csibiblestudy


Ecclesiastes 4, what about God’s plan now?
April 30, 2012, 12:45 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon the Seeker, declared God has a wonderful plan for each of our lives. That plan includes everything we need, the painful as well as the pleasant. God’s choices for our lives, both the painful and pleasant, come because God loves us and knows exactly what we need to fulfill His plan. Once we learn this, we find three truths that God reveals to us. First, since pleasant and painful come from God, we can enjoy all of life as the loving actions of our loving God who never can do evil. Second, through these experiences, we can learn to know God. Our knowledge will produce a deeper relationship with God. He has put within us the sense of eternity that can only be filled by an authentic relationship with God. The third truth is that we will repeat this until we learn the first two truths.

Immediately after presenting these truths, God allows Solomon to present four frequently presented objections that appear to contradict these truths. The first is in chapter 3, and deals with the injustice in the place of justice, the courts and judicial systems of man. If God has this wonderful plan, why is life so unfair? Two things are presented for us to consider: remember the final court is God’s court, during which He will make all things fair and second, the fact that life is unfair reveals our beastly quality of viciousness and our temporary existence.

The Holy Spirit, through Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 3:16, teaches us that every part of revelation breathed out by God is advantageous to us. From God’s word, we are taught, reproved, corrected and instructed how to live right. So in looking at Ecclesiastes 4, what are we taught, what are we to stop, what are we to do, and how are we to live? In chapter 4, Solomon gives three objections to the concept that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. The first is seen in verses 1 to 3, oppression in society. Oppression usually preys on those who can’t defend themselves against stronger and more powerful foes. These helpless and weak often are driven to tears because there is no comfort for them, UNDER THE SUN!. Because of oppressors, Solomon tells us that those dead are better off than the living, but the very best condition is to have never been born. What do we learn? Oppression exists and is an event that we have to deal with it. However, unlike those who live under the sun, we have a Comforter! As Christians, when we surrender to Christ’s control, we can be instruments of comfort to those who are undergoing the suffering and misery of helplessness in face of oppression. As far as reproof goes, we need to turn to our Comforter when faced with oppression, instead of attempting to handle it on our own. We also need to examine ourselves. Are there those who we oppress? Finally, be a voice for those oppressed. Get involved in helping the oppressed.

The second objection is found in verses 4-12. Solomon looks at the concept that enjoyment is not man’s greatest motivating factor. He states the belief that envy and ambition really are a stronger motivating passion. We are motivated by the desire to be the center of attention rather than to do all to the glory of God, including serving others. This attitude results in a spirit of rivalry. This spirit of rivalry keeps us from being happy with our success and achievements as well as being happy with the success and achievements of others. In verses 5-6, we see that this desire to be the center of attention creates within us a sense of entitlement. We read the words, “eateth his own flesh”, indicates this sense of entitlement which when unfulfilled both produces a spirit of bitterness, which leads to a psychosomatic mess and produces a spirit of hopeless, which causes a “fool” (one living apart from God) to give up trying to do what God created them to do. When man attempts to be the center of attention it keeps us from fellowshipping with others. Loneliness is a paralysis in our heart, because we seek material wealth rather than the spiritual riches God has for us. In verses 9-12, we see the importance of developing relationships with others. This commitment to others will result in help when we stumble, need to be warmed, or are on the verge of being overcome. Yet man is still not fulfilled, because we have within us, an emptiness that only God can fulfill, a desire for eternity. So what do we learn? Check our motives. Why do we do what we do? If it is for any reason other than the glory of God, then it is wrong. Second, make sure that you aren’t trying to outdo others. Third, what do you think you deserve? What do your good deeds and thoughts earn you? Truth is, nothing. We aren’t blessed of God because we have rubbed Him the right way. Remember, the times of our lives are a part of the plan God has for us. He wants the best for us, but His best may be different than ours. He blesses us because of grace, not entitlement. We also learn the importance of our relationship with Christ and with our Christian brothers and sisters. We stumble, get cold spiritual, and are at times overcome. Submitting and surrendering to the control of the Holy Spirit provides the comfort (the one who stands beside us so He can help us through the trials of life) and the power of living a Christian life. He protects with the armor of God. He also has Christian friends who love and support us in the journey we are on. We aren’t an island but a part of the continent, a piece of the main.

