It seems as though many Christians today spend a lot more time reading the New Testament than the Old Testament. But only reading one half of the Bible is sort of like only eating from one food group. Nothing but meat will lead to some trouble. Nothing but grains will deny your body of the nutrients it needs. We need to read the Old Testament. Why? The answer is found in Romans 15:4.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
This of course is true of the book of Ecclesiastes, where we find ourselves during this study.
“Vanity of Vanities…all is vanity.” (Eccl.1:2) So begins and ends one of the most difficult and challenging books of the Bible. At first glance, this book can seem like a very depressing read. It emphasizes the emptiness of life and the vanity of so many good things we experience in the world. But a careful reading will show you that the full message is God-exalting and joy-inducing.
The author of Ecclesiastes is believed by many to have been King Solomon, the son of David. Though there has been much debate in the last two centuries that perhaps it was written by someone who lived after Solomon and whose name we do not know.
Either way, Ecclesiastes evaluates life lived with God and apart from Him.
You will notice that Solomon tends to jump from topic to topic. Some of the themes that he explores are the following:
– This world is corrupt, temporal, confusing, and seemingly unfair.
– We are not God and therefore do not always understand what He is doing.
– Wisdom is better than folly.
– Worldly things do not last and are of little value.
– Death comes to everyone.
– True satisfaction cannot be found in earthly things.
The main idea of the book of Ecclesiastes is that life is meaningless unless a person knows God. For life without God is little more than a series of experiences that leads every person, whether rich or poor, moral or immoral, to the grave. A sharp mind is great but it fades with age, and even wisdom grows dull. Wealth seems so desirable and helpful, but it can be taken from us through unfortunate events. Even if we hold on to it, it can’t go with us past the grave.
Solomon’s conclusion is that in order for one to find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in life he or she must know God. To know the Lord, loving Him, fearing Him, following Him, and finding our identity in Him is what frees us to enjoy the temporal gifts in this life and to look beyond those gifts to life everlasting.
“Let all that is empty here on Earth, lead you to what alone will satisfy- the grace of God, the love of God, the Lamb of God; to “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
– George Mylne, (1859)
Looking to Jesus,
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