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Ecclesiates  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Happiness is Ellusive

New Series to encourage us during this pandemic
Ecclesiasties strikes a chord with modern people who are looking for meaning in life .
Unfortunately as we seek happiness we know that time and time again things ‘under the sun’ can end up leading us to meaningless and best and dispair at worst.
Work can be fullfilling but when you are passed over for promotion time and time again or have conflict at work you can slowly loose your passion for your dream job.
Sport can be fun but following a team that is perpetually stranded at the bottom of the table is so deflating
Family is subosed to be a safe place, but constant arguing can cause you to feel more uncomfortable at home than you are out of it.
Happiness can seem at best fleeting and at worst unataianable.
How much more during this pandemic do we feel the grinding predicability of disapointment after disapointment.
This could not be better illistrated by a room of people wearing masks as we listen for hope in another time of uncertainty and potential lock down.
In Sydney we started to think the worst of COVID was behind us. But here we are again this Christmas new year.
The young couple prepareing for marraige who have delayed their engagement party three times.
The family who prepare to fly to be reunited with loved ones only to be disappointed with another boarder closure.
The daughter who wants to visit her mother at Christmas only to be told there are no visitors to the nursing home.
The end of year marked by a small socially distanced funeral instead of a full bosterous family lunch.
Life under the sun can be hard.
And in the book of Ecclesiaties we will see that while the author is brutally honest about the meaninglessness of life under the sun.
He shows us that life of following God leads not to meaningless but to Joy and meaning now and into eternity.

Everything is Meaningless

In Ecclesiasties Solomon the son of David opens the book with a poem that sets the theme of the book. This poem includes the framing motto of the book:
Ecclesiastes 12:8 NIV
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”
This peom in chapter 1 asks a series of questions that set the agenda of the book:
What is the point of work?
Ecclesiastes 1:3 NIV
3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
What point is there in trying to make things better when everything just remains the same and we are all destined to die anyway Ecc 1:4-11
Generations come and go and forget the work of earlier people
Ecclesiastes 1:4 NIV
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
Time is relentless
Ecclesiastes 1:5 NIV
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
Ecclesiastes 1:6 NIV
6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
Ecclesiastes 1:7 NIV
7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
each speak of constant movement and striving without accomplishment and change.
These cycles are ment to mirror humanities inability to achieve anything ultimately new, lasting, or satisfying.
Ecclesiastes 1:8–11 NIV
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
Now this may seem particularly bleek. Some of might be thinking, but wait we can make things better.
But then think about it. In this world every good thing has shadows and creatures live in the shadows.
Every good thing we do in this world has some kind of bad consequences:
The iphone gave us the ability to connect like never before but it has led to higher and higher rates of youth depression, anxiety and even suicide.
Science has brought the human race so far, with cheep manufacturing, health care, and fast long distance travel. But at the same time we have poluted our world and our climate.
We have had social progress but we have deep divisions in our society, growing rates of dislocation and loneliness.
We get a great job but have to work such long hours we hardly get to see the kids
We grow our economy through trade and imigration only to find we have a trade war and a pandemic.
We retire after a life of work with heaps of super, but then get sick and we can’t enjoy our retirement
And finaly we go on holidays and it rains all week.
These are the types of frustrations that can end in us asking is everything meaningless?
I mostly watch or read the news every day. Its all bad news. Every new day brings more stories of disapointment, failure, violence, lost opportunities and greed.
I call this the frustration of Solomon. It is my frustration too. It very well may sometimes be your frustration as well.

What’s the Point?

Come with me to the end of the book.
Ecclesiastes 12:8 NIV
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!”
verses 9-12 is a restatement of chapter 1
The teacher Solomon has thought about life and written what is upright and true.
In verse 11 he calls his words goads guide oxen
embened nails
Ecclesiastes 12:11 NIV
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.
There is a capitulated suffering of oh well thats just the way things are.

