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Ecclesiastes and the search for meaning

This morning we are going to finish up our mini series in the Book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes explores the big questions of life "What am I here for? What is the meaning of life? What happens after I die?" "How does God fit into everything?"

Solomon's conclusion LIFE HAS MEANING- but only when one sees it in the light of eternity and in relationship with God- before whom we must all appear. Apart from God and being right with Him, Solomon observes that the pursuits of life are in and of themselves a "Chasing after the wind" and "Empty"

SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES OF ECCLESIASTES THAT WE HAVE LOOKED AT THE LAST FEW WEEKS

1. Life has meaning and purpose; it's found in a relationship with God
2. Life is meant to be enjoyed
3. There are a lot of things in this life that don't make sense- we need to learn to trust God
4. Death is coming for us all- we need to prepare for this
5. It is absolutely necessary to get right with God. In Christ is the forgiveness of sins
6. There is a time for everything- so we pray for discernment that we might know the right time for what we say and do
7. He has set eternity in our hearts- death is not the end
8. There is strength in community. Be friendly
9. Mind your tongue
10. Ecclesiastes leads us to Jesus


TODAY'S LOOK IN ECCLESIASTES

1. How Ecclesiastes connects to the rest of the Scriptures
2. Take a quick look at Ecclesiastes 12 which contains Solomon's majestic summary as it regards how to make sense of our lives


I. HOW ECCLESIASTES CONNECTS TO THE REST OF THE SCRIPTURES

Note: Ecclesiastes connects thematically/topically and in a few instances by direct quote

As we have been exploring and studying the Book of Ecclesiastes I have noticed how deeply connected it is with the rest of God's Word. The fact is THE SCRIPTURES ARE ALL CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER

Some examples

1. Solomon's discussion of wisdom, his proverbial language, his repeatedly speaking of being hard working, his counsel on our speech, etc connects us back to Proverbs
2. When Solomon speaks of the brevity of life, we are reminded of many of Scriptures that speak to this very point. i.e James 4:13-15 says "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit." 14You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that." Also: The Psalms 144:4, Job 7:7, Isaiah 2:22
3. On a couple of occasions Solomon counsels his readers to "Obey the King" (Ecclesiastes 8) and to not speak evil of our rulers. Paul speaks directly to this in Romans 13- exhorting us to be subject to the governing authorities
4. Last week we noted Ecclesiastes 7:20 which is quoted in Romans 3:10 "Indeed, there is no one earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right." This sad fact about ourselves is meant to take us to Christ who died as a once for all sacrifice for our sins.
5. The One Shepherd of Ecclesiastes 12 takes us to Jesus, the Good Shepherd in John 10 What's really fascinating is the wording of Ecclesiastes 12:11 which says; "The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails- given by one shepherd" "Firmly embedded nails? Doesn't that make us that about Jesus and how he was nailed to the cross for our sins


A couple more examples of how Ecclesiastes connects us to other parts of the Bible

1. In Ecclesiastes 5:15 Solomon writes; "Everyone comes naked from their mother's womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands."

This takes us to Job 1:21-22. After hearing the news that all of his children had been killed and hearing from messenger after messenger of how raiders had stolen all his property and goods it says " At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing"


2. In Ecclesiastes 11: 5 it says; "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

This little verse is really incredible (not only in terms of how many different texts it takes us to but in its very specific relation to John 3)

READ JOHN 3:1-8

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him." 3 Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."4 "How can someone be born when they are old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!" 5 Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Note how all aspects of Ecclesiastes 11:5 come into play in Jesus' conversation.

Note also the point: You must be born again!

Further: Ecclesiastes 11:5 "or how the body is formed in a mother's womb" takes us to Psalm 139:13-16 which says

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

c. "So you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things"

This connects us to Genesis 1-2 and the creation account and to many passages on the transcendence of God.

This also connects us to many many passages which speak to our smallness and the transcendence of God


THE POINT OF ALL THE CONNECTIONS

The connections of Ecclesiastes with the rest of the Scriptures are meant to illicit in us a hunger to get into the Word of God, not just to be familiar with it, but to be changed by it, to love it, to do it

All these various connections ultimately take us to Christ

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says; "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."


II. SOME THOUGHTS FROM ECCLESIASTES 12

-In this chapter Solomon wraps up his exploration of the meaning of life and our purpose
-In this chapter Solomon appeals to us to begin to follow God when we are young
-In this chapter Solomon colourfully speaks to us about the problem and ravages of getting old
-In this chapter Solomon tells us why getting right with God and obeying Him is so important -we will all appear before God to give an account

Key: Solomon is not meaning to depress us. He is trying to move us into relationship with God- in whom is the solution for sin and death

READ TEXT

A few thoughts

1. Solomon's words are meant to be sobering- for he wants us to think about the eternal and not just this life

2. The call of God is to start following and serving Him from when we are young

-This is for our protection. This is for our joy, our comfort, our peace.
-To walk with God from ones youth is to be spared many a problem that others go through
-We to encourage our children, nieces, nephews, those who meet, to give their lives to Christ at a young age and to follow the LORD
-I count myself blessed to have been introduced to Christ at the age of 7


3. While God's call is to start following and serving Him when we are young, He is so gracious that the call remains until we take our last breath v.6

Many of you became followers of Christ as adults. That is awesome!

As an example of the incredible mercy of God, the thief on the cross benefited from this as Jesus said to him "Today you will be with me in Paradise" Luke 23

Some counsel: Since most of us don't know when we are going to die, putting off being reconciled to God is a foolish thing. Get right with God today


4. The hardships of getting older reminds us to enjoy life along the way while we can

Issues of mobility, sight, hearing, confidence, strength: These come with aging. There are some things that can only be wisely done when one is younger, so if your dream is to jump out of an airplane, do it soon :)

5. The struggles of getting older doesn't mean that life isn't worth living or that life can't be enjoyed in ones old age

I know lots of older folks who are enjoying life despite the various challenges that come with aging

No matter how old we get, we are here for a reason and must be committed to serving God-- I am very proud of Sue's parents and many others who are up in their 70-80's who still have it in their hearts to serve, get their hands dirty, share their faith in Christ

To be old is to come from a position of experience. We are to respect our elders.

6. The hardships of old age and death itself is NOT the end-- for in Christ and His resurrection there is hope, there is a future

The message of Ecclesiastes and the entirety of God's Word is that death is not the end

Since death is not the end, we need to be reconciled to God that we might be welcomed into Heaven.

As for our hope 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 it says; "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal

As for our hope as the followers of Christ the Scriptures speak to us much of the nature of our resurrection bodies -this future being bound up in the resurrection of Christ. (1 Corinthians 15)

Sown perishable, raised imperishable. Sown in dishonor, raised in glory Sown in weakness, raised in power. Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. Bearing the image of Christ. Death having been swallowed up in victory.

THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Ecclesiastes leads us to Jesus. Ecclesiastes makes us aware of some problems: The absurdities of life, death, the meaningless of pursuing things that are here today and gone tomorrow, what makes life make sense. Ecclesiastes wrestles with all these things and proceeds to take us to Christ in whom is found forgiveness, an escape from the Judgment to come, meaning, and eternal life.