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HOLIDAY MADNESS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 7, 2010

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).


King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. It is a record of the various experiences Solomon had in life. He tried everything to see what would bring satisfaction to his soul. He tried the pursuit of knowledge. He tried pleasure. He tried gaining riches. He tried religion. He tried fame. He tried morality. He finally came to the conclusion that “all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:11, 17). He had seen everything, and had tried everything, and it all seemed meaningless and empty. This led him to conclude, with the Apostle John, that “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17).

Ecclesiastes 9:3 is a very pessimistic text. It presents an extremely negative view of mankind. Yet I believe King Solomon was exactly right. He made three statements in this text that are very true, and are in harmony with the rest of the Bible.

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead”
       (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

I. First, King Solomon said, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.”

He made this clear in another verse, when he said,

“There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.” That is not what most people believe today. Again and again we hear people say, “I believe that man is basically good.” But that view is not supported by reason or Scripture! Reason shows that man is “full of evil”! Read the newspaper. Watch the news on television. We see a great deal of evil and very little good. Even what seems “good” ultimately comes from selfishness or pride, and is thus morally evil! Again and again reason shows the truthfulness of Solomon’s words, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.”

Then read the Scriptures. From one end of the Bible to the other we are told of man’s sinful nature, his total depravity. Before the Flood,

“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

In his famous sermon “Original Sin,” the great evangelist John Wesley (1703-1791), said that men are the same now as they were before the Flood. John Wesley said,

      It was above a thousand years after [the Flood] that God declared by David, “[they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one,” Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:10]. And to this bear all the Prophets witness…So Isaiah [said,] “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores” [Isaiah 1:5-6]. The same account is given by all the Apostles. From all these we learn, concerning man in his natural state… that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart” is still evil, “only evil,” and that “continually” (John Wesley, M.A., “Original Sin,” The Works of John Wesley, Baker Book House, 1979 reprint, volume VI, pp. 57, 58).

The prophet Jeremiah said,

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

Thus, we see that the Bible, from one end to the other, backs up Solomon’s statement, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.”

II. Second, King Solomon said, “and madness is in their heart while they live.”

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead”
      (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

The Hebrew word translated “madness” comes from a root word that means “foolish” (Strong, #1984). The actual word is “howlelah” and it means “madness” (Strong, #1947). Madness, delirium, distraction, frenzied, wild – that is the picture! “Madness is in their heart while they live.” Matthew Henry said that people “…are now madmen, and all the delights they seem to be blessed with are but like the…dreams and fancies of a distracted man” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, volume 3, p. 849; note on Ecclesiastes 9:3). The madness of the human heart extends to various forms of idol worship. The prophet Jeremiah said, “They are mad upon their idols” (Jeremiah 50:38) – “and madness is in their heart while they live” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). People in our time are also “mad upon their idols” – the idols of pornography, materialism, pleasure, and the great idol of “fun.”

The “holidays” are a time of year when the mad frenzy of the human heart is openly displayed. On Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s the madness of man’s heart erupts like a volcanic explosion! Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) said,

A kind of madness grips the populace, and then begins that… frenzied effort on everybody’s part to get somewhere other than where he is. No one stops to ask what it is all about, but practically everyone who is not in the hospital or in jail joins the general stampede from everywhere to anywhere and return. An irresistible impulse picks most of us up like grains of dust caught in the wind, and spins and churns us about dizzily and dangerously… (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “Midsummer Madness,” in God Tells the Man Who Cares, Christian Publications, 1970 edition, p. 127). To read about Dr. Tozer click here.

What Dr. Tozer said about “Midsummer Madness” over forty years ago, now applies equally, if not more so, to the Fall and Winter “holiday” madness! People go wild “in a frenzied effort” to have “fun” and “get somewhere other than where they are” at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Last Sunday was Halloween. A young woman who had come here to church a few times said that she had to miss church to begin “dressing up” in a Halloween costume. She had to miss the 10:30 AM Sunday service to start getting dressed in a Halloween costume! After all, the Halloween party started at 2:00 in the afternoon, and it would take her several hours to get dressed up like a witch or a fairy – or a vampire – or whatever! What is this but madness – holiday madness? “They are mad upon their idols” (Jeremiah 50:38). “Madness is in their heart while they live” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

And it will get worse! In the mad frenzy of the “holidays,” people will run off, as Dr. Tozer said, in a “general stampede”…”to get somewhere other than where [they are].” Most people wouldn’t even consider staying home and coming to church on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s! “An irresistible impulse picks [them] up like grains of dust caught in the wind” – and hurls them madly somewhere else to gorge themselves sick in the mad pursuit of the American idol – named “fun.”

