushdoony | #WilliamPlumer
Crumbs from the reading table is a post about gleanings from my recent readings—from books to articles. Every gleaning will be long enough to spark some thoughts but short enough to finish during a bathroom break.
Excursions in Ecclesiastes
The following excerpt is from my series on Ecclesiastes:
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
- Ecclesiastes 1:1-3
For many, the confusion surrounding this verse comes from the English word “toil” appearing twice, but it is two different words in Hebrew. The word highlighting the Preacher’s point is עָמַל (‘âmal). The connotation is backbreaking work, which is ultimately vexing or exasperating. It gets nowhere, accomplishes little, and provides no meaning for the future. This verse reads as, “What can you achieve with pointless work?”
The works of people are rendered meaningless by the curse of God. Don’t forget that the Preacher is not focused on individuals only, but also civilizations — Israel as a whole in this case. The phrase “under the sun” gives us the scope of God’s curse upon rebellious men. It both signifies every kind of work covered by the dominion mandate and the area Adam’s authority reached (the world). What is “under the sun?” Everything. All of man’s work, everywhere it’s done, the curse of God followed.
Work at odds with God’s Law becomes vain under God’s curse.
Family as beginning
In the little book, Towards A Christian Marriage, Rushdoony writes in the introduction,
Now marriage is for time only. Our Lord makes clear that in the resurrection there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage (Luke 20:35). And yet the law of God makes clear how important and how central marriage is. God the Son came into the world neither through church nor state but into a family. This tells us that marriage, although non-existent in heaven is all the same central to this world. We are to live here as physical creatures under God whose lives are given their great training ground in terms of the Kingdom of God by marriage. Our Lord stresses the fact that marriage is our normal calling (Matt. 19:10-12).
Humanity begins with a family in the Garden (Adam and Eve; their children). It gets massively off course with a family (kin-murdering Cain and his line). The regeneration and refinement of humanity began within the bounds of a family (promised seed; via familial descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc.)
Although not an eternal institution (marriage and childbirth), it is the beginning and principal means of heavenizing earth (for which we pray). Rushdoony touches on this pivotal role of the family in expanding the Kingdom of God in the chapter The Doctrine of Marriage. He writes,
The family is man’s first church because it is there that he gets his basic learning concerning the faith…
The family is man’s first school, for it is in the family that he learns the basic of wisdom and learning of all education…
The family is man’s first state because the family under God is a state. It is there that force is brought to bear on the child to make him conform to what is just: he is punished for evildoing or disobedience; he is taught that there must be law and order within the frame work of the family and society at large.
The family is a social order—first and primary even. Here, the fundamental lessons of heavenly citizenship teach us to prepare future men and women for the task of prepping earth for heaven.
The meek of the earth
Let us burst their bonds apart, and cast away their cords from us.”
- Psalm 2:3
From an old post: The meek shall inherit the earth according to Jesus. “Meek” means to be harnessed, and in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, by the Law of God. The whole point in their planned rebellion is to un-meek themselves. “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
The greatest test of character to which men were ever subjected, is Jesus Christ himself. Nothing so manifests their real dispositions towards God.
- William S. Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms.
Until next time…
Read more. Think more. Apply it.
Matt is a husband, father, and an avid reader. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy in Applied Christian Studies.