But Wait

Look at verse 13. At first glance it does not look much different
Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 NIV
13 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. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
What is the benefit of fearing God:
The westminster confession says:

Our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

judges evil and good of everyone. How does that turn our meaningless into meaningfulness
The benefits of fearing God is that we want to be right with him
Jesus said:
Luke 12:4–6 NIV
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
Jesus gives us the relationship with God and what flows from that. Infact this theme in ecclesiates is a dominate theme throughout the whole Bible

7 Benifits of fearing God

1. DEEP SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE

This is confirmed in Proverbs 1:7:
Proverbs 1:7 NIV
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Those who seek spiritual knowledge are the opposite of “fools,” who despise “instruction.” We do well to desire God’s instruction in our lives.
WISDOM KEY: If you desire to plumb the depths of the spiritual knowledge available to you through God’s Word, begin by humbling yourself before God with an attitude of deep reverence and holy fear. Your understanding of scripture is directly related to your understanding of your place before God.

2. DIVINE WISDOM

Knowledge is not the only spiritual door that can be unlocked through the “fear of the Lord.”
According to Psalm 111:10:
Psalm 111:10 NIV
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
hen we “fear” God, His divine and unfathomable wisdom becomes available to us. (Notice another reference to those who “do” God’s commands within the immediate context, thus connecting the “fear of the Lord” with an active state of obedience, “do.”)
WISDOM KEY: Cultivate an attitude of Godly fear. When you do, you will hold the key that unlocks the door to God’s wondrous riches of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.

3. A UNIQUE WEAPON AGAINST SIN

In Ex. 20:20, Moses attempts to calm the people after they experience the mighty presence of God at Mount Sinai.
Exodus 20:20 NIV
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
Moses reassures them saying:
“Don’t be afraid… for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”
The “fear of the Lord” plays a unique role in the Christ follower’s ongoing battle against their sin nature. Our ability to resist sin undoubtedly is connected to the new-found spiritual knowledge and divine wisdom that is available to those who fear God.
WISDOM KEY: If you are struggling with sin, examine your attitude towards heaven. Do you fear God enough to want to please him, even when no one is looking?

4. THE MERCY OF GOD

The greatest gift that God could ever give us is mercy. After all, the grave sins that humanity has committed against God, and His glorious name, are entirely unforgivable. Through arrogance, humanity as a whole has defied God’s will and purposes. For this reason, we all deserve the ultimate judgment.
However, through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, all men now have access to God’s complete forgiveness and infinite mercy!
How do you receive God’s rich mercy?
According to Luke 1:50, God’s mercy is reserved for
Luke 1:50 NIV
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
It is a wonderful promise: God’s mercy is extended to those who fear Him and keep His commandments.
WISDOM KEY: All who desire God’s mercy for their sins must first fear Him. Without a reverent attitude toward heaven and a repentant heart, men have no hope after this life.

5. LIFE

The book of Proverbs is filled with references on how those who “fear” the Lord have access to God’s life-giving power.
Proverbs 10:27 NIV
27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
WISDOM KEY: Those who desire to live life to its richest measure can begin by fearing the Lord.

6. PROTECTION FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN

The Bible is clear that there are unseen spiritual blessings that will serve to protect you from your adversary. So too, the parent who models a life of godly fear and obedience to God’s Word will provide a hedge of protection around even his children.
Proverbs 14:26 NIV
26 Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
WISDOM KEY: Your entire household will benefit from your commitment to a humility based upon the “fear” of the Lord.

7. FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD

In Psalm 25, there is an amazing promise made to those who “fear” the Lord.
Psalm 25:14 NIV
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
“The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”
The promise in this verse is two-fold.
First, the fear the Lord is crucial to obtaining friendship with God. If friendship with the God of eternity were not enough, this verse also promises that those who fear the Lord will be made to know God’s covenant.
The blood covenant that God has established with mankind through His only Son, Jesus Christ, provides salvation to all who will partake.
WISDOM KEY: Through a righteous and holy fear of the Lord, we can gain friendship with God and come to an intimate knowledge of His covenant with man.

Fearing God is not passive. It is not something that you did once. It is active. Not static, but dynamic.
A righteous and holy “fear” of the Lord displays itself through a humble and reverent obedience to God’s will, purposes, and commands.
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