The final objection is that living a long life does not always guarantee that one will learn the secrets of enjoyment. We believe that as you live longer, you learn wisdom. True wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view. From God’s perspective, you learn that enjoyment is a gift of God. But Solomon asserts that long life is not a guarantee that wisdom is attained. Solomon maintains that a wise youth is better that an old, foolish king who had the kingdom passed down to him. Age had not made him wiser, just headstrong and convinced that everything he wants to do is right. Yet even a king that went from prison to the throne room can forget the lessons he has learned UNDER THE SUN. The young man went through the same difficulties, won popularity and the success and power that comes with it. He had the example of the failure of his predecessor, yet repeated the same mistakes and as a result lost the respect of others. At the end, all that remains, is vanity, an empty vapor in the wind. What have you learn through the experiences God has allow you to go? Have you developed a sense of total dependence upon Him, because you realize that in and of yourself, you can do nothing? Trusting in the Lord involves a total commitment to Him and His ways. God is not like K & W where you pick and choose. We are either totally surrendered or we are in a stage of rebellion. My struggle is with total surrender. I often want to help God accomplish His will in my life. God doesn’t need my help or does He want it. I am the servant and instrument that He uses however He wants. Every good thing I have in life is because of the grace of God, not my work ethic or achievement. I need to remember this to stay empowered by Him.

  1. Is the driving motive of my work to be seen and recognized?
  2. To what degree are admiration and ambition a driving force behind our activity in life?
  3. Do we need to redirect our motivation & resources to invest in things that matter?
  4. What part does teamwork play in our ministry?
  5. In what areas of your life do you attempt apart from God?
  6. Who are your closest friends that advise you in times of troubles and in decisions? What is their relationship with Christ?
  7. Name three rights you have?


The Secret of Life
April 23, 2012, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Ecclesiastes 3 Notes

In Ecclesiastes 3, we are immediately confronted with the reality of opposites experiences in life.  We read that God has appointed an appropriate time for all of the events in our lives.  But there is also a wrong time of doing things.   Have you ever laughed at the wrong time? I have. Solomon, as guided by the Holy Spirit, tells us there is an appropriate time for everything, whether it is unpleasant or pleasant. Have you ever heard, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?” In a sense, that is what Solomon is doing.  He is talking about our relationship with God and he is telling us that God’s plan for our lives include both good and bad experiences, which all work together for His purpose of making us Christ-like.  God’s message in Ecclesiastes is not that life stinks, but that life, lived the way God intends, will produce joy and Christ-likeness.

Taking a careful look at the first 8 verses, you will discover they describe 14 opposite events which can be divided into 3 major divisions, which correspond to our body, soul, and spirit.  This shows that God is concerned with all aspects of mankind.  The first four pairs deal with the body.

This list is not what we wanted to happen, it is a list of what God wants to happen.  Birth and death are the boundaries of life, “under the sun.  The next pair deal with how God supplies food.  There is a time that planting crops would  not result in crops being harvested.  A part of our struggle is that we are constantly trying to run ahead of God’s schedule although God has already planned the schedule of your life. The next set of opposites,  “a time to kill, and a time to heal” speak of the process that our bodies go through.  Doctors tell us that every 7 years all the cells in our bodies die and are replaced by new cells.  Each cell passes on memory and our bodies continue to function although we’ve changed.  Finally, there is “a time to break down, and a time to build up.” In our youth, we grow or build up.  In our senior years, we fall apart.  We fight aging, but we still grow older and older until we die.  It is a gift from God.

