Faithlife Sermons

Living in the Face of Death

Ecclesiastes  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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INTRODUCTION

OPENNING
Welcome - thank you for worshipping with us and pray you are doing well
CPK Update
PRAY
READ
INTRO
Continuing in the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9:1-12
Two Key Phrases
Under the Sun - life on earth as we know it, not as God originally created it, but as it is now
Vanity - without meaning, vapor, smoke, lacking substance or meaning
Ecclesiastes can feel dark and gloomy
As if a pessimist was ordained by God to craft part of the Scriptures.
CHICKEN LITTLE
The original story

In the original Chicken Little story, Chicken Little is hit by an acorn on his beak and he feels the bruise. He thinks the acorn is the sky. Fear seizes him. “The sky is falling!” he yells. So he tries to enlist everyone to help him, eventually enlisting Foxy Loxy for aid in stopping the sky from falling. Foxy Loxy eventually eats Chicken Little for dinner. Among the many versions of this story through the generations, the two main themes are these. One, some of us need to learn, that just because an acorn falls on our beak and we feel its bruise, this doesn’t mean that all is lost. Two, some forms of help are no help at all. In fact, some things will harm us in help’s name.

Application

The Preacher has been walking us through the dark creepy basement of the fallen world with his flashlight. It would seem that if anybody could come to the conclusion that the sky is falling, it would be the Preacher. But the Preacher doesn’t panic. He hates it. He grieves it. He declares it ruthless and ugly and empty. But he refuses to run toward the welcoming arms of the nihilist, the cynic, the hedonist, or the religious escapist. That kind of help doesn’t.

Instead, the Preacher believes that God has not left the mess but remains here in it and with us. In that light, we start with what we have and we do this little bit each day with God. But how?

READ
PRAY

GETTING BACK TO BASICS

TWO KEY PHRASES
WHEN DARKNESS ENTERED THE GARDEN
God created Adam and Eve, placed them in a perfect environment. He gave them a purpose, instructions for life that he had created for them.
Family (“two shall become one”)
Work (“And let them have dominion over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing thing thing that creeps on the earth” Gen. 1:26).
Pleasure (“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” )
When Adam and Eve loved each other, cultivated the garden, took time for meals together, and cared for the place with God, that was enough in God’s eyes. He was pleased with their work, with their enjoyment, and with their love.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree - God chased them from the garden, bringing separation between mankind and God, separation between mankind and each other, and mankind and creation.
Dominion
Subdue
Develop
Family ( to the woman, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” )
Work (“cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life” ).
Pleasure (“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” ).
DARKNESS IN ECCLESIASTES
Do you hear the similar language in ?
Coonecting the overarching story of scripture to this passage in Ecclesiastes.
Original meaning (vs) - What did Solomon intend to say
God’s Meaning - What is God saying? “Words of wisdom are given by the ONE SHEPHERD.” Messianic
APPROVED JOY
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink you wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do”
You want to know God’s will?
Go out to eat or go home and make lunch. Sit down with your family and friends. Hold hands and give thanks to God. Enjoy the conversation, the stories and the jokes.
An actual sit down meal
No quick grab meal (France)
Do devices at the table
The fight against a fatal pessimism ...
But!
BUT we’re all going to die! - yep, so make yourself a sandwich and enjoy it.
BUT the sky is falling - I know, have some tea or coffee, enjoy this cup of wine with me, says the Preacher
God is present, he’s in control
BUT everything is meaningless - i get it, go ahead and do some laundry and get out of your pajamas
BUT injustice is everywhere, the world is broken, it’s all broken - yep, it is but go ahead and take a shower, wash your face. Put some oil in your beard. (Ecc. 9:8)
God hasn’t quit
BUT what do you mean - everything is meaningless! It’s all meaningless! - That’s OK, listen to your wife’s voice, hold her hand, look into her eyes, be silly with the kids. embrace life, embrace this moment.
BUT death! Death is coming! - Enjoy your life while you live. Let go of what you can’t control. (Ecc. 9:9)
God is here.
BUT wisdom doesn’t do us any favors” - Yes, so go ahead and start your day, brush your teeth, eat some breakfast
BUT life isn’t fair - It’s true and that is terrible but find work that you love and work hard ()
RECOVERING EDEN
Adam and Eve had nothing more than this. Their lot was God’s gift to them.
They had each other
Work
Pleasure
Death came but this original provision and purpose for which the human heart was made, remains.