When I was a child in the 1940s people stayed home and went to church during the “holidays.” But today they seem to go “mad” at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. The “madness…in their heart” drives them from their house and church in a frenzied effort to bow before the great idol of “fun.” You couldn’t expect “mad” men to stay in church at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, could you? The very idea is offensive to modern man’s fun-crazed mind.

I have been attacked as a “legalistic” tyrant – and worse – for telling young people to be in their church during the “holidays.” But I am not backing down! Christ said,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

I wish every preacher had the courage to speak against “holiday madness” as Dr. A. W. Tozer did! We need prophetic voices like his to save our people from this frenzied “death dance” – as our economy fails, and our culture disintegrates – and our people cry out for more and more trinkets, and trips, and “fun,” and sporting events, and debauchery! Down with Las Vegas! Down with San Francisco – and San Diego! Sodom and Gomorrah, “and the cities about them” (Jude 7), are no place to run off to on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or on New Year’s! Avoid the “holiday” madness! Be in church, with God’s people, worshipping Christ, rather than the great idol of “fun.”

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (II Corinthians 6:17).

Drop out of the coming “holiday” madness! But there is one last clause in our text.

III. Third, King Solomon said, “and after that they go to the dead.”

Please stand and read Ecclesiastes 9:3 aloud.

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead”
      (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

You may be seated. “And after that they go to the dead.”

Death! That’s what comes after the madness of life. Death! The stark, cold reality of death cannot be escaped by running madly after the Satanic idol of “fun.” No, there will be nofunin the grave! There will be nofunin Hell! The Bible says,

“The rich man…died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:22-23).

Jesus said, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead”
      (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

Dr. John Gill said,

After all the madness of their lives, they die and go into the state of the dead…they go down to hell (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume IV, p. 607; comment on Ecclesiastes 9:3).

The most important thing in life is not the pursuit of pleasure. “Having fun” now will mean nothing in eternity, if you die unprepared to meet God at the Last Judgment. You must feel convicted of your sin. You must be turned from sin to Christ. You must be brought to Christ by grace, and cleansed from your sin by His everlasting Blood! Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

Solomon was an old man when he wrote Ecclesiastes.  He was speaking like a father to his children.  I myself have been living in this world for nearly 70 years.  I am speaking to you like an old uncle this morning.  I want you to make a success of the Christian life, and I hope you will listen to me.  At the end of Ecclesiastes Solomon said, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  Youth is the time to think seriously about eternity.  I hope you young people will listen to me because, like Solomon, I have seen about 70 years of life.  I know that it is important for you to seek Christ, and think about eternity now, while you are still young.  Listen to the words Mr. Griffith sang before this sermon.

Where will you spend Eternity? This question comes to you and me;
What will the final answer be? Where will you spend Eternity?
Eternity! Eternity! Where will you spend Eternity?
   (“Where Will You Spend Eternity?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

Sober thinking about eternity could save you from the soul-damning confusion of “holiday madness.”

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 16:19-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Where Will You Spend Eternity?” (by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).


THE OUTLINE OF

HOLIDAY MADNESS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

(Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:11, 17; I John 2:17)

I.   First, King Solomon said, “The heart of the sons of men is
full of evil,” Ecclesiastes 7:20; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:3;
Romans 3:10; Isaiah 1:5-6; Jeremiah 17:9.

II.  Second, King Solomon said, “and madness is in their heart
while they live,” Jeremiah 50:38; Luke 6:22-23; Jude 7;
II Corinthians 6:17.

III. Third, King Solomon said, “and after that they go to the dead,”
Luke 16:22-23; Matthew 25:46; John 3:7; Ecclesiastes 12:1.