Then Solomon the Seeker, moves to the “soul”.  It is with the soul that we think, feel, and make choices.  Our social life and relationships flow from our soul.  Solomon tells us there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;  a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing ”.  We will never escape the hurts and sorrows of life, even Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  In our fallen world, there will be times of hurt, of crying, of disappointments and loss.  There is a time that life isn’t fair.  But there are also times of laughter and joy.  There are times of celebration and parties.  Finally, there are times when things break down and need to be built up again.  There are times to be supportive and embrace others, but there are also times not to embrace and support because that would be considered agreeing to something evil or wrong.

The final 6 opposites deal with the spirit.  The spirit is where we make inner decisions and real commitments.  “A time to get (seek) , and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”  There are times when we need to start and a time to end things.  We will change friends or jobs.  That sometimes happens and we lose what we had in the past.  It is right that these times happen because they are appointed by God.  There are times we need to keep things, values and standards, politeness, gratitude and there are times we need to throw stuff away- clean sweep.  Included in things to get rid of are habits, attitudes, resentments, grudges, and long-held hurts.  We need to forgive and forget, or get rid of  and sweep away our attachment.  There are also times to keep our opinions, knowledge, and rumors to ourselves but there are also times that we need to speak truth to deliver someone.  There are times we need to hate, times when we experience or see injustice.  We also need to demonstrate love at times. We need to affirm others.  As the church we are to edify or build up our family in Christ.  Far too often we tear them down.   Finally there is a time to fight and there are times not to fight.  We need to fight about major issues and leave the small stuff alone.

All of this is the plan that God has for our lives.  Our problem is that we don’t want all of this in our lives.  We fall apart or away from God when bad things happen because we follow Christ, so nothing ever bad should happen to us.  Think about someone who has been given everything and protected from bad.  Does that make them a better person?  Often it doesn’t.  So in God’s plan for our lives, He will allow these things to teach us.  It is all apart of His plan for our betterment.

The next verse (v9) asks the question, “what is left over from going through the experiences of opposites?”  Keep in mind that we often miss the big picture.  Sometimes we focus on the bad and don’t understand what God has been doing.  We find the purpose by careful examination and reviewing.  We often miss the forest for the trees.  Solomon tells us that 3 positives come from the times of life.  First, everything is appropriate and helpful; the negatives as well as the positives are God’s blessings.  Think about what we learn from our “enemies”.  They expose our self-centeredness, self-righteousness, and arrogance like no one else.  They hurt us personally, and God commands us to love them personally.  This command takes our spiritual temperature.  At what point do we ignore and reject God’s command and live our way?  This may illustrate the difference between playing church and being the church.  We are to love our enemies because they are valuable to us.  They deepen the roots of our commitment to Christ.

The second thing the Searcher learned in his search is that we all have been created with an inner search for something more than this life.  We have a longing for the face of God.  C.S. Lewis said, “Our Heavenly Father has provided many delightful inns for us along our journey, but he takes great care to see that we do not mistake any of them for home.”

The third thing which the Seeker learned is that the more we know the more we know that we don’t know.    We know more than we use to, but now realize how much we don’t know.  We don’t have all the answers to life’s problems therefore Scripture tells us to trust God.  We need to be like a little child, trusting his parents to handle life’s problems and resting in peace, in their arms.

In Verses 12-15 we learn the purpose of God in this remarkable plan. Three things are found here. First, enjoy living life.  Second, find joy in your labor (activity).  True enjoyment is the gift of God.  We think that the secret to enjoying life is found in something.  But the true secret is that having a living, growing, personal relationship with the sovereign Lord God produces true joy.  God wants us to have it.  God isn’t a Great Cosmic Killjoy.  He wants us to enjoy the life He has given us.  Third, God is in charge and He will not change His plan for anyone.  We then should “fear before Him”.   This fear involves a recognition that God is ultimately in charge of everyone and deserves our respect and honor.  We humble submit to Him and seek His presence.  The secret of a life that means something is a life lived in the presence of God Himself.  Our struggles come when we want to be in charge of what happens to us.  God won’t play along, and we become depressed and disgruntled and live “under the sun”.  Life then stinks.  The secret of living in the presence of God is taught through many repetitions.  (Eccl. 3:15)  “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.”  The last part of that verse means, “God brings back what already has passed away”.  We don’t learn the lessons of life, so God repeats them for us.  We will finally learn what it is to be like Christ, who put His trust in His heavenly Father.

