Pastor Steve Ellison
As I write this during the most bitter cold spell in my recent memory, I am going to take a break from surveying the questions God has asked, to take a quick look at “Keeping Warm”. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Solomon, The Preacher, wrote, Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (NASU)
Solomon’s point is as pertinent today as it was three thousand years ago. Spouses, church members, co-workers, neighbors, even acquaintances can make daily tasks much easier, faster, safer, and more pleasant. Sometimes survival is dependent on help from another person. The current weather situation drives home Solomon’s point in verse 11. Warmth is a necessity for survival. Even something as simple as combining body heat may mean survival for two people who would have otherwise died. We should remember to check on others in times like this, and really always. Warmth is not the only thing, but it is very important now. Also, do not miss Solomon’s closing point: two is good, three is better, more should be even better. While Solomon does not expressly mention the congregation of Israel or the Church that will come, the principle seems very well suited for application to the Church. That is one of the major benefits of being active and committed in a local church. Each member is privileged to both help others and be helped.
Haggai 1:2-6 records a solemn declaration from God that presents a negative principle regarding warmth, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”‘” Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” (NASU)
The “house of the Lord” referred to in this passage is the Temple that was stalled in rebuilding following the release from Babylonian Captivity. God declared that neglecting the rebuilding of the Temple had brought much trouble on them as individuals. Focusing on self had the exact opposite result of the one desired. One of the troubles was that “no one is warm enough”. That seems especially pertinent as I watch the snow falling outside my window. Solomon gave the positive application: cooperating together would yield positive outcomes. Haggai gave the negative application: focusing on self to the neglect of the Kingdom of God would bring negative outcomes.
God is warning His people, then and now, to first and foremost, focus on building His Kingdom. Jesus stated it clearly, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NASU) The point is to worship God not self and instead of focusing on earthly, temporary needs, rather in cooperation as the Body of Christ, focus on eternal things. That is the best way of keeping warm in frigid times.