ORDINARY MOMENTS

Shadow of Eden and a foretastes of eternity
CHILD & IMPORTANT THINGS
This is a helpful reminder for many of us.
Imagine your child or niece or nephew comes up to you want to play with legos, dress-up, tea, party.
You’re important and busy. There’s work to be done, important work. People are in need. The sky is falling, remember. Everything is meaningless.
But you decide to sit and to play - praying for the patience to be present and soon your find yourself lost in the wonder of a child.
Soon you realize a deeper truth - this is a taste of eden. This moment, the ‘play’ is not a distraction from the real world but it is a taste of the real world. The way things were meant to be.
These are moments that remind us of Eden. Yes, Eden was lost but God’s purpose and it has not been lost. God is redeeming and restoring what was lost.
THOSE WHO SEEK ULTIMATE MEANING IN LESSER THINGS
Life under the Sun
Work because our source of meaning and identify, rather that an expression of joy and purpose
Marriage, Family, Relationships becomes a status, self-validation, consuming for self-worth
Pleasure is an escape from everything rather than a means of enjoyment in God
THOSE WHO IGNORE MOMENTS BECAUSE EVERYTHING IN IMPORTANT
Some of us may be like me - everything can feel so overwhelmingly important that I forget to pause, to rest, to enjoy the moments in life.
JESUS

When Jesus came to redeem us, he did so, not by bypassing the ordinary human lot in life, but by recovering it.

Born in a stable, to a teenage mom and a very faithful earthly dad, who wasn’t the Father. He had brothers and probably some sisters.
He worked with his hands for 30 years before ministry
When the ministry started he feed the hungry, healed the sick, made wine for weddings.

When Jesus healed people or forgave them, these restored ones did not escape their lot in life but they returned to it.

Peter’s sick mother-in-law was healing - showed hospitality
Lazarus is raised from them - ate with his friends while enemies wanted to kill him again
Man is released from demon-possession and is returned to his family

JESUS AND OUR PORTION

JESUS - Frees us from enslavedment to sin

When Jesus came to redeem us, he did so, not by bypassing the ordinary human lot in life, but by recovering it.

Born in a stable, to a teenage mom and a very faithful earthly dad, who wasn’t the Father. He had brothers and probably some sisters.
He worked with his hands for 30 years before ministry
When the ministry started he feed the hungry, healed the sick, made wine for weddings.

When Jesus healed people or forgave them, these restored ones did not escape their lot in life but they returned to it.

Peter’s sick mother-in-law was healing - showed hospitality
Lazarus is raised from them - ate with his friends and family
Man is released from demon-possession and is returned to his family
DARKNESS & JESUS
When Jesus rose from the grace, among the first things that he did was invite his friends to catch fish, cook it, and eat together by the sea with fire on the beach.
And all this while death is coming, the world needs saving, Herod and Pontius Pilate are doing their worst, and life under the sun remains cruel.
REDEMPTION

What is it that we believe God is trying to do for us by sending his Son? Just as the Preacher foreshadows by his wisdom, Jesus did not come to give us an escape from our lot, misuse our lot, or make our lot our god

When Adam and Eve left Eden, they were not given a different calling. Their calling remained as it was even though death was now alive in the world. They were to love each other, work, care for the place, and meet with God. The calling didn’t change. The environment did.

“The dead know nothing”
Because of Jesus - “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”
In we see believers under the altar of God asking questions and receiving answers
“They have no more reward”
Jesus tells us in , “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great...”
tells us that in Jesus we will be rewarded
Paul says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
“The memory of them is forgotten”
What about , and what is called the Hall of Faith?
“since we are surrounded by so great
“Forever they have no more share”
saved by grace through faith in Jesus to eternal life
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
RESTORATION
Eden Restored - A new heaven and a new earth
Relationships
New heaven and new earth prepared for the bride, us, the church
No more male and female or husband and wife. instead, we are one family in Jesus.
A perfect family, without dysfunction or sin or brokenness
Work
God had and has a rhythm of work and rest (Gen- Rev)
We too will work in heaven to God’s glory but our work want be hard and we won’t grow tired.
Rest from labor ()
Joy
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
“The Lord is my portion” - Joy. Jesus is our reward and eternal source of pleasure.

CONCLUSION

Shawshank Remption

A story tells us about criminals paying for their crimes within a prison of cruel mistreatment.

Year after year in this prison one man says to another, “I played a mean harmonica as a young man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.”

The other man responds, “Here is where it makes the most sense. You need to play it so that you don’t forget.”

“Forget what?” asks the first man.

“Forget that there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone, that there is something inside that these stone walls cannot take away.”

“What are you talking about?” the first man retorts.

“Hope,” the other man answers. “It is the wonder of wonders.”

Response

The Preacher tells us, “Death is coming!” “Everything is meaningless!” “What is done under the sun is grievous and warrants our wise hatred!”

Yet, there exists a place of joy that the cruel walls cannot take away. That place is our lot. Our lot offers hope under the sun. Death is here, but God is here too. Death will die. But God is Immanuel, “God with us.”

Questions:
What about your current circumstances
bore you...
annoys you...
pains you?
What about your current circumstances is beautiful and good and true?
3.How does acceptance differ from resignation? What do you need from Jesus in order for him to help you joyfully recover the ordinary moments of life?
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