Verse 16 of Chapter 3 begins a section which runs through Chapter 5, in which a series of objections to this thesis are examined by the Searcher. Let’s look at those in chapter 3.

First, if God is in charge and wants us to live an enjoyable life, what is life not fair?  Go to a courtroom and see injustice.  How many people have used loopholes and legal maneuvers to circumvent justice?  “Do we accept that as the hand of God?”

Solomon tells us that God wants us to know three things about injustice.  First, though there is injustice, that is not the end of the story.  God may correct it “in time.  Second, injustice gives us the insight that man has a beast-like quality that causes us to act with viciousness.  Third, God alone understands what happens next, beyond the grave.

Study Questions on Ecclesiastes 3:1-11a

  1. Read through Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Use your own words to describe what Solomon is saying through this poetical section. It might be more than one thing.
  1. Go through each pair of terms and share whether you have seen it before. If so, where?
  1. Use four words to describe your own circumstances in this past year.
    Finish the phrase “A time to …….”
  1. List 5 trivial things you did this week. Does God want them to be part of your life? Why or why not? (For example, eating a banana.)
  1. What parts of life are God concerned with? Do some parts please Him while others don’t? Is He more impressed with a person making $1,000,000 under thirty than a mother washing some dishes? What is God pleased with?

Study Questions on Ecclesiastes 3:11b-15

  1. What might he mean in verse 11, “He has also set eternity in their heart?”
  1. What other New Testament scriptures address this inner awareness of something greater than our own earthly affairs? (Check out Romans 1).
  1. How does the first set of verses in 1-9 contrast with this thought “eternity in their heart?”
  1. After looking at all that man involves himself in, daily living and exploration of the greater world and what is beyond, what is Solomon’s recommendation (12)?
  1. God looks at time (3:14-15) much differently from man (3:1-9). What is the difference between the way God and man looks at time?

Bible Study Questions on Ecclesiastes 3:16-17

  1. What is the author’s surprising discovering in verse 16? Have you seen this? Where?
  1. How does God respond to such things (17)?
  1. Why does God allow the wicked to live?

Bible Study Questions on Ecclesiastes 3:18-22

  1. In what ways is man like animals (19-22)?
  1. In what way is he different?
  1. What kind of test does God bring upon man (see 18)?
  1. How did you do in the past week? Are there times when you acted as if God was not there and you responded merely by your passions and lusts? You did not think but just acted?
  1. How is man to act differently?


When you get what you want will you still want it? Unfulfilled Fulfillment in Eccl. 2
April 16, 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon begins his search of life under the sun with three observations:  nothing changes, nothing is really new, and nothing can be understood.  He then proceeds to experiment and investigate the things that man, under the sun, seeks to find fulfillment for the empty void in his inner being.  He comes to the conclusion that life under the sun, is not worth living.  Life, from his research, is boring, wisdom is worthless and fleeting, wealth is worthless, and death is certain for all.

We all are engaged in a search for something that meets the needs of our heart.  Yet because of our rebellious and sinful natures, we seek for that something apart from God.  We are looking in all the wrong places for contentment in our lives.

