Learning from Ecclesiastes
1:1-2:26 - Without Christ. life is empty. With Him, everything changes. He fills our life with God’s blessing. With Him, we have more than life ‘under the sun’. We have life ‘in the Son’ – abundant life, eternal life (1:3,14; 2:11,17; John 10:10; 1 John 5:11-12). Which life do you want? You can settle for life ‘under the sun’. Many people do. They never think about the meaning of life. They never ask , ‘What is the purpose of my life?’. There is another life, a better life, a life with meaning, purpose and direction. You can come to Christ and receive life ‘in the Son’. This is life ‘from above. This is our ‘foretaste of glory divine’: ‘Angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love’ ‘Looking above’, we are ‘filled with His goodness’ and saved by ‘His love’. In our ‘Saviour’, we are ‘happy and blest’ (Mission Praise, 59).
3:1-4:16 - ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (3:11). In every human heart, there is a God-shaped blank. It can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Many people try to find true happiness without opening their heart to Jesus Christ. That’s like ‘trying to catch the wind’ (4:16). True happiness keeps slipping through your fingers. There’s always something missing – ‘an aching void the world can never fill’ (Church Hymnary, 663). Jesus Christ stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for your answer. He says, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…’ (Revelation 3:20). Will you invite Him into your heart? He is waiting for you to pray, ‘Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus’.
5:1-6:12 - ‘The man who loves money can never have enough’ (5:10). Some people are never satisfied, They’re always wanting more. This is the world’s way. The more you have, the more you want. The Lord’s way is very different: ‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”… Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well’. ‘Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him?’ (Matthew 6:21-23,31-33; James 2:5). There’s more to life than ‘getting on in the world’. ‘Treasures on earth, treasures in heaven’ – Which world is most important to you?
7:1-29 - ‘Do not be over-righteous and do not be over-wise’ (16). Christ is ‘our righteousness and our wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). We must not take pride in our own righteousness or our own wisdom. We must not be like the arrogant ‘Pharisee’: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men…’. If we get ‘too big for our boots’, we may be ‘brought down to earth with a bump’! This is what God says to those who think they’re wise: ‘Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?’ (Luke 18:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:20). We do not make ourselves righteous. We do not make ourselves wise. ‘Through faith in Jesus Christ’, we receive ‘God’s righteousness’. We become ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
8:1-9:10 - ‘Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might…’ (9:10). ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…’ (Colossians 3:23-24). These two verses seem, at first, to be saying the same thing – until we read the rest of each verse! The first is describing life ‘under the sun’ (9:9): ‘in the grave where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom’. The second describes life in the Son: ‘you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward’. There is more to life than life under the sun. There is life in the Son. In everything we do, we must remember this: ‘It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving’. We are ‘working for the Lord, not for men’. ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
9:11-10:20 - ‘Wisdom is better than weapons of war’ (9:18). We are to seek the better way, the way of wisdom, the way of peace: ‘The wisdom that comes from heaven is… peace-loving… Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness’ (James 3:18). We look back over the history of our world. We wish there had been more peace and less war. We pray for a better future – more peace, less war. We pray to ‘the God of peace’. We pray for ‘the peace of God’. We pray that God will fulfill His promise: ‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Philippians 4:9,7; Romans 15:33; 16:20). Let us look to ‘the Cross of Jesus’. Let us trust in ‘Christ, the Royal Master’. He leads us in His victory: ‘At the Name of Jesus, Satan’s legions flee; On then, Christian soldiers, On to victory!’ (Church Hymnary, 480).
11:1-12:14 - ‘Fear God, and keep His commandments’ (12:13). This is ‘the heart of the matter’. It’s ‘the matter of the heart’. How can we even begin to fear God and keep His commandments if our hearts are full of sin? How can our hearts be cleansed from sin? There’s only one way we can learn to ‘fear God, and keep His commandments’. We must begin by opening our hearts to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We must look to Him for forgiveness – ‘I will cleanse you’. We must look to Him for a new beginning – ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you’ (Ezekiel 36:26). Let our fear of the Lord be filled with the love of Jesus. Let our keeping of God’s commandments be filled with thanksgiving for Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Let us be devoted to Christ: ‘Take my heart – it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne’ (Church Hymnary, 462).