Lutherans Informed about Lodges (LIL)
The Author of Ecclesiastes.
Membership in the Elks Lodge.
by Pastor Walter Snyder (7/2/2003)
Q: Is Isaiah 35 referring to heaven or to Zion as the next home of God's chosen people?
A: Like much of prophecy, the Lord quite likely gives a "now/not yet" prophecy in this passage. Directed to a people who'd soon be taken into the Babylonian captivity because of persistent unbelief and idolatry, the surface reading could include the celebration when Judah was allowed to return home. Verse 10 allows this as a secondary understanding: "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
However, this chapter primarily deals with Messianic and eschatological (End Times) proclamation. Ultimate fulfillment of verses 8-10 revolves around the new creation, when the woes of this present age are ended. No earthly path in modern or ancient times was free from the feet of sinners and the wild animal passages parallel Isaiah 65:25 where again the Lord reveals the coming new and perfect Creation: "The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food."
Note also how Jesus testifies to His own ministry when John the Baptizer's disciples come asking whether or not Jesus is truly the promised Messiah. Jesus bases His response in part on the prophet's words in verses 5 and 6 in his reply in Luke 7:22.
Q: Who is the author of Ecclesiastes? My Bible says it was the son of David, King of Jerusalem but there is no name mentioned. Now I know that Solomon was the son of David and King of Israel. Is that the same? Oh, it's a King James Version, if that makes a difference.
A: As you mention, the beginning of the book calls him the "King of Jerusalem” (1:1). If you read 1:12, the author identifies himself a bit more thoroughly: "I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem." Besides common assent that the wisdom and the world view of Ecclesiastes point to Solomon, this kingship also indicates that the author is Solomon. Remember that after his death, the kingdom split, with Judah and Benjamin remaining under Rehoboam while Jeroboam ruled the other tribes, which were collectively known as "Israel." Since this man is "King over Israel in Jerusalem," the text demands that it be understood as the words of Solomon.
Regarding your choice of Bibles, The King James (Authorized) Version can be a difficult read because of archaic language, but if it works for you, continue using it. This version retains a beautiful style while remaining faithful to the literal meanings for the words of the original text.
Q: Is it a sin to belong to the Elks Lodge? I belong to one and have been wondering lately if a true Christian should belong to such organizations.
A: In short, some Christian bodies allow lodge membership, some tolerate it, and some demand that you choose between lodge and Church. While especially directed toward the Masons, these prohibitions likewise cover the so-called "Animal Lodges," including Elks, Eagles, Moose, and the like.
Some of this rejection involves being sworn to secrecy concerning future information about the lodge's teachings, taking godless oaths, placing Christianity on the same level as other religions, and the like. Lutherans traditionally reject the lodges for these reasons and because they all, even if they otherwise allow freedom of Christian expression, focus on doing good works in order to merit God's favor and, perhaps, achieve eternal life. Any organization which speaks of any sort of divine benefit, including eternal life, due to our own good deeds is in error. It takes nothing more than reading Ephesians 2:8-9 to see that membership in any organization denying or devaluing the meritorious work of Christ involves confessing a different faith. Not a lodge exists that completely rejects good works as essential for salvation. If the discerning Christian carefully studies the teachings of the lodges, he'll see that all are built on a false foundation. How he responds depends upon his trust in the Lord and his understanding of the words of Scripture. [Back to Elks Page]
Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book "What Do Lutherans Believe."
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from ~The Holy Bible, English Standard Version~<TM>, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
Ask the Pastor, © 2003 by Walter P. Snyder. It may be reproduced in totality, including this disclaimer, by anyone, provided that no profit is generated by said republication and redistribution. Translations into other languages should similarly note the United States and any appropriate international copyrights, as well as God's Scriptural injunctions concerning the property of others.