In Ecclesiastes 2, King Solomon describes the result of his search to find what advantage or profit is gained from living “under the sun”.  In his conversation with himself, he tells of his seeking fulfillment in pleasure or mirth (v1-2), in wine, while using his wisdom to limit its use or misuse  (v3), in achieving great works such as building houses.  Solomon worked for 13 years building “the king’s house” (1 Kin. 9:10), then he built “the house of the Forest of Lebanon” (1 Kin. 10:17), and another house for his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kin. 9:24). He also fortified the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Beth Horon, Baalath, and Tadmor (1 Kin. 9:15, 17, 18). vineyards … gardens and orchards, literally “parks”.  Solomon was attempting to rebuild Eden with one difference; there was no restrictions.  Solomon loved the natural world and his attempt to build his empire with great buildings had no limit because of his wealth.  We need to examine our desire to build a legacy in light of God’s will.  The daily expenses of Solomon’s wealth was staggering.   His silver and gold or his riches were unsurpassed by the kings of the ancient world (1 Kin. 10:14–29)  Solomon also sought pleasure through aesthetic and artistic pleasure and through his legacy.  Each of these were found lacking in bringing the fulfillment he sought.  In verse 10, Solomon tells that he had limitless ability to fulfill any and all of his desires. His use of the word “labor” one of the Preacher’s favorite words and occurs here for the third time. It appears in the book about 31 times.

2:11 At the end of his grand quest for possessions and experiences, Solomon concluded that it was vanity or “vapor,” a grasping for wind. That is, even with all he had done and experienced, there was still a sense that nothing lasting or enduring had been achieved.

In verses 12-20, Solomon stated that wisdom was better than folly, but when death comes, both are useless.  When death comes, all our material accomplishments are left to others who may waste the great benefits that we have given our lives to achieve. In verse 14, Solomon spoke of the “same event”, which is mentioned in verses 14, 15; 3:19; 9:2, 3, 11). Compare verse 17 in Ecclesiastes with Proverbs 3:16.  A remarkable different outcome when we live under the sun or under the Son.

The chapter ends with an exciting solution to life’s problems:  enjoy God-given life and God-given work because they are from God.  When we look at work in light of our own strength, it brings pain, grief, and resentment.  We can’t wait for the weekend to come so we can have fun.  When we see work as a gift from God, we have joy in fulfilling our purpose.   (Look also at Eccl.  3:12, 13, 22; 5:18–20; 8:15; 9:7–10; 11:7–10).     To eat and drink, used five times in the book, must be understood in a good sense. Solomon always counsels the fear of God, and the concept is used in the Old Testament in a good sense (Deut. 14:26; 1 Kin. 4:20).  In Eccl 2:21 we find a word only used in the book of Ecclesiastes.  The noun “skill” is found in Ecclesiastes (2:21 and 4:4) It depicts one who is expert at a craft. In verse 21, we read of a “great evil” and here is doesn’t mean a sense of moral evil, but a calamity or ruin.  Solomon expresses his sadness with the thought that nothing “we” gain through our efforts can be carried on into the life to come.

In verse 25 “ : An alternative meaning of this phrase, “apart from God,” may be more appropriate in this context. Believers pray before their meals in order to affirm that God is the great Giver of all good gifts. They can enjoy the food on their plates only when they recognize that fact.

2:26 God gives: One of the words used most frequently in Ecclesiastes to describe God’s relationship to individuals is the verb “to give.” It appears 11 times with God as subject.

Solomon’s   Search for Satisfaction
Solomon   drifted away from God during his lifetime, pursuing different ways to achieve   satisfaction. Only after many years of futile searching did he finally   remember the true source of peace: a proper relationship with God. Solomon   wrote Ecclesiastes to pass on this truth. Satisfaction can be found only by   fearing God and keeping His commandments (12:13).
Solomon   sought fulfillment in: The   result was:
Wisdom   (1:12–18)

•     Acquiring   more knowledge

much grief and   increased sorrow (1:18)
Pleasure   (2:1–3)

•     Laughter   and mirth

vanity (2:1)
Accomplishments   (2:4–6)

•     Building   projects

•     Agricultural   endeavors

•     Engineering   experiments

vanity (2:11)
Possessions   (2:7–17)

•     Large   numbers of servants

•     Herds   of cattle

•     Wealth   in silver and gold (1 Kin. 10)

•     Choirs   and orchestras

•     Seven   hundred wives (1 Kin. 11:3)

no profit   under the sun (2:11)

hatred of life   (2:17)

Faith in the Hand of God. 2:24–26.

2:26 God gives: One of the words used most frequently in Ecclesiastes to describe God’s relationship to individuals is the verb “to give.” It appears eleven times with God as subject.

I, Me, and My.

Read 2:1-11 :  The words “I,” “me,” “my,” and “myself” appear more than forty times in Eccl. 2:1–11! This says a lot about the lifestyle that the writer was pursuing. He seems to have been focused on the gratification and glorification of himself.

Does this self-centered outlook sound familiar? Many people today are using their skills to attain a lifestyle that is built around their own comforts and convenience. The needs of others hardly matter to them.

But Ecclesiastes shows that this approach to living is ultimately empty, futile, and passing; it is “vanity and grasping for the wind” (2:11).

Is there a better way? Yes, the book goes on to say that real value in life can be found in fearing God (12:13) and honoring Him in the simple, basic “stuff” of life, such as work and family (2:24; 3:22; 5:18–19; 8:15).

One way to evaluate ourselves in this regard is to ask: In the midst of all our pursuits, whose life is enhanced by what we are about? If the only answer is “me,” then we are already on the perilous road of self-indulgence.

1. Satisfaction cannot be found in education (1:12-18).

2. Satisfaction cannot be found in pleasure (2:1-11).

3. Satisfaction cannot be found in wisdom (2:12-17).

4. Satisfaction cannot be found in work (2:18-26).



Ecclesiastes 1: What do I end up with with all I do?
April 10, 2012, 1:47 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Understanding Ecclesiastes: Transforming a worthless life into a purpose fulfilled life.

Today, far too many Christians view God as an app, something that you can add on to our life, but not Someone who is a vital, living Lord, an authority in life with whom one can have a personal relationship.

Ecclesiastes is a collection of a man’s search for what fulfills the longing in his soul.  However, the knowledge is limited to the visible world, “under the sun”. The searcher doesn’t take into consideration revelation that comes from God; revelation that comes from beyond man’s ability to observe and reason.  It is man’s wisdom and as such, at times it records knowledge that is limited, “under the sun”.  It is an inspired book and accurately records what God wants us to know.

Since the book reports what people believe, it is very much up-to-date and relevant for today.  What Solomon discovered in his search, is what is seen in movies and television shows, and heard in the speeches of politicians.  We teach the message to our children and strive for it in our lives.  Ecclesiastes is practical and up-to-date.

Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 to find the author, the result of his search, and the purpose of the book.

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king ofJerusalem.  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities:  all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun.  Ecclesiastes 1:1-3).

The book opens with this introduction:  “The words of the Preacher …”

It seems like a simple introduction, until you look at the background of the word, we have translated into English as “Preacher”.  To most of us, “preacher” is a term we use for our “pastor”.  Actually, they are two different concepts.  A preacher is someone who proclaims or “preaches”.  A preacher is simply one who tells a message.  A pastor is one who is called by God to be the “under-shepherd of a body of believers”.  His primary duties are to feed Christians the word of God, and to help them become mature servants, fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.  Yet the Hebrew word here, Qoheleth, really means the one who gathers, assembles, or collects things, so it goes beyond either of these.  Some translate the word as “debater”, “assembler”, or “teacher”.  It seems that a proper understanding of the word is one who assembles together wisdom that has been gathered and then teaches or proclaims the message to a group.  Solomon was seeking to know whether life lived apart from God could result in us fulfilling our purpose in life.

In the first verse, the writer is identified as (1) the Preacher, (2) the son of David, and (3) the king inJerusalem.  While David had several sons, and any of the descendants of David who ruled as king could be the writer, Solomon is evidently the author.

This book is the results of a search, and verse 2 gives those results: “Vanity of vanities”.  Vanity today has the concept of pride in appearance.  But in this book, it means, (1) “fleeting or temporary”, (2) empty, futility, meaningless, “the blahs”, or (3) unanswerable, or incomprehensible.  .

In his search for what satisfies, he has found that nothing “under the sun” in itself, will satisfy the longing of man’s soul.  No possession, no activity, no pleasure, no amount of wealth, no achievement, or no relationship had the ability to fill the void in an enduring way.  Man will attempt to live life according to a philosophical viewpoint that fulfillment in life comes from giving our lives over to the pursuit of something to bring satisfaction.  But the sad news, according to the writer of this book, is that nothing brings a lasting satisfaction.  Vanity of vanties, or emptiness of emptiness, is a Hebrew way of declaring the  Everyone has seized on one or another of these philosophies, these views of life, and tries to make it satisfy him or her. But according to this Searcher, who has gone through it all, nothing will work. When he says, Vanity of vanities, emptiness of emptiness, that is the Hebrew way of declaring the unparalleled truth, “there is nothing emptier than life”.

In verse 3 we have the question that he continually used in his search: What does man gain by all the effort at which he exerts under the sun? What is the “profit” of it to him? This is an interesting Hebrew word meaning, “that which is left over”. After the immediate pleasure, what is left over?  What remains to satisfy his greatest need, bringing fulfillment to life.

Questions to ponder in your life: 

Has our pursuit of possessions and fulfillment apart from God left us full or pessimistic?

Do we need to redirect our pursuit from a wholly different perspective?

Is there anything that will really minister continually to my need — that summum bonum, that highest good, which, if I find it, I do not need to look any further?

Is there a key to continual pleasure, delight and joy in life?

In answering the question of verse 3, “what advantage or gain do you get from all your activity?”, the Searcher turns to nature.  Verses 4-7 describes the sense of emptiness or lack of sense that nature brings into our life.

Read Ecclesiastes 1:4-7

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever.  The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.  The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.  All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

The Searcher’s theme is stated in verse 4: Humanity is temporary, but nature is permanent.  A generation comes and a generation goes—the human race passes on from this life, comes into life, lives its term, and goes on—but the earth remains forever.

He has three proofs for this, the first of which is the circle of the sun. The sun rises in the east; runs across the heavens, apparently; and sets in the west. The next day, it all happens again.  This has been going on as long as time has been measured.

Then he speaks of the circuit of the winds. What is unusual about this information, is that there is no evidence that people in Solomon’s time understood that the wind, the clouds, and the great jet streams of earth run in circles. We know it because of satellites.  Solomon, the wisest man knew it, but the scientists of his day didn’t seem to understand it.

His third proof is the circuit of the evaporative cycle. Where does all the water that endlessly drops out of the sky come from? The answer, of course, is that it comes from the ocean. An invisible evaporative process is at work by which the water that runs into the sea never raises the level of the sea because there is an invisible raising of that water back up into the clouds. These clouds then move east by the circuit of the winds and drop their moisture again, and this goes on forever.

According to the Preacher, there was something wrong in this.  We should be permanent, and nature should be temporary.  Just as we begin to know how to handle life, it is over, and the next generation takes our place.

There is something wrong with this.  The Bible tells us that people were created to be the “crown” on creation and as such to have dominion.  The problem is sin.  That changed things.

Questions to ponder:

What is the value of striving to live longer, if life is meaningless?

In what ways do you see the effects of sin upon your physical body?

Ecclesiastes 1:8-18

8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Solomon’s proposal is:  All things are restless.

He offers two proofs.  First, human desire is never fulfilled.  The eye is never satisfied and the ear is never satisfied.  We always want more.  Guys will watch ESPN multiple times telling the same news and scores.

The Preacher proposal is that human desire is never satisfied because it is a consequence of the restlessness of life.

Second, we long to see or hear something NEW, but nothing NEW ever exists.  Life simply is a repeat of what happened before.  Life is the old, cleaned up and painted, but still old being played over and over.  There is nothing new under the sun.  Miracles don’t really take place, under the sun.

The cross and resurrection disprove this.  Jesus’ death was unique because God died.  The resurrection was unique because unlike the raising of the death before this, they all died again, but Jesus is alive forever.

Questions to Ponder: Is this all life is about?

Is it merely an empty pursuit of that which never satisfies?

Can no breakthrough be made whereby something can be found that will continually meet the hunger of the human heart, to give an unending sense of delight, satisfaction, and joy?

The Seeker’s Qualifications, Eccl. 1:12-18

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Before the Preacher gives the details of his search, in Eccl. 2, he tells us why he is qualified to make this search.  His qualifications fall into two divisions, his position and his attentiveness.

  1.  His position
    1. He was a king, the highest authority in the land
    2. He was rich, so he could travel anywhere and check out anything
    3. He was wise, he had more ability to see the way life worked.  He got the big picture.

Take note of verse 13, “the sons of man”.  In Hebrew it is Adam.  So the reference is to the nature of man, not humanity.  This tells us that it is difficult for man to discover right answers because of his fallen nature.  Our understanding is damaged by the fall.

Furthermore, he was able to investigate even the opposites of things. “I have seen everything,” he says. Yet there were certain limitations inherent in that. That is what he quotes in a proverb, “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.” It is difficult for man to discover the answers to life, because when he sees something wrong there is yet somehow an inbuilt difficulty that prevents him from correcting it. Have you ever felt, as I have, that when things go wrong in your family, although you long to put them right somehow you cannot get hold of it, you cannot make it right? “That which is crooked cannot be made straight.” One of the great frustrations of life is that no matter how hard you try there are some things you cannot set straight. Also, no matter how much you may discover, there is information you would long to have that you cannot find. “That which is lacking cannot be numbered.” That was this man’s problem.

Then he speaks of his attentiveness in verse 16:

He gave himself to discover, but the more he learned, the more he realized was wrong.

Questions to Ponder:

Did he find an answer?

Did he find that key to life that makes everything yield up its treasure of joy?

Understanding Ecclesiastes: Transforming a worthless life into a purpose fulfilled life.

Questions to ponder in your life: 

Has our pursuit of possessions and fulfillment apart from God left us full or pessimistic?

Do we need to redirect our pursuit from a wholly different perspective?

Is there anything that will really minister continually to my need — that summum bonum, that highest good, which, if I find it, I do not need to look any further?

Is there a key to continual pleasure, delight and joy in life?

What is the value of striving to live longer, if life is meaningless?

In what ways do you see the effects of sin upon your physical body?

Is this all life is about?

Is it merely an empty pursuit of that which never satisfies?

Can no breakthrough be made whereby something can be found that will continually meet the hunger of the human heart, to give an unending sense of delight, satisfaction, and joy?

Did he find an answer?

Did he find that key to life that makes everything yield up its treasure of joy?



Are you a Seeker?
April 6, 2012, 6:47 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Understanding Ecclesiastes: Transforming a worthless life into a purpose fulfilled life.

Today, far too many Christians view God as an app, something that you can add on to our life, but not Someone who is a vital, living Lord, an authority in life with whom one can have a personal relationship.

The book opens with this introduction:  “The words of the Preacher …”

It seems like a simple introduction, until you look at the background of the word, we have translated into English as “Preacher”.  To most of us, “preacher” is a term we use for our “pastor”.  Actually, they are two different concepts.  A preacher is someone who proclaims or “preaches”.  A preacher is simply one who tells a message.  A pastor is one who is called by God to be the “under-shepherd of a body of believers”.  His primary duties are to feed Christians the word of God, and to help them become mature servants, fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.  Yet the Hebrew word here goes beyond either of these.  Some translate the word as “debater”, “assembler”, or “teacher”.  It seems that a proper understanding of the word is one who assembles together wisdom that has been gathered and then teaches or proclaims the message to a group.  Solomon was seeking to know whether life lived apart from God could result in us fulfilling our purpose in life.



Hello world!
April 5, 2012, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized